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.
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: 2020edited 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.
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.
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.
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.
. . .
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:
(I could probably just end the post here. But there are, of course, other things worth noting.)
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.
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.
. . .
SnapDragon is a writer who never says no to a coffee.
A Re-Issue from The SnapDragon Archives: Originally Posted in March of 2019
. . .
Little Old Me telling Little Old You to see the world.
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.
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.