Thursday, January 2, 2014

What's the Twitter on Cigars?


When I first set up my Facebook and website for my book, Spanish Cedar, I felt I knew the purpose of each. As I saw Twitter's social media growth, I was unsure on how to incorporate this brief moment of text into what I saw as a more thoughtful and reflective process. After all, how reflective can we be constantly checking for Twitter feed or continually typing our thumbprint into the world?

 

I decided my Twitter would be run as a form of diary or journal, a posting of significant events in a continuum. As such, it became unimportant to me that I tweet every hour or day; as noted in my book, when I am with a cigar, typically I am reading, writing, talking, or reflecting on that cigar. I am in the moment with the company who sit in the lounge with me or the landscaping of the area around my veranda. Tweeting interrupts that calming time of day.

 

Tonight, for example, I will be at Murdocks, a restaurant in Cocoa, Florida, for the monthly Montecristo Cigar Club meeting. I will have a merlot and a stick (brand of each to be decided later). I will not feel impelled to Tweet any of the details in the meeting. Instead, later, or much later, I will look back and carefully choose the words to properly represent the evening and the mood, and then I will Tweet.

 

A poem may follow, but that will come from a different part of the mind for a different purpose that the reader will decide has value or not as they read it without Twitter and Tweets. The decision will involve thoughts and feelings not compressed into 140 characters.

 

And that’s my call.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Enjoying a good cigar is an art.


Art is a support system for life…and enjoying a good cigar is an art.

“…put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.” Stephen King On Writing

For a long time, writing was the center of my life. I wrote about all I encountered and much of what I thought. High school. College. Army. Work. Home. All were locations and channels for my thoughts placed on paper. I carried books and paper with me everywhere. Read and write. Write and read. These were my passions. I started to shift my paradigm when my middle school son said, “Dad, do you have to take the books into the movie theater?” No. I didn’t. After two divorces and five job firings in three careers over 20 years, I realized there were lots of places I didn’t need to carry books and paper. In fact, I realized that writing wasn’t the center of my life. My family was. It is, and it remains so.

My son and I talk more, my wife and I have been married for more than 18 years, and I retired from teaching to spend time with family and to write. My first book comes out in November: Spanish Cedar.

That brings up another matter. What supports life, what fuels us, and what brings us joy? If we cannot define that, we will have a rough time until we do, for without the clear idea of what brings us joy and peace of mind, our personal lives and careers will be in turmoil.

I picked up a cigar for the first time in the Army. I don’t know the occasion, but the military was an alone time for me. As noted above, I was not building relationships, but I was writing a lot. A cigar or three from the base exchange lasted me a weekend; weekdays were exhausting. I parked in a cafĂ© with a cup of coffee or a bottle of Lancers, dropped a quarter in the juke box, lit a stick and wrote. Hour after hour. The drink, music, stick, pen, and paper were my best companions for a year or two.

The cigar went out when I got married and remarried and remarried. But one evening, twenty years later, my wife suggested a light up at a friend’s party, and I began this quiet journey of contemplation with rolled leaf in hand.

My poetry is about these ideas of relationships with loved ones and strangers, with cigars and the paraphernalia of the ritual, and with specific cigars and their homes. Think about it. Welcome conversations and writings into your homes and businesses. Embrace the connections between your world and experiences and those of your friends and strangers you meet along the paths you travel. Consider the many ways of communication available to us today, but never forget it begins with the eye contact and the handshake and the hug.

That’s my call.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The world curling and uncurling around us

We could gain much by observing the world. Although Thoreau managed to move to the edge of the world and do his observations from an idyllic Walden Pond, we don't have to do as much. We could, but we don't have to. A world of beauty wraps around us daily. Colors and shapes and forms and behaviors and scents and flavors are open to each of us.

Yesterday, I lit up a Turano Vault at a local cigar lounge. The poetry from this stick wandered all over creation, but it caught the corner of this idea of noticing what occurs around us. Not dissing theaters and the ubiquitous electronics which put us in touch with virtual people, our world, physical and available, sits right here.

For me, enjoying a stick means giving it the time to tell its story.

See if this works for you:


The Sight, The Story

by Christopher Robin Adams

 

The Vault is lit. Blend D-042.

Its flavor tickles my palate.

I hold it away from me.

Level.

From the foot,

                        pushed wild by 800 C  heat,

smoke moves upward,

                        then Clairol-curls and waves,

                        tumbling skyward

                                    in reverse gravity.

From the clipped end,

                        cool and clinging,

smoke slides out,

                        follows the stick around its nub ,

                        sticking close to the wrapper,

                                    then eases skyward.

Funny, I smile to myself.

The story unfolds within me:

            the smoke expects my lips,

            wants to please me,

            hangs around to visit,

                                                but, finally disappointed,

                                                                                                leaves.

...

Zen involves much, and I am not qualified to give lessons, but becoming the smoke and feeling its way around the filler to find you... Life doesn't get better. T. H. White in the Once and Future King delightfully has Arthur doing this in order to become a better ruler, in order to understand people and all of life. Persig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance also covers this well.

That's my call.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Paradigm shifts are difficult.

They don't just involve putting a new idea or a new fact in the mind; they involve an entirely new way of viewing the world and how it relates to the individual shifting.

I am reminded of a bicycle shop our bank financially backed in Kansas City, Missouri. I visited Robert on his Grand Opening and admired a large display of flowers. The open card said, "Congratulations on becoming a capitalist!" I asked him about this odd comment, about what he had been before. "A communist," he replied a little shyly, a little hesitantly.

This is a paradigm shift. His work as a Gitane rep for some ten years had him traveling the nation. Bicycles were his life and love, but I believe the biking community was more so. Now that changed. He still took his revamped bus filled with bikes and bikers to Iowa for the cross-state event, but he did so with a new awareness: who would run the shop, how much would he lose if he closed, did his last order get in, and who would he meet on this trip who will understand him and his responsibilities? Now he had inventory and sales, and now I became a closer friend than before. Imagine that, his brother must have thought: Robert has to meet with  his banker.

Spanish Cedar is causing this shift in me. I have more of an understanding of writers before me: Poe and Wilde living high and low and trying to keep their artistic integrity while writing for a public who would buy their books. They had to know publishers and be able to debate the merits of their writing on one factor: would it sell? Would the publisher make money? Would the writer be able to pay his bills?

Now I must take time off from writing, my love,  to get to know a wider range of those who will see my book, who will read my book, and who will (hopefully) buy my book. I reach out more now than I have before to those lighting up a maduro in the next chair, those asking about the choice between an Oliva and a Drew Estate. I have met the owners of the eight lounges I visit each month, and we have discussed not only cigars, but how my book might help them and help me at the same time; each of us recognizes the balance we are aiming for: a mutual relationship between vendor and retailer where both grow for the long range benefit of both.

While I was in a signal battalion in the Army for two years, managed a main frame for a marketing group for five years, and taught for a virtual school for eight years, I did not consider myself a techie; I turned to others for help and support. Now I am mastering the blog (you are here!), the Twitter world, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my website.

Three years ago, this was not my plan, but I am a writer, and if I want my ideas to travel beyond me and the cigar lounge in which I sit, if I want to realize income from the one area in life I believe I have mastered and yet still learn and grow with, then I need to learn how writing moves commercially and the pathway to a successful release.

A paradigm shift is difficult, and that's my call.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spanish Cedar saves cigars and ...

I am new.

Dickens opened Tale of Two Cities with "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." When turbulent times threaten to toss us over, we can say it is the end of us (the worst of times), or we can say it is a new beginning (the best of times). Like the glass half full or half empty, the events are the same; the perception differs.

I am new, so my first blog entry was a mistake. It announced my new book, but a blog isn't the place for that. A blog is a value added entry to a website, to a core business. It is giving with minimal expectation of receiving. If the public finds blog entries credible, a conversation begins, a relationship begins, and trust can be built.

I have relationships with the cashiers and staff at my Publix, at my Atlantic Pack and Parcel, at my Cuban American Barbershop. I don't collect information from a beachside merchant and then purchase the product online to save money.

Yes, I have ideas. Yes, I write poetry. Yes, I have collected some poems and put them in a book to sell and make money. However, I am a retired teacher, and my most boring professor once said, "The exam is not the end of the learning; it is part of the process." The same can be said of the sale of a book, of any product.

I am helping people look at the world in a different way. I am working with my experience with cigars and with writing, and I am offering those insights to others in a book...in my website...in my Facebook page...and in this blog. As we get to know each other, I hope to be invited to speak at cigar bars and lounges around Florida and elsewhere. I hope to sell some books. Most of all, though, I hope others will see that they can reach out to others and help them, just as I wrote a year ago in this poem:


Compliments to the Chef

by Christopher Robin Adams

 

“My compliments to the chef; this lamb was tasty and tender.”

“Thanks! I will tell her!”

 

We grow and spin cartwheels

with kind words.

More of us survive,

when we know we are doing right;

more of us live happily,

when we are aware we are doing well.

In our competitive world,

            where we often chase dollars

            and trample daisies,

helping the flowers grow can give us enough pause

to consider

                        the often lonely idea

                                    of passing on a kind word or eleven

                                    in order to help another do right or do well.

We scratch a kitten’s ears,

tell a dog he’s a “good boy,”

but how quick are we to help another,

particularly when we are shelling out the bucks?

I mean,

isn’t the money enough reward, enough praise, and enough kindness?

                                    No.

Not if we can do more.

A writer once noted we should act kindly,

            not because we should (and she agreed we should),

            but because we can,

                        because it is in our power,

                        because we have the time,

and because the other person’s world will be better,

as will ours.

As will ours.

===

I keep copies of this poem and give them to people who help me. Waiters. Waitresses. Wait staff. Clerks. Plumbers. Folks who in the day to day work for a living often incur inconvenience from the norms of their jobs. Many assume that's the breaks of the city. Perhaps it is, but I can still be nice. I can still say "Thank you" even though I am paying for the service.

I hope these comments are helpful.

This is Kit, and this is my call.

Spanish Cedar is coming to you!

Well, the web site will open August 23, 2013: www.spanishcedarbook.com

Facebook is open: Spanish Cedar

The book, Spanish Cedar, preserving the art of the cigar experience, will enter the world in November.

This blog will keep you updated on my book and my writings from the cigar world.

That's my call.