Books & Tea | Guest Post by Hikari Loftus of Folded Pages Distillery

Books And Tea | Guest Post by Hikari Loftus of Folded Pages Distillery

To me, and I’m sure to many others, reading a book is much more than just taking in the words on the page. Reading a book requires all of our senses. For instance, the night I read the poem at the beginning of Nabokov’s Pale Fire, I was standing on my patio, just in time to benefit from the fading light of the sunset. Car honks and noisy dogs blended with the internal voice of my reading as I tried to make sense of the author’s erudite verse. I was drinking herbal tea, which burned my tongue. All of these sights, feelings, and smells will always be part of my experience with that particular book.

In my opinion, dedicated bibliophile Hikari Loftus gets this idea of reading as a trip for all the senses, and it shows in her photographs. For this reason, it only took me a brief look through her IG gallery to become a fan. Her photos make me excited to read and remind me of the books I’ve enjoyed over the years and all the complementary smells, tastes and sounds that went along with them.

That being said, it’s my pleasure to introduce Hikari as my latest guest author for Books and Tea. Enjoy, and remember to visit her website and follow her incredible social accounts. Thanks again, Hikari!


Hikari Loftus of Folded Pages Distillery | Books and Tea

Listen, if we’re going to talk Books and Tea here, we’re going to have to get into some deeply rooted beliefs, founded on one of the truest desires of my heart.

You ready for this?

I would like to say that my love for tea comes from my Japanese heritage, or a sophisticated palate. But the truth is, my love affair with tea (which eventually led to me become a tea set hoarder by the age of 26, a condition that has only worsened in the five years since then) is a direct result from the fondest wish of my heart—to meet and become best friends with a faerie.

As a child I became enamored with the Fair Folk through books. My dad read us The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings at an early age, and from then on, I sought out any and all books that contained faeries or elves. And the truth is—they cast a deep spell over me, because it was only a few years ago that I awoke to the realization that there were books out there about other things.

Whether you picture faeries of the Tinker Bell variety, or the cruel and cunning Fair Folk of the Seelie Courts, one thing remains the same. They are creatures of nature. They thrive on fruits or flowers, sugar and honey, and they have a taste for milk.

When I first drank herbal tea, some mix of chamomile, lavender and rose petals, I felt sure I was having a faerie experience. I was drinking flowers and herbs, mixed with a splash of milk and drops of honey. The thought was magic to me. It is still magic to me.

Since then, tea has been a big part of my reading and writing habits. It is a drink that is inseparably connected to the most vibrant part of my imagination. Even now, at the age of 31, my favorite teas— the ones I keep stocked next to the honey jar at home—are those that make me feel prepared and ready should a faerie happen by for tea to plan what colors our friendship bracelets should be.

Everyone always tells me that herbal tea is good for me. While actual studies on the benefits of herbal tea are inconclusive, drinking many herbal teas are said to help with various sicknesses and body discomforts or functions, fight off colds, shed weight, help you sleep, contain antioxidant properties, etc. etc. But for me, I seek out tea for other reasons

For me, tea is simple: Tea is magic. Tea is imagination. Tea is a faerie experience.

“Tinker Bell had been asleep on his shoulder, but now he wakened her and sent her on in front.

Some times he poised himself in the air, listening intently, with his hand to his hear, and again he would stare down with eyes so bright that they seemed to bore two holes to earth.

Having done these things, he went on again.
His courage was almost appalling. ‘Would you like an adventure now,’ he said casually to John, ‘or would you like to have your tea first?”

Chapter 4 “The Flight”
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie on Instagram/@fpdistillery on Twitter

Hikari Loftus: Voracious reader, journalist, midnight writer, mama, food snob, tea enthusiast.

Have a book and tea pairing you’d like to share? Connect with me on Instagram and use #BooksAndTea or contact me at


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Books & Tea | July, 2015

Books and Tea | July, 2015


Existential thoughts and the world’s longest porch

This past weekend, my family and I returned to Mackinac Island, MI for another Fourth of July Weekend. Like most family traditions, it’s near and dear to me. In fact, it’s a trip I’m not willing to miss even if I’m living across the country. It was a short stay, only four days and three nights, but quantity isn’t a factor in the trip’s charm. What makes it so special is its familiarity. We stay at the same hotel, often in the same room, and do the same things. Like myself, the destination is old-fashioned. We lodge at the Grand Hotel, an elegant Michigan icon that reminds me of classic films from the 30s and 40s – or if you don’t watch old movies, picture “The Grand Budapest Hotel”.  The hotel claims to have the world’s largest porch, which looks out on one of the most breathtaking views of the Straits of Mackinac you could ever imagine.

grand_hotel_michigan_jay_jasinskiSince I’ve been coming to the hotel for years, its familiarity is a pleasure for all my senses. The slightly crooked hallways smell and look the same, the live jazz music still plays during dinner, and the hot tub still feels good on my back. I’m sure we all have places like this in our lives; destinations that can’t possibly be replaced, since nearly a lifetime’s worth of memories and feelings happened there. But familiarity often leads to sentimentality, which is why I spent a lot of this year’s trip thinking about my life.

I find annual vacations, especially ones spent with people I care greatly for, give me conflicting feelings of relief and worry, at least at the start. For example, the first few moments are lost in victory as I’m thrilled to be back at a place I’ve enjoyed for many years. Next comes the insidious thoughts of, “will this happen again next year?” and “will I be with the same people?” resulting in sentimentality. It doesn’t take a Buddhist monk to tell you that suffering arises from attachment, but it’s still bittersweet. It’s the existential crisis of life, the fact that things won’t stay the same nor will they last forever, played out in a much shorter narrative.

To my relief, the beauty and charm of the destination didn’t allow me to worry about such things for more than a moment. Whether it was my Dad’s honest laugh or a sudden breeze, my senses always brought me back to the present.

On a different note, the Grand Hotel is the perfect place to drink tea and read a book. Enjoy.

Book and Tea Pairings for July, 2015

books_and_tea_julyThe Wild Palms by William Faulkner

This is a guest submission by my friend Raven. She was inspired to read The Wild Palms because Godard references it in his film “Breathless”.

Tea: Flowering Green Tea from Heavenly Tea




books_and_tea_july_Lu_annA Big Life (in advertising) by Mary Wells Lawrence

Guest contributor Lu Ann and I seem to have much in common: we’re both marketing consultants, tea drinkers, and bloggers. Check out her magnificent tea blog The Cup of Life.

 Tea:  Organic Bai Mu Dan White Tea from Tattle Tea

books_and_tea_jay_jasinskiThe Pump House Gang by Tom Wolfe

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never read anything by Tom Wolfe. Well, thanks to the 50-cent rack at Bargain Books in Van Nuys, that’s about to change.

Tea: Organic Tamayokucha from Two Leaves Tea



books_tea_charlotteEmma by Jane Austen

This charming guest post from Charlotte features a slice of lemon, which I’m happy about because I often put fresh lemon in my tea. Follow Charlotte on Instagram and find her on Good Reads.

Tea: Earl Grey



books_tea_grand_hotelThe Basil and Josephine Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI, offered the perfect setting for Fitzgerald’s erudite prose. No, I didn’t actually eat the book.

Tea: Lipton® Decaf Black Tea



Have a book and tea pairing you’d like to share? Connect with me on Instagram and use #BooksAndTea or contact me at


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Books & Tea | Guest Post by Nicholas Lozito of Misty Peak Teas

Books & Tea | Guest Post by Nicholas Lozito

I’m thrilled to introduce the second guest post for my “Books & Tea” series, Nicholas Lozito of Misty Peak Teas. My first impression of Nicholas, and this was via email, mind you, was one of intrigue. Similar to Nicole Martin, I knew right away that I was dealing with a genuine tea lover. Therefore, It came as no surprise to learn the people behind a company whose mission is to “provide you the World’s oldest tea in its purest form, sourced from 200 year old trees” are passionate about their product.


In addition to learning what it is people find so enthralling about a cup of tea and a good book, I’m fascinated by the history and mystique of the ancient beverage. You’ll get a good taste of this in Nicholas’ submission, which I hope you enjoy as much as I do.


Nicholas Lozito of Misty Peak Teas | Books and Tea

My Grandmother always says, “If you can read, you can cook” whenever she is asked how she learned how to cook so well. This is absolutely true, and it is fair to say that if you can read, you can learn to do anything.

In finding tea, one finds so much more than a mere beverage. Tea is the topic of hundreds of books in English and thousands in Mandarin and other languages. We can learn so much about tea by flipping through pages, taking notes and highlighting lines of interesting facts. We can also learn how to prepare for a marathon by reading training manuals and accounts of others who have done it; this is a great way to pass time and maybe “know” tea, but one must tie their shoelaces and hit the ground in order to be prepared for a marathon.

To have tea is to have time, and without one, the other is void of something. Running a few miles around your neighborhood is good for exercise, but marathoners seek something more than just exercise; exercise is almost a by-product of marathons and stillness and peace are accidental by-products of drinking tea.

The magic of tea, the benefits and inspiration and wisdom that comes from a quiet cup of tea, is apparent in millions of books that have nothing to do with tea. Being the second-most consumed beverage, it is fair to say a huge majority of our most beloved authors were drinking tea while writing their masterpieces and, let’s not stretch too far, but isn’t it fair to say that their work would’ve been different had they not been drinking tea?

Tea is not merely something to study; it is a tool in itself.

One fantastic book suggestion, and it is not just for runners, is “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. It is a book about life, not just about running. It is about how movement is so key to our existence and how we survived and evolved as runners. It discusses how the number of nationwide marathon applicants/runners AFTER September 11th skyrocketed. Why? Did people see terrorism and want to start running 26 miles? No, it is because of what running does for us…the healing qualities, the fact that it feels so good, the clarity or the “way of tea” as tea-drinkers refer to it.

Another fantastic book is “We Learn Nothing” by Tim Kreider. This is one of those books that discusses all angles of life; everything from how busyness is a trap, to watching a loved one pass away. It is written by a comic writer and is humorous and heartbreaking.

In the book, it tells how astrologists study stars that have died millions of years ago and how, if they want to their eyes to focus on a star, they must look just to the side of it, rather than right at it; isn’t this the same for life?

As we sit over a pot of tea and a rumbling kettle of water to add to our leaves, we are not always looking right at our life, we are looking just to the right of it. Those deep moments that come from tea are why the beverage is the elixir of monks and curious men and women. Sitting with that tea allows us to see the star as it is still alive, and to see our moment as it is happening…as we sit with it.

This is the way of tea.

As we live our lives and write our books, there will be pages that have cup stains from wet tea scattered throughout the book. Those pages, my dear friends, will be the ones that shall be highlighted.

Contributing to Books and Tea

jay_jasinski_books_and_teaAre you interested in contributing to “Books & Tea”? Whether you’re an expert, casual drinker, or tea vendor, feel free to contact me at or connect with me on Instagram using #booksandtea.



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3 Tips for Millennials Just Starting Their Careers

3 Tips for Millennials Just Starting Their Careers

3_tips_millennials_career_businessI realize the title of this post sounds a bit stale as if I’m writing for a major business magazine, but I’m a marketing major, and this stuff sells. Jokes aside, if you’re a millennial just starting your career, then, odds are, you’re struggling with the ominous feeling that you made the wrong career choice. The good news is if you did make a bad career choice, you’re young enough to try something else; whether or not you have the enterprise to make that change is up to you. Luckily, us millennials are so damn internet-savvy that there are always opportunities.

You’re probably wondering what gives me the right to administer advice on such a topic when I too am fresh in my work-life. To that I admit I’m still a millennial at the start of his career, so it’s too soon to say whether or not these ideas work in the long run, but I feel I’m doing what it is I really want to be doing with my life and not many people can say that. Further, these suggestions are meant for all millennials, not just the ones playing with fire in the freelance world like myself.

Here are my three tips for millennials just starting their careers.

1. Send at least three “wildcard” emails a week

The most interesting things to happen to me career-wise have been the result of a “there’s no way I’ll hear back from this person, but I’m going to message them regardless” email. Whether it be for my blog, artistic endeavors or work, sending an honest email usually gets an honest reply. Here’s an example, when I started the “Books & Tea” series on my blog, I wasn’t expecting much of a response. To be honest, I felt like a neophyte embarrassing himself in the tea community, but that didn’t stop me from emailing people who care and know about tea. From influential bloggers to the companies making the tea, I was able to build relationships and get my blog in front of more eyes.

As a disclaimer, I should note that you won’t hear back from everyone. Some people are too busy and swamped with such emails that they don’t have time to respond to them all – especially if that person is your state representative. It’s best not to get too self-conscious about a no-reply and move on. Moreover, if you’re sending three a week, you’ll lose track of them, which will make it even more of a surprise when they do respond.

So get out there – and by out there I mean inside on your computer – and find your next sales lead, mentor, collaborator, etc. One final note, make sure you edit your emails. Just because you’re tense and nervous to be sending the message, doesn’t mean you have to spell their name wrong.

2. Freelance

Now I know I said this article is targeted at freelancers and non-freelancers alike, but I still think every millennial should have at least one skill they freelance. Even if you’re stuck at a corporate job for eight hours, it only takes a few minutes to create an e-lance account or post an ad on craigslist. If someone walked up to you and said you weren’t skilled enough to freelance anything, you’d be offended and possibly violent, so don’t say that to yourself. I guarantee you have something you can do better than others, and I’m almost positive that something involves the internet, and those others involve baby-boomers.

tips_Millennials_careers_jay_jasinskiFreelancing is an excellent way to grow more independent, earn a supplemental income, and build your name recognition. Doesn’t that sound lovely? I should mention that if you have a full-time job, it’s not the best idea to work on your freelancing gigs while on the clock. If you have the time to binge watch Celebrity Wife Swap when you get home on a Thursday, then you have time to work on your freelancing gigs.

3. Read every chance you get

I don’t care how many hours you work or how many trips to the gym you must take in a week; there’s always time to read. Here’s a trick that has me reading frequently, put a book in every room in your pad so you can’t use the excuse of not wanting to get up to walk to your bookshelf. Books are cheap. A quick search on Amazon or a trip to your local bookstore (If you have one, you’re blessed and should be there every week), is all it takes to get your CrossFit-calloused hands, slightly wet from gripping a “Kale-ribbean Breeze ” smoothie from Jamba Juice, on a book.

You’ll be pleasantly astonished to discover you’re interested in more than just clean eating and Game of Thrones. Here’s another trick, go to the fifty-cent rack and buy a book based on its cover, not its content. Doing so may seem a bit sacrilegious, but it’s a productive path to discovery. For instance, I’m now very much into aquatic, Sci-Fi from the 70s.

Let’s Stick Together

It’s an old cliche, but we are in this together. I feel millennials were raised on this idea that once we get into the real world, we’ll all be vying for each other’s positions, and only the ones with the savviest resumes will thrive. Well, now that I’m in the proverbial real world, I find I move forward towards my aspirations at the fastest pace when collaborating. That being said, I hope you found at least one aspect of this article helpful as you start your career.

Please share with me your tips, and, if applicable, reach out to me with any ideas for collaboration.


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Movie Suggestion: “The Happy Thieves” (1961)

Free Movie Suggestion: “The Happy Thieves” (1961)

I’ve always admired Rex Harrison as an actor. Yes, he had an iconic voice, bastardized by Stewie Griffin, but he was also suave, humorous, and tragic. My two favorite films of his are Preston Sturges’ “Unfaithfully Yours” and  Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”, which I suggested in a past post. If you’re new to Rex Harrison and want to see him at his best, watch those two. If you wish to see a confusing, often dull, art caper, then watch “The Happy Thieves”.


I’m not fair since this is a good movie and worth watching thanks to Mr. Harrison and an always fetching Rita Hayworth. Though, the plot was a bit difficult to follow, and I’m not sure if the situation would be as charming and playful as the music suggested.

George Marshall, the film’s director, had been making movies for a long time when he made this one, and I’m not sure if it shows. So why did I watch it? Because I had the place to myself on a Saturday night, and I did what any 24-year-old man would do in that situation, watch an art caper starring Rex Harrison.

“The Happy Thieves”

Year: 1961

Director: George Marshall

Writers: John Gay (screenplay), Richard Condon (Novel)

Starring: Rex Harrison, Rita Hayworth, Joesph Wiseman, Alida Valli

Plot: “A suave art thief romances a wealthy duchess, only to enable him to steal a priceless painting from her collection. Complications ensue.” – Via IMDB

the_happy_thieves_movie_suggestionIf you’re interested in more movie suggestions, or just need something to stream on Netflix, scroll through my past posts.


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Books & Tea | Guest Post by Nicole Martin of “Tea For Me Please”

Books & Tea | Nicole Martin

I’m a novice when it comes to tea. Though I drink a couple cups a day, I don’t know a whole lot about the history and variety of many teas. Let’s just say I’m a passionate student. Luckily there are experts out there, and one of those experts was kind enough to create a guest post for my Books & Tea series. I’m thrilled to introduce Nicole Martin of Tea For Me Please as my first guest author. Make sure to visit her blog as often as you drink tea. Enjoy!

Books & Tea | by Nicole Martin


Check out Nicole Martin’s fantastic tea blog!

I’ve always been a voracious reader so it was only natural that a large part of my journey with tea has happened through books. When Jay first asked me to write a guest post, I had a hard time narrowing the list down to just a few. Some of these helped start me on the path to discovery while others filled in the blanks on the more in depth topics. The teas that I’ve paired them with are some of my personal favorites.

books_and_tea_nicole_martinBook: Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties by Camellia Sinensis Tea House


Tea: She Qian Dragonwell from Teavivre



This book was a collaborative effort of the owners of Montreal based Camellia Sinensis Tea House. It is as beautiful as it is thorough. It is even used as a textbook for the Tea Sommelier program of the Canadian Tea Association. Dragonwell is often considered to be the penultimate Chinese green tea, making it the perfect companion. Drink it grandpa style (in a tall glass, using your teeth as a strainer) to really see it shine.

books_and_tea_nicole_martin_chinaBook: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose

Tea: Arya Ruby Darjeeling Second Flush by Happy Earth Tea



Who doesn’t love a tale of agricultural espionage? This historical fiction follows Robert Fortune to China as he goes undercover, smuggling tea plants on behalf of the British East India Company. The fruits of his labor would come to thrive in a Himalayan hill station called Darjeeling. Known for their muscatel aromas, Darjeeling is often referred to as the champagne of teas. This second flush from the famed Arya Estate is one that I look forward to drinking every year.

puertea_books_and_teaBook: Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang


Tea: Autumn Loose Leaf Puerh from Misty Peak Teas



Puerh is one of the most complex types of tea. Would you believe that FDA restrictions kept it from being imported to the U.S. until 1997? This book is a report on Professor Zhang scientific study on the rise and fall of the puerh pricing bubble. Many of the events take place in Yiwu village so a nice sheng puerh from this region is just the thing to help you wade through information overload. Don’t let the initial bitterness scare you! Patient drinkers will rewarded with a comeback sweetness called hui gan.

books_and_tea_nicole_martinBook: The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

Tea: Organic Ceremonial Matcha from DōMatcha




Although it was written in 1906, tea drinkers still find Okakura’s essay relevant today. It is more about the philosophy of tea than the drink itself. He explains to a western audience how both the aesthetic and cultural aspects of Japanese culture relate to tea. Matcha is touted for its health benefits but my favorite part is the boost of calm energy that it provides. Whisk up a bowl the traditional way or make a latte, you’ll enjoy it either way.

Contributing to Books & Tea

If you’re interested in contributing a post or a photo for my monthly Books & Tea series, send me an email ( or connect with me via Instagram. Thanks again to Nicole Martin of Tea For Me Please for this excellent guest post.


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June Playlist

A Playlist for June

Last Tuesday, Joe, Kyle, and I went for a “moonlight” hike at Malibu Creek State Park. The hike has been a favorite of ours, thanks to its remarkable views and Kyle’s diehard fascination with the show M.A.S.H – legend has it they filmed a few exterior shots there, and by legend has it I mean they did; there’s a sign that says so. Our mission was to see the full moon from a location that’s not adulterated by smog and light pollution. For reasons I can’t explain – I’m not a scientist -we couldn’t see the moon no matter how high in elevation we climbed.

jay_jasinski_blog_june_playlistAll in all, it was still a pleasant time. I watched the various warblers and finches buzz around catching bugs like some WWI dogfight. Joe and Kyle did a healthy amount of rock tossing. One of these rock tosses consisted of trying to hit the porta johns far below us. I was hoping they would hit their target, and we’d hear a faint “someone’s in here.”

June is a nice month. I don’t have much to say about it, but I will note that it’s a charming prologue to July, my second favorite month. I hope you find at least one song you enjoy in my playlist for June.

June Playlist

Isn’t it a Pity (Version One) – George Harrison

Jessamyn’s Reel – Chris Thile

Bon Ton Roulet – Clifton Chenier

Since I Met You Baby – Ivory Joe Hunter

No, No, No – Beirut

I’m in the Mood For Love – Bryan Ferry

Little Pad – The Beach Boys

Apur Sansar – Satyajit Ray

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow – Hazel Dickens

Levee – Daniel Bachman

On the Banks of Owchita – John Fahey

Henry Martin – Bert Jansch

Easy Living – Clifford Brown


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Books & Tea | June, 2015

Books & Tea | June, 2015

Books_And_Tea_june_jay_jasinskiRestorative Yoga on a Full Bladder

My Los Angeles metamorphosis is finally complete; I went to my first yoga class this weekend. It was restorative yoga. Though I didn’t do any yoga prior to the class, I figured I qualified for some restoration given the fact I spent my Saturday night drinking wine and watching “Celebrity Wife Swap” (not ashamed). The studio was only a five-minute drive from my place. That in itself is considered restorative in Los Angeles, a city where I’ve driven forty minutes just to eat breakfast.

It was clean, quiet, and warm. I was self-conscious of the yoga mat I brought since I convinced myself it was too long, and they would laugh me out of the building. Turns out that’s how long yoga mats are supposed to be. If anything, the mat could’ve been a bit longer, but that’s neither here nor there. I haven’t been to many yoga classes in my life, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they can’t start a class until an out-of-shape guy that looks like Moby shows up. I set up my mat right next to this Moby man and took in the atmosphere, which was clean, quiet, and warm. I was hoping we would go around the room for introductions and “one fun fact” so I could tell the class about the organic shirt I was wearing, but that never happened. The teacher was welcoming and professional. I should note that I have a significant crush on her, but that’s neither here nor there.

We grabbed blankets, a block, a bolster pillow, and a strap. I’m usually hesitant to jump into something I need a strap for, but this seemed harmless enough. I mean, when’s the last time you heard of someone getting hurt doing restorative yoga? The first three poses were relaxing and felt great on my neck and back. I appreciated when the teacher would readjust my blanket, so it better fit the curve of my neck; It was like being tucked into mindfulness. The repetitive, ambient music helped me focus on my breath, which rose and fell like the waves of a calm ocean. The mindful state I cultivate didn’t last long, thanks to the man two mats over who instantly fell asleep with each new pose. As he snored away like an idiot, I lied there wondering if Moby was so far along in his yoga practices that he could reach mindfulness despite such distractions.


When Restorative Yoga Becomes Torture

Your mind is hard to turn off. It’s like a machine that won’t stop until you enter a fifteen character code you forgot to write down. This is something you learn real quick when you start practicing yoga or meditation, but like anything else worth doing in life, it doesn’t come easily. Two poses later I was able to focus on my breath and return to a state of relaxation; that is until the second distraction kicked in. When you read that you’re not supposed to drink too much water before a yoga class, don’t take it lightly. Being the gentleman that I am, and given the fact no one but the teacher had spoken a word, I decided not to disrupt the restorative atmosphere by asking where the restrooms were. I figured I could tough it out through the next few poses and then run to the bathroom. I was dead wrong. The next pose had us lie on our stomachs with our hips, and bladder, pressed firmly against the pillow. In other words, it was the worst pose you could do when you have to pee.

While everyone else drifted off to that heavenly place between consciences and sleep, I shook from pain as I tried not to pee my pants in front of a room full of strangers. I’ve never heard sweeter words than when the instructor whispered, “take a deep breath and slowly sit up.” I’ve never sat up faster in my life. As my fellow yogis lied down for the next pose, I rose my hand, like a real gentleman, and kindly asked where the restrooms were. Little did I know this was the final pose I was interrupting. I peed through the entire sequence, feeling more restored than I could ever remember feeling. Like the chime of a Tibetan singing bowl, the sound of me closing the bathroom door marked the end of the class.

Would I do it again? Yes, of course, I just won’t drink three glasses of water before I go.

On a different note, I’m thrilled to see the response these Books & tea posts have been getting. You’ll notice this month’s edition has a few guest posts from fellow books and tea lovers. If you’re interested in participating in the next one, connect with me on Instagram or shoot me an email!

Book and Tea Pairings for June, 2015

books_and_tea_june_jay_jasinskiJohn James Audobon by John Kieran

As you may know, John James Audobon was a great ornithologist and an even better painter. I picked up this book from Amazon while buying every Kieran novel I could find; he’s one of my favorite authors.

Tea: Assam: Bukail Garden



books_and_tea_june_jay_jasinskiHerzog by Saul Bellow

I haven’t gotten a chance to finish this one, but I’m thrilled to have found it in the sad looking “free books” cart the Santa Monica Library rolls out every Friday.

Tea: Organic Apricot Amaretto




books_and_tea_jay_jasinskiNorwegain Wood by Haruki Murakami

This is a guest post from the lovely Maira Frappé. Maira is a freelance graphic designer from Mexico and takes incredible photos. Make sure you check out her tumblr!

Tea: English Breakfast Tea



books_and_tea_jay_jasinskiThe Infusiast by Robert Gordon

If you’re looking for a witty, yet informative book on tea, then you’ll want to check out The Infusiast – diatribes from the devotea. The Devotea was kind enough to send me some delicious teas and the book. Thanks!

Tea: Lord Petersham Black Tea



books_and_tea_nicole_martinThe Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō

This is another wonderful guest post from leading tea blogger Nicole Martin. Check out her insightful blog Tea For Me Please and follow her on twitter.

Tea: Organic Ceremonial Matcha from DōMatcha 


Have a book and tea pairing you’d like to share? Connect with me on Instagram and use #BooksAndTea or contact me at


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Movie Suggestion: What a Way to Go! (1964)

Movie Suggestion: What a Way to Go!

Shirley_maclaineYear: 1964

Director: J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone, Cape Fear)

Plot: Via IMDB: “A four-time widow discusses her four marriages, in which all of her husbands became incredibly rich and died prematurely because of their drive to be rich.”

Writers: Gwen Davis (Story), Betty Comden (Screenplay), Adolph Green (Screenplay)

Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Dick Van Dyke

Costume Design: Edith Head

Why Watch: The exclamation mark in the title is well deserved in this one. From the incredible cast to Edith Head’s costumes (she won a record eight Academy Awards for costume design over her illustrious career), What a Way to Go! is a movie lover’s dream. The script is witty and unpretentious, allowing the cast to take their silliness way too seriously, which leads to even more silliness. For instance, Paul Newman, who plays “starving artist” Larry Flint, pokes fun at his reputation as a serious actor as he praises the artistic genius of local chimp that paints.

what_a_way_to_go_robert_mitchumI had the privilege of seeing this gem at the New Beverly Theater, owned by Quentin Tarantino, alongside an enthusiastic crowd. Movies like this are meant to be seen on a big screen, which is why it’s such a damn shame I’ve had to watch most of them on a computer.

Gene Kelly’s dance sequence, Dean Martin plowing a field while reading Thoreau, Dick Van Dyke and Shirl Maclaine’s stab at a silent film. I could list about a 100 more reasons to watch this movie, but I think it’s easiest if you just watched What a Way to Go!

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2,270 Miles and a Moleskine Notebook: My Trip West (Part VI) | by Jay Jasinski

The Grand Canyon: The Colorado River’s Magnum Opus

Does this even count as non-fiction if I’m writing it more than a year later? Sure, my battered moleskine has notes, but what about the time between the notes? Stephen King writes about this a lot, how all memory is fictional, and I think he’s onto something. That being said, don’t take anything I write in this overdue chapter as not true. What I meant by that opening statement is that I’m a different person now; there’s no denying that.

grand_Canyon_Jay_JasinskiIn case you can’t see the canyon, my Dad was kind enough to point it out.

You can’t live two years in a new place and expect to stay the same. Other than the obvious change of being older I’m, dare I say it, wiser. You can’t hike up to the top of King’s Canyon and feel simultaneously like nothing and everything all at once and not leave at least slightly humbled. Regardless of who is writing this post, road-trip Jay or current Jay, I still feel the need to continue the journey. Enjoy.

“God if you won’t help me, then at least help me help me” Lee Hazlewood.

Thank you for your fresh air, Flagstaff

According to Wikipedia, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep. That’s 5,994 feet taller than myself. Given its nearly incomprehensible size, Lee and I figured it was worth checking out. But before we can head up to Ongtupqa, which means Grand Canyon in Hopi, we have to drive through Flagstaff.

Flagstaff, Arizona feels familiar to me, which is a surprise given the fact I’ve never been here before. Perhaps it’s because it reminds me of Colorado, but with less “can you see the shotgun rack in my truck?” mentality. This is my kind of city.  First off, having just spent endless hours driving through the desert, I appreciate the cooler weather. Second, Flagstaff isn’t Amarillo, which means, given that I don’t fall into the canyon, it won’t be the worst stop on the trip. Finally, I’ve grown tired of being able to see for miles. Sometimes you need to focus on the things right in front of you – or, rather, right outside of your car.

We decide we’re hungry, which is my queue to consult Google for a restaurant. Mexican sounds fitting, so we go to the closest one we can find – don’t worry, it has a high score on Yelp. We seemed to have just missed the heavy post-school crowd and enjoy fast service. Our waitress is polite and sweet. Unlike most waitresses and waiters I’ve encountered in my life, she doesn’t seem distracted by daydreams of doing anything else but waiting tables. We soon discover her expertise in hospitality doesn’t cover the base of directions so her father, I assume, joins the discussion. Without hesitation, this mustached man lays out old-fashioned directions to a canyon that is also, arguably, old-fashioned. It’s funny how enthusiastic he is to tell us “one street, two street, turn right” when I’m sure he’s had this discussion a thousand times before. Some people only need to be helpful to be happy.

The Canyon – Oh boy, is it ever grand!

I can’t remember where or how I attained this information, but apparently the park has three distinct forests at different altitudes:

4,200 to 6,200 feet – Pinyon Forrest (Utah Junipers)

6,500 to 8,200 feet – Ponderosa Pine

8,200 feet plus – Spruce-fir

The forest at the top reminds me of Ontario. I should also note that the weeds and plants found here have the loveliest names: groundsels, yarrow, cinquefol, lupines.

grand_canyon_Jay_jasinskiLittle did I know I was getting a devastating sunburn while posing for this picture.

It’s impossible – for me at least, I’m sure Yeats or Tennyson could do it – to put into words the feeling you get when you first see the canyon. It’s the definition of ineffable. The feeling is closer to terror than it is to awe as if you see something you’re not supposed to. I’m sad to admit, but it does make you want to take a picture. Looks like I’m not the only one, given the fact people are lined up shoulder-to-shoulder along the edge, like an environmental protest to protect the park. Sadly, the only thing being protected here are people’s egos. It’s like some demented race as people frantically upload their images on Facebook and overuse the word “wanderlust” – I’m uploading a picture to Instagram as I think of this.

Jokes aside, people don’t seem to give a damn whether or not they fall while taking a picture. For instance, I notice a man with his heels lined up with the last bit of land the canyon offers. It’s infuriating to watch. If you don’t value your life enough to stand at least a foot from certain death, then that’s okay, you’re a moron, but if you feel you need to drag your daughter into the stunt, then you’re homicidal. Sadly, this is what we had to witness: a grown ass man holding a child over his shoulder as they both smiled for the camera. People were vocally upset, including my Dad. They didn’t fall.

I hear a park ranger tell someone that 300 people fall into the canyon a year. A boy says, “who pays for the recovery of the body?” A creepy question for a youngster to ask. “There’s not much left to recover,” she replies.

My Grand Anxiety

I think some people don’t understand anxiety the same way I don’t fully understand depression. For instance, how could anyone develop a fear of sleep? It’s a fear of the process of falling asleep, the same way people fear the dark. In some ways it’s similar to the feeling you get after seeing a scary movie; that dread of having to turn off the lights and retire to your bed. Once you lie awake for three, four, five hours a night, sometimes for a week straight, your bedroom is no longer a welcoming place.

What it comes down to, in my opinion, is a fear of failure. I’m scared I’ll fail at something that is, to most, easy to do. It’s like being thirsty and not being able to pick up the glass because your hands are shaky. The failure doesn’t end with not sleeping; it seeps into the next day as well. “If I don’t sleep, how will I be able to write that paper I promised to get done?” “If I don’t sleep, how will my body recover from the jog I took earlier?” “If I don’t sleep, will my hair fall out?”

When you’re lying in bed thinking about things like that, sleep don’t come easy.

Well, this is how I felt when I left Michigan and still feel at the moment. I know these anxieties are a product of my inability to control my mind, yet it seems, on the surface, to be nothing more than my brain forgetting how to go from on mode to off mode. It’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s so frustrating it starts to take away from the other aspects of my life. I mean, just look at me now; I’m in the presence of one of the most sublime geological destinations on the planet and all I can think about is whether or not I’ll be able to fall asleep in the hotel later tonight.

My Grand Solution – No, I Don’t Jump From the Cliff

I may sound obsessive, but I’m no dummy. If I’m going to be successful in a strange land, I have to come to terms with this anxiety and not let it stop me from enjoying and learning about life. That being said, I’ve engineered a catharsis – sometimes you can’t wait for life to do it for you. On a piece of paper torn from my notebook, I wrote down three words: anxiety, worrying, and self-consciousness.  I crudely folded the paper to the best of my ability until it was the size of a thumbprint. I put it in my pocket and let it faintly scratch my leg as a reminder. Then, on a secluded path along the edge of the canyon, I slipped it under a brick-colored rock about as big as my fist and walked away.

grand_canyon_jay_jasinskiMy father walks in front of me, too distracted by the immense beauty of our surroundings to notice. I feel conflicted about what I’d just done. It was either a healing action, one that hints at a spiritual side or a cute idea; something the writer of  “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” would pitch.  I go with the former and decide to not let its HuffingtonPost-friendly overtones take away from its importance. I have a reason for putting that piece of paper there, and it’s a damn good one: Anxiety is a large problem for one six foot man. To a canyon that’s miles wide, it’s a small problem. I figure it won’t even notice its newest neurosis.

I expect to feel like Frodo after the whole ring in the pits of Mordor ordeal, but that’s not the case – though, judging from the hue of my sun burn, one would assume I fell into Mordor. I feel present. I watch the back of my Dad’s head as he navigates the trail. I think about how important this day is to him and how he deserves nothing less than my full attention. Buddhists believe the best way a person can show they care for someone is by being present.

I hope someday if I have a children I can visit a place like this with them and understand what it feels like from the other perspective. I hope they can tap into the healing power of the canyon and grab hold of the ever elusive feeling we call presence. I hope they take a moment to look at the back of my head – one that’s, fingers crossed, still fully covered in hair – and think, “there’s no one I’d rather experience this with than my Dad.” That’s how I felt after discarding the paper.

I notice an old building in the distance that looks like a restaurant. I hope they have beer.

grand_canyon_jay_jasinskiThis was the sign for the restroom

Turns out the old hotel, which overlooks the canyon – up here, not much doesn’t – has beer and snacks. We both order a cold one and share a few laughs and a plate of nachos. My Dad and I have taken this trip as an invitation to enjoy beer whenever we can.

A boy sporting a cowboy hat turns to talk to us. He’s curious and intelligent and talks more like an adolescent twice his age. He informs us of a great place for BBQ and drinks – where was this guy in Amarillo? His mom orders a cocktail and a glass of water, to which the boy responds, “make it three.” He means the water, but the timing makes it comical.

The drive back to downtown Flagstaff is refreshing. The sweet mountain air, cotton candy sky, and deep green pines work as a tonic for my wandering mind.

After a hearty meal at a local restaurant, we walk around the city until it’s time for bed. I sleep like a rock.

Ice Cream Bandit Chronicles:

After promising me he wouldn’t get ice cream, I caught my father eying a dirty looking Klondike bar at the small shop in the hotel’s lobby. With no surprise to either of us, that Klondike bar’s wrapper ended up in the white trash bin in our room. He seemed ashamed of his indulgence, but I could tell he was happy he ate it. What would you do for a Klondike bar, Lee? Break a promise to my son.

The previous chapter: 2,270 Miles and a Moleskine Notebook Part V

Start from the beginning: 2,270 Miles and a Moleskine Notebook Part I

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