Seattle, Washington, United States
For those who love coffee, poetry, art, or stories - stay. Have a cup with us.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Leaps and Bounds

I don't have very much time to write today, but I thought I would leave you all with an interesting thought. I am a subscriber to The Boston Review, one of America's best known literary, political, and cultural journals. It comes every two months in a trusty paper format that harkens back to a time before People magazine and iPads. The Boston Review looks like a literary journal should look: you can actually tell it's made out of paper. The gods of Victorian Newsprint smile upon it with pride.

Or, at least, they did.

The Boston Review came this month no larger than an issue of Time (another great magazine, but with a completely different aim). It had a shiny cover and was bound like a perfect magazine. The promising rustle of paper was gone, and it was replaced by a silent, effortless leap into the future. Or, actually, into the now.

But that was part of BR's charm. It was never a part of the now! It was a part of the then! And look at the number of things that are becoming part of the then. Books, for instance, are caving to flashy words on screens (although, I must admit that I am in love with my Kindle). Apple decided the iPad could take the place of newspapers. We don't walk stairs, we use elevators. We don't take the time to make our coffee at the pot. Instead, we brew VIA at our desks or one-cup-thirty-second-single-brew-cups of coffee.

It's good. It's fast. But is it really strong? In a time when we can't even wait for our coffee (I'm just as guilty as you are) no wonder BR looks like People.

I guess the Victorian Newsprint gods have finally been laid to rest. And I think that's just sad enough to blog about.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

For more about The Boston Review (which is still a great magazine for all things American and academic) visit their website: http://www.bostonreview.net

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finding Yourself in Your Stuff...or Pieces, Anyway

I was given an interesting assignment for Theology class this week. I was asked to write a paper on three different objects that could be found in my house. One object had to represent myself, one object had to represent my family, and one object had to represent my community of friends. I chose three different objects and wrote an overly dramatic paper about the importance of each one.

I was most interested by the object I chose for myself. While it accurately represents a large portion of my personality, it could not hope to capture my entire essence. It got me thinking: is there anything that could capture my entire essence? Or any one's entire essence for that matter?

If I were asked to pick an object to encapsulate..oh, I don't know...say - Lindsay Lohan - I might pick a court DUI summons. But what would Lindsay pick? If we asked her to be completely objective, honest, and realistic, what would she choose to represent her life? Would it be a shot glass, an intravenous drug needle, a copy of The Parent Trap? Or would it be a family photo, a necklace from her grandmother, the first script she fell in love with?

I don't mean to be rude to Ms. Lohan (who I'm rooting for one hundred percent). I simply want to illustrate the difference between what we see of a person and what a person sees of themselves. When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a person you're proud of? A person who lives up to all of the praise your friends give you? I hope you do.

Try picking an object that represents you. Look, think, ponder, and ask yourself what you want to represent in that object, because I promise you won't get your entire soul into it. Your coffee is too strong for that small of a cup.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

To get into the author's head just a little bit, visit: http://www.twitter.com/MichaelJAbraham

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Memory of Cody

There is a sinking feeling that we, after much struggle and difficulty I'm sure, gave a horribly insufficient word to in the English language. We call that feeling sadness. Sometimes we call it loss. Sometimes it is death, cancer, sickness, disease, hunger, pain, depression... We've given a lot of insufficient words to that feeling.

A large portion of my friends lost someone today. His name was Cody. Their prayers for him have been swirling around in Heaven for a little week now, but obviously there were other things in store for Cody.

I never met Cody Botten. Strangely, I miss him. I miss him as if I'd run into him every day in the halls (I hadn't). I miss him as if I'd talked him outside of school sometimes or texted him on the weekends (I've never). I miss him as if I'd had the privilege of calling him friend. Unfortunately, that privilege was never mine. But the love and pain of my friends links me to Cody in a way it has linked hundreds of teenagers in the last week. People who've never seen his face or heard his name have prayed for him.

I was on Facebook, perusing my Home page, when The People You May Know button suggested Cody Botten. Eager to see if he was recovering (maybe his parents had gotten on), I clicked on his picture. I was met with a long list of comments wishing him well and telling him to rest in peace. One girl said: "We will all see you sooner or later in heaven Cody." All the thoughts begging for attention in my head fell silent when I read that.

Cody, if there's Internet access in Heaven, I'd like you to know that I prayed for you while you were fighting to recover. I'd also like you to know that I love you and miss you in that unique way a stranger can love and miss another stranger.

To families and friends of Cody, if you read this please know I am praying for you. I have tried my best to be respectful to Cody's memory in this post. For reasons of respect, I will not tell anyone that it is here. It will not appear on my Facebook wall or my Twitter. Others can find it if they are meant to.

In Memory of Cody Botten. May He Rest in Eternal Peace and Joy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Of Bloggers, Teenagers, and Forty-Somethings

This has been a fantastic week. It really has. But, unfortunately, I have had a nagging, buzzing need at the back of my head that won't let me be. I'm checking my ego enough to tell you all that the buzzing and nagging has been from a need to blog.

It made no sense to me for a while. Why should I want to blog? It's just writing, which I do plenty of every day. So why this type of writing? Why does a desire to sit down and make some Stronger Coffee with you all push and jostle me every time I see the computer? And then I had my answer.

Blogging is not just writing. When I work on my novel, or I write a short story, or I sit down and pen a poem, I am writing for myself, the page, and a possible, future audience. But a blog? A blog is immediate readership. The desire for readership has nothing to do with vanity and everything to do with an inherent, driving, instinctive need to express.

Bloggers, though they may pretend to be, are not a unique breed of people. Bloggers (and this is what makes their blogs so fascinating anyway) are nothing more than ordinary people with thoughts to share. They want to say what they feel and what they think. They want to be heard and understood in a different kind of way.

I always hear adults rant against text messages, IMs, and emails because (ahem) "One day you kids won't know how to communicate with each other." In my ever-so-humble, fifteen year old opinion that is very far from the truth. If anything, our generation suffers from a malady that can only be called Overcommunication. Just because me and Person X aren't staring at each other, face-to-face, as we speak, does not mean that we are not generating true, meaningful, powerful ideas.

I hear that teenagers are - as if we are a race set unto ourselves - shallow as kiddy-pools and maybe puddles. That, too, is a lie. We know what is happening in DC; we have opinions on mosques near Ground Zero; we each think different things about President Obama for different reasons; we have stories to tell and thoughts to share; we have love to express and hatred to vent; in fact, we may have just as much magic in our words as any college educated forty-something.

Teenage? Author? Blogger? Journalist? Politician? Saint? Charlatan? Clown? King? It doesn't matter what we are. We all have a nagging, buzzing need to speak.

And we all have a nagging, buzzing need to be listened to.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

For more about the author visit: http://twitter.com/MichaelJAbraham

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gentle Intensity

Hey everyone! My blog post from yesterday somewhat reflects the strange mood I was in. Good news for you all: I'm back to normal! I have a really great thought for you guys today. And, yes, I know it isn't Thursday. But I feel I have to make up for the macabre with the positive.

I had an interesting epiphany today while listening to the song "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" by one of my favorite bands of all time: Iron & Wine. Iron & Wine is an incredible experiment in the power of lyrics, moods, and soft voices. They are one of the gentlest artists I can think of, but they are also some of the most intense.

When I think of intensity, my immediate picture is athletics. That is a pretty common description of intensity. Heck, what's more intense than the defensive line of a football team (no, I don't have personal experience with this kind of thing, but my brother plays)? And yet, there is something so much more intense about Sam Bean's (Iron & Wine) voice than any amount of yelling or screaming. Just go listen to his song "Jezebel", "Boy With a Coin" or "Bird Stealing Bread" and you'll completely understand what I mean.

Then I started to think of other things that were gently intense. I came up with the hug of a parent, the smile of a stranger, the kind words of a friend who's there when you really need them. I thought of the soft, laughing intensity of a Starbucks run with a kindred spirit or the smiles of a family around the dinner table. Love is gentle. But what is more intense than love? I'll let you answer that one for yourself.

I'm told love can move mountains. I don't believe that. I believe that love can shatter mountains. (Hopefully a coffee farm will grow up in the mountain's place).

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

For more about the author, visit: http://twitter.com/MichaelJAbraham

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Just Something to Ponder...

Why are we fascinated with the things that we fear? I'm terrified of clowns, for instance, but, at the same time, incredibly intrigued by them. Why is that?

The idea of our inherent fascinations with our fears crossed my mind today because of the lesson I received in English class. We were analyzing a song and its music video to understand the arguments it is making to us as well as the deeper meaning of both. The song is about a particularly poignant suicide, and it was plain that we were all a bit entranced by it.

Death is man's natural fear. Most everything that we fear, the irrational fears and the legitimate ones as well, whittle down to death in the end. And what death is more frightening than suicide? None. Why is it so frightening to us? Simply because it is a choice we could make at any moment. And yet, we are obsessed with it. Look at the number of novelists, poets, lyricists, directors, playwrights, and common, ordinary people who have been taken by a chilling obsession with the dark. It's a pretty interesting insight into the more hidden parts of our minds, isn't it?

By the way, the song is titled "Televators" and it is by The Mars Volta. It is from their album De-Loused in the Comatorium. Listen to the song, watch the video, and then read the back story. You might be just a little bit entranced yourself.

Sorry I was so brief today. It was more of a thought (a slightly macabre thought) than an entry. It may not have strengthened your coffee, but listen to the song and watch the video - because they probably will.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.
-Michael

To learn more about the author visit: http://twitter.com/MichaelJAbraham