Joe Saldibar is the author of two short stories in Uno Kudo Volume 2, “Carol” and “Stripped Down”. They are stand out narratives from Uno Kudo, that blew me away, having details that glow and impress. Joe puts a lot of care into his writing. There’s also a level of intelligent humor in his stuff that is met in equal strides by his giant heart. He’s also the funniest guy that I’ve ever talked to online. One of those people that can turn a message board or comment thread section into a playground verging on work of art itself.
Joe Saldibar was destined to lead a life full of drudgery and boredom. Then he discovered the power of the written word and the magic of storytelling. As a result, he grew up to live a life of drudgery and boredom that was relieved on occasion by writing short stories and poetry. Originally a native of the Northeast, he now resides in Denver (CO), where the winters are colder, the scenery more inspiring, and the pizzas far less interesting. In his spare time he rebuilds old bicycles and takes pictures of marshmallow peeps.
Joe: “Carol” started out at a coffee shop here in Denver. I was listening to a woman as she told her friend about the things she was doing to “get back on track” with her life. It made me think about how people are often very unhappy with themselves, even when they’re at least doing well enough to have friends to hang out with and coffee shops to hang out in. “Carol” is really about how desperate some folks are to change who they are… and how they often fail because they focus on changing the most the superficial aspects of their lives instead of looking deep within themselves.
In some ways “Stripped Down” shares that theme of being willing to look beyond the superficial and to really strip down to that raw emotional nudity, where nothing can be hidden or tucked out of sight. I wrote the majority of “Stripped Down” in one sitting- just there on the edge of my bed in the middle of the night, typing away until the whole story came out. Perhaps it’s a cliche to say that I got it off my chest, but it really felt that way.
What’s the weirdest thing you ever saw?
Weird things are everywhere. If there’s one thing I will never tire of, it’s watching people bring weird in their own wonderful way.
For example, that recent video from the East Coast where the guy was out jogging in the middle of Hurricane Sandy in shorts, sneakers, and a horse head mask. As Bill O ‘Reilly would say, “you can’t explain that!”
Last summer I met a guy who was on a mission to chug a beer on top of every Colorado mountain summit over 14,000 feet. There’s over 50 of them. So he gets to the top if the peak we’re climbing, opens the bottle, and half of it blows out because of the lower air pressure. Then he chugged the remaining foamy mess and cracked a huge toothy smile. Weird? Driven? Perhaps both ?
You watch telenovelas, I’m ignorant. Tell me about that?
I started watching them a year ago while I was sick in bed. It’s a universal thing, really, watching TV when you’re sick. I thought that since I was watching TV, I should make it useful, so I started watching “La Casa de al Lado” to learn Spanish. The thing is, the only words you end up learning are the bad ones, like “Asesina” (murderer)
Some telenovelas are pure trash, others are pure gold. Everyone is impossibly good-looking, even when their character is supposed to be ‘plain’ or ‘ugly .’ The story lines are ridiculous and the acting is way over the top.
But sometimes you find gold. Telemundo’s series on Pablo Escobar is a good example of a show that can be entertaining, gripping, and educational all at once.
You make marshmallow art with peeps sometimes, what inspired you to do that?
Do you believe in ghosts?
Totally! Now, are they actual supernatural spirits, or just a lame excuse my brain makes to justify things when it scares me into running up the basement steps after I turn off the light? That’s an open question. Sometimes I wonder if what we see is simply something so outside of our realm of reality that we’ve yet to put a real name to it, and our attempt to tie what we see into our beliefs about spirits will someday seem just as silly as when ancient civilizations ascribed lightning to gods tossing thunderbolts or epilepsy to demonic possession.
Ever seen one?
Ever seen an alien?
What’s your writing process like?
“Stripped Down” flowed pretty straight from start to finish, but most of my projects appear in chunks. I envision a scene or a line of dialogue and right that down, then build the story between the various pieces. It’s like building a bridge- you start with the abutments on the riverbanks and in the middle of the river, and then you connect those with the bridge spans, and then you pave the whole thing and open it to traffic.
With “Carol” it was a challenge because I’d written maybe 90% of it before I lost the whole thing in a hard drive meltdown. So that writing process was more about trying to remember what I had written and how, and then recreating it.
Where are you from?
My great-grandfather, Hannibal Saldibar, came to the US in 1905 aboard the RMS Republic. He headed up to New Haven and moved to what is now West Haven in 1910. He spent the rest of his life there. My grandfather lived there his whole life, and my dad lived there for a huge chunk of his life. That’s pretty typical for folks in the area, though. Unless they get sick of the weather and move to Arizona/Florida, they stick around forever.
We were one of those families where we didn’t have enough to buy what we wanted, but enough to buy what we needed as long as we scrimped and saved. Going to Goodwill was always a trip because as kids were were absolutely, completely terrified of being spotted inside the store (or worse yet, entering or leaving the place). Kids who were spotted by other kids got branded as “Goodwillers.” It was really dumb, considering that just about all of us had either hand-me-down clothes from older siblings, or thrift-store bargains, or “blue light” K-Mart specials- talk about calling the kettle poorly-clothed! But there’s that whole superficial thing at play again. We were more worried about what we wore- even though we couldn’t afford to be super-choosy- than about who we were.
Where would you live if you could? Why?
What’s your strongest memory from childhood?
Right now, there are no limitations, anything is possible for 24 hours, what do you do?