Looking Back at Our Blog’s First Year

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Clean Shave! And other Firsts this Summer

It’s been a wonderful first year with J.T., filled with so much growth, and as I reflect on where the blog is now compared to where it began, I think it’s time to place ‘the year in review’ to recognize the next chapter for The L.A. Storyteller!

To do this, I want to briefly consider the time-frame at which so many blogs find themselves at, as well as where I’m at personally a year after graduating from college and making my way through Adult-land.

It’s such a tough time for the publishing world, and for all of the writers and editors and other literary geeks who comprise it. With the market continuing to shrink each day, more and more writers and publications are forced to create ‘viral’ content for hits rather than what I’d call vital content for feeling, and this makes for a muddled world of click-bait and generic content to navigate through for people seeking a meaningful connection with words out there.

At first, even I thought that viral content is what J.T. would acquiesce to. Through August and September 2014, I thought my site would be a place where folks could go to learn about concerts, art shows, and other gatherings in the city. This definitely generated some hits or visits, but eventually, near the end of October 2014, I was fortunate to hear a friend tell me not to worry about the number of visits, but to concern myself instead with the substance of what visitors would find.

This freed me from the exhausting search for ‘events’ and other click-bait, and allowed me to simply be more internal with what I’d share with people. Then it hit me: J.T. would be about people! And in particular, it’d be about people within my community. 

This is where the ‘Friends’ section got to shine. I loved writing about why the people of my community were so groovy, and showing readers how L.A. could be found through so many different yet similar experiences between its individuals.

Not long after ‘Friends’, the Letters section came into the picture. With letters, I just wrote straight to friends in a flow of affection for their taking the time to read my voice in print, and it was gorgeous; my friends enjoyed having their names printed on the pages of the site, and because their friends enjoyed ‘old-fashioned’ letters too, it was an awesome experience all-around.

As November rolled around, I featured Letters, Friends, and photos for people to enjoy in their moments with JIMBO TIMES, but I knew that I still wanted to take things even farther. Based on feedback for my photos, I realized that I particularly wanted to take things to the next level with my images on the site.

By December of 2014, with both Letters and Friends, I garnered enough attention to launch a fundraiser for the site. I went after a new camera to capture the city of L.A., and I was met with love for this pursuit.

The people of my community generously supported my goal with their donations, and come January, I purchased a Canon 5D and a 50 mm lens to go along with it. I loved my new 5D, and took it with me everywhere like a natural extension of J.T.

As a result, this meant just a little more photography for the website rather than writing. Of course, by ‘a little more’, I mean that the whole month of February and much of March were far for more about sharing L.A. photography with the people! After so much shooting, when April rolled around, I put my website to the side as I found myself caught up with other adventures, including time with middle and high school students through The Plus Me Project, and time with faith in Los Feliz through the Beautiful Gate community.

It was a fun time, culminating in an awesome end of the school-year celebration, when from out of nowhere, I got accepted to the Voices of Our Nation writing program at Miami for the summer. Suddenly, the months of May and June coalesced into a blur before VONA approached. At the same time, I found a new family with the InsideOUT Writers program, which placed The L.A. Storyteller on a new set of adventures: at IOW we wrote together, had craw-fish together, went to the beach together, and so much more.

Then VONA came, and I hopped on the bus to reach the city of Miami. I had no idea what I’d find there, but it was brilliant. In Miami, I met an outpouring of beautiful writers that welcomed the voice of The L.A. Storyteller, each of whom encouraged me to ‘write on’, and whose voices I similarly found myself drawn to support.

At the same time, in seeing so much of the country through my journey to and from the South, I literally saw just how much I was capable of navigating through. The country was vast, and it was scary! But I was more vast, and I met the fear with the determination to get through it.

Ultimately, I made it back home, but it was more than just that: In July I came back home changed by my experience with VONA and Miami, and more determined than ever to take my work to the next level.

I’m still at that place now, and it’s a magnificent world. My eyes are open, and I see more opportunities than ever before with JIMBO TIMES. As a friend put it to me the other day, ‘there are [still] mountains before hills’, but the mountains are magnificent, and I’m absolutely ready to embark on my journey through them. In the next post, I’ll have more for readers on just what this will look like, and how J.T.’s fans can show their support! </:D

With Laav,

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Exhaling

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…And just when I thought Miami couldn’t be any more of a dream, I went to the Books & Books store in the Coral Gables area for the V.O.N.A. Faculty Reading! The faculty illuminated the gorgeous house with their magnetic voices, while students and colleagues cheered them on through the evening! By the end of the night, I found myself at a loss for words, and even now, I can only muster a few for J.T.:

I can feel myself falling and falling further into this world, as it flutters through time like the melody of a beautiful song, hitting and blanketing me like the sound of raindrops pelting the window; at once it is all beginning and ending, rising and falling, transfixing me, and all I can do is play and replay the magical moments again and again, trusting to faith that the magic will continue within me even as it fades outside.

I know it will, and that J.T. will serve as a witness to it.

But I also know that for now, it’s time to get right back to it!

With So Much Love,

Note:

Dear Friends,

I write to you with a brief update from Miami, Florida!

Between mosquito bites, hot and humid skies, lush green plant life and so much more, it’s been a fantastic adventure for yours truly. Life on the road has also been a powerful time of reflection, where I’ve gotten to look back on my writing, on my life at home in the city of L.A., and on the person I am in between these activities. As usual, I’d love to share more about this with you all one-on-one, when the time is right.

I have three and a half days left in the city of Miami, during which I’ll be checking out the famous South Beach, the city of Wynwood, and more of the beautiful Little Havana.

This is in addition to the writing workshops and assignments I’ve got as a part of the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation at the University of Miami, so it’s going to be a busy couple of days ahead!

Still, I knew I had to take a moment to acknowledge you all–the readers–for your support in helping me get to this wonderful part of the world. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so so much again for being a part of JIMBO TIMES! I assure you: we’ve gotten here together, and what I learn and experience is what we’ll develop even further together!

With more updates for all of you soon,

Jimmy JIMBO” Recinos

Hello Miami!

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Miami: What a familiar world! Two days in, and I’ve already seen so much of L.A. on the streets and its people here that it feels like I’ve been a part of the town for much longer than forty-eight hours! I got into Miami on Sunday morning, and soon went shopping for some platanos fritos. At the store, I totally felt like a local as I made the line amid the commotion of early Sunday afternoon grocery hunting. They still do free bags in Miami, which came in handy when I put my stuff on the conveyor belt and realized that I forgot to bring my grocery bag! But seriously, who remembers that stuff anyway, right?!

On getting into my place for the day (a nice little spot in Little Havana), I threw some oil in the pan, cut up my platanos (which were much softer than the ones out West), and also diced up some strawberries and apples. I threw it all in the grill for a few minutes, and felt pretty darn good when I sprinkled the cooked warmth of the fruits onto my plate. I was taking care of myself, trusting that mama would be pleased if she saw me!

The softness of the fruits just nourished my stomach after nearly four days on nothing but sandwiches on the road, and when it all settled in, I figured I was done, resolving to collapse onto bed to catch up on some sleep. Of course, I couldn’t stay down for long. Though I was tired, there was a whole new city on the other side of the door to see! So I mustered up some spirit, threw on my camera, and zig-zagged it through the door for some more exploring: I was home.

Not long after my little photo run, it was time for the VONA orientation, and that’s when I knew I was in the right place. Everyone introduced themselves, and the crowd was filled with beautiful people from places as far as Brooklyn, New York, and even Canada and India! Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise, and I got out my cards. Yours truly was ready.

With more soon,

</:O

…Dear Jimmy,

Congratulations! On behalf of the Voices of our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA/Voices) I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted as a participant in the Voices Writing Workshop at the University of Miami, June 28 – July 4, in the Memoir Workshop with Andrew X. Pham. The response to the workshops was overwhelming and the choices made by the Selection Committee were difficult. We were impressed with the quality of your writing, and we would like to invite you to join the VONA/Voices community of writers and look forward to your contribution to this year’s program…

</:D !!!