Walking to Coffee

I wonder how winter air melts in your lungs. When you take breaths of stiff morning air, do the tiny airborne icicles cling to your insides for a moment before vanishing, their outlines lingering longer than the rest?

I usually park my car on Buttles, where I’m supposed to park only three hours at a time, because the risk of a $30 ticket is cheaper than paying for a meter every few hours. As I walked by the park this December morning, the warm light spilling onto buildings ahead was a comforting way to be gently shaken awake, like waking up to a kiss on the head. I’m always wondering why I don’t get up this early more often.

Art this week is by Armando Penagos. He’s releasing some new work today. Go check this and more of his work on his Instagram  @thatmandokid .

Art this week is by Armando Penagos. He’s releasing some new work today. Go check this and more of his work on his Instagram @thatmandokid.

Crossing Goodale, I walked past a guy carrying two coffees, head down. I’m pretty sure I’ve served him coffee before. In Columbus, the six degrees that separate you from knowing anyone else can reasonably be collapsed into two or three, except in Columbus, the thing to key on is where. If you can trace a face back to one location you frequent, you can usually think of one or two other locations that face appears, and many times a set of faces follow in your memory as haunting the same three places. This time, the face seems to be from Damn Girl and the gym where I used to play basketball. He’s coming from where I’m headed—One Line, in the middle of everything, is a good morning coffee stop.

A couple years ago, there was a CD that I loved to listen to while walking the park. In my earphones, it was like Goodale Park concaved upward, the music lessening the space between earth and the moon. I wanted any trip I was taking to pass through the park, just so that I could listen. In reality, I never actually walked the park, I just sat in my room and imagined. I don’t know why I didn’t try it. The music had a soundtrack quality that made it easy to visualize scenes, I guess—it me want to watch a movie, but I know if I did, I’d just be restless to get back to the album. Cinematic music can do that to you, make you want to be in two places at once.

Walking, I recalled an interview about a film critic who says he needs to watch a movie every couple of days or else he starts to feel blocked. If he’s reflecting about why he’s in a funk, he usually realizes that he hasn’t watched a film in a while, so he goes to see a movie and he starts to feel like himself again. Pete Holmes says a similar thing about performing stand up. Doing a set every couple weeks keeps him balanced.

I remember what it was like to discover that listening to music is one of those expressions for me. It felt silly to acknowledge this, especially when a lot of my friends’ thing was making music. But life got easier when I started making a conscious effort to devote time to listen to music. Sometimes music is the only healing agent that bandaids a funk or untangles a bad day.

Is writing another one of those expressions? Am I cloudy every few days without it? Is it why I do this blog? I wanted writing to be something I associated with myself for so much of my life—I guess I should feel gratitude that I’ve found something worthy of devotion, something I need to do. Maybe it’s freeing in a way. That’s why the deepest thing I feel when friends joke about me having a blog is happiness. What a beautiful and terrifying thing, being known.

Kicking some gravel draws me back to my steps and the coldness in my toes. I need to buy some boots.

Earlier this year, I wrote a cover letter for a new job and asked a friend to review it. He said it was good, but I checked his LinkedIn and even his three-sentence bio said more than my full-page letter. One line from his profile I liked so much that I stole it, thinking it applied to me: “I have a knack for encouraging people in sharing ideas, and I try to foster free flowing idea sharing where I can.” Making people feel heard is something I like doing, so I thought I was a safe place for people to share their ideas.

Since I wrote the cover letter, I’ve been in rooms with people who are good at spurring ideas, and it made me realize I’m not as good as I thought. As I watched the rising sun make diamonds out of car windshields, throwing sun rays around the leather, so many people came to mind.

Designers and creative directors and content people and photographers who I’ve crossed paths with through work in the last couple years, all guiding lights at speaking their ideas. I thought about freelance work, which has allowed me to proof the work of storytellers who get their brine on the page succinctly and in original ways. One of my favorite things about this blog is my daily g-chats with Austin, who’s an expert in his own right at cultivating ideas, and who regularly nurses my baby seedling ideas into full, polished trees (it was his LinkedIn profile from which I stole). I thought about all the talented baristas I’ve worked with at the Roosevelt Coffeehouse, who dip their mitts into a wide variety of crafts and speak their opinions with both abandon and poise, not to mention the hive of creative customers I’ve met; shifts behind the bar feel like I’m checking people in at the front desk of an artist retreat. As I round Buttles and cross onto High, I smile at the faces that tumble into my head.

One thing they all do well is posit an idea in strength. Instead of dancing around their ideas, they put as much muster behind them as they can, even if they’re not thrilled about them, you can’t tell, because they put their weight behind good and bad ideas to explore them fully. When someone sells their idea as hard as they can at first, they’re saying their thoughts are worth exploring; you can’t know something’s value until you look in its mirror without fear. The best idea facilitators share the thoughts and beliefs they’ve stored now, accepting who they are. And maybe they know they can change their mind later. That’s freeing. Their confidence brings more room to the table for others to explore fully their ideas, too. That’s a little counterintuitive to me.

Maybe this lesson is one in decisiveness. Maybe that’s all I’m really getting at.

Step by step. When I finally tug on the door handle, whose attendant door doesn’t fully close, I’m almost sad I’ve reached my stop. I’ll just have to get more coffee tomorrow.

These are my favorite songs to listen on a walk. For today’s route, at least.


  1. Mercy Seat - Ultra Vivid Scene

  2. Acension - Lives of Angels

  3. fell asleep with a vision - The Spirit of the Beehive

  4. Another Weekend - Ariel Pink

  5. Ivy League - ARTHUR

  6. Flowers- Galaxie 500

  7. If I Could Shine - The Sweetest Ache

  8. Stick - Oblov

  9. Grease Inna Hair - Mystic Innane

  10. Suddenly (feat. Weyes Blood) - Drugdealer

  11. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright - Simon & Garfunkel

  12. New Year’s Greetings (Demo) - The Triffids

Applie playlist here.