Tripio The Novel

How I found my mind, brewed some coffee, and learned to write novels.

Hanging this up for good?

It led to thoughts of quitting everything for good. Not stopping, or taking a break, but quitting everything for good. – a journal entry from last week

I wrote the above entry in my journal after a tough week working on the books and the blog. I could list the causes that generated that entry but they are all downstream. The lists always are. They are different for everyone, everyday, every time. My list of woes, trials and challenges were mostly all of a technical, after market nature. I can do content. That is no problem. It’s the rest of the stuff involved in moving the books and the blog along that drove me to the point I noted above. My life as whole was fine and dandy. In fact, the next day’s entries mention that I got a raise at work. I am grateful to have a job in the first place so don’t bust out cryin’ for me just yet.

What about that writing you used to do?

But the two are connected. I received my raise partly do to the fact that I go into work mentally energized and ready for the day. Often times, I have already achieved something such as a good first draft on a post that has put me in a good place mentally. This carries me thought the work day and it’s challenges. Before I know it, I’m home and work has gone well.

That cycle has been generated over and over by getting up around five every morning, making my doppio, and writing on my books and my blog. My after work day mind is fatigued, my stomach empty and body in need of a shower. Yet, I can sometimes find space in the evening for social media, blog maintenance and revisions.

This is a great routine for me. It may not be clear yet but I am simply doing what my mom asked me to do years ago. My mom is not the most direct person on the planet. She would not ask directly for things. I remember once making a pot of afternoon coffee for a group of family and friends and my mom was there. She saw me obviously performing the task and asked, “Are you making coffee?’ This was her way of saying that she’d like some.

✓ Coffe Images, Pictures and Free Stock Photos

So, when she asked me, “What about that writing you used to do”, she was, in her own round about way, telling me to get my ass in gear and do something more constructive with my time besides drinking beer and watching football. This was half a decade ago or maybe longer ago than that. I still prepare and brew coffee the same way.

What about that writing you used to do?

When I noted in my journal that I was quitting, I had to ask myself why I started my writing based routine in the first place. I had to find the place I go back to. What do I go back to? My purpose? What hill was I choosing to die on? What would I do with my hours and days if I were not following my mom’s round about suggestion that I start writing again?

So, what about that writing I used to do? I write to give me incentive to achieve and maintain mental clarity, energy and calling. I do what I do because it generates a positive sense of self before work and on weekends. It gives me a settled mind which in turn rewards me with a great night of sleep. I wake up at “divine time”, not clock time, when my subconscious and superconscious minds have recharged and tell me to get up and begin this day. The day I will direct, define and refine by doing just this, exactly what I am doing now.

I asked myself the question my mom asked me years ago I realized that I would be quitting for the wrong reasons. OK, I’ll list a few : Tripio cover upgrade rejected by Amazon, cost of an editor, writing to keep Yoast SEO happy. Give all this up for that? No way. I was thinking quitting for reasons that had nothing to do with why I started in the first place. Fortunately for me, I think I remembered my mom’s suggestion because in few days I am finally going to be able to safely visit her again.

I found it again

To conclude, I think that it is too easy to get distracted in this world today. It is too easy to stop something for reasons that aren’t your own. Even something that you know has been good for you! And that is a red flag. Or even a red apron recipe. If you are feeling discouraged about doing something that is good for you, try to see where those thoughts are coming from. Find your way back to the why. Try not to look at the downstream list of attachments or results that are really beyond your control. The distractions, the reason you want to quit are most likely not truly your own. You are a golden Buddha, hidden by a layer of mud. Take a look, scrape off a bit of the mud. There you are! Carry on!

Oh by the way, mom, thanks! And, your coffee is ready.

No. I like it here just fine.

          “Just dash something down if you see a blank canvas staring at you with a certain imbecility

I wrote that

Painters block?

I take this blog seriously. I know I have come to use humor more frequently as the blog goes on.  However I believe that is an indication of growing confidence in the blog itself. The humor, mostly self-deprecating, is an attempt to create an enjoyable, unique experience for anyone reading the blog. I feel responsible to put out a good post even if it is read by a single person.

But this week, I have devoted the mental energy usually spent writing the blog to the countless other details required to sustain and maintain a published novel on Amazon. In addition I am occupied with the progress of novel number two, following other blogs and the housekeeping required to manage it all. As such, last night arrived and I found myself without a topic in my head for this morning’s first draft. It is the end of the week, the time when I usually begin work on my Monday post. Mildly panicked, I did glance over some books I have around that I sometimes refer to for inspiration. They provided none. 

Shaking the content tree

Earlier this week I had met a fellow ex-Starbucks barista. We exchanged battle stories and favorite coffee drinks. I promised I would drop off a signed copy of Tripio when I returned next week. Consequently, Tripio was in my head more than usual since then. However, I could not dredge a post from it all week. Then I tried movement. I wondered around the house hoping to shake the content tree. I can usually pick up fallen fruit off the content tree after I step away from the laptop and move around a bit. Letters to Theo, by Vincent VanGogh came into my mind. I went upstairs to retrieve my copy, brought it downstairs and did nothing further with it. It was too late. I was past writing but was confident I would find something in Letters to use in the morning.

Letters to Theo It is an important part of Tripio. If you google Van Gogh you will discover he was, the letters to his brother aside, a painter. You will find the book mentioned by Jay, Tripio’s main character, in this excerpt – “One must not wait for it to reveal itself. By painting one becomes a painter. That must be from Letters to Theo.

Starry, starry Starbucks

Jay isn’t trying to become a painter. But he is sure that he can apply Van Gogh’s wisdom to his own life and write novels. Jay questions himself throughout Tripio. Will he just write and not worry so much about anything else? Will he do the right thing by taking Van Gogh’s wisdom to heart? Will he write and forsake the promising career he had in front of him at a new and growing company called Starbucks? Will he stop writing to become the man he was meant to be? Van Gogh was shaking the content tree pretty hard in Tripio as you can see.

As for today’s post, Van Gogh provided the inspiration again. This morning, after brewing my doppio followed by a pot of coffee backer, I picked up that same, beaten up copy of Letters to Theo. I opened it. Then, I swear that I am not making this up, I turned to and read the paragraph containing the quote:

 “Just dash something down if you see a blank canvas staring at you with a certain imbecility

 And so the canvas, as you have read, is no longer blank.


May I help who’s next?
Image result for vintage no vacancy sign

A trip to my Starbucks #204

It is the summer of 1992. In my “Starbucks novel”, Tripio, Jay works at a Starbucks store #204 located on north side of Chicago on the corner of Clark, Diversey and Broadway. In Tripio, for the sake of brevity and authenticity, I refer to it simply as store #204, or even just #204. Tripio is a historical fiction novel, set at time when there were around 100 Starbucks locations up and running. However, store #204 was already showing sings of decay from 1,000 transaction Saturday mornings when Jay arrives there as the new Lead Clerk. Jay is an aspiring novelist and so he liked the store’s physical character and the stories it told. His co-workers were mostly aspiring to make a living at one art form or another, so Jay felt he fit right in.

There are several passages in the book when Jay writes that he feels at home at #204. He finds comfort settling back in there for a shift after returning to the city from a trip downstate: “ I had spent too much time here not to treat #204 as a home away from home.” Looking back, that was no accident. The decision Howard Schultz made to empower employee partners with health insurance and stock options was vital to it’s growth and success. In effect, that decision put owners in every Starbucks.

If only I could

I had a strong desire to physically take a trip back to Starbucks store #204 as I was writing Tripio to confirm the details that had gone into the book. I also wanted to look again on the Days Inn that stood diagonally and across the street from #204. There were many, many nights I closed #204 and had to get back to open or at the very least be back for a morning shift. If I closed, I locked that door after midnight. If I opened the next morning, it was at 5:30 or 6 a.m.

The Days Inn stood just across the street on those nights, calling me, tempting me. A shower and bed was just minutes away. My apartment was a long bus ride up Clark. It could take almost an hour before a shower and bed there. I would then have to make the return trip on almost no sleep. A night at the Days Inn would remedy all of this. But no money, no way. So, I made do with my tripio over ice.  

The view from Starbucks store #204

Then, the summer 2017 arrived I took the opportunity to drive to Chicago and see both places. I had finished Tripio. I wanted to confirm the details of #204. It had been 20 plus years. My trip back to Starbucks store #204 was also a gift for my daughter. She was headed to college in the fall and we went together as a going away present. That is why I did no research on whether #204 still existed. I was going anyway.

You can’t go home again

Not surprisingly #204 was no more. If it is true that you can’t go home again, at least you have a shot if it still standing. A new collection of newer storefronts had taken over the whole building that housed and surrounded #204. I can’t say I was actually surprised. However, Store #204 was still very, very much there for me: I could still hear the thud of the filter basket hitting the bar across the dump bucket positioned on either end of the espresso bar, the grinders clicking on and the shriek of the hot steaming wand entering the cold milk. I pictured where I stood to expedite the lines during the 1,000 transaction mornings. I thought that I could even catch the scent of a massive urn of Sumatra Mandheling brewing as the morning crew went about the opening process.

Not having a physical confirmation of #204 may have made me work harder to recreate #204 in Tripio. I had to work to rebuild it, and I did.  Look for proof when you read Tripio in the scene where Jay dusts off an “order here” sign that hung unnoticed by almost every customer and most partners who had ever entered #204.

So, my trip back to Starbucks store #204 was a success even if it physically was no more. I had confirmed my memories. But the best part was that I finally got to stay at the Days Inn. It is now called The Versey. Yes, the bed and shower sure felt great after all those years of waiting to get there.

“May I help who’s next?”

A trip back in time
This would work with a Tripio also.

My double espresso is pouring slowly and with intent into my favorite doppio cup. It is not yet five in the morning. In a few minutes I will go outside to wake up the morning song birds. My mind wants my body and five senses to be up and at it. My super and subconscious minds know that it will be a good day today. As a result, they woke me before the alarm. They know because my conscious mind, physical body and five sense worked on this yesterday and the day before and before that. I cooperated and got out of bed. This is a routine, a bargain, an understanding that I call the “mind grind”.

From grind to mind

It follows then, that in order to have my clear, energized mind produce and create the day I want, I have to prepare. If I want a great doppio at 5 in the morning, I have to prepare for it. It don’t just happen. Nothing does, nothing just happens. One conscious action I took a couple weeks ago to make a great doppio this morning was to buy the correct type of beans to make my doppio.

I like to use Fresh Thyme espresso. It is bulk whole bean coffee. Just what I need. I don’t live close to the Fresh Thyme. As a consequence, when am there, I buy an over full bag of the beans. It is more than a pound but it gets me a month of doppios. Once home I store the beans in an airtight container on top of the fridge near my grinder.

On Sunday, I grind a week’s worth. I have decades of practice listening to beans being ground. I know when they are ground fine enough to produce a perfect shot. Then I transfer these grounds into in a smaller, glass airtight container next to my espresso maker. There they sit until the follow day, waiting to become my doppio. The intensely flavored, crema topped doppio is the perfect start to my morning. Again, it doesn’t just happen. It take a series of conscious intentional thoughts to create the actions that create the perfect doppio.

Find your mind grind

Apply the same process to creating the morning mind you wake up with. It takes intentional actions and preparation but like my cream topped doppio, it is well worth it. The doppio won’t make itself. Nothing just happens. If I want my mind to match the beautiful, functional simplicity of my doppio, it takes work and preparation as well.

I don’t want to exhaust the metaphor here, but the beans in the equation here would be my yoga practice. The body and mind are clearly linked. The issues are in our tissues, as the wisdom goes. I do quick practice every day before work. This practice is brief but intense with focused thought. The weekends will usually find me doing two longer practices. One of those days I will add a meditation, a rite of yoga related exercises called the 5 Tibetans, and some resistance with weights. Other weekends find me hitting the treadmill and sauna at my local gym. In each and every case, I have developed mental exercises that accompany and enhance the physical. For example, in the sauna I image my fears and doubts leaving my body and mind in the form of drops of sweat. Hey, it works for me.

Be your own mental barista

There is more. I could add journaling, writing fiction, blogging, recording voice memos and many other practices to my mental self-care routine. The common thread to all of them is that they are intentional. They are all things I feel like I have to do to create my simple functional, clear and energetic mind. It is work though. To me that means it would be easier NOT to do them. But, I do not want to drink a doppio, or any coffee drink, made for someone else, by someone else. That would be like grabbing someone else’s drink from the counter at a busy Starbucks and taking it with you. You are stuck with it. It may work, but was it really yours? Ask the same of your thoughts. Who made them? Was it really for me or are they made by a mental barista who really doesn’t care?

I ain’t sayin’ this from a mountain top of course. I am just sharing that I have found a coffee grind and a mind grind that works for me. There is no doubt that you will find your own mind grind. Don’t worry, you will know it is working when you taste it.

A red apron recipe-practices to put your mind in writing shape

This year I celebrated New Year’s Day on my yoga mat in my garage. That is what I have been doing for the last several years now. If you are a little confused, I will be happy to explain.

It not about the calendar. I fully realize the appointed NYD is January 1st. That day is the designated day to begin a commitment to a resolution or two or three that will change us all for the better. However, as most of us have experienced, after a week or two, they gone. Why is that? If you will allow, I think I understand a little about why that happens.

In this unfathomable existence here on earth, in the constantly changing time period we take on our physical forms, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution. We are all very different. Take a look around. Am I right? In fact, there is no other way it can be. It is the fact that we are all different entities (as safe a word as I can find to use, which is a discouraging enough practice, reflecting these times) that ultimately unites us. But, in the case of New Year’s Day, this is not be good for advertisers, alcohol sales, and the people who make the pointy party hats. Since we are all unique and wonderful as we set upon our life’s journey, our point of true reflection, recharging and rejuvenation must all be unique. Think of someone you don’t know very well giving you a gift of a new outfit that you will be obliged to wear. It doesn’t fit, the colors look bad on you but it’s from your boss or in-law so you feel like you have to wear it from time to time, mostly for their sake. An extreme example would be having to wear a life sized pink bunny suit like Raphie in a Christmas story. It just doesn’t’ work for you.

Let’s share the customary New Year’s Fun as we should. But to start on a path of real change that has a way better chance of taking hold, I think it works better and makes more sense to find your own starting point.

My point of renewal and recharging happens to be late July on the shore of the Ohio River. Cue Dick Clark. Don’t know him? Is Steve available? Ryan..? No matter, Here goes.

My realization journey to the Ohio began seven years ago as purely a get away from a recent family tragedy. I found the immense and indifferent flow of the Ohio River soothing to my core, to my mind, heart and soul. I had to get back. That much I knew.

I have returned with some or all of my adult children each and every year. Over the years the mid summer trip has, for me, evolved into as much a spiritual pilgrimage as a summer holiday. It’s a holiday week. I spend it having fun but also taking spiritual stock of myself during the past year and even years.

Nikiko | Pixabay

This year long intention has come to be manifested by the “drift log” rite or practice I now perform annually on the shores of the Ohio. The river never fails to give me a sturdy, nearly two foot long drift log to take back home with me. The river bank is full of them. Once back home it I put on my front porch in summer, on the buffet in the winter. Both places easily in view and accessible. They need to be because as the year proceeds I take physical reminders of the year and attach them to the drift log: receipts, lists, appointment reminder cards, flyers for Tripio events, personal notes. The good, bad, happy and sad get stapled or glued onto the drift log. By vacation time each year, the drift log is full, carrying the attachments of the year with it.

Then, on one of the days of the summer vacation when the river seems receptive I head to the shore with this years drift log. I’ll call this New Year’s Eve. It is always very early in the morning when the river is calm like glass, and I can feel the power and energy of the water. I know it is time for the toss. It is like the ball dropping on Times Square, less crowded, less noisy but with a hell of lot more significance, intention and energy. I begin my countdown. I take some breathes as I review the array of glued and stapled reminders of the year.

10post it from last August with Tripio’s Amazon sales figure

9- a sticker I was given to wear declaring I had been scanned

8 -reminder card for a trip to the dentist-

7-a appointment reminder card for therapy

6– quick concept sketch for cover of Back outta the World

5– flyer for a Tripio event

4- post it to remind myself to renew WordPress account

3 a card I wrote over twenty years ago to the mother of my adult kids

2– receipt from a trip to Kroger- and at

1I throw it as far as I can throw it! I release this year’s drift log. It take its time coming down upon the indifferent water. It splashes, settles for a second or two and begins it’s trip to New Orleans or somewhere I will never discover.

I am lightened, renewed, freed of attachments to events from the previous year and years. I can go back to the laptop and work for the sake of working, write for the sake of writing. My New Years Eve. Not the midnight ball drop on Time’s Square, but considerably less random a lot more effective starting point to begin intentions for the following year. I have space to take them on now. I have already started to prioritize them. I will begin to incorporate them into my life in a few days on my yoga mat as I mentioned above.

I will follow up on this red apron recipe post in the very near future. I really prefer not to do that. I did not intend for it to become two parts. Oh well, why attach?

May I help who’s next?

It’s no longer 2020!

The tale of two Starbucks green aprons

Starbucks Vintage Aprons | Mercari

I am reading “How Starbucks Saved my Life” by Michael Gates Gill with great interest and a good deal of empathy. I am marking Starbucks 50th anniversary by attempting to read other books on Starbucks that focus on the baristas, and not the business. My novel, Tripio, does that brilliantly. I had not choice however, since I began my career there as a barista. How was published in 2007. Tripio in 2018. Tripio takes place at Starbucks in 1992, and How in and around 2007. The years between 1992 and 2007 represent almost unimaginable change in the small barely regional company for which Jay Altonstreet put on the green apron. Since Jay in Tripio actually started in 1990 the contrast is even more telling.

Starbucks expands headquarters in Seattle.
Unveils Starbucks Mission Statement.
Total stores: 84

Eliminates all artificial trans fat and makes 2 percent milk the new standard for espresso beverages.
Opens stores in: Denmark, the Netherlands, Romania and Russia.
Total stores: 15,011

STARBUCKS GREEN APRON - Used - Barista Uniform 2020 - $18.75 | PicClick

See what I mean? But the numbers can not do much more than look back at you. If you closely though you will clearly see both Tripio and How.

“That’s the way we do things at Starbucks”

The company experienced by Jay in Tripio and M.G.G. in how would seem to be worlds apart. The company they each experienced was different. The protagonists in each book could not be more dissimilar. The books are told in a way reflecting these distinctions. The unification comes from the fact that the two books are each telling one person’s unique story while working at Starbucks. I wrote Tripio in large part to release the experience of the Starbucks years. I worked there during the Starbucks IPO and left a million dollars behind when I took off my coffee stained green apron for the last time. MGG “felt numb” at the prospect of starting his job at Starbucks, already a global corporation.

How is the story of how MGG undergoes change, transformation ands personal growth. Gill admits to a lot of his faults in How and tells how their consequences led to him working at Starbucks. Jay’s story is similar in that I wrote him the intent of keeping in all of his faults. He is selfish, convinced he is unique, and wants to do with his life want exactly what he wants to do, even if it means hoping for a mis-carriage for a child he has fathered. His faults contribute to him leaving leaving a million dollar IPO payoff behind when he quits Starbucks.

Telling figures

Tripio and How by their nature must also include baristas as major figures in their respective tales. For MGG it is his hiring manger, Crystal. For Jay that person it is a barista named Kati. Tripio features characters based on dozens of real life baristas and store managers who day to day, latte by latte built the Starbucks MGG went to work for. His baristas and managers work to improve on what the people in Jays’ time created.

The two tables of figures above made me say “Damn, look at that.” How and Tripio due their part in telling the numbers story also. I am finding How worth reading so far because like Tripio, it tells the equally important story of the real, actual people behind those numbers. Writing this now, many years later, I miss the crews I worked with. Those days at Starbucks still vibrate in my person, still resonate in my mind. Hence books and novels that tell the stories of real people, not numbers, money and data. How and Tripio tell the equally, if not more, compelling story of what happens after the tills for the the day have been counted, after that stupid green apron is untied and thrown in the dirty laundry bag on the way out the door.

I know this is red apron, but you get the point

Tripio a novel: 3 Shots: Starbucks Millionaire, Novelist, or Father?
How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by [Michael Gill]

A book I wrote, a book I am reading

This year Starbucks is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary. I thought it was time to mark the occasion by reading books on Starbucks. I have written and published an historical fiction novel called Tripio, set at a Chicago Starbucks in 1992. Firstly, my comparative study of Starbucks literature focused on the books in green apron and behind the people. Secondly, this rules out the books written by Howard Shultz, Howard Behar or any of the dozens of books concerned with how Starbucks succeeded financially since 1971. As a result I did not include the endless fictional stories either set at a Starbucks, or have a scene or two take place in one of the locations.

Coffee industry legend Kevin Knox described Tripio as “much needed contrast by showing that the lifeblood of the company in those formative years was the idealism, sacrifice and hard work of the baristas.” I went looking for told from the perspective of the green apron wearing barista. “My search came across Michael Gates Gill’s account called How Starbucks save my life. Even if his book is auto biographical, I feel the comparison holds up because Tripio is at the very least, emotionally autobiographical. In Tripio and How, the characters are wearing the green apron (and a red apron in my case) and are primarily baristas doing work behind the counter.

Here are my thoughts after reading Chapter one of How Starbucks saved my life. Stayed tuned for more of my comparative study of Starbucks literature.


  • Michael Gates Gill was a customer before he got the job. I interviewed at Starbucks, never having seen one before then.
  • He had 3 girls and 1 boy. I have 1 girl and 3 boys. He provided money, I provided time.
  • Tom Hanks nearly made How Starbucks saved my life into a movie. Tom Hanks credits the Wright State University theatre department for helping him get started on his illustrious career. I went to Wright State University a and some characters in Tripio are based on WSU theatre department grads.
  • His work life took him to Starbucks in desperation. I went to Starbucks full of aspirations (to be a writer).
  • He drank lattes. I drank Tripios, of course.
  • Michael Gates Gill liked the sound of his name. I don’t like the sound of mine.
  • He didn’t like yoga. I do.
  • His Starbucks was in New York, mine in Chicago
  • M.G.G. was married and getting divorced. Jay was single and becoming a parent.
  • M.G.G was asked if he’d like a job. Jay was asked if he loved coffee.
  • M.G.G. was “an old fart’ looking for direction in his life. Jay was young man looking for direction in his life.
  • I started keeping the journals that became Tripio when I worked at Starbucks in 1990. Gill and Gotham Books published How in 2007.

I found point eleven worth considering. I often joke that when I worked at Starbucks, it was still a coffee company. If anyone has a title to add to this “comparative study of Starbucks fiction, please let me know. Thanks!

There is no judgment here, just detached observation

Don’t translate, answer.” Those were the instruction from my Russian professor in college. He wanted his students to answer his questions posed in Russian as responses, not having taken the extra step to translate from Russian to English to Russian to answer. I have something similar in mind with the thoughts I’m listing below. They are collected from my Sketchbooks of the Mind (journals) from the recent past. When you read them, just think them over. No need to like, comment or even agree or disagree. I’m not after clicks, as is so often the intent of “list” posts. In other words, “Don’t click, think”. Have fun…

Ten thoughts to think over or even over think

One cannot breathe yesterday's air
The universal truths are universal because the the truth in them is different for everyone
My mind is my dedicated work space
If you don't posses it, you can not address it
If you can't let it go, at least let it flow
America is the land of cardboard boxes
The journey is not difficult once you decided to take it
Live cheaply to sleep deeply
It's not the book, the painting, the creation that matters, but what the creation creates that is most important
My life is hard enough for me to appreciate just how easy it is

Ten thoughts to think over is over


It is Sunday morning and soon I will head off to my local Get Fit for my mental and physical self care routine (masked up for the duration). Sure, I go for my physical cardio workout. My goal, as suggested by my GP, is to elevate my heart rate several times during my time on the cross trainer. It isn’t easy. But the getting up, the climbing, the few moments of increased effort to achieve an accelerated heart rate is what does the most good for the heart, veins and cardiovascular system. Simply running in place for 20 minutes with only a slightly accelerated heart rate apparently has little benefit. The climb up is where the effort is and the resulting benefit attained.

Like so many, I must have music while I exercise. I use my Pandora app to select some workout appropriate music. I can’t it all the work here, people. Recently, I’ve set it to feature Abba. Reason being that if “Mama Mia” doesn’t get me moving, then it just isn’t my day.

There’s a fire within my soul


Since Pandora is free it has commercial interruptions. I know I could move on to an upgrade or source my music via Spotify or some other means. However, this task never seems to make it to the top of the pile of things to do. So, I stick with Pandora and the commercial interruptions, even if I have started to loathe them more and more. It took me a while to understand why I became progressively less tolerarnt of these distractions during my cardio sessions at the gym. Then, it hit me.

My mental cardio session is meant for my mind, my body and for me. I am moving, sweating, while unifying my body, mind and spirit in the process. It is a private time when the three of us communicate intimately amongst ourselves. No one else is invited. How dare these commercials try to steal my thoughts at this precious time when my best thoughts are doing me the most good? I consider the commercial interruptions an act of trespassing, especially when they begin by yelling “Hey!” to grab my mind away from me.

I used to simply rip out my ear speakers and toss them violently off my head until my phone said the commercial was over. I was then safe from a commercial violating my mind for several more songs or hopefully until the conclusion of my workout. Still, I felt cheated of several minutes of my empowering workout time. The good news is that I have recently found a solution, a middle path. And no, it wasn’t found on the phone.

The mental cardio middle path

It is not switching apps, accessing a different source for music or ditching the phone altogether. It struck me a few visits to Get Fit past to use the interruptions to make my mind healthier, just as interval training makes my cardiovascular system stronger by making it stop, restart and climb again and again. Let’s call it mental cardio. A time I now recognize as a combination of mental cardio as well as physical.


So later today when I make to my cross trainer, I will apply the middle path wisdom and use the commercial interruptions as my interval training for my mind. You see, typically I have found that when the body is moving that the mind, especially the subconscious mind, is most productive. So I listen to my mind while working out and it usually brings me pure, fearless thoughts for my books, the blog and my life as a whole. I later use these healthy, self generated thoughts found during my mental cardio to apply to my life in positive ways. I have seen it work. To have an unwanted voice try to reach into my mind during this time is unacceptable to me.

So, when I’m on the cross trainer and a thought stealing commercial comes on, I will smile. I will simply remove the ear phones calmly and begin my middle path inspired mental climb. I will start “the climb”, which to reiterate, is the part that does the most good. It strengthens my mind against unwanted distractions, interruptions and commercials. By practicing mental cardio I will find them easier to ignore, which is the last thing the folks behind the commercials want out of me. So, to them I say, bring them your distractions. They now make my mind clearer and stronger. So, Flo from Progressive, Jake from State Farm and legions of others, I want you to give this post some thought. Unless of course, it is a distraction for you to do so.

May I Help who’s next?

“May I help whose next?”

A reasonable question

“Are you mad at Starbucks?” My editor asked me over the phone. He had just finished reading an excerpt from Tripio. I had sent him an excerpt from in middle of Tripio. He offered that it had been his experience in editing that writers most often refined the beginnings and ends of their manuscripts. He felt that an excerpt from somewhere in the middle of a manuscript offered him a clearer picture of the job ahead. So, I had send him a what he asked for.

Another reasonable question

 “Why are you calling Starbucks the “Cosmodemonic Coffee Company”?

 I had not thought about it all that much when writing Tripio. I think because it is how I referred to Starbucks throughout the journals that I kept during the early 1990s when I worked at Starbucks. Those journals were the source material for Tripio. It should obvious that I could only be referring to Starbucks when I subbed Cosmodemonic. I saw no urgency or reason not to call Starbucks by the name Cosmodemonic when writing Tripio. Tripio is the authentic telling of how I interacted with and related to Starbucks when I worked there. But no, I was not mad at Starbucks.

Is Starbucks Cosmodemonic? He would know.

 Why Cosmodemonic if you are not mad at Starbucks?

My future editor was fine with that but was also interested in the “Why?’ So, I explained further. In Tripio, the Jay main character and his new lover Kati, who also worked at Starbucks, both had read lots of Henry Miller at the time their romance starts. Henry Miller briefly worked for Western Union and referred to it as the Cosmodemonic Telephone and Telegraph Company. In Tripio, Jay and Kati use Cosmodemonic as a nickname more out of homage to Henry Miller than anything to do with Starbucks. My editor was not at all sure readers, even readers of Henry Miller, would get the reference. He said that he would like to see me provide a clarification of my use of Cosmodemonic. I told him I would do so.

In Tripio Starbucks is Cosmodemonic

Since Tripio is at least part memoir and there are many passages where Jay is taking notes or reviewing his SotMs, he also uses Cosmodemonic, “to keep work out of my mind as I take notes and go about my off hours”. This shows the struggle the protagonist Jay faces in Tripio. Jay moved to Chicago to “test his metal as a writer, not to find a career.” He is also actively questioning whether he has what it takes to actually succeed as a novelist. The safer but less writerly option is climbing the ladder at this fast growing coffee company he has been working for over two years. In using the word Cosmodemonic in his personal journals Jay is identifying himself more as a writer, like Henry Miller, than just as cog in the growing Cosmodemonic/Starbucks machine.

I just checked an on-line dictionary site and found that no definition for the word Cosmodemonic exists.  Since Henry Miller is no longer alive, I can’t ask him for his permission to use the word. Too bad, because I would also liked to have asked him what he thought about the Cosmodemonic Coffee Company.

                                         “May I help who’s next?”

I use Cosmodemonic 199 times in Tripio