Real Moments: Growing On Without You

Editor’s Note: This was written to be published last year but, alas, it was not. The why is because many things were happening. Many changes, many adjustments, many repressed, many too much. I’ll never force myself through putting something out here on Tales just to do it. So know now that it’s time.


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I say that I miss you and more and more, every year, it feels like I’m saying that to nothing at all. To myself and an otherwise empty room. I tried for a long while to pretend like there was something about you that lingered, like a piece of you was still hovering here somewhere with me. But I don’t feel that anymore. Or rather, I don’t trick myself into feeling it anymore. Why would you ever have come back here?

I do still feel the loss sometimes. The emptiness. The difference. I don’t remember most days but then when I do it’s in waves of anger, always ending on a begging question, the closure point to end the momentary relapse, the push back into accepting defeat. Why did you leave me?

You are the particular space that no one and nothing else will fill. Year after year I’m learning what it is to be on my own without you. Without your soul, your being, your life. Faced with the temporality that you were and now are not but that I still am and some day won’t be. Different people have different fears but that is decidedly the most significant of mine. Another conversation for another day.

You’ve never known me now, Papa. You never knew so much of this life that I’ve built for myself. You never came here. Never saw this place that I’ve turned into a home, albeit another temporary one. If you did, the pool would have been your favorite part. You loved the sun. We would have visited together and talked, but talked of nothing at all. Parting ways at the end of every night with a kiss to your cheek, a promise to see you in the morning.

I often wonder what you’d think of this life that I live. What you’d think of me. I don’t know that you’d have any particularly strong thoughts, if I’m being honest. But it took me a while to settle in that. You had so many quietly uncommunicated expectations of me and I went out and I achieved them all. But we never, not once, ever talked about them. Which leaves me now to wonder what else? What else did you see for me? Want from me? Want for me?

You never told me. You never gave me the rest of the plan. When you were here we walked my path together, then when you left I felt shoved right off the side of it. I remembered enough, the direction of the twists and turns we still had up ahead to keep me going for a little ways, but now here I stand beside Alice and her pup, watching it sweep the forest floor into nothing while patiently waiting for you, my guide, to reappear and show me what I’m supposed to make of me.

Do you want me settled, with someone who will settle themselves with and for me? Do you want me searching for the one that is the absolute, the soul piece? Do you want me with children, to grow and adore? Do you want me in a career that puts money above all else, or all else above money? Do you want comfort? Do you want success? Do you want happiness?

You’ve made it incredibly difficult to live this life for me when I’ve spent so much of it living always and forever for you. But I’m trying. Standing here in this unknown forest, moving onward in a way that I can only hope is the way. I’m learning. Learning to change things and choose things. But I still wonder what you’d think. Your silence feels so indefinitely loud. I still want you here front row to every change and every choice. Here for all of it. Here to tell me what you want. You are my soul, and my being, and my heart, and my home.

But now my life is what it is, and I am who I am. I’ll grow on without you.

9 Lessons to Lead Through 2019

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Hello, friends. Have you missed me? Okay, very well. But have you missed me like I’ve missed me? Doubtful.

I hadn’t realized that this post was something lingering around in my head to write until one recent eve, standing at my kitchen counter, listening to a single song over and over again trying to learn the lyrics, and realizing the great deal of many other things out there that I’d still like to learn. All out of a sudden sorts this list started forming itself (with a little help from my friend my mental inside voice) and I had no other choice but to write it down. Then to write it down in a way that I could share with you as some of the lessons I want to lead myself through in 2019.

If that sounds ridiculous to you, it’s because it is. But don’t worry, these lessons are just as. I haven’t written much lately. To be too honest, it’s because I haven’t found much worth writing about. But over the past few weeks I’ve worked really hard at hardly really working, in an effort to force myself to repress the hyperdrive and just take stock. I scanned my body to see what it was unwinding to tell me, scanned my mind to see what the heck takes up all of the space in there, scanned my soul to see where on earth or elsewhere it wants to be. Settled into a deep breath and a shrapnel approach to this whole reflecting and resolving business.

These lessons I’m about to share with you are just one of the many jagged pieces, probably the one lodged into my spleen. Yes, I did think about adding “medical school” to this list and yes, I am on my 100th re-watch of the hit classic television series “ER.”

Last year was something, though, wasn’t it? I’m still trying to work out how it happened, how we got here to this point. The collective we, the we that is my mental inside voice and me, the we that is you, dear reader, and me, your dearest writer. Take your pick. My point is – I’m taking my sweet time to mull it all over. To understand what happened and why it happened and what I think and feel about what happened. To decide what I’m going to do and say about what happened. That takes a lot out of a woman, let me tell you.

I hope that most others out there are in the mulling it all over camp as well. Or maybe you’ve sufficiently mulled by this point. The new year has officially kicked itself off, after all. Just please oh please don’t be one of those people who think that reflecting, resetting, and resolving during this time of year is overrated. Life goes on! you may say. What’s new about it!? you may also say. New Year, New Chumps! Time still ticks!

Time does still tick. Your life may very well continue on. Humanity certainly will (at least for an ever so slight little while longer). But, that doesn’t mean that something isn’t out there beginning. How terribly uninteresting all of this would be if nothing ever began.

Maybe you’re not a “reflections” or “resolutions” person. Sure, I get it. Maybe goals are more your thing. Dream setting. Aspirations organization. Mind cataloging. Winter hippocampus cleaning. Whatever you want to call it. Do what you must. Or don’t. Either way, there is still so much more to come. For you, for me, for us. In it together. Deal?

Diatribe over; lessons abound.


Handwritten Stamina

Where has all the handwriting gone!? I recall spending years of my life in school only physically handwriting assignments. Now, I get through half of a thank you note before my knuckles start cramping. I whinge and I whine and then I turn to typing because, like many of my generation, I’m actually quite good at it. All those years of writing thousands of words of nonsense on the internet really paid off. But I miss a handwritten note, a letter, an anything. Time to bring that stamina back. This year, I’m penning things left and write (are you having that??).

The Step One: Repression of texting in favor of letters. So many letters. You want a letter? You got one.

Play the drums

I know, I know! Get it out now. In through the nose, exhale that exasperation right back out. I’ve been saying this one for years. We’ve all been here for it, evidence can be found all over this website. But this is the year, I can feel it. After all, it’s only a matter of time before that Foo Fighters CD really does make me break my steering wheel clean off of my car.

The Step One: My eyes have been trained on a potential lessons spot prize. Next weekend I’m stopping by to schedule my first lesson. Keep me accountable.

Conscientiousness

It’s exhausting to get to know yourself. I know I can’t possibly be alone in this one. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I go on autopilot. It’s a running joke that work-Cassie can become a bit of a machine. But when the machine runs for too long and you finally turn it off, sometimes it takes a second to remember what you’re like without it. This year I want to learn how to be more conscientious about what it’s like to steer the ship myself. No autopilot. Not just for work-Cassie but for all-Cassie.

This one is a little more abstract than the others, but it essentially boils down to making the effort to be more well-rounded. I had one of those moments when I was on the cusp of 20 (not as catchy as the edge of 17, trust me I know) which made me wholly and entirely comfortable in the knowledge of who I am. I’m incredibly thankful for that, I know it’s a fortune some others don’t have. But to keep it and, more importantly, to grow it – I’ve got to be aware of changing with the life and times.

The Step One: Plan more trips to make the effort.

Taste in Vino

I’ve gotten into a semi-aggressive wine drinking habit this year. Not semi-aggressive in a worrisome way, but in a completely contrary to my steadfast collegiate declarations of never drinking anything other than Bud Heavy and Guinness way. So far my libations of the vino variations have been isolated to one particular type and, to be frank with you (O’Hara, never Sinatra), I want to understand what it is about it that I like so much. What is my flavor palate’s profile picture, or whatever the heck you call it? As you can see, the only way to go is up.

The Step One: Try some new vino, I guess? I’m a big Argentinian Malbec drinker, but apparently this type of wine originated in Bordeaux so let’s head in that direction first. Yes, I am quite skilled at the 20-second Google scan.

Find My Narrative

My dream of dreams is still to become a published author. The number one commendation that teachers and professors would scribble into the corners of my papers was “good narrative voice!” But, in my opinion, that was always just me being me. Naturally argumentative about whatever it was they asked us to take a stand on because I’ll semi-literally argue someone to death on just about anything. Go ahead. Question me about being semi-literal.

Becoming an author, a true honest to goodness writer, is a completely different narrative voice. It’s not like me here writing to you. It’s not my voice that gets pulled through, but at the same time it is something that belongs to me. And I absolutely agonize over that. I’ve had such a hard time trying to sit down and write something that I’ve developed this fearful aversion to almost the entirety of the institution! And that, my dear reader, rightly and truly breaks my heart.

The Step One: Learn how to get over my fears of even trying. Find a routine and a safe space.

Flight School (hoo ha ha)

Yes, yes, this one is still around too. I want to learn how to fly an aircraft. Been there, said that. Still hasn’t happened. Met an Air Force vet on a flight recently and he gave me an extra little nudge. This will be the year.

The Step One: Research flight schools and schedule an intro-flight.

Talk It Down

Anxiety is something that I, along with 40 million adults in the United States, deal with more often than I’d like to. Worse, it’s still something that I get surprised by. This past year, my body caught me off guard… a lot. The usual signs that used to warn me, to tell me that something is coming and I need to take notice, weren’t the only ones anymore. New things cropped up and I didn’t listen. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t realize what was happening. Lesson One learned.

Now for Lesson Two. This year I want to push myself a little bit, get a little scientifically experimental when those signs start coming around. Not in any sort of dangerous way, but I want to learn how to listen to myself. There are times when I get that chest feeling, that stomach feeling, that head feeling, and I just accept it. My fight or flight is flight, always flight, and I get the heck out of dodge. But why? What about that situation or place or person caused that? Is it actually my usual anxiety or just a weird feeling? Is something else going on? I never know! This year I vow to listen and to learn the ways to talk it down.

(As an aside, I know I keep saying that I’ll save my full dissertation on anxiety for another day and then that day never comes. I’ve had drafts on here since 2015, it’s just never felt like quite the right time to take it on. Mental health and wellness is something I’m incredibly passionate about – in personal and in professional – but it’s not that easy for me to strip out and write down. Please bear with me a little longer.)

The Step One: I’ve devised a little system to keep record of the various “waves” of anxiety that I experience. I’m an analytical type of gal. Fingers crossed we can make sense of it.

Play Golf

Someone gave a presentation on golf at a work event recently and I loved every second of it. We talked swings, we talked courses, we talked luck, we talked calculations. There’s always been this threat of mathematics to the people of my skill level (read: novice), but very rarely has anyone ever actually offered to explain them. I keep meaning to become a better (read: just flat out ‘a’) golfer, because I feel like it’s an affront to my Scottish heritage to not learn and also because I’m really looking forward to the day when I absolutely crush an old white guy out on the course. Let’s call it The Old Course, shall we? According to the presentation, golf is mostly mental and luckily so am I.

The Step One: North Carolina has some great golf courses, so I’m on the hunt for one of the lesser great ones. Preferably one in possession of a driving range. Also going to research all the names of the clubs. A driver is definitely a thing.


Please do come back around from time to time. I’m trying my best to get both of us back to this space more often in the coming months.

Until then, I’ll be off in search of some Tales.

25 Wants From Life After 25

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25 is a moment. It took me quite a few moons to get to this age.

This is the first birthday that I’ve actually looked forward to, felt excited about, etc. It takes too much energy to be someone actively against birthdays and I don’t naturally possess enough to be someone for them, so I generally land right smack in the middle of energetic indifference. I just have this feeling about 25. That sounds like something everyone this age says but I really mean it!

Piece by piece, the years have all been falling into place to make me into this person that I have somehow managed to personify. Things that I want for my life float into my brain and there’s not a single one of them that I feel I can’t do, or have to wait to make happen. If I truly, madly, deeply want something… I’m at a stage of existence now where I can very well get it. Do you know what that feels like!? It’s terrifying! And amazing!

At 23 we got random and weird and at 24 we learned some lessons. This year I wanted to share some of those rest-of-my-life wants. Spoiler Alert: it’s a great many of them. 25 to be exact. This is basically dissertation-level long so feel free to just skim the bold headers.


1. To watch every movie Sandra Bullock has ever made, in order.

Another revolution around the sun and this still hasn’t happened! How long have I been telling you all that this will happen? Too long. Now I’m hedging my bets. Eventually, in my life, I will achieve this feat. The list stands at well over 40 films and it’s only going to keep growing so whenever you see a new release, please check in on my progress. In case you somehow weren’t aware of this supremely fun fact about me: I love Sandra Bullock.

2. To become a whiskelier.

A whisk(e)y sommelier is not a thing because by definition a sommelier is a wine steward, but I want to become one anyway. I’m slowly but surely building a palate for whiskey, whisky, and scotch. I’d like to be able to say that it’s certified.

3. To move abroad.

Some people grow up in a place that they know they’ll always want to call home. Some struggle to find settlement and jump from city to city in remarkably short periods of time. I happen to envy the former and sympathize with the latter, but I also happen to have found the general corner of the earth that makes me feel unlike anywhere else. It’s a place I so desperately hope to call home as my honest to goodness, true heart place for the rest of my existence. If I’m not there in 2 years, please reach out and heckle me as to why. I hope I can give you a good reason.

4. To walk a runway.

In front of absolutely no one, preferably. It just always looks so fun! To have some M83 music videos projected on a massive screen behind you and strut your way to a fan favorite dance move finish in obscenely over-decorous formal wear.

5. To sink onto my hands and knees, dig my fingers deep into the mud, and scream as hard as I can.

There’s this scene in the movie ‘Testament of Youth’ in which the main character, Vera, runs up a hill, falls to her knees, digs her hands into the mud, and just sobs her heart open. Have you ever felt so emotionally compromised that you just couldn’t find a satisfying outlet? Maybe due to a specific life event or maybe due to many. The years build and build and eventually it’s overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder what it might be like to emotionally reset, to cleanse. To not worry about someone hearing you or seeing you, not worry about anything resembling an aftermath. Not only in heartbreak or pain, but in happiness and excitement. A compound of every emotion. Just animalistically exhausting it all out of yourself. Imagine what that feels like.

6. To find my Grandmother Willow.

There is something so mystical and magical about trees and if they had their own religion all to themselves I’d likely be the first to convert. Trees the world over possess this spiritual touch to the soul, a brush of the heart to the humans who’ve lost their way in returning it. I fully believe that there’s a Grandmother Willow out there, waiting for me to stumble upon it and find a confidant. You’ll know when I’ve found it because you’ll never hear from me again. I’ll spend the rest of my existence there beside it.

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7. To visit Alaska.

Fun Fact #1701: I LOVE ALASKA. This all began with a weird obsession that I developed over Alaskan television shows. Alaska: The Last Frontier, Alaska State Troopers, Alaskan Bush People, Ice Road Truckers, etc. I cannot predict what my reaction will be when some day I eventually visit this place but I can only hope that the rest of the world is prepared for it.

8. To find the final pieces of my pack.

Live your life by the wolves. When I watch television shows or movies where there’s a strong group of friends who’ve been together like a family, I think to myself how some day I hope to settle in a place where I can have that around me. The pieces of my pack who have known me through all of the goods and the uglies, who can call me in the middle of the night and know that no matter what happened I’ll be on my way to the airport in under 15 minutes to find them, who I can have round on holidays, who treat me as if we shared the same blood in our veins.

9. To dip myself in the Atlantic every Christmas Eve until I die.

This was a tradition I started with myself approximately 3 Christmas’ ago. I’ll be honest, the past few years I’ve woken up in absolutely no mood whatsoever to do it. But I get myself out of bed, I hype up on the drive to the beach, and as soon as I run into that salt water all hesitations disappear. This is genuinely a shock to the system, a defibrillator for the non-threatened living. The Atlantic is another piece of the lifeforce puzzle for me and I invite anyone who would like to try it to join me next 12/24.

10. To write a novel.

A fully finished, contentedly drafted version of a novel. It’s a secret to no one that I love to write. Most days I regret not taking the academia route and becoming a poor, starving writer living out of a 1-room apartment in Soho, feeding a mysterious cat leftover pizza crust when it comes to visit on my fire escape. For mostly myself but partly for others, I’d love to just be able to extract a full story from the hoards that swim up there in the ventricles of my brain. And better yet, to put it down in the way I know in my heart and soul that I can.

11. To go to Russia and channel my inner Lev.

Blame the birth of this random obsession on the mesmerizing writing style of Count Tolstoy in “Anna Karenina,” then allocate some more to Armie Hammer and Nikolai Gogol. Add a dash of the Napoleonic Muscovites and you’ve got yourself quite a few threads sewn into whatever it is that’s made me so interested in Russia. My fear with most places in this world is that some day humankind will ruin them. I’d like to see the beauty of the Russia that dear Lev wrote so wonderfully about before I can’t.

12. To cultivate a garden.

Gardening is a passion that I can’t say I possess any skill for, but I have a great deal of interest in it and that’s what matters! Some day I’d like to build a massive garden teeming with veggies, fruits, trees, flowers, and general shrubbery of vast array.

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13. To fall in love whenever I can.

A natural follow-up to planting lavender for luck. There’s a Great Love out there for all of us and I’d very much maybe I think like to find mine. I tend to not let myself near this within a 24,901 mile circumference but maybe some time I’ll give it a try. Whoever it is that gets stuck with me is gonna need quite a few new pairs of dancing shoes.

14. To see a ghostie.

This is and was and also still is one of my biggest fears. I 1,000% believe in ghosts and ghouls and spirits and sprites and whatever else you might want to term them. I believe that humans are not the only ones wandering around this planet. There have been several moments when I’ve gotten That Feeling but I’ll usually panic beg to see nothing, to experience nothing, to fall into a dreamless slumber and wake in the daylight and deal with nothing. But it’s a fascination, and some day I’d like to encounter something, or someone.

15. To overcome my fear of flying.

People continually scoff at me when I tell them that I am terrified of flying. Yes, it is something I do fairly frequently for my chosen career. Yes, I’ve also done it fairly frequently for my chosen leisure activities. Doesn’t mean that I don’t have a complete breakdown every time we encounter the slightest teeny tiny bump. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: some day I’ll learn to fly.

16. To learn the drums (only for very specific songs).

I want. To be. Dave Grohl. Have no fear, I’m not running off to become a rock and roll drummer in a Devo cover band (yet). It’s just that when listening to the music that I love, the drums are always the instrument that resonate the most with me (weak at best, I tried). There’s a handful of songs I’d like to progress from steering wheel slamming to kick drum stomping.

17. To get published.

By something with a little more reputational integrity than talesofcasstastrophe.com. Now, allow me to comment that I do in fact consider this as very much different from writing a novel. I have every faith in my abilities to write a novel in my lifetime. In fact, if we’re being really honest, I think I could muster up enough for half a dozen but let’s not expect too much from ourselves, shall we? Becoming published is something else altogether. I think it would be really cool to some day write an article or a short fiction for my dream publication The New Yorker, or even a 300 word book review for the local Daily News. Let’s go for gold. Both a published novel (to be picked up at your local brick and mortar bookstore, please) and a byline.

18. To learn how to fix my anxiety.

Many and much could be said on this matter, maybe some day I’ll give it a better story telling. It boils down to generalized anxiety, many people around the earth have it whether they admit it, know it, or not. I’d like to find out all the ways to cope and assuage and ultimately fix mine for the sake of myself.

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19. To spend a night under the Northern Hemisphere stars.

Ursas Major and Minor. Draco. Andromeda. Cassiopeia. I’ve never really seen a night sky. I’ve always been in places with a decent amount of light pollution and some day, I want to spend an eve in awe and wonder with my favorite version of the midnight hemisphere.

20. To amass a squad of little ones.

I toyed with replacing the . with a ? but for consistency’s sake I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Some time, in my life, I think that I want to have children? I always loved the idea of a home packed to bursting with the energy of kiddos running up and down the walls. I adore the idea of a big family, there for each other through every possible stage of humanity. As I get a little older, I realize just how difficult it is for me to picture the realities of this life. What it means to actually make it happen. But either way the love story goes, children will likely maybe could possibly come into play.

21. To rock and roll my way across America.

Partly inspired by items on my bucket list such as ‘drive Route 66 while listening to ‘Route 66” and partly inspired by Sonic Highways (again, Dave Grohl is my icon). Rock and roll is my most favorite thing about this country, and if #3 comes true then my time to experience it is drawing to a close. There are so many amazing, musically historical places. Underground Seattle, Chicago (Chicago!), the Hall of Fame in Cincinnati, Muscle Shoals, any and every hole in the wall across all of Tennessee.

22. To live in a home that is Broadway-level secluded.

Singing in the shower is a favorite pastime of mine. Relatable. However, because I’ve only ever lived in apartment buildings with uncomfortably close proximity to neighbors, I tend to sing very quietly in aforementioned shower. Which is not nearly as fun an experience as it could be! I want a place where I can crank the stereo to eardrum-bursting levels and really go for that “Phantom of the Opera” scale without fear of my neighbors broomstick-busting their ceilings.

23. To chase a storm.

In case you haven’t caught on by this point, pretty much everything I want to do in my life is unoriginal. This particular item is inspired by, you guessed it, you saw it coming: “Twister.” SUCH an incredible movie! I’d very much like to give this a try and end up cowering in a ditch, thinking this is the moment when I die, only to come out on the other side with my white tank-top moderately muddied.

24. To read every book I could ever possibly want to.

This one is a concession. I’d like to be Bill Nighy in “About Time” and just keep jumping back and forth to read millions and billions of books, but odds aren’t in my favor. This year I’ll take a list a little more seriously. I won’t just add things to my To Read on Goodreads and let them sit there for years, unattended. (If you believed that for one single second you are joking yourself.)

25. To want for nothing.

Self explanatory. To make it through my life doing and having and seeing and being all the things I could ever possibly want to.


Consider this my list of Casstastrophes on deck. I’ll do my best to update it as the years go on, so you can check back from your forearm-embedded smart screens in 2043 and see how cool and rad and awesome I always told you I was going to be.

In all seriousness, thank you from the every atom of my heart for being part of 25 with me. I’m very happy to be here.

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Learn Stuff: 10 Tips for Making Moves

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Next weekend marks the one year anniversary of my move down from Rhode Island to North Carolina. Can you believe it!? I cannot, and yet here we are. I’ve been thinking back on the past year of life I’ve lived down here in the Tar Heel state (fun fact: still no idea what a “Tar Heel” is) and let’s get one thing straight. Making moves is not easy. Especially when you’re moving to a place that you’ve never been to before, where you know no one, and you’re starting off on a brand new chapter of your begrudgingly “adult” life.

Let’s just say I learned some things. Things like vampire teeth bottle openers are a necessity in every modern home. Things that I would like to share with you in the event that you are thinking of making moves of your own. Enjoy.


1. VISIT

Do not search for apartments from the screen of a computer, way across the Atlantic, while sitting at a desk in a house on the Emerald Isle. Not my most brilliant idea because, shocker, I hated my first apartment here in Charlotte. Even though I hadn’t seen it before I moved in, I happen to be pretty… let’s call it unaffected (when I looked up synonyms for that I found ‘unsophisticated’ which also works) when it comes to stuff like this, so I knew I could make it work for the length of the lease. Understandable that everyone is not like that, so my advice is take a flight to the place you’re thinking of moving towards. Rent a car, get out there in the neighborhoods, and get away from the tourist attractions of the city / town. If you move there you will not be a tourist, you will be a resident. Go see where you want to reside. With your actual eyeballs.

2. Keep an open mind 

When I was first looking for apartments (again, stupidly from afar) I was convinced that I needed an outdoor patio and a fireplace. There was a compromise on the fireplace but I was still completely unwilling to budge on the outdoor space. Which then led me to spend an entire year never once using said space because I hated my surroundings, so, refer to #1… then also remember that the things you think you are dead set in need of you probably aren’t. Scope out all sorts of arrangements from your wish list and go with the place that gives you the best vibe. It might be the one you expect to like the least but you’ll never know if you don’t keep an open mind about the whole thing.

3. Clean first, move boxes later

When you finally find your dream dwelling and moving day comes around, take your time. Let the moving trucks idle for a few minutes. I know, this can be difficult, but trust me. Pick up your keys and walk into the place. Look around, see what the layout is like, if everything is prepped and ready for you to really immerse yourself and your boxes and boxes of useless belongings (no one needs that many mixing bowls, NO ONE) into it. If the guys who gave the place a fresh coat of paint weren’t so careful about leaving their shoes at the door, give the floor a quick mop down (or Swiffer if you’re not fully embracing that adulthood thing yet) before you start bringing everything in. Take the time to prep the place before you start the fun parts of unpacking. You don’t want to clean at the same time, trust me. I did that with my first apartment and it was miserable.

4. Don’t rush through it all

This goes for unpacking the old and purchasing the new. There is no race to unpack. Take your time, look at the things you’re moving in, and see if any slipped through the first round of “spring cleaning.” Put them places with a purpose. If something seems to have no place, and you’re stressing about where to shove it off to (because the hall closet is somehow already miraculously full with your two costume bags which you simply cannot downsize in any way), maybe just chuck it out. I am the QUEEN of holding on to things. I genuinely still have an old acorn in my possession from… no less than 6 years ago. Couldn’t tell you where or why or any semblance of significance but it moves with me everywhere.

I also happen to be the Queen of impulse buys, a woman of many talents. I see something or think about something that I want and it becomes a need to have it as soon as possible. Don’t be like me. Think about that children’s train rug from Ikea before you buy it. Give yourself a week or two or four to really think on the new things that you want to purchase. Then come back and see if they’re still in your head and if so, no one will stop you from buying them. Hopefully no one will stop you anyways because I assume you are an adult and are capable of making your own decisions, but you get the picture. I will not practice what I preach so be a doll and do it for me.

5. Get used to new creatures

Especially if you move down to the South. Let me tell you, this little Northerner had never seen bugs until she moved to the other side of the Mason-Dixon. There were a lot of new creatures I had to become accustomed to and… you know, I’m still not fully there but I’m doing alright for myself. And I have decent friends who will kill things for me when I ask them to… with tears in my eyes. Just accept that this is a new part of the culture, wherever you go. There will be new animals and critters to get used to. I believe in you.

6. Don’t let everyone scare you

You’ve never met My Nana but let me tell you, a more terrifyingly superstitious tiny Scottish woman you never did see. My first month down here she sent me a care package comprised of one little newspaper clipping. The harbinger herself sent me an article about a brain-eating amoeba that was found at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. Other people I knew warned me against certain parts of my new town and tried to repress the habits I’ve cultivated growing up in a close-knit Rhode Island city. There is danger out there in the world in every place, city or small town. Not trying to get too deep into that rabbit hole, and I’m not saying to trust every stranger you encounter, but know that it’s not healthy to let every little panicky Patricia out there get into the core of your livelihood when you’re moving to a new place. Just be smart about yourself.

7. You are much tougher than you think you are

Two weeks. That was how long it took before I had a complete mental breakdown, sitting alone on top of my bed in the early morning hot summer air, with about two months left before I started work, realizing that I just wanted to go back home. It was really hard to be in a place where I knew absolutely no one and at the same time, I knew that I had done this to myself. I wanted this! I wanted a change and a new area and I knew that came at the cost of friends and family nearby. I had to remind myself that I had never experienced a new place before where I had gone the whole duration without meeting anyone (and Charlotte has been no different – I’m very thankful to have met all sorts of wonderful and interesting humans, a few of which I get to call my friends). That reminder didn’t come to mind very quickly, and it didn’t make things any easier to deal with for a while. It probably took me a good month or two before I came to terms with the fact that I’m a tough cookie. I can stick it. But tough cookies still get homesick and that’s okay. You will get through it, even though you might not think so.

8. Find routines

Anyone else a big routine person? A planner person? A, I believe what they call us is, “type A” person? Part of what helped me get acclimated to my new city and my new life is the Sunday morning routine I’ve built for myself. I love going for drives with the windows down in this Southern swelter, so on Sunday mornings just before 10am I hop in the car and hit the road for a 20-25 minute-ish trip down to one of my favorite coffee spots. I turn on NPR’s Car Talk (shoutout to my best friend’s mom for getting me into that one) and laugh along with the radio as I cruise there and back for my caffeine fix. It’s an hour of my time, in all honesty, that has kept me sane. It’s something that I look forward to every weekend and it’s a routine that’s helped me adjust to my hectic work-life down here. Highly recommend getting something similar for your own.

9. Know your space

Whether it’s a walking city like Boston or a driving city like Charlotte or a small town in, I don’t know, wherever you’re going with a small town, get out there and know your space. I pride myself (on many things, but on this in particular) on knowing how to navigate most of the bottom half of Charlotte without a map. Queen of the (yeah, one more) backroads… in my own heart and mind. When I first moved down here I experienced getting myself lost a few times and eventually finding my way home. Figure out where your favorite stores are, where the best coffee place is, what routes to take when your usual cut-through is blocked off for a 5k. It makes you feel really good about yourself and like you’re actually getting a bit more settled. Sidenote: my uncle is one of those guys who can tell you directions for literally 99% of the country (“85 has a lot of traffic? Just hop on 49 to 77 to breaker breaker 1-9” etc. etc.) and I aspire to be that so this helps.

10. Receive change

Refer to the above, god knows how many times, when I mentioned some form of my stubbornness. Charlotte has never been on my radar as a forever home. When I moved down here I was convinced that I was going to absolutely love my first apartment and live in it for the few years that I stayed down here. I thought my trusty little blue VW would get me through those next few years. I thought work would have me traveling all over the country and I’d never get to know this fair city. I thought I would keep to myself and make 0 friends. What I’m getting at here is that, basically, I thought a lot of things and very few of them have held true. Yeah, guys, I made friends.

In March my best friend came down to visit and as I told her my woes of having to start the new car search process, she voiced the very core of my fears out loud. Change happens. Plans get deviated from and that’s okay! In my head, it was everything but okay. I had all of this figured out, it was step by step, cookie cutter. And now, merely a year later, almost everything has changed from what I expected. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: don’t fight that. I did, until I realized I can’t. Receive the changes that happen in your life. Tell yourself what I tell myself:

It will all be a-okay, Jack.

 

24 Lessons Learned To Get To 24

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New year, new… just about nothing else.

The planets have been a-turning and once again, I’m faced with the internal dilemma of tacking another year onto my young age. As my mother so lovingly likes to remind me, every day is another one closer to 30.

Last year, I rather liked thinking up 23 thoughts on turning 23. This year, though, I thought to myself “Cass, what in the hell are you going to write for the big 2-4?” At the time, I was driving down a familiar street on a cold and rainy day, home in ‘lil Rhodey for the holidays, and it started to become apparent that it’s really a small miracle I’ve even made it to the age of 24 at all.

So there you have it, folks. 24 lessons learned that got me to the age of 24. This list is in no way exhaustive, I can assure you of that. But some of my favorites. Enjoy.


1. Laughter will not always be your best medicine. Sometimes it’ll be tears. Sometimes a little quiet contemplation. Sometimes a spontaneous trip across the Atlantic. Sometimes actual medicine, you idiot.

2. The best skill you can ever learn is how to be comfortable alone. By yourself. On your own. Don’t wait for other people to help you live your life, choose your own adventure book and then sit in a coffee shop all by yourself for a few hours and read it.  That’s how the proverb goes, right?

3. Slow down; in all things, slow down. You do not need to sigh loudly in line at the post office because I’m here to tell you that you sound like a jerk when you do. What is the actual rush? The world will keep turning. Patience.

4. Blueberries grow on tiny little tree bushes. I know. And peanuts? “Peanuts grow in the GROUND and are therefore GROUND-nuts, and after you take them out of the ground you grind them up and you have ground ground-nuts, which is a much more accurate name than peanut butter, you just don’t understand English.”

5. Always settle practical questions with sentiments which have nothing to do with them. Make your anger never furious; your love never fierce, but instead deep and tender.

6. People will change and you will have to adapt to that. Which maybe might mean taking separate paths. I speak from experience, though, when I say that those that are meant to join up again some day, will.

7. Impactful moments come in packages large and small. A good song on the radio when you’re having a tough day. An unexpected friendship that is on track to last a lifetime. When something wants to hit you, let it, and appreciate it for whatever it is.

8. Listen to your body and let it help you get to know yourself. For general medical problems, realize what your systems are trying to tell you and remember those signs for next time. But also we all have those moments where something ever so insignificant happens and it somehow manages to throw off your entire day, giving you that awful back-of-your-mind-anxiety or pit-of-the-stomach-discomfort. Call it out. If I say something I regret to a loved one or some kind of uncomfortable interaction happens with a friend or I do something embarrassing at work, I force myself to acknowledge it. Tell yourself it’s going to be okay. The day is gonna go on, life is gonna keep being lived, and it’s gonna work itself out. 9 times out of 10 confronting it helps me move on from those bad feelings a lot faster than if I had avoided and repressed to begin with. Know how to help yourself get over it.

9. You got the music in you, don’t let go. You got the music in you, one dance left, this world is gonna pull through. Don’t give up, you got a reason to live. Can’t forget, we only get what we give.

10. Family does not always mean blood. Not to me, anyways. There are so many people on so many corners of this beautifully expansive world that I consider to be my family, and I very much want them all to know that.

11. Listen with your heart, you will understand. And also left side, strong side.

12. Cry if you want to cry and don’t be embarrassed by that very natural emotional response. For joy or anger or sadness or because it’s Tuesday. A whole childhood of people scolding me for being “too sensitive” taught me that what the heck is wrong with crying? What the heck do I need to be from Mars for? (.2% of my readers will get that reference…)

13. There’re some things I know for certain. Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Plant lavender for luck. And fall in love whenever you can.

14. Get competitive with yourself, not with others. Getting competitive with others makes you obnoxious, but getting competitive with yourself makes you push your limits, hopefully in all the right ways.

15. When someone makes you laugh, tell them. It helps the both of you know that you want to keep them around. Nothing makes me happier than having a good laugh.

16. Make your time always well spent, never wasted. If there are things you don’t want to do, don’t. You’re the only one determining how you live this life and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

17. Potatoes have 48 chromosomes. That’s 2 more than humans. You can draw whatever conclusions you want from that one, I’m just providing the facts…

18. When you make mistakes, own them. Lying or avoiding it because you’re afraid of the consequences is not a good idea.

19. Never doubt yourself on your ability to adventure. Book the flight, google the bus timetables and write them on little slips of paper with emergency addresses on the backs. Get out there into whatever piece of the world it is that you want to see because I’m a firm believer that it won’t always be around to be seen like this.

20. When you feel love for something, anything, let it run unboundedly.

21. Have courage and be kind. Always, always, always be kind. And always have the courage to do so. There’s enough bad stuff going on out there, we don’t need to get it from each other too.

22. Trees. Are. So. Rad. Did you know the oldest tree in the world is over 4,000 years old??? And here I am stressed about being 24. Respect the trees.

23. Imagination is the most beautiful gift to ever be given to humankind. I feel so supremely sad for people who don’t use theirs. I entreat you, please find a way.

24. I still find that for all things in life, I can’t ask why. And I’m always going to be a better person for that.


As always, I’m thankful to see another glorious year on this here earth. And I’m thankful that you and I get to see it together, dear reader.

Something makes me think that 24 will help us find quite a few new Tales to tell.