Goodbye, Statesman

30 Aug

 

A bunch of many years ago, I got an internship at the Austin newspaper. That internship turned into a job and then the job into a career and I find myself 21 years later looking at the exit sign and beginning a long, long set of goodbyes.

I’m accepting a buyout offer from the Austin American-Statesman and GateHouse Media that concludes almost half of my life working as a reporter, editor, podcaster, video shooter, social-media troll wrangler and co-creator of ahora si, the long-defunct Technopolis tech section, the I Love You So Much: The Austin360 Podcast and “Statesman Shots,” and 512tech.com from the Austin American-Statesman for the Statesman and Austin360.

My last day is Sept. 7. I’m still not 100% sure what my involvement is going forward, but I’m hoping to still contribute to the podcast and the paper. And I’m going to be super pissed if the wonderful staffers I work with don’t stay in touch. Not getting to see them is the biggest bummer, the part I’m least looking forward to in this move. (And insurance! Anybody know where I can get some decent freelancer insurance? I like my teeth!)

I have so many memories of this place and so many thanks to give. Editors including Kathy Warbelow and Sarah Lindner Beckham and Sharon Chapman and Barry Harrell and Becky Bisbee and Debbie Hiott and Kristin Finan and Emily Quigley and Kathy Blackwell and Richard A. Oppel and Fred Zipp, staffers and creative partners from Andy Alford to Tolly Moseley to Addie Broyles and Alyssa Vidales and Gregory Kallenberg and Gretchen Heber and Melissa Segrest and Angela Shah and Josefina Casati and Gissela SantaCruz and Sharon Roberts and Rob Quigley and Joe Gross and literally hundreds of other names. Thank you to every reader, even the ones who just wanted me to come fix their broken printer or the ones who thought I was part of a vast left-wing conspiracy bent on turning Austin into a condo-spewing Mecca for tech dudes. (We did it, guys!)

People talk about not getting too wrapped up in a job, about not feeling like you should owe them anything but what you do for the paycheck. But this is a place that has kept me and my family fed and happy for so long, that put my damn face up on a billboard by the highway for the whole city to see, that let me take ridiculous flights of fancy with articles I never thought would actually get printed because they were so dumb, that let me jump from job to job and keep doing outside projects all the while, that allowed me to CREATE NEW THINGS that didn’t exist before. That’s where I got the most joy here, making new things and launching them with a team of passionate coworkers and seeing if they could thrive. I hope to be doing a lot more than that in this new life I’m starting.

I have loved my Statesman family and I’m going to miss it so much. But in the end, it just felt like, for me, it’s time to go. I will keep reading and watching. I’ll keep championing the great work that is done here.

20 years of LCP

27 May

Latino Comedy Project

 

This performance of Latino Comedy Project’s‘s “Gentrif*cked” was especially sweet with a fantastic, sold-out audience and a tight set.

You can hear more about the show here. And learn about the Austin Chronicle award it won here.

Plus we got to show a preview for our upcoming “¡Estar Guars!” Kickstarter. It got a huge reaction.

Thank you, Austin, you have been so good to us for 20 years.

5K’ing

3 Mar

5K 2018

 

A year ago I fooled my out-of-shape, run once-a-week self into thinking a 5K would be a super easy, no big deal whatevs. That morning, loaded down with a sausage wrap in my belly, I huffed and puffed and ended up cramping and walking and feeling completely humbled.

Now, it doesn’t seem like such a big distance to me, but I still thought I might disappoint myself or that my body would fail me again. So I cranked up the trap music in my earbuds, tried to keep a respectful distance from the fast kids up front and ran a pretty steady pace. I wanted to beat 30 minutes total and blew past that without realizing it was even possible.

5K is very small compared to what some of my friends run and I’ll probably try for something bigger, but seeing how far I’ve come in a year is giving me a very bright moment of joy right now.

Diego

24 Dec

This has been a rough lead-up to Christmas — we lost Diego to kidney failure this week. He seemed perfectly fine just a few days ago and then, after a long night of treatment, didn’t make it. He was the last of our three original kitties, the one the girls grew up with the longest and were most attached to.

It hurts to come home and not see him wander out of the shrubs to greet us or resting in his pink chair inside at night or to know he won’t be following us around the neighborhood the next time we trick or treat. Love your pets (and your people), they can be gone before you know it.

2017: Track

2 Jan

tracks by The_JDM, on Flickr

tracks” (CC BY 2.0) by The_JDM

One of the few things that has continued on with this site, as the blogging/journaling has almost completely dried up and my writing work now mostly lives in other places, is this annual tradition of choosing a word for the year.

It what I instead of a full resolution, less a goal and more a tone I want to set for the year and a vibe I want to achieve.

I don’t always remember the word itself as the year goes on, but it’s usually tied to a larger set of ideas I I want to pursue. I’m bad at five-year plans. But I can pick a word that I want to represent where I want to be.

Guess what the word was for 2016. Just take a guess. I’ll hang out for a second.

Would you believe it was “Joyful?”

Funny, right?

I have some friends who started businesses and wrote books and got married or had a kid for the first time, and they would tell you that their year was pretty great overall. But for most of the rest of us, 2016 was kind of shit on toast, and not the nice 12-grain toast that absorbs butter like a black hole, I’m talking about some hardened, stale, crusty Melba toast shit.

No one close in my family or circle of friends died, though there were a few close calls. But I suffered the same hurt feelings over pop culture heroes falling left and right. And politically, of course, it was just an ugly, brutal year for truth, for decency, for us to wonder how the fuck we got to this point. As the year wore on, it was clear that for a lot of us, we were going to remember it as anything but joyful.

BUT!

But, I remember that post and the feeling of going into 2016 wanting to be less in my own head and more out there experiencing things joyfully and in the moment. And in that regard, it was kind of a great year. I made a conscious effort to go to music concerts and not watch them from behind my cell phone screen shooting photos or video. I took a trip to Las Vegas where I did a bunch of stuff I’ve never done before like indoor skydiving, betting on a professional sports game (I won!) and seeing two professional stage performers twist their penises and balls into interesting shapes. If that’s not living joyfully, I don’t know what is.

I saw a really good life coach toward the middle of the year who opened my eyes to some things going on in my life that needed to stop and that I’ve been in the process of cutting out. I stopped selling myself short on certain things that were wedged in my brain and I stopped caring about things that I know won’t matter in a few years.

There were some setbacks I had, just like everyone else, and I definitely ended the year feeling drained and a little lost and uncertain. But there was lots of surprising joy in the year and instead of allowing myself to wallow or hide out, I spent a ton of time with my kids during the winter break and reminded myself why I’ve made a lot of decisions that have kept me close to them (instead of, say, traveling all the time or taking a job that would keep me from seeing them so much).

So “Joyful,” in a weird way, did work itself out.

Along those lines, I’ve been mulling over my word for 2017 and here it is (this won’t be a surprise if you’ve already glanced at the title of this post):

Track.

This is a little bit of a cheat because it’s a word I’m using in a few different ways (why not just choose three words of the year? THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS!).

“Track.” Mostly what I mean by it is that I need to do better about keeping track of things in my life, something I used to be great at sometime in my major GTD phase, where I was making tons of to-do lists, labelmaking the shit out of everything in my house and work desk, and being militant about not letting things fall through the crack.

I won’t blame it on age, but I’ve mellowed on a lot of that stuff and some of it just doesn’t make any sense anymore. Meticulously filing thousands of emails? Unnecessary. Keeping all my old paper story files? Even our electronic archive at work is incomplete and that stuff matters more. I find myself wanting to hold on to that stuff less and less.

But the stuff I should be keeping track of, such as following through on personal goals, on not letting myself off the hook on benchmarks (writing this post, for instance). That’s stuff I need to track much more strictly after a few years of just letting my off-hours writing and project work fall by the wayside. I mean have you seen how much good shit there is on TV? Have you played Overwatch? Gotten into a fight on Facebook? There’s always other fun and engaging stuff to do and I’ve taken it way too easy on myself to just opt out and not finish things.

Track is also being used here as in “Get to the track” and exercise more. I started running this last year, something I’ve never, ever done, even when I was seeing a trainer two years ago, and even though my body is totally not built for it (chunky legs, bad breathing habits), I’ve somehow learned how to jog without stopping every two or three minutes. So I’m keeping on with that. And following some kind of regular path. Or track, if you will.

Tracks, incidentally, are what I’ve been thinking of as I file a bunch of my CDs (still have them!) into a giant folder and get rid of shelves and shelves worth of jewel boxes. I’m going through all of this music, a lot of which I never bothered to transfer to my computer or phone and thinking, “Where has that song been all this time?” Yes, almost all of it is on Spotify, but I forgot how much music I used to own and just completely lost track of. There are some great songs I haven’t heard in a very long time.

And one more use of the word: I’d like to keep track of my friends a little better. One of the things I do when I’m stressed or having a hard time is just to disengage with everyone, to hide at home or behind a keyboard and to just withdraw from everything. Starting the podcast (still going after three years!) was one was of forcing myself out of Hermittown, but as fun as it is, it’s not enough. I need to do that in my personal life too and devote more time to reconnecting with friends and family I haven’t been paying enough attention to.

I have some work/creative/project goals for the year too, but those are super boring if you’ve not me, so I’ll only mention for now that I’m excited to be performing again with Latino Comedy Project after a nine-year hiatus and that returning to the San Francisco Sketch Festival later in January is already looking like a huge highlight of the coming year.

I’m not going to promise more blog posts here because that never seems to happen, but I do plan to write a lot more this year one way or another and I hope some of that stuff ends up here.

What’s your word for 2017? What are your plans? Let me know. I really miss hearing from you.

Testing, for out there

3 Jan

Panning for gold in the backyard of your brain for online riches

Is this still a thing?

Are we still blogging?

Or what was once online journaling? Has it passed on to a new generation, a group of up-and-coming writers who are still writing about their lives on top of the Tweets, Instagrams, Snapchats, podcastings that also serve as to give them voices above the din?

Or is the din the point?

I have a friend, Tolly. We do a podcast together that’s really become my main creative outlet for the last two years, the place where I get to be myself and talk in a very similar way that I once would have blogged here. We both have let our blogs lie asleep for six months or more (for me, my 40th birthday back in April appeared to be the excuse to just stop), and we both recently said to each other, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great to blog again?”

We do. We blog a lot. Just not in our home spaces.

And it frankly shocked me that in 2015, I wrote two blog posts here. Two. That’s it. And one of them was short, and just marking time, and searching for a reason to keep at it that, obviously, never came.

Is anyone out there anymore? Listening? Reading?

It sure doesn’t feel like it. It’s felt beside the point and a drag and that’s why I stopped. It didn’t feel joyful, or spontaneous, or like an outlet anymore, it felt like an obligation, a thing to do that had to be done, a void to throw the most personal stuff that was never going to get seen anyway. (Or, if seen, to be misinterpreted and twisted, as has happened before. At least on social media, you can come right back with a response and turn it into a conversation. An ugly comment on a blog post feels like a drive-by water-ballooning. You’ll probably never see that hateful balloon thrower ever again.)

This is a test, I think. A preview, maybe, or just a call out to say, this still exists. It’s still a thing, at least for tonight.

To the right of this, there’s a blogroll, what we used to pull together to link to the sites that we liked to read, the ones we’d exchange links with, to shout-out friends and people we admired. So many of them are either gone, dumped in digital graves, or simply suspended in time, stopped a year ago or two years ago or more.

Is it the end? I don’t really know. The 15th anniversary of this site’s birth came and went in October and I didn’t even notice. Once upon a time I would have celebrated it like an actual birthday, making a big hoopla for the anniversary. Now, I wonder if it matters, even to me as more than just a repository of old stuff, a filing cabinet of old ideas and passions and words that every year seem a little more like a foreign language or musings out of a different brain.

I think I tried, in 2015, to stick to my word of the year “Cohesion,” my goal of aligning my home, work and online selves more closely to each other, by just cutting out the things that weren’t working, or adding value, or bringing me satisfaction anymore. The things that I figured I could get back to someday, but that for the time being were just dragging and pulling and weighing on me. This year, my word is “Joyful,” to enjoy more moments as they’re happening, to seek out the stuff that makes me happy and fulfilled rather than just the stuff I feel I ought be doing out of habit or obligation. And I think I’m very careful judging whether this thing that I worked very hard to build into something a very long time ago, still fits into the equation.

I think a lot of bloggers who’ve stopped are doing the same if they’re considering keeping at it at all.

Flip a coin, maybe? Send out a distress signal? Nuke it and start anew?

I don’t know, honestly. But I hope it’s not another seven or eight months before an answer presents itself.

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