Two-Bit Musings.

Fiddle Funk.

Blah.

. . .

Hi.

I had stressful, annoying dreams last night.

So many things to unpack. Clothes and boxes and craft supplies bursting out of every corner.

Looks of judgment. Crime. Feeling trapped, physically and emotionally.

I just want to sleep, yo.

Is that too much to friggin’ ask?

. . .

Sometimes I have moments of such clarity that it’s almost too easy.

We all have to go through this life, so why not just be happy?

Easier said than done, Snap.

Easier said than done.

Each of us has a story. Each of us has a collection of pesky cobwebs in our brains that refuse to let us move forward.

But we keep breathing. We keep trying.

Again.

. . .

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the oddest person on this planet.

Sometimes I wonder if people actually like me, or if they’re just bored. Or trying to paint a picture-perfect picnic. Or just feel obligated.

Sometimes I wonder if this anxiety will ever pass, and I can just be me.

. . .

Maybe I’ll sleep better tonight.

. . .

Two-Bit Musings.

Today.

(rips a fresh slice of paper out of a spiral-bound notebook)

. . .

Daily Shadows, 2021.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

1. Mind

Shh. Quiet Time. Listen to the birds; listen to the leaves. Remind yourself that you are enough. In fact, you’re more than enough: you’re wonderful.

2. Body

Water, all around. Drink it in, splash it on. Rinse those worries down the drain. Stretch and rest. Breathe real deep. Flare your nostrils as they inhale the cool autumn air.

3. Soul

You are not other people’s assumptions. You are a gentle smile in the morning sun. You are the clapping of hands and the snort of a belly laugh. You are a hardy bite of egg-salad sandwich.

You are SnapDragon.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer who could watch The 40-Year-Old Virgin pretty much any day of the week.

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Two-Bit Musings.

A Welcome Breeze.

This & That from Yours Truly.

. . .

Hi! And greetings from my parked car.

I’ve got the AC chilling on low, Toddler Snap snoozing in his car seat, and a pumpkin iced latte within reach. Each sip reminds me of pleasant fall mornings in my classroom. Singing along with Regina Spektor as I readied myself for a day of chaotic happiness.

I smile.

. . .

1. All I can hear is the steady hum of my FJ Cruiser. I watch my fellow suburbanites scurry across the parking lot, to who knows where. A storm is brewing, and the gently trembling leaves on the pre-planned shrubbery soothes me somehow.

2. My eyebrows need to be plucked. It’s funny how I used to do this every day in college. Now the need only strikes about once a month. Funny how our bodies change.

3. I’ve always been a thinker. I suppose it’s hard to be a writer and artist and not think about things until your stomach literally hurts. And I’ve been privileged with the gift of time. Even at my busiest, I’m never worried about where my next meal will come from or if I’m physically safe to leave my house. This allows my mind to reflect, to grow. It allows me to wonder what kind of wife I am. What kind of friend, daughter, and sister. I think about these things, then I think some more. Who am I?

4. I’m pregnant. Yep. The Littlest Snap is scheduled to be here in late February. Here’s to an uneventful, full-term delivery. #ptsd

5. I saw a picture of a pot-bellied pig today that made me ridiculously happy. It was so big and chubby that it almost looked like a cartoon. I wanted to give it a hug, and name it something like Stanley or Walter or George.

Wishing you well, Dear Reader. Take time for joy today.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer and reader of delicious paperbacks.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Let it Roll.

A short musing from your girl SnapDragon.

. . .

Hi! Happy Monday, friends.

And greetings from my bed, where Henry the Cat and I are taking a moment just to be.

The whir of the ceiling fan, the clink-clank of zippers in the dryer, and a lawn mower in the distance are somehow soothing my weary soul.

It’s a new day, and I feel good.

I feel comforted by boxed mac n’ cheese and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I feel happy when I sing Father John Misty songs on the top of my lungs. I feel loved by so many good people in this world.

And as Back-to-School Time begins–despite not even being in a classroom–I feel that old familiar feeling:

Clean Slate.

New Year.

New Me.

Leave the rest behind, Snap.

It’s over.

I will be gentle, and kind. I will listen. I will be a friend to myself. I will rest. I will ask questions with humility and curiosity.

I will live my life.

And I will be happy.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, painter, blogger, and friend to all animals.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Always.

In our house there will always be:

-pots and pans drying by the sink

-half-read New Yorker magazines

-a fridge full of craft beer

-cat hair ingrained in every fabric

-an abundance of Burt’s Bees products

-more books than we could ever read

-high-quality audio equipment

-a heap of laundry in our bedroom

-coffee mugs collected from adventures past

-clutter on the dining room table

-singing and playing of guitar

-acceptance

. . .

What’s on your list, Dear Reader?

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer who loves every variety of rice.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Day 1.

‘Cuz it’s the first day of the rest of our lives, right?

. . .

Hi. (waves)

Today is my first official day of being a full-time, stay-at-home mom.

And despite the whole working remotely thing happening for months on end, it feels pretty good to be 100% done. Close the book. Wave goodbye.

It’s over.

And so begins the next chapter in The SnapDragon Tale!

First and foremost, I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to lose my salaried-with-full-benefits job, and not feel the sense of panic so many have experienced lately. I live a very comfortable life, for which I am extremely grateful. That’s not lost on me.

I’m definitely a stop-and-smell-the-roses kinda gal, and this situation is no different.

There is always something to be thankful for, Dear Reader.

. . .

So as I take a breath–during nap time, that is–I’m going to get a few kinks worked out.

  1. Clean Up, Yo. If I want this blog to take off, I’ve gotta get my shit in order. Yes it’s a fun outlet for me, but I know I can turn it into something more. I’ve got ideas. I’ve got material. I need to establish a schedule I can actually stick to.
  2. Office Space. As ridiculous as it sounds, I have trouble getting started on things. Like, a lot of trouble. I’m talking like, my laptop being closed instead of open kind of trouble. I look for any and all barriers to prevent me from my creative work. (Why I do this, I do not know.) And so, I’ve realized that I need my own space. My own desk, equipped with my (open!) laptop, easel and canvas at the ready, and a stack of delicious notebooks and pens for creative thought. It’s happening. And soon.
  3. Keep Calm and Be Kind. It’s the only thing I can control. I will never get everything done in a day. I will never arrive at some task-free life. I will never have total understanding from each and every person. But I can be kind. Always.

See you soon, friends. Be well.

. . .

SnapDragon is a human being who finds satisfaction in clipping coupons.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Mile by Mile.

RV Adventure: Stops 8, 9, 10, & 11.

. . .

Round Lake Vineyards & Winery Round Lake, Minnesota

Waterloo, Iowa

Leisure Lake Membership Resort Joliet, Illinois

Toledo, Ohio

. . .

Dear Reader! Hello. It’s been a bit.

We’re back home now, and taking a much-needed rest.

As I’ve said, we had a blast.

But we were soooo ready to be back at our permanent residence.

So this last RV entry is a little bit lacking—forgive me—but I wanted to make sure I finished the notes from our journey!

. . .

So, um. . . I kind of lost the RV keys. Like, for real. Oh, our spare set? We left them at home, hanging among the other mishmash of doodads by our front door.

Cool.

(sigh)

It was effing hot outside. We were all travel weary, so when we pulled up into Round Lake Vineyards (another Harvest Host spot) we (I?) were not at our best.

We wanted to make a quick lap around the place, buy a glass or two of wine, and settle into the air conditioning for the night.

Toddler Snap—who I swear is destined to be a park ranger or botanist or someone who works outside—was so excited to be out of the RV. He ran and explored and laughed. And we followed.

The Grapes of Rest, 2021.
Round Lake, MN.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

So on our way back to the RV, with the keys and a sippy cup in one hand, and Toddler Snap yanking at the other, Mama made a mistake.

Toddler Snap made a beeline down one of vineyard rows. Seeing a bunch of wires and not knowing what I was looking at, I panicked. Grabbed him.

Then we went inside the RV for a cool drink and some rest.

End of story.

Except, a few hours later when my Sweet Husband asked were I put the keys, I grew puzzled. I had the keys?

. . .

About twelve sweaty hours, three bug-biting lantern searches, two insanely in-depth, dewy-dawn retracing sessions, and half a nervous breakdown later, we found ‘em.

And by ‘we’, I mean a very kind vineyard worker who joined us in our search and after ten seconds literally stepped on them. In the grass.

The same grass we’d searched a dozen times.

Right about where Toddler Snap bolted for the grapes.

Major crisis averted, yo.

So we bought four bottles of their best wine, thanked them repeatedly, and drove straight to a hotel with ice-cold AC.

And vowed to keep our spare set with us from then on.

. . .

So the rest of the trip home was nothing special: a few hotel stops (a real treat for travel-weary RVers!) and one overnight at an RV park.

Oh, Dear Reader.

It’s so good to be home.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer who almost always has cold hands.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Six One Way, Half a Dozen The Other.

Notes on my 12-year career as an educator.

. . .

Part 1: In The Classroom

Anyone who knows me—in real life, or via this blog—knows I’m a teacher.

I pretty much knew I wanted to teach high school English since I was about 17 or so. It was my favorite subject, and seemed like a natural fit for an aspiring writer like me. I also loved school: the fresh notebooks and gel pens; the family-like bond created within each classroom; the fresh starts; the chalkboard handwriting.

So off I went to college, declaring my Secondary English Education major, and beginning the truly transformational journey that is undergrad.

Dorm-room friendships. Buffet-style cafeteria meals. My Sony Discman. Study sessions. Computer mishaps. Movies. Discussions. Hair dye. Open-Mic Nights.

I really loved it all.

And four years later I accepted my diploma, literally danced a little jig on my way off the stage, and headed into Philly that night, to start my new life.

SnapDragon in The City, yo.

About halfway through undergrad I realized I wanted to teach in the city. I had learned about the inequities in funding, and the “emergency” certifications issued due to the lack of instructors. As a privileged kid from the suburbs—we had a planetarium in our high school—this angered me. Shouldn’t school be a safe, fully-functioning place?

So into the city I went, eager to help. I interviewed with the district before I even graduated from college, and was guaranteed placement in a high school for the 2009-2010 school year.

And what followed, Dear Reader, were six complete school years in the same building. Six school years which shaped me, possibly more so than any other experience of my life.

And it was hard.

22 years old. Every single student taller than me. Wanting to inspire. Wanting to reinvent the wheel. Bitter colleagues. Broken system. Zero follow-through. Entitled parents.

The foulest language you’ve ever heard. Stolen wallet. Angry stares. Administrative walk-throughs. Hopelessness.

But it was also incredible.

Hilarious stories. Smiling teenagers. Real talks. Creative writing.

The Book Closet. Twinkling lights. Dunkin’ Donuts. Talent Shows. Drama performances.

There’s so much that happened—too much that I could ever recount in a single blog post. But let it be known that I loved my kids—all of them—and when I chose to take a break in 2015, it was simply due to burnout. Any teacher who says they’ve never experienced it is either a goddamn robot or they’re lying to you.

It happens.

And this was a hard time for me, Dear Reader. I walked away from my classroom for a chance at a university job—just a chance—and when I realized I was “no longer a teacher” (which really wasn’t true, I was just on break) it felt like a punch in the gut.

Who the heck was I now?

. . .

Part 2: Behind The Scenes

As it turns out, I landed the job.

I was a Regional Manager for a grant-funded program, one that worked to get underserved high school kids prepared for college and careers. I was the university partner, who oversaw two district teams who implemented various programs at the schools.

Sounds great, right?

It was a friggin’ mess.

It’s not worth getting into the weeds of it, trust me. It was a well-intentioned program, with some truly remarkable people and a few shining moments, but at the end of the day it was a gigantic stack of worthless paperwork that gave me a headache for like a year straight.

I’ll check my paperwork so you can check my paperwork, and then it’ll go into a Huge Important File that no one will ever look at.

But it’s important, because we’re helping kids.

(pats self on back)

Sign-in sheets. Databases. Conference calls. Business trips. Matching Dollars. Unallowable Expenses. A handful of actual interactions with students.

I survived two years of it, and perhaps by an act of grace was laid off, along with the two other Regional Managers.

And just like that, it was over.

So the remaining four years of my career—Jesus, can that be right?—was a déjà vu of sorts. My supervisor thought we should take the good parts of the grant program and make our own version. Would I be interested in applying?

Sure!

A year and a half later, when the position was officially created, I interviewed. I wore a pinstriped blazer and put my best SnapDragon foot forward. I gave a pretty kick-ass presentation. I felt like my old teacher-self again. I got this, yo.

And I did. I got the job.

So I took all of my experience, both in Philly and in the suburbs, and put pen to paper.

This would be a program of quality over quantity. It would be free. It would be simple yet powerful, even if I was starting out as a team of one.

I’m a teacher. We make something out of nothing everyday.

And my Dear Reader, the stars seemed aligned against me during the two-plus years in this role.

Change in leadership. Then another change. Differing views as to what my job description really entailed. Maternity leave ten weeks earlier than expected. A fucking pandemic.

So I got my notice of another lay off.

(shrugs)

O-kay. There goes that.

. . .

Part 3: Happy at Home

So there we have it: Twelve years (with a little unemployment thrown in there) in the life of an educator.

And I’m thankful for them, truly. All of them.

My behind-the-scenes work gave me autonomy. I slept in. I traveled to New Orleans, DC, and San Francisco. I ate Wawa breakfast burritos and listened to Paul Simon as I drove to meetings. I tried, in my SnapDragon way, to find meaning in a seemingly futile program.

And of course my days in the classroom. . . well, I still have dreams about them. I do.

I was the best version of myself then. When I think of my greatest professional moments, I think of my kids. I think of my colored chalk; I think of the conch shell. I remember when students would say, “You’re the only teacher I have who seems to care.”

And I did care, love.

And I’ve never stopped.

I tried and I failed and I tried again. I learned. I gained humility. I gained friends who were in my life for only a brief time, but who will be remembered forever.

So on this next leg of the journey—who knows, will it be another six years?—I’ll still identify as a teacher.

Toddler Snap is on the move, learning and exploring each day. I aim to help and guide him. I aim to teach him.

I will keep my creative-educator spirit alive, by writing. By making art. Reading. Talking and sharing. Researching and reflecting on the opportunities I’ve been given.

Because the learning never stops.

So neither will I, Dear Reader.

Neither will I.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and occasional light blue Gatorade-drinker.

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Two-Bit Musings.

The Good Earth.

RV Adventure: Stops 6 & 7.

. . .

Custer State Park, South Dakota

The Badlands, South Dakota

. . .

Hello, Dear Reader!

Let us rejoice in the fact that it’s a new day: a new day to savor all that is this journey we call life.

‘Cuz the earth spins on.

Time & Terra, 2021.
The Badlands, SD.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

After visiting with The Fam for a week or so, we packed up The Sweet-Baby Berkshire and began the long journey home.

But rather than heading straight east, we first traveled north.

With the AC working overtime, we drove straight through Wyoming. It really was scenic, I tell you. When we first crossed over from Colorado, there were buffalo grazing in the fields, as if on cue. They looked stunning, even from a distance.

And South Dakota greeted us with what felt like record high temperatures. We set up camp for a quick overnight at Custer State Park, and after Toddler Snap explored the playground for a bit, we called it an early night and settled in for an episode of The Terror. (Because, yes. It’s my new favorite thing in life. So good.)

Then the next morning was a fairly quick jaunt to Mount Rushmore!

Untitled, 2021.
Keystone, SD.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

(shrugs)

It was neat.

We of course took the obligatory selfie photos. And I bought a postcard of the workers who constructed the massive sculpture.

Because #workersoftheworldunite

Then it was off to the town of Wall, South Dakota. We visited the iconic Wall Drug Store, and ate a simple but tasty lunch in their café. It was pretty crowded, so we kept our distance as much as possible, then hit the highway for The Badlands.

And, wow. What a scene, man.

The Edge of The World, 2021.
The Badlands, SD.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

This is literally where we camped.

Ball of Magic, 2021.
The Badlands, SD.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

Not bad, huh?

Anyway, we’ve been on the road (well, away from home) for two and a half weeks now.

We’re missing the kitties—and all of the little niceties that make our house a haven—but we’re truly having a grand old time.

I mean, how lucky are we that we have this RV? (How lucky are we that we can afford diesel for this beast!)

Because time is so very precious, Dear Reader.

And I aim to spend it on what matters.

Family. Friends. Travel.

Art: Photos, paintings, and jewelry. Music! Cinema! And of course, fiction!

Real, delicious food.

Real people. Real stories.

Real life, yo.

There is still so much to do and see.

(she smiles)

. . .

Stay tuned for more SnapDragon adventures from the road!

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and colorful sneaker enthusiast.

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