One year ago today, I was completely burned out. I hand wrote the following letter, addressed it to myself, and opened it today. While it is admittedly altruistic in places, and perhaps even possesses an irritating didacticism, I am amazed by how much of what I wanted for myself then has actually come to fruition, and furthermore, how much of it has even passed, once again, from my life. The last couple months haven’t been the greatest - and I feared opening this letter, afraid it would only reinforce a nagging sense of failure. Those feelings have not been absolved, but I have been encouraged by the simple reminder, life indeed continues to march forward. To quote the brilliant Jack Gilbert, writing poignantly and nostalgically about the end of his first marriage, ”I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell / but just coming to the end of this triumph.” I hope more triumphs (and yes failures) await me. 

April 15, 2013

The following pages are are intended serve as a sort -of “cosmic boomerang” - a catalog of hopes and desires, both tangible and outlandish, to be sealed away, forgotten, and rediscovered, ideally with some progress. While the creation of this list signals yet another pursuit of a “new Jesse Valentine” it would also be disingenuous to deny that, despite my atheistic views, it is, perhaps foolishly, a test of the universe’s order, magic, and chaos. 

  • Move out of your parents house
  • Find a gig that supplies the sort of income that allows you to comfortably pay rent and live independently.
  • Girls - meet more girls, go on more dates, and maybe find the kind of relationship and mutual appreciation that is worth committing to (under all these desires is the implication of a more active, successful, and fulfilling sex life.)  
  • Move out of Portland (in the absolute least, have the ready-option)
  • Have more options to travel (places to see: California, Paris, Japan)
  • Write more - ideally with significant progress on a novel
  • During periods of directionless have an easy and resolute time finding new paths that lead towards satisfying the items on this list (even if the decision - on the surface - is crazy)
  • Make my parents proud of me
  • Read more 
  • Turn 26 with pride and ambition
  • Let people who’ve doubted you - personally professionally, and creatively - be surprised by what you accomplish. 
  • Be more confident (without becoming over-confident) 
  • Allow yourself to take more notice and be surprised by life’s unexpected turns
  • Be both gracious and respected 
  • Keep you free time without feeling like you’ve wasted time. 
  • Be the kind of person people both like and admire without being phony - the kind of person people compliment (“nice guy”) when he’s not around. 
  • Continue to be empathetic without being personally over-sensitive 
  • Let others know how much you appreciate them. 
  • Be proud of yourself 
  • Discover that personal reinvention, that evolving towards happiness, is always a possibility. 

Next year in Jerusalem. 


By Leonard Orr

Each time I vote, I pretend that this time
everything I hope for will take place, that
not only will everyone I vote for win,
but they will turn out more liberal than anyone
expected, that the evil half of the Supreme Court
will take a powder, wars will end, oil will die.
Every night, I visit your side of the bed
to pretend that you are just away for moment,
it is warm form you and you will rush back to
place your head back on the pillow beside mine,
my nose nuzzling into your hair, to breathe you in,
my arms around you while you push sleepily 
back into me, surrounded by my heat,
not fully waking by your brief absence,
and for some minutes I am whole again. 

Mark Kozelek - Gustavo
48 plays
Chris Bell - You and Your Sister
109 plays

Courtesy of Rattle.

Lou Reed - Tell It To Your Heart
49 plays