Happiness Is…

-Perusing the bookshelf for my next read

-Freshly sharpened pencils

-A splash of perfume

-Flipping the calendar to a new month

-The Husband bringing me a bowl of homemade potato soup

-Uncontrollable laughter

-Hotel soaps

-Losing track of time

-Extra ice

-Finding a CD I haven’t listened to in ages

-An empty kitchen sink

-A bird with a twig in its beak

-Honesty

-The scent of a tomato stem

-Knowing that it’s just another day

Just Go.

Little Old Me telling Little Old You to see the world.

Coffee at Picasso National Museum, 2018. Paris. Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

I experienced my first airplane ride at the age of 24.

There’s no extraordinary reason for the delay, really. I grew up in a working-class household, and it was simply more economical to drive a family of five to the Jersey shore each summer. And I loved it. Still do, in fact. Wildwood and Cape May will always have a tender, salt-water-taffy-scented place deep in my heart.

So once I was out of college, working full-time as a teacher and for the first time in my life had a little bit of money, I accompanied my boyfriend (who is now The Sweet Husband) to visit his family in beautiful Colorado.

It changed me.

In the almost seven years since that first mile-high adventure, I’ve visited 12 European countries and 14 additional US states.

I’m extremely lucky.

The Husband loves to travel, more than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s also handy that he loves to plan all of the logistics and is a bonafide carrier-pigeon with his keen sense of direction.

I love it. And I love him for so many reasons. One of the most valuable things he has taught me is that there’s an enormous world out there, waiting to be seen.

You just gotta go.

And aside from my time teaching, traveling abroad has been the most influential experience of my life.

Arriving in Helsinki, feeling so very far from home, felt like a bucket of cold water to the face. You are here. This is not just a place on the map. These people are living their lives.

On Isle St. Louis, we awoke to the aroma of freshly-baked croissants. I walked next door and in pathetic, broken French ordered four. Sitting in our tiny Airbnb kitchen, we spread buttery-soft cheese on those pastries and savored every. goddamn. bite.

We sailed across The Baltic Sea, gazing out at the expansive array of blue.

We hopped on train after train. The Netherlands. Switzerland. Italy.

Together, 2019. Paris. Original Photo by SnapDragon X’s Sweet Friend.
All rights reserved.

Each and every place I’ve been tells a story. There’s an ethereal feeling, like I’m in a dream or watching myself live my own life.

And when I come home, it feels different somehow. I’m different.

Traveling reminds me, in a comforting way, that our time on this planet is so very brief.

So how will I spend it?

I could stress about the cost of it all. I could park myself on the couch and worry about everything that could go wrong. I could vow to go “when the time is right” and 40 years from now wonder what might have been.

Or I could just go.

Because life is for the living, Dear Reader.

So go take a bite. Take a sip. Because it could all be over in an instant.


Alter Ego, Yo.

Meet the three personalities of SnapDragon X.

Beauty in Threes, 2017. Original Painting by SnapDragon X. Acrylic on Canvas.
All rights reserved.

Hi!

Whether you’re new to Snippets of SnapDragon, or one of my faithful readers (I think I’m up to 8?) welcome back to another day in the Blogisphere.

Several years ago I wrote a piece about the many facets of my personality, or the handful of alter egos that make me me. I actually shared it with my high school students as a beginning-of-the-school-year exercise. I thought about digging it out of my files and uploading it today, but then thought, Nope. It’s always better to start fresh.

So here we are.

The painting you see above is the first “real” piece in my artistic catalog (as an adult, that is). It’s hung on our dining room wall, perfectly placed so that when I am curled up on the love seat in the adjacent living room, I can see it clearly.

At first I didn’t know what to think of it. Is it finished? Is it too cartoony? Too colorful? Too bizarre?

It doesn’t matter. Because it’s me.

All three pieces.

So travel with me as I define each woman you see. Consider it the unholy trinity of SnapDragon X.

Girl One:

Call me Charlotte. I’m the library-loving soul who wears colorful high-top sneakers and gets excited about fruit-flavored lipgloss. I decorate the walls with an array of magazine clippings, ranging from photographs of potted plants to headshots of famous people I do not know. I’m a teacher. I love routine. My classroom chalkboards are pristine and filled with color-coded journal prompts. My eyes are missing because I only come to life by interacting with others.

Girl Two:

Call me Rita. I’m the whisky-drinking, foul-mouthed redhead who wants to keep the party pumping. I sing, I dance. I take a chance by telling the truth and encourage everyone present to do the same. We’re on the same side. There’s nothing to be afraid of. I tell myself that I’m allowed to be me, and people can take it or fucking leave it. Then when I’m alone I spiral into an abyss of self-doubt and delusion.

Girl Three:

Call me Heather. I’m the empath of the group. No matter your story, I feel a connection to you because we are both human. I rejoice in your success. I cry for the loss of your father, though we never met. There is a cavern of emotion inside me, one that drains me and makes me want to hide in the bathtub for hours on end. I love me, I love you. I want us to forgive.

I am SnapDragon.

It’s a pleasure to meet you.

Little Perk-Me-Ups.

Feeling those Sunday Blues?

Helsinki Flowers, 2018. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

Here’s five of my favorite things that almost always make me feel better:

5. Watch Food Network.

While Chopped would not be my first choice of shows when I’m feeling anxious, there are plenty of selections on Food Network to lift my spirits. There’s something about seeing a bright, clean kitchen being utilized by a professional chef that quells my anxiety. Following along with the process (even from the comfort of my couch) I feel happy when I watch these G-rated culinary adventures. Barefoot Contessa will always be my favorite. Ina Garten invites us into her gorgeous home (and herb garden!) while making something scrumptious, usually for her husband Jeffrey. It’s too cute.

4. Pick a Task, Any Task.

I do not like to feel lazy, especially on Sundays. But I’d be straight-up lying if I told you I clean the house from roof to basement every seven days. My chores are typically piecemealed throughout the week. But on Sundays, when I’m prone to overanalyzing everything in life, accomplishing a task can work wonders. A load of laundry, grocery shopping, or even getting rid of the clutter on the kitchen counter makes me feel like I’ve opened a window to let the sunshine in.

3. Get Out, Yo.

When I’m in a funk, sitting around only exacerbates my foul mood. Getting out can certainly be paired with the Pick-a-Task Strategy, but even if I drive to the local Dunkin’ Donuts for an afternoon coffee, the fresh air revives my soul. I try to remind myself that walking around the neighborhood is absolutely free and is available at any time. Mother Nature has a way of making things better.

2. Dive into StoryTime.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a novel, a sitcom, or blockbuster hit, the world of fiction is a vast and magical one. If I’m feeling like life’s biggest turd, it helps to watch or read about someone else’s fucked-up life. (I advocate for purely fictional characters; The Real Housewives and the like stress me out. But you do you.)

1. Remember that Tomorrow is Another Day.

Easier said than done, I know. Sometimes I feel like my anxiety or depression will never go away. But it always does. It always passes. I’m really, really trying to take my own advice here. Just like a buzz, moods wear off. I like to take a shower, nap, and pour myself a mug of tea (preferably one of the herbal varieties, like Relaxed Mind or Stress Relief. Sure, it could be placebo. But if you feel better, who cares?)

And so, those are just a few little perk-me-ups that I keep in my moody blues first-aid kit.

I truly hope this day finds you well, Dear Reader.

You are strong.

You are beautiful.

You are human.

TV Time.

Hi, friends.

SnapDragon The CouchPotato here.

I’ve decided to share my top three television obsessions. (For the moment, that is.)

You should also know that like my book reviews, I will not give anything away. Promise. If anything, these descriptions will leave you needing to Google the plot on your own.

So incase you don’t have enough cinematic indulgence lined up already, here’s a few shows you have to check out. Trust me!

  1. Russian Doll
Image borrowed from vox.com

Dude. I love this show.

It’s bizarre, profane, and cerebral (which is the description I want on my tombstone, by the way).

Natasha Lyonne is absolutely fantastic. It’s a well-written show that keeps you guessing, and with 30-minute episodes, it’s hard not to swallow it all in one satisfying gulp.

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Image borrowed from vulture.com

Yes.

Season One of this show was very, very good. With lovable characters living (surviving?) New York City in the 1950s, it’s a story that stays with you. Its outspoken protagonist goes tits-out by telling it like it is, unapologetically, and with style and wit.

I love her.

3. Afterlife

Image borrowed from digitalspy.com

Omg.

This show.

Please just watch it. Ricky Gervais is my hero. This show made me feel like perhaps there is hope for humanity, all the while making me spit out my drink with laughter.

And I’ll leave it at that.

What are you watching, Dear Reader?

Sing Out.

I love to sing.

So, so much.

Yet I was extremely bashful about doing so for the first–oh–seventeen years of my life or so.

I still get self-conscious if I know people are listening; if I’m put on the spot I usually clam up and my voice sounds smaller somehow, slightly pinched. I sound my very best when I’m alone, singing the harmony on the top of my lungs, letting the notes ring out like bells.

I think I sound good.

Moment of Bliss, 2017. Hudson Valley Brewing, NY.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X’s Sweet Husband. All rights reserved.

I suppose I can say the same for my writing; it’s in me, dying to get out.

Stephen King says that writing is a form of telepathy, with its ability to transport thoughts, images, and ideas to another person without so much as moving our lips.

It’s a kind of magic, really.

I have always tried to pay attention to detail in my work. Even if it’s only on this blog, which may go unnoticed and unread, to be buried in the depths of the interwebs, I want it to be right.

So I read it.

Again.

And again.

And again.

Is this what I mean to say? Is it completely whole? On-point? Worthy of being read?

Just as I sing out–sometimes sounding shaky and small–once it’s out of me, it’s out of my control.

And this scares the shit out of me.

Because as I’ve told you before, I am terrified of being misunderstood.

But I also recognize a writer’s responsibility: to think, draft, reflect, and experiment until the message is ready.

Leave it in the oven, then let it cool, but go ahead and give it a slice and serve.

Because no one hears the songs that remain in your head.

Take a Chance.

I’m declaring today Art Day.

While it’s tempting to lock myself in my studio, and prime, glaze, and swirl paint to my heart’s content, I’ve decided to focus on art appreciation.

The Art Corner is the only section of this blog I’ve yet to bring to life, and I suppose today is as good a day as any.

In fact, it’s that sentiment I want to focus on for this first entry.

Today is as good a day as any.

I could copy and paste a dozen or so motivational quotes, all displayed in a lovely cursive font. We’ve seen ’em. We love ’em.

But let me just say that embracing the struggle of the creative process is easier said than done.

When I paint or write I find myself getting impatient. I get embarrassed by my work, even when I know it’s far from finished.

How is this fair?

Good things take time, Snap. Don’t forget that.

So here’s to giving ourselves a break. Let’s raise a glass of bitter, icy, exquisite cold brew, and remember that it’s okay if today is just another rough draft.