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.

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.

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.

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.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for all kinds of goodies, yo.

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.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for all kinds of fun.

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.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for fun beyond your wildest dreams, yo.

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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