ESSAY | Keep On Creating No Matter How Hard It May Be

La Capilla, or "Little Chapel," overlooks Silver City, New Mexico before a winter storm. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

The Past, the Future, and the Story of Madam Millie Press: A New Player in New Mexico Independent Journalism


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Between now and when the grounds of Madam Millie Press began to steep, four years in the making, I’ve succeeded, failed, fallen into the swirls of life and swam with and against the ebb and flow of personal and creative dreams. 

The Rio Grande greets the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces, New Mexico. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

The Organ Mountians in Doña Ana County, New Mexico turn purple as the sunsets during a summer evening. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

Two years ago, a good friend and I were talking about the new songs we were writing.

“What kinds of songs have you been working on?” I asked. 

“Some angry, but thought-out anti-folk songs,” he responded.

I said that I was writing songs about heartbreak and added that I’m cheesy for doing this to cushion my embarrassment of the statement.

He said, “Na dude. Feelings are super important in these times.”

This statement struck a chord in me that keeps on ringing and twanging as the days, weeks, and years roll by. I apply this to any type of internal or external criticism I receive about art, music, and writing. 

Feelings are important. They are important in anything you do. They are important in any response you give to anything that is happening in the world or your personal life. Feelings are important in any professional endeavor you are taking. Many times, feelings and emotions are suppressed for the sake of “professionalism” and the ultimate need to hold down a job, often times resulting in sliding your dreams and ambitions on the back burner on “LOW” to simmer down.

Mission of San Jose in Faywood, New Mexico // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

It’s important for me to be transparent about my trajectory in life and in media since I am spearheading Madam Millie Press, a project that is changing and molding into something new every day. 

I shot the featured photograph of La Capilla in December 2015 right before a winter storm crashed into Silver City, New Mexico, my hometown. The little chapel perches on Chihuahua Hill. From this point you can see the entire town: Western New Mexico University, historic downtown, every route leading in and out of town, and the pine-tree-covered mountains that border the cherished Gila Wilderness. Once upon a time, you’d be able to see the Hurley Smoke Stacks more clearly than anywhere in Grant County from La Capilla.

The Silco Theater in Historic Downtown Silver City, New Mexico shines on Bullard Street during a sunset. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

When this photograph was taken, I was a fresh graduate of New Mexico State University, where I was the editor of the college newspaper, The Round Up. I was fresh off a newsroom internship at the Las Cruces Sun-News. Everything seemed so clear as to what I would be doing with my life: journalism.

I was offered a job at the Deming Headlight with the USA Today network (Gannet) that I declined not once but twice because of my unwillingness to live in Deming, New Mexico at the time. I was then offered a job at the Silver City Daily Press, which is another small town in southwest New Mexico. I accepted the job, but I quit after two weeks on staff. 

Things just didn’t feel right as to what I’d be doing. I didn’t want to cover the county fair. I didn’t want to cover the mundane happenings of a community. I think I was too young to completely appreciate local and community journalism, which is the most important type of journalism out there. WE NEED LOCAL MEDIA. Local media is the foundation of our communities in New Mexico, without it, all would be silent.

Grassroots activists organized the 2016 #NotMyPresident rally in El Paso, Texas that drew hundreds of people weeks after Donald Trump was elected to be the president of the United States. Local media published stories that presented the rally as violent and chaotic when in fact it was a peaceful demonstration . Law enforcement cooperated when the crowd flooded the streets of downtown El Paso near San Jacinto Plaza, directing traffic and making sure protesters passed through the streets safely. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

In October 2015, my second nephew was born. I was grateful to be with my family before I made any big steps in my professional and life journey. 

In March of 2016, the only grandparent I had ever known died in Silver City. 

I had a brief stint in Colorado where I lived in Fort Collins for a summer. I was working at a pizzeria, making new friends, but still not satisfying my creative ambitions, or any ambitions for that matter. Of course, as an English major, the thought of writing a book was always looming somewhere, but it wasn’t something I had entirely wanted to do. Writing fiction never felt right for me.  I was always more drawn into non-fiction, into journalism. I was more interested in the truth of everyday life. 

A young couple embrace one another during the 2016 Fort Collins, Colorado vigil that was in response to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida where 49 people were murdered in a mass shooting. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

A kiss is blown during the 2019 Albuquerque Pride. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez
A kiss is blown during the 2019 Albuquerque Pride. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

It’s alarming for me that I measure my growth with the trajectory of my career path. I forget that I have lived a life that cannot be measured by the positions I’ve held or how much money I’ve made. 

I’ve felt love. I have an incredible group of friends and family. I’ve had a great support network, people supporting my choices every step of whatever way I was trying to go. 

Trust me. I know what self-doubt tastes likes, smells like, feels like. I know what failure does to you. But I also know what it feels like to take the reins on my own life and make my own choices. I know what it feels like to make a decision from my heart, and that should never be measured with with what point I’m in with a certain career. 

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

When I began teasing with the idea of Madam Millie Press as a literary initiative back in 2015, when I was 23-year-old-fresh-college-graduate I thought I knew everything. Turns out I didn’t. I still don’t. I believe that no one does. Ever. 

You can’t help but let life take you where it may be going. There comes a point in time when you tell yourself that you are done waiting for the right moment to take the reins. Do something your way instead of the way things are supposed to work themselves out. We don’t live in this world any longer. We don’t live in a world where the path says: Graduate college → get a job → get married → have kids → retire → die. 

I’ve let life take me where it’s taken me. I’ve had good jobs. I’ve had bad jobs. I’ve created things that I am proud of, but none of it has ever fulfilled what I was meant to do with my life. And that is journalism. 

The 2018 autumn vibes hit the northern parts of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico. // Photograph by Anthony Albidrez

Now, after four years, ladies and gentlemen, I present you my next journey in media: Madam Millie Press. My first steps into independent journalism. 

I’m going to be bringing you stories left out of the mainstream narrative: artists that are making a difference in our communities, advocates trying to change the world at a local level, and giving a voice to New Mexico culture that continues to thrive under the pressures of capitalism, gentrification, and tourism. 

I’m going to be bringing you media outside of the regurgitation of official government press releases. I’m going to be bringing you voices from the grassroots level, the voices that are way too important to keep on ignoring for the sake of a pro-advertising or a pro-bipartisan narrative. 

Now, let’s make some noise. 

Solo tienes una vida !Vivela!

Anthony Albidrez, editor-in-chief of Madam Millie Press, stands in a slot canyon in Radium Springs, New Mexico. // Photograph by Jordan Albidrez