Tag Archives: coffee

Hyperbolic Coffee Filters

I cannot take complete credit for this poem (for in reality I contributed only one line of this tanka), but as soon as I saw this one-word prompt from the Daily Post, I thought of it. My coworkers and I create a tanka each week, with each writer contributing a line at a time. A few weeks ago, our staff came out with this one:

An unhappy truth:

Our quaint little coffee pot

uses a filter

hewn from Shadow and the Void.

Now it only brews decaf!

A tanka is like an extended form of the haiku. For information on about the history, use, and formatting of a tanka, click here.

I think that this poem is my favorite one that my staff and I have cranked out so far, because to me decaf coffee is, indeed, the liquid form of the void. If you know me or see how many cups of the dark stuff I drink every day, you know.

My most recent post before this one was written about a year ago (to be exact: a year minus eight days). Here’s to posting more often on my blog! Cheers.

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What Matters: Friends, Fermented Soy Beans, Coffee, and Health

So everyone has some good advice to send to their younger selves. You think, “Ooh, if only I knew that when I was [however many] years old…” or something to that effect.

In response to a Daily Post prompt in Good Tidings to my eleven-year-old self, here’s what I might say:

Ok. I’ve got a few things to tell you. And I’m doing this in good faith that this is merely an exercise and it won’t change anything. Nothing can change, because everything that’s happened to me has made me who I am. I will give you only hints, no specific tips. Ok? We need to have these experiences, even if we don’t really want them. Without them, the me of today would be different. We might be able to do without the little things that go awry, but I only remember the big things–which are also the things that cannot change. I don’t remember the rest of the things. There’s something for you: we get frustrated easily. You knew that, but be mindful. Remember to keep in mind which things are the big things that you should fret about and which are the things that you could really let go of. We’re worriers, too, so we never really have a problem about not taking things seriously. Instead, we like to take too many things seriously. To decide which is which, step back and ask yourself: “Will this matter tomorrow?” If yes, then ask yourself if it’ll matter in a year. In five years. In ten. Most everyone has a problem with this, and you’ll probably have trouble deciding on the things that will matter to you when you’re twenty or thirty. You’re only eleven, after all. So…just keep it in mind.

Here’s a little thing that I do remember and I think we could avoid: don’t try the fermented soy beans. You’ll be curious, but resist. Please. Some people like to eat this every day but you are not one of those people.

Also, think about your friends. Which are the ones who are making you a better person? Consider that, and be careful. When you have an idea about which ones are worth the trouble, make sure that you spend time and energy keeping up those relationships. I know that sounds weird, but one of the best ways to keep a good friend is to be there (in person) for them. You don’t need help being sympathetic, but your presence can be just as important. Don’t be afraid.

Also, it really is ok to be an introvert. Don’t think that it’s a bad thing because you feel like you should be with friends all of the time because everyone else seems to be doing. You’re you, and that’s just fine. You are loved, and that will continue to be true if you stay true to yourself and what kind of person you want to be.

You say that you’ll never drink coffee NOW, but you will eat your words. Tea is nice enough, but it does not have the same super powers that coffee has. College will make an addict out of you. Be at peace with that.

Finally, healthy is the best goal for your body and mind. Strive for that, wherever possible. Seriously.

Be well, younger self. You’ll be just fine! ❤

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Spotless Japanese Streets

While we were wandering around Japan (in a town just south of Yokohama), I noticed how clean the streets were. I commented on it almost every time we went outside (which was often: in January, it was still 50-60 degrees on most days). In the U.S., I had gotten used to seeing trash along sidewalks and roads. I wasn’t really expecting to see it when I got to Atsugi, but I was surprised to find out after a while that I didn’t see dirty plastic bags rolling across the street, or crunched up cans in the grass. My family and I marveled at the cleanliness during our whole stay in the country.

When I returned, I shared that discovery with a coworker (whose wife happens to be from Japan). He asked, “Ah, right. That surprised me, too, when I was there. I’m sure that you saw all of the drink vending machines, but did you see any food vending machines?”

I thought for a moment. “No, actually. I didn’t! Why not?”

“Because it’s a bit of a taboo to walk around and eat at the same time. It’s seen as a bit undignified, or something a lower class might do. People make sure to take their food somewhere where they can sit down and eat it instead. It’s a cultural thing. In the U.S. it’s not a taboo or anything, so we have food vending machines in most places.” So that explains the difference a bit. It also explained why, when I once chose to walk around a mall while eating a rice ball, I noticed a few furrowed brows and caught some quickly averted stares. I didn’t think about it until I found out about the food taboo information. It’s interesting, though! I wish that our streets were as trash-less as Japan’s.

The featured picture of this post is actually from a vending machine I found there, which was mostly full of “American Coffee.” The front of the can features some stars, stripes, and a motorcycle (‘Murica). You could purchase it from the machine either hot or cold, for the same price. And it was DELICIOUS. These types of machines were, indeed, everywhere. I also wouldn’t mind having those here.

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A Poem About the Quotidian, Drugs, and Great People

I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great

and, to be perfectly honest, it bums me out.
So many great ones! —libidinal heroes,
idealists, warrior-chieftains, revolutionaries,
fabulists of all sorts, even the great Irish pig farmers
and Armenian raisin growers —and who,
I ask myself, am I by comparison? Calmed
by Valium, urged on by Viagra, uplifted
by Prozac, I go about my daily rounds,
a quotidian member of the quotidian hierarchy,
a Perseus with neither a war nor a best friend,
and sink to the depths of despair
on the broken wings of my own mundanity.

If only some god had given me greatness,
I surely would have made something of it—
perhaps a loftier, more humble poem than this,
or some übermenschliche gesture that would reveal
my superiority to the ordinary beings and things
of this world. But here I am now, one of
the earth’s mere Sancho Panzas, leading
those heroic others through the world on their
magnificent horses, merely turning the page, dreaming
my own small deeds into their magnificent arms.


“I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great” by Michael Blumenthal, from No Hurry: Poems 2000-2012. © Etruscan Press, 2012. Reprinted with permission. 

via I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great by Michael Blumenthal | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

This quote brings to mind the saying, “Even Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Theresa had only twenty-four hours for each of their days.” You can be great! It is within the realm of possibility for you. That’s always an encouraging thing to remember.

In the first stanza, he names all of the drugs that pull him through his life. I feel that way about only one thing: caffeine. Coffee, mostly. How do humans function magnificently without it? I think that another encouraging saying might be something like, “Even Theodore Roosevelt and Margaret Atwood were addicted to coffee.”

We can all make a change in the world, and it’s ok if we need coffee to do it.

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October 21, 2014 · 1:16 pm