3 years to 50!?

I’ve had many words to say about inconsequential things, and inconsequential words to say about many things. Somehow that got us to 50 complete packages of things published on this here internet space we call Tales of Cass.

Three years! Fifty posts! I am equal parts impressed and disappointed in that figure.

A few weeks ago I stumbled back onto my landing page and started looking through the old drafts of some of the things I’ve saved to write over the years. I’ll be honest, it started making me pretty upset. I wish I could say in the past few weeks or even months but, in all honesty, in the past year (and then some) I’ve had such a stretch of lacking the desire to write anything at all – on and off this space.

If my personal journals ever make it into a museum exhibit, this time period will come to be known as The Barren. Correspondences with faraway friends via letters and emails, the kind that kept my fingers nice and toasty warmed up, have slowly dropped off. Scribbles of notes with ideas and words and strings of sentences sit in a notebook, unacted upon.

I remember the exact day that I started this site, which says a lot because I remember approximately nothing in my life (poor nutrition and homeostatic dehydration will do that to you, kids). It was while sitting on the bed of my tiny little dungeon (read: basement) dorm in Cambridge, convinced that I wasn’t going to make any friends during my study abroad experience (flash forward and I’ve now seen two of those friends get married) so I needed something else to keep myself occupied. It was a crazy, creative, wonderful summer for me because it was the first time I got to immerse myself entirely in the things that I loved – two whole months of reading and writing.

It made, and still makes, me so happy to post something here. To think of an idea and jot down a ton of random notes about what I envision I’ll be able to put together. Then to go out and do it so that I can sit down and write it.

When it comes easily, that’s when I know I’m onto something that I really truly enjoy – not just in the moment but in the now years later when I scan back through these pages on particularly bad days. I used to find any excuse to get my words out here, to make myself laugh and grow and do something a little outside my comfort zone. Now I find myself using Tales of Cass more often than not for the memorabilia – to look back on all of the cool things that I’ve done and to remind me of where my heart places lie.

I’m trying my hardest to get back to those words that we all know are in here somewhere.

In the meantime, and as a celebration of these three wild years, I wanted to do what I do best and look back on some of my top three categorized Casstastrophes. Obviously I can’t go without also giving you some slightly new content so “never-before-read” Editor’s Notes have also been added for every link, from me to me to you. Enjoy.


Top 3 Photos

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Top 3 Lists

Learn a Book, Every Annual
2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

Pembroke Library

Probably the most consistent thing about this place. Technically this is cheating, you may say, these are four individual posts. But I say I do what I want. There will be a record kept of the books that I read regardless and I enjoy writing these annual challenges so much because they keep me on my toes. My past few years have gone so horribly off-course from the intended end results that even my intense internalized competitiveness couldn’t help drag them back, but here we are. I try really hard to write these as funny, punny, and informative. I’m also obsessive over page counts, which is why they’re always included. Engage me, I dare you.

A List of Cooking Tips For a Novice Like Me

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I am such a bad cook. And also still reeling from the fact that I baked bread once. As in, edible food bread. Like, bread that people actually ate. Shockingly enough, I actually still remember some of these tips that I was taught. I’ve also come to enjoy getting a little experimental in the kitchen every now and then. As long as the every includes a bottle of red wine.

23 Thoughts On Turning 23

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The OG of yet another annual series. 23 Thoughts is particularly fond to me because it essentially wrote itself in my head while I was driving down a well-worn street in my hometown, one I’ve driven at least 7,000 times. It was the holidays and I was home for indefinitely after just having finished my undergraduate education. Apparently I was in a reflective mood and a bunch of the Thoughts started begging for attention so I wrote them into a draft while waiting in line at Starbucks. Over the next month or so it grew into what it is. I’m either going to die young or we’re all going to be stuck living through this hellscape of wondering what gimmicks I can come up with until I’m 87.

Top 3 Written

Real Moments: “To Everything Its Proper Time And Place And Turn.”

I don’t really talk on why I do these but I do them. This one was a storm. I spent weeks barely sleeping on the floor of my college dorm room, drinking more apple cider than any human rightfully should, and playing hours upon hours of Gilmore Girls episodes because I was too afraid of quiet. Gogol’s ‘Dead Souls’ was the first thing to make me laugh again. A group of guys who asked to pair with me for a semester-long class project were the second. None of them were actually friends with me, but they’ll never know how much I needed them to be exactly them at that point in time. I had a duality to play. Go to class, finish your degree. Stay home, think of it all. Eventually this one wrote itself too.

Books I Brought Abroad

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Another one with strong associations to the floor. My room in Ireland had a heater settled at the wallspace between the bottom of the window and the top of the baseboards. When I was reading or writing I’d either sit in the chair at my little desk right next to it or on the floor with my body twisted and tucked to make the heat hit as many places as possible (my best was full back plus a thigh and a half). As a kid I used to lay on the floor next to the heater to read as well so if there’s two things we all take away about me today it’s warmth and floors. This was the first supplemental books posts I made (beyond Learn A Book), and it started the idea of bibliove.

To England, With Love: A Send-Off to Summer

Have I mentioned how important this experience was to me, yet? Cool, cool, just checking. To this day I am fascinated by the concept of a blue door. I don’t recall ever seeing them before this experience but there was something so soul-catching about the aesthetic of them. I learned a great many things during this experience and I really enjoyed finding a way to write the important ones out to share. It was my own little thank you to every person, place, and thing that was a part of it all.

Top 3 Voyages

Kancamagus Highway

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I believe I did this the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving one year. I really didn’t want to spend time around the house and for some reason this place that we used to visit when I was a kid just kept tugging at the back of my mind. Roadtrips are a favorite activity for me. I’ll find any excuse to drive around for a while. My family asked why and I lied and told them I was going to visit a friend because if I just said I wanted to take a drive they would have made it a big deal and ruined it for me (sorry, family!). I just missed the woods and the mountains and the feeling of Autumn. Boston and Newport weren’t delivering at the time. This was a day of getting comfortable with the quiet again.

Into Twilight

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It shocks me sometimes when people who really know me don’t realize how much I love Vampire lore. The Twilight Series meant a lot to me as a young teen, and it still means a lot to me today (I’ll hold my dissertation for another time but if you’d like to engage on this one too then you know how to find me). My best friend moved to the Pacific Northwest and during my first visit we took a roadtrip out to see the magical mystical realistical Forks, WA! It has since become our favorite annual excursion. If you’ve never been to the Olympic Peninsula you are missing out on some serious natural vigor. This trip was also my first time seeing the Pacific ocean.

Skibbereen & Baltimore

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This was a great day. It was brisk and Irish as all hell. I spent the morning wandering around on my own and appreciating the small town that is Skibbereen before Tony joined me and we took the tour a little farther out to the town of Baltimore. I don’t think I really have anything fresh and new to say that I didn’t already write into this – except for the fact that thanks to Tony, I am fully intending a return to the Emerald Isle so I can roadtrip the heck out of the Wild Atlantic Way. Windows down, old folk streaming through on the radio, winding my way around the ocean.

Top 3 To Make Me Laugh

Café Cake Crawl

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This was one of the funniest days I have ever spent with myself. Also one of the most physically grueling. Trying to explain to a bunch of Irish people that I was going to spend an entire day in town eating a ridiculous amount of cake… remembering their reactions to how I was choosing to spend my Saturday “off” and just in general the fact that this was an idea that I had… it still makes me laugh. I abused my stomach so much for this. Disturbing amounts of sugar layered on top with disturbing amounts of caffeine to make room for more sugar and thus more caffeine… what a day! I will surely do more ridiculous crawls like this in my lifetime. Little Birdie says stay tuned.

Scotland’s National Book Town

Hands down the best Voyage I have ever had. I wanted to save it for this category though because it was truly like some kind of TV special – a young girl trekking her way through the homeland lowland in pursuit of genuinely nothing at all. The entire trip was absolutely wild. I want to just quickly emphasize that I honestly truly laughed out loud to myself for three days straight on this trip. I did nothing but sleep and read and wander and laugh. I have a feeling this was a gift from the Universe to settle me and prepare me and bid me an apology right before it tore my world right into tiny shredded little pieces of heartache.

£5 Worth of Local Drinking Tips

this thing

Once again, I remember sitting on my bed in my little tiny dungeon (again, read: basement) dorm room in Cambridge (one more time for the people in the back), writing this post and cracking myself up. It was the first thing I was really putting out there on Tales of Cass and the jokes they were a-rolling! I doubt any of those jokes came through to anyone else reading it, but alas. I maintain that I am the funniest person I have ever known. No one can make me laugh like I can make me laugh, and that’s pretty special.


Looking back on all of this, what has stuck with me the most about this space is the people who have come along with it. I went through a ton of failed blog creations before Tales finally took hold, mostly because I was worried that I didn’t have anything to say to anyone. Now you’ve all shown me, friends and strangers alike, that I do. Months will go by with no content and yet you still reach out to send a message and start a dialogue, share your thoughts on what I wrote, or send support that makes me that much more encouraged to keep doing what I’m doing.

Tales of Cass was always first and foremost for me, but it continues from such a deep and heartfelt appreciation of the people around me that want to be a part of it too. No one on this planet, least of all me, can possibly comprehend what it means to me to share this space with others who actually want it. Thank you, thank you, thank you – if only that were enough.

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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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.

Inch by Inch, Row by Row: Life Lessons from the Garden

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Almost 2 months ago when I told my family I would be leaving to go work outside on an estate in Ireland for a little while, they were incredulous. To them, and friends, and many others, it didn’t fit their image of me. They couldn’t see why I felt a need to do this. But to me, a lot of my childhood was spent outside and a lot of my lifehood is spent searching for something, anything, new to learn.

So that’s why I did it.

I want to once again say thank you to Tony, the head gardener I had the privilege of working with at Inish Beg. We had many conversations over my 6 weeks in West Cork and while some days those conversations were more oriented towards my obsessions with potatoes and Ice Road Truckers, most days they were of a more reflective and thought provoking nature. Whether or not Tony was aware of all the cogs turning and perspectives shifting in my head is another story, but turn and shift they did and this post is only a handful of the ones I took away from it all.

A few weeks ago I watched a movie called “A Little Chaos” which is about the construction of the gardens at Versailles. Not only is the original score almost unbearably beautiful (highly recommend giving the title track a listen), but the story and design of the movie itself were really moving for me. There was a particular quote in the beginning of the film that struck me:

“God put us first into a garden, and when we lost Eden we were fated to search and reinvent it again.”

Maybe without the context of the film this isn’t so moving for you, but it’s definitely a notion that has stayed with me since I heard it. I love being outside, I’ve always loved being outside, and as a relatively young person a lot of my life now feels like a search for the places I feel most comfortable in.

In a way, this trip was a piece of my search for Eden – and here is what I found.


Give back what’s taken | bare root planting

I’m gonna kick this paragraph off by saying bare root planting is hard but it was probably the thing I enjoyed the most. Before this trip I had planted one single tree in my lifetime, on a study abroad trip, and it was quite a different lesson. People aren’t the only things that destroy nature (though I will definitely agree they’re the largest cause). The elements, disease, plain old coincidence and circumstance – they all have a hand to play. It became a sort of fundamental importance to put back into the earth whatever was taken, regardless of the cause. In the case of self-seeding plants, Mother Nature might just do it herself. But in the case of trees and hedge and fruits and veg a little human help is probably greatly appreciated.

Give and take has always been around, I’ve heard people saying it all my life. But now I see that it applies to all facets: to the things we consume and create as well as the friendships and kinships and small ships and big ships and what? Where was I going with that? Oh yeah, kindness finds its roots in giving – so that it can grow better branches to take from.

Keep it simple | small garden beds

Massive scale is hardly something I’ll be able to balance in my own future gardening endeavors, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to enjoy fresh foods, herbs, and flowers. Keeping it simple doesn’t always have to translate to keeping it small, that just happens to be how my own personal garden will manifest itself. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed or discouraged it’s important to remember that a little can go a long way. So I’ll be starting with the basics: potatoes and maybe a flower or two.

Aside from gardens, there are a lot of aspects of my life that I want to simplify. I feel that there is so much overcomplication these days and that’s a huge stress trigger for me. I hate wasted space, I hate lugging around a huge closet of things I don’t even wear, I hate trying to make convoluted plans just to spend quality time with friends… so it’s all getting nixed! Simple eating, simple living, simple wearing, simple being – I’m here on out making the conscious effort.

Have vision | the winter season

Now, arriving to work on a garden in the winter season is not exactly the best idea if you want to see luscious, blooming flowers and fresh, green shrubbery. Most of what I worked with was brown and dampened, but I was conditioned into a sense of remembering that life was still in full swing all around us. Just because a plant was brown or wasn’t visible didn’t mean that it was dead. Winter is not a deadly season, it’s a resting season. Whenever I learned new plants or got assigned new tasks, we’d talk through what those plants would become or why those tasks were instrumental to promoting their growth. Creating those visions made me excited for the things I was doing because I had a better grasp on what was to come.

I consider myself a person with a healthy amount of creativity and a big imagination, but I also know that I struggle with preconception. If I’m working on something new, it’s fairly easy for me to open my mind but when it’s something I think I know and understand already, breaking down the walls to create that vision becomes more difficult. There are a million different adjectives you can use to describe this quality of myself (hey now, I heard that one!), but let’s just stick with visionistically impaired.

Work the lens both ways | the brassica bed & pruning the Rosa Rugosas

What I mean by that is step back just as much as you zoom in. The Rosa Rugosas were probably my favorite plants of the entire trip, and it’s a shame that I won’t get to see them in bloom. When I did a little research I discovered that they are not in fact a spell from Harry Potter but are actually noted in the US for being a tough dune plant, highly concentrated along the Northeast coastline. Pruning them, however, is relatively challenging considering the entirety of their branches are covered in small thorns. In gardening, there is a fine balance between the aesthetic and the practical. You have to be empirical in pruning back the roses because you want them to be healthy, however you also have to be conscious of the look and shape they will produce after said pruning. AKA you’ve got to step away every few cuts to make sure you haven’t lost sight of the bigger picture.

The brassica bed was a place I put a lot of work into my last few weeks. The bed itself was pretty much the only outdoor space we had providing fresh vegetables for the winter months, before the new seeds were sown and the new plants grown. Each week we’d pick through broccoli and cauliflower, parsley and wild chives, kale and assorted rainbow chards. In no way was the general health of any of these plants attributable to me, but I happily took on preparing and maintaining them for a bit. Pulling a few weeds, cutting off the dead or slug-eaten leaves, and giving the soil a good turn were all relatively minor tasks yet they made such a huge difference in the appearance of the bed. When stepping back suddenly the greens looked greener and the since-staked slumped over broccolis looked taller. I contented myself with knowing that for such small modifications, they seemed to make a world of difference in the grand scheme.

Be gentle… | encountering bugs & new growth

Honestly, I’m terrified of bugs. When I was little my tolerance had a hard stop at snails and worms. Hopefully it isn’t news to you that gardens have all manners of bugs but I had to learn to suck it up and accept that a lot of them were on our side (although the slugs had to go). Apparently bumblebees hibernate! They bury themselves in the soil over the winter and I came across several while working through the strawberry beds. The Cassie of yesteryears would have likely screamed and run away but knowing the importance, especially in the general population decline, of those bees I tried my best to leave them as undisturbed as possible… or at least move them to a safer spot of soil. I found myself feeling a lot more compassion towards bugs than I ever have before, so we’ll see how long that lasts.

Bumblebees weren’t the only things I had to be careful of though. New growth was everywhere, and I just had to learn how to look for it. What little gardening skill I brought with me on this trip culminated in the brute force method of weeding – tug that sucker out as hard as you can and rip at whatever is left. Wrong! I had to kick that habit upon arrival because in this garden, there was a necessity to be gentle. That new growth was usually hidden deep under all of the weeds I was clearing away, or even looked like a weed itself, so it became important to take my time and use whatever gentleness I could muster. There was a satisfaction that came from slowly working the entirety, roots and all, of a weed out of the ground and leaving the beautiful new plants safely undisturbed beside it. There is a gentleness and compassion that is warranted with even the most imperceptible of things – including the weeds. Make of that what you will.

… but not delicate pretty much everything!

Again, Ireland in the winter is not a forgiving climate and I wasn’t even there for the worst of it. That’s not to say that I was out battering the elements for the sake of tidying up a few dead stalks of parsley, but I still had to learn to embrace a little rain and mud. I was excited about getting my hands dirty for once. This whole experience was meant to push the comfort zones of my physical, mental, and emotional states – and I’m happy to report that it did. I worked hard at removing hesitation from anything I was asked to do because that’s how you learn and grow as a person (or something). I got comfortable with the dirt and the mud, the shoveling and the wheelbarrowing. Not being super strong didn’t stop me from trying as best I could and I like to think that I made my coworkers proud… because I can definitely say that I made me proud of me.

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A panorama from inside the Walled Garden. That big bed in the left-center is the brassica bed I worked on!

23 Thoughts On Turning 23

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I started working on this list a month or so ago, jotting down thoughts whenever they struck me of what I wanted the coming year to be like. Most are silly, some are serious – coincidentally how I would also describe the LinkedIn “photo shoot” outtakes I’ve included here. Realized it’s fun to document these things, especially for the sake of looking back a few years from now to see the changes.

Thanks for having me, 23. I’m super excited to be here.


1) Stop rounding up your age before you get there. You’ve got all of next year to be that old.

2) Eat more potatoes.

3) Eat less chocolate.

4) Always give your little brother a hug when you come home.

5) Keep poison out of your heart.

6) Another year gone by, another every-Sandra-Bullock-movie-marathon gone undone. JUST DO IT.

7) Hydrate.

8) Don’t force it.

9) Tell your friends that you’re proud of them because you are.

10) Have courage & be kind.

11) Crush that new job.

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12) Stop assuming the worst – sometimes the friendly stranger is just a friendly stranger.

13) Remember to miss the snow every once in a while.

14) Make yourself laugh every. single. day. (you’re very good at this, shouldn’t be a problem)

15) Follow those gut feeling first instincts. Instead of not doing that and immediately regretting it 99.87% of the time.

16) Don’t pet the sweaty things.

17) Never give a half-hearted hug. Bear or bust.

18) Surround yourself with more plants, they make you very happy. Just try to stop naming them, cause then they make you sad when they inevitably die.

19) Ask people to tell you their stories.

20) Learn some natural remedies.

21) Be prepared to lose arguments and practice taking it graciously.

22) Bite to ten. Your heart will feel happier after not saying what your flip-switch temper wants you to.

23) This is the year… to listen to more Incubus. (2009’s “Monuments & Melodies” – ENOUGH SAID)

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Learn a Book! – 20[16k]

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“Seize the moments of happiness, make them love you, fall in love yourself! That is the only real thing in this world – the rest is all nonsense.” – Leo Tolstoy

For those of you who followed along with last year, learning some books was quite an accomplishment. In 2015 I read 30 books and racked up almost 12,000 pages. This year, rather than upping the same old ante again by tacking on a few more books to the total, I decided to shift the challenge over to those page counts. It’s something I track anyways, so why not make it the focus this go-around?

20[16k] pages. Let’s do this.


  1. “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer [461 pgs]
  2. “Cress” by Marissa Meyer [550 pgs]
  3. “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh [308 pgs]
  4. “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater [408 pgs]
  5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee [323 pgs]
  6. “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt [139 pgs]
  7. “Dr. Franklin’s Island” by Ann Halam [245 pgs]
  8. “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss [662 pgs]
  9. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë [524 pgs]
  10. “Skibbereen: The Famine Story” by Terri Kearney & Philip O’Regan [84 pgs]
  11. “The Trial” by Franz Kafka [210 pgs]
  12. “Dubliners” by James Joyce [192 pgs]
  13. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë [326 pgs]
  14. “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy [464 pgs]
  15. “Memoirs of a Mangy Lover” by Groucho Marx [224 pgs]
  16. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows [240 pgs]
  17. “The Dream Thieves” by Maggie Stiefvater [437 pgs]
  18. “84, Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff [94 pgs]
  19. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews [295 pgs]
  20. “Blue Lily, Lily Blue” by Maggie Stiefvater [391 pgs]
  21. “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George [370 pgs]
  22. “Lights Out Till Dawn” by Dee Williams [341 pgs]
  23. “Opening Belle” by Maureen Sherry [352 pgs]
  24. “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis [270 pgs]
  25. “The Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss [1,000 pgs]
  26. “hush, hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick [391 pgs]
  27. “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides [406 pgs]
  28. “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway [127 pgs]
  29. “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard [383 pgs]
  30. ** “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton [180 pgs]
  31. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut [215 pgs]
  32. “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee [278 pgs]
  33. “The Last Star” by Rick Yancey [338 pgs]
  34. “Ghost Fleet” by P.W. Singer and August Cole [379 pgs]
  35. “Rapture” by Lauren Kate [466 pgs]
  36. “Northanger Abbey” by Val McDermid [343 pgs]
  37. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne [308 pgs]
  38. “Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir” by Alan Cumming [282 pgs]
  39. “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King [251 pgs]
  40. “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley [482 pgs]
  41. “Diary of an Oxygen Thief” by anonymous [151 pgs]
  42. ** “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman [286 pgs]
  43. “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller [143 pgs]
  44. “Between Two Thorns” by Emma Newman [327 pgs]
  45. “The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide” by Stephenie Meyer [543 pgs]
  46. “As Old As Time” by Liz Braswell [484 pgs]
  47. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by JK Rowling [309 pgs]
  48. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by JK Rowling  [341 pgs]

Total Pages: 16,323


Bolded books come recommended by yours truly. Please do reach out if you want to know why.

** This signifies an absolute must read, irrespective of genre or author or any other segregating factor. I consider it the top recommendation I could ever give to a book – so definitely go pick up a copy right this instant.

Feel free to follow me on Goodreads as well. I don’t write reviews, I seldom remember to rank the stars, and you won’t see a status update from me until the book is moved from “Want to Read” to “Read.” So… enjoy that.

 

Learn a Book! – 30 in 2015

Pembroke Library

Pembroke Library

Remember the good ol’ elementary school days where you had to read 25 books over the course of a school year? Which was a big freaking deal? Well, now I’m an “adult” (by law, not by choice) and it feels like reading 25 books in a year is still a big freaking deal! In 2014, my goal was to meet that elementary school standard again and let me tell you, I struggled.

This year, I’ve upped the ante to 30 books and, in an effort to hold myself accountable, I’m sharing that list with you! (Disclaimer: you can judge me all you want for my choices in Young Adult Fantasy books but I am going to once again refer you to my This Is Me page and consequently tell you to go stuff it…)

Bolded books come recommended by yours truly. Please do reach out if you want to know why.


  1. “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell [624 pgs]
  2. “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro [245 pgs]
  3. “One Direction: Who We Are” by One Direction (lmfao, I know, okay? I know.) [350 pgs]
  4. “Torment” by Lauren Kate [452 pgs]
  5. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens [466 pgs]
  6. “Practical Magic” by Alice Hoffman [286 pgs]
  7. “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol [312 pgs]
  8. “Etta and Otto and Russell and James” by Emma Hooper [277 pgs]
  9. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith [319 pgs]
  10. “Persuasion” by Jane Austen [249 pgs]
  11. “Charm” by Sarah Pinborough [187 pgs]
  12. “The Mime Order” by Samantha Shannon [501 pgs]
  13. “Half Bad” by Sally Green [394 pgs]
  14. “Grey” by E.L. James [559 pgs]
  15. “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen [251 pgs]
  16. “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen [335 pgs]
  17. “On The Beach” by Nevil Shute [312 pgs]
  18. “Wyrd Sisters” by Terry Pratchett [297 pgs]
  19. “Honeymoon” by Amy Jenkins [297 pgs]
  20. “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer (I read this saga every year, ya dig?) [498 pgs]
  21. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury [165 pgs]
  22. “1984” by George Orwell [297 pgs]
  23. “Dead Souls” by Nikolai Gogol [292 pgs]
  24. “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse [248 pgs]
  25. “The Casual Vacancy” by JK Rowling [503 pgs]
  26. “Passion” by Lauren Kate [420 pgs]
  27. “Life and Death” by Stephenie Meyer [387 pgs]
  28. “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer [387 pgs]
  29. “New Moon” by Stephenie Meyer [563 pgs]
  30. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy [1,224 pgs]

Feel free to follow me on Goodreads as well. I don’t write reviews, I seldom remember to rank the stars, and you won’t see a status update from me until the book is moved from “Want to Read” to “Read.” So… enjoy that.