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 8.16.19

Hello Void,

Yes, I’m talking to you, that elusive folks in this realm where our digital thoughts and media and memories go float until someone stumbles into them. At first, the notion of calling the internet a Void is to deem it a dark and cold place, but I don’t think that, really. I go back and forth, but mostly, my overall opinion is that the internet is a place where the positive connections will outweigh the negative. This is why I’m here, taking the time to share a few links and things, in hopes that it will spark something to us back to our creative ways.

  1. My wife gifted me a couple of books for our anniversary and I couldn’t be happier to get started on them. I just wrapped up Austin Kleon’s superb reference for artists Steal Like an Artist. If you need a kick up the rear to get going, this is as good as it’s going to get. What a playful, inspiring read!
  2. I love comedians. I love them as practitioners, bohemians, and all of their flawed, weird hilarity. Here’s an interesting conversation between Ricky Gervais and Sam Harris, discussing the nature of all things comedy, social media, and the state of the world.
  3. I’ve shared this before, but it makes my heart soar. My brother-in-law introduced us to this Shakey Graves song when our son was a baby, and I recall playing it on those late nights when scant sleep and long days turned life upside down. My baby would dance and sway back and forth clumsily and gift us a smile. And nothing made me smile a deep smile of pride from my bones and belly and heart than that little memory.

I kind of like sharing three things. It’s short and sweet, and I’m all about saving time. Madd and I will get to podcasting this weekend, hangout with our dear friends who are here from out of town, and of course, the quest to write the latest project is underway. Using Austin Kleon’s calendar advice, I’m going to continue working on my short stories, as well as the children’s play due at the end of September for the Casper Children’s Theater. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s Friday, and burnout is our refrain as we welcome the weekend. Take care of yourself. I’ll try too.

j

Noteworthy 7.19.19

Friday night and my remedy of choice is tequila and grapefruit juice. While it’s been a busy, intense week, I’m equal parts fulfilled and relieved. The next two days off will be chock-full of yard work, house work, creative work, and always family time (which is the ultimate remedy).

  1. So here’s a fun writing exercise that will get the cobwebs out of your brain. I’m trying this one myself as soon as I can! Emoji Storytelling!
  2. This NoFilmSchool article on Jon Favreau was a light treat in the middle of the week. I truly respect his work ethic and progression from humble beginnings as an improv guy to one of the best directors working today. The path of a complete, collaborative artist.
  3. As I commit to poetry more and more this summer, I am humbled by the learning process, as well as the unforgiving, but ever rewarding journey of creative growth. I have a long way to go. For now, let’s marvel at someone who really knows what he’s doing, Mr. Billy Collins. His understated and inviting work really inspires me to do better. If you haven’t already, enjoy his reading of “The Lanyard.”
  4. Thank you Thom for putting out the outstanding solo album, Anima. If you haven’t had a chance, please check out the sublime and kickass one reeler on Netflix by the excellent Paul Thomas Anderson and Thom. This is the type of work we need right now and the hope of the music film medium lives to another day!
  5. The week has been scored by Sufjan Stevens’ masterpiece, Carrie & Lowell. The melancholy in my writing and journaling has found its soundtrack. This is such a jewel of a confessional album, that the grief and catharsis of such an honest work just spills into your own life and you can’t help but accept that communal heartbreak. Love every second of it and have had it on repeat nonstop.

Happy weekend, friends. Be well and make art, make haste.

j

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

Parade Day

The parade started at 10am and I thought I would get to sleep in. No parent with a young child gets to sleep in. This is my burden to bear and I accepted it as I woke earlier than I wanted to for a day I wasn’t prepared for.

I decided yesterday I would take today off for the local Parade Day. I figured it would be a great opportunity to spend quality time with my son and get to do the things we didn’t get to do last weekend.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I struggle with being present. I have a conceptual, scatterbrained mind that takes me decades into the future, then to the lessons I keep forgetting, then to next weekend, then to what’s in front of me. I need to look into that. But for the time being, I have condensed my goal for self-betterment into a concise, attainable focus:

Be present at least once a day. Don’t wander, get out of your head. Enjoy what’s in front of you.

Be present. My son deserves that from me. Typing this as the day comes to an end, I’m feeling pretty good about our outings. In spite of the parking availability, we made it just as the parade was getting underway. Second Street was lined with families and their eager children with their hands hungry for candy and handouts and they littered the edges of a road suddenly too small for parade floats. Then came the local clubs and real estate teams and other floats by organizations of influence and goodwill in our city, and the joy was palpable and bright on a breezy morning. We got sprayed by the water soakers, we got more tootsie rolls than we could handle, and even a little jump rope for my son to practice his hopping. I hadn’t even considered leaving, but after a solid forty five minutes, my boy was ready to go exploring downtown. Hoping to remain in the moment, I opted to let him lead for a little while. 

He examined the splash pad downtown. He hopped around and asked for a lollipop from his parade loot. He said he wanted to sit down and relax so we went into the coffee shop for some shade and a snack. 

We counted the candy spoils and sat enjoying our drinks and our shared chocolate chip cookie. And I didn’t think about anything else. 

These days are a luxury. This is why I opt to take something from them because I know they are few and far between. In those moments when we rise to the surface, and gasp for air before plunging back into the depths of adulthood, I think there is time to evaluate what is good about our pursuits, and why it’s important to stay the course. We must seize the opportunity to look at what’s in front of us, and grant ourselves the clarity to be moved and to be truthful about how things are actually going for us.

I’m lucky because I get to have moments of reflection more and more. I get to pause when others simply cannot. But it didn’t use to be that way. Just two short years ago, I was gasping for air every single day. My pursuits were not aligning with the person I wanted to be and I was investing my time and energy into something that wasn’t compatible with my life anymore. I remember feeling suffocated and directionless and joyless. With those bitter memories faintly echoing in my heart, I am reminded to take nothing for granted. So go forth, enjoy your families, let your commitment to the now grant you the clarity you’re looking for, and joy will come. 

I hope you get a parade day yourself very soon. You deserve that.

j

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.

My short podcast reaching its final form!

Hello Creatives,

My schedule is still busy but I’m starting to find my groove. I started recording this version of my short podcast a few weeks ago but I figured it’s time I get it on the blog! It’s taken some time to find what works, but this will be a great experiment to pursue. the ingredients were there: My desire to document and share my creative mistakes, the travails of a working class person, the time management or lack-there-of, the search for creative discipline. It sounds awesome but it’s not quite there yet. I am incredibly hopeful I can continue to learn and grow thanks to this creative exercise.

The show is CREATIVE DRIVE, a short pod recorded in my car during my commute to and from work. It’s brief, lo-fi, and an honest commentary about how to stay creatively fulfilled. We working class creatives find time, no matter what. So here we go!

Make art, make haste.

-Jaime Alejandro

Listen to Creative Drive on Anchor!

creativedrivetrack (2)
Temporary artwork until I can polish the perfect design!

Trying to do better.

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I have been working on my photography, lugging my GH4 around, trying to work with the tools I already have. This was from a walk we took on 8/21/18, I’m so grateful for my family as they put up with me and the damn camera. More to come.

Hi all,

I am consolidating the content, so you’ll be seeing more of the stuff from Instagram making its way over here, like the photo featured above. I’m still wrapping up some videography and currently refining the Idlewind gameplan on my breaks at work. This has been a long transition. Most of this summer was a daily battle against routine problems, and because I didn’t want my posts to become redundant, I stopped writing. I focused on the writing prompts and ignored the other impulses to keep the blog and podcast going. I blamed lack of time and blamed my other responsibilities. As the summer winds down, I have come to realize that there is no excuse for lack of discipline. If you want to reach your goals, you must be disciplined. This is my downfall: I am not disciplined. At all.

This has always made my life difficult. I know some of you out there may feel this way and feel like the world doesn’t understand us. Why am I always running out of time? Why am I not learning fast enough? Why does this happen to me? Let’s face it: That problem is an internal one, not external. It’s taken me way too long to come to terms with this. My lack of organization, lack of discipline, lack of commitment has left me in a stagnant state. And I have brought this upon myself. Luckily, I am a human being, and I can choose to learn from my mistakes. Over time, I feel I have matured enough that I’ve cleaned up my act in my adult life. I try my best to maintain a schedule, to be reliable and stay disciplined in my daily life. Now, the only area lacking discipline is of course, the writing. When I was younger I would rely on the jolt of creative energy to strike me and guide me to the end of the writing process. I would ride the lightning bolt. This is all well and good until you run out of lightning bolts. You can’t live on that shit. You have to create lightning storms.

In college, we had a guest artist visit our school and we had the opportunity to work with said professional. This individual brought that east coast attitude, a straightforwardness that I wasn’t used to. I was raised in a small town in Wyoming, I didn’t know how to deal with that level of directness. Don’t get me wrong, his criticisms in acting class were not out of line. This professor was not a villain, but I saw him as one, because when I was a kid, I thought anyone asking me to change was asking me to compromise who I was. So I didn’t listen when I should have been. As you can guess, I didn’t do very well in his class. I went to see him at his office and long-story short, he asked me what I wanted to do with my writing, he wanted to know the end goal. I told him I wanted to write movies. That’s when he said “I don’t think that’s going to work out for you. Movies and TV, with all their deadlines, that’s not what you’re cut out for. You need time, you need to keep writing plays.”

I didn’t know how to deal with that honesty, so I took it as an attack. Clenching my teeth I left his office and bitched for hours in my head. How dare he pigeonhole me? How dare he know what I can and can’t do? Fuck that guy. I got so offended I forgot to listen to what he was telling me: All those hours in class for an entire semester, and I never showed him what I could do. He could see I was a talented guy. In class he would compliment my performances and my directing instincts, but I was always unprepared, half-assing my assignments, jumping from one distraction to the next. In that office, he wasn’t limiting my prospects or pigeonholing me: He was daring me to do better. To take it to the next level. He saw talent without discipline.

Any writer worth a damn knows discipline lies at the core of a solid, fulfilling writing life. I’ve never had that because I relied so heavily on my talent that I didn’t develop the other half of the equation. And now I am playing catch-up. Instead of developing good writing habits and focusing on those I distracted myself for most of the summer. I told myself my video work was getting in the way, or that work was rough or (insert dad responsibility here_____________________). That’s no way to live.

So I say enough with the distractions and excuses: I got so hung up on generating content and how to distribute it that I stopped writing for me. I’m putting the phone down for a minute because I have a problem wasting time online (am I alone on this one?) I’m planning to set a time to write daily, even if it’s just a few minutes. My wife bought me a new notebook and I am grateful for that. I’m all out of excuses, friends. I stopped thinking about the things I care about and want to say. Please don’t make the same mistake. Focus, be an adult about what you have to do. Write for yourself first. Write honestly and from your gut. Share it with those you love and those you don’t know. Let it out. This is what I want to do as well.

As the night came to a close, and I finished the last of this rant, the internet led me to Todd Solondz. I was reminded of an artist whose art consistently divides but reminds us that there should always be a place for the kind of work that man is creating. And there is room in the world for your work too. And mine as well.

I leave you with this brief interview with Todd about his work. Enjoy! 10 questions for Todd Solondz

It’s a little after midnight as I write this. It’s already Monday. But I’m ready to do better.

Make art, make haste.

-Jaime Alejandro

Everything changes. And that’s ok.

Momentum swells and recedes at a moment’s notice. So much has changed in the last month that I’ve had to recalibrate my commitment to the blog and the Idlewind collective endeavors. Today I started a full time position working as an office assistant– It’s a really wonderful thing for my family and I, and you know what? It’s also a wonderful thing for my creativity:

If I really want to stay creative, I will make it happen. If I don’t care for it, something else will take its place. But I can’t let that happen, I consider this a great challenge. The time is now to put my beliefs about creativity and storytelling and willpower to the test. And I couldn’t be more excited!

As you know we have the Addendum podcast, now streaming everywhere! I find this super exciting because I’m lining up some great interviews with great friends who are working class creatives striving to make great work. And of course, contact me if you’re a creative with a day job making art!

I’ll be sharing some daily commentary on my Anchor account as well, which will be more on the fly recordings about my creative progress to complement the Addendum interviews.

Oh, and there will be more bite sized content coming your way. Stay tuned, and if you have any tips on how I’m gonna get through it, please pass them on. The next chapter begins now…

Make art. Make haste.

-Jaime Alejandro