759 – Start With This Crossover
Get started and breakdance your way out of the skeptic’s dilemma and into a dream.
Check out “Start With This” in your podcast app or at http://www.nightvalepresents.com/startwiththis “Start With This” is a podcast gone creativity playground designed to put your ideas in motion, from the creators of “Welcome to Night Vale”, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary, it's time for the podcast who starts with that opening, because I'm so glad you're here. I'm welcoming you all with open arms into this safe, comfortable place and you supported. Thanks, Patrons.
Hey, are you up all night, tossing, turning, mind racing, trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is “Sleep With Me”, the podcast to put you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. All's you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I'm going to do the rest. What I'm going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you set aside whatever's keeping you awake, whether it's thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, changes in time or temperature, changes in routine. Anything you're thinking about, feeling physically, experiencing emotionally, or situationally. You know, some people listen when they travel or when someone else travels. You might have something big coming up. Whatever it is, I'm here to help.
What I'm going to do is just send my voice across the deep, dark night. I'm going to use a lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, superfluous tangents. I'm going to go off-topic, like that's a superfluous … I don't know which one that is.
Like, here's the thing. If you're new, I'm glad you're here. I'm here to help you fall asleep. I'm here to take your mind off stuff as you drift off. Now, if you're coming in skeptical, I totally greet that with a thumbs up. I say, “Don't worry,” like, you're wondering what this podcast is, what am I up to? Very, very reasonable questions. You know, who promises to put you to sleep, right? I more promise I'm going to be here while you fall asleep, but nice try. I almost caught myself in the skeptic's dilemma, I think. That was a break dance.
When I used to fantasize about being a break dancer, I said, “I'm not just going to fantasize about break dancing. I'm going to fantasize about expanding break dancing into like,” and people have already done this, so of course that's why they say, “[Scoot 00:02:35], you're better off on the cardboard. Out in the world, on the cardboard. If you can't pop and lock inside your head,” and I say, “Okay, touché.”
I was actually trying to introduce the podcast to new listeners, but you want me to explain how one day, I'd like to be the [Alven Alley 00:02:55] of imaginary break dancing, and just to say, “Okay, I'm going to make a break dance story called ‘The Skeptic's Dilemma'.” Also, I'd like to recruit someone to make some music to back that up. I can hear that already. Also, I'll need a stand-in that can break dance, and a trainer, choreographer. You see, I actually pronounced that word correctly.
Okay, but if you're new, also, you're right. One part of my brain just alerted me, we need to come up with a more sleepy word than break dance. I'd say, “Okay, we'll try to do that. Let me get that.” If you're new and skeptical, I'm glad you're here. Let me tell you about the structure of the show. The show starts off with a few minutes of business. I realize if you're new, that's asking a lot. It's more pointed at the regular listeners, because it keeps the show free for everybody, the people that support those sponsors.
Then, there's an intro. Now, a normal podcast intro would just be wiggity-wiggity intro, where mine is like, it's definitely, like, if you were … Have you ever seen a wagon that actually makes a sound like wiggity-wiggity? First off, you say, “Scoots, what do you bring to your break dance competitions?” Well, I bring everything in my wiggity wagon, of course, because it makes that sound. It sounds just like a DJ scratching a record. It's just, my wagon's wobbly.
The intro, the intro. Yeah, so, we're going to talk about my break dancing wagon. Eventually, I may forget to get to that. There's an intro. The intro to this show is around 12 minutes. You can listen to it as you're winding down, getting ready for bed, as you're in bed, easing in there or getting comfortable. It's kind of like drawing a bath. I know there's a lot of jokes about drawing a bath. I can't think of the punch line. I think that's the punch line. I guess I can't think of the setup.
It's mean to kind of ease you, like, yeah, a long landing strip into bedtime. Also, I'm just not efficient at getting to the point, because I get distracted. I say, “Man, remember those days I used to imagine going to my break dancing competitions?” Okay, I guess I should have gone to break dancing rehearsal. You're right, I guess I missed that. If I would have watched “The Good Place”, I could have learned that from Jason. I know Jason was in a dance crew, which is a different thing, but I could have pulled my wiggity-wiggity wagon …
That could be a book. You're right. That could be a book, you're right. The wiggity-wiggity wagon that wobbled. Yeah, I can think of other words that could fit in there, too, in a good way. What was my point? The intros are really long and meandering. That was my point.
Then, there's some business. Then, there's the episode. Tonight, we're going to be talking about the new Night Vale Presents podcast. Start with this, well, not exactly. You can check out that podcast if you're interested in starting a podcast or getting writing, starting a creative project. Queue that up. What I'll talk about tonight is stuff that I started but didn't … Kind of how, how many things I started that got me to this podcast, just to encourage you to start.
Then, I guess this is meta, because I say, “Well, I did break dance for a little while, as part of tap dancing class.” All you lads can chuckle away, but yeah, I took tap dance. That's right, it was three or four years in a row. We did do some break dance moves, I guess you'd say, within the tap dance class.
Here's the thing. I'll be honest with you. I just wasn't, like, I couldn't do the windmill. I think my brother, a couple of the other kids in class could do a windmill, but I couldn't. I don't know what it was. Again, it might have been an issue, as I've talked about when dancing comes up on this podcast, I have no mind-body connection with my hips. If the windmill involved moving my hips in any way, it wouldn't have been able to do it.
Because I'd say, “What do you mean, I don't know where …” They'd say, “Well, you've got to move your hips.” I'd say, “I don't know, I can't. I can feel it when you touch my hips as an instructor, but I can't connect, like, you know what I mean? I can't move my hips on command. I guess it's that simple.”
Believe me, you know, I've dressed as Shakira, and stood in front of the mirror, and am still … I'm not hipless. I have hips, but just no mind-body connection, or I guess I haven't spent enough time. Mindfulness of my hips, that'll be “Sleep With Me” after dark.
Anyway, so, what was I saying? Structure of the show. I'm going to be talking about “Start With This”, the newest podcast by Joseph and Jeffrey from “Welcome to Night Vale” and many other amazing podcasts. You check that out. I'll be talking indirectly about it tonight. Then, we'll have some thank yous.
That's structurally what to expect with the podcast. It took me a while. Like I said, I go off-topic. Then, so, that's the structure of the show. Also, if you're new, in addition, a couple of other things you need to know. This is a podcast, you may have figured this out, you don't really need to listen to me, because I don't make a whole lot of sense a lot of times. I just sort of, another part of my brain interjecting.
This is even, sometimes I hold these parts of me at bay, but it's said the road to break dancing is a million miles, but it starts at one step at a time. I said, “Whoa, holy cross stitch. Did you put that on a pillow or what? Also, does it have my wiggity-wiggity wagon on there with a piece of cardboard, and a boom box, and some water and sunscreen of course, to stay hydrated, probably my tap shoes, and my plan to make whatever it was, A Skeptic's Dilemma, maybe a musical, and maybe it'd be a tap, break dance crossover. I guess that's what I was trained in.
Skeptic's Dilemma. This doesn't make any sense, but the tale of a boy who discovers his hips. A skeptical boy in a wagon set out on a journey in the world to discover his hips. That's A Skeptic's Dilemma. Maybe it'll be “Sleep With Me” episode one day. Probably should be.
Okay, so, what was I saying, now? I totally lost track of everything. Oh, so, structurally, you don't need to listen to me. There we go. That was easy. No pressure to listen. No pressure to fall asleep. This is a podcast to be here as you drift off. That's why it's over an hour, to give you plenty of time. I'm here to help, here to keep you company. I guess, what else was I saying? I don't know what I was saying.
Yeah, no pressure to fall asleep. I'm here to be here, your [bore-bay 00:10:47], your [borkas 00:10:48], your [borsib 00:10:48], your [bore-bestie 00:10:51], you know, breaking bores like I break dances as I'm wearing down cardboard. I guess a break dancer does break on board, on cardboard.
Corrugator, right? That's a nickname I made up for one of my brothers' friends. That's a freebie. I haven't given out in a while. If you know anyone in the cardboard box business or in the shipping business, start calling them the Corrugator. It's just a fun nickname. It has the perfect amount of syllables for a nickname to make someone smile.
Also, maybe that would be my sidekick. That would be the person that sets up … Maybe I could have, instead of a side … Yeah, a sidekick that sets up my cardboard. I'd say, “Corrugator, these hips need discover …” Okay, you're right, that is a totally different story. Maybe Chuck [Tangle 00:11:47] could work on that one.
Okay, so anyway, I'm back where … I didn't go anywhere. I'm here to help. I'm here to take your mind off stuff as you fall asleep. This podcast is goofy, it's silly. If it's new, and this is your first time listening, like literally am not kidding. Hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of thousands of people have said it takes two or three tries to get the podcast and realize it doesn't make a lot of sense.
The thing is, it's here to help you. I really truly want to. I think you deserve a good night's sleep. I want you to be treated with dignity and respect. I want you to be able to flourish in the world, and to feel safe and secure, and to be able to get comfortable. While this doesn't work for everybody, I'm just here to take your mind off of stuff.
I guess, like, if you picture a boy, forlorn for living life out of touch with his hips, pulling a wagon, a wiggity-wiggity wagon, and maybe you could emotionally relate to some aspect of that, who was that, Rockwell? Who was that Saturday evening post? Norman Rockwell, right? I don't know if there was a … I think there is a archetype there. I was thinking pictures like Santa Claus drinking sodas, but I think that's just because I've absorbed so much marketing.
Anyway, I'm here to help. That's my main message, to take your mind off stuff, and to keep you company as you drift off. If you're new, I really appreciate you coming by and checking out this show. I work very hard, I yearn, and I strive, and I really want to help you fall asleep. Thanks a lot.
Hey, everybody. This is Scoots. This is like an inspired crossover episode, or inspired by a podcast that's just about to come out, “Start With This”, when I'm recording this. By the time you listen to it, it'll be out. It'll be a couple episodes out.
It's the newest podcast from Night Vale Presents, the network that I'm so proud to be a part of. Two of the people at the network that are a pleasure to work with, but also just a inspiration, are the creators of “Welcome to Night Vale”, Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink and start with this as a creativity playground designed to butcher ideas in motion. Straight from their post, each episode centers around a topic from world-building, to opening lines, to even failure. Each episode, you get two short assignments. They did an initial episode at PodCon that I got to be there for in person.
Each assignment, one is to consume something, and one is to create. You can join the “Start With Us” membership forums, share your work with other listeners. It's mainly that Joseph, and Jeffrey, and everybody out there just wants you to start creating, one assignment at a time, because the best way to start writing is to start writing. The idea of “Start With This” is that if you're not sure where to start, start with this.
Tonight's episode, I guess, is sort of for me, like, to encourage you to listen to “Start With This”, and to get started, but also to acknowledge some of the things in a sleepy, bedtime story way that come up. This'll be probably a pretty personal episode, but it'll be mostly things I haven't started, because I know a lot of people, that can be something that you're carrying like a heavy pack, we'll say. You think that because that was the way it was in the past, that it can't be that easy as “Start With This”.
I can tell you, for doing “Sleep With Me” for almost, well, six calendar years, it's easy for your internal to critic, but it really is true. Not only that, but to back up a … This will be the kind of first part of my talk here tonight is that to back it up, I'm actually, there's something I've been sitting on for a while, not for “Sleep With Me”, but a very out-of-the-box idea that I've had for a while, and that I, like, at first, I had the general concept. I talked myself out of it, very similar to the creation of “Sleep With Me”.
Then, I said, “Well, that won't work.” Then, I said, “Well, I don't know exactly what it would be or how I would do it.” I said, “I don't know how I'm going to make it work. I don't know how I'm going to find the time,” and a lot of things. I just kept talking myself out of it.
The idea kept bubbling, bubbling back up and saying, “Hey, Scoots, this really seems impossible, not so great idea. Why don't we work on this?” That's the same thing that happened with “Sleep With Me”, except I kept saying no. Sometimes the ideas do have to germinate, for me, but I think it is better to be working at it in a deliberate way, in just little pieces, little, tiny, tiny pieces.
I had been slowly saying, “I want to start working on this.” “Start With This” is just giving me the opportunity to do that and say, “Okay, well, in parallel with this podcast, I'm going to set aside a set amount of time every day to work on this new project.” Believe me, I can relate, if you say, “Well,” whatever those brain bots or those voices are that are making it hard to start, I can relate to those right now.
I just wanted to hold that space, I guess, and acknowledge that. If you have your doubts or something, literally just start. I think, like, you just set aside some time. Listen to “Start With This”. I guess that's the easy way to do it. Listen to “Start With This” and follow the activities. That's what I'll be doing with this project. Hopefully, it'll be something that exists in the world one day, though, just like maybe I'm having trouble believing that. I say, “Well, okay, you wrote down the idea. You started working on it for a few minutes each day.”
Still, I just wanted to say, “Okay, you know, that's natural.” Also, the past is natural, too. Sometimes when we see people, you say, “Scoots, you got it all. You put people to sleep. You can't get to the point … You've got those creaky, dulcet tones. I don't even know how you developed those. What do you do, just stand in the North Pole and make loud noises? How do you get those?”
You say, “Scoots, you make …” You know, I've done that. A lot of times, you see other people, and you think, “It just comes natural to them and stuff.” I wanted to talk about just some of the stuff I've tried to work on, or that I haven't followed through on, or that I worked on for a little bit, and just see where it goes. I really don't know where this is going to go. For me, none of this stuff is anything I am working on or have worked on in a while. There's a big missing spot in the middle for the majority of my young adult life, but hopefully, I don't know, it'll put you to sleep, and you'll be there, resting so comfortably in bed.
For anybody that's listening or that says, “Well, I fell asleep to it, and then I listened to it during the day three months later,” I don't know, maybe this'll be useful. You'll also get a lot of insight into little Andy, and Drew, and everybody. Some of this is stuff I've talked about, but not in this context, and not in a while.
The first time, so, we'll start with the first story. Okay, no, no, so, what is it, the [Gettis 00:19:57] branch of the [Unindiga 00:19:59] County Public Library, there's two librarians there that worked there in whatever, the 1980s. This isn't a joke. I guess I should send [Barb Burton 00:20:11] a letter, yeah, in Unindiga County librarian at the Gettis branch. I owe a extreme debt of all of you. This podcast actually does.
If you ask me where it started, that's probably where the podcast kind of started, because when I was a real little kid, I have no idea how old I was, like, our library had a summer … Not just a summer reading game. Maybe, I don't know what they call it nowadays, but I think, and maybe back then it was different. It was called drop your kids off, drop your three older kids off at the library for a little while in the summer each day, and read, and also do activities, and watch “Reading Rainbow”.
Not only that, in [Manimi 00:21:05] … This'll show the gap in my … I'll reach out my mom to see what the name of the librarians were. They not only spent time with us, like, going through, and seeing if we read the books, and interviewing us, but each summer, we would put together a book, like a self-published book or pamphlets of our work, which would be drawings, poems, and short stories.
I just want to say, I don't remember any of the stories I wrote. If I did any drawings, who knows. I would spend a lot of time there with my brother, Carl, my sister, Sheila. It was where a lifelong love of learning really began, you know, lifelong respect for LeVar Burton. Even though Bernie doesn't like LeVar, I do. It just really was a, I guess, like a pre-formative … I don't know if it was pre … I think it was pre-formative, because it was on summer break. Summer and libraries kind of have a safe place thing to me that felt unrelated to formal education, which I didn't do so hot at.
That was my first memory. I started with something there. Don't know what it was, but that was an encouraging process. Then, I don't really remember a lot. This probably was in, like, elementary, grammar school, grade school, or what people call it, like, K through four, five. I don't know, even when kids start to read, really. That was one moment that we'll set aside, there, mostly thanks to the staff of Unindiga County Library.
The next one that I remember, and maybe other stuff will come up, is middle school. This one has come up on the podcast before. Unfortunately, a lot of these teachers that went out of their way to try to encourage me, ended up, just, I had this unfortunate streak of anti-authoritarianism in me. I was confused and conflicted about my relationship with authority figures. I do still owe some of these people, truly, and this isn't a metaphor, like actual amends, even though it was before … Well, just, or apology, I guess is what I really owe them.
It was complex, my relationship with stories has always been fraught, in some sense. I think that's true for maybe a lot of people, because there was just, I've always been, like, as sleepy as I can say this, a conflicted and confused person. But, it happened to be, and I guess, I think it was eighth grade, but it could have been seventh grade, or grade seven, or grade eight, which would be middle school. It was when I was in middle school.
I talked about this a little bit, like, my first taste of tracking, which I think they've done away with, maybe. Maybe that's not what they call it, but they put the kids that are going to cause issues all in the same class. At my school, it was even called 7-1. Grade 7-1. We were 7-1. The high-fliers were 7-5.
Like, and I think the overflow from 7-1, it didn't go to 7-2. It went to, like, I don't know what the other seven was. We were like, let's just say, in a sleepy way, the mod squad. Then, in eighth grade, there was less kids, so, I don't know. I know [inaudible 00:25:04] …
In eighth grade, they said, “Remember those numbers and how we told told you they meant stuff? They don't mean anything. By the way, you're in 8-2. We don't have 8-1 this year, or 8-1 is the best. 8-2 doesn't mean anything. 8-4 is second best. 8-3 and 8-2, those numbers don't mean …” Something like that. Again, you can see how my relationship was kind of, with the mechanisms of the adult real world.
We had this great English teacher who was very excited. Again, submit a formal apology or whatever. I don't want to breach their name, but I can remember, she, early on in the year, gave us a creative writing assignment. This is when that spark came, that so rarely, that I was very out of touch, because I was on a journey in the woods or whatever, where there wasn't a lot …
You say, “Well, I can't, the woods are not super full of sunlight.” This was where a ray of sunlight broke through. They said, I think it was like, you could write about anything. I can't remember the prompt. I ended up writing this story which was based on the movie, one of the movies that kind of changed my life and blew my mind, “Indiana Jones and the …” Whatever the first movie was called that meant so much to me. “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, that was what it was called.
What happened was, I recreated a version of it called “[Andiana 00:26:47] Jones”. I don't remember what the name of the first story was. The second story, or maybe it was “The Temple of Achoo”. I guess it was, that was the first, because there was another Indiana Jones movie that came out right around that age. Yeah, that kind of sinks …
The story was “Andiana Jones and the Temple of Achoo”. Like, I remember reading it in class, and it was somewhat, it had the humor of this podcast in it, I think, but I wasn't sure about that. I remember, we had to read the stories out loud. This was honestly one of my first times, at least in a later, pre-pubescent stage, like right around that adolescence or whatever, I don't know, whatever you call that, where I had some sort of positive, like, where I felt good at school, because classmates started laughing. Even the teacher was laughing. I had everybody's attention.
It was a high. I mean, at first, it was also not a high, like something that causes other things to spike, but I really hadn't been on the stage like that before, or whatever you want to call it, and had a teacher react in a surprised way that wasn't like an emotionally surprised way, an also asking me a lot of questions about creative choices. Then, kind of saying, “Was this an intentional metaphor, Temple of Achoo?” It was unintentional, I'll be honest with you. Then, even had to do a rewrite.
Now, the rewrite I did, or part two, based on the teacher's feedback, was masked by that. I got a little carried away with the metaphor of the Achoo. I think I made a nose, like, a giant's nose or something. I think my people-pleasing kind of pulled me off of whatever originally worked about the story, but whatever. I wrote those two stories. Then, I don't remember anything else from middle school, as far as schoolwork-wise. Those were, socially, my best years, but anyway …
I did one thing. I got hooked on that praise. I said, “Wait a second.” This is going to sound a little bit H-A-R-S-H for some people, but I think a lot of people relate to it. This is removed from my steam, but just the truth is, one of the first times I actually felt good at something, you know? That I was like, “I did this, and it elicited a positive response, but not because I was intending it.”
You know, a lot of times as kids, we learn, whatever they call it, adjustment strategies that involve a level of manipulation. You say, “I know if I do this, this, and this, I'll make the adults happy, or the other kids happy,” so, calculated. I was probably a calculated youth, too.
This is one where I said, “I'm just going to be myself. I'm just going to do this.” Then, it worked out. It was the first taste of actual confidence I had.
Now, because of the complication with my relationship with authority figures, it didn't allow me to allow some sort of a positive, like, I wasn't able to receive any encouragement other than the temporal kind. Again, it was a big moment, because now, looking back, I realized that I was hooked, right then, and that it's okay to feel like, wow, I did something good by just being myself and just doing it naturally.
I think that's another important thing of thinking about starting is like, thinking about starting somewhere, I don't know, like, you can rewrite stuff. Stuff doesn't have to be perfect. Sometimes what comes out organically, even if it gets changed and reformulated, there's an initial purity to just randomly whatever comes out. Maybe, I don't know.
Okay, so then, we move on to high school, like, high school before I discovered imbibing. I'm trying to make this as sleepy as I can and not go off the rails about that stuff, even though it's important and part of the story. The initial, we had this, again, another amazing English teacher that I've actually written apologies to, but haven't sent them. This teacher, again, there was two different assignments within a pretty close time. One was writing. I've talked about this on the podcast before, but one was writing haikus.
I remember, I never did homework. I just, I didn't do it. I didn't do barely any schoolwork. I was like, so, for me to take work home, like this haiku idea, when I learned about it. Again, I don't do haikus now, but I can remember standing in my room, focused and working on these haikus.
I don't know if we had a writing prompt or not, other than following the haiku structure. I think we had to do two or three haikus. I can remember writing, and rewriting, and reformulate, saying, “Okay, not this word. What about this word? Here's what I'm trying to convey.”
The only one I remember, I think we did three, and the teacher said all three of mine were great, but I personally was like, “Okay, this one is actually good.” It was about grass and the dew, but it was comparing it to some shining blades or something. I don't remember. Those were so good that two of my classmates accused me of plagiarism, which I took as compliments, because I was like, “I didn't plagiarize that.”
Then, this teacher, building on this kind of theme, boy, this, I guess, I think I've talked about this on the podcast before, but asked us to write our O-B-I-T, back when these were published in the newspaper. This will give you some insight to, like, in some sense, the person I am today, and the person I was back then are much different, but they're also definite sensibility similarities.
I decided, like, everybody, I remember we were working on it in class. It just seemed boring to me, like, “You're just going to take what goes in the newspaper, and copy it, and be like, ‘Well, I went to this school,' or, ‘I discovered this science thing,' or, ‘I went to space,' or, ‘I ran a business, had a family.'” Like, everybody was doing the same thing. I was like, one, I don't want that for me, anyway. Two, it just seemed boring, creatively boring and unchallenging to me.
What I did do is write this poem. The poem was very similar to the podcast, in some sense. It was about a young man, Andy, who moved on from earthly life, but it was written from the first perspective. Andy had just moved on from that life, and was on an elevator, and didn't realize that the elevator was, like, didn't realize that during the elevator, that the elevator was going straight down. In between, I think, like, Andy had some regrets, and then gets on the elevator, and realizes, like … I think when the doors open, there's someone with red spandex on.
I just remember some of the lines of the poem, which aren't exactly, but again, like, again, this is one where I got positive attention from the class, and positive attention from the teacher, but because of my fraught relationship, like, actually, the teacher went out of their way to keep trying to encourage me to get it published, or to do something with it, or rewrite it. We did have to rewrite it once, but again, I couldn't. I just wasn't in that place. I couldn't handle that kind of positive attention from adults.
Unfortunately, I didn't handle it in a classy way or whatever. Like, to be rebuffed when you're trying to encourage someone is probably not easy. Again, I owe that teacher a bunch of apology, or just a very clear apology, and maybe by sharing this, it'll encourage me to do so.
Now, right not long after that was when I discovered, like, when I became … It was when I discovered alcohol, I guess. I mention that because then, it kind of changed my … That spark, because for me, like a lot of the creation stuff is, that spark, it's like the desire for attention. It's both the joy, and the fear, and, “Am I good at this?” I think it's even equal parts, maybe, and that both of those are like a fusion reactor, where, can I do this? Can I be good at this? Boy, I have this idea.
Even for the thing I'm trying to work on right now, it has that. I think maybe that is, at least for me, the fusion reaction in making stuff. For me, alcohol, it enabled me to numb myself from both the sparks of fear and the sparks of ambition, and just not care, like to have some distance … Like, feelings I couldn't, that were just … I don't know, it just ended up being a shortcut, I guess.
I mention that because I really didn't, like, even though I had creative fantasies, I guess, ambition was replaced by fantasy. Again, this is just my story. It's not a right or wrong thing for anybody, but it's just a path that I took for a while. I still wanted to be creative. I decided I wanted to make movies, and fantasized about that, and then ended up studying more theory than …
In school, we had other creative stuff, but I guess I'm talking about the stuff that has a little bit more of a deeper, like nearly divine connection, as these things, or just had more impact. Which, those were some of the stories.
Then, later in high school, I guess I did discover this. There was one other thing I almost worked on. When I think about stuff I didn't start, I did do … Again, this was later in school. I think it was like in a theology class or something, or maybe history class. I'm not sure. We were supposed to do a how-to. We were all supposed to present to the class, like, write a essay of how to do something.
This was the '90s, now. I wrote, like, I think we were still in the Cold War, or we had just come out of the Cold War, but we still had those Cold War feelings, especially kids of my generation, because we were raised on those kinds of message about it. Instead of writing a how to bake a cake, or how to ride a bike, I wrote a … This is not … just to, again, make a sleep podcast. I wrote a how to of like, “What if those versions of the Cold War came true? What would you do if you had resources and stuff?”
It also goes to, I think that I talked about one of my favorite books was this book about this kid who was trying to dig a hole through the earth. That was when I was even littler. The idea of … I don't know. I thought it was a fun how to, because it was more challenging and more interesting to me. I think I probably looked up some facts, but it was probably most based on … That was probably another benefit.
Again, I got good feedback from that. Then, I remember saying, “Okay, well, maybe I like this idea, because I like the idea of this under the earth, living in the crust of the earth idea.” I don't know if I had read any books about that. I mean, I have later in life.
I think I, what happened? I started to outline a grand, whatever they're called, like the epic novel that would take place … I think when I heard Middle Earth, that's what always confused me before I read all the books in “The Lord of the Rings” was, I was like, “If you say Middle Earth, don't you mean, so, the hobbits live in the middle of the earth?” It's like, “No, no, no, that's just the word they call, like, that's the continent or whatever.” I said, “Oh, I don't get, it's not in the middle of the earth? Are you sure?” Because, boy does Gollum look like Gollum spent a lot of time in the middle of the earth. Who knew I'd be doing Lord of the Rings material here in the middle of the show.
That epic, I think I was doing it more because I … Like, now, my friend Anne-Marie, she just recently found out about the podcast. I can remember talking to her on the phone and telling her these ideas. Probably, my friend Molly and Marnie. It didn't go anywhere.
I can remember taking ideas, and trying to think of character names, and that there'd be two groups. The whole thing. One of those written epics. I guess it would be because I hadn't read any. I don't think I read the Lord of the Rings books until I knew about the movie, before the movie came out, like a year before. I can remember, I was in a Goodwill store, and then I bought the first one, the Fellowship … What is that called? “The Fellowship of the Ring”, right? I mean, I read other fantasy-type books.
I don't know, I guess sort of when I was that age, I was just hung up in an idea. I said, “What do you mean, it's not the middle of the earth? I don't want to read it, then.” I don't know if I have a Middle Earth complex.
Okay, so then, again, because I lost a lot of time, spent a lot of time invested in escapism, we'll say. That took, now, there was only actually not very many times I tried to pull myself out of the escapism. I mean, so there's like one time, I think, like when I was going to university, or college, or whatever you want to call it, that I was in a film class. I tried to pull myself out and did a little bit of writing.
Again, it was more like, I didn't realize that it was just a lot easier to just do small, sustained, regular work. I mean, part of the class in that it was like a progression. When stuff wasn't immediately good as I wanted it to be in the class, I got frustrated. I also did learn some cool collaboration skills with a couple of my classmates, so that was good. Again, it wasn't sustainable, again, because I had other issues.
Then, yeah, post, again, I still had this fantasy of saying, “That's what I want to do is stories, or movies, or something.” Then, again, I kind of got off-track. Then, I tried one other time to take an extension writing class. This was in my probably early 20s. It was just, like, it went good. People in the class were cool. This author came and spoke to our class. I really liked his book. I remember trying to write some stories, and reading them to the classmates, and going through that initial phase of being like, “I'm not good at this, I don't want to share it,” or stuff, but almost coming out of that. I guess I couldn't get over my need to escape and my negative ego were the two things that I couldn't keep in check.
Again, I retreated, I guess, or if we want to look at it in a more holistic way, maybe I was sleeping or whatever, in a metamorphosis, or still on a journey. Yeah, for me, it was a long, meandering journey, and necessary steps were taken. It was just, my steps were slow, long, and meandering.
I did a lot more meandering. I guess it was like right around the time I crossed into my 30s and my daughter was born that, again, I had another moment. I think I've talked about it on the podcast, where it was just like, “Okay, you have this daughter. You want to raise her to be a strong woman that she could do whatever she sets her mind to, and overcoming all the inherent obstacles in the way of that, but you don't …”
I was just picturing her when she was like 16 or 18 saying, “How come you gave me all that advice to try, and you didn't try?” Even though it was an imaginary conversation, it really did shake me, in a way. Not quite fully awake. I can remember where I was when I thought about that.
Then, I started to think about, jeez, what would I regret most? Was it, like … I was like, “Jeez, I don't know. Can I live with this regret of not trying?” Again, I guess this is meander, I'm trying to be as meandering and … You know, sometimes in podcasts, I try to be real. I keep to talk in this nice, soothing voice. It is a soothing thing, actually.
Again, bringing it into the present is like, telling, like, you can be soothed by this, because this journey does go somewhere. This all served, like, this was the formation of an atoll, or some people would say, they'd just take the T out of that.
I did have this moment of like, okay, you're right, we need to try. That's when I got, I don't know if it was immediate. It probably wasn't immediate. I did try to write a few movies, like outline, and then learn, jeez, what's the screenplay format? I don't know if I had started listening to [Scribnotes 00:46:34] quite yet, or Scriptnotes. Scribnotes hadn't been invented yet, that's a podcast about scribbling. Script Notes was a podcast that had impact, but that's probably a little bit later than this.
I was trying to write one thing, which was a bit of like R-rated comedy. I think I just wrote some scenes for that. Then, I was writing this one story. Initially, it was based on a curiosity. Now, my daughter's in the toddler age, and I would take her to the park. This one Tuesday, I think it was Tuesday, when I was like a stay home from work dad. I can remember this group of four women that were friends that all had kids. They would always be at the park this one same day at the same time. They would eat lunch, the four of them together.
I would just like, it just drew my curiosity, because they were very different, but very similar, in some ways. It just stirred my, like, what's the story, here? Who are these women? What are their connections? What are their lives like? What's interesting? One was a bit like Astrid. Two were more side players. Then, one woman, she kind of seemed like the lead. Then, I started thinking about her and Astrid. Then, who would have interactions with them at the sandbox. It kind of made it a complex … I spent a lot of time in my head.
Then, I remember, and I don't even know if this actually happened, or it just was a scene I wrote, as I just started thinking about it, and what's the story? Is there a conflict between these two? I imagined that the one woman that was the majority of my focus, that she was a artist, and she had released her own comic book, and that she shared it with her friends one day at lunch. Then, I started. I said, “Okay, that's part of the story.” I started writing this screenplay based on it. It ended up kind of being, not a rom com, or maybe it did. I don't know how much plot was in there. It was more like, her, and then, like, a conflicted, a male lead.
I remember it had a couple scenes, and eventually it ended up … I don't really remember the plot. Something happened at Comic-Con. That was where the climax was. I don't know if I have anything saved, but it really wasn't … This is non-judgmental. It was just like little … It had some characters, and I don't know how much story it had, and I kind of had a general idea.
When I had written before that or worked on before that was the scenes was more of like high concept. It had a strong concept. It had a strong main character. It had some scenes. It was like, okay, I was starting to do some kind of writing.
Then, this is the great thing about “Start With This”, or, yeah, is community college. Then, I said, “Okay, let's keep going with this.” I signed up for a class at Berkeley City College. Shout-out to Berkeley City College and Joey. Now, I was a little bit more grown up, so I didn't have any conflicts with the teacher at this class. The teacher was Joey. It was this big class. it was like Script Writing or Screenwriting 101.
I remember, it was in the first couple of classes, we had to have a pitch of a story we were going to write or work on. I had had an initial idea of a scene. I had this scene. This was when I had my protector of stone fruit job. I had had this scene in my mind. Again, I don't want to give too much of this story away. It's not something I'm currently working on, but it is a story that I still want to work on.
I guess I could share it with you. It's in the middle of the sleep podcast. I'd initially had this scene that I was fantasizing about. I don't even think I wrote it, of, I was listening to NPR one day, I forget which show. In the tag or whatever between shows, they had a marching band version of the song “Frankenstein”, Edgar Winter song. I thought that was cool.
I thought about my dad, who loves marching band music. The scene I kind of thought of, and maybe I sketched it out, was like, what if my dad, before, in a secret piece of writing or contact, before he went to the big farm said, “I want a marching band at my funeral.”
Again, don't steal this … I mean, this idea is already eroded, but, I think I threw it out. This is an idea I'm working on. I thought about the reactions I would have with my siblings. That was a concept of the story I was going to work on in this script-writing class.
Then, I thought about it in a fictional way. I started to fictionalize it. Over the next couple of years, I was writing that story, because the feedback that I got from the teacher and the class was like, “We like this concept.” It was basically, and I didn't realize it at the time, it was also, not autobiographical, but my subconscious trying to give me a message. I thought it was just 100% fictional, but it was like, a guy gets a call. He's estranged from his father and his sister. His sister's a WBNA athlete, but she's also helping take care of their father, and the father lives in a retirement village that GNDK actually live in, in this script I wrote.
The father gets close to going to the big farm, where it's imminent. The sister calls the brother to say, “You've got to come home. Dad's headed to the big farm, and he wants to say goodbye to you. It would be nice if you could come back, fly back here, or fly down to Florida.”
The brother, he goes to the airport, but he has so much to drink at the airport waiting for his delayed flight that he sleeps through, or he can't get on the plane. He misses his flight. He's sleeping at the airport, and the father's waiting there to say goodbye to him. The father actually calls him and leaves a voicemail, because he sleeps through his father's call. Eventually wakes up when the sister calls and says, “Hey, by the way, how'd you miss your flight? I was at the airport to pick you up. You weren't there. Dad, by the way, when I went to pick you up at the airport, Dad went to the big farm.”
Then, he says, “Jeez, sorry. I'll come back now.” She says, “Great, that's terrific.” Then, he realizes he has a voicemail from his father that says, “Hey, sorry I missed you.” Like, this is emotionally raw, too. He says, “I'd like a marching band at my funeral.”
Then, that's the kind of inciting whatever. The sense is, “Jeez, I want my marching band at my dad's funeral.” He just reacts how any regular person would, say no, and the retirement community says no.
I tried to rewrite that. I wrote that script and rewrote it a few times. I think I was too emotionally connected to it where I was like, this is going to be my writing sample, or maybe I'm just not meant to write screenplays. Maybe that's the other thing I learned. I spent a couple years writing and rewriting that, to the point where I rewrote it out, because I said, “This is it. If this isn't my writing sample, I'm …” Like, I kind of got confused with the story versus the result or whatever, and got too tied into, like, this has to work.
Actually, I was still writing it for a year, at least, while I was doing the podcast. Then, I got to a point where the podcast was taking up so much time that I said, “Okay, it's either less podcast or let's not …” I had to finish one rewrite, and I said, “Okay, if this isn't of writing sample quality, what am I going to do?” I decided, let's just work on the podcast. The podcast is working. This story's good, it's just not there.
It's a story I'd like to tell, one day. I still think it'd be a good movie. I'd like to pitch it to Emily and [Camaille 00:55:49], but it'd be a dream to have them to make it into a movie. I rewrote that too many times.
Also, during that time, I was writing something smaller and short form with two other authors. Again, I still wasn't sober, so none of this … There was just also this other giant obstacle in the way of any of this working out. Maybe, I don't know, maybe, I guess maybe I was sober during some of that rewriting, but whatever. Maybe I wasn't. I don't know. Maybe I wasn't. I don't know. I think I was.
I think that was the last thing. I guess that's the last thing, like, again, but sometimes I tell people this, it was like, maybe I'd work on that stuff first. Sometimes, I got so caught up in making that writing sample work that I didn't realize what I realize now is like, that made this work. Sometimes, you have to make all the things before you make the thing is a piece of advice I like to give people. I don't know if I got it from somebody else or what. You got to make things before you make the thing, unfortunately for a lot of us.
That's the kind of part of this story is those are the things I had to make before this thing. Now, this other thing that I'm thinking about making is an ongoing thing anyway, so it's like … It's interesting, because it's like, jeez, I don't know. Can I make that? Is that a good idea?
I don't know. I share all that just to share with you, I don't know, just some of the journey that I've been on. In the end, for me, what works is like, just starting. Yeah, we have a easy path with “Start With This”. It's, why not start with this? Start listening and just doing those two assignment.
I think maybe it is involved in like, you're worth it. Just like with me telling you, you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. You deserve a good night's sleep. It was also just me saying to that part of myself, “You're worth it,” you know? That part of you that's excited and scared. You're worth it.
If I could go back in time and say, “You're worth it. It's okay you feel conflicted about these authority figures.” Be like, “Believe me, in whatever how many years from now, it'll come full circle. You're in the meander right now.”
I don't know. I just want to, I don't know. When I think about the show, I think about that it's really important to me that you know you're worth it, and your idea is worth it, and that it is just a matter of starting with this. I don't even know, like, I would trust you in the hands of Joseph, and Jeffrey, and yourself.
I don't want to give you a pat on the back or rub your back in encouragement. I want to empower you to do that, to hold your hands, or to put your hand on your chest, or your back, or your cheek, or your elbow, and to rub yourself and say, “Hey, yeah.” Maybe that's the only words that come out, that feels true to the moment right now.
That said, I hope you don't … I guess the other thing, and maybe one of the intentions that Joseph and Jeffrey have of forming a community around this is that you're not alone in any of that stuff. That's the nice part about the internet is knowing that you're not alone. I'd really love it, I think you deserve it to start. Congratulations, and good night.