Wouldn’t it be something if our every thought could be documented? Like, our dreams could be stored away in The Vault of Complete Memories, which I visualize as a rather Soviet-looking building, filled with hundreds of books and videotapes. Every dream, pondering, or musing filed away, awaiting reflection.
Or you know. . . maybe not, because even entertaining that idea gives me significant heart palpitations.
What I’m getting at is that the mind is a funny thing; there are so many fleeting thoughts, many of which stay for just a blip on the screen, and are never heard from again.
And you know? I think that’s a real shame. How much have we lost? How many valuable seedlings never make it to the light of day?
. . .
I woke up this morning feeling like The Tin Man. My hands were a frustrating mix of fiery frozen fingers.
I’ve yet to see a doctor, but I’m confident I have carpal tunnel syndrome. It seems that even a few years of scooping ice cream and meticulously decorating cakes wreaks havoc on the wrists. (That, and my crazy handwriting practices also probably contributed.)
I felt so much older than my [almost] 35 years. The only cure was several small, steamy mugs of coffee, followed by a piping hot shower. I wet-brushed my hair. I cocoa-buttered my body. I put on my new polka dot house dress, and felt reborn.
. . .
Nothing is ever Most things are never really done. Never really over, never really. . . accomplished.
Our days are spent simply trying to keep up.
Again and again and again.
For these are the moments wrinkles are made of.
. . .
I don’t have many friends.
17 years ago I saw myself as The Girl Who Got Along With Everyone. And while I like to think I still have that mindset–I really do try to see the best in people–I find myself on the periphery of true friendship. Maybe it’s my simple lifestyle: maybe I seem boring to most people. Maybe my artistic nature is difficult for others to relate to.
Or maybe we’ve forgotten that friendship is a living, breathing thing. Starve it, and see what happens.
Meanwhile, I’ll prune the brilliant blossoms in the morning sun.
I love you.
. . .
It literally took the act of childbirth for me to learn the art of asking for what I need.
. . . I am worthy of help. I am worthy of comfort in this life.
And so, my friend, are you.
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer who just loves using mixed metaphors.
There’s something about the last gasp of winter that I absolutely adore.
Because even though it’s technically springtime–what with the equinox being over and all–we northeastern folks know that pretty much doesn’t mean shit. And while there are usually a handful of truly glorious, 70-degree days scattered throughout March, there’s always one last stretch of take-your-breath-away cold.
And even though I kind of hate it, I actually kind of love it.
It’s refreshing. It’s mysterious.
And it makes me nostalgic for the things that have been.
. . .
It’s no secret that I’m an old soul. In fact, I might just be the definition of one. I like to be in: in the house, in the car, in a piping-hot shower. I don’t need much to be happy, and this in itself makes me happy.
My college days were no different. I had a handful of friends, and kept them close. We passed the weekends watching movies on VHS tapes. We’d then talk each other into watching just one more, with the assurance that we eventually would get those papers written. And we did.
We worked our part-time jobs. We scheduled our classes for the fall. We dyed our hair and dreamed of The Great Beyond.
There was so much beauty in these moments: in the vulnerable act of being young.
I want to kiss my college self. I want to brush her hair behind her ear and tell her that she’s lovely. I want to tell her that everything–the things that matter, anyway–will be okay.
. . .
So now, when I feel these last days of winter, I smile. I pull my graying hair into an uncool topknot and slip out to Giant for baby formula and kitty litter.
I look at the naked trees, and wonder at all they’ve seen.
I crank Tori Amos and sing along in my very best soprano, the delicious harmony giving me pause.
I come back home, back inside, and the warmth somehow makes me shiver at the cold I’ve just endured.
For soon the trees will blossom, our open windows ushering in a gentle breeze. I’ll wander out in a tank top and sandals, wondering where time has gone.
. . .
How simple life can be.
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer, painter, and enthusiastic storybook-reader.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that no matter how hard we are on ourselves–no matter how little it seems we’ve done–we have arrived.
In high school I wanted nothing more than to read, write, and become a teacher.
In college I wanted to travel, paint, and have the type of fun only 20-somethings can.
Throughout my life I’ve dreamed of art, passion, friendships, and family. I dreamed of a house of my own.
Done, done, and done.
I’ve had moments where I’ve wanted nothing more than to be a stay-at-home Mom, tending to the house in between caring for a couple of little humans.
And here it all is, and here I am, in perfect disarray.
. . .
So, despite how it sounds, this doesn’t mean I’m finished. Just because I’ve accomplished some major goals doesn’t mean there aren’t more on the horizon. My middle school self would be quite proud of my high school self. College SnapDragon evolved into Teacher SnapDragon.
We all keep moving the bar, because really, isn’t that what it means to be alive?
I want to relish each moment, yet continue to plan for a kick-ass future.
. . .
You have done amazing things in this life, Dear Reader. So have I.
So just because you’re in the same sweatpants for three days in a row and haven’t yet brushed your teeth today, it doesn’t mean you’re slacking.***
We’re simply doing the best with the day we’ve got.
. . .
SnapDragon is an artist who just loves traditionally-feminine things.
The Toy Story Franchise. Toddler Snap has really taken to these movies, which we watch in succession nearly everyday. (Well, okay. Let’s be fair: We make it through the series about every other day.) Anyway, color me impressed, yo. Being a 90s kid, I sure as hell saw the original when it came out. But that was the only one I’d ever seen, until a few weeks ago. And let me tell you: they’re brilliant. So. Well. Done. They’ve also made me cry like a baby (or, more accurately, a postpartum mom). Toy Story 3? It’s perfect. How precious childhood–and life–truly is.
All the Drinks. Okay, not all. But now that my body is back to being my own, I’m all about the iced coffees. And IPAs. It’s so nice to savor the simple things again: to sip artisanal drinks like only a hipster knows how.
Our Stash. Two years of living in a pandemic will make just about anyone reevaluate their home. We’ve done our fair share of online shopping–our Amazon rewards are almost embarrassing at this point–but we’ve also utilized the things we have. In fact, I sort of unofficially proclaimed 2022 as The Year of The Used. Instead of buying more–more body products, more coffee mugs, more candles–I’m making myself dig inside forgotten drawers. There’s a surprising amount of goodies, from shopping trips long since past. It feels good to bring them back to life.
. . .
Wishing you some simple pleasures today, friends.
. . .
SnapDragon is an artist who enjoys driving her car with the windows down.
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.
. . .
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
And greetings from our insanely green back deck! We’ve got colorful lilies, tomato vines galore, and bushels and blossoms out the yin yang, yo! It’s like Mother Nature knew that life’s been pretty sucky for the entire world as of late, and decided to throw in an extra dash of growth this spring.
She’s here, and she’s proud.
I’m sitting here on our wicker furniture, crossed legged and snacking on those incredible Lego-shaped candies. I love the way the blocks clack against my teeth; I love how they slowly dissolve into the sugary wonderment only candy-makers can dream up.
And as I think about what to post, I’m reminded that a lot of my entries have recurring themes.
-Treasure the little things.
-Be your authentic self.
–Time is out of our control.
–Empathy is everything.
-Music and art and novels make life worth living.
-Paul McCartney might actually be God.
. . . You know. That kind of thing.
So as I write–and as you read–it’s probably no surprise that I’m reveling in our house, our home.
And I’m happy to say that this is where we live.
We’re nestled in a lovely townhouse, which was built roughly two years after I was born.
Our neighborhood has leisurely walking trails; a little playground and basketball court; trees hosting birds whose songs ring out like music boxes.
We’re close to pretty much everything a SnapDragon like me could ever want: a quaint(ish) downtown; multiple pharmacies; the deliciousness that is Wawa; numerous parks and historical sites from The Battle of Brandywine; farmers markets; art centers; real-deal Mexican restaurants.
And that’s just the beginning! Oh, the surprises that await you!
So even though we may not live in this town forever–‘cuz things can change in a heart beat, I know–I’m aiming to settle in: to really dig my heels into this luscious piece of earth.
Because as the planet spins for yet another day, this is our spot.
I will smile. I will recycle.
I will drink beers at Levante.
I will tip generously.
I will sincerely thank my Amazon driver and postman.
I will explore the used book shoppes, the new boutiques, the first Fridays.
I will take pride in all we’ve accomplished.
And I will, Dear Reader, dare to dream of all that can be.
. . .
Bloom where you’re planted, right?
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and pretty simple human being.
Welcome to my self-indulgent post, Dear Reader. Privileged a-hole musings ahead.
. . .
Here we are, man. Livin’ another day.
All of our experiences have brought us here, to this moment.
And as a grown-ass woman, I’m drawing a reasonable line in the metaphorical sand, yo.
Things SnapDragon Will Never Go Without Again (If She Can Help It.):
Quality Headphones. Nope: Don’t care what they cost. If Mama’s listening to music on the go, it’s going to be done right. Forgot them for the flight? Off to the overpriced airport store we go.
Tinted Windows. I may or may not have been pulled over for our car’s windows being too dark. (Oops.) But, I’ve realized that I’d feel extremely exposed if I went back to tint-less glass. I like feeling encased in a dark shell when on the road.
A Big Honking Water Bottle. For years now, I’ve kept one about. Everyday. Without fail. The newest holds 75 ounces, and most days I gulp it all down like a champ. SnapDragon needs nourishment, no?
An iPhone. Because just like Nintendo, Disney, and Wes Anderson, Apple does most things right. Lesson. learned.
Cinderella Timeline. You probably know by now that I’m an early-to-bed kinda gal. And barring some kind of insane party-like circumstance, I’m calling it a night at the stroke of 12. Call me old. Call me lame. Zero. effs. given.
. . .
What’s on your list, love?
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer who has obsessive tendencies while playing Sim City.