This is a test to see if I can attach audio to my wordpress site. I want to start an audio program of travel stories and I am looking for the proper place to host it. Let’s see what a short audio sounds like here… Well, how about that, something seems attached. So now the question is; can I just go ahead and play it on an ipad or an iphone or a smartphone or whathave you and what will it sound like if I do… sleep inducing… I will bet you a dollar you can’t stay awake till the end.
So I’m back again… with another new beginning. Yeah, I know, I appeared on these pages a few months ago promising a new beginning. I was full of enthusiasm and bright ideas. I was all excited to write new “travel” stories with a twist. I tossed out a teaser about where we might be going to escape this year’s winter. The big reveal or surprise is that this year, instead of escaping the winter, we moved right into the middle of it. We are staying at a place we call, “Buddha Hill,” in the heart of the Catskills. Outside my window now there is more than a foot of snow. The wood stove cranks to keep us toasty warm. The circumstances of our accommodation are special because we could never afford such a place at market price. But it’s a stonework deal. The owners are connected to a Buddhist community near here where I built a couple of waterfalls a few years back and they will be living in their California home for the next year or so. Buddha Hill needs a little waterfall for its pond and we were looking for a new and interesting place to live. A few phone calls were made, the stars aligned, the Buddha approved and it was karmically correct…. Voila’. We get to live in a Catskill mountain paradise for a year and all I have to do is build a waterfall.
So that’s what I was going to write about… traveling tales from “Buddha Hill.” Indeed, I even wrote two such stories in my notebook and intended to post them. But I never did. I was also ready to launch my new book about my travels in the Middle East. The book is called, “A Journey to the Middle of the East,” and I definitely think it is my best book ever and I really want everyone to read it. My plan was to load it on the self-publishing platforms on the first of the year and spend the winter promoting it. But here we are in early March and the book is complete but it is still just a file on my own computer, it is not uploaded anywhere or sent anywhere. It sits stagnant… ready and waiting to be released to the world. But I hesitate… Why? Is it, perhaps, because I am meditating too much here? Ha. Or maybe I am consumed by family responsibilities? Or maybe it is some sort of deep seeded psychological chain that holds me back… Perhaps I am just afraid. Afraid there will be no audience for my stories… Usually, I tell myself that the audience doesn’t matter… Blah blah blah… I don’t need to sell books. I earn my living with stonework. So I can write my stories primarily for me. I believe that the act or process of putting a story framework around my life experiences gives my life a kind of meaning or substance. Some people have religion; I having living fiction, or, my life as a novel… Yeah right Pat. What a bunch of shite. You write for an audience and you damn well know it. Stories are meant to be told. As such, stories need an audience.
In my own defense, I got distracted from my book project and my travel stories blog by a family crisis. In a round about sort of way, that family crisis became the inspiration for this next new beginning. Because it really is a new beginning.
The family crisis involved my father. He’s 87 years old and he had a bad fall and bumped his head. As a result of the fall he was in a hospital for ten days and a long term rehabilitation facility for six weeks. But the crisis has passed for now. He’s back home and doing much better. His house has been slightly re-modeled to make it more accessible for an 87 year old man who can barely walk and we have hired a home care aid that we can barely afford to stay with him overnight. But at least he is home again.
My father lives about five hours away from me. So I had to leave my little paradise here on the hill for a few weeks to go “home again.” It was a little weird. I grew up there but I haven’t really spent any time there in the last 25 years. It’s a smallish house that somehow managed to be big enough for a family with seven kids. Now it only houses my father and my brother who cares for him and it seems too small for them. How it was big enough for the nine of us makes me shake my head in wonder. But yes, I lived that reality. My parents bought it in the mid 60s and it has suffered significantly from wear and tear in the last 50 years. The clutter of big families and the passage of time have left there marks.
I fixed up the old house some and stayed with my father for a while to help with his transition back to his home environment. My father has two health issues that significantly interfere with his quality of life. First, he can barely walk even with a walker. Arthritis in his ankles and bad circulation have ruined his legs. He’s not in a wheelchair yet but maybe he should be. Secondly, he has sleep apnea and severe chronic insomnia that significantly impair his mental functioning. For many years, he spent the late night hours pacing around the house. But now, because of his legs he can no longer pace.
My little inspiration… When my father was in the hospital and the rehab facility, he was often visited by myself and my siblings and a number of grandchildren. I have sort of adopted the role over the years of long-winded storyteller in the family. My tall tales from trips overseas gave us something to talk about while sitting for long hours with my Dad. And then, I noticed something interesting. Whenever I got going on one of my long winded tales, my father would shut his eyes and go to sleep. It’s kind of funny, really. My father has severe insomnia. He Never Ever sleeps…. except for when I tell my stories.
So I took the night shift at the family home when he got out of rehab until we were able to find and hire a nighttime nurse aide. I sat in the recliner chair next to my Dad all night long. I told him I was making audio recordings of the travel stories in my books to sell on the Internet and he was the official studio audience. If he thought I was “reading him to sleep,” he would object not wanting to burden me with the task. But he likes to be useful and as my official audience he felt like he was doing something so he went along with it. It really seemed to work like magic… I would read and he would fall asleep. When he awoke several times during the night disoriented and confused and wanting to get up, I would just say it was the middle of the night and I was still recording. I’d help him to the bathroom but then settle him back down in his recliner bed and start reading again. The sound of my reading voice would orient him to time and place and he would go back to sleep.
Of course, I wasn’t really recording stories to put on the Internet. I was recording stories for my father. Now the night time nurse aide has the recordings on an iPad and she can use them as a tool to help him sleep through nights. But there is no reason why I can’t record audio stories for the Internet. What do you think; I can market my travel stories as a sleep aide for insomniacs….
Ha ha. Not really.
My stories are not really especially sleep inducing. In all likelihood, it was the anxiety relieving familiarity of my voice that helped my father sleep not the specific content of my artistic creations. I don’t think he even heard a single full story. He rarely made it through a whole paragraph. Any of his other children reading any stories would produce the same effect. Indeed, his new found ability to sleep may have more to do with the new sleep medicine the doctor’s at the hospital gave him than anything I did. But really, I must say, it was an incredible human experience to read my travel stories to my Dad during my overnight shifts. Not only did I bond with my father in a weird almost transcendental way, but I discovered something very important about myself and my stories during the process…
The stories need to be read out loud… or told.
The more I read the stories out loud to my father, the more obvious the truth became. I’ve always been a storyteller… even as a little kid. Writing books is a career in the modern economy.. telling stories is the manifestation of an impulse that is embedded in the genes. My travel stories began as yarns I used to spin while drunk on whiskey at the bar. Indeed, the language of my stories is such that they seem like they are all meant to be spoken. I never liked public speaking because it always seems too formal of forced. I get severe anxiety whenever I try to go onstage. But give me a whiskey and a small group of people in a comfortable setting and the stories spill out of me like water from a leaky cup.
So now I’m back on Buddha Hill and I have this recorder. And I have been making practice audio tapes of my travel stories. And it is so much fun. I just have to start sharing them with the world. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.
I’m still working out the technical details, but my plan is to either add audio story telling to this website if WordPress has the capacity and tools to make it work. Or set it up somewhere else and link to this site.
I have almost 200 crazy travel stories in my collection of notebooks from visiting over 50 countries in a fifteen year period. I would like to record them all… or, well, most of them… for audio in the next few years. I’m thinking, perhaps, a program of some sort… not exactly a podcast but maybe a podcast… What in the heck is a podcast anyway? I want to do a weekly regular schedule so people will get used to tuning in and listening. Maybe I will call it Travel Stories from Somewhere… and upload a new episode with a story or two every week or so…
So that’s it. The new beginning. I hope you will give it a listen because it is coming soon to an Internet site near you.
I have uploaded a little audio here to test WordPress capacity and quality for audio but it is not the first installment of Travel Stories from Somewhere. I’m guessing this site is the wrong place to set this up. I’m kind of annoyed with WordPress.com anyway because they added effing advertisements to my site when my premium plan did not automatically renew. Pharmaceutical advertisements no less… Auuuugh! Enough to make me run screaming into the forest with horror. I hereby apologize to all my readers who were subjected to that obscene horrible bullshit when they merely came here to read travel stories. So I was thinking of moving anyway. Maybe my new plan to add an audio segment will be the final incentive to make the move…. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
See you somewhere…