Podcast Production, Part One of Many

Jerry and I decided that we should start working on a podcast. We’ve done some initial test recordings and they’ve gone well. We haven’t been worrying too much about the technical side of things, instead focusing on getting a feel for our conversational dynamic, how readily we can communicate our ideas, and starting to develop an instinct for things like making space for the other to speak, the rhythms of our give-and-take, and so on.

We’re zero-drafting, in other words.

Well, I’m gonna be the one producing the thing, which is to say that all the technical stuff will fall to me, which is fine because I have a little experience in audio production and I enjoy it–or at least I did the last time I played with it, which is admittedly quite a few years ago. So today I decided it was time to start playing with and learning about some of the technical aspects of podcast production, which is new territory for me. I made some recordings with a couple of different microphones, and then, deciding there is no point in reinventing the wheel, I went to my friend the internet to ask some questions about signal chains and gain-staging for podcasts.

Perhaps you don’t know what “signal chains” and “gain-staging” mean. That’s fine. I have a question for you, though: when you read those phrases, did you have a flash of wait-is-this-gonna-be-on-the-test anxiety? If so, good: I do know what those phrases mean, and still that’s exactly how I felt as I began to dive into the articles I found. A feeling of: “HELLLLLLLLLLP!”

Saint Jordi’s Day, Silverthorne CO

When I was making breakfast this morning, it occurred to me that the Barcelona Open was, right at that very moment, happening. I turned on the TV briefly to tennis coverage. Sure enough, they were broadcasting from center court in Barcelona. “I’ve been there,” I said aloud, and a little pink hue of pleasure warmed me from within. Exactly one year ago was my first full day in Barcelona.

That pink hue of pleasure: Understand, I did a thing that scared me enough that I thought it impossible, but it wasn’t even close to impossible, and now I carry both the memories of the trip and the memories of doing the trip–which is different–within me. “I’ve been there,” I say, and it’s like a little dawning inside my heart.

My life is so far removed from where I was a year ago, it seems almost surreal.

Happy Saint Jordi’s Day. Go buy a book or a rose for someone you love.

Tiger

It had been eleven years since he’d last won a Major. He had never once won a professional tournament in which he had to come from behind on the final day. But then Sunday came along, and though there were many players in contention, it seemed that none of them could quite handle the pressure of seeing Tiger Woods battling for the win on a Sunday. It had just been so long. And so each one made one mistake (or two, or three, or more) too many.

Tiger Woods in Masters champion again.

Back in 2015, seeing the shit-show that was Tiger’s career inspired Jerry and me to embark on a project that changed, and continues to change, our lives. Maybe some of that energy made its way to Tiger himself. We’ve set the goal to have him on the podcast, so someday we’ll get to ask him.

We started writing Training Tiger Woods that autumn. It’s probably time to go back and revisit all that work. If you’re interested in checking it out, start at the beginning and go chronologically forward. Here’s a link: Training Tiger Woods

My Lady, Notre Dame

June 1, 2018. On this exact spot, Eurydice asked, “Where is Notre Dame from here?” Behind her: the facade to Notre Dame.

April 15, 2019. My housemate asked if I’d heard that Notre Dame was on fire.

Paris is the most visited city in the world. Memories of Notre Dame are about as common as clouds in the sky. So why does this feel so goddamn personal? Is it ridiculous that I’m nursing a broken heart tonight?

Moments

When the moment arrives, how do I meet the moment?

It’s a powder day, and also I am tired. Both of those things are true. How do these truths intersect?

You and I are having a conversation. We are talking about important stuff. I am carrying with me the idea that later, I am going to write for a couple of hours. Do I have another beer, or not?

I was at a festival once when a man, deeply tripping, swung by on a current of energy and cried out, “Going with the flow is for dead fish! We have to steer this thing!”

I have committed my life to flow. So do I agree with him, or not?

These moments: which is the flow, and which is the distraction? Which direction guides me toward the truth of myself, and which moves me away?

Off-Season

Truth be told, I’m really looking forward to the off-season.

I’ve seen my skiing technique jump a couple of levels this season, but I’ve hit the limits of what I can accomplish without some serious gym-work. I haven’t hit the gym regularly since late 2017, and it shows. There are imbalances in my body that just aren’t going to improve without weight-training and, I suspect, a true yoga practice.

Furthermore, I’m finding it hard to find much joy in skiing right now. Today was a powder day, but still, it took me a couple of hours to find the right mixture of terrain, snow and energy to have fun.

My body and mind are tired. But what choice do I have? Skip a powder day?

Spring in the Mountains

This spring has a different flavor from any other I’ve experienced, because this is the first time I’ve actually lived in the mountains. Other springs, I’ve spent time up here, but I always had a home base elsewhere. As conditions at the ski resorts eroded, I would spend less and less time in the mountains.

But this year, I live here. There’s no escape. I’ve uttered the dreaded words, “mud season,” many times over the years, but this is the first time I’ve truly lived one.

And you know what? Spring is still spring. Snow is melting. The days are getting noticeably longer. The streets and bike path are clear of snow. The plows created huge piles of snow all over the place; those piles are substantially smaller now. And houses in my neighborhood, it turns out, have yards.

It’s not green yet. But I noticed that there are buds on some of the trees. I don’t know if people up here plant flowers, but I expect the wildflowers will start to bloom in a few weeks.

Winter hasn’t fully released its grip yet. Right now as I’m writing this, the storm we expected to hit today has blown in and it’s snowing sideways. Tomorrow might even be a powder day, and if so, I’ll tell my tired legs, “Buck up, little campers. We aren’t done yet.” I even suspect they’ll be willing to rise to the occasion.

Do Not Fight With What Is

Yesterday I said, “Bittersweet spring.”

And that’s fine. That’s what I feel.

But let’s not mistake what I feel for anything but that: what I feel.

I sometimes forget this–you too?–but what I feel changes. Yesterday I was lonely. Today I was pissy. (Or whatever.) Tomorrow will be something else.

I have feelings about spring’s arrival here in the mountains? Okay. Fine.

But spring will come, as the Earth’s axial tilt dictates it must.


I have been skiing poorly for the past several weeks. It’s almost like my legs are super-fatigued from skiing hard for so much of the season. And I’ve been so angry with myself about it. Two days ago, I had to fight to keep from screaming out loud, “Why can’t I stop SUCKING!?

So: I feel what I feel about how I’m skiing.

But what if, in fact, my legs are super-fatigued from skiing so hard for so much of the season?


This morning I tried to write this piece. I struggled. I fought with the words for a while, trying to carve the piece from the idea. It didn’t happen. I got pretty frustrated. Eventually, I went to do something else.

The words didn’t fall into place. I felt frustrated.

But could it be that maybe those two facts aren’t as connected as I have tended to want to believe?


The words didn’t come. My legs are tired. Spring will come and the snow will melt.

I have feelings about all of these things.

In each case, I may not like what is. Right? I’ve expressed frustration, anger, ambivalence about the passage of time. All feelings that I’d rather be replaced by other, more welcome, feelings.

But the things themselves are what they are, irrespective of what I feel about them.

What is and what I feel about what is are two different, separate things.

If what is is what is, then do not fight with what is.

Bittersweet Spring

Last week, I cleaned out my locker at ski school and returned my uniform. Yesterday, the mountain closed to the public for the year. Today was Employee Appreciation Day: the employees get the mountain to ourselves for the morning, and then there is a barbecue, and then we all leave and don’t come back until next year.

Everywhere else in the world, the coming of spring is a time of celebration. The grays and browns of winter give way to spring’s profusion of colors. Leaves return to the trees. We put away the long-sleeved shirts and bring out the t-shirts and revel in the feeling of the sun on our arms. When I lived in the Northeast, when spring finally came, people went insane.

In a mountain town, spring’s arrival is bittersweet. It’s always a little sad when the lifts stop spinning. All winter long, I revel in the cold. Now it is warm, and the snow is melting, and soon all the other local mountains will close, and I will put the skis and boards away for the summer, stash the jackets and gloves, and go do other things. Every year, the person on the other side of those actions feels a bit foreign to the person I was in the winter. It’s like, a couple of moment’s ago, I was the guy bundled in the green jacket, wearing a balaclava and tight hard plastic boots. I was that guy almost every single day. Now, I’m not. So who am I?

Perhaps oddly, I don’t particularly feel this way when my other sports’ seasons come to an end. I don’t clean off my mountain bike after the last ride of the year and feel like some part of me has ceased to be. I wonder what the difference is. A guess: there is no feeling quite like being on the mountain in winter. A snow-covered mountain is least hospitable to human visitation, asks for our presence the least, and so is at its most powerful. Sure, with our ski-lifts and technical clothing and of course the boards we strap to our feet that allow us to slide, we have largely overcome the mountain’s resistance to our presence, but still. When I stand on a winter mountain, covered against the cold, the sun low-angled to the south, the shadows long and diffuse in the wan light of winter, I feel my nostrils sting as I breathe in the cold air, and when I breathe, I breathe in the mountain’s power, and I am humbled.

The Anti-Agnes and the True Friend

One time, back when Free Refills as you see it now was just a glimmer in my eye, I shared a short story I’d written with a let’s call her “new friend.” This was years before there was a pile of writing that I could share with an Agnes. I didn’t even yet really understood about the very existence of Agneses. But the flavor of an Agnes was there. She was like, “Oh, you’re a writer? Can I read something you’ve written?”

I had finished the short story in question not long before. It was at the time the most ambitious thing I’d ever written, and I was quite proud of it.

Not only did this proto-Agnes not tell me what she thought of the story, she stopped communicating with me altogether. I ran into her at a party a couple of months later, and she told me she hated the story so much, she chose to stop talking with me over it.

A few days later, I shared what she said in an email to my friend Shane. He gave the equivalent of a shrug and said, “I liked that story.” That right there? That’s a true friend. Not because he agreed with my assessment that it was a piece of writing that I could be proud of, but because of the shrug. Like: That’s her shit, not yours.