The Rundown: Jaed Coffin
Welcome to the Rundown. Today we’re catching up with author Jaed Coffin to learn more about his new memoir, Roughhouse Friday. His second book chronicles an adventure Jaed took after his college graduation, when he embarked on a 1,000-mile solo sea kayak trip to Alaska and got hooked on boxing, specifically an event called Roughhouse Friday—barroom brawls where anyone can fight for three one-minute rounds. Read on for more on Jaed’s book, his favorite part about being a father, and why he chooses to write about his past.
Life hack: Learn how to be respectful and honest (or maybe honest and respectful?) at the same time. I don’t know why it took me until 40 to figure that one out, but it keeps everything—life, work, relationships—clean and simple.
Travel hack: One bag, no matter what. Tracking down things you need in a strange place makes for a good story.
Favorite Huckberry Purchase: Wellen Chore Coat.
You’ve been a monk and a boxer. Which one is more difficult? A boxing match—at least at my level, in amateurs—was always over pretty quickly. It’s the training that breaks you, that leaves you with injuries that never go away. Also, the intensity of living as a fighter makes life afterward sometimes feel kind of dull and flat. That’s dangerous.
Hack for better habits: A few years ago, I ditched my smartphone for a flip.
Your new book, Roughhouse Friday, was just released. What’s it about? It’s a memoir about the year I won the middleweight title of a barroom boxing show in Juneau, Alaska. I was 23 years old, totally adrift, looking for a place to sort out my demons. In Roughhouse Friday, I found that place.
Favorite place to fall asleep: In a six-person tent, with my wife and daughters.
Book that’s changed your behavior the most: American Son by Brian Ascalon Roley. It reveals the danger but also the thrill of racial passing.
One meal to eat for the rest of your life: Tom Yum noodle soup, from a little street food place in Durham, NH called Ba-mee.
Music or station to work to: I’ve been listening to The Score, by the Fugees, for 25 years, and it never gets old.
What drew you to boxing? At a certain point, I think you start to realize that many of the advantages you’ve had in your life play too big a part in your victories to really make you feel good about what you’ve earned. In the boxing world, in my experience, a lot of those advantages play very little role in winning or losing.
You built your own house. What made you decide to do it on your own? I have this totally unreasonable belief that I don’t deserve to live somewhere, or use something, that I don’t have total knowledge of how it got put together. That said, I don’t mess with my furnace.
What’s the most challenging part about writing about your own life? It’s easy to jot down memories about all the super cool adventures you’ve had in your life; bringing some level of insight to the meaning of those adventures, really unpacking what they were about beyond your own entertainment—that takes a level of commitment that makes a lot of people give up.
Piece of gear that’s changed your life: Olukai flip flops. I live in Maine. As soon as the snow melts, I put them on and don’t take them off until November.
This is your second memoir. What did you learn from writing the first one? What made you decide to write a second? I write stories about myself, and my past, and the life I lived as a younger man, to understand who I am now—racially, culturally, ethically. I think I create stories about my past so that I can hold myself accountable to the man I’m trying to become.
What’s the best part about being a dad? I used to feel bored sometimes. Like I didn’t know how to spend my time. With my little girls, they always are looking for my time. It’s hard, but the boredom is gone.
What does a rad dad mean to you? Someone who takes time to explain to their kids why things are the way they are. It’s easy to be fun; it’s much harder to teach your kids how to be good, how to be fair.
You’ve been on a lot of crazy adventures. Now that you’re a husband, father, and professor, how do you seek adventure in your day-to-day life? I’m building a pretty sick treehouse in a twisted up cedar tree in our backyard right now, using cables and trying to build the structure around the tangled mess of branches. It’s not exactly fighting in bars, but...
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