MR. BRAY

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       MR BRAY

A boutique design & animation shop that dissolves the line between studio and agency.

Why I Retired My Podcast? ๐ŸŽ™

Fair warning โš ๏ธ this is a super heavy post.

 

For those new to this blog I used to have a podcast called "Go Forth & Nerd ๐Ÿค“". While I enjoyed the podcast for almost two and a half years I felt it's time had ended. Why?

 

Well I can partial give a stock answer that it ran its course or I grew tired of it. Sure that was most likely a small contributing factor. However the greatest reason is that I wanted to dive deeper and deeper into my personal life experiences that the premise of the podcast lost its light hearted rudder. I wanted to talk about trauma and events that formed who I am. I eventually told some stories that exposed some devastating relational rifts. Primarily with my biological father. His responsibility for me being homeless, me almost dying while living in my van, and his absolute glib attitude about it (a story I intend on retelling in a later post) ended our relationship. I had for many years overlooked the toxic relationship. Therapy can help you remove some really dirty lenses.

So plainly put there was family drama. In the life of the podcast my Grandfather and Mother died and the realization that my father was a monster. My repressed memories and unhealthy acceptance of his behavior just pushed me to not be able to continue my podcast. Which was an important and positive thing for me to do.  

Why am I taking the effort to share this? Well a large part of my renewed mental health is removing the decades old muzzle I've had and finally sharing my stories. We all have pain and that pain is going to be uncomfortable to share. However if we're brave we can learn to love ourselves. And sometimes what might start out as a creative expression can be a personal growth you never knew was possible!

 

I encourage you out there to create and as you're creating don't be surprised if it changes you in the process. 

 

Thanks so much for reading ๐Ÿ“–  

 

-Jesse

Footloose & Fancy Seats ๐Ÿ’บ

 

(Another story from my Papa Neil)


My Papa Neil used to travel often for work in the 80's. And occasionally on a particularly long flight or if he was able to afford it he'd spring for a first class ticket. Now back in those days they'd still provide you a meal on your flight but the meals he said they had in 1st class were excellent. Filet mignon, steamed vegetables, lobster ๐Ÿฆž you name it, it was top shelf stuff. It was a gourmet experience. I'd like to assume it's still this way for those springing for the finer things, I've only ever flown coach.


So back to my Papa Neil treating himself to an equivalence of a spa day in the sky. Suddenly a slim bearded ๐Ÿง” young man sat next to him. They got to chatting like my Papa always liked to do, he really was a people person and quite gabby(which I totally get from him).

Long winded and rambling, it's genetic haha!


This guy starts to tell my Papa some clues that he's a musician and whatnot. Well my Papa was too so they exchanged lots of banter back and forth. My Papa before he became an electrician used to play with the jazz musician Vido Musso. Then as the plane had landed he wished him luck in his music career and off he went.


Not much later my Papa caught a video playing on tv and he saw the same musician he had so recently enjoyed a nice chat with. And it was Kenny Loggin's the famous artist that wrote classic tunes like "Danger Zone" and you guessed in from the title "Footloose".


My Papa always had a flair for treating everyone the same. No ceremony he was just pleased to have someone to chat with. At the same time at the end of the day Kenny Loggin's was just a normal dude. Sure he was pampering himself with a fancy seat ๐Ÿ’บ maybe because he could afford the extra comfort, let's be honest flights will never be as comfortable as a car or a train ride in my opinion, nonetheless every day is an opportunity to make a friend even if for a captive moment.


This story is a reminder to me that even when I'm treating myself there's always a way to include others in some way. Plus it validates my love of chatting with approachable people for the shear joy of it.


Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

Toe Shoes ๐Ÿ‘ž

Now for a lighter story.


Years ago I read an incredibly inspiring book called "Born To Run" ๐Ÿƒ. It stirred a desire to take my the hobby of running to the next level. Running was at that time really the only exercise I enjoyed. I liked the mechanics of it - put your head down and place one foot in front of the other. Seemed straightforward enough.


Well after reading this book ๐Ÿ“š that basic understanding was challenged. I was constantly falling off the wagon of my exercise routine because of injuries. So with my new found knowledge I decided to spring for some alternative foot wear - trail gloves or as I call them "Toe Shoes".


They're quite unusual looking if I'm being honest. And having your toes separated by fabric just felt a bit weird. However aside from my calf muscles working like they've never worked before, my other runner related aches and pains had all but disappeared. So I decided to wear them in a more public setting. I started wearing them on the bus.


Now this one time I walked up to the bus there was a character waiting at the same stop. I say character because this particular guy most definitely marched to beat of his own drummer. He wore a paper Burger King crown ๐Ÿ‘‘, his headphones ๐ŸŽง with ears pointed outwards blasting his rap music, all the while singing ๐ŸŽค along word by word in a very loud and public karaoke like display.


Let's call him the "Paper Burger King"๐Ÿ‘‘. Now the Paper Burger King always kept to himself, even though drawing a lot of attention by his behavior. He wouldn't make eye contact with you or even return a morning hello. Everyone and everything was dead to the world to this guy. He was clearly eccentric. Until the day I wore my Toe Shoes ๐Ÿ‘ž to the bus stop. Something in his brain ๐Ÿง  seemed to struggle with my attire. He couldn't stop starring at them. Then occasionally glancing daggers ๐Ÿ—ก back at me. Even when I multiple times tried to make eye contact with him and a friendly smile he seemed visibly upset by my shoes.


Now I started to feel self conscious. I slowly started to feel embarrassed by my tastes in footwear. I was getting shade for wearing something that made me feel comfortable. I wasn't hurting anyone and I was just being proactive about something I took interest in. Sure it might of been an odd looking piece of fashion. But it was my choice. I slowly started to feel lower and lower during the bus ride.


Finally that evening I took off the shoes feeling like a dummy. Then it struck me. This whole time I was allowing myself to be passively belittled by the Paper Burger King! This guy didn't know me. He wore a paper Burger King hat in public and he was clearly an adult. Why was I letting someone rob me of this thing I enjoyed?!


I've recently been going back to therapy for dealing with some repressed experiences. Some of which stories have and might continue to bubble up in this blog. But the one thing I discovered about a good therapist. Is the non judgmental approach. My therapist is so open and affirming that it has spoken to me in such an amazingly profound way! It's silly to allow others to choose how we feel. And the harm we do to ourselves by giving them permission to be cruel is a down right travesty.


So today if you're feeling the itch for  flair that makes you feel you go for it! And don't let the Paper Burger Kings bring you down!



Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

Breakfast For Dinner ๐Ÿฅž

At four years old and hungry I went to go find my daddy. He was in the bathroom but I had to let him know that my sisters and I wanted happy meals for dinner. As I walked in on him I saw that he was sniffing a strange powder and rubbing his nose. I got sidetracked for a moment then said "daddy can we have McDonald's for dinner ?"


My daddy perked up in an usual excited tone. Smacking his lips and pinching his nose. "You guys want McDonald's! Cool yeah I'll get you guys McDonald's!" As I scurried out of the bathroom in glee I ran to tell my sisters the good news. My dad then left without us noticing. The Night seemed long but uneventful. The three of us kids, my older sister six years old, myself four years old and my younger sister a little over two years old, were left alone all evening.


We all feel asleep in the living room, my sisters on the couch and myself on the floor. Our dad never returned that night.


The next morning I was awakened from sleeping on the floor to my sister chatting and eating breakfast. It was cold McDonald's breakfast and my dad was passed out on the couch.


Looking back I have very few early memories of my father. My parents were separated most of the time, then they finally got divorced when I was six years old. So having any memories where we were alone with my father was exceptionally rare.


The interesting thing about time is how the older you get a memory that seemed etched in your mind but without reason can slowly come to make more and more sense. My father was doing cocaine in the bathroom and ready to dump his kids with the eldest of us, my six year old sister. He never returned because he was out partying. And it's an important note that McDonald's in the 80's didn't serve breakfast all day like they do now.


Why am I telling you this story? Well truthfully I could of easily titled this "The Origin Of My Daddy Issues".  It is here where it all began.  My desire to have a father. It wasn't until I realized later that the closest thing I would end up having to a father growing up was actually my grandfather, Papa Neil. Papa Neil was amazingly kind and loving to me. He listened to me and made me feel valued and important.


You see we're all hungry for love, acceptance and affection. We're hungry for "dinner". But it's a cruel and negligent parent that gives you "cold breakfast for dinner" so to speak. While we all need heroes and guidance at least the worst of us can serve as bad examples. Knowing this in itself can help us understand what we truly need in life. So I encourage you today to ask yourself what it is you're in need of and don't settle for "breakfast for dinner".


Thank you so much for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

My Inner Kingdom ๐Ÿ‘‘

My bedroom was in the attic in our Rocklin California home. I was ten years old and I loved staring at the moon through the burnt slats and large missing portion of the ceiling. My bed was a sleeping bag and pillow on a particleboard between two beams. The only way up or down was by a ladder that my stepfather would remove at night when it was time for me to goto bed. I had to be careful slipping into my sleeping bag because most of the attic was exposed or unfinished. If I rolled even slightly I could easily fall through the ceiling onto my sisters bedroom, which happened once, or even worse I could fall straight onto the concrete kitchen floor.


We were squatting in a house that had sustained a large amount of fire damage, primarily the roof top which was where my attic sleeping area was. Luckily it hardly ever rained. But I remember fondly a summer breeze that would rush across my face, the moon as bright as day and the soft sound of the crickets outside. We were also less than a stones throw from the railroad tracks. My grandfather had instilled in me early on a love for trains. Though I know now he wouldn't ever allowed us to squat in this dilapidated house if he had a clue. Nonetheless late in the evening the low rumble, the teeth chattering sound of massive engines and steel gears would tear through the night air. And each night it was the most soothing lullaby. It even got to the point to where no matter how tired I was I just couldn't fall asleep until I heard an evening train cut through the nearby tracks.


This of course is a bittersweet memory in many ways. I was exceptionally poor and had little to myself. Yet it was these evenings looking into the moon, the scent of train tracks and the summer breeze that gave me the greatest waking zen I had at this time. For once I had fallen asleep I was no longer the pauper kid in a charred attic but a king of worlds. It is here were I discovered my greatest super power. The power to escape through my fantasies. And the most wonderful thing about this inner kingdom was that no cruel force could take this away from me. This peace was always just another nights rest away.



Our dreams can be our sanctuary. They can offer a salvation for waking nightmares or a sweet escape to a better present. My dreams saved me and have for many years. As a grown man I now see that dreams while wonderful can often dilute the importance of being tethered to the happiness around you. Yet this particular time I vividly remember finding my peace by discovering my inner kingdom.



Thank you all for reading this very intimate and personal story ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

Music Is Like Faith ๐ŸŽถ

On February 10th 2018 my mother lost her battle with cancer. She was only 59 years old and she died in a Canadian hospital. I never got a chance to see or speak to her before she passed but I did get a chance right before the end to send her a goodbye audio message. It was a heart wrenching and soul crushing time for me, beyond just losing my mother. My mother and I were estranged. While the discovery of her cancer in November on 2017 was news to me I knew my mother was unwell for many many years prior. My mother was mentally ill. And her mental illness was the greatest component to why we were not on speaking terms.

Itโ€™s difficult for me to write this however as I approach her one year death anniversary I need to share the things Iโ€™ve been processing. If by chance youโ€™re the kind of person that finds faith, belief in God or an afterlife offensive, if you choose to continue to keep reading please keep in mind this is about my experiences and what I personally believe. I believe in God and I believe in the afterlife. Iโ€™m a Christian albeit with Iโ€™m sure a great many contradictions in my beliefs both personal and political. I could say Iโ€™m probably more liberal than most and maybe more conservative than some. Yet to me faith is such a beautiful thing. I liken faith to music. Music isnโ€™t just about parties or good times. Music is a comfort to the highs and the lows. Music can help you feel less alone, be your friend, or even be that depressing little companion when youโ€™re feeling down. Music can understand you better than a lover or intoxicate you into a roller coaster of emotions. Music much like faith can be intellectually stimulating or shallow and very surface. The correlation to life events are often marked with both music and faith. We celebrate our weddings and solemnly conduct our funerals. Music and faith are even crossed over into each other as they both can express a depth or thirst deep deep within our dry and parched souls.

It is this comfort and solace I take in music that Iโ€™ve had profound revelations and wept the most deeply. It is also the place where Iโ€™ve experience Godโ€™s love and a universe of pain. The day my mother died was a Saturday. I had received the news that my mother was approaching the end and was no longer speaking. I drove my car to a park overlooking some water and saw a group of Canadian geese. I had my journal, my bible open and a song on repeat. The song was โ€œPsalm 36โ€ written by King David and performed by the band Third Day. The song was inspired when King David was fleeing for his life from supposed loved ones that were trying to kill him. David also a musician eventually turned the verses that despite all the hardships around him the creator of the universe still loves him and all creatures. For me I found great comfort in this song. It makes me feel connected. Connected to the pain of one of the greatest Kingโ€™s in history and connected with the pain we all experience. And itโ€™s this pain that leads me to finally be comforted. I believe my mother is with her maker and that while my heart is broken Iโ€™m free to begin to heal. If you are hurting know you're not alone and thereโ€™s a song that understands.

I miss you mommy,

your son

- Jesse

The Broken G-String ๐ŸŽป

The stage was packed, the tent โ›บ๏ธ mostly empty and the crowd was killing time between a better act. Yet the seven of us were playing our hearts out.


It was a sweltering summer day at this Pacific North West punk and indie festival. What a folk band had any business there I'll have no idea. I was the bass player and there to do a gig. We had rehearsed enough times to where I was if I'm being honest a bit bored with my parts, but enthusiastic nonetheless.


Then in the middle of the set something that that had never happened to me before. I broke my G-String.


For those not familiar with the anatomy of a bass guitar ๐ŸŽธ - typically you have four strings: E,A,D, & G. The E being the largest and the lowest sounding string and and the G being the thinnest and lightest sounding string.


So here I was in the middle of the set and I broke my G-string. Not an uncommon thing if you're a guitar player. When you're wailing on a guitar especially if you play a lot of events you might need to replace your strings once every other show. But Bass strings are different, they're durable and far more expensive. So to break one during a mild and mellow folk performance is practically unheard of. 


So I quickly improvised - since I knew the songs backwards and forwards it was easy to adjust my  bass lines. Then while we were still playing the same tune another string broke, my A-string. This was more complicated now that I needed to adjusts my notes to skip the missing string and play entirely on the E & D string.


Not thinking ahead I didn't bring any additional bass strings so I figured I could handle the rest of the set now that I had adjusted my frame of mind. Then the D-string broke. Here is when I started to sweat. I had to finish this entire concert with just one string.


We wrapped up the show, enjoyed a few claps and began to pack up our stuff. All the while I had never played a more intense and heartfelt performance! No grand applause and no after performance accolades. We were just filler at a musically stuffed event. No one would remember our show and I eventually left that band.


Yet sometimes life is like that. You can pour your heart and soul into a thing in front of you. And barely anyone is watching. You can work your part so well that if even under unforeseen changes you can still make it work. Yet it can amount to not much more than a story. Why am I sharing this experience?


Well you see even with a packed stage and a crowd most likely bored I had an absolute blast playing that show. Of the close to a hundred shows I had played with that group ranging from some smaller and some significantly larger audiences - none of the shows combined were as fun as that performance!


Life isn't about praise it's about playing your heart out until the music stops. I haven't forgotten that show because it stretched me. It still stretches me. When I'm caught up on approval I stop approving the very things that make me happy.


So perhaps today if you're feeling a bit blue because your work isn't finding momentum. Remember it's important to stay tethered to the joy of performing.



Thanks so much again for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

The Diver ๐ŸŒŠ

My Granda Neil used to tell this story about when he was in the Navy...


Living out at sea on a naval destroyer it was easy to feel bored and even more so little privacy. So perhaps it was a combination; his fellow crew mates on the ship ๐Ÿšข would often tell these elaborate stories of special talents they possessed without ever having the opportunity to prove it. One guy said he was an incredible craftsman, another that he could beautiful play the piano ๐ŸŽน and so on and so forth. Each sailor boasting a skill they never had to show. Now Neil came up with a lie that I'm itself wasn't very bright - he said "I'm an amazing diver".


Fortunately for him he spent most of his time below in the sonar room. There seemed hardly a time despite being surrounded by the ocean that he would ever have to live up to his alleged diving skills. Until one day his ship the U.S.S. Loftberg was in port and the crew had some time to kill. They looked over at Neil and said "Hey Neil why don't you show us your diving skills". Neil stuck between facing his lie and the tower cliff of the destroyer he opted to just dive in.


He leaped over the edge and plunged into the waters. His body rushed through the depths until his head sunk shoulders deep into the sand. Floating back up to the surface his ears ringing, eyes bloodshot, blood coming out of his ears and nose - his crew mates surrounded Neil in cheers saying  "wow Neil you are an amazing diver!"  Learning his lesson Neil smiled and decided he'd never dive again.



Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“– 

-Jesse

โ€‹The Everlasting Jawbreaker ๐Ÿญ

When I was a kid circa summer late 1980's there was a specific candy craze (among the many) going on regarding these giant novelty jawbreakers. Every kid my age seemed to be sporting a softball ๐ŸฅŽ sized white Jawbreaker. Every kid except me.


Looking back at this fad I remember feeling so left out by not participating in the Jawbreaker consumption. Until I finally scrounged together the cash ๐Ÿ’ฐ to purchase my own novelty giant Jawbreaker.


The first thing I noticed when I tasted this Jawbreaker was how chalky and undesirable the actual flavor was. In kid terms it tasted like sugary envelope glue. Not only did it taste bad it seemed impossible to make any progress on this Jawbreaker. Every kid I knew had trouble consuming this candy down to the rumored rainbow ๐ŸŒˆ core. Other kids had heard stories that the center of the Jawbreaker was the best flavor you could imagine. Yet none of us could make a real dent in it. We had heard of a kid that tried to use a hammer to crack the Jawbreaker but when we tried it ourselves the Jawbreaker just bounced away with barely a chip.


The weekend after I had purchased this Jawbreaker I was invited to a pool party. To the utter disgust of every grown up I knew I had brought along my Jawbreaker. I had been working every waking minute trying to lick this Jawbreaker down like a gentle chisel. Still by the weekend I had left only a slight groove.


Knowing that I was heading to a pool party I brought along a plastic bag to wrap my Jawbreaker in between dives into the water. I didn't want my candy to touch the chlorine. After diving then retreats to lick ๐Ÿ‘… the Jawbreaker, rewrapping it up in the plastic bag then repeating the same action at the pool party another kid looked at me and said "what's wrong with your tongue?" I ran inside to find a mirror. My tongue was white. What I hadn't realized is all the while I was attempting to erode this colossal Jawbreaker with my tongue the Jawbreaker had in turn wore my tastebuds raw and turned my tongue white. It was there that I threw away my Jawbreaker - it had won and I was officially over this candy. ๐Ÿญ


It took me a few days for my tongue to heal and begin to be able to taste regular food. Eventually a classmate showed me that they were able to dissolve their giant Jawbreaker in a warm bowl of water to reach the rumored candy core. However by this time I was disinterested.


My greatest take away from this story is had I been honest with myself I knew from the very first taste. This everlasting Jawbreaker with an awful flavor became my obsession. I'd like to say it was a lesson in endurance yet it was more a lesson that if at the first experience you're not enjoying something put it down and move on. There's no need to torture yourself with something that doesn't fit your tastes.



Thanks so much for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

๐Ÿ•ท A Spider Eat Spider World ๐ŸŒŽ 

This one time while I was sitting taking care of nature's business ๐Ÿšฝ at a coffee shop restroom a large spider ๐Ÿ•ท began to crawl towards me. I wasn't exactly interested in it making its way towards me in my predicament.

As this large determined looking spider was within an arms reach from me suddenly an even larger more terrifying spider leaped from out of the shadows and made a quick meal of the spider that was headed towards me. As the monster spider finished consuming the other spider it then hurriedly slipped under the door frame and out of my life.

It was a sort of spectator cinema that was both fascinating and horrendous. Yet nature's drama is right beside us all the time. All around us creatures and humans alike are toiling - determined and often unaware. To quote my favorite Shakespearean line "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts..." Theres a bit of theatre in ever corner of the world. I find this strangely comforting - somewhere thereโ€™s a spider eating another spider all while someone is just trying to use the restroom. Haha

Until next time thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“– 


-Jesse

Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ

My grandfather used to tell a story about a nurse that strikingly looked like Elvis, or perhaps wished he was Elvis that took care of his father when he was under bed rest.


It was around the 1970's and this Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ would blast his rockabilly tunes over the radio ๐Ÿ“ป despite the desires of his patient, my great grandfather and my grandfather fathers dislikes.


Furthermore Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ was often late to work, would leave early and often left his general caretaker responsibilities to fall by the wayside. It was frustrating to say the least. My grandfather ๐Ÿ‘ด said that he wasn't sure what to do since he wanted to fire him but there just wasn't as many options back then via caretakers that we're affordable and would come to your home. Plain and simple Nurse Elvis was a spacey lazy caretaker. He would often raid the refrigerator without a request and if there was any sort of food stuff or beverage within his reach he'd have at it.


This became especially annoying for my grandfather as he was watching his father slowly fade away. Now my grandmother had always been a collector of vintage things and one particular collection she had was of original Coca Cola bottles that dated back to the 1800's. So far back indeed to where Coca Cola still used to use cocaine in their recipe.


Now no would in there right mind would of ever considered drinking this ancient brown liquid. No one except Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ. He cracked opened a couple bottles and downed them like he was a fish drinking water. My grandfather was both enraged and curious since Nurse Elvis had consumed this seventy plus year old soda. What would happen? Well Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ put in the best day's work of his life! My grandfather said as his anger subsided seeing "Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ wired-up from the vintage Coca Cola made him wish he had more to give him." Nurse Elvis not only finished all his work, stayed late for the first time, he also cleaned ๐Ÿงน๐Ÿงผ๐Ÿงฝ the place spotless floor to ceiling.


I love this story because it reminds me of how perhaps not the best way to accomplish the work we do we could all use a bit of a pep in our step. Maybe we're all just an energy drink away from our most productive day ever! Haha


Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–



-Jesse

The Lion ๐Ÿฆ & The Man ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป

(Retelling of an Aesop Fable)


This one time The Lion ๐Ÿฆ and The Man ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป were in a heated argument. Each one claiming to be greater than the other. The Man said to the Lion "I can prove that man is greater than Lion, follow me!" The man proceeded to lead the Lion to a statute of Hercules that depicted him killing a Lion with his bare hands.


The Lion replied "that proves nothing! For you see this statute was clearly made by human hands!"


The moral of the story is - truth is in the eye of the storyteller.



This fable is such a healthy reminder that as storytellers we control the lenses in which the viewers see the world.

It has become clearer and clearer these days as snippets of media make headline news or opinion pieces front as journalists research that we keep our integrity intact when relating our personal narrative.

No one is without bias and there's always more than one side to a story. In someways this fable shows the power of breaking our own fourth walls so as not to purposefully deluded the consumers of our stories.

I personally believe this makes journalism a higher calling yet it's unfortunate that what sells news isn't values but sensational statements. Perhaps this is just some food for thought when we see or hear a story that our gut is having trouble believing.



Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

๐Ÿฆ The Lion's Share

(Another retelling of an Aesop fable)


The lion once asked for the fox and the jackal to assist with a hunt.

 

Now after the three of them had captured the prey it came time to divide up the spoils. The lion ๐Ÿฆ immediately leaped on the carcass and said "this first third is for my effort in the chase! This second third is for my title as king of beast and this final third well let's see you try and take it from me!"


The moral of the story is though it's easy to share the work of the "great" it is difficult to share their reward.


I love this fable for how incredibly relevant it is today. I can't count how many times some self important person or brand with some ridiculous Instagram follower count has reached out to me or a friend of mine and asked to assist them move their arbitrary social media needle. And when you tell them the value of your time or services they turn an indignant nose at you or even far worse treat you like garbage. Even more so if you've ever helped someone achieve a great task then received nothing in return.


Not to stir the pot too much because I understand when you mention this topic it can upset people quite a bit. A long time ago I used to assist non profit startups, you might even call them "churches". Well it was often the case once I helped these self important "lions" achieve momentum they were clearly done with me and they never had any intention in sharing the fruits of the labor. This of course goes far beyond non profits and social media divas. But the important lesson for me is to beware of people that hoard reward. Steer clear at all cost! Your time and efforts are always valuable and let that be a great big red flag ๐Ÿšฉ when someone fails to appreciate it.

 

thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–  

 -Jesse

๐Ÿ’€ The Old Man & Death

( a retelling of an Aesop Fable)

There once was an old man carrying a large bundle of sticks up a mountain.  At a certain moment he accidentally dropped a branch from the bundle of sticks on his back. Reaching to pick up the stick he was so wracked with pain he cried out "I wish for death over this pain".

Immediately Death appeared in a cloaked and skeletal frame. Death looked at the old man concerning his request. The old man looked at Death and said "excuse me sir, could you kindly pick up that stick and place it upon my shoulders?"

The moral of the story is not all wishes grant happiness.

Thanks for reading my retelling of this short fable. What I've always enjoyed about this story is the dark sense of humor it carries. We all joke about death now and again in light of discomfort. However even if life is miserable it seems like the better alternative. Being careful what we wish for is a healthy outlook that I'm often reminded of by this story.


-Jesse

โœ๏ธ The Animated Kids Show - update

If you've been reading this blog. You're aware of a series of posts, in no consecutive order, I've been doing relating to an animated kids show. There's been a recent update regarding the review of the materials for the show so I'll need to hold off before I can reveal these to the public. Once they're done being considered I'll post all that I can at that time so you can visually dissect what a pitch should look like. However in the meantime I'm thinking about sharing retellings on some of my all time favorite short stories here.  

 

Thanks for following along! 

-Jesse  

Burns & Cheese ๐Ÿง€

This weekend Katie and I were invited to a friends Burns Night. For those unaware - because this is still a rather new thing to us, Burns' Night is a fun evening inspired by the poet Robert Burns which involves reading poems, singing songs and sharing food and beverages. 

Since this event was a potlucks I wanted to bring something unique and tasty. I've been a life long lover of cheese ๐Ÿง€ so I thought what if I brought some homemade cheese.

Perhaps this doesn't sound that unusual to those more experienced in the culinary arts. But I've recently taken a study to creating cheeses and breads. Both these items being a staple in my diet it seemed like a practical thing to learn and enjoy doing. Secondly I like to consider myself a bit of a foodie - so the deeper my knowledge of food, is really only a plus. Crafting cheese is really quite simple it's all about cooking milk to an optimal temperature then adding citric acid which causes the milk to curd. You then cook the curd for a solid minute then remove from the heat. Afterwards you strain out the whey, the leftover milky citric water from the curds. And like that you've now made cheese! 

Theres something especially fun about creating your favorite foods for people to enjoy. So here I brought my homemade cheese to the Burns night and watching the smiling faces filled with this cheese while people saying "you made this?! It's delicious!" "Yep thanks! I made it earlier this afternoon." Sure I'm clearly patting myself on the back for a domestic accomplishment that people have mastered for eons. However, I'm reminded while we all go around the room reading ๐Ÿ“– lyrics of fancy and whimsical imagery that - just as we're enjoying words written by others long ago we can also enjoy the simpliest recipes that equally tie us to eachother and our history. A bit of cheese ๐Ÿง€ and a bit of poetry! If that's not the essence of community then I do know what is?!

 

Keep the Burns night alive! 

 

-Jesse

๐Ÿฅ“ Aching For Bacon


Today I made a culinary mistake. I ate corn dogs for lunch. Don't get me wrong I love a good corn dog but often or not they're made with pork.

Why does this matter well I discovered I have an awful allergy to swine. Ok sure that's a little usual however a lot of people deliberately don't eat pork products and they live perfectly normal lives. Which is very true, if you're kosher or halal you avoid pork. The problem is I'm not and even more so for most of my life I was a downright bacon addict! I absolutely loved the stuff! I even went so far as to purchase special seasoning salt that flavored my non pork foods to taste like pork. It was amazing! 

However, throughout much of my life I suffered from debilitating stomach aches and had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I had many an emergency ๐Ÿšจ racing to find a toilet .๐Ÿšฝ   Why am I telling you this grossly personal story? Well this is a public journal that's one reason. The other reason is everyone will throughout the day have to use the restroom. Plain and simple! We're no better or different than eachother. 

I may no longer have IBS - for me a drastic dietary shift changed my plumbing issues. Yet it doesn't correct my pork allergy. I realized when I cut pork products from my diet my debilitating stomach cramps and bathroom emergency quickly disappeared. So today when I was acting a fool and not thinking of what mystery meat ๐Ÿฅฉ was inside lunch I was dealing with instant karma. I could lie to myself but when you've got an allergy you're body isn't buying it. I'm not sure how all those devout Muslims and Orthodox Jews can resist the temptation. Perhaps they've never or seldom try pork. But it's a difficult thing to say no too even when it causes me pain. I guess my addiction is food.

Nonetheless, I'm reminded even while clinging to my stomach in knots that just as it's important for myself to act and be aware of my mental and emotional concerns I can't act outside my own body's limitations. I can lie to myself til the cows come home but I can't lie to my body at least without consequences.  

There's a bigger picture here I believe and that's taking time to look into a mirror and be honest with myself. There is just some things I want that I just have to say no to. And that's the lesson I'm seeing today. All the creativity in this world and a constant barrage of exciting things to experience knowing just a bit of what will hurt you in the end can save you a lot of pain.  

Goodbye my lovely delicious bacon ๐Ÿฅ“  

  

-Jesse

๐Ÿงฑ The Brick Wall

We all get stuck sometimes. We feel like we're spinning our wheels and behind an immovable force. I have often felt this way. Even more so recently. 

I've been in business (design & animation) since 2011. I started my company while I was still in college and slowly grinded away one client project after another. I remember one of my first clients was for a catering company that needed a logo. I was referred the gig by my school's career services department so I naively assume it was a trustworthy client. I designed the logo and sent it to the client for final approval and never heard from them again. I had forgotten to protect my art and they ripped me off. They took my design and never paid me. It wasn't the end of the world but it gave me a education nonetheless. A year later I looked up the same company and they had gone out of business. I know it's the suffering of others yet there was a bit of cosmic justice about a crooked company going under.

However, businesses go under all the time and it's hardly a universal merit system that's handing out just desserts. There's just lots of ups and downs. Feasts and famines so to speak. Heck to be completely candid looks like I'm in a bit of a dry spell right now. Lots of projects wrapped up and there's this calm that is both a calm but also a bit unsettling - every freelancer or subcontractor knows this feeling. These things happen. The creative world (not unlike many industries) is filled with all sorts of risks: from flakey colleagues to floundering startups to unhealthy partnerships to just plain lack of work. There's a lot of fish in the sea and sometimes the biggest fish are best at gobbling up the bait. Other times you're just not in the right place at the right time.

You've gotta have faith sometimes more that anything. More than looking at an ever evaporating budget and continually seeing doors ๐Ÿšช shut in your face. Faith is key ๐Ÿ”‘ to survival in my opinion. 

This is a difficult thing to confess as if being in need is some sort of disease. As humans were are born in need - we come out eyes shut and expecting to be fed. But sometimes people and I include myself in this, at times think there's some sorta supernatural force that favors winners all the time.

Basically it's a bunch of garbage to pretend like you're always on top. It just is. If you're honest with yourself you're going to need help and a lot of it to survive. It's not begging because hopefully you're on the opposite side more often offering help to others along the way. And by help I mean typically help in the form of work. It's easy to think people who are struggling are lazy or stupid but that's just wrong! No crystal ball ๐Ÿ”ฎ is gonna tell you what really lies ahead.

Why am I going off on this slow train of hard knocks rants? Well like the title of this post says I've hit a brick ๐Ÿงฑ wall and I don't for a minute think I'm alone. And one of my best cures is to recap where I came from to both sober me up and remind me of some basic truths. 

When I started my company I was in college but I was also working at my schools library waiving people's fines like some sorta unofficial library pope haha. I had purposed in my heart that I wanted to have full time work before I graduated. I worked at every studio that would hire me, mostly working evenings or graveyard shifts and I took on two internships - one paid and one with a promised of experience. I also went back to school much later in life. Which had its advantages and disadvantages for sure. I graduated from college after thirty to give you an idea how much later in life. I knew what it was like to work for "the man" so to speak. I especially disliked my experiences in large corporations where you felt like an anonymous number on a spreadsheet. Corporations are often the opposite of how I think. I never want to be the "boss" that exploits their work force to the extreme poverty level like you see at some of the largest animation studios. I honestly think your boss should never be making more than one zero more than you.

 

Being the "boss" means you're risking more, sacrificing more and overall more invested. When you fail you feel it more and when you win it feels sweeter. But that's also the joy of it too! I never felt entitled to success I just knew that I truly needed to create the things I wanted to be apart of. Having my own animation studio is close to the earliest dream I've had unless you count wanting to be Batman when I was 5yrs old. I knew art helped me and I knew going back to school at twenty five that I wanted a career I could pour my heart and soul into. 

Now I'm not really one to keep track of how I've helped someone. Sometimes this is a good thing sometimes this is a bad thing. Good because I try to believe and invest in any people I see the good Lord bringing my way. Bad because it often makes me a huge sucker. There I've said it. I fall for pleas for help, listened to a pitch far longer than I should have, taken one to many extra surveys and allowed myself to be taken advantage. It happens. I've discovered for me a large reason why has to do with my disposition and upbringing. I vote with my heart and let's face it the heart is stupid haha. 

I'm no psychologist nor do I aspire to be one. However the older I get the more practical mental health advice has become. You can't always pop a pill, meditate, or pray these anxieties, frustrations and troubles away. So I started a search again for a new therapist. Last year I really dug into some good therapy which helped me get through a lot of internal turmoil. We all have dragons ๐Ÿ‰ we need to slay - and my wife has excellent insurance so a $35 co-pay is well spent. Rabbit trail if you're considering therapy understand it is both a powerful and important decision. Do your homework and don't feel like you have to settle on the first person you consult.

So I reached out to a new therapist talked about "The Brick Wall ๐Ÿงฑ " and whatnot over the phone and for the most part had good vibes - until I met up with him. When I arrived his office was completely disheveled, magazines stacked all over the place, no one to greet me as I walked in and you could of sworn a hoarder lived there with a four-five foot high wall of VHS ๐Ÿ“ผ tapes of kids movies in the hallway. My red flags ๐Ÿšฉ we're starting to pop up! Homeboy has got some housekeeping for himself to deal with both literal and figurative. A few minutes after our scheduled time for our session and he rolls out of his office hands me some paperwork and takes a phone call. He races by again grabs my paperwork then takes another phone call. Finally I get to the point where I'm ready to leave he pops out of his office says I just need to take this one more phone call and I'm sitting there thinking "Jesse wake up this is a nightmare". As I'm talking sense to myself he pops out again and says come on in.

True to form I put on a smile, make some small conversation and completely ignore my entire bad experience which took place not thirty seconds ago. We chat for the remaining time and I'm reminded of some emotional maintenance I've been ignoring. Yet I still feel this colossal brick ๐Ÿงฑ wall. 

I haven't given up my search for a new therapist, far from it. But what I did learn is it's silly to put to much stock in "experts". Degree or no degree or a mile long list of experience the human race is a hot mess everywhere. While I'll never go back to that sloppy therapist again I'd be lying to myself if I'd official out grown that whole being the polite sucker I am. My wife jokes that I must secretly be Canadian because I always feel like I need to be super polite in public. What is the take away from all of this? Well I'm a dreamer, a sap, sometimes a floundering business owner, sometimes a frustrated creative or stuck in a rut artist and designer that feels like I'm hitting "the brick ๐Ÿงฑ wall" all the time.  You're not alone and heck I'd say you're in good company. We all have desires we want to see come to life and we all wish we could grind away in the right direction until there's a clear path but there just isn't a clear path. Life is not like school where they have a list of courses you need to take to get a degree. Or better life isn't like a video game where you can unlock achievements from completing quest - oh wouldn't that be so cool if it was!!! Unfortunately life isn't that way.

So while I'm up against this wall I am also so very thankful that for all the other walls I was able to break through to this one. From homelessness as a child and as an adult. To massive financial hardships, trauma, illness, hard work, to the gift of faithful and loving people that have encouraged me in all emotional, spiritual and practical ways. This brick wall ๐Ÿงฑ won't end me! And nor will it end you! And you know what if it does end you then be there to write your name on this wall to show people you took a chip out of it with all you had! And let those behind you know this wall is all that's keeping them from breaking through to greater things than yourself. But more than that let's pull out our hammers and be the wrecking crew for these stupid brick ๐Ÿงฑwalls! 

 

thank for listening and get to work on some creative demolition! 

-Jesse

 

 

๐Ÿฅƒ Blast From My Musical Past

Today a rather interesting thing happen to me. If youโ€™ve been reading this blog for more than a couple posts youโ€™ll know that I used to be a musician. Still am a musician I suppose but I used to really identify myself a lot as a musician. Music at that time meant much of the world to me and was my primary creative outlet - from heartbreaks to happiness (mostly heartbreaks haha).

Recently a very talented friend of mine, designer and musician Victor Paredes and I started collaborating on some old tracks. One particular track that really stood out to Victor that I had recorded was a song called โ€œWhiskeyโ€. The song is about this person that I deeply cared about and how as much as I cared about them I just hated the way they medicated their unhappiness. I think theres a lot of people that can relate to this pain. What I didnโ€™t realize while I was writing the song was in reality how truly depressed I was also - music was just my medicine the whole time..

Victor decided to resurrect the track and came up with just the most beautiful and sultry arrangement. So I can really only take credit for my acoustic guitar and tenor vocals. However, here while I am listening to a song I wrote and recorded over 12years ago itโ€™s so encouraging hearing the song transformed into a new piece of art thanks to Victor!

This song was one time very special to me. I had written this track when my mother was still alive and she even saw me perform this song once at a coffee shop . Itโ€™s a bittersweet feeling how the story of this song started. However, hearing the songโ€™s rebirth gives me a sense of joy the song never did before and peace that Iโ€™m letting go to the painful memories that brought it to be. Thanks so much Victor and thank you all so much for listening.

Take care,

-Jesse

โ€‹๐Ÿ‘ Peaches & Jams ๐ŸŽธ


Recently I've caught the musical bug. I'm kinda obsessed to be honest. It comes in waves here and again but there was a time when music was very much my life.

As the urge to grab my guitar and play a random tune takes hold; it's easy to look back at how when you're first starting out there is so much work to make a song sound just right. The funny thing is I have a better ear for music decades later but my mind for lyrics are just awful. I can easily pick up a track in less than the time its through the first chorus (unless it's too jazzy still haven't mastered my ear for jazz) but it's a real struggle to remember words to tunes. I'm not sure why.


All this brings me back to when I was fourteen years old and I learned how to play the guitar. It started one evening when I was hanging out with my Grandpa Neil and he pulled out this old classical guitar from the closet. Sitting there I was eating my grandma's homemade peach jam straight from the jar as my Grandpa ๐Ÿ‘ด strummed this sick Mexican guitar style lick. "Malagueรฑa" - it was mesmerizing! My Grandpa finished a total of twenty to thirty seconds of this beautiful riff then handed me the guitar and went off to bed. I couldn't sleep ๐Ÿ’ค, I needed to hear this music again. So I drilled down and played this guitar all night long until I had figured out this track. Even though I just had the one hearing I wasn't satisfied until I could play it perfectly. The next morning my Grandpa saw me seated in the same place he had left me - this time I was now playing "Malagueรฑa" and I had finished the jar of my grandma's peach jam. He smiled as he walked up to me and said I could have his guitar, I had earned it. Less than a few weeks later I had started my first band. A Christian band - we were a duo, ( an embarrassing story for another time) another acoustic guitar player and we called ourselves "Pre-Resurrection", which looking back makes no sense.

 

My musical journey started over night and it became part of my identity for a very long time. But music is funny that way. It can change you and inspire you. You can enjoy it while you're happy or sad, feeling stressed or angry. Music can be like a magnifying glass or a mirror - amplify or reflecting you. So while I'm reclaiming my old flame I'm looking forward to the music I'll be making even if it's scratching away at an old tune I can't get out of my head. And its these ups and downs of life that can always use a good tune to help along the way. So thank you for being apart of my journey and for reading this bard's tales.


-Jesse