The Tall Guy’s Office Hours Are…

I had a film cinematography teacher who was a cross between Jeff Goldblum and a mid-80’s era Lou Reed. One would think that this sounds incredible. How lucky was I to encounter such a magical creature?

Okay, but imagine a person made up of all of their absolute worst-known qualities. The self-indulgence, the myopic vision of what makes things good and bad, the shunning of people who just ‘don’t get it.’ Okay, this is just Lou Reed in personality with the looks of JG. One third of the time in class was devoted to his opinion on tragically misguided Hollywood blockbusters that would turn into conspiracy theories; one third spent on wistful tales of his time as a filmmaker, including sexual exploits done with a wink because it was just so CUTE AND NAUGHTY, RIGHT!? What a mischievous scamp!!

The final third of the time, he’d walk down in front of the podium, take the two steps down to the next level where a small table and chair was, slip his shoes off, sit “Indian” style with his crotch front-and-center and pick out anyone he thought had stopped paying attention to grill them on obscure, philosophical questions about cinematography or the dreadful assigned reading for the week.

His name is lost to me…Perhaps I blocked it out because he was also super sleazy and bummed cigarettes off of the students (rotating who it was) when we smoked in the stairwell (since it was too cold to go outside and we were up so high in the building), sneering at the brand if it was anything other than American Spirits. If they were his preferred brand, he’d crouch down to sit down on a step, as he fell into silence, with his eyes closed in feigned orgasmic glee. Then, he’d actually moan.

I should remember him since he taught me how to navigate infuriating and indulgent personalities, roadblocks to any kind of success in a career, and the ability to find ways to turn those challenges–delivered via disdain, of course–into success. Smashing the demands from him when he thought I wasn’t paying attention, by answering his questions in an equally confrontational manner, delivering stellar project work on difficult-to-watch obscure movies and acing the course.

And if I gave him the benefit of the doubt? That maybe it was all a lesson swaddled around a seemingly impossible and somewhat arbitrary course. A lesson that you would encounter people even worse in the film industry, so develop a thicker hide, honey.

Sure.

But, did he have to be so gross about it?

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An Experiment with Exercise

I know that cardiovascular exercise improves the cognitive function of the brain, but does it help the ADHD brain, which has trouble with executive function—the management of various processes in the brain like reasoning, problem solving, working memory and planning—and how to regulate its neurotransmitters to produce proper levels of feel-good hormones and chemicals? Obviously, any action that floods the brain with more dopamine, a hormone-neurotransmitter my own brain can’t seem to keep enough of in order to stop the potential to bite someone’s head off for daring to interrupt me at work or in the middle of a really good book, is a positive step. Is it enough, though, that I can incorporate the potential to wean myself off of medications or at least my iron-grip reliance on how much it’s recently improved my life at work and at home?
One thing I struggle with is how to keep the motivations going to do the things that make me feel better and keep me on the path to discovery. I make plans (and usually abandon them halfway through); I write lists (and lose them in my workbag); I create folders full of reminders of my talent when I need to. All of this, to keep my self-esteem at a level high enough to force that essential forward progress, and not create another setback. Except now I have to take myself to task for not keeping the one New Year’s resolution that ninety-nine percent of us end up dropping in frustration?
To remember how much better I operate at a 9-5 corporate job (someday that will be in my rearview mirror, I promise), after a run at the gym during lunchtime, works if I schedule it as though it’s time to take my medicine. It is much more uncomplicated to frame it in that way because it becomes necessary to exist and be okay with where I am in my work life. I can’t forget to take my medicine no matter how a meeting unexpectedly comes up or if I’m running behind on a project or get caught up on a phone call.
The only thing that stops me from this lunchtime workout turning ritual is how long it takes me to remember how important it is. My brain needs a zap every 30 minutes or so and if I have trouble wading out of the morning coffee or the dip into last night’s television recaps, the delay to my workday is inevitable. I set a timer in the schedule tool on my phone to keep that zap on the visual level; anything that will shake me out of my reverie to keep on task and continue on with my day.
Any article that discusses the benefits of exercise makes sure to point out that it is a natural anti-depressant and anti-anxiety agent. These are two things I struggle with, and to think that it also helps with my ADHD, again, should be and will be seen as a gift to my very special brain.
This starts the experiment, as I’m currently in between medications to try and find something that not only works a little bit better than my previous one, but that doesn’t leave me broke after refills each month.