Book-of-the-Month.

To Be Worn Anytime.

A Short Critique of Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle

Barefoot & Not Pregnant, 2022.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved, yo.

Hey girl hey!

Guess who actually finished a book, her first one of the year?

(obnoxiously waves both hands and smiles)

Yep. I realize it’s halfway through 2022, and this is a pretty pathetic reading count for a supposed bookworm like me. But you know what? Life gets busy, yo. The days zip right on by. And I refuse to rush my sacred reading time. I’ll finish when I finish.

(I also checked the Notes on my iPhone, and I haven’t even touched my 100 Classics Reading Challenge in over a year. I, uhh, (coughs) have 95 books left to read. IN FIVE YEARS. I may have bitten off more than I can chew on that one.)

BUT ANYWAY.

I read this book. And I loved it. And here’s why.

. . .

Going Away Shoes (Stories) by Jill McCorkle (2009)

Sometimes I’m all but certain I’m a freak of nature.

Like… I honestly think no one else really gets it. I often feel like I’m some cynical, opinionated d-bag, who comes across to most people as just another wannabe hipster.

Let me assure you: I do not want to be a hipster.*

I just want to be honest. And I wish more people would do the same.

So when I read McCorkle’s work, I felt. . . like I instantly had a friend. I felt like she. . . got it.

Her prose is simple, yet stunning in its insight. Her close third-person narrative is (dare I say it) on-par with Stephen King himself. You know her characters. You feel them. And achieving this through short stories—not a novel—is no easy task.

McCorkle illuminates the extraordinary among the ordinary—which I realize is pretty much my artistic goal in life.

Here’s just a tiny sample:

“She still drives Edwin’s copper-colored Electra, and has ever since he died almost two years ago. She would never have retired had she seen his death coming and with it an end to all their plans about where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do. One day she was complaining about plastic golf balls strewn all over the living room and the next she was calling 911 knowing even as she dialed and begged for someone to please help that it was too late” (McCorkle).

Anyway, this is another great literary find, friends.

I hope you enjoy it as I have.

. . .

SnapDragon is a wife, mother, and artist who always leaves room for dessert.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for her crazy-ass ramblings, reviews, and more.

. . .

*I know, I know. Spoken like a hipster.

Two-Bit Musings.

Shh.

Just Another Day in Paradise, Yo.

. . .

Hi. How are you, Dear Reader? How do you feel today: body, mind, and soul?

Pause. Think. Answer honestly.

Me? I’m doing just fine, thanks.

I’m currently sitting on our RV love seat, clicking past the miles somewhere between Ohio and Indiana. Sweet Baby Snap is sleeping; Toddler Snap is hopefully about to do the same up in his car seat.

I’m sipping iced coffee, laughingly shrugging at the insane diesel prices, and singing songs from Father John Misty’s latest album in my head.

I feel good.

. . .

I just turned 35.

Seems kinda weird, like that’s much too old and much too young, all at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived a thousand lives; I also feel like I’ve just been born.

And when I close my eyes and quiet my mind, I think about this life. I think about how much I value the simple idea of respect.

I want to show respect in everything I do.

Toward other human beings, animals, and Mother Earth herself.

I want to respect other people’s time. I want to respect their turn to speak.

I want to respect the public goods we all need, like clean water and food. Health. Education. The arts and humanities.

I want it to be known that I respect you because not everything is about me.

. . .

(shrugs)

That’s it for now.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer and artist currently residing on Planet Earth.

Two-Bit Musings.

Hidden Away.

I’m still here, yo! And doin’ just fine.

. . .

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: 2020 edited 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.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for her sometimes messy ramblings about who-knows-what.

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.

The Treasure Chest.

I Just Arted.

Because sometimes it just feels good, you know?

. . .

Say Yes to Mess, 2021. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved, yo.

Ahh.

To feel the swish of the brush in my hand.

The tiny gurgle of water in the jar.

Fairy tale colors brought to life.

. . .

Hello, friends.

It’s a friggin’ gorgeous spring day here in southeast Pennsylvania. One baby is snoozing inside, and the other two have joined Mama on our newly-spruced-up deck.

Raja is in paradise. #sphynxlife

And Big Boy Henry is behaving himself, so rather than rearranging things to get a better photo of him, I think I’ll leave well enough alone.

We’re sharing a moment, we three.

Share a Moment, 2021. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved, yo.

And as I like to say quite often, I feel happy in my young heart.

I’m taking time for the things I love, and today, that’s art. Whether it’s filling in my anti-fascist coloring book, or painting little cheapy ceramic pots, I’m scratching that creative itch, yo. One little moment at a time.

Because with each passing day, I’m reminded more and more:

Now is all we have.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, thinker, and frivolous singer of harmonies.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for artistic what-nots and more.

Two-Bit Musings.

Chip Lips.

I’ve been eating barbecue chips like they’re goin’ outta style, yo. (But that’s not what this post is about. Better read on. . .)

. . .

Hi.

I’m perched here in our RV, cozied up in fruit-punch-colored sweatpants, the dim hum of the heater droning on in an inexplicably comforting way.

It’s unseasonably cold here in PA, so The SnapDragon Family is playing inside today.

Oh well.

Time for thinking.

Time for dreaming.

Time for resting these weary bones.

. . .

After reading a post by a friend of mine, I’m thinking a lot about control.

And, how very little of it we have in our lives.

Infancy. Toddlerhood. Childhood. Adolescence.

Family. Society. School. Economics.

Then, at last: Adulthood.

Adulthood. Which, generally speaking, is the bulk of our time spent on this planet.

(pause)

(Cue another cycle of circumstances beyond our control.)

. . .

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Dear Reader:

All I can control are my own actions.

All I can control are my own actions.

All I can control are my own actions.

. . .

I want to be:

-Patient. Because wouldn’t I want someone to be patient with me? I’m a flawed human being, just like the rest of ‘em. Sometimes it takes awhile to learn, to get it right. And that’s okay. It’s okay.

-Kind. Again: Golden Rule. Life’s much better when you’re kind. We’re so much prettier when we smile. Plus, people always remember how we made them feel. And I want people to feel valued. I want people to feel loved: friends and strangers both.

-Curious. There is a ridiculous amount to learn in this world, in this universe! Why would I not ask questions? Because I’m afraid of looking stupid? Stupid is as stupid does, Mrs. Blue. I’m going to spend my days learning, and growing. The journey never ends.

-Authentic. I spent far too many years hiding pieces of me. People-pleasing. Dogma-abiding. Apologizing for being human. I. Am. Human. This body is finite. It’s amazing. It’s dirty, and requires a rather unfair amount of upkeep. But it’s mine. And, I hope to use it in ways to spread joy: both to myself, and others.

. . .

And there we have it.

Another snippet from your girl SnapDragon.

(smiles and waves, and grabs another handful of kettle-cooked goodness)

‘Til next time.

. . .

SnapDragon is a homebody who enjoys putting stamps on envelopes.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for all things whimsically-authentic.

Two-Bit Musings.

Reasons I’m Currently Overwhelmed:

A List.

. . .

1. I’m an artist. A writer. A teacher. Feelings of paralyzed inspiration are, unfortunately, just par for the course.

2. I’m tired. While my terror-filled nightmares have made way for frustrating-scenario-type dreams in recent years, I still ain’t gettin’ much rest. Please. I just want one night without a cerebral shit-show.

3. I’ve got too many wires. Internet everywhere. Calls. Texts. Newsfeeds. Emails. Insta-whatever. Zoom meetings. How is a person expected to keep up?

4. The news.

5. Unrealistic expectations are eating my sanity. And it’s my own doing. I’m constantly judging myself. Clean the house! Exercise! Purge all of the clothes, books, and trinkets you no longer use! Post a blog! Work on your novel! Paint! Relax! Why won’t you relax, Snap?

(she blinks)

I’m trying, love.

24 hours sometimes seems like nothing at all.

. . .

SnapDragon is fresh outta sorts today.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon if you want to read the ramblings of a weirdo.

Two-Bit Musings.

The Interview.

SnapDragon asks herself a few pressing questions. (‘Cuz she can, yo.)

Always There, 2021.
Digital Art by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved.

So I sat down with amateur blogger SnapDragon X., to ask her a thing or two about life. She wore an over-sized teal dress/shirt thing, which she said seems to have become her unofficial uniform as of late. Her polka-dotted leggings undoubtedly completed the Practical-Mom outfit. Plus, there may or may not have been a smear of child-snot on her hip. But, who’s to say?

Question 1: Why do you blog?

I blog because I find it satisfying. Like a journal, it helps me clear my head. It helps me articulate those crazy swirls of thoughts that tend to give me anxiety. But more than a journal, having an available audience adds a layer of. . . accountability, I suppose? Anyway, it’s almost a form of therapy for me. Plus it’s pretty dope to connect with other bloggers.

Question 2: Not counting people, what three things in life make you happiest?

Travel. It doesn’t matter if it’s a town in Pennsylvania, or a stroll in Venice. Seeing new places makes me feel more alive.

Food. I mean. . . come on. Yes we need it to live, but it’s so much fun. And tasty. Going out to eat is truly one of my favorite activities. Calories be damned.

Stories. Whether it’s on the screen or in a book, I just can’t get enough fiction. I’m obsessed with characters. It astounds me at the power they have on our psyche; their influence is timeless. I mean, Ebenezer Scrooge? Frickin’ ingenious.

Question 3: What brings you stress?

Feeling rushed; clutter; when someone’s trying to talk and the TV’s on; being even a minute late; thinking I’ve hurt someone’s feelings; animals in distress; being misunderstood.

Question 4: What three things do you hope to accomplish throughout your life?

I want to be a published author. I want to see my work on a library shelf, or in a magazine.

I want to complete at least 15 years of teaching high school, preferably in an urban setting. I’ve got six so far.

I want to have my own art show. Nothing fancy. But I want to actually have the balls (ovaries?) to put my bizarre paintings on display, and have key players in the local art scene dissect every inch of them.

Question 5: Describe your perfect weekend.

Sleeping in. Egg and cheese sandwiches. Artisan markets. Iced coffees. Craft beers. Watching a brilliant show like BoJack Horseman. Laughing with my two best girls. Talking with my oldest brother about the perfection that is Pink Floyd.

Simple pleasures, yo. They make this world go ‘round.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, reader, and appreciator of the complementary breakfast.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for more tiny tidbits of whatever.

Two-Bit Musings.

500 and Counting, Yo.

Woah! Maybe Snap’s got something to say after all?

(she shrugs and smiles)

. . .

Hey hey hey!

I got notified by the WordPress fairies that I have over 500 followers!

I feel like a cool kid! Like the belle of the ball!

Like. . . the world is my friggin’ oyster, yo!

(whispers: “Wait . . . Who’s SnapDragon?”)

. . .

So stay tuned for more Two-Bit Musings.

More Desert Island Picks.

More treasures from the Book Nook.

More art.

More fun.

More half-witted reflections on this fumbling, bumbling experience we call life.

‘Cuz we in this together, love.

And I thank you.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, reader, painter, collector of funky earrings, and old-soul drinker of coffee, in all of its glorious forms.

Follow if you dare. (Or if you’re bored. Either one.)