Tripio The Novel

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

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Have you looked into getting it to a publisher?’

“Tripio. The book?’ I responded. Howard appeared to be not overly concerned with my book sales. ‘Oh, yea early on. But I found the process to be too much like looking for a job. Like sending out countless resumes…and crossing your fingers. I have had enough of that in my life.”

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I paused a second to consider that response. I did send some queries out to literary agents early on. I reasoned that someone who received my query would like have a cup of Starbucks on their desk, just returned from Starbucks, or had stock in the company. I told myself over and over that Starbucks still moves the meter. But the random nature and “pick- me, pick-me” element of it all brought back too many memories of lay offs, restructuring and downsizing. There were too many scars, too many similarities. Direct publishing put everything in my hands. I didn’t know what I was doing but it felt way, way better. I did not want to get into my financial status with Howard. Pay check to paycheck would sum it up. Year after year. Tripio was right though. I did find my calling in becoming a dad. A windowed one for eight years. Now, I was sitting across the table from a millionaire who was in the coffee business with me a long time ago. It struck me suddenly that I should have called him in 1994 when I was considering leaving Starbucks. I was Lead Clerk at the store at the Metra station. I had a headache for two weeks as I decided what to do. Sitting here now, as a man changed so much by what happened in the four years I worked for Howard Behar and Starbucks, I know if I called him, he would have listened to me. Maybe he would have given me more wisdom. I mean, he is asking about my life now and he has no reason to. It would have been so easy. Instead, as the silence between us grew, I asked a question anybody with a blog and who had ever been to a Starbucks could have asked,

What do you drink when you come here?”

A tall american with an extra shot. You?”

Why You Shouldn't Air Your Dirty Laundry on the Internet – Daily Plate of  Crazy

‘Oh, I like to stay with a grande, or whatever they call it these days. Coffee of the day.” My mind was still too close to the money, the times of unemployment, my financial dirty laundry. If my old boss asked about it, I’d have to tell him. I didn’t want to, so I stayed with coffee. “Speaking of coffee…what did you used to say? We’re not in the coffee business-“

We’re in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business serving people.” Howard smiled as he finished. He seemed to enjoy taking that trip back to his Starbucks days. He glanced again to the street. This time he saw what he was looking for. ‘There’s my wife with the dogs. She doesn’t like to bring them around on her walks. Too many people ask about them. She wants to get her steps in.” It was friendly and matter of fact, but Howard had to go.

Ok. I’ve got to get to work.” I said, knowing it was also matter of fact.

He and I stood up, both looking to make sure the table was clear of any debris. Had to be clear for the next customer.

Well, thanks for your time. And thanks again for the blurb. I’m redoing the cover to highlight it.”

Sure.”

If I run across any alumni from Chicago I’ll let you know.” I said as a send off. I had only really looked for Kevin Knox and Howard Behar. I did not look for any of the people I worked the most with and based the characters on. Mark, Doug, Sarah. The list goes on. I have had the passing fancy of tracking down all 500 or so recipients of that first IPO in 1992. I would write a quick page or two about each. What become of them all? Who, like Howard was rich and who like Kevin Knox and I were not. I was not sure why I offered that to Howard. But he seemed to appreciate it and smiled at me, adding,

‘I’d like that. Good to talk with you. Best of luck on the book ” Howard waved to his wife across the street. He looked back to me, “And especially with the family, Jerry…. You sound happy.”

Thanks, Howard. I am.

“May I help who’s next?”

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Question for Kevin- In Tripio, Jay leaves Starbucks for a future as a father. It is hinted that he will find happiness there… Do you regret leaving Starbucks in some way? Do you think money can bring happiness?

Answer- I think I’ve already answered with some of my regrets. It would have been a lot better for me and for my family if I had stayed, and in retrospect better for Starbucks too because I was truly the coffee conscience and would have been able to at least greatly slow the rate of descent into marketing-driven mediocrity.

Money may not buy happiness but poverty is certainly miserable. A happy medium would have been nice. I live in a 55+ mobile home park on around $2000 a month now, while Schultz and Olsen probably need a spreadsheet to keep track of the contents of their wine cellars in Tuscany. And of course I still did better than you and countless others who worked unbelievably hard to build Starbucks in those early years Jerry. Marriages were ruined, health trashed. I knew people in the store architecture department who didn’t take a single day off for a year.

Tuscan Wine Cellar - Creative Design Construction

Tripio Expert- We have to try to save to buy our own house. A house to raise the family. I can’t help it, it fills my mind. Only because it would have so easy…if…

Maybe that is why I don’t keep a SotM now. I would fill it with ifs. If only I had stayed at the Cosmodemonic*. If only I could have found the missing money. Instead, DM Kyle let me step down, resign from being Manager at 308. Looking back, he seemed relieved. I think he knew my heart wasn’t in it. He let me step down and my Cosmodemonic career slowly ended at the Dearborn and Division store 236. I worked with Candace’s brother who coincidentally had also stepped down from just being a Lead at Armitage. So, it was as close as DM Kyle could get me to Kati and the baby under the circumstances. The end result was that it gave me more time to plan the move and find try to find a job.

When I take a break at Mega Books, I sometimes head to the newspapers and periodicals. I still look at a Barron’s or IBD and check on the Cosmodemonic stock. The last time I did, it had just split. If I had held on to it, I could pick and choose any house around here to make a down payment on. With a yard as big as the one little park we had in our Lakeview neighborhood. If. If. If. See, I knew it.

*In Tripio, I call Starbucks the Cosmodemonic Coffee Company

Sounds like it would make a great novel

May I help who’s next?

HOWARD BEHAR AND I ‘TALK’ AT A STARBUCKS

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You know the store where Tripio takes place is gone now?” I asked Howard next. I had no idea why.

Oak Park?” He looked back from the street to meet my eyes.

No. The one on the corner of Diversey, Clark and Broadway. Dickens is stll there, though.’

I thought you lived in Indy

“I did, I mean. Still do. My youngest son just started college. Well, on Zoom in his room. My oldest two sons both graduated from Purdue. I call them the Fantastic Four.”

‘Four?’

“Yeah. I have a daughter. She and I went to Chicago to research Tripio. Plus, I took her to Chicago as a present before she went off to college. And just to see if what I remembered was right. I could talk about the Fantastic Four for days. Anyway, Diversey was closed. The whole building is different now.”

Diversey and Dickens. Yea. Both had the the espresso bar as theater. You know, there were 28 stores when I moved there. Looked up a few years later and there were 300. The pace, the growth did cost us some really good people. That’s one thing I would say I regret.”

Tripio excerpt- It’s been just over 3 years of my life spent here. All of it gainfully employed by the *Cosmodemonic. Every day I go in something big could happen: stock split, a new market, a headline in Barron’s about some agreement we’ve made to buy a competitor. In fact, we are soon going to have cafes going up inside Mega sized bookstores. And I am one of the quickly shrinking percentage of people who got the first stock grant. There won’t be a second one. No second chance to spill apple cider on my khakis as a toast to the event. I have taken to telling customers that you will never see a Cosmodemonic at a rest stop along the highway or in a strip mall. Now, I can’t be sure of anything. People I started with those 3 years ago are scarce now. The coffee god is long gone. So is Candace. Mark. Lost track of Doug. Kati may be next.

* In Tripio I call Starbucks the Cosmodemonic Coffee Company

From cars passing on the street out front and even to the people walking by, Howard and I were just two guys talking at a Starbucks. A scene so commonplace that no one would even notice. One had so much to do with making it commonplace on the grand scale and one by steaming milk in the trenches. Howard talked evenly, without embellishment of those days, making no claims of greatness for himself. He was talking about his Starbucks days like he had left those days well behind him. I didn’t ask when and why he left Starbucks. I was enjoying the old memories as well. The stores had a certain scent when you first opened them in the early morning. The first thing you did was start to brew the coffee of the day into huge canisters. They were breaking down doors to get in back in those days. If the open didn’t go well, if your location was behind when you opened the doors, it was like Helm’s Deep. As the huge urns brewed they produced different noises at different parts of the process which one could here throughout the now empty store. As an opener with a key, I knew that if I had certain things done by the time the first urns were full and fell silent, then I would be ready to open the doors. I wondered there and then what Howard’s private, seldom recalled memories were. Not the ones in other interviews and books. I did like the chicken soup one from earlier. I wondered more really, how they made him feel, or what actions they produced. His memories were his and mine mine. He left Starbucks and so did I.

As Tripio brilliantly tells, I could have stayed and been a yacht buying millionaire like my coffee drinking,and one time colleague across from me – If I stayed for just 20 more years. Life took me in other directions. It had other plans for me and they did materialize. But, I never left Starbucks truly behind until I wrote Tripio. I am sure I partly wrote Tripio as a cathartic exercise, in order to release, at last, the question of “Why didn’t I stay?“. All this recollection only took a second or two and I was about to ask Howard when and why he left Starbucks but he beat me to it with a question of his own.

So how many copies of the book have you sold?”

121.” I responded quickly like I knew. I really had no idea. I had lapsed into “my boss asked me a questions so I better have an answer” mode. Maybe I hadn’t left Starbucks completely behind me after all.

I do know that that Tripio was 117,422 on Amazon in October.
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Kevin Knox answers another of my questions

Question-In the blogosphere, Starbucks seems to be an easy target to hate on for easy clicks. It tends to bother me. Does it bother you? Or is it deserved?

Kevin’s Answer-I think most of the criticism is uninformed. Howard Schultz deserves enormous respect on the business side (along with enormous disrespect for lying to those of us who built the business and not including us in the gigantic stock option windfall of people like Behar, Olsen, etc. who were at best peers in terms of actual coffee knowledge and expertise of people like myself and many others in middle management who got nothing).

As for industry criticism, in order to earn the right to criticize Starbucks you need to have surpassed them in the quality and consistency of the coffee you offer and few if any of the newer chains or even regional independents meet that standard. There’s a lot of arrogance out there on the part of people who never spent the years learning best practices from the Italian master roasters (e.g. Illycaffe) and Peet’s, never apprenticed with master cuppers, etc.

Anyway for informed criticism of both Starbucks and the Third Wave folks who think they’ve improved things I humbly recommend my now largely dead coffee blog:


http://coffeecontrarian.blogspot.com

How Howard Schultz conquered self-doubt to build Starbucks
I don’t hate Starbucks or Howard, even though he mispronounced my name.

Tripio Excerpt- At the Open Forum I saw a lot of faces I didn’t know. But plenty that I did. Of course, it was a lot of the same people from last week, management, that is. The big exception was HS of course. I had never seen him in person but liked his vibe even from across the room. When he got up to speak, he sounded different from Dennis’ impersonation from last Christmas season. I did have to smile to myself, recalling that, as I applauded HS taking the podium.

Like everyone else in the audience I sat in silence and listened intently. It was mostly all great news. The Cosmodemonic is just getting started and not taking any prisoners. HS didn’t put in those terms but that’s how I remember it. And I very clearly remember HS saying that “They are going to write books about the Cosmodemonic, people.” That stuck in my head: write & books. The reasons are obvious. The reason I don’t’ remember much of the rest is that a few minutes after the speech was over, HS called some partners to the stage for recognition. I was one of them. He called my name about halfway through the presentation (he mispronounced the last name and I politely corrected him), handed me a Cosmo Bravo Award and shook my hand. It was for the “exceptional customer service experience” demonstrated to the Midas guy who bought a half pound of everything. Recognition in front of everyone. From HS himself.

“Anyone can have an opinion” -Pete Townshend from White City

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H.B “”So are you here for work?” Howard Behar asked me. We had stepped outside to sit down at his table of choice.

‘For the week.” I responded with my trademark caution. I had not worked for Starbucks since 1994. I did run one of the first Barnes & Noble Starbucks cafes for about a year after that. Then I officially hung up the green apron. Yet, I was still nervous as I sat down across from him. It was strange for me to feel that way because,I did not recall being intimidated at all by him those years ago at Starbucks. Howard was low key and made the store visits painless. That thought in my head, I blurted out.

“What did you look for on your visits to Starbucks locations, stores, you know, back in the early 90’s in Chicago?”

H.B “Oh, I was never there to see how clean a store was in those days. Or have someone time a shot. I wanted to hear what the customers and baristas were saying about the company. We just wanted to engage with the people. The customers.The baristas. See how people felt about the company”

“The last time I saw you was at my Oak Park store. You were with Stuart Fields.”

H.B-“Stuart Fields. Yes. Do you ever talk to him?’

‘No.” I was a bit confused by Howard’s response for a moment. Then I realized he knew little about Tripio. It took only a couple emails to secure the front cover blurb from him. It was one of the easiest parts of the entire process of getting Tripio on Amazon, of the whole process of getting my “Starbucks novel” out to the expectant world. In fact, I actually didn’t start to write Tripio as Tripio, let alone a “Starbucks novel“. It was started as something called Chicago Days. I had intended it to be my homage to, or version of, Henry Miller’s “Quiet Days in Clichy.” I loved Henry Miller back then and my journals were filled with references to Miller.

Quiet Days In Clichy First Edition.jpg

But they were also filled with references to Starbucks. I had five or six journals from those four years. All four years that I worked at Starbucks. The Henry Miller novella about a struggling writer was not to be. I could not write Chicago Days after all. I had to change it to a Starbucks centered book, because Starbucks was one of, if not the, center of my life then. The catch was, I did not want it to be! Back then I saw myself as a version of a the struggling writer in “Quiet days in Clichy”. That, 25 years later, became a story line in Tripio. Both of those currents in my life were soon overwhelmed by an unplanned pregnancy. What the hell was I to do? It’s all in there in Tripio. But I can tell you that if you look through all the journals from then you will not find a single entry that says “I’ll write a novel about this in 20 years.” However, in a very real journal entry from the time I was writing what was becoming Tripio, I noted that “It is a novella for now“. Sitting across from me, Howard Behar, or “H.B.” as he is called in Tripio, had no idea about any of this. I did not pursue it. I answered his question.

“I did put Stu in the book. Do you remember Candace? Ted? Sue?”


Tripio Expert- I smiled and nodded but didn’t feel I could step out of position for another handshake. The end of rush regulars were in line so I thought it best to stay put and get this last line out. That is also why I hadn’t yet cleaned the spilled mocha on the outside door. It was about knee high on the glass. I had noticed it a while ago and saw no urgency in cleaning it up. See reasons above. Of course, just after the RM (Stan)* made the eye contact with me he turned back to look at the door and the spill, defecated earlier from a customer’s to go cup. The customer didn’t seem to care, didn’t get any on him and so took off down the street. Again, no emergency on my part. Yet, it was obviously tape recorder worthy. Because RM Stan did half turn to get another look at the offending spill and held the recorder to his mouth, and quickly dispatched something into it. But, he had to know that I had my reasons. That is why he gets paid, to know things without being told what to do. I was in the trenches. Always have been.

*based on Stu Fields, though not him really

Howard continued, oblivious to the excerpt. “Oh sure, Candace.”

Florida, South, FL, Orlando, Kissimmee, Starbucks Coffee, cafe Stock Photo  - Alamy

For another minute or so, the millionaire former president of Starbucks and I traded names of a people we had worked with then. We were talking about a Starbucks that very few would recognize today. A regional company of around 450 employees, or partners, as they were called then. And still are.

H.B. ” I started in 1989 and remember not being ready for how cold it was in Chicago. I got sick. I lived close to the Oak and Rush store and remember people would bring me chicken soup.”

“I still have a big winter coat that I bought then. I may have worn it twice since I left Chicago for Indy.”

H.B. ‘So, you live in Indianapolis? Wife and kids?” Howard asked. I had relaxed by then. He seemed to be truly interested. I told him the short version. I was a single parent and had been for some time. Here, I spoke with pride about the grown adults my wife and I had worked to bring up”.

H. B. “Grand kids are even more fun.” Howard responded with a smile and a quick recounting of his own family.

It struck me as we talked a bit more that this was was indeed a lot like the times Howard would pop in to one of my stores. I remembered one time at a store in Lincoln Park (#206 in Tripio) when I was in back counting down a cash drawer and he stepped in. We didn’t talk about the money in front of me, or what the figures on the recap sheet said. I remember that we just talked for minute or two. Not even sure about what. As for today, he took a sip of his drink. I wanted to ask other questions such as what was he drinking and did he pay for it. Then I thought that to be to ill fitting somehow. Anybody could do that. Starbucks meant too much to both of us. It meant so much to Howard because he was and always will be a big part of it. Starbucks will continue to be giant part of my life because I am no longer a part of it. What might of been if I had stayed, kept getting stock beyond the IPO? I know what the math says. Howard and I would be sitting here outside this Palm Springs Starbucks comparing yacht buying experiences. Today, as we faced each other across the table, his day ahead was what it was going to be, and possibly did include a yacht. My day was one of going be one of going to work to pay the mortgage, which was a lot like the thousands of other days since I hung up the green apron for good.

I noticed H.B. scan the street in front of this Starbucks where we sat as customers, most likely looking for his wife and the dogs. Time was running out so I did not bring that other visit up. After all, It’s not even in Tripio.

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Don’t worry, more to come

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Well, I can’t chicken out now. I can’t use an easy excuse. “You must do the things in life you think you cannot do“. Eleanor Roosevelt. That quote. That quote stayed with you all the way through Tripio. You had so many chances to quit. Why didn’t you? Honestly, because you couldn’t. What the hell else were you going to do between 4- 7 in the mornings? You can’t sleep in. Your clear head and energized mind won’t let you. Same now with Back outta the World…OK. He’s first in line. All the baristas are smiling at him of course. They have no idea. They wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me. I built this company a latte at a time. I’ve never seen a Starbucks since as busy as they were in the early 90’s. Kevin said so in his blurb didn’t he? A barista in the trenches, that was me. And Mark, and Denis, and Monica. He’s there just like he was visiting my store that time when I was in back counting down a drawer at #204. He just stepped in back to see what was going on. It’s so personal, so honest. The book. Tripio. I ain’t ripping off Starbucks, that’s for sure. It’s my guts in there, not Schultz’s or even Behar’s. Mine. If anything, I owe it to Tripio to go up to him. Like he did when I was counting the drawer down that day I just remembered. Yea, he owes me one. He has his drink. Ha, they were a little slow. Anyway….here goes.

Eleanor Roosevelt a Favorite Among Americans for New $10 Bill

“Excuse me, Mr. Behar…Do you have a minute. I’m Jerry. I wrote Tripio. We worked together in Chicago. No sweater today I see.”

“Sweater?”

‘ You always had one on then.”

Chicago? Tripio?” Howard paused a second. He must have been somewhat practiced at encounters like this. Maybe even at this Starbucks. It seemed to me that being stopped like this was just part of his routine these days. If it wasn’t, it didn’t matter. He gave me the blurb for the cover so quickly and easily. So why wouldn’t he give me as few minutes of his time? “Oh sure, Let’s sit outside so we talk without these masks. My wife is walking the dogs, I have a few minutes. She always meets me here.”

“Really? Perfect, Thanks. I’ll be right out…they were ready to take my order…thanks!

Thanks Eleanor!

” May I help who’s next?”

Below are entries from older journals, or as I call them, Sketchbooks of the MInd. They say that a keeping a journal is for the one writing in it. That is true. But whoever said that was not in the need of easy access content for a blog. A joke. These were for me at the time but I feel like they still apply and I do believe they will provoke some thought and reflection which you can apply as you want. Remember though, “Don’t translate, answer.”

Not much about coffee

"Nothing wrong with sitting in the sun, just because it feels good"
"You cannot expect to fight a battle against your own life and expect a victory"
"If you are not utilizing the exceptions from time to time, then you are not truly following the rules."
"When I write, I try to do it with the knowledge, the belief, that everyone else has a story to tell and that their story is way more interesting than mine"
"There are no excuses that the passing of time will honor."
"Phone in hand we can find limitless causes for the condition we are in."
"The first step on the journey towards enlightenment should not be taken until the bowels have been satisfactorily emptied."
"Look for the meaning.'
'It is extremely difficult to find something more tedious, exhausting and useless than to sit and listen to someone tell you what they are going to do.
"We do not owe yesterday anything."
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Question for Kevin- In Tripio, Jay is frustrated by the expectation that all the espresso shots had to be between 18-23 seconds. Did Howard Behar, Howard Schultz really believe all the pours were to specifications? Even on 1,000 customer mornings?

Answer-1-1.25 fluid ounces including. crema made from 7 grams of espresso blend in 18-24 seconds.” All these years later, that mantra immediately comes to mind. But of course it was a standard, an ideal, not something that anyone thought was being consistently achieved. But we did try, by giving baristas the best possible equipment (e.g. 4 group automatic La Marzoccos, well-made grinders) and good training that the potential for consistent excellence was there.

Of course if Starbucks had really wanted to put quality first it would never have let the espresso drink menu grow beyond espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte and caffe mocha in 2-3 sizes and would have doubled down on making those drinks the best they could be.

Tripio Excerpt- Dennis did fine with me walking him through it. I kept the three drinks on the shelf under the counter and out of sight just in case a customer ordered on the next minute or so. Who needs to know? I would let Boston Dennis find his own shortcuts. I truly cared about making the drinks right, every time. But also know it wasn’t done because it was not possible. It just wasn’t. It was too time consuming. We had to get the lines out the door. The money in the tills. That wasn’t going to happen as often as the Cosmodemonic* wanted if we timed every fucking shot. I think I had more trouble reconciling that than most. Oh well, let Boston Dennis deal with it in his own way. Since today was what mattered to me and hopefully to Katherine, I preached the gospel of the Master Roast, by the book.”

*In Tripio, Jay refers to Starbucks as the Cosmodemonic Coffee Company

I made up the Master Roast. There was no such thing.

New Year’s Day at six in the morning. No, this isn’t one of those posts written to celebrate and commemorate. One of those posts that looks ahead, looks back. One that includes a top ten list, the best of, the worst of this or that. This then, is actually a repost from this day one year ago. I was looking over old posts to possibly repost later this month and found this one. I have done almost exactly the same things this morning as I did last year, except I have yet to change the cat’s litter box. I am not sure what to make of this. My first thought is that I am grateful that my life has stayed stable enough over the Pandemic ridden year of 2020 to have lived such a normal, steady life. I am grateful. I am grateful for any and all who have read even one of the posts of 2020. With that, I promise to keep putting out one post a week. If I find myself doing the same boring, predictable thing at exactly the same hour next year, I hope I can still it in myself to appreciate that. On with the repsost...

I took a sip of my coffee a second ago. I was hoping that the small amount of caffeine included in said sip would provide the bounce I needed to begin working on my road novel, Back outta the World. Well, it didn’t work.

As you may or may not know, the novel is done. It was completed over two decades ago. I have reworked it at least three or four times already. It sits on my laptop a few steps to my right on the table I cleared off over Christmas. I cleared the table off to change the energy around the laptop. I wanted to provide a clear space in order to provide access to Back outta the World. I hoped that it would be easier to start review and revise it one last time. Well, it hasn’t worked yet.

In fact, I hope you are enjoying this post so far because it is simply the product of my resisting working on Back outta the World. As fellow writers or bloggers it should be a familiar situation for you. I am resisting doing what I got up this morning to do. I set out this morning to make a big dent in revising and self-editing of BotW. Instead I’ve done the dishes, started the laundry and changed the cat’s litter box.

Maybe this is one of those New Year’s Day posts after all. It’s possible that I rose from bed on the first morning of a brand new year carrying all the contrived expectations and resolutions that the New Year brings, in spite of my best efforts to ignore them. No, I don’t pay attention to that stuff. (For proof of that refer to the post published just before this one.)

Hey! Hold on a second. I feel better now. Thanks for joining me for these few moments. By resisting working on BotW and drafting this post, I just cleared my mind. The above paragraph was a cleansing and redirecting of the mind. I am just that quickly ready to see what Rick, Jay and T are up to in Back outta the World. I’m going to click “publish” now…. Happy New Year everybody!

Thanks for reading in 2020.

May I help who’s next?

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!