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.

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.