In Search of Simpler Times


It’s funny how in a couple of generations things can be forgotten, lost in time.

Traditions, places, faces.

Yet, when revisiting them it reawakens something we’ve never really lost.

The first time I visited far west Texas, I was sixteen. I wasn’t truly present to the family road trip, but I do remember the crisp air and the cool summer nights,the vistas and endless horizon, and the mountains sprawling like a distant memory.

Fast forward nine years. This time I was listening. This time, I touched link after link of connections to a time before myself. Somehow, this place felt ingrained into me from childhood stories and people I hazily remember.

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A ranch near Marathon, TX.

On our trip we found the ranch my great-grandparents lived and worked on. Their ranch house happened to sit within viewing distance of the mansion facade for the movie set of the Giant. From the road, you can see a few lonely timbers still standing.

Here, my dad reminisced at the general supply store- Livingston’s- where he bought his first cowboy hat. We explored the Marfa Cemetery and found my great-great grandmother Maggie’s resting place. Come to find out, her great-great-great-granddaughter would share her birthday 137 years later. Yet another link that made me feel happy. Happy that a part of her would live on, even if it was just me telling my niece in the future that she shared in such an expansive family past.

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On the side of a mountain between Ft.Davis and Marfa, I sat eating chuckwagon-inspired food at Bloys Campmeeting, where generations of my family have gathered for a little over a century.  My father talked about the camp meeting with such vivid childhood memories. The strangest part was as we sat eating, we sat as outsiders. My dad’s history the only window at which we could peek into this family heritage. I felt like I could know these people, I should’ve perhaps in a different life, but I didn’t. So we enjoyed our dutch oven biscuits and bbq brisket, were grateful, and left for our Airbnb in Ft. Davis.

 

***

This past weekend was my grandmother’s birthday. Once again, I felt myself steeped in strong memories. This time they were partly my own and partly long before my time. In all honesty, we don’t get to visit this small town of my childhood summers anymore. Life has gotten busy, that far-too-complicated kind of busy that truly doesn’t make any sense in the grand scheme of things. Surely we should always have time for these kinds of places? Such wonderful places that hold such big parts of who we are, and yet we let life sweep us along- further and further away from them.

As we celebrated her day, I sat trying to hold onto the threads that tied me to her and the town I loved so much. Up until I was 12, we’d visit the grocery store my great-grandparents owned there. I’d gladly wake up before sunrise and drive through the sleepy town to help open the store. My great-grandfather would set to work in the meat market, his meat saw loud and terrifying to a little girl who wanted to keep all her fingers. My great-grandmother and grandmother set up the registers and made sure the shelves were stocked. I’d proudly take the task of unrolling the flag and placing it back outside and flipping the NOW OPEN sign over as soon as the clock struck 8. I remember making cattle runs in the evening- feeding and counting cows while avoiding the snapping jaws of ambling geese (much scarier then than they are now). I remember the wonderful home cooked dinners I haven’t tasted from their hands in over a decade. Who knew I’d miss its comfort? I remember the way it felt when we would fall asleep from contented exhaustion. I don’t remember thinking too much, only being happily busy all day, loved, and enthralled by a world so vastly different from my own.

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Who knew all these things would fall further and further away into hazy subconscious, and be the one thing that I would cling to unknowingly as an adult- hoping to recreate it one day in my own way.

My grandparents and their parents and so on and so on have been reminding me of how simple life can be. Their memories have reignited my own journey to build a simpler lifestyle, and because of that realization, I miss them beyond words. I wish I could ask them so many questions- even the ones that I never got the chance to know. They hold so much knowledge that I would love to be able to call them up sometimes. Yet now that they are gone, I just find myself scrambling for it in books and on the internet, hoping that my intuition will be enough. They lived it without thinking, and goodness knows I think too much.

I get whiffs of them in little moments. When I smell that sweet hay smell that follows livestock. A certain taste of cheese that they carried in their store can bring me back in a wave of memories.

My dad finds it in homemade plum jam and West Texas honey. In worn-in leather and dry mountain air. We both are reaching back to them for these sweet moments. A link to their awareness of the land around them, their love of working with their hands, their recipes passed down from decades of trial-and-error, and their love of family and community. In many ways, with their passing we let that piece of ourselves be forgotten. We didn’t take the time to let them teach us, or we simply just took it for granted as the world changed. And that simplicity, well, hopefully we’ll figure it out again soon. It might not look the same as it did in our memories, but hopefully it will be something just as fulfilling.

**Since I know many of you follow for progress on the Airstream– have no fear, things are coming along and an update is coming soon! Sadly, I’ve just been under the weather- which really isn’t a good excuse, but that’s all I got 😉

I’m a Wanderer


I never thought as an English major that I would find myself in the world of marketing and advertising. I don’t know why really. I mean, not all English majors don a tweed jacket with elbow patches and a pair of spectacles for reading papers (though to be honest, I do love my tweeds). While that still appeals to me some days, I feel like I have a bit of a wandering soul. Despite all my angsting to have control over my life, I also get anxious when I feel stuck in the same place too long. I’m a bit of a strange fruit because my passions change with every rise and fall of the sun. If it has an inkling to do with writing or reading or anything about my lifestyle that I find enjoyment in, I’m interested. I pursue it.

So when I found myself as an associate copywriter, I was surprised that I could be inspired by the world of branding and marketing. I have always been a creative writer, not a marketing guru. How was this possible? I didn’t realize that there was a person behind all the e-mails and articles I read every day. It’s almost like something I just consumed mindlessly. No, I know I consumed mindlessly. There is a whole new world that opened up to me for writing that I never really thought about. Copywriting can be the difference between a run of the mill advertisement and a meaningful product that you can connect to and care about. Anyone can try to sell a product, but can you inspire people with it?

I remember when I was in college being asked what I was going to do with my degree. I hated it. I understand that people love labels and it helps them identify with you, but I couldn’t label my degree. I didn’t want to. I loved books and words and people’s stories. I loved writing and being a communicator. I felt like it was a wonder degree where I got to have the best of all worlds. No future career option with a background in English sounded bad. While I always have a plan and am organized, my only goal was to love whatever job I found and take whatever steps that meant. Be it publishing, writing, or teaching. If anything, my degree program taught me you could be anything if you could communicate clearly. I just want to write to my heart’s desire. There are countless possibilities.

More than anything, I am becoming a “yes woman.” There are so many experiences that I would have been terrified of before or thought I wasn’t capable of doing. After graduating I was at a point where I just needed somethinganything to get my feet planted in the world. It pushed me to be OK with the extraordinary, because let’s face it, extraordinary is scary but ordinary is a silent killer. It’s a big world out there and as hard as you may try to plan, you really can’t always tell where it will lead you.7594c85d89ea3e5fe7fab1000512330e

I’d like to say my wanderings have left my writing for this space long behind me, but I find myself constantly scribbling down notes about things I want to post in this little space. I feel a need to move on some days, leaving the world of my ramblings on WordPress behind. So much to do, so little time. But, I found I’ve grown to love this little expression of my soul. And though it may wander in and out and never truly become something super grown-up and professional like I often feel compelled to do, it’s honest. And goodness knows, in such tumultuous times, it’s a soft spot to land and say something heartfelt and maybe make a few meaningful connections along the way. While I wander every which way and struggle to find words sometimes, I think it’s still relevant – I just have no idea where the path may lead. 

But here’s to the journey and hopefully many more–Kassie 

 
Images found on Pinterest 

Sometimes, I just am.


Everyone wants to be heard. We shout from our little bubbles with hashtags and share “news” articles that may or may not be accurate. It’s on the internet so it has to be…

I understand having a voice. I use it with every scribble and dot and crossed t. I know about voice because mine changes at every turn. In one story it’s solemn as an old man contemplates life in his empty ranch house, searching with shaking hands. Then it’s upbeat as I send e-mails at my internship, staying personable and kind. It’s inspirational and loving when I write in my journal, as I tell myself life is good…let me count the ways

More than I care to admit, it is defensive as I growl at other peoples’ opinions. Sometimes I can’t even handle my own voice.

I understand voices. I read them every 5 seconds. I write them every day. I create them. I am them.

But sometimes I drown in them. It’s a cacophony full of likes and dislikes, up-thumbs and down-thumbs. Sometimes we have to walk away, turn off, log out.

Sometimes even I, the most genuine believer in voices and their magic, need stillness.

Painting silly pictures of flowers and ducklings, because why not?

Just one moment to get lost in the process with my thoughts and judgements far, far away…. And I just am.

I just am kayaking, splitting the water with my paddle.

I just am putting colors on a page, just to see their brightness.

  
Image via Pinterest

I just am making coffee, the roast wafting and filling me up.

I just am, and it is glorious to just be.


This ramble was partly inspired by the roar of noise that is my Facebook feed thanks to the impending doom presidential election, as well as this article, The Dark Side of Social Media and Why We Will Always NEED Magazines, that I read from my daily BoSacks e-mail. It’s easy to forget to be mindful of what we post on social media and to take responsibility of the world we create online, not only for ourselves, but those that connect with us.

Four Years and Counting–and Where is this Going?


It’s crazy to think I’ve been at this for four years.

I haven’t necessarily been your average blogger. I haven’t found one particular niche I could pigeon hole myself in and rock at. But that was never what this was about. It’s been a selfish outlet, but I hope some of it is entertaining– if not relatable.

In many ways, my blog was born out of the concept that my life was and is a crazy, beautiful mess– an all over the place rambling of a twenty-something that just happened to love writing at the heart of it all.

I remember my first post back when my blog wasn’t even public. I was fresh off the travel high of my first international trip, discovering that life was so much more than what I posted on Facebook or listed out on applications. I couldn’t define who I was in black in white terms anymore, and I couldn’t narrow down my existence to “college student” “psychology major” (which quickly changed anyway) or even “writer”. I had hopes, dreams, and more than anything, budding experiences outside of my comfort zone that has and does keep pushing me forward to some unknown future.

I don’t know what has compelled me to share this life or my all-over-the-place thoughts from how to workout with your significant other to my experience reading Shakespeare or how creative writing classes have both hindered and helped my creative process.

I’d like to think my blog is a canvas, and each post is a stroke that adds a new color and texture into who I’m becoming. That I’m not living in black and white. That no one lives in black and white.

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That’s what motivates me to tell stories. To write this blog. To breathe deeply and believe that people are beautiful creatures and all this craziness is worth being a part of– no matter how minuscule.

It reminded me of a literary critique I wrote on the movie Paradise Now during my last semester of college. The movie was about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and essentially forced the audience to re-evaluate their beliefs on what it means to be human and to remember that behind everything you see on the news, there’s a deeper story that hardly ever gets told.

It was intense, but it was powerful. In writing the paper and just watching the movie multiple times to properly evaluate its purpose, I truly began to understand the complexities of life. Of people. Of each story weaving in and out with other stories to create a tapestry that is chaotic and beautiful, even if at times tragic and incomprehensible.

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There have been moments I’ve wanted to throw up my hands and say this world is too crazy, I want my tropical island, and I’m finished blogging. Even sometimes finished writing. But then I’m standing in line at the Apple Store and see an elderly man being mentored by a twenty-something Apple geek on how to work his iMac. I can’t help but smile. Smile that even though things change and get messy and hardly ever make any sense, people keep going and they keep finding the good.

So I’m still here typing away, brainstorming my next ramble, and I am lucky enough to keep finding the good in all the noise.

I hope you continue to join me.

All images found via Pinterest

Final Thoughts: Saying Goodbye to NYC


I normally don’t share my journal entries. It’s my one safe place from the peering eyes of everything else I write. These, I suspect, are the woes of someone who has made it her goal to write for a living. Some days I want to go back to writing just for me. To figure things out. To breathe in the present moment so deeply it becomes electric. But, New York was something I was pretty straightforward about with everyone. It was also a time and place I find hard to articulate. So here’s what I wrote on my 24th birthday, as I was spending my last couple of days in the city. My program was over. I officially had my coveted Certification in Publishing from New York University. After four years agonizing over wanting this experience, it was over. And this is what I was left with:

This place has become an unexpected love affair, one that I could easily be enveloped by. But, I may never come out the same.

I am not the same.

While I could blindly romanticize the soaring freedom of walking down a new street and the electrifying buzz up through my feet– the pulsating, vibrant existence…

No place is perfect, but there is something so unassuming and liberating living down these streets and avenues.

I’ve felt this before. It comes after the dream. The moment you realize that thing you always wanted is right in front of you. You can finally touch it. Embrace it like a long, lost sister.

It’s a beautiful encounter, a piece of you slides into place. These moments are intoxicating.

It’s everything human.

It’s change. A sprouting of a seed.

You are now transformed.

It’s something if you’re still enough you realize you can find it anywhere. You realize you’re not touching the place, but in fact you’ve been forever impressed by it.

A streaking mark across your soul.

It’s this moment. It is new. It is ever-changing. It is woven into you.

Throughout life we are given opportunities. Some feel small, some feel bigger. Most can’t be defined by size. No matter how mundane, no matter how terrifying, don’t ignore them. Accept them or toss them. The deciding is the hardest part. No matter your choice you take a step forward, and that’s the best feeling I’ve ever known.

 Thanks for reading, Kassie

All pictures are my own.

Subways and Other Adventures


The first time I got on the New York subway three and a half weeks ago I immediately envied the seasoned New Yorkers. While I was holding on for dear life, they were completely lax and swaying with the squealing turns of the tracks. I felt like I had landed feet first, precariously jerked forward and backward with the breaks of the subway, into a world far from the rolling hills and small town charms of my little nook in the world.

  
In just three weeks I have walked as fast as I wanted and still haven’t been fast enough, felt annoyed with tourists flocking around Time Square while trying to get home, and had the best ramen of my life.

It seems cliché to say the city has changed me. Yet, for the last twenty-three years I have lived with someone I loved. I’m now 1500 miles away. I thought I would be incredibly lonely in the city and overwhelmed. But somehow the city swallows you up into it’s vast humanity and you just slip away. I’ve sat on a park bench in Madison Park and read Game of Thrones like I would in the middle of the river at home. I’ve had to pitch a magazine in three weeks for class and worked with bibliophiles after my own heart. I’ve walked absurd amounts all over the city while hopefully burning off calories from savory meals. I’ve also been pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I got to the point where I instinctively fell into survival mode.

Then while walking downtown by myself, the experience of where I was finally flooded in and my defenses fell. Everything became so calm and comfortable. The honking horns and steam drifting up from the man holes- I was in NYC.

  

I can’t imagine what going home will be like. I’ve met some people who actually spend more time in bookstores than I do (as well as drink ghastly amounts of tea and coffee like I do). I’ve heard executives from top magazine brands and soon top publishing houses as well. I’ve lived in Manhattan. What are the chances of that happening again? No probability at all.

I do miss my cat curling up next to me in bed at night and making breakfast with my fiancé every morning. I miss the stillness of the river and rustling cypress trees. But this, this is just a millisecond. A distant and fleeting star in my universe. But it is one that I won’t easily forget.

While NYC isn’t going to be my permanent home like I thought it might be and editorial isn’t the end all be all of my dream anymore, I wouldn’t ever change this moment. We really do leave little pieces of ourselves wherever we go.

 
Images my own

Embracing Free Fall


Have you ever had those stomach lurching dreams as you seemingly fall through endless space, only to be jolted awake? They say it comes from anxiety that builds up in real life and overflows into your dreams.

Yet this is one thing some people experience when awake. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty much what a panic attack feels like. As a naturally anxious person, I understand and have learned to cope with these emotions. But, why do we fear to fall?

I could attribute it to that time when I was four and almost broke my neck falling head first down a steep flight of stairs. I can still remember the feeling of my stomach soaring up into my mouth and the horror that there was nothing I could do to break the fall. It was inevitable.

Are we really afraid of falling or are we afraid of being completely out of control of the outcome? It’s so interesting that the physical stress from falling down can match the mental anxiety of a situation where we feel like everything is going wrong and there is nothing to do to fix it. My body doesn’t really seem to know the difference.

There is a lot of potential for falling in my future. Shoot, it’s here now. I’m not really sure the fear will ever truly go away, just as the possibility of tripping down the stairs ever really does.

When I was in England, we went to Warwick Castle and decided to climb the main tower with an old stone staircase. The staircase spiraled upwards and upwards with nothing stopping you to fall straight down if you happened to trip on the steep steps.

I froze half way up. I was hit with the old feeling of, “what if I fall?” I felt like gravity was clinging to me, just waiting to bring me crashing down. It took a solid five minutes (possibly longer) until my companions were able to convince me to keep going up. Even though I was so terrified and had to battle my thoughts, I knew I would be even more furious if I didn’t get to see the top of the tower. I had read about castles my whole life, especially this one. I couldn’t go back. I had to know what it felt like to be up there.

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With my upcoming trip to NYC for six weeks and the anxiety slowly beginning to creep in, I found solace in what Elizabeth Gilbert had to say about fear in a recent Facebook post:

“I’ve always been a shaky person, ever since childhood. (It took my poor mother years to teach me how to swim, because for me, “swimming” meant “clinging to your mother’s neck and howling in mortal terror.”) The world makes me terribly anxious. (Or maybe I make IT anxious.) I grind my teeth at night so hard that I just cracked a perfectly good molar a few months ago: Even in sleep, I am not relieved of my fears!

There is no fear you could possibly imagine that I have not experienced — especially in regard to creativity. Basically, my body is made out of 60% water, and 19% fear.

The only reason I have ever been able to create anything, is because the remainder of my body is made out of CURIOSITY. That’s right: I’m composed of 60% water, 19% fear, and 21% curiosity. Curiosity always wins by a nose! Thus, creativity has a chance to thrive within me, despite my many terrors.

So that’s my prayer for you all — not that you will become fearless, but that you will always be SLIGHTLY more curious about the world than you are frightened of it. Because the victory of curiosity is the fertile field where exploration, invention, transformation and creation will all begin to grow.”

So I’ll keep climbing and growing despite my fears. New perspectives are always worth it… and sometimes we even learn to fly on the way down.

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The view from Broadway Tower. Different tower than my story, but similar steps.

Best,

Kassie

Image my own. ©livesimply.kmm.wordpress.con