Sunday, June 14, 2015


Standing abandoned on this vast plane.
(What adjectives can describe
a heart that is breaking
from the weight
of its own loneliness? )
I searched.

Shuffling through my

“God where are You?”

Energy spent, I collapsed.
From my knees, face to the ground
The search continued
And I found I’d been looking too hard.

Expecting to find Him on my scale
it wasn't until the balance changed
and face-down, I could see
I hadn’t found Him because there was too much me.

As I considered my surroundings,
The swells and ridges
The firm, scarred ground I knelt on.
I was struck with how inadequate my dimensions were.
Not nearly enough to comprehend His presence.

He had been there.
A giant invisible only because of his great size,
The whole time feeling stranded,
I was searching in the palm of His hand
Only as far as in His very grasp.

Melt down,

Is there anything great that is not in You?

And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft;
in his quiver hath he hid me; and said unto me,
thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain:
yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.
...Yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord
and my God shall be my strength.

Isaiah 49:2-5

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Writer's Block Blues

"I am going to feed my dogs." It's a simple task. One scoop for the little dog, lots of scoops for the big dog. Fill the water bowl. They do the rest. 

A few weeks ago, I walked into my garage to do just that. It was 7 o'clock in the morning. Yours truly was about as groggy as someone who woke up three minutes ago can be. 

So there I was, zombie walking to the dog food, scoop in hand. 


That was the sound the door made when it closed shut behind me. 

That's also the sound that triggered my memory-- the night before, 20 minutes spent locking down my house.  Every door. Every window. To the max. I had stopped just short of welding the door hinges. 

Why the maximum security? Because my family was out of town. It was just me and the dogs. Just me, locked in the garage with goosebumps and a crusty dog-food scoop. I threw that across the room and felt a little better. 

So, "I am going to feed the dogs," turns into, "I am going to break into my house." Not such a simple task. I prowled around, shivering, searching for a door that I might have forgotten to lock, or maybe a spare key. 

Maybe a nice-sized rock. 

I could blog about it, 
"DIY: make your own entrance." 
"Breaking and Entering: Smashing Success."

No luck. And I couldn't muster the guts to bust a window, so finally, cold and panicky, I crawled into my car. Looking into my living room window, my dog was framed in the pane mournfully looking back at me. 

He was hungry. I was cold. Late for work. Probably fired. No one to help us. I was a failure. We were all going to die. 

The tears started.

I opened my glovebox for some tissues. There, nestled in the napkins, was a forgotten set of keys. House keys. 


So, we didn't die. My dogs got fed. I got to work. The house was still standing when my parents got home.  And it all adds to my experiences of learning not to expect simple things to stay simple. The plainest things can unravel (especially in my hands) into sensational conundrums. 

That's what I have been reminding myself now.

"I am going to write a story." I know it well. I have a title. I have an outline. I know the characters. I have written scenes. All I need to do is string them together.

Then I sit in front of the blank page and the distance between my pen and the paper might as well be from upstate New York to Mexico. But that's not the worst of the trouble; my grief is that I know there are words to get me from here to there, but they are shut up. After hours of scribbling sentences, nomadic wanderings of libraries/ cafe's, hundreds and hundreds of pages of good books-- I have not been able to get into my story. 

It is a betrayal. My mind. My ideas. My words. And I'm locked out. To the max. 

Outside, looking in. How did I get here?

Today, I set up a writing nook in my house.

My desk is a little helter-skelter. There is a rock in one of the pigeon holes. It's oval, slightly flat and perfectly smooth. My childhood friend, Joel, gave it to me when I was 9. I spent a lot of Sunday afternoons at his house, playing with his pet gerbils, writing stories about the gerbils, exploring outside for appropriately solemn places to bury the gerbils. 

My books are being held up by a jellyfish paperweight. It was a Christmas gift from my oldest friend, Patrick. We had traveled to Italy together. We went swimming in the Mediterranean-- he got an infection in his foot that crippled him for the rest of the trip and I got stung by a jellyfish.

One of the books is the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook-- I won it at a family grab-bag, which wound up being useful four months later when I was in college. I didn't have to jump from a roof into a dumpster, or wrestle an alligator, but it did help me connect with the kid I was babysitting. The boy was terribly afraid of hornets and WCSSH brought the intruder down.   

Each thing holds its own narrative. They are landmarks on a timeline of people I have known, places we have been, and things we have done. So many stories, all within arm's reach. 

And here I find the lock. 

Who cares? 

Is it worth telling? 
Does it deserve to be told? 
Will it be heard? 
Will it be loved? 

Can't say. Not for certain. Standing here, the grey area is cold. The answers could be stillborn dreams.

Or Maybe. (There is that prick of hope.) Maybe. Maybe I can get in. And maybe it will be worth it. 

There is no breaking and entering with story telling. The piece would shiver into indiscernible pieces. And now that I'm facing the front door, I think it's so unfortunate that I can't keep gumption in my glovebox. That only comes when I first wake up, in the way I look at the day. It is only in working, pushing, pressing forward. 

That's the key. Discipline with courage. It is so simple. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall Photos

It's fall in the Adirondacks. I could fill bookshelves raving about all the things I love about this season; the smell of raked leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, the dusty afternoon light, the color of the sky, the color of the trees and the way the earth smells after it rains. 

There's also getting stuck behind the bus on the way to work, school zone speed limits, the week-long downpour that always comes the end of September and chapped lips.  

Quick look at this picture of my dog!

Back on track. Fall is beautiful. And so is Bingley. And so are these sunflowers, even if they are school-bus yellow. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Play Nice, Kids

I snagged a job! I work at a local, family run garden center. Not exactly wielding the communication degree, but I get to play in the dirt and learn about plants. Minus a day of rage pulling apart tomato cages (a task that can also be found in the 5th circle of hell), and a nasty encounter with a termite colony– it has been swell. 

This week-end, I was in prime form with a happy meeting of two worlds– plants and children. We had a special Mother's Day event, the greenhouse was filled up with little ones planting flowers for the occasion. I love working with the little ones. Co-workers and friends always encourage me, "Emily-- you have a great way with kids!"

I appreciate that feedback– but little do they know. 

 Let me take you back to my first job as nanny. It was with a large family, boys making the majority. Getting to know each kid– their different temperaments (and tempers)– it was wonderful, and challenging. I had some unforgettable experiences. Here is one of the first. 

The first month I worked there, I quickly learned how easily one of the younger boys would get frustrated. He would storm around outside, throwing things and hollering.. a small human volcano letting off pre-explosion steam. 

One day he really popped (bad homework experience), and ran away. Mom recruited me to be the search and rescue team– I, in turn, recruited his siblings to help me track him down. We scoured the development, hollered and bribed– finally found him. 

It was flustering– he wasn't impressed with my nanny authority at all. Nevertheless, we managed to coax him to his driveway. Then he tried to re-run away. I knew (with all my 17 year old conviction) that the best thing to do was to force this wayward child into my will... so I directed his siblings into a scissor formation. Closed him in, cut him off. 

It worked. He tried to scamper out, but his sister was too fast and got a hold of his T-shirt. 

I ran up for the assist, but not before the screaming started. The kind that makes the grass shiver, without wind. 

The escapee's teeth were sunk into his sister's arm. The rest of the siblings started bellowing/ bawling out of sympathy. Confusion reigned.

It was my time to shine: as a nanny. As an authority figure. As an adult. As a black belt in karate. I was ready. 

So when the mom stepped out onto her front porch– doubtless drawn out by all the commotion (along with the rest of the neighborhood)– here is what she saw:

Kids screaming.

 Her eldest daughter weeping. 

The newly hired babysitter, pinning her bellowing, flailing son to the ground, in a combo head lock/ scissor move.

The mom simply, mildly asked, "Emily.. what are you doing?"

I burst into tears. 

Emily and kids. It was a rough start. But, years later, I'm still close with that family. Today, there is no way I could hold that boy down; not unless I started eating more pizza. Lots more. 

My favorite days, since I've moved home from college, have been when they go hiking with me, or throw a frisbee for a few hours. They have forgiven me the knocks accumulated during the learning process.  I enjoy the plants, but I love the relationships that forgive a rough start. The ones that give you a chance to live and learn, together. At the end of the day, I think it's more accurate to say that the kids are good to me. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Out like a Lion

Last week was a beautiful line up of 75-80 degree days. Upstate went nuts–– sun drunk.

The peepers got to peeping with conviction. Crab apple trees trees started to blossom– fat white flowers. Car windows were cranked down, leaving an audio patchwork of songs in all genres as they passed. Shorts, T-shirts and iced coffees– I milked the week of summer-in-March along with the rest of them. 

Sleeping Beauty, Lake George
I went for a hike and counted the ice patches on one hand, remembering this week, two years ago, when I was struggling up a mountain through two feet of snow.  

I also realized that I have seriously underestimated the intimacy my emotional health shares with sunshine. Lying on the top of the mountain, getting a jump start on the short's tan– I felt like I had lumbered out of a cave, blinking and winking in the heavy sun. So disoriented, so happy. I had been dealing with a sort of light dehydration.

Come down hope! it's not safe up there! We're back to 40 degrees, topped off with a bitter wind. The poor peepers are turning into popsicles. The petals have been blasted off the trees. And the heart gets so heavy to carry when it's cold. March was a bit cruel this year, though it was true to her character–– she came in like a lamb. Can't say I wasn't warned.

But, Spring won't be around for much longer. Keep busy– Run.* Work. Read. Time passes.

And I keep things in perspective: this is all probably worse for Bingley, he can't wear nice vests. Plus, along with the cold weather, a new instrument has been added to the family. He doesn't like either very much... at all. 

*Emily's Dictionary:
v. Run– 
Think NASCAR race. With Tonka trucks. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Identity Crisis

I've thrown a dimension of my personality into the void.

I feel a bit homeless now when I hop online. But, it had to be done; the fact that I saw Facebook as a dimension of my personality made it necessary, though there are other reasons.

Last night, I was telling [consoling] myself. "This is just an experiment in self-discovery... defining myself by the negative. If I take this thing out of my life, how will I fill the space? How will I spend my time?"

Yadda yadda. Get over yourself bud...

In simple terms: No job, no Facebook!

But in the meantime, I can't remember my name...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are You a Tamale? Cause You're Hot.

It's so cheesy. So commercialized. A kick in the pants for the lone wolves out there. 

Whatever. I still like the thought and the simple, sweet gifts that Valentine's Day inspires. 




But you wouldn't know that looking at my project. 

Construction Paper, Crayons, Pastels, Charcoal
Packing Tape, Dried Fruit, Chewing Gum,
Busta Rhyme, 30 Second Bunnies
and tons of bad pick-up lines.  

 I hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day!