I'm still flying. And up here, there is no feeling but greatness. I am still amazed by the things that were left on the ground. Still shocked by the freedom of an unshakable smile. Days turned into nights turned into days and I just floated.
Things have been rough for me lately. Sometimes, when I'm left alone for long enough, I start to sink pretty low. Maybe that's a surprise to some, as I definitely don't talk about it. And, from the time of the death of my father-in-law to the disappointment in certain once-desired jobs to a summer of meager prospects and an ever-ringing debt collector - That low was taking its toll. It seeps. It slithers. It rolls on and on until its deep into me.
This time last week, there was only minor anticipation of a terrific birthday party that had been planned in my honor. I was thrilled that people were actually going to come and spend the better part of an entire day with me. I started working that around for day and had just begun to highball that idea when I was suddenly lifted up and up and up. One second. Okay, one night. Okay, one night and six pee sticks. Wham! Life changes.
Gone, now, is the low.
On clouds have I skipped for days now. Right through a terrific weekend of events, which was cloaked in a milieu of double celebration. Right through sharing our news to shouts of joy, tears of joy, laughter of joy, and even some disappointment - of joy. And I capped it all off with my birthday present to myself (which could never match Tracey's present)- a new tattoo. (That sound was the collective cringe of my parents.)
So, needless to say, the past week has been an amazing journey. Actually, it is but the start of the path. But really, I have been flying on adrenaline for a week and sleeping very little. So I was not surprised by, nor did I fight, the long and restful sleep I have engaged in all day. I have only seen a small bit the day - and I'm okay with that.
My eyes are wide open now to things I never thought about. I held a 5-pack of jumpers for an infant at Babies-R-Us and nearly wept. I am terrified in ways I didn't even know existed... but I am reassured constantly by loving voices assuring me that I'm going to do great. I always knew that I had the tools... that's apparent for a long time. But, if I'm being honest, I never imagined that I'd have the heart to be a father. Amazingly enough, it's there. I don't know where it came from, but it's there. It's guiding me now.
Other News: (In which I try to not be one of those people that ONLY talks about their child)
My new play is moving right along. There have been blogs in my past that were stunningly well written. These are not they. Alas, my creative energy is being spent elsewhere, and I'm enjoying it. I'm doing my MFA proud.
Spain won the Euro 2008 Tourney. I was thrilled for them. I was rooting for Germany originally - but I love an underdog. Especially when they come out of nowhere. (I now REALLY get that - oops, I talked about it).
Here is some evidence of my fumbling attempts at photography. Actually, our little Canon point and shoot really impresses me sometimes.
The first sunset on the day I found out that I'm going to be a father. This is why I'll always love the Sonoran Desert.
Thank you to everyone who has sent blessings and wishes. This have been the most incredible birthday gift I have ever received. It's weird, but such a small thing has changed me immeasurably. No matter what. I can feel that.
I just saw the move "Be Kind, Rewind." If you don't know it, it features Jack Black and Mos Def. Danny Glover is in there too. He needs new dentures... he can hardly speak anymore.
Anyway, I am oft on a rant about creativity these days. This, most of you know. This movie really got me thinking, though. If you've heard of this movie at all, you know that it's about a video store clerk and his buddy that have to film some famous movies like Ghostbusters and Rush Hour 2, because the buddy (Jack Black) became magnetized in an accident and erased all of the videos.
Underneath all of this, though, is a great story about holding onto our past and using our creative intellects to make things a little better. I could go on, but won't. It's a great movie and you should see it. Now on to my theme...
I am stricken lately by how few opportunities we have to create. Sure, there are those of us that work in creative endeavors, but it seems to me that, once upon a time, we all had little opportunities, at least. Perhaps it has been a steady decline into the bland and ordinary. And though I hate to sound so old fashioned - I have to, in part, blame the dilution of family interaction. Surely, this is not on the whole, but in large part, families are simply roommates these days. I picture days when families would sit around the dinner table and talk about their day. (As a teacher, I KNOW this isn't happening anymore. Many kids aren't even accountable to their parents anymore.) But I digress... After the meal, perhaps, they would retire to the living room to read or maybe listen, together, to a radio program. This inevitably was replaced by television, but I still remember times in my 1980's youth of sitting together with my family and watching gems like The Cosby Show and Cheers. Sure, maybe less imagination was needed, but the time and intent was the same.
I find myself wishing, quite often, that many of my students could have the family support and experiences that my brother and I were raised with. I can recall countless evenings spent with large family groups and talking about a wide variety of things. One can surely see the power of such interactions, since for us, it was not an everyday occurrence. Just having those moments as family passed through (or on our visits to them) made a huge impact on me. I remember my Auntie Paul and Auntie Carol swinging through a few times a year and regaling us with stories of family and their adventures together in extra-terrestrials and rocks and anything else that seemed to pop onto the table. We had some modern trappings. We had much more primitive video games and VCR's and stereos... but they never seemed to compare to hearing our grandfather talk of 1930's New Mexico. Or listening to our Uncle Eric and our father speak of Viet Nam or cowboy-ing around the southwest.
Flash forward. Today kids have cell phones and iPods and video games that are almost as real as real life. I still have faith, though, that moments like those can win out in the end. Maybe I am naive and maybe I'm just being a bit nostalgic, but is life that damned scary that we need constant escape? Maybe so. And I guess, in a round-about way, that is my point.
There was a time when the simple act of writing a letter to a loved one was all the escape one needed. And maybe the gentle and intricate act of perfecting the pen strokes - a sublime personal calligraphy - provided a tiny bit of creative release that made things okay again. Maybe, too, it was the venting of things we held inside. Whatever... we had communities. We experienced things together. I don't know if that's true anymore. Before cell phones, was the desire really there to talk to anyone and everyone while driving/walking/jogging/biking/shopping/gardening? I don't think it was. So has the capability produced the need? Is it an addiction?
An alternate theory.
"Be Kind, Rewind," at its heart, is the story of a community re-discovering why it loved being a community. Perhaps we have come to a point where we need constant stimulation and connection because constant stimulation and connection have actually separated us from our lives. Maybe our subconscious brains are screaming for something simpler... something real. Maybe we are yearning to re-discover our own communities.
Did anyone follow that?
Disgruntled by cherry pits,
(These are a couple of photos from my internet, cell phone free youth. I look miserable, don't I? Also, my mom made me the sweats I was wearing in the first picture... and I was totally satisfied. God, I feel like that curmudgeonly old man Dana Carvey used to play on SNL)
Today finds me in good spirits and overall harmony with most things. I wanted to send along a brief couple of notes on this momentous day. My new play, El Traje (whose title is rapidly speeding to ill favor) is about 1/4 way done. Writing plays is very hard work, especially if you do it right. (And let's not go there.)
Today, on my way home from the YMCA, I encountered a homeless woman at the Ronstadt Center. (Downtown Bus Depot for you outta towners.) She was, judging from her constant angry chattering of "Shut your goddamn mouth," quite insane. "So what yer telling us, Jed, is that there was a crazy homeless person at the bus station? Why not point out sand on a beach." Relax faithful readers, the Jed abides.
What made me take note was that this lady was smoking (and imbibing a strange yellow liquid) for two. That's right folks, she was preggers, to use the vernacular. Now, I'm sure this isn't the first instance of a transient pregnancy. Neither is it likely that this is the first pregnancy thrust upon the mentally ill. Both? Not sure. But for me.... this is a first. My mind instantly went to the conception for some reason, and I was instantly brought down. I won't lead you on the detailed journey my hive-brain took me on, but let's just say foul play is likely. I'm not sure what statement I am trying to make by writing about this, but man, if that weren't some crazy cup-o-tea.
Let's have a moment of silence for George Carlin. I was not a fan of all of his stuff, but he did make me laugh mightily on more than one occasion. Begin....
This loss put an unfortunately dark cap on a rant of late. Here was a man that broke convention so hard that they arrested him and tried to silence him. That's a hero, if you ask me. A real soldier for the 1st. May The Dude, like you know, tie his celestial room together... or something.
Oh, the rant? Thanks for asking. Who's going to replace Carlin. If you think about it, HUGE names in comedy can fit in one hand. Who is the next big comedy legend. Dane Cook? Only one problem I see there... He's not funny and that's a kinda big pre-requisite for being a comedian. Plus, there is a lot of evidence that he steals all of his s**t anyway... and that just makes him a damned ninny.
I guess what has bothered me of late is the overwhelming lack of talent that gets swirled out of media outlets everywhere we turn. Maybe this is a normal thing that happens when you turn a certain corner in age, but f**k mang, I ain't that sodding old. I'm young, in fact. But we live in an era where you can literally become famous for doing nothing. Paris Hilton, Nicole RICHie, anyone from reality television... you know the drill. Okay, so they did SOMETHING. They are media whores. They make total asses of themselves and lurk around to get on TMZ. Got it. But where is the talent? Where is the passion for a craft? Notice: You rarely see talented actors or musicians on tabloid shows. Why? Because their talent keeps them famous. If you don't have that, knock Suge Knight out and you're there baby.
I just read something (I don't remember all of it) that said something about, um, how kids today don't actually read. Or something. This thing I was reading, said something about how, like, because of tests and massive information and stuff, you know on the internet... that the best they can usually do is to skim. Something like that. I didn't really read it all.
That's scary. Or something.
I do try to be positive gentle readers. My students call me Negative Nancy. They are usually right. We live in an exceptionally cynical world, though. Picture if you will a man walking down the street. He's a younger fellow. He has on purple shoes and turquoise sweat pants. Say, is that a wolf t-shirt? Sure is... and a nice one too. A 'Who Farted' trucker cap? Man, this dude is fly. Let's say also that he has a huge, and I mean climactic, smile on his face. And that's that. We drive on by.
But be honest... what was your initial thought of that man? Was it that he was just a really happy guy with a unique and self-affirming sense of style? Was it?
No. You, like most people, probably thought that there was something wrong with him. Because the simple fact is that most of us can't imagine being that true and free.
I make this point to qualify that I am not alone. That's important.
(Born out of Musing #4)
At the Sonoran Desert Museum here in Tucson, they have something called Summer Saturday Nights. You get into the museum for cheap and most of the animals are more active. They also open up a restaurant called the Ocotillo Cafe, and it is awesome. Two prickly pear margaritas, in case you are wondering, is enough to really put a grin on yer face. For a while.
People are so effing stupid I can't stand it. There was this whole family walking around with L.E.D. flashlights (the really bright kind) and shining them into the enclosures. Ostensibly to see the animals better. I wanted to grab the light away from one particularly s**tty little s**t and shine it into his eyes. Tracey thought it wasn't a good idea. I got her point. They were far too stupid to grasp my meaning.
But, it was pretty out there and I took some neat fotos.
I am going to try, very diligently, to take one photograph of myself each day for the next year.
That's about all I have to share today... kinda muddled, I know. Next time will be better.
Here are some things I have seen and enjoy. Let's start a little discussion about them. (Read: Let's all prove we can actually use this medium for communication.) I am busy writing on my new play El Traje. Too busy to write here.
So, I recently had a bit of an argument with a chap about a matter of great importance to me. I wear my Bob Marley shirt quite frequently and have a bumper sticker on my car to boot. This guy said something about how Bob Marley would be ashamed if he heard the music his sons were making and that they are poorly representing the Marley name. To this, I replied, "You're a dildo."
(If you haven't been paying attention, Hester is this blog. You may ask, "Why is Hester female when you are so overwhelmingly masculine?" Such questions are really superfluous. One might be better rewarded by asking why all unicorns are hollow. Seriously, folks, roll with me)
Ehemm. Hester is a good ol' gal. She is here for me when others are simply ready to hit the mute button. Truth is, sometimes I have tendency to drone on about this or that. My didgeridoo wishes it could drone so long and so well. Many people just aren't ready for the blast of atomic intellect that oft flies fast and loose from these lips. And, really, that's okay.
On my walk this morning (and really in my subsequent shower) I was thinking of a terrifying fact. I wondered the fate of our dear creativity. Is it gone? If not, is it dying? Has it run off with other forgotten rebels like Jim Workethic? Florence Compassion? Bob Tolerance? I am unsure.
Let me back up a bit. As I was walking this morning, and really on most mornings, I am generally accompanied by several neighbors as we all meander around in the only cool air we are likely to have and rejoice that we have been granted another day. We do not speak, save the cursory "G'Morning" and we rarely look at each other. Alas, this is not my point. Each person has a right to that constitutional, as for many of us it provides catharsis. Nay, my example shall be far more specific.
The lady walking up ahead of me for several blocks seemed to have a very unfortunate deformity in which her right arm jagged upward at a severe angle and seemed glued to her ear. How awful, I thought. My friend Ray was born with only one arm and I know the struggles he has had because of it. Still, it's very courageous of her to be out like this. Why, we could all learn something from her spirit and her dedication to be seen as a regular person. Damned inspiring, this one. I wish my students could muster just one ounce of the gumption that - wait now... what's this? Oh. Sound Effect: Deflating balloon. She's talking on her fucking cell phone? At 5:30? On a beautiful walk?
My brother has a hypothesis that might fit here. He believes that many people (and in his particularly vehement rants, sorority girls) are incapable of being alone. Not necessarily afraid of the feeling of loneliness... just... incapable. They don't know what to do with themselves.
I saw The Incredible Hulk this past weekend. It's great. It's totally action packed and full of great puns - the whole nine. It also does every single bit of thinking for you. Which is AWESOME! Or, is it? On my drive home from seeing the movie alone (ALONE), I remembered back to my childhood and the old Hulk television serious with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferigno. (Sp?) It was f**king horrible. The editing was lousy, the plots were laughable, the effects were ludicrous. However.... I did not know that at the time. These revelations have come but recently with the injection of over-stimulated frontal lobe and an over-priced MFA. As a child, that show was as incredible as the Hulk's moniker implies.
Let's get on with it. There was a time, not so long ago, when we all had to imagine things. The old Hulk t.v. show was awesome because my imagination was raging (much like the Colorado river used to rage, before we built those monsterous dams to stifle her - Side Rant). My imagination was steroid for the lame effects and terrible writing. Now, with this and many other new movies, anything can be shown to us. Right there for our little orbs to soak up. And sure, there are benefits to that. It does make things a damn sight more interesting. Sometimes. But as I thought about this all, I really started to worry. Maybe today's generation, and those to come, don't know how to imagine anymore. Do they daydream? Do they work up silly scenarios for nothing more than amusement? Can they?
If a middle-aged woman can't enhance her walking experience solely with the thoughts her head can whip up, can our kids?
CUE GIANT SOAPBOX
Seriously. These days, we have absolutely ZERO time to teach. And what's more... if it's not on the test, it is simply not important. I have heard those words VERBATIM. That's scary. We are so busy trying to save our own asses that we are leaving theirs completely bare. And when we do take the time to really dig in and buck the system, it's all about logic and critical thought. The arts are typically considered to be fillers. And if you ask an administrator, they'll give you the standard response, sure. They know all the right things to say. "The Arts are very important." Ask them, though, if they know why. I could rant for a decade about this, but I will not. Instead, I'll let Ken Robinson do it. He's WAAAY better at it anyway. So, take some time and watch this.
That picture up there represents my feelings on the matter. That's what I saw on my walk.
We live in profoundly cynical world, and sometimes we just need beauty and imagination for the sake of beauty and imagination. I saw a homeless man once as I drove home after a particularly awful day at Compass. He was on his knees and he had is arms raised to the sky. I immediately tuned my brain to scenarios of misery. Of mental illness and the way we don't care and push people aside. How awful a life that man leads, I thought. What a miserable f**king wretch. I arrived home shortly thereafter and as I turned away from my car, my eyes were really opened. The sun was setting and painting the sky with infinite hope. Colors upon colors upon the salvation of humankind blending perfectly with the Earth. I could hear the collective groan of universal release. I was one with everything and still so small. Really... It was fresh panties.
I judged that man too soon. I had complicated my lives. We all complicate our lives. We don't see what's around us. And if I'm speaking out of turn and you DO... then help someone else to see it too.>
... If you're new here, you might be thinking - Oh, great! Another tortured artist with brilliance suppressed. Please do not be alarmed. This is in jest. An ode, as it were, to some fine people I have known who seem to merely rally under a darker banner than most. I just like the way the blog looks in black - I was trying to be funny. Please don't call a suicide interventionist.
In the spirit of that for which my blog, henceforth known as Hester, allow me to regale you with some of my real, inspired, well-though poetry.
I sat there and wondered what that feeling was that bubbled itself deep from my gut and morphed into a great ball of disgust and fear. I looked to my left to see myself. Sitting there, in a plush chair I don't deserve, insect legs, waving back and saying, "Hola, I am the Sun God." I look to my left to see Thompson, shrugging, just like me. I look to my left to see a great big Kit Kat bar with a fantastic mustache. "That's epic lip hair, cat." And he says, "You look like my cousing Leonard." I look to my left to see my right.
See, I once met this man on my way to Cardiff. His eyes were closed. I pleaded with him to open his eyes and see the beauty that surrounded him. He tells me that his life walked out the door with the cable guy. "She," he said, "was beautiful." I could tell that he didn't want to ruin that. One last perfect image. Somewhere in his throat was a bubble just like mine. I reached down and pulled a soiled flower from the wet sod beneath my feet. I gripped it in my hand as tightly as I could. My hand began to disappear. It was hard to hold on. I reached up with my other hand and pried open his heavy lids. I wanted to show him. "Look at this. Remember her in these." But as they unsealed themselves... they became ears. And I realized that I'd ruined it. The way he didn't want it ruined. But back there in my chair my bubble turned to sorrow.
Pure. Unadulterated. "Change is always there." A voice from behind me. Behind me is my past.
(Here I have omitted some things. This was writing regarding concrete issues. At the time, I worked at a wonderful school teaching amazing things to awesome kids. Unfortunately, the school was run by a complete megalomaniac. Most of this post was in regards to that. It was a painful time. So much potential but so little faith from those that could really make it happen. )
I miss simplicity in all things. An orange peel smells like orange. I wish it was always like that.
I am about to turn 30 years old in a week. People are telling me that I am going to freak out. So far, I have not. I'm not sure I will. 30 is still just a blip on the radar of existence, isn't it? After all, I have much left to achieve. I realize that I have enjoyed blogging in the past, but I take a different approach. I have noticed that much of the internet-generation considers this a place to write about very personal things. I guess I don't avoid that, but I am a poet in my dreams. Thus, my musings tend to take a bit of a creative slant. I am totally okay with that. I am hoping to get this out to people and whatnot... maybe you can read it and find something to laugh at. Or something to ponder. Maybe you can just print them out and use them as kindling... hey, as long as you read them, I am happy. I have a motivation issue. I may go long periods with nothing and then a few big posts in a row. I have not written seriously since 2004 and now I have 3 plays in the works. Typical of me. Enjoy and feel free to comment and tell me I am totally full of it. I appreciate friendly discourse.
Here (Oderint Dum Metuant) is an old blog from a couple of years ago. I really liked it then, and think it still means a lot to me.