Noteworthy 10.25.19

Happy Friday folks!

A few good links to help inspire and get the creative process started:

All of us David Bowie fans, rejoice! A new graphic novel chronicles the rise of Ziggy Stardust. It’s on I’m definitely looking forward to…

I’m a sucker for behind the scenes footage. One of my favorite past times growing up was watching the “second disc” of my favorite badass movies and watch how filmmakers worked as one to bring these magical set pieces to life. Watching the collective problem solving is one of the most inspiring things to me. Here’s a fascinating one about the Dark Knight epic truck flip!

This useful article about the 7 types of rest we need to recharge was a good one I found for self care. I’m always on the lookout for something that will work for me. So we’ll see if some of these can make a difference to us!

Christopher McQuarrie really nails this answer on Twitter when asked how to break into the film industry. All of us creatives, no matter the medium/form, can benefit from his poignant response.

Be well this weekend and hope you find time to make art.

j

On Purpose (and Reinventing the Delusion)

I haven’t written in a while. Once again life does what it does best!

The last two weeks were full of desire to stay optimistic and to find relief from the strife of adulting. This means I let thoughts or impressions percolate for far too long. I need little interludes to process and unpack. I’m getting better at taking breaks, and telling myself that working a full time job and raising a child and maintaining a household with my wife is all part of a delicate balancing act. Much like a squirrel swaying on the power line, life is always in the balance; and surely a constant flow of traffic will remain eager to contribute to my demise.

Okay, I didn’t mean it to sound so fatalistic, but it’s a Monday, so forgive my tone. Let me cheer it up slightly: I’m fortunate I can give myself breaks. I have never been in a position, at work or outside of it, where I could take a moment to adjust my direction and that of my career/family/creativity. Most of my twenties, I felt I couldn’t breathe because I had to do something. I had to busy my mind and body with tasks without really pondering the direction of my actions. If it’s one thing I would advocate as a stepping stone to quieting the anxiety of one’s life, it is to slow down.

Listen to your heartbeat.

Listen to what ails you and what your mind is telling you. I felt aimless for so long because I was following goals and objectives that I had set for myself from a young age. Goals and ambitions don’t remain static. They grow with you. The only way you can adjust accordingly is to forget the external factors and dial in on the things that make your mind soar. Clarify the possibilities that only you know will bring you joy. These are the actions that will make a difference to you and yours and what you care about.

There was a period of about 17 years, during which I lied to myself about what I wanted to be. It was difficult to accept. I wanted to be a filmmaker. That’s it. According to 13 year old me, that was the one and only thing that would make me someone worthwhile. I imbued my all to this purpose, into this fantasy, that for a long time, there was room for nothing else. No room for growth. That all changed. And so before I tell you why I call this filmmaking dream a fantasy, let me explain:

In early 2013, I had a nervous breakdown.

I, the filmmaker-in-the-making, had this glorious orange and teal tinted idea of tomorrow: I was to make movies, and something would happen that would allow me to do that in the future. Something.

I was praying to the cosmos something would happen to me. I never explicitly sat down to ponder the actionable things I needed to do in order for me to be in a position to be successful as a filmmaker. I didn’t reverse-engineer how to get my foot in the door. I never explored and investigated the way I should have. That’s not to say I was twiddling my thumbs during that time. Back then, I explored viciously. Though I couldn’t afford to go to film school, theater was close enough, so I performed and wrote seven full length plays, three screenplays (outlined a shitload) and countless short plays and ten minute plays and so on. I made movies with my friends, two of them full length films and several shorts. I continued to write poetry in my journal like I used to as a child, and recorded music like I’ve always wanted to do. I created simply out of curiosity. A very productive time, but undoubtedly aimless.

Something will not happen to you. You have to create the conditions for you to be in the vicinity of something.

In 2013, my wait for something came to an end. As Maddie and I anticipated our child coming into this world, I sat in the living room of our little one bedroom apartment in Seattle, and I came to the realization that the reason something never happened, was because I never went looking for it. What were we doing in Seattle? Did I come here to write and direct? Did I ever mean to produce anything? Did I come here for the coffee? Why did I waste my parent’s money to learn playwriting and directing for the stage, which ultimately, was an approximation of the filmmaking dreams of my youth? Did I even want to be a filmmaker anymore? Maybe. No. Not really. I don’t know.

I thought of the journal entries of a middle-schooler with broken English who wanted to make action movies and would draw posters of his made up films. I thought of the dramatic scripts I wrote to prevent me from giving in to depression and potentially doing something really stupid. I dreamt and wrote and sang about doing stupid shit, but then my dreams began to take another shape. Dreaming of cinema was a beautiful coping mechanism and it became the compass of my life. I was a shell and I ascribed my person-hood to the act of movie-making. The kid who bugged his friends to make movies. I was a volcano of creativity, out in the vast Pacific, spewing lukewarm magma and calling it art. I was the Movie Guy. That is all I was and over a decade later, I looked up and saw myself still hiding behind that false purpose:

Quiet, opinion-less, and empty.

I wept there in the living room. I felt like an insane person. I never had a goal to have a career as a filmmaker. I had an unreachable fantasy because I never determined what I would seek. I broke my own heart and I cried not out of sadness, but out of brute desperation that I had not realized my own lack of purpose up until that point. I was shocked at the obvious. In the aftermath of this uncomfortable epiphany, I didn’t feel like I had much left of myself. But in the rubble of a burning shit-show of my non-existent ambitions, I pulled my head out of my ass and remembered I could not dwell on this for long:

We have a baby to raise.

And so together with my beautiful, supportive and loving wife, I went back to the drawing board. I asked myself for the first time, what do you need to do to be fulfilled creatively? What the fuck do you actually want?

I want to go home to start over. We wanted to start our family on the right foot. That’s when we returned to Wyoming. That was six years ago. Trial and error, luck, and the help of our families steadied the ship until the Captain remembered where he left his compass. We figured out what we wanted out of life, we saved our pennies, worked hard, started a business, made sacrifices, took left turns, asked more questions, then took the right turns, bought a home, closed the business, stumbled into good jobs, and suddenly I fell face first into a job I love and while things aren’t perfect, they have never been better and I have never felt this much empowerment in my life. I want to share and prolong this feeling of wonder and possibility with my wife and son every single day. I want to share it with my friends and my community but I am still building the courage to look inside myself to see how the emptiness in my soul is now full of love and ambition for a future of honesty, love, and empathy. This is the compass I have longed for. When you ask the right questions, the answers will follow. I’m blessed to have a partner who has helped me so much to be better. This is what I’ve always wanted. Being a father is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me for so many reasons, and one big reason is that I was able to set aside my priorities to help my little one get settled into his life, raise him and learn from him. And I’ve tried like hell to learn as much as possible. This is what I’ve always wanted. And lo and behold, creativity flows not aimlessly, but concisely and out of love. So far so good.

I thought this would be a brief post about Mondays and finding time to breathe, but the heart and subconscious had other plans. I guess what I’m getting at is that nothing really started to fall into place until I began asking difficult questions of myself, and challenged myself to assess my personal growth honestly. I’m not writing about a catastrophe at all. In my fat head, I liken this to missing the morning alarm and waking up late when you should have been at work two hours ago. Yes, there is an urgency, but you can still use your get out of jail free card with your boss. And then you get to work to play catch up, knowing you won’t have many more chances to get this shit right. Don’t short yourself, life will do that without your help. Yes, it’s an awakening that took way longer than it should have. Could be worse, though: I have seen folks at the tail end of their lives still waiting for their something to reach down into the well of suffering and carry them away.

So as I wrap this up, what can I say? I strongly suggest you ask yourself the tough questions, be brutally honest, and make plans full of good intent and strong purpose. No matter your age, your station in life, your current status, there’s still time to breathe.

I’ll keep trying too.

j

In Progress on a Busy Day

Check out #icprompts on Instagram. I’m sharing some of my photos as prompts. Coming soon to Idleblog too!

Percussion & Repetition x 11.

The formula to something ritualistic and guttural? I don’t know for sure, but I’ve had these phrases stuck in my head for a while. I used to record and experiment plenty with sound, but I haven’t had the chance recently. I do want to lay some tracks down for a few song ideas which are going to become a narrative. I should add, most of the work I do recording demos revolves around creating a story-based songs. I love that feeling of telling a tale that unfolds like rain drops collecting as a puddle; constant, rhythmic and somewhat unfiltered. This concept I’m tinkering with may be an offshoot of a demo album I recorded long ago, called Headphone Music for Nowhere People. It feels similar, perhaps it’s because I hear electric guitar and noise which feels like it belongs in a post-apocalypse, like in that old album.

The Flood, from Headphone Music for Nowhere People (2009)

I’ve thought about recording it on my lunch hour, since I have to go home and see how the cats are doing. Recording demos is really the last thing I should be doing so it doesn’t help to try to cram it in right now. I should probably reserve my lunch time for self care and time to pause momentarily. I’m troubled by my inability to slow down. I can’t blame the coffee either. The mind just wants to race and commit every spare thought to developing a story. Perhaps I need to convince myself once again, that writing and recording is my therapy, and one that yields continuous joy.

I’ll keep you posted,

j

All

All of these beautiful people

All of these people that walked the earth

And the salt of our tongue, resisted

The hall of demons in afterbirth

All of these people that walked the earth

All of these people that walked the earth

And did the Shaman run to the fire?

All of these people that walked the earth

And did the hollow gram of desire

Find you the consequence of your worth?

All of these people that walked the earth

All of these people that walked the earth

You find me not in the short carousel

You find me spiraling down the well

With all these people that walked the earth

Your dream as common as prairie dirt

And I am certain it’s what we deserve

All of these people that walked the earth

All of these people that walked the earth

All of these people that walked the earth

CD Episode 1.28.19

Long week so far, but we’re getting there! Before I went on a work trip, I whipped out the trusty Zoom H1 to record the latest episode of Creative Drive. I thought it would be a good opportunity to polish the audio and see if it held up to the Audio-Technica we’re using for the other shows. I must say, I’m pretty impressed! In an effort to do these podcasts with the gear I already have, this will be a great tool to start using on the go!

On this episode of Creative Drive, it’s me flying solo as I try to reason with my lack of focus at the office these last few days, the worth of our efforts at work and home, and a big announcement about the new content coming to this site! (Maddie will most likely be joining me with some Book/Media recommendations next time around). Hope you enjoy!

j

Check our podcast page to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform!

To-Do List on a Late Monday Night

  1. Meal prep: Chicken in the slow cooker.
  2. Pack for out of town work trip.
  3. Scoop the catboxes.
  4. Record & upload short Creative Drive episode.
  5. Gratitude Journal/Writing

My son’s about to fall asleep. I’m taking a breather before I get going on the tasks at hand. Not all Mondays are created equal, and this one has been a bear to tackle. So here I am, bruised and slightly mauled by the workday, but I get to come home to a quiet place full of gratitude and comfort. Please make sure you do this: Find your moments of warmth, let go momentarily in the embrace of a loved one, a delicious meal or a dick joke from a dumbass friend. The medicine for the daily bear attack is in the morsels of joy you collect in the forest. So when you nourish yourself and emerge from the wilderness, you’ll find peace in the fact you have survived, and have fought fiercely. You have given it your all, and the wild did not claim you.

In the little moments of clarity before sleep leads me to my pillow, I aim to breathe easy, find gratitude, and complete the items listed above.

Update 1/29: Wasn’t able meal prep, but I’ll do that when I get back.

No matter where you are, no matter what your station is, find the good. Work on your to-dos. Create beautiful art when you can, and go easy on yourself.

Make art, make haste.

j

Hiding from the Bear called Monday.

Lonely Great (62818)

The great lonely is a place you rarely hear about
It is the emptiness between your heart and ribcage
The stale breath of an aging room
humming about someone else’s grief
just to feel it on its lips
The great lonely is a great plain for sage and horses
with no one round for miles
A place that does not claim you
that doesn’t know your name
or knows enough to mispronounce it
The great lonely is walking barefoot on a cool night
and they’ll never make more shoes.
A splinter borne of old words
and hardened skin
piercing at itself to no end
Voids in thought
and forgetting why you’re mad
The great lonely has a firm grasp
and remembers your name with ease
The great lonely is waking
The great lonely is sleeping
The great lonely is driving
The great lonely is productive
The great lonely is cooking lasagna
The great lonely is filing with dependents
The great lonely is a giraffe too tall for selfies with friends
The great lonely is the greasy spoon, delicious masked in hideous
The great lonely is a combat soldier captured in a traffic jam
The great lonely is a feral cat
supplanting expensive children
The great lonely is a lager wasted on the lips of youth dying to impress
The great lonely is a cloud over the Pacific
The great lonely is a fish tank
The great lonely is a whipping belt
The great lonely is teeth mocking the one with a cavity
The great lonely weep later
The great lonely are the dead at the wake.

j

When I would walk everywhere with a disposable camera, a long time ago.

The open cave welcomes joy and everything else.

On a Friday

full of freedom

I sang behind the wheel

The black days now behind me

I look forward to the miles ahead

And as the chorus left my lips

and I waved at the sorrowful faces of my neighbors

I rolled down the window to bathe

in the careless dance of the wind

I held the comforting song

in the cavern of my mouth

This cave soaring

above the speed limit

that held the wonder of my tone

The tune and wind and sunshine were a veil

and it made me feel an endless bliss

Just as the wasp slipped in at fifty miles an hour and into my mouth

and I rolled down

toward the black.

-Jaime Alejandro