Writing and Editing Night

Podcast night didn’t work out so well last night on account of me collapsing into bed without much warning. It happens from time to time and I have to forgive myself. Yes, I lost a night to work on the editing for the podcast as well as the big videography project, but some days the body just wants a good night’s sleep. So that brings me to tonight: I’m settling in to give the latest episode of Our Kid’s Asleep a final pass and will be working on the Music Festival Highlight to deliver sometime this week. I’m really looking forward to sharing some of the performances captured. I feel completely immersed in the magical weekend! But for now, I’ll try to stay focused and bring about a new episode of the podcast now that summer is winding down and the workload is getting manageable at the office. August was a busy busy month, but incredible rewarding. I’m so lucky to have a job where I can meet people who are working hard to better themselves, no matter the circumstance. I’m inspired by all the folks I meet and work with, so it kind of pushes me to follow my gradual progress, even after five o’clock rolls around. I’m optimistic I will wrap up my videography commitment in September and shift focus to writing my short story collection and recording some music. Hopefully I’ll have a week or two to chip away at these side projects and when the time comes, I’ll start sharing some updates.

OKA Episode 23 Now Playing!

In order to manage my time a bit better, I went back to the pocket agenda, which now goes with me everywhere. As much as I’ve tried my Google calendar, I really struggle with the app on my phone and using the calendar online. I much prefer seeing the week and scratching dates and times and deadlines on a tangible page. It adds a warm sense of urgency that I can’t get from my online calendar. It may sound old school, but I have to go back to the things that make me efficient, and discard the rest.

Good news: I’m sleeping better. It’s not perfect, but I’m making a habit of getting good sleep at least three nights a week (to start with). I’ve noticed I have more energy, I’m sharper at work, and I’m following my creative instincts to some really good ideas lately. I used to think that I would only have time to write or edit or record if I stayed up ’til three in the morning every night, but I’m changing my tune after all this time. There’s enough daylight hours at my disposal, I’m sort of learning to use them! And to be honest, it’s not so much that I’m taking drastic, well regimented steps at this time. My rule of thumb has simply become to do one creative thing a day. So here’s what I am choosing to do to help myself:

  • I’m carrying my idea notebook with me.
  • I’m documenting my progress on my calendar.
  • I’m taking a break when I need it.

It’s not much, but it’s a start. I also wanted to document my diet but that’s been a shit-show. That notebook is starting to become a thesaurus for regret. We’ll see how that one pans out. Regardless, we’re making little strides to keep up the creative side in this complicated, tiring, working class world.

Be well and make some art when you can. I’ll try to do the same.

j

Ruminations of Autumn and Cyan

I wanted to share this on Throwback Thursday but work took me out of town. So here you have a weird #flashbackfriday moment, some words and music made by my friend Ahren and I long ago: When we were in a synth pop long-distance band called For The Benefit. Much love to you all and happy Friday!

j


Sick to my stomach
Sick to mySELF
Sick to my surrounding
Sick to lesser grace

Oh, this daddy long legs on the wall
So watchful, pondering the fall—

Sick to my stomach
As the autumn leaves
Descend in rows
Descend finality

Oh, this daddy long legs on the wall
Flies out the window with the baggage
Into the fall

Out the window, treading by
A suited man
Resembles many things—
Among them, walrus head
A bushy paintbrush under nose
And shaven head
Who knows? Who knows?
Perhaps he’s all alone;
Searches for the proper
Walrus-lady mate.

Oh, this daddy long legs on the wall
Comes close, unlatching ruminating hearts
Into the fall

Out the window, treading by
A redhead woman
Gliding paths surveyed by animals
Cyan still hides in her soul
I heard she was the dog
Who knows? Who knows?
Perhaps she’s all alone;
Searches for the proper
Collar-wielding mate

Oh, this daddy long legs on the wall
Comes close, unlatching ruminating hearts
Into the fall

Sick to my stomach
Sick, the hopeless life-wheel
Sick, the window frost: indecency
Sick, the lifeless Autumn renovator

Oh, this daddy long legs on the wall
Comes close, unlatching condescending farce
Into the fall

Who knows? Who knows?
This may be all the bliss received
Before the fall

Grieta (from Prompt 18)

At Rise: Mauricio hiding in a hole in the desert, behind the brush.

Mauricio: Sometimes, it’s easier this way. Whether to enjoy my sand head buried in darkness. Whether I accept my blind eyes as they make believe that I’m no longer here. I pray that here has become there. Is it okay to think this way? Is it okay to regret this? In the sand, I camouflage myself along the wedges of dirt and sage. I blend as a praying mantis in the soil.

I am a large mantid. Mantids, I think that is the scientific name. Not so easy to hide sometimes.

In Arenal, we would sit at night and the glow of the volcano would make its way to us. We never felt the heat, but we believed we did. A phantom comfort when there wasn’t much to eat. As human beings, it is easy to aspire to the impossible. It is an insult to keep your thoughts and dreams as low to the ground as your shoes. A friend of a friend of a friend says he can get you through the border on a cold night in Juarez. Then second cousin Martin will come from Odessa to drive you in his pick up like dusty luggage left in the sun. He’s legal, he can get by okay. All you have to do is get to El Paso.

Jacinto, my Papa, went first, with the family savings, and he left on the back of Manolito’s maroon minivan at dawn on the second of October. He never knew hugs or his way around one, but he tried that day. He wrapped his arms around me much too tightly and said that he would send for me. His tone flat and distant as if he had already taken off for the United States days ago. El Norte called and he answered. He swam the gutters of six borders and I heard his voice once again. For months, we wondered if he had enough to eat along the way, or if his shoes were holding on, or if he drowned in the big river. My mother was so proud she found his shoes at the flea market two weeks before he left. Barely used boots fit for a long hike at just ten colones! She smiled toothlessly, hiding her sorrow. For years she held that pain of distance and finally he sent for Mama and my sister, to join him in this place called Wichita. So far up North I think you can wave hello to the elves in the winter time. They found their way and that was seven years ago. And I waited in the house with two rooms by the big tree where the tall grass begins. With Abuela Mariella.

She is gone too, you know? She left not long ago.

In the tall grass, there was a praying mantis that would sit still at the sight of me. And we had a staring contest every day after school. I thought it looked me closely and waited for me to make my move to destroy it. But it never flinched. Maybe it didn’t know any better, and hoped the closer the danger, the closer the food. It is a dumb insect after all…

Did you mean to send for me too, Papa? Did you expect me to walk this path like you did? Did you want me to do this on my own?

He hides behind the brush again as headlights approach.

Sometimes, it’s easier this way.

Lights Out.

Noteworthy 8.2.19

Hi there! Here’s a few awesome links to wind down this hectic week:

  1. I caught this one long ago when I was in one of my editing late nights, so I thought I would share this now. This is a lovely conversation between George Saunders and Jeff Tweedy that inspires like no other. It made me want to pick up a pen and start unraveling story. Great wisdom from two masters.
  2. The Working Songwriter is a podcast from musician Joe Pug. I had the great pleasure of seeing him live at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival and he just blew me away. His craft and presence as he delivered such beautiful songs left a good dent in my heart. A truly memorable time was had! I’ll be checking the backlog of his podcast episodes, in which he interviews fellow songwriters and discuss the craft of songwriting.
  3. Regarding the Steppenwolf revival of True West, the most influential play of my playwriting life. I would have killed to see this play in the flesh on that Chicago stage in 1982.
  4. This year, working on getting my poetry back on track has been a priority. Starting with the basics as I get to know how I can work in the medium and what I can do to get better, and more resilient. Here’s a little recap I found of Pablo Neruda I liked.

And I leave you with a great tune that hit VH1 when I was growing up, obsessed with music videos. Also, a 90s RDJ starring in a peculiar, one shot video. Have a great weekend, friends.

j

Happy Monday, From Late Sunday.

Wrapping up a little promo for the amazing and fast approaching Oyster Ridge Music Festival! I can’t wait to head there this weekend!

Yes, it’s late, but there are times one must go the extra mile and offer something to the cause. I just wrapped up on this quick promo a few minutes ago, since the festival is just four days away, every little bit helps to keep spreading the word! Oyster Ridge has given me so much in the last few years, and it does so much for the Wyoming arts community that it’s only right I try to bring as much awareness to this festival as possible. Producing web content for the festival has given me so much reward and joy, I can’t help but think of this project year-round. I’ll try to document a bit as I go, but as the festival takes hold, it’s hard to do anything but record and enjoy. Four more days!


In podcast world, Madd and I got back to podcasting on Saturday and should have a new episode this week as well. I had a big editing stumble the last few weeks, so I apologize to our dear friends who came on for episode 20. That episode will be coming out in the coming days! We cover some great movies and have a good time goofing around. For now, checkout the last episode we published, it might be one of our best yet:


On a personal note, I learned a lot this weekend. Sometimes irrational or poorly timed goals lead to a frenzy of time wasted, and energy spent on the wrong things. I tend to follow this pattern often, but a conversation this weekend led me to a helpful observation: It’s tough to get out of your head. Tough to see things from a vantage point other than your own. More importantly, it’s tough to meet the needs of friends and family if you aren’t actively listening. On my best days, I can be a great listener. Attentive and caring, generous. I have fallen short of that standard because thinking about myself and my distractions is more important. It sounds awful as I think this thought and lay it on display for all to see. This is however, the truth. I carry with me what I call, The Delusion: A powerful, intoxicating drug that drives me to fixate on a specific creative project because if I don’t finish it, a part of me will cease to exist. Rinse and repeat. Sadly, I’ve held this thinking for a long time, and its volatile nature has mangled my more healthy behaviors of relationship building and communicating. I firmly believe there is a healthier balance to be found between my creative pursuits and the relationships I hold dear: They must enrich and nurture each other. The secret is in clarity and communication.

I am vowing to be present, to actively listen, and to be proactive in my own life by making choices. I am rejecting complacency and embracing love and selflessness. I don’t know what the hell that means yet, but alas, this is a late night work in progress. Now the work begins.

I hope you had a good weekend too.

j

“Such great heights.”
Check out my original writing prompts on Instagram #icprompts!

Noteworthy 7.12.19

Happy Friday folks! Heading into the weekend with some links to look forward to!

  1. Let’s start off with these breathtaking award winning images from the Audubon Photography Awards. It’s a nice change of pace to immerse into such beautifully crafted photos during the workweek. Definitely will be on my mind for a while.
  2. Shoutout to playwright Dana Lynn Formby, who shares with us her award winning play  “Johnny 10 Beers’ Daughter,” thanks to The American Playbook Podcast. I got to meet Dana at a playwriting conference and she is just a great soul and fellow Wyomingite, so I’ll be listening this weekend: So should you! 
  3. NPR broke my heart this morning with this article about service members living in fear of their family members getting deported. Men and Women who commit to serving this country should not have to worry about coming back to an empty home due to deportation. Surely, there must be more pressing matters for our nation than to hunt down the Navy officer’s Amá, or abuela. 
  4. My friend Rebecca shared this piece about dancers and the massive obstacles to becoming a professional dancer. I nodded through most of it as I felt it made sense to us playwrights, filmmakers, or any creative folk pursuing some kind of career in our day and age. It talks of a few ways to make inroads, and keeping your chin up.
  5. This week we lost a major creative light in the world. Mr. João Gilberto passed on, leaving a legacy of work that shaped the timeless and spellbinding sound that is bossa nova. I’m hoping to write at length about his work in due time, but for now, I’d just like to write that his songs helped me cope with some difficult times of transition and growth, and I could not be more grateful for the magic he brought to us. I could share the whole of Chega de Saudade, a work that guided me to better spirits, productive writing spells, and optimism when I worked at the cemetery. Instead, I will leave you with his rendition of Jobim’s perennial masterpiece Aguas de Março. I have listened to this track at least twice a week for the last six years. There is so much hope and possibility and introspection in his rendition of the song that it breaks my heart and puts it back together too. Rest in peace, Senhor. Thank you for the new sound.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Oscar licking the inside of this container. Happy weekend friends.

Make art, make haste.

j

Night Owl, what are you looking for?

I don’t know what I’m trying to find at this hour.

As it tends to happen when normal people go to bed and I choose to stay up, the wheels fall off the wagon of motivation and I sink into melancholy. At 12:15 a.m. my intention is to polish a few old photographs and share some thoughts on Valentine’s Day. I want to record a new episode of Creative Drive because I had some things to say. Wanted to read something. I type this on the first few minutes of the 15th, as a clear admission of failure. This is a slight failure, however. It won’t haunt me too long.

“Some nights, I’d have to sleep alone. I didn’t mind, I would listen to the house breathin’. All those people sleepin’. I felt… safe.”

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Very often, I think about this quote from that superb film written by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, from the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Eagerly waiting for the movie’s release, I read the short story hoping to get a sense of what was lifted straight from the story, how it was embellished, and how it would live in a different medium. The process of stories transcending their mediums really intrigues me, if you haven’t noticed…

While I don’t recall this line nor the scene it comes from existing in the original tale, I became madly in love with that notion: There is an endless comfort in knowing your loved ones are safe in their warm beds, and you know nothing will harm them. I find that my biggest daily preoccupation (you might say, my constant, irrational worry) is making sure my wife and son are aware of my love for them, the emotional part of it, the loosey goosey moments of communicating to them that I will do anything for them, and proving it by working hard at the office for them, by trying my damnedest to be present when we’re together, and by trying to put the phone down and sometimes succeeding. I don’t know how many folks out there think about this, but I let it motivate and burden my every action.

I don’t want to take anything for granted.

It’s very rewarding to live this way, but I also recognize I need a breather. When my wife and son are safe and sound, I wallow. I muse on nothing. I take my time. This is a luxury for those of us pressed for time and a throwaway pleasure for those already in luxury. I wonder and wander as I imagine the stars beyond the ceiling of my unfinished basement and the ceilings of the living room and the bedrooms above. I remind myself there are constellations up there, always blinking.

Then I think of my grandfather. My Pa Valente, who played his violin but I forgot to ask him whereabouts. And then my heart fills with regret at not knowing enough about him, and worrying that I won’t be able to recognize his star in the sky, and I won’t know where to point when my son asks me where he is. That’s the kicker: trying to remember that which may fade away come morning. Maybe I’m just looking for one more chance to document something before it’s no longer here. As if my creativity will magically prolong special feelings and memories and messages to remain for just a moment more.

I’ve written my best stuff deep in the night. When you can feel winter creeping through the cracks in the door. In a quiet I’m not fearful of. When I was a kid and we lived in the duplex, I slept in the living room, and I stayed up late reading Stephen King, recording tracks, and scheming stories to capture on that bulky VHS camcorder in the closet under the stairs. This story might be quite common, but perhaps I’m looking to find that stillness once again. Maybe I had too many cups of coffee today. I don’t know.

Regardless of how I got to this point, it feels like I must write this out in the open because it’s okay to take a moment for yourself in the morning, midday or late at night. An ounce of time to get your act together, to ruminate and scheme. To find gratitude if you didn’t find it earlier that day, or to prepare for tomorrow. And sometimes, it’s even okay to hear the house breathin’ like a sad sack.

Happy Birthday, Pa Valente. Despite my worries, you are still here, keeping me company when I need it most.

j

P.S. For those of you riding the high of Valentine’s Day (I’ve been high on mine since 2006), here’s a little soundtrack for your troubles.

Our Kid’s Asleep, new episode!

Just wrapped up the editing of this one. I don’t know what took me so long. Maybe it’s our cats ruining the recording with their noise, or maybe it’s the insane cold weather we are having here in the Old West. I guess it’s our turn…

This time around we cover Maddie’s 30 day yoga challenge, Andy King Memes (of Fyre Fest fame), and our new voicemail line for friends to leave us messages! If you want to let us know what you have stumbled upon on the internet, let us know! Leave a voice message at 307 228 4353.

Enjoy the show.