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 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

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

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

Back from hiatus: New Addendum Episode!

Dear WordPressers,

Wow, it’s been months since I’ve been here. I missed it. I started a new job, so it turned the routine upside down for a short while. This whole staying creative while having a full time job and a small business is kinda difficult, but alas, the content is back! I’m so thrilled to start recording again, and equally stoked to share with you the new episode format, as well as musings on how to keep making art as a working class person.

Also, what are you all working on lately? Send me a comment and I’d love to give shout-outs on the podcast!

Make art, make haste.

-Jaime Alejandro

Listen here or check out the Addendum home page for other options (Itunes, etc!)

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

The Addendum Podcast is real now, I guess…

I sort of blinked and realized The Addendum Podcast is ten episodes in. The first five episodes are absolute garbage, but the more recent ones clearly sound like me getting my act together! I really do love this. It’s like my own method of immediate introspection. It allows me to form some thoughts about my day, my craft, and being able to manage a world that is telling you to stop being creative. That is the answer I want to get to: how to find room in life for the storytelling? The fun part right now is not giving up, and fall in love with fumbling through this exploration. It suits me much better than any of the other social networks.

The Addendum Podcast is now on iTunes and all over the place, so I really need to up my game. But hey, it’s cool, all of this is a learning process. Hopefully by the time people start listening, it will be a much more polished project.

Make art. Make haste.

-Jaime Alejandro.

No outline today. Progress!

There’s been very little activity this week, but what I did put together is documented on the ramblings at Addendum.

I’m trying to be less precious about every little recording I make. Every word I write. It’s less of a problem for me when I’m writing, but the process of recording audio is so dear to me that it’s been super difficult to me to get on the Anchor app every few days and just ramble. Ever since I started the Addendum recordings, my defense mechanism has been outlines and notes. It’s like my inner monologue is reminding me that if I am going to document my every little thought like an idiot, at least be organized about it. Today I made my first recordings without an outline. Progress!

Addendum is starting to feel as laid back as I originally intended it to be. So that’s pretty neat. If you wanna hear the ramblings of a creative with a dayjob, or you need a prompt about a wedding ring, check it out!

Make Art. Make haste!

-Jaime Alejandro

Addendum, is it working? It’s working!

Hello Scribes,

I give you “Addendum: An Idlewind Podcast.” This is my side project to prepare myself to actually podcast like a real person, and I’m starting to feel good about it. Just disregard the first two episodes, but check out the third one (link below). I’m very excited to continue this development. It’s like getting your thought process back.

I’m so thrilled to get this going and along with the Talking Text podcast! I intend to use those two projects to complement whatever writing routines or process you already have set, and offer great ways to jumpstart your next creative project.

If you’d like me to recite/record your work, don’t hesitate to reach out! Poetry, flash fiction and short stories would be great at this time!

Much love,

Jaime

https://anchor.fm/addendum/episodes/150c28c/embed?at=2390536