27 Delays To 27

There was an idea for this year’s post in my annual birthday series that wasn’t what this post is now. Try as I might to write that original idea, it just didn’t feel right.

Much like the arrival of 27.

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

This birthday felt weird. Weird because every other age has felt, in some way, anticipated. They’ve all been defined by impatient countdowns to shakily defined milestones. In fact, when I started these annual age posts at 23 it felt like the most exciting year of my life was upon me and, at that point in time, I suppose it was. Then 24 arrived with many lessons learned to prepare me for it, with 25 fast on its heels and hyped to impossible heights by just about everyone I came into contact with, thereby making me hellbent on spending the time leading up to 26 keeping things as low to the ground as physically possible.

27, on the other hand, just seems to have strolled its way into my life with a quick passing wave, taking a seat over on the wooden bench at the far side of my inner consciousness’s train station. Stubbing out its cigarette on the back of its own hand and settling back with crossed arms to watch what the hell I plan to make out of it. I know, I’m scared to meet it too.

Every time I sat down to write that other post I was pushing and pulling myself through it. There was an element of research and information gathering to it that I just couldn’t find any interest in. One of the super fun personal traits that I’m trying to work on is mistrust. And there is a scale of, let’s face it, insanity as to what I don’t trust. On one side we’ve got microwaves and central air systems, on the other side we’ve got myself. One of those rightfully deserves to be targeted and I’ll give you a hint – I’m not super concerned about learning to enjoy microwaved food. I am super concerned about being able to listen to myself and follow those instincts. See that I’m just not into something and not do it.

So I did that. I stopped writing that other post. Then I got a little down because as the weeks kept going up to, then at, then past, then really past my birthday it seemed like maybe I just wouldn’t write anything about 27 at all. But I really enjoy writing these annual musings, knowing that they’ll be here for me to look back on in my later years. I can still write something, I thought, it’ll just be a little delayed.

Talk about a thought that resonates. Everything feels a little delayed these days. My own birthday felt like I was late to the proverbial and also literal party! So I asked myself, what caused that? What delayed you, my Cass?

And then I came up with these.


I was learning to golf. That’s right. Finally something on those bucket lists got crossed off. Don’t get too excited though, it’s a strong work in progress. Still haven’t actually worked up the courage to go out on the course, but wow oh wow do I love me some hot coffee drinking on a Sunday morning at the driving range.

My changing body. The changes have always come in phases. I hit the usual year-over-year growth track until about 12 or 13, suddenly shooting up to full height and living an awkward gangly few years waiting for everyone else to catch up. Then some time around my Middler (Northeasterners, what’s up) or Junior year of college things changed again and there they’ve remained until this past year. But this time things are moving slowly, giving me a better chance at noticing the change. My body communicates with me now. It tells me that we’re getting older. Sometimes we move the wrong ways and things tweak out for no good reason at all. High time to take care.

Aliens arrived. My view count of ‘Arrival’ is potentially disturbing but also not at all because it’s become so integral to me and my spirit and my soul and everything about me, et cetera and so forth. A lot of time has been spent watching this film, thinking about this film, embodying this film in past, present, and also future. For that, I treasure.

I work a lot. God, do I work a lot. And not really in the ways that I think people should work a lot. I have many not great feelings about it, and I’m pushing myself to mull on that. Mull in that. Mull all around that. There have been one too many times where I’ve been called a ‘machine’ these past few years and at one point I disturbingly took that as a compliment. Now it’s in my top ten list of insults. Work can be a passion, can be fulfilling, can be time well spent. ‘Can’ being the operative word. Glad we got this one out of the way up top.

Blame my cell phone… and the internet. We’re all in this mode of technological absorption. We will continue to be in that mode from now until the day that we perish. I cling to my personal brand as a late stage millennial but also a grandmother. My phone does not have many apps on it, and the few that it does I’m actively trying to claw myself away from. My response times to text messages or phone calls are atrocious and downright insulting for most people, but I dig the independency of it. Consider it conditioning. I’m fine, you’re fine, go do something. On your phone or off it, who cares, this is our world now.

There was YouTube content to consume. Speaking of the internet, have you ever heard of a little something called Bon Appétit? What about the popular British television “programmes” Taskmaster, Would I Lie To You, QI, 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown… ever heard of those? I don’t pay for cable television here in America because I think it’s a complete rip off, mostly trash, and also, oh yeah, because I’m never home to watch it (see above re: working a lot and also below re: travel). I used to feel sheepish about telling people that I watch YouTube but I don’t have the capacity to keep that feeling around anymore so, yeah, I watch YouTube. And there’s a lot of quality content out there. Too much. I’m actively working on reining in my consumption because also, like, hobbies, my girl.

Families, am I right? There’s love, there’s stress, there’s obligation, there’s missing them. There’s a lot of inroads to this topic and all of those roads go in totally different directions so I’ll just say that families are a lot. I love and miss mine, but there are reasons humans are meant to grow up and leave to go find their own lives too.

I was reading out loud. I love doing this. I’ve always loved doing this. I used to read books to our Christmas tree as a kid, ornaments included. It was my favorite part of English classes, my favorite activity when babysitting. It made me finally understand and like, and in some cases love, poetry. I struggled so hard with the silent reading and analysis assignments of Dickinson or Frost in high school. Nothing clicked. Then Obvious State came along and inspired me to try reading it aloud. There’s something intimate about speaking the written word. A habit I hope to never lose.

My memory and attention span have fallen to tatters. My shoddy memory used to be something of a joke with friends but it just makes me kind of sad now. There are a lot of wonderings as to why my brain works the way it does. Why I can’t remember conversations and interactions with people, and not in the total verbatim recall kind of way, in the we conversed or interacted at all? kind of way. Friends I continuously prompt to tell me things that we cherish about our relationships. Already that grandmotherly figure reliving stories over and over again because each time means that I haven’t lost them yet. Certain books avoided because I really want to retain the information but know that I never will. Note taking and journaling tried but in mere milliseconds the moments lived flutter right on out of my mind. Scary to wonder how it’ll continue as I age on.

I’ve been thinking about a move. It’s been quite a few years in Charlotte. About as long as I ever expected to stay. The cravings are coming for something else and my eyes have settled on an albeit chillier prize. More soon.

Books required reading. There are so many of them. The past few years have seen my pace of reading drop off monumentally and I’m desperately trying to resurrect it. There have been those weekends where I bury myself beneath pages and pages and I’d like to blame my time spent on those but there haven’t been enough. No, the blame instead goes to agony over weakening.

I was working out. HA. This is new. Again, my body is in desperate need of some care. I’ve found that those people who eat well and exercise regularly, who never shut up about how good and happy it makes them, are actually on to something? We’ll all be waiting to see if this is just a phase, but here’s hoping it’s a true blue lifestyle change. I’m late for hot yoga.

I was spending time with my car. Oh Linus, my Linus. A favorite pastime of mine is finding any and all excuses to get behind the wheel of my little blue bug. We cruise around the city, music far too loud, sometimes steered by knees when changing radio stations while sipping coffee. But, like me, my boy is getting old. And with thoughts of moving, it comes more and more to my mind that maybe it’s time we part. I’m not kidding whatsoever when I say that that thought makes my heart drop and tears flood my eyes. He’s seen me through so much. Some day I’ll write a Ode to him and tell you all of the whats and the whys.

Women. There isn’t enough WordPress word count space to handle me on this one. The past few years I’ve grown so much deeper into understanding and feeling and learning and reading all about women. Women professionally, women politically, women personally. The things we go through day in and day out. At home and afar. Together and alone. So much of my time is spent lost in the things that I’m seeing and hearing and reading and thinking. Not enough of my time is spent fixing and helping and changing and being.

My kitchen was making me dance. Another favorite pastime. I have a whole playlist dedicated to the cause. This part of the home is used solely to dance around in and store vino. Odd occasions occur here and there where we fire up the stove tops while getting our groove on. It is all that it is, and nothing less.

I was drinking. Not in a clinical kind of way, don’t worry. Relax. My taste in scotch and wine has grown quite beautifully over the past year or so, if I do say so myself. Considering the first time I ever had Laphroaig I burst into tears from the pain and now it’s my scotch of choice (Lore me all the way up, take me to that altar to die) says quite a few things, methinks. The palate developments, and my quest to become a whiskelier, live on.

I wasn’t drinking. Another new super fun thing, another trial decided by my body. And in the time before that, mostly attributable to nights that made me cool my jets for a few days. Again, I get why people kick alcohol. I’m not going to be one of those people, but I’ve done my time walking that mile and Everlast was on to something.

Travel was taking up my time. My little brother thinks my airline status makes me cool but my fellow road warriors know it for what it is. A life lived too often 30,000+ feet above the rest of the world. And not in a jet-setting, vacation travel kind of way. My career means I need to travel a lot, which I honestly don’t mind at this stage in my life. It makes it that much important to me to have a perfect home base. I did almost two years of weekly cross-country travel and at the start of that I was having full meltdowns on every takeoff and landing. Now I’m well attuned to the sights and sounds of flying so that the meltdowns only really occur in times of heavy turbulence. Even that’s starting to go down. Now to add in more of that travel for fun stuff that everybody’s talking about these days.

Thinking about Papa. Too much but mostly not enough. Missing and hurting. Coping.

Hill House was being haunted (again). Scroll up to Aliens arrived then replace ‘Arrival’ with ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and ‘film’ with ‘show.’ My everythings.

I was trying to find my power. Another relatively new thing. Something I didn’t even realize I needed, but when I did realize it I felt like I was bowled over by one of those giant cylindrical haystacks. It came at a time of struggle and confusion, of feeling generally lost about what to do with myself and feeling afraid of why I felt like there was something to be done in the first place. This is something I hope to keep exploring and thinking on, maybe to share some day when I settle more on and around it.

There was chocolate to be eaten. A fiend, am I.

I was in the bath. I took myself on a birthday vacation this year explicitly to revel in doing absolutely nothing. Said vacation involved a hotel with a standing tub, excellent eucalyptus bath products, and the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. Daily routine, don’t mind if I do. I take a decent amount of baths at home too and wholeheartedly recommend. Pour a beverage, run that hot water, bubble city, put on a podcast or an album, even get old fashioned with it and grab a book. Get in there, kid.

My muse left me. Writing was such a passion. I found any and all excuses to type or scribble away. Took English class assignments too seriously and undoubtedly pissed off all of my teachers, crammed up to and sometimes past the page and / or word limits. Sank into stories big and small as they danced in and out of my head. Now I’ve fallen into a state of negative conditioning, responding Pavlovian style. I think of writing and fill with sudden exhaustion and dread. Too much of myself has been given and taken elsewhere, I haven’t been trying hard enough to get it and grow it back.

My energy needed protecting. Time and effort goes into protecting against feeling drained and fed on. There’s a lot of ongoing study with this one.

Stitches were waiting to be crossed. I was in college when I learned that drawing with the grid method helped my anxiety. It was the only thing I had ever known that captured my full attention. I’m not a great artist but I didn’t have to be to copy a reference image one square at a time, hyper focused on the details so that my brain didn’t have any free capacity to think about anything else. I found the same thing in cross-stitching. Concentration fully devoted to counting the squares and decoding the colors to produce the full image from the pattern. There’s something mathematical about it. The closest I’ve come to meditation.

Uber drivers were being nice to me. There is a whole Evernote on my phone where I keep track of the kind, considerate, and uplifting things that a select very few Uber drivers have said to me over the years. Thanks to my job and lifestyle, strangers’ cars are places where I spend a lot of time (second, of course, to airplanes). It doesn’t always go well, but when it does it really does. A fan favorite of mine, spoken and then immediately left to silence for the rest of the ride: “Ready to start another day? Everything will go exactly the way you want it to.”


Also, for anyone who cares, when I got the idea for this post I sat down and wrote it in one go… Trust yourself.

9 Lessons to Lead Through 2019

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

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.

Learn Stuff: The Attention Span Experiment

2015-11-22 03.37.58 1-1

I’ve been clutching hard to the last few days of Autumn – yes, I’m in the Christmas spirit but no, I’m not going to pack this pumpkin away anytime soon.

With finals week looming around the corner, I’ve been trying out any and all ways of improving my ability to get work done and help myself with the push to end all undergraduate pushes. If you were to couple my wretched attention span with my generally bad memory, you’d get a bonafide 6 year old they’re giving a college diploma to in a few weeks.

Over the past month or so I’ve been conducting a little experiment I designed around something I read once, which is that human beings are able to focus on something for 12 minutes before their attention begins to wane. Now before you ask me where I found this information, let me get right to it and tell you that I cannot for the life of me remember and some quick Googling has confirmed that it has no clue where I got it either. You’ll just have to take that research into your own hands.

The design of this experiment was further supported by remembering how my all-around personhood idol, Rory Gilmore, switched through different subjects every time she got bored or unfocused while she crammed for finals one time. Thus a combination of those two clearly very academic sources of information was born into what I call The Attention Span ExperimentIf it’s good enough for Ace then it’s good enough for me.


The Hypothesis

Switching between subjects every 12 minutes while I study will make me more focused and will increase the amount of information I retain.

The Variations

All Subjects – Reading Only

I’m taking four classes this semester and all of them can be pretty reading intensive. For 2 hours, I tried rotating through the required readings for each subject every 12 minutes.

Classes: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2

Some Subjects – Reading Only

Since two of my classes require substantially more reading than the others, I chose to focus on only the assignments for those two subjects. One class is textbook based and the other is article based. Side note: let it be said that I detest being taught by a textbook. 100% anti that. I need some human connection up in this lecture room. Again, worked for 2 hours in 12 minute intervals.

Classes: 1 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 2

All Subjects – All Work

My classes also include these wonderful little things called ‘case studies’ and ‘group projects’ so if that type of work was priority over the reading assignments, I worked on that instead. Example: I worked on readings for two classes, a business plan for my capstone class, and a case study. Can you see what’s coming next? 2 hours, 12 minutes.

Classes: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2

All Subjects – All Work, A Little Play

Most times out of all times, I’ll choose personal reading over school reading (wouldn’t life be swell if they were one and the same???). For this variation, I added a fifth “subject” to the interval loop (see smiley face, below). Think All Subjects – All Work plus a block of personal reading to give myself a break from the boring.

Classes: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 🙂 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 🙂

*Note: I did not sit for 8 hours and go through all of these back to back. Every variation was tried on an entirely different day. Also, I used 2 hour blocks because that seemed appropriately long enough to get me into the homework mindset but that’s as far as the logic goes.

The Results

Well… it’s the thought that counts, right?

This was interesting to attempt, but overall most of the variations just caused increased frustration. When rotating through just reading assignments, I found that even though the page count was up I couldn’t say I actually finished anything in its entirety. The issue with that is the to-do list conundrum: since nothing could be crossed off, I felt unaccomplished and unmotivated. My favorite variation was definitely All Subjects – All Work, A Little Play. We all know we’re going to end up procrastinating anyways and it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

I tried, I really did, but at the end of the day I still had trouble absorbing information with all the switching around. Not to mention the timer left me feeling exasperated.

My focus was lost before it was found, so I guess I’ll just have to keep looking. Do let me know what you think works best. I’m desperate for tips to keep me productive.