Two-Bit Musings.

On Friends.

Feeling Fine, 2021.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

This past month or so has been filled with visits from those who were starting to feel like long-lost friends. (Pandemically speaking, that is.)

It truly has been joyous to see so many (vaccinated!) loved ones after at least eight(ish) months of diligent social isolation on our part.

And I’m not gonna lie: it was a little hard at first. A little. . . weird.

How do I talk to people other than Sweet Husband or Baby Snap?

We can actually eat at restaurants again?!

What the frick am I gonna wear?

And then, like strumming the G chord on an old guitar, things fell right back into place.

. . .

Friends.

Ahh.

I’ve had a bunch throughout my 34 years on this planet.

Many stayed only for a time; a few have graciously remained.

And when we’re together I’m reminded of what friendship really means:

Listening.

(I could probably just end the post here. But there are, of course, other things worth noting.)

(clears throat)

Friendship is:

listening; always giving the benefit of the doubt; being honest; being humble; not being afraid to sound stupid; nurturing; the sharing of secrets, recipes, and dreams; being bored together; laughing until one or more bodily functions kicks into gear; putting the other person first.

It’s a safe haven; a philosophical community; a shrug of the shoulders at her shortcomings.

A friend will drink with you; rub sunscreen on your back; drive an extraordinarily long way just to hang.

I am forever grateful to have these special humans in my life.

Looking forward to the next soirée, Dear Ones.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer and artist who lives in her native state of Pennsylvania.

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Two-Bit Musings.

On Curls & Icy Beverages.

Pedestrian Garden, 2021.
Cape May, NJ.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

Wuddup, Dear Reader?

Greetings to you and yours, after my small blogging break.

I’m currently lounging (?) in the driver’s seat of my car. Baby Snap is snoozing in the back, so I pulled into one of a trillion strip malls on The Main Line. Starbucks in hand. AC blasting. I even scored a free Large Iced Caramel Macchiato, after a Medium was presented to me at the drive-through window. Grande, Tall. . . Whatevs.

Anyway! On to other business, yo.

SnapDragon’s List of Other Business, Yo.

1. I’m on countdown. I found out a few weeks ago that the contract for my employment is not being renewed. My last day is in mid-August. Oh well. I am grateful for what the job offered and the role it played in my life. But I’m ready for the next phase: Full-Time Homemaker. Artist. Writer. Online Entrepreneur. . . ? The SnapDragon Shoppe will be a thing. Stay tuned, my friends.

2. Sing out loud; sing out strong. My sister-in-law turned me on to A Musical Celebration, the 25th Anniversary Sesame Street video. And it’s friggin’ awesome. Instant smiles. Heart-warming nostalgia. Why do I feel like The Muppets make everything better?

3. One page at a time. With each passing day, I realize how much time every little thing takes. I mean, to really do something, and do it well. Showering; scrubbing dishes; writing an email; reading an article. And as I watch our son take confident-yet bow-legged-steps across the concrete, I remind myself that it’s impossible to get it all done. Focus on now. What I do accomplish, I want to be done right.

. . .

So as I sit here for another twenty minutes or so, sipping sugary coffee and waiting for my curls to fully dry, I smile.

The sun is out.

This moment is still.

And a bird soars past my window.

I’m alive.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer who never says no to a coffee.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Re-Snap: Just Go.

. . .

A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019

. . .

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.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and die-hard Paul McCartney fan.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Re-Snap: Alter Ego, Yo.

. . .

A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019

. . .

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 Blogosphere.

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.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and frequent-quoter of Seinfeld.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Re-Snap: Little Perk-Me-Ups.

. . .


A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019

. . .

Feeling those 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.

. . .

SnapDragon is a weirdo artist who currently craves a sandwich.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Re-Snap: Sing Out.

. . .

A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019

. . .

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.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and drinker of cold beverages.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Re-Snap: 90s Livin’.

. . .

A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019

(There have also been slight revisions.)

. . .

I came of age in the 90s.

And by ‘came of age’ I mean I survived the awkward annals of adolescence.

Anyway, while I have no desire (none. zero. zilch.) to return to my teenage years (or really, even to my 20s) lately I’ve been reminiscing about the simplicity of those times.

And I’m speaking specifically to the focus I felt.

But let me back up a step.

If I were tested for Attention Deficit Disorder back then, I’m pretty sure I’d pass without a hitch. I was a good kid–a quiet student–but instead of listening to the lesson, I’d write notes to my friends or finish reading the library book I kept hidden in the deep mouth of my elementary school desk.

What I’m getting at is that I struggled in school, until the 10th grade when I “decided” I wanted to be smart. I wanted good grades. So I fought the urge to fuck around during class and actually started to listen.

So this focus I’m talking about? It was not the focus of some whiz-kid honor student.

I’m talking about having limited options. It was a forced focus, due to the resources of the time.

No cell phone.

Certainly no iPhone.

The internet was this dial-up experience that cancelled out the ability to talk on the phone that hung on the wall.

Because, come on.

Who needs to do two things at once?

(Let that sink in a moment.)

Who needs to do two things at once?

I know every generation scoffs at how “easy” the next one has it.

“Kids these days!”

So let me be clear, that I do not begrudge our technological advances. I have all of the gadgets, and love them.

I Mapquest the shit out of any road trip.

I get the urge for Queen? Eminem? Gordon Lightfoot?

Just ask Alexa.

It’s awesome. We all know it.

But the other day, as I was experiencing a moment of reverie, I was trying to identify my triggers for anxiety.

And I realized that a major one?

Comes from the overwhelming options all around me.

I get paralyzed because I could be (should be?)…

reading, writing, painting, cleaning, exercising, traveling, visiting, texting, crocheting, sleeping, talking, watching, singing, planting, posting, photographing, researching, video-gaming, planning, shopping, resting, listening…

You get the idea.

And in 2019, if you have wifi and a credit card, you have no excuse not to do it all.

So I’ve decided to kick it old-school.

One. thing. at. a. time.

One tab open on my laptop.

Do Not Disturb activated on my iPhone.

All notifications turned off.

Because when we went on Family Vacation in the 90s?

We went on vacation.

People left a message on the answering machine, and we checked when we got back.

Everybody survived.

“Emergencies” were accurately named, and never occurred.

So who’s with me?

I’m sure I’ll slip up here and there, but I’m really going to try to slow down. To focus on the task at hand.

Because as Grandma’s embroidered pillow said, Haste makes waste.

And sometimes less really is more.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and delighted carnival-goer.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Re-Snap: Silent Joy.

. . .

A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019

. . .

Silent Joy, 2018.
St. Petersburg, Russia.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

This evening is a quiet one. I sit here in what I call The Reading Room, with the window open and a delicious breeze tickling the curtains. I can hear the faint tolling of a neighbor’s forgotten wind chime, and for a moment I care nothing for the darkness, for the unknown, for tomorrow’s anxieties.

There is only this moment.

. . .

SnapDragon is a leaf floating on a springtime breeze.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for a bit of this and that.

Fresh Sheet. · Two-Bit Musings.

Re-Snap: Fresh Sheet.

. . .

A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019

. . .

This is my electronic equivalent of a fresh sheet of notebook paper.

I want to take a moment for a “Brain Dump”, the ever-popular strategy of writing down one’s thoughts, frustrations, outstanding tasks, or whatever else needs to be articulated before moving into a restful night’s sleep. It’s supposed to be free from judgment, and forgiven for grammatical or mechanical errors. (But let’s be serious: you know this girl is going to proofread. It’s part of my obsessive nature.)

SnapDragon’s Brain Dump:

  1. I need routine in my life. While I’m grateful to have a homemaker’s flexibility, not having any type of schedule has worn on me a bit. My sleep schedule is erratic, which often affects my eating schedule. I grew up with strict routines, and it’s hard to be a free-wheeling drifter after 30 years. So I’ll be drafting some ideas on this.
  2. Secrets suck. Authenticity means more to me than anything in this world. I want my friends, my family–and anyone I meet, really–to just be themselves. I want to be myself. It’s hard to have a relationship otherwise. This is why it eats at me day and night that my family is on the periphery, knowing nothing of my life’s philosophy or artistic vision.
  3. Flaws make me human. This is no surprise. But I struggle with mental illness, in the form of what is sometimes crippling anxiety and depression. It might not appear that bad, because my middle-class upbringing demands that I get out of bed and do something, anything. I would rather die than shirk my responsibilities, even at the cost of my own health. This is not healthy thinking. I need to work on this. 90% of the stress in my life is generated inside my own head. I worry–no, I obsess–that I said the wrong thing, offended someone, or otherwise inadvertently screwed up and that the consequences are going to be dire (like rejection and hostility on a large scale). While I am opinionated, strong-willed, and probably contradictory at times, I truly have the best of intentions toward my fellow human beings. And it pains me deeply at the possibility of being misunderstood.

And so, Dear Reader, assuming you are there, I want you to know that things will be all right.

Maybe you don’t feel the need for a written/typed/posted Brain Dump, but don’t be afraid to let out your thoughts. Talk to your husband, snuggle with your cat, text your best friend, or watch reruns of The Office until you laugh yourself to sleep.

Because life is difficult for us thinkers.

We are not alone.

We will feel better tomorrow.

Good night, love. May you have a long and dreamless sleep.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and lover of lip balm.

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Two-Bit Musings.

Re-Snap: Succulent Sunlight.

. . .

A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019

. . .

Savor This Moment, 2019.
Paris.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

Hello, lovelies.

It’s time to open up your little eyelids.

Take a look around.

Realize that you are a human being; an imperfect creature; a tortoise emerging from the safety of its shell.

It’s okay.

Life goes on.

You are okay.

You are enough.

And I love you.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and easily-sunburned creature.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for a few of her favorite things.