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.
‘Cuz it’s the first day of the rest of our lives, right?
. . .
Today is my first official day of being a full-time, stay-at-home mom.
And despite the whole working remotely thing happening for months on end, it feels pretty good to be 100% done. Close the book. Wave goodbye.
And so begins the next chapter in The SnapDragon Tale!
First and foremost, I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to lose my salaried-with-full-benefits job, and not feel the sense of panic so many have experienced lately. I live a very comfortable life, for which I am extremely grateful. That’s not lost on me.
I’m definitely a stop-and-smell-the-roses kinda gal, and this situation is no different.
There is always something to be thankful for, Dear Reader.
. . .
So as I take a breath–during nap time, that is–I’m going to get a few kinks worked out.
Clean Up, Yo. If I want this blog to take off, I’ve gotta get my shit in order. Yes it’s a fun outlet for me, but I know I can turn it into something more. I’ve got ideas. I’ve got material. I need to establish a schedule I can actually stick to.
Office Space. As ridiculous as it sounds, I have trouble getting started on things. Like, a lot of trouble. I’m talking like, my laptop being closed instead of open kind of trouble. I look for any and all barriers to prevent me from my creative work. (Why I do this, I do not know.) And so, I’ve realized that I need my own space. My own desk, equipped with my (open!) laptop, easel and canvas at the ready, and a stack of delicious notebooks and pens for creative thought. It’s happening. And soon.
Keep Calm and Be Kind. It’s the only thing I can control. I will never get everything done in a day. I will never arrive at some task-free life. I will never have total understanding from each and every person. But I can be kind. Always.
See you soon, friends. Be well.
. . .
SnapDragon is a human being who finds satisfaction in clipping coupons.
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.
Let us rejoice in the fact that it’s a new day: a new day to savor all that is this journey we call life.
‘Cuz the earth spins on.
After visiting with The Fam for a week or so, we packed up The Sweet-Baby Berkshire and began the long journey home.
But rather than heading straight east, we first traveled north.
With the AC working overtime, we drove straight through Wyoming. It really was scenic, I tell you. When we first crossed over from Colorado, there were buffalo grazing in the fields, as if on cue. They looked stunning, even from a distance.
And South Dakota greeted us with what felt like record high temperatures. We set up camp for a quick overnight at Custer State Park, and after Toddler Snap explored the playground for a bit, we called it an early night and settled in for an episode of The Terror. (Because, yes. It’s my new favorite thing in life. So good.)
Then the next morning was a fairly quick jaunt to Mount Rushmore!
It was neat.
We of course took the obligatory selfie photos. And I bought a postcard of the workers who constructed the massive sculpture.
Then it was off to the town of Wall, South Dakota. We visited the iconic Wall Drug Store, and ate a simple but tasty lunch in their café. It was pretty crowded, so we kept our distance as much as possible, then hit the highway for The Badlands.
And, wow. What a scene, man.
This is literally where we camped.
Not bad, huh?
Anyway, we’ve been on the road (well, away from home) for two and a half weeks now.
We’re missing the kitties—and all of the little niceties that make our house a haven—but we’re truly having a grand old time.
I mean, how lucky are we that we have this RV? (How lucky are we that we can afford diesel for this beast!)
Because time is so very precious, Dear Reader.
And I aim to spend it on what matters.
Family. Friends. Travel.
Art: Photos, paintings, and jewelry. Music! Cinema! And of course, fiction!
Real, delicious food.
Real people. Real stories.
Real life, yo.
There is still so much to do and see.
. . .
Stay tuned for more SnapDragon adventures from the road!
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SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and colorful sneaker enthusiast.