I Fall Asleep to the TV Every Night

Originally Posted: May 29, 2015

And I forgot why until today.

We climbed back into the hot vans at 3:30 in the afternoon in San Antonino, Texas. We being the students at American YouthWorks after a long day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

Matt started driving the rowdy van and it finally started to cool off. The students in the back refused to stop discussing all of the rides they went on and how we should have stayed longer. The staff started discussing things of a more “grown-up” nature. Politics, weekend plans, needing a vacation.

I, instead, leaned my head back against my head rest and refused to fight off my urge, and natural tendency, to nap. My eyes began to close and I was “out” as Matt said.

In the same way you have vivid dreams and can’t recall them, I heard every word spoken on the drive back to Austin, Texas. And I napped more peacefully than I have in quite a while.

I forgot until today that the reason I fall asleep to Parks and Recreation every night is because the sounds of people talking and laughing and connecting is so, so soothing to me. It puts me at peace. I love that sound so much it carries me off to bed and gives me rest.

Nice reminder.

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Oh, Parks

Originally Posted: February 27, 2015

I remember watching the Parks and Rec pilot on my iMac, alone in my bedroom, in the spring of 2009. If memory serves I actually paused the episode of The Office I was watching to check out Amy Poehler's new comedy. iTunes was giving it out for free as they usually do for new shows. I remembered thinking about how this show was originally going to be a spin off of The Office. When the change to make it an original series happened I remember it being bittersweet. I thought, "Good. A spin off just wouldn't be as good or it would have been too similar but also dang! That means no potential for an Office crossover. Which could have been fun." I laughed a little bit during the Parks pilot. Not as many times as I laughed during my first episode of The Office but I did nonetheless. It felt strictly like an Amy Poehler-vehicle. I thought it was funny but that she was too much like Michael Scott, which is understandable. However despite those concerns, I saw potential. I think everyone did. We knew it would pick itself up and find its own, unique, footing. And it did. Definitely in the second season, obviously, but it started showing as early as the second episode, Canvassing. An episode that really started showcasing other cast members.

April, Andy and Mark were caught not canvassing and instead playing Rock Band. Hilarious mostly because of Leslie walking in on Andy belting out "My Own Worst Enemy" by Lit. It was this cool, funny moment that I think showed us a glimpse into where the writers wanted to go with the show, tonally. Here we had this deadbeat-musician-boyfriend living off of his hardworking-community-minded-nurse and girlfriend. Textbooks say we should hate him and he should continually be used as a plot device. A purely conflict-creating character used to make a likable lead like Ann more likable. Instead, Andy is the punchline to an Act-long set up. We love him in that moment. Parks said, "Yeah. He's funny. Everyone is funny. We're going to do whatever we want." Parks was a show about resilient, brilliant and talented people that were still obviously flawed and real. They often succeeded or maybe I should say they succeeded often while learning and slowly changing. It was romanticized realism. 

They dedicated themselves to being a Leslie-driven ensemble even if that's clearly a little contradictory. Everyone was going to be funny and worth caring about. An unfortunately different approach, but a good one. Parks dared to be different but not just for difference sake and while never sacrificing quality. It wasn't "Let's be different just to be different!" it was, "Let's be different because that's what's right for these characters. That's what's funny for them and that's what's good for them." And bravo to that educated bravery. 

Finally, here we are at it's end. The last episode, One Last Ride. It was a moving, slightly less-funny and clever ending to a great show. There was a lot of information and ground to cover. Saying goodbye to a lot of characters, all of which we cared a great deal for, made it tough to deliver the sitcom demand of  "Three laughs per page." But we didn't need it. Laughs were still present as always but what we got in addition was an extra amount of warmth and hope. We time traveled and got something we don't usually get from a sitcom ending; a nice look into where these beloved characters were going. It was a sweet send off. I thoroughly enjoyed Parks and Recreation and I'm grateful we had a show that was unlike most others. 

Thanks for treating us, Parks.


Check out my Parks & Rec Spec Script! 

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Originally Posted: September 3, 2014

On August 24, 2009 I started a little project. I call it a project even though it’s more of just writing in a journal. 8/24/09 was my first day of college at Berkeley City College. The first entry is mostly about how much I hated being in college. How I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. 

I’ve written 285 entries since then. I’ve gone through three notebooks. The first was an (the) Office notebook that my buddy, Aundrea Schindler, gave me in high school. Notebooks have always been a popular gift to give me over the years. I guess everyone knows I enjoy writing. In high school it was probably more obvious, I carried a notebook around with me everywhere. Nowadays I jot things down in my iPhone. Probably less obvious. Probably not texting when you might think I am. 

The second notebook was a holographic Toy Story notebook and I am actually 23 years something. This notebook chronicled a very confusing but ultimately optimistic time in my life. I had just moved back to Houston, TX after 8 years living in California. It was weird, it seemed as though I spent all of my time in CA getting used to leaving Texas behind. When I finally did, it was time to come back.

I started going to college in Houston and I was really lonely. I wrote in the notebook everyday, wrote and recorded a lot of music that not many have heard, I wrote stories, discovered The West Wing and made a ton of videos for my YouTube Channel. I knew it was going to be difficult going back to Houston because most of my friends had either moved, were away at college or I had just lost touch with them over the years. I was lonely, but wasn’t sad. Jesus instilled in me the sense that he was building towards something and never let me forget it. 

On to book 3 of the College Journal. That was what I called this series of journals until either this week. “The College Journal Vol. 1” and so on. This was a burnt orange notebook that I really love. It’s the current volume. I started writing in it when I first moved to Austin, just like all the other notebooks. Eventually, sometime in 2012, I stopped writing in it. There’s a post I looked back on in 2012, sometime after I had stopped for a while. It describes UT, Hope 242 and mentions the idea that maybe I stopped writing and started participating. 

I certainly like the idea of that and think to some extent that that was true. Somewhere along the way I got so wrapped up in this journal, it not only became a place where I could relieve stress, express my thoughts, doodle, pray, worry, praise and feel understood, it became the only place I could relieve stress, express my thoughts, doodle, pray, worry, praise and feel understood. Which I think might have been going too far. I’m glad I was pulled away from volume 3. I’m glad I met people that asked me about all of the things I was going to vent into a burnt orange notebook. 

God certainly had/has a plan. That’s why I miss it. That’s why I started writing in the notebook again. I summarized everything that happened between May of 2012 to Aug 2014 and continued journaling this week at my new job. I love reflecting on where I have been, what I used to think and how I used to feel. Regardless of how embarrassing or silly it seems in retrospect. Reading through how I went from hating college to loving it, reading through how I was worried about my life, to reading about how it all came together, (and is still coming together) is amazing. Its just wave after wave of God’s faithfulness and provision. I’m so thankful for every single thing that he did for me and for every single thing I went through and felt. 

This time around I want to try to juggle both. I’ll write and participate. I want to be out there living and building relationships but I also want to have written record of the tiny part I’m playing in God’s plan. 

Thank you, Lord. The last 5 years have been incredible. You could do nothing for me for the rest of my life and at the end of it, I’d still have so many things to be thankful for.

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Musical HIStory

Originally Posted: January 31, 2013

It was June 25, 2009. It was a hot summer day in San Pablo, California. I was outside washing my mom’s car with headphones in, playing Owl City’s latest release. The summer-esque pop songs filled my ears and made a mundane chore a little more enjoyable. I don’t remember the exact song I was listening to, or even the exact album, but I remember hearing Adam Young’s voice coming out of my headphones when my mom broke the news to me. I walked in, after what I felt was a job well done, and saw my mom standing in the living room watching the news with her hand over her mouth. Without looking at the TV, I stared at my mom and wondered what was wrong. She looked and me and simply stated: “Michael Jackson died.” I absorbed the information, shrugged and said, “Wow.” Then I headed up to my room and continued listening to Owl City.

Now, I love Owl City, definitely one of my favorite artists. The optimistic, electronic sound is unlike many of my other favorites and it always helps to put me in a better mood. Owl City certainly helps to capture my current musical taste of 2009. But I also loved Michael Jackson. He was one of those classic artists that couldn’t be denied as a genius. I certainly have had debates on Owl City’s musical legitimacy, but never on Michael Jackson. He was understood as a musical legend.  I grew up listening to him, but over years, I started to develop my own tastes in music, as opposed to carefully handling what had been passed down to me. This led to Motion City Soundtrack, Blink-182, Relient K, Switchfoot and bands that I felt spoke to me during my time and my life. I almost shamefully admit that MJ was not blasting on my iPod as frequently as he should have been.

One night after Michael’s death, my cousins and I were hanging out working on a puzzle together. Puzzles were our current fixation. We had the radio going because in the summer of 2009 the radio was tolerable. They played MJ nonstop, rightfully in his honor. It was also the night of his televised funeral. We watched, we puzzled and we listened. We all loved MJ, but I want to say that watching his funeral was more of a gesture to keep up with current events than it was a gesture of grief or anything else. We weren’t the crying fans you saw on TV that night. We were the, “Man, he was great wasn’t he?” fans. Later that night, long after the funeral and after the completion of the puzzle, everyone had gone to bed, except for me. I couldn’t sleep. I got up and walked over to my cousin’s computer, which was in the living room where we had just spent our night together. I hopped on and just instinctively googled “Michael Jackson.” I couldn’t get him out of my head. Not just his melodies, but Michael, himself. For hours, I scoured the Internet for every Michael Jackson music video, every legendary performance, every interview, everything I could get my hands on. Then, it all hit me.

I remembered my very first cassette tape. The very first piece of music that I owed, that was mine, all mine. I remember it being Michael Jackson’s HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1. It was a collection of his hits and new material. I had the best of both worlds in my Walkman. I remembered the performances I would put on in my diapers, in my living room. I would do the moonwalk and everything! His songs were fun and lively. His lyrics may have been too deep for me at the time but I always felt they were important. I started to realize how Michael Jackson played a massive role in my musical upbringing. He was the very first artist I remember listening to. One of his songs was probably the first song I ever listened to. Michael Jackson was the foundation of my musical history. In that moment, on the computer I felt I owed Michael everything. I wanted to thank him as my eyes began to tear up and I became one of those fans, even if only for a moment.

Today, I would consider myself an amateur musician.  I play the guitar, the bass, the drums and a few other instruments. I love music. It plays a big part in my life and I do feel that I owe a part of that to the late Michael Jackson. His death helped me remember and appreciate my musical history and I’ll never forget it.

Original Post

Loud Noises

Originally Posted: May 28, 2012

I love loud noises. More specifically, (And probably more accurately) I like, no love, the sounds of a noisy house filled with people I love. It’s unlike anything else in my life. I always like to remember this random memory from my childhood. It’s so random to me that I can’t remember how old I was or what time of year it was, I remember the sound. It was my mom, dad, sister, me and my cousin’s family and we decided to sleep out in the living room on a ton of blankets. I remember waking up so clearly the next morning. I did a quick scan of the room. Everyone else had already gotten up. I let my head fall back onto my pillow and shut my eyes. Everyone was being so loud, I could hear them talking and smell the breakfast they were preparing. It was the most soothing moment in, probably my entire life. I felt so safe and warm and loved. I loved my noisy house. 

My houses/homes haven’t felt that way in a long time. Not since my sister passed away. She was loud. Boy, was she a loud person. If she was laughing down the street, you’d hear her and have no question. It was Ashley. She was so full of life, all the time. The house was never quiet with her in it. 

I cling to that noise, I like hearing the sound of company. The sound of people enjoying each other. The sound of music being played and sung. The sound of a family, the sound of friends. It’s the best. 

I get why God loves us so much. I mean I’m not going to pretend I completely understand the depths of God’s love for us, but I get it. People are so wonderful and beautiful. They’re handcrafted by the God of the universe. (And whatever is beyond that) I love people and it’s probably because we’re designed in His image. Anything good in us comes from God. The things I love about people are the things I love about Jesus. 

I feel like I’m digressing. Anyways, I love the sound of God’s people, his children. I love how he has made them and how he cares for them. How he places his beauty in each and every person in unimaginably unique ways. It’s so cool. I love being around people. 

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Life on a Timeline

Originally Posted: May 26, 2012

I don't think anyone likes the feeling of ‘the present.’ I mean, you can be happy obviously. You can have a good time and have fun, I don’t mean to be cynical. In fact, I try to avoid that at all costs. But good times end, people go home, move and move on. And I feel like there is this yearning, this desire inside of us to “travel” to good moments in our past or to ideas/hopes/dreams of our future. Like all the time spent on your way home, in your car, after spending time with the people you love. 

I think this is purposeful. I think its purposeful that nothing on this earth completely satisfies. I think it’s purposeful that our souls aren’t designed to (truly or completely) live (or thrive) on a timeline. We were meant for more than this, we were created for something bigger and better, something beyond time, another world with our creator. 

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." - C.S. Lewis

"20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." - Philippians 3:20&21

But I’m (we’re) still here for a reason, I’m breathing because He continues to give me life and that is also purposeful. And while my soul longs and waits for home, I will serve you in your kingdom and I will depend on you to help me obey your word.

"11…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." - Philippians 4:11

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Half Hour Sitcom vs. Hour Long Drama

Originally posted: May 22, 2012

Earlier this semester my roommate pointed out to me that my favorite shows are half-hour comedies and that I haven’t spent nearly as much time with dramas. Which is interesting because we both agree that my pilot script is much more dramatic than it is comedic. However, he is right; other than (The first 4 seasons of) The West Wing, which I love, I haven’t spent much time with hour-long dramas. So I’m trying to! 

Before I continue, let me clear something up. There is a difference between ‘Preference’ and ‘Quality.’ I should know; I gave a 5-minute speech on it a few semesters back and got an A. So I’m probably an expert on the topic. Anyways, there’s a difference. For example, District 9 is a well-made piece of film but I didn’t enjoy it. It’s not “My kind” of movie but I can still appreciate the quality of its storytelling.

Mad Men and Firefly are good shows with wit, humor and compelling drama, however it’s always been significantly harder for me to get into these shows. I think its because I believe its harder and more impressive to pull off a great half-hour comedy. Now I’m talking about great television, not most of the junk we have currently. I’m talking The Office (US) Season 2, 30 Rock Season 1, Parks and Recreation Season 2, Friends Season 2, Scrubs Season 1-2 & 8, Community Seasons 1-3 and classics like Seinfeld, Cheers, MASH, Family Ties, and I Love Lucy.

Half-hour comedy means you have less of a runtime. You have to be lean. There’s no room for excess story, plot and drama just for the sake of drama. Good sitcoms are daring and ambitious because the format itself should be daring and ambitious. It’s the oldest format of the medium. Therefore, the challenge becomes, "How do I make this new and fresh, while still respecting this classic format?" It’s hard! Not many shows really pull it off. It’s a balancing act. Every laugh needs a tear, something to please you now and something to keep you caring and watching. Its tough and that’s why I love it when it gets pulled off. 

The easiest way to tell a serial show is to take your time and be dramatic (i.e., The Hour-Long Drama) the hardest way to tell a serial show is through the half-hour comedy, which by definition is episodic and comedic. I guess that’s why I’ve always been more drawn to them; it’s harder to tell great stories. 

I can’t wait to tackle that challenge someday. 

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