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Are you a working class creative? Share your story with me on The Addendum Podcast!

-Jaime Alejandro

P.S. What the hell is this all about? What is Idlewind Collective? Check out my first post.

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30 mph

There’s a stretch of road that leads to my neighborhood in a little town in Wyoming. As I drive through, I hear a refrain from my childhood.

The speed limit is 30 miles per hour, and nobody follows it. Most people find it a perfect opportunity to step on the gas to tempt the onlooking authorities to start issuing tickets. Between the big trucks coal-rolling and commuters eager to get home, the average speed limit becomes 40. Perhaps I’m an old soul, but I don’t like risking it: I keep my odometer at 29 hovering on 30 and that’s that! Yes, I’m likely that old sour grape you see behind the wheel as you blast the AC/DC or race to your early morning meetings. I don’t mean to generalize, I don’t know your life. Or maybe you’re okay following the rules and staying in your lane like me. I’ve driven this road plenty since we moved into our home nearly two years ago, and just recently it struck me that I’m not just annoyed by those who ignored the speed limit: I’m actually terrified of getting pulled over.

It’s a fear that takes over and rumbles below my heart and aches at the sight of a police officer. I know the authorities are just trying to do their job the best they can with what they have and they are not out to get me. I have not had an issue ever with a police officer, and I understand I don’t have it as bad as others. Nevertheless, there’s a fear that is built into my DNA and it reminds me not to get too comfortable, even when I’m in my own town. I’m still a brown kid who’s listening to his mother’s voice.

Growing up, this brown kid hardly experienced discrimination in the great Cowboy State. But I’m lucky. I’m conditioned to experience these peculiar moments of emotional recall sparingly. I’m privileged. I didn’t experience Wyoming like my Amá did at the restaurants and hotels. I didn’t get to hear what my Apá heard at the construction sites. I was and continue to be this fortunate thanks to their sacrifices, and I learned quite quickly that things worked differently for kids who spoke English real good.

Now, we didn’t turn our backs on our culture. My sisters and I were raised in a Mexican household in the Old West. Those thin duplex walls contained a safe haven of Latinidad filled with nightly novelas, carne con chile and a constant quest to strengthen and maintain our connection to Mexico. As you can imagine, this can be difficult to accomplish in Wyoming. We started our Wyoming story in 1996, before the internet was really a thing. Sure, we had our little Latino community that kept us afloat. I would overhear conversations between my parents and their friends after a heavy meal to celebrate the Day of the Virgen de Guadalupe, on the 12th of December. They would talk of how far the Apás would have to drive in the snow to get to the oil fields during the week, or how their parents are doing back in Chihuahua or Jalisco or Michoacán, or when was the last time they made the pilgrimage to see them again. We shared holidays and important events together, like a support group for transplants who took a wrong turn on the way home. This is part of my Latinidad, and the way I learned to be Mexican. 

Every now and then, they would speak of how someone got deported after an inconvenient traffic stop, and that if we don’t bring attention to ourselves, we would have nothing to fear. You’ll be fine, they all concluded, so long as you stay in your lane.

Don’t be afraid. Be prepared. The terminology of transplants.

My Amá would tell my older sister when she started driving, and repeated the same plea to her son when I started getting behind the wheel: “Todo con cuidado. There are things your friends can get away with that you may not be able to. Be careful.” I hear her voice loud and clear as I drive past the bridge and the speed limit drops to 30, and I sigh with the slight comfort that I have nothing to hide.

I drive the same stretch of road with my son now, and I wonder if he will feel the same way I do the day he gets behind the wheel. Will this apply to him? Or does that voice belong to the transplants?

-J.A.

March 13th, 1998. #elliottsmith #restinpeaceelliott

View on Instagram https://ift.tt/2NWqDCU
March 13th, 1998. During the Oscars. That was the first time I heard Elliott Smith. I was twelve years of age in a little Podunk town in Wyoming. He was just a guy with a guitar in his white suit. The music started playing and he proceeded to perform one of the most beautiful and captivating songs I had ever heard. It was honest, and spoke to me in a way very few artists of any medium ever have. Hearing Miss Misery was one of the first times I witnessed a work of art, and my mind exploded. He showed me the way and much later I would find my artistic sensibility, thanks to his guidance. Moments like that change lives. His work still inspires me. He was transcendent, and I think of him dearly, like an old pen pal who took time out of his day to write someone who never would write back. Thank you Elliott, I wish you were still around. You’ve been gone fifteen years too long. -Jaime Alejandro

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

From the scratch draft journal…

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!

I am testing various formats: It’s a pain in the ass to upload again on Youtube, but what the hell? I have a youtube channel, might as well post there too. We’ll see what sticks…

creativedrivetrack (2)

Temporary artwork until I can polish the perfect design!