Book-of-the-Month.

To Be Worn Anytime.

A Short Critique of Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle

Barefoot & Not Pregnant, 2022.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved, yo.

Hey girl hey!

Guess who actually finished a book, her first one of the year?

(obnoxiously waves both hands and smiles)

Yep. I realize it’s halfway through 2022, and this is a pretty pathetic reading count for a supposed bookworm like me. But you know what? Life gets busy, yo. The days zip right on by. And I refuse to rush my sacred reading time. I’ll finish when I finish.

(I also checked the Notes on my iPhone, and I haven’t even touched my 100 Classics Reading Challenge in over a year. I, uhh, (coughs) have 95 books left to read. IN FIVE YEARS. I may have bitten off more than I can chew on that one.)

BUT ANYWAY.

I read this book. And I loved it. And here’s why.

. . .

Going Away Shoes (Stories) by Jill McCorkle (2009)

Sometimes I’m all but certain I’m a freak of nature.

Like… I honestly think no one else really gets it. I often feel like I’m some cynical, opinionated d-bag, who comes across to most people as just another wannabe hipster.

Let me assure you: I do not want to be a hipster.*

I just want to be honest. And I wish more people would do the same.

So when I read McCorkle’s work, I felt. . . like I instantly had a friend. I felt like she. . . got it.

Her prose is simple, yet stunning in its insight. Her close third-person narrative is (dare I say it) on-par with Stephen King himself. You know her characters. You feel them. And achieving this through short stories—not a novel—is no easy task.

McCorkle illuminates the extraordinary among the ordinary—which I realize is pretty much my artistic goal in life.

Here’s just a tiny sample:

“She still drives Edwin’s copper-colored Electra, and has ever since he died almost two years ago. She would never have retired had she seen his death coming and with it an end to all their plans about where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do. One day she was complaining about plastic golf balls strewn all over the living room and the next she was calling 911 knowing even as she dialed and begged for someone to please help that it was too late” (McCorkle).

Anyway, this is another great literary find, friends.

I hope you enjoy it as I have.

. . .

SnapDragon is a wife, mother, and artist who always leaves room for dessert.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for her crazy-ass ramblings, reviews, and more.

. . .

*I know, I know. Spoken like a hipster.

Two-Bit Musings.

Shh.

Just Another Day in Paradise, Yo.

. . .

Hi. How are you, Dear Reader? How do you feel today: body, mind, and soul?

Pause. Think. Answer honestly.

Me? I’m doing just fine, thanks.

I’m currently sitting on our RV love seat, clicking past the miles somewhere between Ohio and Indiana. Sweet Baby Snap is sleeping; Toddler Snap is hopefully about to do the same up in his car seat.

I’m sipping iced coffee, laughingly shrugging at the insane diesel prices, and singing songs from Father John Misty’s latest album in my head.

I feel good.

. . .

I just turned 35.

Seems kinda weird, like that’s much too old and much too young, all at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived a thousand lives; I also feel like I’ve just been born.

And when I close my eyes and quiet my mind, I think about this life. I think about how much I value the simple idea of respect.

I want to show respect in everything I do.

Toward other human beings, animals, and Mother Earth herself.

I want to respect other people’s time. I want to respect their turn to speak.

I want to respect the public goods we all need, like clean water and food. Health. Education. The arts and humanities.

I want it to be known that I respect you because not everything is about me.

. . .

(shrugs)

That’s it for now.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer and artist currently residing on Planet Earth.

Two-Bit Musings.

Hidden Away.

I’m still here, yo! And doin’ just fine.

. . .

Hello, Dear Reader. And greetings from my shockingly somewhat-cleared-off dining room table, where a fresh iced coffee patiently sits within reach. I’m in fruit-punch pink sweatpants. My lips are annoyingly chapped.

(takes a deep breath)

Blogging is a funny thing: Really, it’s a strangely intimate relationship. I feel the pull to write–to check in–every single day. For real. And it truly bothers me when I don’t. Even when I was in the hospital–mindlessly eating egg salad sandwiches and trying not to freak out about another impending premature birth–SnapDragon was there, too. I viewed myself in all of my facets, the writer included.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Snap’s still here. Even though I’m in mama-mode full force these days, the artist within still breathes. (And she’s been downing delicious cold brew coffee like it’s her job.)

So, let me back up, and clear the writer-ly cobwebs from my sleep-deprived brain. Here we go:

. . .

But First: A Word on 2021

I did sort of a shit job of posting this past year. I dropped the ball in more than one way, but I must say that not completing my Book-of-the-Month posts for the year bothers me, and more than it probably should. And so, I feel the need to declare that I did continue to read.

Here are a few books of note:

To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck

As far as Steinbeck goes, this one was just okay. I didn’t hate it, but wouldn’t be in a rush to read it again.

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

This was an intriguing read. Definitely pick it up if you get the chance. I also felt a strong connection with the hermit, when he said he wasn’t going to be ‘intellectually bullied’ into reading Ulysses. Umm, yes.

The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang

I definitely enjoyed this novel. There were parts of it that were true page-turners! I’d be quite proud if my debut novel is as well done as this one.

The Best American Short Stories: 2020 edited by Heidi Pitlor and Curtis Sittenfeld

Reading the newest edition in this series has been a tradition since 2015, The Year of Our Sweet Wedding. And I must say, this one has been the best so far. It’s filled with really smart, beautiful stories.

. . .

Here are a few more thoughts on 2021. In fact, here’s what I started writing on New Year’s Day, right before I went into the hospital:

2021. (lets out an exasperated breath) Amiright?

Well, it’s over.

And while there were certainly some low moments–as there are in every year we live on this planet–I’m choosing to recap the year with some of my favorite happenings:

Home-cooked meals; children’s books on repeat; the flickering of jarred candles; RV adventures; drive-throughs*; well-designed playgrounds; eating vine-ripened tomatoes straight from our container garden; cat snuggles; intelligent cinema; exploring every winding road of our neighborhood; discovering all-but-vacant malls are perfect for toddler-running during a pandemic; moments of solitude; reuniting with vaccinated friends and family; celebrating the holidays in simplicity; modern medicine; yogurt and granola; warm hands and feet.

*Yeah, no. I’m taking a stand against the asinine Drive-Thru spelling. Somebody has to.

. . .

Ahh. Oddly enough, I feel better after airing those accumulated thoughts.

. . .

So Dear Reader, I want to take you warmly by the hand. I want to say Hello, and Happy New Year. I want to remind you that even though we’ve probably never met, you are my friend. You are human, and I am human. And we are in this thing together.

Let’s do this.

. . .

SnapDragon is a blogger who enjoys the hoppiest of IPAs.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for her sometimes messy ramblings about who-knows-what.

Two-Bit Musings.

October: A Month in Review.

So umm. . . yeah. I was going to do this for each month in 2021. This is the second time I remembered. Oh well. So it goes.

. . .

1. Trick or Treat, Yo. October is my favorite month, and pretty much always has been. It’s mysterious somehow, which comforts a literary old-soul like me. Toddler Snap and I have been out each and everyday, living it up. I try to capture the beauty of the leaves on my phone, but alas, the magic inevitably eludes the camera. We also carved our first Jack o’ Lantern as a family, and I literally tell my husband each day that it makes me happy in my young heart.

2. Small Comforts. Each day is different, Dear Reader. Sometimes I wake up feeling like a kick-ass SnapDragon, and other days I wake up feeling like a termite-infested tree stump. So I savor every moment I can. I dip into the candy dish. I watch an episode of Frasier before bed. I remind myself that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. I remind myself that every feeling comes and goes.

3. Time for a Trim. It’s no surprise I’m a fan of the simple life: give me my SnapDragon Family, some quality food and cinema, and I’m good to go, yo. There are only so many hours in the day, and I vow to spend them on people and things that enrich my soul. Ain’t nobody got time for bullshit, am I right?

I am just one person in this infinite universe.

And so are you, love.

So are you.

Wishing a Happy November to everyone out there!

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer who frequently orders drinks with extra ice.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for her chronicles of everyday life.

Two-Bit Musings.

Little Breaths.

October Gold, 2021.
Pennsylvania, USA.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved, yo.

Let us remember that we all require space.

Sometimes a little; sometimes a lot.

Those quiet times hold such delicious potential; the roots do strengthen, as the vine prepares to blossom.

Shh. Close your eyes. Listen.

And allow yourself just to be.

Wonderful things are on the horizon, are they not?

. . .

SnapDragon is a teacher, painter, writer, and mom.

Follow her Two-Bit Musings and more on Snippets of SnapDragon.

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.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for who knows what.

Two-Bit Musings.

Splishing & Splashing.

RV Adventure: Stops 2 & 3!

. . .

Kickapoo State Recreation Are. Oakwood, Illinois

Brookfield South City Park. Brookfield, Missouri

. . .

Hi!

I hope you are well, Dear Reader.

As I write this, we’re crossing into Kansas, my husband’s home state! We’ll be staying here for a few days, and Baby Snap will get to enjoy some family time with Grandma, Auntie, and Cousin!

Anyway, Stops 2 & 3 were quick, yet nice.

. . .

Well. . . Stop #2 in Kickapoo was nice, but unbearably hot. We managed to visit the playground for a bit, but then it was back into the AC. (And that sucker was working overtime, let me tell you!) So sadly, we didn’t get to enjoy much of the grounds.

. . .

Stop #3 in Missouri was much cooler! In fact, it was my favorite spot thus far. The park had a small row of maybe ten spots for RVs, on a first-come-first-served basis. We had hookups for electricity and water, and it only cost $20 a day (and we paid via The Honor System, which made me feel happy in my young heart.)

Also, about a three minute walk from our RV was a community pool!

(claps in excitement)

Chlorine Heaven, 2021.
Missouri.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved, yo.

Baby Snap was on Cloud 9, yo! And so was I.

I love pools. I love water.

I love the smell of sunscreen, and the occasional smart of a lifeguard whistle. I love buying ice cream and soft pretzels with cheese from the concession stand, all for a couple of wrinkled dollar bills.

Classic. Summer.

And seeing Baby Snap splash about—and sort of swim for the first time—was truly a precious moment for our family.

Oh, and he devoured an entire ice cream sandwich! Respect.

. . .

Stay tuned for more, Dear Reader!

Wishing you all of the happy summer vibes.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer and artist who loves the simple things in life.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for her take on pretty much everything.

The Treasure Chest.

I Just Arted.

Because sometimes it just feels good, you know?

. . .

Say Yes to Mess, 2021. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved, yo.

Ahh.

To feel the swish of the brush in my hand.

The tiny gurgle of water in the jar.

Fairy tale colors brought to life.

. . .

Hello, friends.

It’s a friggin’ gorgeous spring day here in southeast Pennsylvania. One baby is snoozing inside, and the other two have joined Mama on our newly-spruced-up deck.

Raja is in paradise. #sphynxlife

And Big Boy Henry is behaving himself, so rather than rearranging things to get a better photo of him, I think I’ll leave well enough alone.

We’re sharing a moment, we three.

Share a Moment, 2021. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved, yo.

And as I like to say quite often, I feel happy in my young heart.

I’m taking time for the things I love, and today, that’s art. Whether it’s filling in my anti-fascist coloring book, or painting little cheapy ceramic pots, I’m scratching that creative itch, yo. One little moment at a time.

Because with each passing day, I’m reminded more and more:

Now is all we have.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, thinker, and frivolous singer of harmonies.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for artistic what-nots and more.

Two-Bit Musings.

Chip Lips.

I’ve been eating barbecue chips like they’re goin’ outta style, yo. (But that’s not what this post is about. Better read on. . .)

. . .

Hi.

I’m perched here in our RV, cozied up in fruit-punch-colored sweatpants, the dim hum of the heater droning on in an inexplicably comforting way.

It’s unseasonably cold here in PA, so The SnapDragon Family is playing inside today.

Oh well.

Time for thinking.

Time for dreaming.

Time for resting these weary bones.

. . .

After reading a post by a friend of mine, I’m thinking a lot about control.

And, how very little of it we have in our lives.

Infancy. Toddlerhood. Childhood. Adolescence.

Family. Society. School. Economics.

Then, at last: Adulthood.

Adulthood. Which, generally speaking, is the bulk of our time spent on this planet.

(pause)

(Cue another cycle of circumstances beyond our control.)

. . .

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Dear Reader:

All I can control are my own actions.

All I can control are my own actions.

All I can control are my own actions.

. . .

I want to be:

-Patient. Because wouldn’t I want someone to be patient with me? I’m a flawed human being, just like the rest of ‘em. Sometimes it takes awhile to learn, to get it right. And that’s okay. It’s okay.

-Kind. Again: Golden Rule. Life’s much better when you’re kind. We’re so much prettier when we smile. Plus, people always remember how we made them feel. And I want people to feel valued. I want people to feel loved: friends and strangers both.

-Curious. There is a ridiculous amount to learn in this world, in this universe! Why would I not ask questions? Because I’m afraid of looking stupid? Stupid is as stupid does, Mrs. Blue. I’m going to spend my days learning, and growing. The journey never ends.

-Authentic. I spent far too many years hiding pieces of me. People-pleasing. Dogma-abiding. Apologizing for being human. I. Am. Human. This body is finite. It’s amazing. It’s dirty, and requires a rather unfair amount of upkeep. But it’s mine. And, I hope to use it in ways to spread joy: both to myself, and others.

. . .

And there we have it.

Another snippet from your girl SnapDragon.

(smiles and waves, and grabs another handful of kettle-cooked goodness)

‘Til next time.

. . .

SnapDragon is a homebody who enjoys putting stamps on envelopes.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for all things whimsically-authentic.

Two-Bit Musings.

Reasons I’m Currently Happy:

Another List.

. . .

1. It’s 70 degrees and sunny outside.* I know, I know. Talking about the weather probably officially marks my old-fogey status, but your girl Snap doesn’t care, yo. It’s friggin’ gorgeous today. And it makes my soul rejoice.

2. Baby Snap, The Bookworm. He reaches for books at pretty much every turn, and seriously thumbs through the pages like a pro. (He’s 14 months, in preemie terms.) He even started poking around our Franklin Library collection. Moby Dick, anyone? Oh, okay. Baby Beluga will do.

3. My Sweet Husband, Renaissance Man. He’s a man who knows how to do things. And if he doesn’t, he researches and figures it out. Always. His newest project? Putting solar panels on the RV. Woah.

4. Making Our Bed. Yes, this is a relatively new habit for me. (blushes) But to be fair, there’s usually a cat or two nestled inside, and it gives me the perfect excuse not to. (That, and I usually don’t have the energy for such a futile task.) But in recent days I’ve made myself do it. And, amazingly enough, it always makes me feel better. Who knew?

5. Beer o’ Clock. We’re Craft-Beer Heads. Like, if it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, forget it. I’m talking Other Half. I’m talking WeldWerks, friends. And we’ve been crackin’ one open in the evening, savoring each sip, and remembering that life can be pretty kick-ass sometimes.

So here’s to a fun, funky weekend, love.

Cheers.

. . .

*Yeah, I wrote this a few days ago. In typical PA fashion, it’s a chilly 42 today. Oh well. Nice while it lasted.

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and sentimental old fool.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for Two-Bit Musings and more.