you might be living in the panhandle

You might be living in the panhandle

If the only thing shady in your neighborhood are the out of state contractors

If you’ve got less bars than Salt Lake City

You might be living in the panhandle

If mellow and yellow don’t make you think of soda

If you cry at the drop of a hat. No. I mean an actual hat

You might be living in the panhandle

If you’ve given so many hugs your arms are starting to chafe

If you’re dating your FEMA guy

You might be living in the panhandle

If you made a fort out of the extra cases of water and considered living in it

If you walked the dog today and you don’t own a dog

You might be living in the panhandle

If you have the best Dr. Shane impersonation on your block

If you plan to rename your three kids A, T & T

You might be living in the panhandle

If you….

sit in the dark because it seems wrong to use your new lights

If you’re not sure it’s okay to laugh when others are still where you were

If you tell your kids it will all be okay, but you aren’t sure if it’s true

You might be living in the panhandle

If you have new friends that are like family that you didn’t even know three weeks ago

If you want more than anything for things to return to normal and also fear that they will

You might be living in the panhandle

You ARE living in the panhandle

You are not alone

-Jason-

#850strong

you’re not a writer

You’re not a writer

So why do you write?

I never had anything to say

Written words my only constant routine since routine was blown away

A daily dose of order

A kind of chaos cure

Hauling away my empty words and piling them next to yours

Collecting scatted letters

Giving them a home

By day it’s the hammer by night it’s the pen

Until our writers are writers again

The only letters that remained THEatRE

The S and the S

I wanted to wedge in the O

A mountain of mattresses
where’s the princess and her pea?

She’s driving the truck that hauls them away

What used to seem logs are now merely twigs

Also the inverse is true

Pick up the tools you find on your lawn whether yours or no

You’re able to do more than you think

There’s no wrong way to start when you have the Will

We’re building a home one brick at a time

Times two

Times two

Times two

-Jason-

#850strong

rivera

I’d never been to the beach on a Wednesday at 3

Not on a school day

Not till today

It’s not where I wanted to be

BUT

The funeral procession covered the town

So I went to the sea to write your name in the sand

I had the wrong shoes for a walk of this kind

So I tied them together making a two pocket purse

Like scales to weigh options

To my right former fish littered the sand

Red tide or seasick? I couldn’t tell

I wanted to tell a woman why I was there

instead we shared a weak hello and the tiniest wave

We both looked to the ocean for answers or clues

I hope she found hers

There are all kinds of churches

There are all kinds of prayers

Mine was simple and soft

More a thought than a word

I hope it found your ears

If the best part of traveling is returning home

I hope you found your way

-Jason-

#850strong

i keep my feelings in the fridge

I keep my feelings in the fridge

So I can eat them later

The one on the curb

By the beaver dams

Can you boil a city to make it safe?

Zello?

Can you hear me now?

Only one bar

Like stairs with no steps

What day is it?

What time is it?

Stormsurgestormsurgestormsurge

We got the tornadoes

Looks like a war zone

You should have seen it last week

Mother Nature mic drop

The chainsaw gang

Insurance village

I didn’t know they made tarps that big

She had nothing to tarp

She heard her son laugh for the first time in days

he was asleep

She took him west for AC and a phone

Ran out of gas

They went swimming in the hotel pool so he could not see her tears

Why don’t the guests have luggage?

That poor squirrel

You loot we shoot

Surreal

So real

Nothing

No things

Y’all okay?

This is not Debbie, but it is Debbie’s phone

Need anything?

If you need anything please let us

No

Titty bar’s open

No, we’re good

He ain’t a real Dr.

Ain’t that a shame

He put his arms around my house

So his elbow knocked mine over?

I finally get power and you cut my line?

Call 211

Do they accept pets?

Digging for Artifacts

Why cut open a city?

To count the rings

That’s how you know the age

EOC

FEMA

SBA

My personal cell

The chirping of Crickets

Sorry new phone

It’s okay to not be okay

Sunrise and sunset look nearly the same

-Jason-

#850strong

your mail

Your mail came today

Placed with care in your broken box

Had to be the regular guy

Cause he got it right even though numbers were gone and the post was askew

It leaned against the pile

Proof of the crime

Wooden weapons mixed with remains of your life

You just missed him

Like he just missed me

Why must you leave while I get to stay?

If winds had shifted

You’d be writing these words while
I drove away

You showed me the tree in the tub of your boy

The water was off so we made our own thinking of what could have been

When he was born the welcome balloon drifted to our home by mistake

We kept it safe until you could return

BUT

You’re not coming back this time

When a heart breaks do the size
Of the pieces determine the pain?

The winds continue to blow

Lives not limbs

So many uprooted

BUT

Light is returning more everyday

May it help us see

-Jason-

#850strong

 

dear michael

Dear Michael

Can I call you Mike?

Turn down your wind a minute and listen to me

This is important

I know many Mikes

None like you

You confuse me

Why did you come here? What did you want? What are you trying

Never mind

I’ve figured it out

You’ve given me time to think in the dark

Thank you for that

I owe you an apology

You heard me right

I hated you

You’ve taken lives

You’ve stolen from so many

People I know

People I love

BUT

I’m not mad anymore

I want to thank you

Because of you

I spent a day with my precious niece in a car shade fort

She’s so smart it’s scary

Mornings are her favorite

Just like me

We made a bubble dance

She read me a book

She loves jingle bells

Why did I wait so long?

Because of you

I sat in the home of an artist I know

And she sat in mine

I call her friend but we were not close

I learned of her life and she learned of mine

She focused my thoughts through her way of seeing the world

I passed her words on to others
they’ve carried us through

Why did I wait so long?

Because of you

A father of a friend slept in my home

I’ve known this man for 24 years yet had never spoke

Not about things that matter

He made fun of my beer and we talked of his youth

Why did I wait so long?

Because of you

I prayed with a stranger at Walmart near soap

It was awkward at first

My prayers so old I’d forgotten the words

But when she asked I couldn’t say no

When I came to her aisle

She seemed too cheerful for one wearing a vest so blue

Her smile big and voice cheerful

Her eyes gave her away

I asked how she was and then the dam broke

She lost her home

We fumbled with new dumb phones slippery from tears

Hers and mine

She reminded me of my students

We now text to check in

Why did I wait so long?

Because of you

I see clearly through eyes washed with tears

Because of you

Strangers are neighbors

Neighbors are friends

Friends are family

Family is wealth

Because of you

Hugs are longer

Eyes meet and hold

I may hate you again as the loss lingers on

But for today

I see the gifts

Because of you

Jason

#850strong

leaders of the soul

When we moved into our home there was an army of pines next door

Soon the lot was cleared to build a home

one tree remained

It teetered on the line

Nobody knew to whom it belonged

A homeless tree

It leaned at an annoying angle promising to fall

It’s needles stain the drive and it’s fruit clutter the lawn

We debated sending it away

Then the storm came

It should have fallen

It was weak

We didn’t value it

BUT

The wind and rain somehow made it new

No longer near failure

Now tall and strong

How can this be?

Look around

It’s not just the trees

There are some among us that were broken before the storm

They had little to lose yet still lost it all

Look to them now

They know how to live

They always knew and never forgot what we are now forced to remember

These people are easy to spot

They are calmer than most

More content than they should be

They have nothing yet their concern is for those with less than themselves

They are leaders of the soul

They know how to pick up the pieces

It’s what they have always done

Look to them now

They will lead us

And they will bring us home

Jason

#850strong

pink snow

 

The day we emerged from our hiding places the sky was grey

A shade I’d never seen before

A shade I don’t want to see again

Doors opened cautiously

Hands went to pockets finding only useless bricks

The next day she emerged with a working one

The only one on the street

She let us make that vital call

I had not cried until I heard my mother’s voice

The relief
The fear
The joy

All came through the broken lines

Our tears mixed

Each day since the sun has shone

BUT

Today the grey came back when I got the word

I didn’t know you as well as I wish I had

Much like the neighbors that are now becoming friends

BUT

I do remember your eyes

Dark eyes that had seen so much

I only remember seeing you one time off campus

Some city festival

You were with a beautiful woman and a young child in a stroller

I saw you a few weeks ago in a meeting

You didn’t speak much

That was often true

When you spoke your words were rich with

compassion
wisdom
patience

I saw an old photo of you

So handsome

Like the guy on my favorite childhood cop show

You held a beautiful baby girl

Her hair was long and light

In another photo you were dusted with a light snow

Like the snow shoveled today from so many homes

Pink snow

As I drove home I was passed by countless cars with flashing lights

Red and blue

Racing by

I wondered how many times you had been the racer

The snow
The lights
The extra boxes by the street

At first glance you might think it was Christmas

Your loss is a heavy wound

A reminder that though the trees are few
we are not yet out of the woods

Thank you for your years of service as

law-enforcement officer
teacher
colleague

I know your family has suffered an immeasurable loss

A double wounding

It seems your life ended the way you lived it

Helping others

Thank you for the example of service

Godspeed, brother

Hope to see you on the other side

Jason

#850strong

it’s just stuff. they are just things

“It’s just stuff. They are just things.”

True.

But…

For many, the loss of the physical is not what is being mourned. It is the loss of what that stuff and those things represent, the powerful symbolic and deep emotional meaning held within those items.

For many, a house is more than wood and brick.

It is a safety
It is independence
It is privacy
It is sanctuary
It is memory

The wind
The water
The trees

These three robbed more than items. They stole more than stuff. Those items were oft endowed with deep and profound personal meaning.

We go to museums to see artifacts and relics of the past. To learn of life’s lived.

What would be placed in the museum of your life?

What pieces tell the story of you?

A small black and white photo of your father’s father’s father?

The stuffed toy you were given by a friend in the hospital when you battled an illness that you feared would take you from those you love?

The flag that draped the coffin of your son? It was handed to you by crisp white gloves with such care it had to be made of fragile glass.

The table that you gather at for one special meal late in November each year? The same table you sat as a child. The same table your mother sat as a child. The table you now seat your own child.

The old vhs cassettes of family trips that you always wanted to covert to DVD?

Your old car? It was old, but it got you to work. A job you loved. A job that is gone.

And on

And on

And on

These are things. This is stuff, but they are also so much more.

With time, the structures will be rebuilt. The items will be bought again.

But…

The loss of that which we can’t see is so much greater than what we can see.

Tread with care. There is more than trash at the side of the road.

There are broken dreams and shattered hopes under those heavy limbs.

But…

With great loss we also find great love.

The smallest act of kindness now has more power than it did a week ago.

The new stuff, is being endowed with a new meaning.

The meaning of….

Love
Sacrifice
Hope
Possibility

The wind changed the landscape. It also has the power to change us. I hope it changed me.

Tragedy and loss have the power to remind us of what we already know to be true.

People
Relationships
Love

Today is a new day. A day in which you have an opportunity to change a life and have your life changed.

Be well and walk with care. I hope to see you soon.

 

 

the show will go on

The only thing more powerful than this storm is the LOVE and COMMUNITY and ART that will rise from the rubble. It’s already begun. #850strong #justyouwait

I just sent the below message to the cast and crew at Gulf Coast State College Theatre and I wanted to share it with you.

Dear cast and crew

l hope this finds you safe. I know many of you won’t have the ability to read this for some time thanks to our new friend Mike and former friend Verizon, but I also know many of you have been thinking and wondering about the show. I also know that many of you still have much more urgent matters to deal with and please know your safety and basic needs are top priority, but I also wanted you to know that THE SHOW WILL GO ON

However….

Maybe not with the full original cast/crew
Maybe not in the same venue
Maybe not with the same title
Maybe not in the same format
Maybe not with all the same words
Maybe…..

ART has the ability to give expression to the things in life that are the most complex.

The most simple.
The most true.
The most contradictory.

My fav director, Anne Bogart says for her theatre begins when there is a contraction between what we are seeing and what we are hearing.

For me, I want theatre to make me feel something. Make me learn something. Challenge me. Move me. Those things have been all too real this week. One of the reasons we tell stories is to remember. Theatre is storytelling.

I think we have a tremendous opportunity here to help our community. A special kind of help that does not include chainsaws and relief trucks, though I am surprised how many theatre skills come in handy as part of disaster recovery. More on that later….

We have a different kind of work to do.

We can tell our story.

The story of our community.

So, what should you be doing now while we are literally scattered to the wind?

First, take care of yourselves and your families. If you need help, dont be afraid to ask. If you can help, don’t be afraid to help.

Your other job is to see.
Really see.
Be with people.

Share with them.

Talk to them.

LISTEN to them.

Scavenge for hope.

Be a vessel for love.

Glean what you can from this interruption to your routine. Write. Sing. Draw. Photo. Dance. Journal.

Glean.

If you are like me you have seen and done things in the last week that people would not believe if we put it on stage or screen.

Record those images and feelings.

Bottle the fear.

Embrace the kindness.

Express the pain.

Release the tears. All the different kinds.

Our show was scheduled to be fine.

Forgettable even.

BUT…..

Reports now suggest a new show is just offshore gathering tremendous power and fuel.

The only thing stronger than Michael is the power of what is to come. I can see it. I can feel it.

Be well.

Hope to see you soon.

-Jason-

#850strong