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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Sip: The Make Believe

If you're one of those people who doesn't want to believe in magic, make today the exception. Of the 365 boring days we trudge through every year, we only devote one to the make believe. Don't waste that one day.

Happy Halloween!
-Michael

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blogging.

I've sat down at the computer several times this evening, infused with a familiar dread. I had absolutely nothing to write about. This has, of course, happened before. And the days when it happens tend to yield pretty weak entries. As such, I was, quite frankly, distraught.

But I've decided. Today I will blog about blogging.

What is it about sitting down to write my blog that is so satisfying? Addictive, in fact? And for those of you who read loyally, why do you do it? What possesses you to come to this website every Wednesday night, Thursday morning, or Sunday afternoon? I think I've found an answer.

Several friends of mine were recently in a play called Talking With... It became an instant favorite of mine after seeing it performed once. It is a series of eleven monologues delivered by eleven actresses playing eleven women from drastically different walks of life. In one of the monologues, the character talks about "lacerating self-exposure." It's funny in context, but the words carry a certain weight.

Isn't a blog really just that? If the blogger allows it to be - and I'd like to think I do - a blog is perfect, lacerating self-exposure. My thoughts, feelings, and perceptions are put out plain and bare for you each week. You consume them and send them back to me in the form of gratifying thanks, Facebook "likes" and esteeming compliments.

So a blog, at its essence, is really a relationship. A close, personal, symbiotic, entertaining relationship.

Maybe that's why I feel you all so closely when I'm typing.

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just for a Moment...

Just for a moment, I'd like to spontaneously share something with you. This poem, by one of the world's most infallible poets, taught me to love, write about, and believe in the autumn like children believe in Santa Claus. Don't you just adore it? Anyway, I just wanted to take a second to show you all what's on my mind as the leaves start drifting downward and the wind chaps our cheeks.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cell.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

-John Keats, 1819


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stronger Coffee: Transcending

Be transcendental this week. Transcend the norm, the expected, the limitations.

Join me for a cup.
-Michael

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Free, Creative Circle

Rehearsals started for the new play I'm in at school this week. Let me be clear on something - I've rehearsed a lot in my life. Let me be clear on something else as well - I've never rehearsed the way our director, Mr. Knott (The Knottster), has us rehearsing.



He sits us in a circle, all of us - himself included. We look at each other for a moment and then he tells us to start reading a particular scene. And we do. Then we stop and he starts to ask us questions. We run through each and every tiny thought our characters have. We talk about emotions, what happend to them when they were four, who they love, who they wish they had an affair with, and a thousand other speculations we create on our own. Nothing is too out of the box. We create it, he okays it, we act with it.



What's funny about this question and answer, group reading technique is that it works better than any I've ever seen. We sat in amazement today as we read the same scene three times and, each time, the conversations we had inbetween led us to a piece of acting miles ahead of the read-through before. How does that happen?



I came home thinking about that. Wondering about it. We've all decided Mr. Knott's a wizard, so it's entirely possible we're just under a creative spell or he spiked our Arizona Iced Teas with an alchemical transformative of his own mysterious design. But I think I actually figured out the trick:



Mr. Knott gives us creative freedom.



Inside that circle, everything is real, potent, powerful, and absolutely free of pressure. Sometimes he tells us to repeat a line until we feel like we should move on. What we feel matters. What we want to express matters. That circle is sparking with the combination of a thousand brilliant character insights and creative back-stories, and we're free to make them up and throw them out there.



Verizon Wireless recently aired an ad that had a group of women and girls speaking the following lines:
Air has no prejuidice. It does not carry the opinons of a man faster than
those of a woman. It does not filter out an idea because I'm sixteen and not
thirty. Air is unaware if I'm black or white, and wouldn't care if it knew.
So
it stands to reason my ideas will be powerful if they are wise,
infectious, if
they are worthy. If my thoughts have flawless delivery, I
can
lead the army that
will follow.

Though the commercial was widely criticized, I loved it. I agreed with everything it said. And I'm willing to bet Mr. Knott would too. Here's why: Inside of that circle, that magical, dramatic circle, Mr. Knott creates nothing more than air. There are no stigmas, there are no expectations. This is what we do - we act. Nothing more. No fear, no embarassment. Just talent.

Imagine if we ran out world that way. What would it be like if the whole world was just air? If we didn't discriminate, dissapoint, or let down? What if we made everywhere, everything, everyone a free, creative circle for artistic expression. Imagine what we'd learn.

Imagine how our coffee would taste.

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



Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sunday Sip: Warmth

Sometimes it takes a song, a color, a smile, a fireplace, or a warm cup of coffee to bring you that rare, special warmth. I hope you go out and find that feeling this week. And, when it infuses you from blood to bone, grin, relax, and savor.

Join me for a cup.
-Michael

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thank You

There is no better feeling in the world than having a best friend. It is a bond - absolute and nearly-tangible - that pervades both the difficult and easy moments in time. It's comfort and solace - a rock to stand on.

I'm always surprised when I meet someone's best friend. I wonder (more often than not): How is it possible that these two people get along? And then I remember a conclusion I only recently came to. Everyone needs something different in a best friend. My best friend, for instance, keeps me grounded. She's one of the only people I know who doesn't let me take myself too seriously. And I need that sometimes (well, all the time).

I decided the write this today because I was sitting with said best friend on our swings tonight and it was on my mind. Three years ago we claimed a pair of swings as ours at a park near both of our houses. If we have to talk, laugh, rant, rave, dance, or sing, it's off to the park.

So, I guess I wrote this for Leah. Thank you for being the friend who knows when to tell me no, when to tell me yes, and when to just give me a hug. Your laughter, your advice, your spontaneity, and your loyalty over the past few years has been one of the best parts about waking up every morning.

You keep my coffee strong.

I wove wu.

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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Sip: Bullying

We've heard a lot about teenagers, suicide, and bullying in the last few months. How about we all learn to love, to support, and to understand. It's not too late for so many people out there.

Join me for a cup.
-Michael

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Plodding Forward and Starting Much too Fast

I started running again this week. Whew! It's funny, but when you laze around for eight months it's actually hard to get back into the flow of running. Go figure! Personally, I'm stunned.

I started the running week with an ambitious 55 minute run. Today's modest 37 minute run wasn't bad either. But when you're running for an extended period of time you don't have much to do except think and ponder over the mysteries of the universe. Which is lucky for you all because that's pretty much what I do here at Stronger Coffee.

We do so many things in our lives just so that we can feel like we're part of something. We want to be a part of a group, a sport, an activity, a club. Running isn't like that. I run alone just so that I can be part of nothing for a moment in time. For a singular span of minutes I can be simply a part of me and a part of the cement and a part of my shoes and the trail and my own sweat. I don't have to be one with a million other things that are vying for my attention. All I have to do is run.

It starts easy. It's always easy at the beginning (and that's true for everything, not just running). And I always start off much too fast. The strides are easy and the air is moving, seemingly of its own accord, in and out of my lungs. I am filled with the desire to move and there is a freedom - a sense of flight, even - to that movement.

Fast forward a few miles. I'm still moving with relative ease, but that sense of flight has all but flown out the window (pardon the pun). The air around me feels a little less inviting as it enters my lungs and there is a slight pain blooming in my side.

Fast forward a few more miles. The pain in my side has blossomed in all of its thorny glory. I keep running, breathing deeply, hoping to draw it right out on a gust of respiration. My breath is pouring now - in, out, in, out, in, out. The movement of my feet has gone from light touches on the cement to a thump, thump, thump. I'm plodding forward.

The strangest thing about that moment, for me anyways, is that, no matter how much it may hurt, walking is the most alien option of all. You don't want to stop. You can't stop. The very thought of stopping and walking along the trail makes you want to laugh. So you keep running, faster sometimes.

Fast forward to the last few miles. The pain in my side has either lightened or my mind has hardened. I'm still aware of it, stinging and aching. But it doesn't hurt me anymore. I feel it, but the feeling is disconnected. It's something known about but not experienced. Breathing has gone from a need to an inconvenience to a non-factor. Fatigue is waiting with each step, but it doesn't threaten my forward progress. I've shut down my body's STOP signals. Or, at least, I've stopped listening.

Like a good pot of java, your body's strong enough to take on any afternoon slump.

And, tomorrow, I'm running to Starbucks.

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

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Sip: Dancing

Hey everybody! This is the first ever Sunday Sip! It's a short, one-to-two line entry that's just meant to sustain you from Blog Day to Blog Day. This explanation is already longer than a typical Sunday Sip entry. These are going to be easy reading. So here is the first-ever Sunday Sip:

Let loose, have fun, and dance like the whole world is watching. You deserve the attention.

Join me for a cup.
-Michael