resolutions? why not?

Date January 4, 2011

To breathe deeply and freely.

To reconnect with friends.

To seek out solitude.

To run and read and write.

To pick up pennies in parking lots.

To use only Papermate Classic Mirado pencils– the ones with the red stripe on the eraser.

To never resolve to give up Diet Coke again.

To sleep in on Saturdays.

To enjoy movies and music and more of my Momma.


Date January 2, 2011

I used to be really good with transitions.  I just rolled right through them without checking up.

From English to Spanish and back again.  From sidewalk runs to trails.  From oceans to rivers to creeks out by the barn.  From country to country, continent to continent.  From one-bedroom apartments to log cabins to tents in the woods.  From teacher to camp counselor and from all grown up to Daddy’s little girl.




It’s different now.

I butcher conversations.  In English.  In Spanish.  In teacher speak.

I stutter step in feet that seem too heavy for running.

I wear teacher clothes.  Even on the weekends.

And I cry sometimes.

It’s obvious that I haven’t transitioned well.

It’s slower than I’m accustomed to and not anything like as graceful as I’d hoped it would be, but it’s coming.  The full circle of this transition is coming.

I can just feel it.

And I’ve always had a thing for feeling good things coming.

I should probably start another list

Date October 12, 2010

I think I left the womb a dreamer and I haven’t let up since.

When I was too little to remember my age, I dreamed that I could live off of chocolate milk alone.  When I was in kindergarten, I dreamed that Robin and I would be dancers on the Vaudeville stage.  At the ripe old age of seven, I dreamed of riding my bicycle with the banana seat as fast as my little brother rode his Street Flyer.

In second grade, I dreamed of writing a poem that had more than eight lines and of moving to Australia.  In the fifth grade, I dreamed of living in the mountains with my grandfather a la Heidi.  As an awkward adolescent, I dreamed of the day when braces would give way to a Kelly Kapowski grin; I already had her bangs.

As a training-bra-sporting eighth grader, I dreamed of going on a date with a football player and not having to ask my dad for permission first.  At sixteen, I dreamed that young love would conquer all and as a where-did-the-time-go senior, I dreamed of living next door to Ada in Pontotoc forever.

My freshman year in college I dreamed of being obscure and by the following fall, I was dreaming of far off places and starting a two-man band with Pat.  At twenty-two I dreamed of changing the world one child at a time and by twenty-four I was writing letters to Lex on Post-It notes and dreaming of far off places again.

When I was twenty-seven I dreamed of coming home.

And at the ripe old age of how-old-I-am-today, I realize that I dream myself around this world a thousand times and I can’t get out of this place.

So rather than move or leave, I look back at that List o’ Dreams I made so very long ago and I smile at the memories there.  And as I reminisce and read, I feel the teensiest bit of something strangely familiar move in my stomach and I realize that I’m dreaming things all over again.

evidently I’ve got one foot in the grave.

Date August 5, 2010

Running has always been a getaway of sorts for me, my exercise of choice.  A routine that requires nothing more than a decent pair of tennis shoes and a ponytail holder.

Cheaper than a gym membership.  More skin covered than swimming laps.  Less annoying than “Five more, ladies, feel it burn!”.

I run for all of those reasons and so I can eat whatever I want.  Seems like a fair trade off because, let’s be real here, I like to eat.

So, there’s this 14.2 mile race I’ve been wanting to run for years where the motto is “Hurdle the weak.  Trample the dead” and every finisher gets this rad tie-dyed t-shirt with a skull and crossbones on it at the end.  Call it a throw back to my wanna-be-punk-rocker stage if you want or motivation to up the running ante, but I suckered a friend into committing to it with me and paid the entry fee.  (Gotta have that tie-dyed t-shirt!)

I bumped my weekly mileage a touch and tried to put forth more than my usual efforts so as not to embarrass myself come race day and to be able to eat more peanut butter.  All was going well until… (enter creepy drum rolly thing here)

My knee started hurting.  No biggie.  Couple of days off.  Ice.  Advil.

Like I said, no biggie.  All part of the running.

9 miles on Saturday.

Knee hurts a lot.  Couple of days off, ice, Advil, still hurts– probably more than it should.

Better check it out.

So, The Hubs calls in a favor and this morning at 10:00 a.m. I’m in a physical therapist’s office.  He asks the general questions and pokes around on my leg a little.  Stretch here.  Stretch there.  Does this hurt?  How about that?

Yadda yadda, you get the picture.

I handled it all pretty well I thought, until he asked me to sit up and said, “So, Emily, how old are you?”

“Um, 29.”

“And you doubled your mileage to train for this race?  Hmmm…”  (head shaking, finger wagging, frown from the uber fit prepubescent marathoner in front of me.)

“You know, you’re not 20 anymore.  It’s probably time to slow it down a little, Ma’am.”

Well, thank you.  Thank you very much.

this post was not written so you could lecture me on the importance of sun safety.

Date August 3, 2010

I feel it.  That river of sweat rolling down my spine, veering just to the left before it cascades over my meaty waist line.  Nice.

That guy with the weird voice– the one on the radio– says it’s 102 degrees outside today and I believe him.

There’s another river in the making.  This one’s starting from my forehead, end of my nose, down my chin, curve, curve, curving, tumbling.  Yep.  Right between ’em.  Gross.

This is ridiculous.

There’s an air conditioned room not five feet from me.  There’s a Diet Coke in the refrigerator and it’s probably got little chunks of ice on the top.

For cryin’ out loud, what am I thinking?!  Why can’t I stop this?

You know, too, don’t you?

We all know it.

If you can’t lose it, tan it.

the shower caddy makes equals of us all

Date June 29, 2010

This has been an experience.

Of course, the nerd in me got all giddy and googley eyed when I thought about going back to school for the summer.  I was making lists and filling up my planner before I’d even gotten accepted into the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Project’s Invitational Summer Institute.  (Just typing that long title makes me feel all important and smarty-pantsy.  I’m not really.  I just feel like I am.)

Anywho, I eventually did get accepted (typed letter.  on letterhead.  in a fancy envelope.  SO important.) and I got to use all of those lists I’d made and I got to pack my life into a laundry basket and put it in the backseat of a car that cranked right up (unlike that 1995 model Mazda 626, may she rest in peace).

In no time, I was driving onto the campus of MSU for my second stint as a student in Starkville, MS.  Sure, I was a little more world-wise and I little less fraternity row and do-I-look-fat-in-this-animal-print-halter top obsessed, but I was still nervous.

Nervous about leaving The Hubs and our Beagle pup, nervous about my flowers dying of drought, nervous about pigging out on Papa John’s pizza and gaining 30 lbs (not that I would EVER, have EVER done something like that) nervous about walking into a classroom full of strangers, nervous about my ability to keep up a student paced life.

But here I am at the end of June on my last day of class headed toward 6 hours of graduate credit and an A to boot.  My laundry basket’s in my backseat, my dirty clothes are in the floorboard, and the snazzy hot pink bedding my mother-in-law bought me is folded neatly, too.

Now, does anyone need a shower caddy?  Shower shoes?  Anyone?

the time is gone, the memories are there.

Date June 21, 2010

365 days make a year.

A year ago.

It’s hard to believe that I was sitting there, alone in that airport a year ago.

But I was.

It seems like eons and yesterday all at once.  I can still conjure up the smell of rich, Colombian coffee with ease and although my Spanish has more gaps in it than I remember, I’m still able to speak up to help the Hispanic man in line at the post office who asked for stamps and keeps getting an envelope.

Inevitably, one of those things happens– the man in the post office, a picture of the mountains stuck in a book, the Spanish word in the middle of yesterday’s conversation, the synchopated step I sneak into The Swing.

And I am taken back there.

To that town in the Andes where morning fog is magical.  To the one room apartment with a wall of windows.  To a bar on the avenida with mis amigos, a band, and bottles of rum.  To the fruit stand on the corner and the man that knows my name.

To that horrific bus that wound down the mountain that took me to that school on the hill with the bright yellow doors and bright brown faces.

I am taken back there.

And Then There Was One

Date June 18, 2010

It had been nineteen glorious days of adventure and snacks and plans that failed.  The three girls from Rice Hall, 6th floor had managed to survive a bound-for-vomit snorkeling trip and a lunch buffet of fried alligator and mystery meats of other origins on what should have been Granny’s Christmas table.

They stood there in the airport—the three of them– holding hands and holding back tears.

No words.  None needed.

Three of them.


Two backpacks thrown over four well-traveled shoulders.  One straw cowboy hat, bent and torn and weathered and seven million brand new memories between them.


“This is the final boarding call for flight 594 Sydney to Los Angeles.  This is the final boarding call.”

And then there was one.

Time stops

Date June 17, 2010

The new highway came through Gran’s homeplace the first time in the 60s.  The hayfield out front was bisected by two lanes of asphalt and cattle ambling were replaced by Mr. Ford’s moneymakers “driving like bats flyin’ die-rectly outta hell” as Gran says.

Thirty years later two lanes turned to four and twenty acres were barely five.  But her house is still sitting there giving shelter to old memories and stories of children long since raised and days long gone by.

Today cars whiz by thoughtlessly in a hurry to get who knows where.

Just further on up the road.

Somewhere that’s not here.

Because here—time stops.

Gran and I are sitting in the porch swing– her arm around me, me nuzzled in the folds of her thick, wrinkled skin.  Acorns fall haphazardly onto the rusting tin roof each ping waking us from our heat-induced stupor.  The smell of cabbage cooking has managed to sit atop the humidity and ride the ceiling fan breeze.

“You wanna go in, sweet thang?”  she asks.

“Yes, ma’am,” I say and up we git.

“Mind them steps now, child.”

“Yes, ma’am, “ I say as I mind each cracking one.  The floor creaks beneath Gran’s weight and I shuffle along behind her.

“Go on and set the table now and set it good.”

And I do.

Plates.  Silver– mismatched at best.  Napkins.  The tea pitcher– full and fresh and sweating on the outside.

Gran, in her slow, deliberate way, lays out our Sunday dinner spread.  Roast and rice, that strong smelling cabbage and rough-as-the-Rocky-Mountain-tops biscuits.

We’re family here like we are in every other place.  But at Gran’s heavy leaden table, we’re a family at rest in stiff wooden chairs.

We’re a family who bedazzles gossip with “bless her heart”s and “Lawd, help us all”s.

Here we are at home in deep-rooted histories, cotton-pickin’ stories, and old home place memories.  Here we are full as ticks on squirrel dog collars.  Here we are anxious children on birthday mornings.

Gran’s making us wait again.  She does that a lot.  Her familiar hand is holding firmly to that old metal cake top– keeping the treasure beneath it hidden for a moment more.  We all pretend that we don’t know what’s there, but we do.

Twenty years working in the public school cafeteria have made her a master of many things, but her specialty is mounded beneath that metal top.  Saltine crackers with peanut butter on one side, salty, creamy, and crunchy topped with a marshmallow- fluffy, white, and melted to that point right before brown.  Another Saltine sits on top and has been smushed until the marshmallow just peeks out the sides.

Finally, she lifts that lid and we smell her secrets, her stories, her love.  We each wait our turn, afraid of a good Gran scolding, and wait on the word.  “Go on, now.  Eat ‘em up,” she says and we do.

Marshmallows stretch out in front of mouths and cracker crumbs fall onto her sagging floor, but no one notices.

Because here—time stops.

We Are Many Things

Date June 17, 2010

We are head strong and gentle.  Loving and crude.

We are courageous and meek.  Beautiful and scorned.

We are temperamental and stoic

And a river meandering through a shaded place.

We are reckless abandon and silliness

A flower bursting with pack-of-Skittles blooms.

We are mushy in the middle places and hard around the heart.

Calloused hands and ungroomed eyebrows

telling the stories of yesterdays.

A wanna-be-hippie and a shotgun wedding.

A yes, sir-no ma’am history and a passport-full-of-stamps future.

A monogrammed teacher tote on a made-for-backpacks shoulder.

A used-to-be-surfer and an ought-to-be-loner.

A weepy, celebrating, wondering, settled nomad of sorts.





out the many things.

We are.

I am.

What are you?