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 7.19.19

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

Prompt Time!

Time to get the Instagram prompts over to the blog! Check them out if you are in need of of a little spark to jumpstart your creativity. Let’s see how this goes!

“How is it that everything changed when you came down?”

#makeartmakehaste

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

Noteworthy Links

This song has been stuck in my head all week. Welcome to Throwback Country.

Hope America’s birthday weekend is going well for you all! Just wanted to share a few links I found illuminating and/or interesting. Also, having them here will be useful to check out later. Thanks for stopping by!

1. The Daily is becoming my go to podcast for current events and general discontent. This episode of the detention center in Clint, TX about made my blood boil. Not the best way to start the week, but no way to avoid it anymore. No matter the circumstance, we are talking about children: Toddlers, babies, young lives forever broken for the sake of politics.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/podcasts/the-daily/migrant-children-border-detention-clint-texas.html

2. This one just makes me so thrilled to be working on a brand new, poetry-based iteration of my Creative Drive podcast. Oh how much fun would it be!

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/29/737073800/podcasts-are-providing-a-new-way-into-poetry

3. And this New Yorker article just turns me into a pendulum of love and hate for Instagram. I’m conflicted and I’m afraid I don’t know if IG is doing poetry good or if it even matters. Social media makes me fairly existential, if you haven’t noticed…

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/yrsa-daley-ward-breaks-out-of-the-instapoetry-pack-with-her-memoir-the-terrible

4. Late into Wednesday night, I had the 90s classic “Barely Breathing” on repeat and still going strong. I wondered what had been of Duncan Sheik outside of Spring Awakening. He always struck me as an incredible talent, but on a whim, I went down the youtube rabbit hole and found this performance, which really highlights his work as a songwriter of the highest caliber. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

5. Lastly, I found this story illuminating on what’s happening to our neighbors in Gillette. About six hundred employees went in to work Monday morning and were sent home. I’ve been pondering this the entire week and I hope we can come together as a state-wide community and help any way we can. 

https://www.wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/meltdown-started-coal-bankruptcy-dramatically-unfolds?fbclid=IwAR2hF_srkH3_Ab13EQoQurJknnTAaaJNe2XX7KRfdjCqUprh5LGbe1XrySQ#stream/0

Hope to stay up and work on something. I’ll keep you posted!

j

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

91718: to the time I held the guitar for three days when you departed.

I wanted to know why the hands

stopped

yearning

for the strings

they were caked

bumps and callous patterns

not the right

kind of progressions

not the desired ones

yet underneath

the stuttering grip

and the delicate-less

fumble of the fretless

here I set beyond the waking hours

with the deepest of needs

before sunrise

why the strumming

why the strumming

why the strumming had to stop.

-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