On Leaving Bullet Journal

When something doesn’t feel like it serves your mental health anymore, it’s time to quit it. Right? When I was teenager and well into my twenties, I carried coins in my pocket. There was no intention of buying anything with them. And besides, snack and soda machines all cost more than a few measly coins anyway. I carried them because the textures brought me to a state of calm whenever the anxiety crept up on me. Feeling the ridges of a quarter or a dime, and the smoothness of a penny or a nickel was meditative. 

I wish I could say I remember the last time I carried coins purposefully. My pockets remain empty these days save for a pen or my earbud case. Sometimes I do carry a fidget cube; although, more times than not that fidget cube is in my hand as I run my thumb over the various doodads and textures it offers. 

In 2018, I decided to start using Ryder Carroll’s bullet journal method to feel more in control of my thoughts, my life, and my tasks. I went all out with it, opting to buy the official bullet journal by LEUCHTTRUM1917 and graduating to the 2nd edition a few years later. (Hot take: the original version was miles better than the 2nd edition, and, if it hadn’t cost more, I would have stuck with that version.) And you know that nothing LEUCHTTRUM1917 makes is cheap, but it’s well worth it.  

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Writing Poetry Is Hard

The ideas came from nowhere or, at least, that is how it seemed at the time. I could sit in my bedroom, mulling about or watching TV or reading a book or doing homework or whatever and this string of words would just come to me so I’d scramble to get a sheet of paper and a pen and write them down before they floated away. Before that – before my twenties – I forced myself to write. Every day. A new poem/song that my imaginary band in high school would play one day (did I ever mention that story?), so maybe that’s where the talent stems from. Re-reading old poems I wrote as a teenager (yes, I still have those beat up composition journals tucked away in my closet), they followed the same rhyme schemes taught in classrooms. I wasn’t writing sonnets, but ABAB CDCD and so on type schemes.

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Personal · Poetry Break

“Whatever Happened to the Coffee Love Guy?”

by Guillermo Corona

Faces in the crowd
cast in shadow. Lone
light shining upon an
open mic. Nerves gathered,
sweat glistening on anxious brow–
we come together not to bury,
but to praise this noble art. 

Tea-stained pages, rimmed with coffee
mark the passage of time
from home cook meals to library
meeting rooms to a new wave–
una nueva onda, a night of readings
with friends and family
y familias.

We are grandmothers y abuelas,
compadres and instant friends.
¿Si no hablamos ahora, who will?
We are the voices of generations
new and long since past,
whispers and echoes both, 
cracking on an open mic.

Somos amadores, we are coffee drinkers,
dunking pan dulce in our cups
while trading words and waxing poetic
philosophies like it was going out of style. 

Memory is a funny thing, ain’t it? I was sitting at my desk the other day when one just wiggled into the space between thoughts. It’s one of the last nights I hung around with the “coffee love guy.”

We both attended one of Amado’s Nueva Onda Poetry readings at the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library. He had recited – upon popular request – the poem in question, “Coffee Love.” I don’t know what it was about that poem that was a crowd pleaser, but those of us who knew the man knew him for that poem. It’s the only one that stuck in my memory, though I’m sure he read others.

“Whatever happened to that guy?” I wondered before pushing the thought aside, trying to focus on my work.

Memories, however, won’t be ignore.

The question hung in my head until I wrote down what would later be the title of this poem – “Whatever Happened to the Coffee Love Guy?” – into my bullet journal. I scribbled a few lines, trying to remember the conversation we had. Nothing stuck.

I tried writing a poem about loss – and I did – but I didn’t want to just focus on losing people. I wanted to remember someone, or rather the feelings I had two decades ago when I first took the stage at Amado’s little cafe and read for the first time.

And when I had those bare bones laid out, I started filling them in. Mixing in the words into English and Spanish – my broken Spanish. I flipped back to the page I wrote down my question and thought, “Now that’s a title I could use.”

I still haven’t answered my question, though. And maybe it will remain a mystery. I might bump into him one day, or maybe that last night was our last conversation. But if you’re reading this, man, how’s it been?


My Head Aches & I Hate Everyone and Everything

Reading Nietzsche Naked Redux

There’s something almost therapeutic waking up tangled in your bedsheets, naked, with a semi between your legs; your head’s a mess, groggy from a night of doom scrolling, and the first thought that pops in your all-too-sleepy brain as you reach your phone is: Am I really about to turn 40?

That’s me. In bed. Naked and tangled in bedsheets. There isn’t a ceiling fan in my bedroom, but if there was one (and if I was one of my many characters I wrote about in my 20s) I would be focusing on that fixture in this narration. I would describe how dusty it appeared, at least a decade’s worth of fuzz lining the blades. How it slowly turned in the room, though it was off, as an indicator of a draft that snuck through the open window screen, despite it being a hot and humid day in South Texas. 

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Sober Man at a Party

What is one question you hate to be asked? Explain.

“A sober man at a party is lonely as a journalist, implacable as a coroner, bitter as an angel looking down from heaven.”

— Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

“Why don’t you drink?” she asked, eying me in a way one would a narc. 

She stood in front of me, two drinks in hand. One of them for her and the other for me. Except when she offered mine, I shook my head and responded with, “No, thank you.” By her reaction, you would have assumed threatened her with violence. 

Most people are understanding. Most people are taught how to take no for an answer. And most people would think it rude to ask for a person’s autobiography when denying a drink. She, however, was not “most people.” 

I hate parties, and I don’t know why I agreed to attend this one. Maybe it’s the way she could twist my arm. The way she got me to do things outside my comfort zone. I appreciated people like her. People who can talk me out of my usual morose state and drag me out to have a fun time, but parties? Parties have and never will be a fun time.

Since adolescence, parties have only meant one thing (well, two things): Alcohol. 

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