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Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Getting lost

Sunday, February 15, 2015

jason poole, accidental hawaiian crooner, molokai, project natalie, anakala pilipo, pilipo solatorio, halawa valley, writing, getting lost

When I first started working on The Big Project

I didn’t understand how

at times

I would get lost

in the mists of “I remember…”

Sitting at my desk or in a coffee shop,

I would lose track of days, hours, seasons.

It’s a good thing to go outside

even when the thermometer reads 12-degrees

to remember that I am here


that it’s winter in NYC

And after a brief walk around the block

it’s good to return to my desk

and nice hot cuppa coffee

a snoring cat

and a notebook, hungry for stories.

I remember…


Liquid Inspiration

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Springtime in NYC means we get a lot of rain.  

And we all know what April showers bring, right? Well…

Earlier this week, I was sitting in a coffeehouse in Chelsea, one of my favorite places to do a little writing. Their coffee is strong and their music is groovy.  The place and its vibe boost to my creativity.  I wanted to stay there all day.

Especially because it was a one of those dreary, rainy days.  Not a torrential downpour, but just enough rain to make one’s clothes damp–and STAY damp for hours.

But there were appointments to keep, so off I went.

And you know what happened?

While I walked, a snippet of a new melody started to play in my mind.  How can I describe it?  It’s like when I get something stuck between my teeth–I couldn’t leave it alone.  It demanded my attention.

As this new little song began to take shape in my mind, I played with lyrics, writing (and rewriting) them to match the tone/color and rhythm of tune.

And by the time I’d reached my next destination, I had the chorus of the new song!

(And my clothes were totally soaked from the rainy drizzle.)

Why is it that some of my most creative moments happen in or near the water?

I often do some of my best brainstorming while taking a shower.  Or while walking over a bridge. (Surprisingly, I do this quite a bit in order to visit a favorite not-too-far-away-but-still-across-the-water store.  Ah… life on this concrete isle.) Or while walking in the rain.

I’ve heard that I’m not alone in my “watery inspiration.”  I’ve read loads of stories about writers and composers who fled to the seashore in order to create.  Or painters who needed to sit by the water to feel inspired.

There must be some connection, right?

What is about the water that inspires some folks?

The fluidity?  The feeling of wanting to turn inward?  The rhythm?

What do YOU think?

Oh!  And yes… I’ll be sharing this new song as soon as she’s finished.  It looks like we’ve got a run of (at least partly) sunny days here, so I won’t be inspired by the rain.  I guess I’ll need to go and sit by the river for a while.

Right on.


Coffee. (A Flashback Favorite!)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coffee growing on Molokai.


It’s one of my favorite things in the world. I love having a freshly brewed cup first thing in the morning.

I also love sipping a cup of REALLY STRONG coffee that has been sitting on a heat source for far too long.

I love it.

And I’m NOT a coffee snob.

I love the coffee from the islands, of course.

But …

I can also totally get down with a “cuppa Joe” from the gas station.

When I was working my corporate gig here in NYC, I would buy a “bucket size” coffee every morning and then drink that until lunchtime. Yes, it would get cold. And, yes, I would continue to drink it as I made my morning rounds.

I can hear coffee aficionados gasping in horror: Sipping a cup of coffee all morning? Egads!

But like I said, I’d order a “bucket size” coffee. It was cheaper than getting a bunch of smaller, fresh cups. And since I’d paid for it, I was determined to drink it all. I’ll admit, it’s an ACQUIRED taste, for sure!

Have you guys been to Coffees of Hawaiʻi on Molokai? It’s a coffee drinker’s paradise. Some of the beans grow RIGHT THERE on the property! Their little café serves up delicious coffee treats. Their gift shop has all sorts of cool stuff—and features work made by local artists! (Which is totally cool because WE’VE GOTTA SUPPORT THE LOCAL ARTISTS! )

And they have LIVE music several times a week!

Coffee, locally produced arts and crafts AND live music. Sounds like heaven, right?

(I’ll be doing a BIG BLOG POST on them soon! But please check out their website here.)

Here’s the irony: I love coffee. And … Molokai has FANTASTIC locally grown coffee readily available for sale and consumption. And …

I don’t drink coffee when I’m in Hālawa Valley.


I know… I still can’t really explain it. The Hālawa Valley cabin is virtually coffee-free. There are a few plasic canisters of the instant stuff tucked away on the shelves. I’m sure it’s only there for the guests who come to visit and/or stay.

But Mom and Pops Solatorio don’t drink it!

They’ve never said that I shouldn’t drink it. They’ve never stood with their hands on their hips and told me that coffee is evil. Or wrong. I think they might have even offered a cup of the instant java to me the first time I stayed there.

But it’s not necessary for them to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Or late in the afternoon. Or right before going to bed at night. They can survive without coffee— EVER!

I was shocked. And I was terrified.

As a coffee lover ( AND as a New Yorker who truly believed that he NEEDED his cup of liquid magic in the morning in order to function as a normal human being) I was blown away that I’d ended up in a coffee-free zone!


It happens every time. I get terrible headaches from caffeine withdrawals. But those pass in a few days. And the wonder of being in the historic and wild Hālawa Valley makes it easy to forget about the pain.


I survive. Every time I go there I think I’m not going to make it. But I do. And don’t even need it—desperately–when we leave the valley.

But of course, when we pass a place that offers it, I take full advantage of the situation and buy the BIGGEST cup of coffee they have.

(BTW: My coffee habit ALWAYS resumes the minute I leave Molokai. I don’t know that I’ll ever be coffee-free!)

I know there are coffee lovers out there. And I want to hear from you!

What is that YOU love about the stuff?


Does this scenario sound familiar to you:

I set out this morning ready to tackle a huge TO DO list.

I mean, I really wanted to make some progress today!  I wrote (what felt like a zillion!) tasks on a sheet of paper.  And then I even put little boxes beside the items on the list so that I could enjoy checking them off.  (I used to to that when I was still working my “corporate gig.”  It helped when we were overwhelmed–allowed us to see that we were making progress even when we felt like we were drowning.)

I poured myself a big ol’ mug of steaming coffee and settled in for a great day of work.

And then I hit a wall.  See, I wanted to make a recording of a new song I’m working on–just a rough demo.  But a full-on traffic jam formed on my street (which NEVER happens!)–complete with blaring horns and car alarms singing in dissonant harmony.   And then sounds of construction/jackhammers/heavy equipment started.  Oh well… wait until later….

And then I hit another wall.  Putting the ‘ukulele and the digital recorder aside, I went down to the basement to put in some laundry.  But when I got to the laundry room, I saw that all of the machines were in use.  Oh well… wait until later…

And yet another wall.  I headed back up to the apartment to do some admnistrative-esque work.  I started to write emails to folks, but I realized I didn’t have all of the necessary information to write the text.  I needed to email other people and then wait to get that information before proceeding with my original email. Oh well… wait until later…

It seemed like everything I was doing was destined to either collapse in front of me or be put on the “need to wait until later” list.  And that wasn’t what I’d hoped the day was going to be like.

But then I got a hold of myself.  I mean,

It wasn’t like the world was conspiring against me.

(Even though it totally felt that way at the moment!)

I just needed to find the “right” task/job for RIGHT NOW.

So I picked up my ever-faithful ‘ukulele and strummed a few chords. (You guys know how much I value a good strum break!)  And that lead to a few more chords.  And that reminded me that Pops had asked me to learn a song before I head to Molokai later this month so that we could work on it together.  Feeling inspired, I dug around and found the song and sat down and plunked my way through it.  And, again.  And, again.  (I’ll need to work on this song a lot before I head to Molokai!)

It was the PERFECT job for the moment.

It blocked out the sounds of traffic jam and the construction.

And it calmed me down.

Right on.

TO DO lists are cool.  But I need to remember that I may need to juggle the items around a bit.

It’ll all get done.


Happy Monday, gang.




Have ʻUkulele--Will Travel

Aloha, gang!

This past weekend, I was in Portland, OR attending the very first World Domination Summit. Basically–a gathering of 500+ creative, free-thinking people from around the globe who came together to share ideas and learn from each other.  It was unbelievably cool!

My travel buddy for the trip, Tania Luna (Surprise Industries) and I thought we’d be the “ultimate, hardcore New Yorkers” and skip the closing party to catch a red eye flight back to NYC so that we’d be ready to rock and roll–business as usual–today.  In theory, it was a great idea.

In actuality, I’m paying for it today.  A weekend of stimulating ideas added to a lack of sleep has left me buzzing and exhausted.


I promise to share some stories from the Summit with you all!  I just need to drink more coffee to get through the day (I’m strumming/singing for a hula class in NYC tonight from 7p-10p) and then get some quality rest.  Tomorrow, I’ll be ready to rock and roll!

Lesson in all of this:  Next time, stay for the party and fly home well rested.  ʻNuff said.

BTW:  I CARRIED MY ‘UKULELE WITH ME THROUGHOUT THE SUMMIT. (And I even had a chance to meet up with a fellow strummer and share some tunes during a break!)  That story and more to follow soon…

Happy Monday, gang.

Aloha nō,



Wielding the Mighty Sword…

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I met up with some members of my LA-based writing group last week.

It was an act of courage.


Because writers are strong and fierce warriors. They wield pens like mighty swords.

What are they battling?

The fear of creating. The choking feeling that comes up when faced with a blank page. The fear of exposing their feelings, opinions, desires, secrets… all of which will INEVITABLY come through in their writing.

In an earlier post, I wrote about a writing workshop that I’d taken with Lynda Barry in the Fall of 2008. In that workshop, I made friends with two of my fellow classmates. We formed a writing group. We were joined by two more folks. Five of us met every week at a Starbucks in North Hollywood. We WROTE together every week. We READ to each other every week. It was wonderful.

I was saddened to learn that the group has evolved. Two of the original group have moved on. (I know… I know… Everything’s gotta change.) But two of them still meet on a weekly basis–and they’ve been joined by another writer. The tradition continues!

After a day of speaking at Otis College of Art and Design last week, my good buddy, Jeanie (my Otis “connection” and one of the original folks from my writing group) asked me to come to her house and write. It would be a mini-reunion. We would been writing the way we’d learned from Lynda Barry.

I was exhausted. My throat was sore from the hours of speaking. I was a bit “raw”, at least emotionally–that often happens when I share the details of my own personal struggles and triumphs. I hadn’t slept more than a few hours the night before. And, of course… I said “YES!”

How could I pass up the opportunity to write with some of my buddies?

And how could I pass up the opportunity to really practice SHOWING UP AND SAYING “YES!”

So we sat at two tables on a hill behind Jeanie’s house. There were five of us. One woman was attending for the FIRST TIME. She’d heard about Jeanie’s writing group and decided to take the plunge.

Jeanie offered peaches–fresh from from a peach tree beside the tables. There was a pitcher of water. Someone had brought a bottle of wine to share. We lit incense to keep the mosquitoes away. Evening approached quickly. We lit a lantern. Dogs barked in the distance. I thought I heard a coyote howling.

“Maybe I’ll just watch,” said the woman who was joining in for the first time.

“No,” Jeanie said. “You HAVE to write with us.”

We explained the process that Lynda Barry had taught us. We drew an envelope from the word bag. We prepared our work surfaces. We chose images. We answered 24 questions. We read a poem. We set the timer.

And then we jumped in and wrote. We took the plunge. Together.

The first word was “baseball.” It’s funny how five people can write such compelling (and different!) stories about baseball. Perhaps it’s because we’re all dying to tell our stories. Dying to share. Even though we’re deathly afraid inside.

After the writing, we share. We take turns reading what we’d written. We lower our eyes as we’re read to–it helps to take some pressure off of the reader, who’s reading their words for the first time. No editing allowed.

“Maybe I’ll just listen,” said the woman who was joining for the first time.

“No,” said Jeanie. “You have to share. Trust us…”

The experience is raw. The experience is beautiful.

Out of respect for the other writers, I won’t say what they wrote about that night. I wrote about being a young boy on a baseball team. And the piece was about so much more. It ended up being about my relationship with my mother. Strange how that happens, huh?

So that’s why I say writing is like being a mighty warrior. **Please see the Crooner’s Update at the bottom of the page.**

We show up for the battle. And just like in the movies, the real battle is the “unknown.” We take the plunge together. We surrender to the process. We’re lead down paths we didn’t expect. And we face what comes up–as it comes up.

Writing is a practice that TRULY demands courage.

The woman that joined the group for the first time that night made everyone cry when she read her piece. The piece was beautiful. And knowing that she was sharing in this process of creation was beautiful. She showed up. She said YES .

She trusted the process. She trusted us. And most importantly–she trusted HERSELF.

When she picked up the pen, she wielded a mighty sword.

I think they should set a place for her again this week.

Something tells me she’ll be back…

**Crooner Update (7.29.10)

Tonight I picked up a copy of Laraine Herring’s new book, THE WRITING WARRIOR. I’ve been really excited to read this new work. One of her previous books, WRITING BEGINS WITH THE BREATH, has been a constant companion–a book I keep within arm’s reach at all times. She’s a brilliant writer. She’s a brilliant teacher. She has a way of making sense out of the whole “crazy writing process.”

I was laying in bed and reading the introduction when I started thinking: OH NO! What if it appears I’m stealing images from Laraine Herring?! That’s the LAST thing I want to do!

Did she create phrase WRITING WARRRIOR? I don’t know. I’ve known about the book’s title. Perhaps that’s where the seed was planted. But I mean her no disrespect! She’s my hero!

If you write, you know the courage it takes to face a blank page–and the courage it took that night in Los Angeles for us to come together and write and share with each other. You’d understand why the image of the “writing warrior” stood out in my mind.

PLEASE buy Laraine’s books. They’re wonderful. You can pick them up at your favorite bookstore. You can order them through your favorite online seller. But please check ‘em out. She’s a master teacher. I learn from her every time I open one of her books.

I love her work. I know you will, too…