Month: August 2012

Wandering the Streets at Night

It’s late.  About 1:30 in the morning.  And I’m up working.  Probably will be for another hour or two.  I have a deadline in the morning, and I want to write one hell of a piece.

So, I had to just leave my house and walk around a bit.  I walked the streets, the sidewalks, just to clear my head.  What I found was that I love this feeling.  Exhausted, burnt out, cracked out.   Not literally cracked out.  But a feeling of work.  And the fact that I feel this way because I’m writing makes me damn happy right now.

Well, sorry for another short post.  I’m going back to work on the piece.  This weekend, you should expect a post on a sailing trip.  Really looking forward to it.

On a Deadline

I have a deadline Friday, and I’m up late working.  It feels kind of awesome, even the pressure is exciting.  So this post will be short.

But I would like to share something that just occurred to me: everything is unfolding exactly as it should.  Now, I probably won’t say that when something goes wrong, but, somehow, I believe that all my hard work is going to pay off.

So, goodnight everyone.  Or good morning, depending on where you are and when you read this.

Published Three Years Later & Other Good News

This morning, I drove Heron to work, and on my way home, I heard John Lennon’s version of “Stand By Me.”  I knew it was going to be a good day, but I didn’t know how good.

When I got home, I walked Hendrix before I started working.  And on the walk, I received an email.  That email was informing me that my story, “A Crash in Boston,” was selected for publication in Literary Orphans.  Well, I was excited.  It comes out at the end of September, and they have published great writers like Tom Pitts and Joe Clifford.

Let me provide you with a little bit of back story.  In 2010, I won the fiction prize for graduate students at Florida International University.  The winning story was “A Crash in Boston.”  Well, I thought I was some hot shit.  I was just 24 years old, winning a graduate competition in a MFA program.

So I started sending the story out to literary magazines.  Not just any magazines — the top, la creme de la creme.   And do you know what I found: yeah, that’s right, rejection.  Boy I received so many rejections I stopped counting.  But if I had to guess, then I would say about 50.  My story received, at least, 50 rejections.  I revised, and I continued to believe.  Continue reading “Published Three Years Later & Other Good News”

1,000 Hits & My Mission to Write About the Port Was Accomplished

So last week, I was heading to the Port of Long Beach quite a bit to chase down leads and interview people.  I wasn’t exactly sure if the leads would lead to publications, but my hard work has been rewarded.  I published two pieces in the last few days at the Long Beach Post.  Check them out if you have time.  Here they are:

Community Hopes for Re-Berth of Beloved Port Side Restaurant

Local Coalition Tries to Organize Misclassified Truckers 

They are both meaningful pieces, at least to me and hopefully others, because I believe working people, blue-collar people, labor problems, small businesses, the poetry in work are important issues.  Maybe it has something to do with where I’m from.

As for the piece on the trucker misclassification, well, that might have stirred up a bit of controversy, which is great.  All I hope to do is bring up some issues.  I don’t really have a side.

Speaking of where I from, my buddy from back home called me and told me I needed to get my facts straight…lol.  We talked, and it was a great discussion.  He brought up some great points, but one thing that was clear, things are different in California than they are back home.  Now, maybe you’re saying, “No shit, Joe.”  But home, now, sort of seems like it defines my perspective on many things I encounter, at lease until something new changes those preconceived notions.

Enough about that.  I was excited to have the pieces published, and I’m also pumped to represent the Long Beach Post.  It’s a great paper, and the people who work there have a ton of passion.  And that’s not to be ignored.

Well, I had some other good news.  Yesterday, my blog went over 1,000 hits.  That’s pretty special, and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for being a part of the beginning of my journey.  Sometimes, I freak out a bit — unable to predict the future.  But your support, honestly, means the world to me.

How Saturday Started Out Promising & Resulted in Overflowing Dishwashers & Tequila Shots

Saturday started out with a lot of promise.  Heron and I were heading to a party in Manhattan Beach, and then we were going to Echo Park Rising, where I was scheduled to read with a bunch of great writers — including James Greer and Natashia Deon — at the Echoplex.  I was expecting a crowd and a stage.  I thought it was going to be my first big reading in L.A.   So I practiced, and I had my routine down.  I was pumped.  You can see two videos from that reading at the bottom of this blog.  

Meantime, Heron and I woke up early to clean the house.  Also, I was going to practice my reading.  I try and make poetry readings as enjoyable to the audience as possible.  So I was downstairs and started cleaning the kitchen.  I washed all the dishes and put them in the dishwasher, when I realized we were out of dishwashing soap.

I started to search through all the cupboards, and finally, I found a bottle with red-color liquid.  On the bottle, it said, “Dishwashing Liquid/Detergent Liquid.”  I have heard stories where using the wrong soap in the dishwasher brings about dire consequences.  But it said dishwashing liquid and detergent in French, so I assumed it was mission accomplished.

It was a heavy load of dishes, so I put in a ton of the red soap.  More than I would normally.  Not thinking about it anymore, I started to cook some eggs.  The butter was popping on the pan, and suddenly, I noticed bubbles and water were slithering onto the kitchen floor.

“Shit,” I said.  “Come here, Heron.”

Heron ran from upstairs, breathing hard.  “What’s wrong with Hendrix?”

“Nothing is wrong with the dog,” I said.  I opened up the dishwasher, turned it off, and saw the bubbles growing exponentially inside like a mushroom cloud.  “Look at the bubbles.”

“Did you put in the wrong soap?”

“It said dishwashing soap.”

“I just bought a brand new one.”  She pointed to the bottle of dishwashing detergent on the counter near the recycling.

“I thought that was recycling.”

Needless to say, we spent a good chunk of that morning scooping bubbles out of the dishwasher and wiping the soap off the kitchen floor.  Thinking it was all over, we sat down to watch some television and eat breakfast while we left the dishwasher on rinse.  Well, the bubbles came back, but this time with a vengeance.  Note to reader: dishwashing liquid is different than detergent.  And detergent in French must mean something else.


Later that afternoon, we drove up to Echo Park for the reading at the Echoplex.  Heron’s friend — I’ll call her Brinkley — came with us.  I was excited, because most people I know aren’t so into poetry, but Brinkley wanted to come to the reading after the party anyway.  I love it when people show interest in poetry.  So I was telling the girls it should be a good reading.  There’s some other really great writers.  And it was going to be on a stage.

Driving down the 105 from the South Bay, I was rushing to get there, because I wanted to make sure I would get to see the other readers.  But we were running a bit late from the start time.  So we parked the car, and I was walking fast on Sunset in Echo Park, passing the crowds going in and out of Origami — the music pumping through the streets.

We climbed down the stairs from Sunset and arrived at Glendale Blvd.  We walked through the front gate into the Echoplex.  I thought maybe someone would be there to tell me where the reading was.  So I just walked past the front entrance, said hello to the security guard, and searched through the floors of the Echoplex and the Echo, looking for the reading.

People were everywhere and music was happening on all the stages.  I figured on one of the stages, I would hear someone reading in front of a crowd.  But I couldn’t find anything or anyone. So I asked a security guard, and he said it was out front on the patio.

I walked back outside with the girls, and there was a great writer reading in front of the Echoplex.  I had walked by him without even realizing it.  There was no crowd.  Some people were casually listening, and the security guard told me to just get up there and read when I was ready.

Well, I hate to say this because I was lucky to read in the first place, I was a bit disappointed.  And Brinkley and Heron understood.

“Let’s get a shot,” Heron said.

“Yeah,” Brinkley said, “how about some Tequila?”

Part of me, honestly, thought of walking away and not reading.  But who was I turn down an opportunity?  So after the shot, I went back out there and stood in front of the mic.  I took it off the stand and walked out into the crowd who were just walking by.  No one understood this was a reading.  People just thought I was some crazy guy with a mic.  So I started to read.  Here is a poem from Saturday:

In the end, I did get some attention from people walking by.  And it was cool.  I was glad I did it, despite the cars driving in front of me during my reading.  But that’s fine.  Who am I to complain?  But my problem was that I had expectations.  No more preconceived notions before a reading.  Heron and Brinkley showed some great support though.  Thanks to them.  You can see in the videos my attempt to flag people down.  Also, thanks to Natashia Deon for sticking around, too.  She was a great audience member.  Plus Craig Gaines.