It's a new year and we're welcoming it down here in New Orleans. We've spent the past few days planning and designing and very much excited about some recent Four Rivers developments, which you'll hear more about before too long. In the meantime, since you've already met Beth, it's time to introduce you to Cassie.
Is there a story behind your name?
Hard to believe I can't give a straight answer on this, given my more than casual interest in names and their histories, but I'm really not sure. The only thing I am sure of is that my parents took my three older siblings, 12, 10 and 8 at the time, out to dinner before I was born and asked for their thoughts on the subject. There was Mary Jo (after the much loved gymnast of the Olympics that year) and possibly Ooney Jo (which my second brother called me for years and became my AOL screenname in high school) and others I'm sure, but none that stuck. I've just texted my mom to get the full story...
What do you do for relaxation?
I used to read to relax but after a graduate degree in writing in which I spent three years reading short stories and novels analytically, that doesn't do it anymore. These days, there's nothing on this planet more relaxing for me than a long horse ride, especially on my girl Sadie.
Someone you admire.
So many people. But I rarely give my parents their due and so here goes. My mom's a doer. Constantly moving and giving. So much energy for the people and places she loves. We gave each other hell when I was in high school so it's a great deal of fun to be such good friends now, to enjoy each other and really talk to each other. People like to call my dad MacGyver. There's nothing the man can't do. There's no one more honest with me. On Father's Day I wrote him that I trust him with my life and know gut-deep who he is and that he's there. They are just real people, the kind of people I love to know. It's amazing to me that they're my parents. They'll soon be married 44 years with 4 children and 10 grandchildren to show for it and they tease and laugh like they haven't seen all the things that they've seen together which is another thing for which I'm entirely grateful.
Where is your favorite place you have traveled?
Tough, nearly impossible, to say. But Salta in Argentina is up there-- a northern province with wonderful wine and alpacas and colorful mountains and salt flats and the starriest skies and the kindest people in the world. I dreamt of living there and part of me still does. New Zealand- every single bit of it. Amazing landscapes and food and wine and a kind of simple but holy appreciation of the land. I felt so connected to it and would love to go back. Japan-- for its mystery and attention to beauty and the quiet and dignified way the people go about their lives. Cambodia-- the temples are breathtaking, other-worldly, and there's a spiritual presence to the place that is palpable.
Tell us about living abroad.
I spent four years abroad, two in Argentina and two in Singapore, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. There's nothing like getting the opportunity to know a place and a people outside of your home. Someplace truly different where people think differently, the paradigms are fundamentally different, and so you have to adjust, make space in your mind and heart for things that are new. It expands you and I believe that it made me better. And it was a hell of a lot of fun. Buenos Aires is a captivating city. The customs and traditions are built around enjoyment of things that I believe make this life so nice to live-- families and true friends and good meals and long afternoons spent around a table together. Learning a new language was tough but worth it. Singapore was not an adjustment at all compared to BA. Everything worked and ran and did so magnificently well. I loved the little pockets of authentic Chinese/Indian/Malay culture that are to be found if you look and the easy access to the rest of Asia.
Do you consider yourself lucky and why?
Oh God, yes. Last year was a crazy year for me, a lot of changes, and I think that on the other side of those tough life moments is an opportunity to see all that is so good. My family for one. I grew up surrounded by them-- grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins-- and now have nine nieces and one nephew who carry us on and along and who bring me insane amounts of joy. I have friends who have been my friends my whole life. Beth is one and she and her husband and son have been lifesavers-- as in there's no way on Earth I could ever repay their kindness to me. And new friends I've met through school and after and they all enrich my life so much. Good health and a sound mind (most of the time) and the opportunity of education and travel. An apartment filled with books. All of it. My great aunt would say I'm not lucky but blessed.
Favorite coffee in New Orleans.
I could copy Beth's answer nearly word for word. Monkey Monkey, Fair Grinds, Spitfire. And there's a special place in heaven for the original maker of the Iced Irish Coffee at Finn McCool's.
Asuka for sushi. MoPho for the Refresher. Anything at St. James Cheese Company. The paella at Lola's. Everything at Doris Metropolitan. Brunch at Commander's. Sunday night pizza at Twelve Mile Limit along with the Baudin, one of the greatest cocktails of all time. Domilise's for a fried oyster po-boy. The BBQ shrimp po-boy and a Bloody Mary at Liuzza's by the Track. I'll stop now lest I never stop. Beth keeps our list of places to try and it only grows. New Orleans is so wonderful that way. And across the Causeway is Ox Lot 9 and their Yaka Mein and Campfire dessert are off the charts. Oh, and the catfish at Middendorf's is worth the drive. Just ask Beth's two-year-old, Gus.
Best way to spend a day here.
I'd start out with something healthy-- a run along Bayou St. John or a yoga class at Reyn. Get in some writing. Make some good coffee. Have lunch with friends and let that turn into afternoon shopping (Sopo, Hattie Sparks, Scriptura, Octavia Books, among so many others) and a walk down Magazine Street. Home to relax and get ready and then drinks at Cane and Table or Sylvain in the Quarter, a good dinner, and then Frenchmen street for music and dancing until everybody's worn out. Sounds so nice right now.
Why do you love the Magnolia?
Look, we made it so we're going to love it. But we couldn't love it and we wouldn't have made it if we didn't genuinely see a need for it. That's how we work. The leather's so wonderful-- you feel it and smell it and you know you're carrying something quality. The linings are fun and playful and keep you young. The pockets make sense, period. You'll miss them when you carry any other bag. I love that I feel proud to carry it. Love that Beth and I came together to make it happen and love the responses we're getting from all over.
Biggest pet peeve?
I'm an easily annoyed person, no doubt. I'm working on it. That I have to work on being annoyed is a huge annoyance to me.
Something you’re looking forward to?
This new year. Enjoying this great city. Mardi Gras. So many exciting Four Rivers things which you'll hear about soon. Beth's second baby who I know I'll love as much as her first which is so amazing. Continuing to write and photograph and figure out what I want to be when I grow up.