Coffee Thoughts: January 2020

Happy 2020, everybody.

So, I’m going to try something different here.  I love connecting with you guys on here, and browsing through posts and comments as I enjoy a morning cup of coffee. Now, sometimes, I have bite-sized “coffee thoughts.” You know, those thoughts that aren’t quite big enough for a full blog, but longer than oh, say, a tweet? Right. Based on said coffee thoughts, meet the first edition of Coffee Thoughts, where I’ve pulled together little notes from the past month into one blog. Dig the format? Let me know!

Happy New Year

… and happy new decade, on top of it? Talk about a crazy ride. At the beginning of the 2010s, I was a kid traveling across the country by myself, dreaming of someday being a writer. In 2020, I’ve become a full-time writer, published multiple books, grown into a husband and then a father, and changed in more ways than I can count. This has been one hell of a decade, and I want to offer a huge thanks to all of you, particularly the ones who have been along for the ride since 2013 (!), when I first started this blog. You guys are awesome, and thank you for that.

This’ll be a big year, ahead. As I said before, I have a new novel waiting in the wings, and I can’t wait to spill the details. Soon.

The world of entertainment keeps on keepin’ on

This is really more a December note, but still. If you haven’t yet seen Watchmen on HBO, stream it. Yes, even if you haven’t read the graphic novel. Yes, even if superheroes aren’t your thing. It takes a few episodes to really get rolling, but once it does, Watchmen proves itself to be the best TV series of 2019, and arguably, one of the most important of the decade.

In other movie and TV news: okay, so The Mandalorian is actually a lot of fun. And yes, yes, Baby Yoda (ahem, “the Child”) is just as adorable as the memes. Haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie yet, so I can’t comment on it. Also, I’m enjoying those Sinister Six hints in that Morbius trailer, though hoping the movie itself has a more interesting story than the trailer implies.

The Marshall Islands

Ever hear about the Marshall Islands? This is an issue that needs to get more attention.

As I wrote about on Grunge, this chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific had 67 nuclear bombs dropped on them, via the United States, from 1946 to 1958, causing widespread cancer and birth defects. That’s horrifying enough, but now, a nuclear disaster is in the making: the so-called Runit Dome, which is the concrete structure that the U.S. dumped all of their radioactive waste into, is predicted to crack sometime in the next century. The cause? You guessed it: climate change. This whole situation is obviously the fault of the U.S. government, but evidently, the world’s richest country is currently ignoring the pleas of the Marshall Islands, and claiming that the Marshallese have to deal with it themselves.

Horrifying? Yes. Unacceptable? Absolutely. While the L.A. Times did write about this back in November, this whole situation needs more airtime.

The News Cycle is a Dumpster Fire

And thus, the Trump impeachment has begun. About time? For sure, but still, it’s strange to watch it finally play out. I mean, obviously, the Trumpster is corrupt to the point of seeming cartoonish: after all, this is a guy who quite literally had to pay $2 million in damages last month because he was stealing money from his own charity to do things like buy paintings of himself. Is this real life? Unfortunately, yes, and the fact that the above story barely stirred the news cycle shows just how ludicrous this whole thing has gotten. However, the current GOP establishment is still pledging loyalty to their emperor, so a disappointing conclusion to the impeachment seems like a foregone conclusion. That said, Trump is a criminal, so putting him on trial (at the very least) seems necessary, regardless of how this all ends.

Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that Trumpism is just one particularly vile symptom of the U.S.’s bleeding wounds, not the original cause of them. These issues go back decades. Trump just exploited them. And honestly, even if he were removed, you have that bigoted fanatic Mike Pence sitting behind him. You know who Pence is? Oh yeah, that’s right, just the living embodiment of Reverend William Stryker, that nutcase from X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, with all the zealotry and self-righteous hypocrisy to match. Hey, seriously, I’m not the first one to notice this:

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Dog Stuff

Okay, enough news. Something happier. Here is Nova, my noble friend, showing off her favorite Nicholas Conley novel. Or maybe she’s just trying to figure out if there’s a doggy treat hidden inside?

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Family, fatherhood, and all that good stuff

On a final note: in my last post, I shared the news about our impending baby. Now that she’s here, though, I could’ve never predicted how much my life would instantly change. That’s a cliche statement, for sure, but it’s a true one. Being a parent is already the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. Truly. Just watching her experience everything for the first time, to feel the love as I hold her, to look into those little dark eyes that are so full of curiosity and wonder … and on top of that, to have the opportunity to share this experience with my wife, the person who amazes me more than anyone else in the world, has already made 2020 my favorite year to date. And it’s only been a little over three weeks!

Until next time, folks. Enjoy the rest of your morning coffee, and I’ll do the same.

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Book Reading at Flight Coffee

This past weekend, I had a great time sharing a few passages from Intraterrestrial with a fun crowd at Flight Coffee in Dover, a local third wave coffee shop which has become one of the top community hot spots on the NH seacoast.  It’s an awesome location, with equally awesome coffee—which, for a self-proclaimed “coffee vigilante” like myself, is a key factor in any great book reading.

Big thanks to everyone who came, and hope the rest of you had an equally cosmic Earth Day weekend!

Entering the Age of the Aeropress

Okay, sorry guys, but I have to indulge in these total coffee nerd moments every once in a while. Thanks for understanding.

To me, coffee is far more than just a pleasurable drink. It’s an experience. It’s a mood. It’s a feeling that can take you to the greatest depths of creative passion, a force that can pull you through the hardest, most painful times, or a source of stimulation that makes an interesting conversation even better. That’s why Coffee Moments™ are so great.

If you’re not a fan, then I’ve seen that tea is the same way for many people. Either way, I’m all about the hot beverages.

While any coffee lovers knows the importance of poking your head into a third wave coffee shop with some degree of regularity, it’s also important to have some sort of home setup, even if that setup pales in comparison to what the coffee shops offer. For me, I’ve spent the last couple of years preparing most of my morning cups with a V-60 pour over. Pour overs are one of the most convenient coffee preparation methods, and something I’d definitely recommend for most people, both coffee aficionados and newcomers alike.

However, as of last month, a new era in my life has begun: meet the AeroPress.

Aeropress coffee Nicholas Conley

I’m amazed that I went this long without investigating the AeroPress, and now, I’m madly in love with it. It’s fast, thorough, and prepares an absolutely fantastic cup of coffee. What more could a person ask for? There are a couple of different preparation methods, but my preference is for the “inverted” method.

For more information, check out the official AeroPress site. If you’re a coffee fan, you won’t regret it. Trust me. And if you’ve already been using the AeroPress for some time, cheers.

Grind Those Beans, National Coffee Day Has Arrived

The day has come, friends. The day that we’ve all been waiting for. While others may be distracted by the bright colors of other holidays, us true coffee lovers know that today is a day like no other. Get prepared, because today is National Coffee Day!

Nicholas Conley Red Adept coffee

Last year, I somehow missed this most caffeinated of days. Grieving over my terrible error, I ensured that such a mistake would never happen again, by subscribing myself to an annual email reminder every year, upon the day that National Coffee Day returns. That day has come, and to mark the occasion, I’m starting the morning with — what else? — a beautifully dark, aromatic, flavorful cup of Joe.

So grind those beans, boil that water, or get those coffee shop loyalty cards punched, because the day is here.

Check out all of your local coffee shops or franchises to see what sort of coffee deals and specials might be swooping your way today. USA Today offers this list of some of the bigger name specials, which even includes surprising deals by such companies as Lyft.

In the meantime, if you feel like pulling up a chair and enjoying a coffee here on Writings, Readings, and Coffee Addictions, let’s celebrate by going back through some of the more coffee-focused blogs of the past:

 

Nicholas Conley coffee Jamaica

Happy National Coffee Day, everyone!

Coffee Time

It’s been a busy month! Between working on Novel #3 and that upcoming novelette, getting ready for the premiere of my radio play, Something in the Nothing, on August 23rd, the recent publication in the Huffington Post, and the fact that I’m getting married next month, it feels as if the summer is racing by.

But it’s been a fantastic summer so far, and I can’t wait for the months ahead. In the meantime, as I get to work this morning, I’ll start it off with my usual morning joy: a hot cup of black coffee.

So cheers to all of you also enjoying a cup of joe right now — or tea, if that’s your preference — and here’s to more sunny, optimistic, productive days ahead!

Coffee - Nicholas Conley - Red Adept

Coffee Time

 

Tuesday Coffee Quotes

“Coffee became tied to what I called “The Art Life.” I loved to go to diners and drink coffee and try to catch ideas for the work. Coffee has always seemed to facilitate thinking and catching ideas. Not only that, but the flavor of coffee is beyond the beyond good. Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.” 

– David Lynch

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“I usually write away from home, in coffee shops, on trains, on planes, in friends’ houses. I like places where there’s stuff going on that you can lift your eyes, see something interesting, overhear a conversation.”

– Jonathan Safran Foer

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“I get stopped more in the street, I can tell you this, in New York, for people thanking me for this café and for the coffee, than I do for any of my movies. Actually, particularly people will say, not so much the movies, but ‘Thank you for the coffee!'”

– Hugh Jackman

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“You don’t even really need a place. But you feel like you’re doing something. That is what coffee is. And that is one of the geniuses of the new coffee culture.”

– Jerry Seinfeld

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Remember to Breathe

I have to admit, I love being a workaholic. I’m always immersed in a slew of projects, and my work on my next novel is a daily source of excitement.

For the most part, I consider myself a positive workaholic, as opposed to a negative one. When I’m knee-deep in a project that I’m excited about, it becomes the driving point of my daily routine. When I’m not knee-deep in a project, I find one, or I create one. I’m obsessed with the process of creation, passionate about the ability to sculpt words into sentences and find meaning. The stories I create are my heart, my brain, my soul. Maybe it’s the INFJ in me.

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This is why I love my work ethic: because I love that feeling of getting up first thing in the morning, brewing some coffee, and facing the blank page. I even love those times in the middle of the night where an idea wakes me up, hits me in the face, and drives me to the nearest notebook.

But at the same time, there’s a downside to being a positive workaholic, especially when most of your work is done at home: you never stop working.

It’s so easy to let days, weeks, and months fly behind me, barely seen and barely noticed. It’s so easy to stay in that intense place of concentration, words flying from my fingertips, forgetting to even notice whether there’s a sun or moon outside.

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Now, as a writer, I should be writing for at least a few hours every day. Writing is who I am, what I do. Through writing, I hope to express myself, gain a better understanding of the world, and to do my small part to speak up about issues that matter, causes that deserve attention.

So yes, daily writing is a necessity for me. And sometimes, even writing all day can be an amazing thing. I remember one day where I was so immersed in a project that I pushed out over 100 pages in one afternoon, my heart pounding from start to finish. But days like this are not every day.

I love my career as a writer. I’m shooting to get my next novel out by next year, and nothing’s going to stop me from pursuing that goal with everything inside me.  If things move into place, I might even have some smaller stuff coming out this year for you guys to see.

But the thing is, all of the goals above are already in the pipeline, mostly ready to launch. The additional work that I’m exhausting myself with now, work that is being done on top of other work, is related to projects that might not be finished until years from now. Looking at the big picture, I think that I can afford to take my time on those pieces.

What’s important here is balance. That’s what I need to give myself more of.

Every morning, I want to organize my day into slots. Two hours of this, three hours of that, an hour of this other thing. I think this works for me, for the most part. But I also need to allow space in my schedule for something else that is hugely important: time to breath.

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A few days ago, I felt overwhelmed. I’d completed a huge amount of work, hours and hours of it, far more than I needed to. But despite all of the work I’d gotten done, I wasn’t letting myself rest. I was pushing myself past the point of exhaustion, even though I didn’t need to.

Then, I noticed the sun was outside. Now, while it’s been an exceptionally warm summer here in New Hampshire (why yes, hello there global warming!), the last few months have still been too chilly to spend any real time outside. But on this day, the sun was blaring. And there I was in my office, with a massive pile of work completed, and I wasn’t letting myself stop. I was stressing myself out for no reason. I didn’t know how to stop.

So I forced myself to relax. Yes, forced. Admittedly, this sounds like a contradiction in terms, but sometimes forced relaxation is a necessity. Trust me, I know! I stepped away from my desk, grabbed a book, sat outside in the warm rays of the sun, and I read for a few hours. I gave myself that time to unwind, to just bask in the satisfaction of all of the work I had completed. I gave myself a moment to embrace my sheer existence as a human being, to smile, to read for as long as I wanted to.

Time to breathe.

Again, balance is everything. This doesn’t mean that working hard isn’t important, but other things are important as well. Balance.

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I’m not someone who belongs to a specific organized religion, but I do consider myself a spiritual person, and one of the qualities that I value about all religions, from all cultures, is the notion of finding inner peace. Calmness. Meditation. Caring for others, acting upon one’s compassion, but also finding balance in oneself. Instead of relying on conditional happiness that comes from the external world, I find that true and unconditional happiness comes from within.

Capitalist society can drive someone to madness with its push to keep us moving-moving-moving like a locomotive. This only makes it all the more important to sometimes stop, and focus. We need to pause for those moments where we can take in the world around us, look up to the sky, and love the fact that we’re lucky enough to be alive.

As a creative person, I need to always be pursuing my passions. But as a human being, no better or worse than any other human being, I also need moments to breathe. We’re all the same. We’re all equal. We all need the same things, deep down. It’s important to remember that.

Balance is everything.

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