Is it real enough for you yet?

Photo by the author, Nov. 8, 2020

“Why aren’t you celebrating? At least take a break from worrying.”

Well, alright. I’ll give it a shot. I mean…

The sun is soaking straight through my skin, melting my muscles into a mellow calm. A light breeze, just cool enough to keep me from overheating, tugs at my curls as waves crash against the sand, quieted by the beats pulsing through my headphones.

I smile lazily behind my sunglasses, thinking about riding my bike to get ice cream with my cousins, laughing at unidentifiable beach objects with my dad, and…

Where still, none are free.

local veterans & first responders raise a 40x80 foot flag in Grafton, IL on Sept. 28, 2019 — it is the largest free-flying flag on the Mississippi River. *photo taken by the author

One week ago, I stood alone in a graveyard with about 50 other people scattered around in small family groups, masked, six feet apart, staring at a casket covered with an American flag. My back was rigid, my arms crossed tightly in front of me, clutching my own elbows so hard that I still have sores today from where my fingernails dug into my own skin.

A veteran stood at either end of the casket, one a chaplain who spoke a prayer for my grandfather, whom I had spent the last year and a half living with and caring for…

❤ self portrait by the author ❤

A poem

Three years ago today, I chose her. 100,000+ miles later, my first book is one month away from being published.

The author & “Libby” at a TN Nissan Dealership, December 22, 2016

*Disclaimer: this is NOT an ad, paid or otherwise, for Nissan.

On December 22nd, 2016, I walked into a car dealership feeling hesitant. I was finally going to buy my first car at the age of 25.

I knew exactly what I wanted — a blue Nissan Versa, preferably previously owned. A salesman immediately showed me to a midnight blue 2017 sedan and had me test drive it. It was beautiful, drove smoothly, and the sound system was incredible, but it was way out of my price range. The salesman showed me to a few other cars and began seeming…

Thanks to a crazy idea & a song that popped up at just the right moment, I found it.

Self Portrait by the author ❤

Despite the major influence music has on my life and my work, there aren’t many musicians in my upcoming book. I certainly expected there to be more, especially as my research involved driving the Great River Road.

I drove through the Twin Cities and walked past First Ave, was surrounded by jazz and blues and cajun musicians as I traveled further south… but I’ve found that even when you make the strictest itinerary, nothing ever seems to go as planned.

When I started my road trip in September of 2018, I had sold most of my furniture and was moving…

Before Gordon Ramsey’s TV show was even imagined, Hell’s Kitchen has haunted Minneapolis’ taste buds from underground.

Sitting underneath the city of Minneapolis in a dimly lit space, sipping a mimosa while a live band played an eerie song accented by the haunting wavers of a musical saw, was one of the strangest feelings ever. Despite the spooky decor and music, the atmosphere was one of joy and light.

Everyone was clearly happy to be in Hell’s Kitchen that Sunday morning, and the mood quickly turned into a party atmosphere when one of the band members climbed onto a table to dance an Irish jig.

As Lara and I laughed and clapped, our food was laid out…

For twenty years, Scott Oberg has been keeping Mounds View High School students engaged with his creative and openminded teaching style.

image via MVHS

*After I decided to release sneak peeks of my upcoming travel memoir on the first of each month, I found out that my ten year high school reunion was happening on September 1st, and knew that this was the perfect excerpt to post today.
Here’s to Mr. Oberg & the Class of 2009! ❤

It appeared that nothing had changed since my time as a student ten years ago — except current students were lounging in the lobby, playing Lizzo and Chance the Rapper from the speakers on their smart phones. …

“You’re going to scare away all the men,” they say as I watch the point float right over their heads.

Taking off my glasses, I set them on a ledge, then carefully place my headphones over my ears. The sounds of the weight machines around me are drowned out, my breath echoing behind the steady beat pounding into my ears. Facing the heavy bag, I focus my eyes straight ahead, making sure that everything else is a blur — easy without my glasses. I look over the top of my raised fists, bouncing lightly from toe to toe, before striking the bag twice to the rhythm. A smile briefly crosses my lips, then the real dance begins.

I throw a…

Finding myself drawn to a lake while driving the Great River Road in Louisiana was only one of many strange happenings…

Layla & I on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana — May 1st, 2019

About an hour past Baton Rouge, the interstate turned into a large trestle bridge with choppy, grey water stretching out endlessly to each side. Mist hovered in patches, giving the broken pilings of former bridges an eerie menace. Strangely, I found myself wanting to wade into this vast emptiness and simply let myself float.

My only prior knowledge of this place was hearing it mentioned in relation to flooding caused by hurricanes, and listening to Ludo’s song “Lake Pontchartrain” as a high schooler.

I felt as though I were crossing a drowned wasteland, yet I was instantly in love with…

Taralei Griffin

Storyteller. Cannabis Science Student. Valkyrie of Hope.

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