I recently met Cassie through the blogs, reading her killer words on Witty Title Here. What a cool gal! She has so much to say and articulates herself with humor, wisdom, and genuine heart. She’s an East Coast grrrl with her eye on the West Coast, writing freelance and making her mark. Here’s what she had to say to me…
What or who inspires you most? Any act of courage at all. For me, that’s usually in the form of books, music, and other art forms. Because that’s what art really is: a series of courageous acts. If a writer has put 50,000-plus words into a processor, edited, revised, and rewritten it—and then sent it off into the scary world for publication and, eventually, scrutinization? That took some ovaries. And when I am the lucky consumer of those words (or music, or art, etc.) I am never more inspired and in a hurry to go create something of my own. Oh, and traveling. Definitely traveling.
What do you turn to when you need strength? I have an endless supply of support in my family and friends, but often, I turn inward first. It’s my nature to process things internally before looking beyond myself. Writing always helps. If I can’t find strength there, I’ll go to that support system (which usually consists of better ideas and perspective, anyway).
How can women best support and/or empower other women? By celebrating one another’s successes and openly declaring our feminism. Slowly but surely, more women (and men) are starting to realize that “feminist” is not a bad word. Why it ever was is a mystery to me. But we need to show young girls that it’s freaking awesome to be a woman. And we need to teach young girls and boys the importance and meaning of feminism. Taylor Swift doesn’t consider herself a feminist, because apparently, she doesn’t really know what the word means. This is a young woman who has been deemed a role model for teens and tweens. (That’s not necessarily her responsibility, but she’s still being portrayed that way.) So it’s a shame that messages like “If you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life” are still actively being spread. Because that completely misses the point. Educate yourselves and others, ladies.
What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing some day? I’m going to be metaphorical in my response here. I’ve loved watching how my blog has grown over the past year. I started Witty Title Here back in 2009, but I only began to take it seriously in 2012. Had I known that my taking it seriously would, in turn, make others do the same, I would’ve started sooner. I want to build on that momentum and continue to grow my readership and, more importantly, the relationships I’ve made with the amazing people in this blogging community. Yes, I am a total blog dork, and it is wonderful.
What are your creative outlets? Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t? I have developed—pun very much intended—an intense love for film photography over the past three years. Awhile back, I “borrowed” a film camera that belonged to my stepdad but was just sitting in a drawer, unused for years. It’s a 1975 Minolta, and it’s as sturdy as a rock. Since then, I’ve loved having the excuse to get up and go for a drive just so I can explore and take photos. (Maybe I’m not very spontaneous, because that’s the most spontaneous thing I ever seem to do.) I’d love to actually learn how to develop film. I’m so curious about that process, and luckily, there’s a public darkroom opening up in Baltimore soon that I can’t wait to take advantage of.
In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element? Sometimes I feel most in my element when I’m in routine mode—at my desk like I am every night. But whenever I remove myself from that space and work elsewhere, I feel even more productive and conscious of what I’m doing. It’s so easy to get distracted in my nice, quiet, warm bedroom, but for some reason, bringing my work to a coffee shop or library (though I’ll admit it’s been awhile since I’ve done either) makes it easier to tune out the background noise and focus on a task I’ve laid out for myself. I think it’s good to change up your environment every once in awhile. It’s bound to spark up a new idea. Plus, it makes for great people-watching.
Who are your top three nonprofits you support and/or volunteer with and why?
Girls Rock Baltimore is a brand new non-profit developing a woman-powered rock camp for girls in Baltimore. It’s focused on music, leadership, and general awesomeness, so it’s basically right up my alley. They’re just getting started and are looking for committee/volunteer members, so I jumped at the chance. I’m also secretly hoping I can attend the camp myself!
BOPA – I interned with them – they produce events, festivals, and arts programming—including the Baltimore Book Festival and North America’s largest free arts festival, Artscape.
SPCA – I’d love to volunteer with them. For obvious reasons.
What recent “green” change have you made in your own life? What’s next? I’m the type to make slow, gradual changes. Over time, I’ve come to pay more attention to the kinds of products I buy and what the hell they really have in them. I am not, by anyone’s standards, a stickler for “green” ingredients. But I do make an effort. By taking a few extra seconds in the grocery store aisle to ask yourself, “What is methylcellulose? What is methylcellulose doing in my chicken nuggets? Why do I get the feeling that anything with the words ‘meth’ and ‘cellulose,’ which sounds like ‘cellulite,’ in it is probably not good for me?” you can save yourself a few years extra years of life. It’s just buying habits, really. If you don’t buy crap, you don’t eat crap. (Full disclosure: This is coming from someone who really appreciates the occasional Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie, so take that as you will.)
Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary? Why? Give me a beach or a mountain somewhere along the West Coast, and I’m golden. Some of my happiest and most peaceful moments have been there, and I hope I can make that my home someday soon.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t take boys, mean girls, and boobs so seriously. DO take reading, writing, and music seriously.
How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet? We need to develop a stronger sense of a collective conscience. Lofty, right? But what if we were forced to answer the following in our policy- and decision-making: What is easier? What is morally right? If the two differ, your answer to the problem should be the latter. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in our society right now. Those in power should be held accountable, and they’re not. But at least we as individuals can make responsible choices in our buying and recycling habits.
What sparked your interest in environmental issues? What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did? My cousin and I once co-wrote and illustrated a book about the perils of littering. We were eight. It was hilarious. (But also pretty informative and accurate.) From what I recall, that idea stemmed from the horrifying realization that rogue plastic bags and soda rings could actually kill animals. I went through a brief OCD period following that and made sure not to put my head anywhere near a plastic bag for fear of suffocation upon contact.
How do you live simply? I start on a very basic level: with my possessions. I love clothes and books and beautiful things in general. But when something comes in, something else goes out. I always pare down so my mass of belongings doesn’t accumulate too much. It’s my goal to only own things that are either a) beautiful; b) practical; or c) both. If something doesn’t fall into at least one of those categories, I ask myself, “Why am I holding on to this? What does this represent?” By forcing myself to look at an object and judge it solely on its beauty or usefulness, I really free myself to let it go without guilt. So much about life just isn’t simple. I hate to exacerbate that with having too much “stuff.”
Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? “Write like a motherfucker.” ~ from Cheryl Strayed’s Wild