Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy

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Taking My Sweet Time

(From the Morning Pages)

My body feels better than yesterday, fewer aches in the low back and behind my knees. I woke up that way — improved — though surely two aspirin have helped. I also woke with a headache, my first in

me-writingweeks, and it is not lost on me that I ate ice cream last night — lots of it — for the first time in a while, not a good decision for different reasons, which means self-discipline in refusing any of what’s left is the only way to go. Sad or smart or both or neither, life is life. A new experiment keeping my morning coffee hot and fresh, this morning, worked well — some metal container guaranteed to keep liquids piping hot making possible turning off freshly-brewed wake-up nectar, the second cup now as fresh as the first eliminating that cooked burned reality requiring more half and half for balance, thereby settling for less and, oh well, now that’s behind me. Some eighteen days past my 69th birthday. So, better late than never, or who’s zoomin’ who. One of them.



Reading Earnest Gaines upstairs in the blue recliner versus downstairs in my everyday pink, I’m mostly moved by his dedication to writing. He said more than five hours a day five days a week is too much for him, I’d be back-flipped thrilled if I could — if I do — get myself to two hours a day five days a week, which is nearly never — so far. It would jump forward, my writing.


In Rilke’s “Letters To a Young Poet” Rilke asks — the young poet — if he could live without writing. Yes, if he could live without writing, because the answer to that question determines whether one is a writer or not. It’s clear reading Gaines’s essays that he could not live without writing. My surface mind goes immediately to — I could. Meaning I’m not a writer. But on a walk with my wife the other day I brought up the Rilke measure for a true writer and told her it worried me at first glance, but, if I stop to breath –deeply — in all my past there is evidence that I have been one who writes and has written all his life, and there are few, barely any, personal characteristics/qualities I can say that about — a particular act repeated over such a stretch of time. So, a writer, then, I be, and perhaps it is character defects of chronic laziness and never-ending dis-tractability which keep me from the sweat and inner commandment to show up at the keyboard and/or notebook every single day — or die.

And like so much else of life this proposition is worth pondering — if not for you, surely for me. Which I am and I do and I will, and I do show up every single morning for these morning pages for years and years now. There’s that.


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Coffee and Me


There are eight million artist stories in the city. This one is mine. This one is called “Coffee and Me”.

(An early morning parable of how one young man fell into the clutches of addiction.)


“Hi, my n037 coffee cupame is Buddy and I drink coffee.”

“Hi Buddy”.

Hmmm. Strolling into some strange fantasy realm so early in the morning, my mind allegedly bright and chipper and awake after many hours of sleep and – “Hi, I’m Buddy” – two cups of coffee. That slight delightful buzzing in my blood, the sense that brain cells are randomly shooting out beams of the brightest light hither and thither, alive, awake, ready to go, let me rush out of the house, here, let me begin a 10 mile run, wait, I can go to my room and throw paint all over a canvas like Jackson, no, I have to, no, yes, what if, oh my god…..

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time, a long time ago, when I did not drink coffee. When I didn’t think about coffee, barely registered other people drinking coffee, when if I said the words “Hey brother, can you lend me a dime?”, I would use that gifted money for something good, and important, like a Snicker’s bar, or a down payment on a birthday present for my mother, or a 16 ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon. Not on coffee.

Here’s my story, it’s true, hand to Juan Valdez. I didn’t pick up my first cup of coffee until I was 34 years old. I did not drink coffee in high school. Who would do that, even consider that? Well , if you ever saw “Uncle Buck” you know that our lovely, if somewhat snooty and nasty heroine Tia begins with a cup of joe soon after her entrance, comments back and forth with Buck throughout about coffee, and as the movie fades with all it’s joy and hope, Buck suggests getting together another time and “maybe have a coffee.”

A coffee. Now that’s a nice thought, as if anyone could drink just one cup of coffee. In fact, have you ever sat in a Dunkin Donuts and watched someone getting ready to leave without finishing their cup of coffee and had the urge to run over and knock the cup out of their hands? Well, anyway, the point is that Tia was all of 15 and was drinking coffee so I take that to mean that people have started drinking coffee while in high school. Maybe some of you readers. But not me. I wasn’t holding out. I just wasn’t thinking about. And it stayed that way though my two years at Cape Cod Community College (yoo hoo Mabel, Black Label) and through the next seven or so years it took me to complete my Bachelor’s degree after transfering to Salem State College in the Witch City north of Boston. Never mind that when I got to Salem State and began my long life hanging out with those far away from the maddingly normal crowd, I found myself in the dark corners of “Scarborough Faire”, the Salem State coffee house, me with a coke and a cigarette, maybe a 7Up. Go figure. They even had the words to the Simon and Garfunkle song painted on the coffee shop walls. But not a drop of the brown stuff passed my left wing lips.

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