Music and Bootstraps

(and a new outlook)

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get out of my head. New songs help. As we all know, the year has wreaked havoc and has us punching ourselves in the head from the inside as we wrassle with fight or flight. Anyone? Maybe it’s just me.

Fortunately, I’ve been having great creative sessions with one of my dear friends. I’m sharing project details on The Writing Record, so check it out! So much creative progress has occurred in recent weeks, that our skype calls have become a temporary escape from the anxiety of our new normal. Our world on fire. A pandemic of real cost and consequence for half the country, and a farce labeled as such by the other half. Our orange president speaking in tongues and soaking with incoherence those of us in the front row. Uncertain times, for sure. Fatalistic? Most definitely. That’s my primary setting.

Nonetheless, world aflame and all that shit, I am now left with a clarity of joy and purpose I had forgotten about. I remembered what it was like to get out of my head. I’ve been working with my friend Dane on a mini-musical that we hope to finish by the end of September. One song a week. Four songs. Incidental music and a small helping of dialogue to strengthen the through-line, and then voila! We will have something new. But already, collaborating has led me to this obvious revelation: Bootstrapping your way through life is fun and all, but have you ever bootstrapped your way through life without boots? Boots aren’t for me. My feet sweat at the thought of helping myself, I suppose. What’s better than finding hope and drive and dignity at the bottom of your worn boots? Helping your friends find their boots, and reaching out in case they need a hand with their straps.

Is that so goddamn hard to ask?

I ask this of myself first. Because why should I chastise anyone without confronting my own bootstrapped feet? (not to mention, I have boots for days at home)…

I just don’t want to keep thinking about bootstraps and giving my neighbors the finger when I can lend the whole hand. Few working class people are having a grand old time right now. These feelings of panic and distress are only escalated by our collective scarcity mindset. Speaking for myself, I find I have a scarcity mindset that at times permeates into my emotions as well. I feel as if I don’t have enough to give. But what can we do when scarcity is the only song we were ever taught? It was the only song we learned, because it doesn’t have many notes and it’s easy to remember by ear. We sing it to anyone who will listen, and its melody is simple and contagious and so everyone picks it up and continues to propagate it. What the fuck are we doing? The wealthiest nation in the world is an orchestra and it loves to play Mary Had a Little Lamb. I’d like to hear that orchestra at its full potential someday.

And as I try to grapple, once again, time and again, with the magnitude of the issues we face as a country, and the fact I feel helpless in the slung heaps of injustice and hurt and sickness of our American everyday, I must remind myself I am not the orchestra, but the stray clarinet player doing the best he can. Indeed, I have my part to play, but so do the rest of us.

So this is where the clarity of joy and purpose found me. I felt it guiding me to a better place, emotionally. I felt the hurt and heartbreak leave my body for a brief time. I forgot about the fires, and the injustices, and the goddamned pandemic, and the horsemen’s additional bag of pending plagues. Thanks to a friend who took the time to reach out and offer a temporary diversion, I put my panic attacks on hold and stepped into a familiar pool of light: One of hope and possibility. Sweet wounded Jesus and the heavens above, we all need that right now. Hope and possibility.

I’m not a doctor or a health services professional. I’m not a fireman or a nurse. I can’t kill the fires with my bare hands and I sure as hell can’t step into an emergency room and clobber COVID with roundhouse kicks. I’m barely an essential worker. But what I can do, is bring hope and levity to the people I care about. I miss my Mother and Father, my sisters too. I miss my friends, and the times when we made each other laugh in person. I miss so many things and I know you do too. I’m not in a position of power; I can’t fight the pandemic with executive orders or legislation. I’m just a guy who writes and records. But no matter what my jaded self tells me, I know there’s new songs out there for us to play. I’m pretty sure you can find one too. All ears on deck.

…I think I found mine. I think it’s true. And if I play this hopeful part on the clarinet just right, maybe the bassoons and oboes will join in, enticing the woodwinds, and then the brass and the strings and even the fella who dings the triangle is welcome to join in. Maybe it’ll just be me and my friends, but at least we won’t be bootstrapping on our own.

All I wanted to say is I am feeling better, optimistic, and bearing a lighter emotional tone. So I will be consolidating a few things in the coming weeks on idlewy.blog, and prepare for a new chapter of collaboration by sharing this blog and this space with my creative allies to make great shit, and to promote joy. Let’s see what sticks.

Much love,

j

dictation leads to surprises

Dictation software is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s one of those pieces of technology that reminds me of how many advances we have at our fingertips to document and create. I was on a call recently, speaking Spanish over the phone, and forgot to turn off my dictation software. I had google docs open and as I walked away from the desk, the program transcribed my Spanish conversation into the word document as English. The result is the following poem. Nothing I said on the phone was actually mentioned in the poem, and it’s as if the computer tried to do its best to create a picture. I am baffled by the computer’s misguided and incredible reinterpretation of the sound of my voice. It’s a wonderful opportunity to let go and see things differently. I have decided I am going to try to create more of this type of work soon. It’s a complete reinvention and I love the unexpected turns it takes. Google Docs has a built in dictation software, so anyone can try! Have you tried collaborating with a dictation software? What were your results?

Much love,

j

Hey Ahmad is J,

thus my DNA is still

yet they could as he

and nobody has started a loneliness on the lot

similar because in the assembly will

and Don says and owns a look at alums

as a reality on this

but I get we made the illness

but again is a business as a Mona

see it the same as if no one else made no mistakes

in the by the proxy

must a Mona bougainvillea started

I see Mejia okay but I will take on this delay

will gamely begin as they

I know that was

yet a little cement

your problem okay million

Ahmad will think of the Libyan all 

yeah you that the opulent data

estate note that you have a new quarterly

simpler okay

is the interest of the aesthete

they gave God for five or many

cryptic on the photos

okay, a million, is Daniel’s,

Grandma’s,

and lungs is not as they develop

multimedia in newness

okay

Adios

we had the right

Rest Week

As an essential worker, I’ve been working in a complicated and stressful work environment for five months. It’s been incredibly rewarding to try to help people in difficult situations, but like the entire country, I am exhausted. I am tremendously grateful that I am still employed during this unsettling time. But I got a week off to breathe and spend time with my family. I’ll be looking over what I’ve done this year and what will be coming.

  • Fired up my old Nook eReader and holy shit, it still works! I loaded up some books I’ll be reading this year and next, including Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, and some Vonnegut and Bradbury for good measure. The best way to fall in love with writing again is to fall in love with reading.
  • I ordered two novels I have been meaning to read ever since I saw their film adaptations: Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon, and Sideways, by Rex Pickett. From the moment I saw the film versions of these stories, I absolutely fell in love with them. And now I am excited to look at the source material and explore what makes these stories so intriguing to me.
  • Since the beginning of the year, I have been working with my friends at A Better Beauty Business setup their podcast and other multimedia content. While their endeavors are specifically about starting and maintaining a beauty business, it’s been such an incredible experience learning from Jess and Heidi about the pursuit of clear goals. I am learning to assess my goals in life and how to reach them. We’ll be working on more content soon!
  • Bought the first batch of camping supplies, we’re hoping to start out family camping adventures soon! Just a disclaimer: we are indoor people. We don’t do this outdoor thing, but we are about to change that! During this pandemic, it is essential we find self-care wherever we can get it. Camping may be that beautiful opportunity for us, so we’ll see what happens!

May this be a week of joy and peace for you. And creativity too!

Much love,

j

Bag, etc.

I saw that bag from the American Beauty movie, and it is still as magical as ever. And when I felt my breath disappear in one hard gasp, I couldn’t tell if I was crying because of how beautiful it was, or because I live in a landfill.

j

7.27.20 – Self care and time management venting session

Happy Monday All!

Come along as I discuss a few attempts at self care this past week, as well as the tangle of projects in need of problem solving. So in a nutshell:

  • It’s okay to read your work and be proud of it. Doing that got me through the beginning of a busy week.
  • The creative life is plentiful with stories and projects to get done: a children’s book, a songwriting collaboration, podcasting, a new story idea, and a master list of pending projects waiting for me! But what else is new? Prioritize!
  • We all have a lot going on, in work, life, and the creative pursuit: Sometimes, chilling out with your friends and loved ones is ok.

Much love,

j

If you’re a creative with a day-job, I’d love to hear about your projects! Say hi at @idlewy Visit idlewy.blog for more content by and for working class creatives!

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Status Report 7.19.20

So here’s the latest from the working class creative who wants to find more time and progress:

  • The Master List is Working! (Back in Mid-May, I wrote down all the projects I have been postponing, and decided to tackle them one at a time!) It’s early. Very early. But I am sort of astonished that in two months, I’m experiencing a writing momentum I haven’t experienced in a few years. The writing is strong, but the recording projects have suffered. I only did one episode of The Writing Record this week, and we had a setback with Creative Drive, waiting on some additions from the artist. Will work on those tonight, can’t wait to get started!
  • Poetry collection now on paperback. My foray into self-publishing has involved loads of learning. I’ll be covering how I went about setting up the paperback version on tomorrow’s Writing Record, and will be sharing thoughts on the digital setup once I get that done. (The cover was a nightmare…)
  • Finally, a decent draft! Writing a children’s book is a Writing 101 adventure in economy and letting go. Today, I wrapped up a draft I finally feel I can use as a foundation for rewrites, but I still have to lose 300 words or so! More to come on The Writing Record

More to come next week! Much love,

j

Let me know how your projects are going on Twitter @idlewy!

7.13.20 – Childrens Book Breakthrough + Poetry Collection Complete!

Overcoming a broken outline after you’ve done a few drafts…

Hi people!

  • I wanted to breakdown a massive breakthrough I had while writing the third draft of my children’s book from scratch once again. I talk to myself about the method I used to solve the problem when the previous versions were completely void of dramatic momentum.
  • Also, thanks to my amazing wife, the poetry manuscript is complete! A quick update on the roadblocks of self publication and what is left to do before I get to publish!

I’d love to hear how you stay creative with a dayjob! You can find me here: Twitter and Instagram!

Much love,

j

some grief poems appear en español.

All of us go

Suddenly and thorned

When the favors end

do not cry, when we are absent

at the table —

Fine Danube,

and how far, from my humble colors,

how is it that these directions we have arrived to,

and already far along,

resentful?

If I was barely saying goodbye?

-j

7.6.20 – Videotape play complete (again)! And lessons learned from poetry

  • I talk about this old script I brought back from the dead and submitted to a competition. You learn a lot about how far you’ve come when you actually look back.
  • Poetry collection in its final stages! And the emotional lessons of not sharing anything.

Keep sharing your art. We need it now more than ever. Much love,

j

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Videotape, or Lupe at the End of the World. A play I dug up from the grave to submit to a competition last week. There’s life in it still!

Midweek 6.16.20

  • My office plant, weakened by excessive air conditioning in the office building, came home with me last week. Convalescence in the guest bedroom. On my writing desk. Its new home.
  • And here’s the recap of my creative pursuit this weekend on The Writing Record: Children’s Book Developments and Podcasting at the last minute!

Much love,

j