What I've Been Into -- Fall 2013

Hi everybody,

Hope you've been enjoying these cooler days, what ever that means to you in degrees. Autumn is my favorite season, and October my favorite month, which is lucky because it's when I was born, and hiking at St. Johns University with family on my birthday suited me quite well. Hello, blue blanket skies! Hello, quilt of leaves! I'm grateful for all the reasons this season gives to pull those I love closer.

Things have been quiet on the blog these last few months, which I both expected and didn't, if that makes any sense. I've been a working mom for over two months now. Definitely a transition. We've found some semblance of "flow" to our days, though, which feels good, but it has come as a result of simplifying, doing less of some things, and giving in more to unplanned present moments. I still find myself longing to write, missing the particular energy and time that I need to create something fresh and weighted with these lovely little things called words. But then I blink and kiss this lovely little person called Elliot and, really, the rest of it just fades.

He has three teeth! And loves when we chase each other around the kitchen. We are sleeping less and living more.

And, of course, sometimes we live when he sleeps, too. Here's a bit of what I've been into lately, especially between the hours of 7:00 and 9:00 (such a night owl over here!):

  1. Glossolalia by David Jauss -- Fabulous collection by my former professor and advisor. A modern-day Chekhov? Yes.
  2. Disobedience by Jane Hamilton -- I enjoyed Map of the World and The Book of Ruth more, but as I read all stories about mothers and sons differently now, this one kept my attention in a new way.
  3. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter -- Easy and breezy and full of pop culture references set in romantic locales. Haven't read a book like this in a long time. Enjoyed it.
  4. Gryphon by Charles Baxter -- A collection of short story gems: before Glossolalia and Gryphon came into my life, I had almost forgotten how perfect the short form can be, especially as a way to wind down from the day.
  5. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg -- Only a third of the way in, and as someone who has practically no experience with the business world, some of it feels very... bottom-line? But I do appreciate the way Sandberg encourages women to go after their goals. 

TV and Movies:
  1. So You Think You Can Dance -- in my next life, I will be a professional dancer
  2. Breaking Bad -- My students fully grasp complex, unreliable characters now because of Walt. Pop culture has a purpose after all!
  3. Lots of TED talks -- interesting, sometimes inspiring, and...short! Who has two hours to devote to an actual movie?!

  1. "Dear World: Postcards From a Prison Teacher" by Jennifer Bowen Hicks -- a beautiful account of the power of humanity, by a fellow VCFA alum
  2. "When Mom Died," by Stacey Torres -- sad, blunt, and moving; used it to talk about personal narratives in my creative writing class
  3. "Has anyone else tried pouring this stuff over dried cereal? A-W-E-S-O-M-E!" -- Amazon reviews gone funny
  4. "Most Famous Book Set In Every State" -- I still feel a bit frustrated with Sinclair Lewis over Main Street
  5. "Reading literary fiction improves empathy, study finds" -- yes!

  1. Books and Bars -- a very cool book club for the local set
  2. Prairie Oaks Fall Festival -- happiness and peace live at POI
  3. Brain, Child -- billed as the only literary magazine in print dedicated to motherhood, and full of great content (thanks, Kris!)
  4. The Beat -- a radio show in Northern Minnesota that broadcasts the work of local poets, including yours truly. I particularly enjoyed viewing the list of contributors, as a good number of them are familiars and colleagues. 
  5.  Twitter
  6.  Instagram 
Okay, so those last two aren't really finds, as I've known about them for years (and I actually feel quite conflicted about their usefulness in my life), but... I recently signed up for each because of my students. I do teach communication, after all, and social media--the big kids tell me--is a serious part of how they understand themselves. In any case, follow me here and here if you're into those things. Instagram is mostly baby and Twitter is mostly writing, teaching, and oarfish.   :)

What have you been into lately? What's caught you by surprise? 

Have a great week, all! Wishing you beautiful moons.


  1. Savor these moments with your sweet boy, for the years are fleeting. This advice from an empty nester whose "baby" is now studying at a university 1,400 miles away. Oh, how there are days when I long to have him back home, to wrap him in a fierce hug...

    1. I can only imagine, Audrey. After being away from Elliot for eight or nine hours a day, it takes everything inside of me not to speed to daycare the moment the students leave school. Weeknights are precious. Weekends are pure gold. Thank you for this reminder!

  2. Emily:

    I admire (and I'm astonished) how you can teach full-time, read, explore, and still find the crucial and valuable time to devote to Elliot. He is a lucky boy. You are a lucky Mom. God bless your entire family.
    Keep writing. Keep your Journal current. And live each day as if life were a blessing.


    1. Thanks, Richard. I'm a little surprised that I've been able to read as much as I have, too. I think it boils down to two facts: I'm a fast reader, and I have an iPad. When I'm not just staring at Baby Boy while he nurses, I can visit some of my favorite inspirational places on line with just the swipe of a finger. That's been nice. It's good to stay connected!

  3. October your favorite... makes me smile. We are so similar in many ways, but not this one! xo (LOVE that picture w/ El and the leaf!)

  4. Breaking Bad is the show I think of whenever I talk with someone who says they never watch TV because it's all junk. The writing on that show is profoundly not junk.

    Baxter's Gryphon is one of the most amazing short stories I've ever read. Terrifying on so many levels.

    Will I see you at Books and Bars next week??

    1. Sadly, no! My schedule does not allow it this month. But hopefully December?!

      And yes -- profoundly.

  5. It's wonderful, even inspiring, to hear about your life. I remember those days well and though technology has certainly changed every thing your life sounds similar to ours when we had babies.

    What's caught my attention this autumn?

    Realizing that I'm stunned every single year by the awesome beauty of fall.

    Learning to enjoy my slightly slower pace realizing that occasionally notice a few more things, although I might forget about them by time I get home!

    Reliving the every year tradition that many clients seeking my help do nothing during the previous 5 warmer months and then try to get everything done in the last 6 weeks before winter (good luck!).

    Thoroughly enjoying the epic World Series and feeling very happy that the Boston Red Sox can be part of it!

    And looking forward to my oldest son's upcoming wedding in early December and realizing there is no sense pretending I'm going to get through it without crying.

    1. Bill, I feel the same way about fall. I just love it. The colors, the scents, the sounds? *sigh* Also, hoooray for the Sox, and big congrats to you, your son, and family! Such a special time. I will look forward to some heart felt ruminations on your blog. :)

  6. I'm amazed you're finding time to read or watch or think at all, dear one. I ruminate/complain about being an artist/mother all the time, but am always fully aware that being a full time working mother is a whole other battle/puzzle of enrichment. And then there is your writing heart...which will always be there waiting for you, I swear. With a voice like yours there's no way to keep it from singing.

    Full of admiration & faith. xx

    1. Yes: after I made this list, I thought of the sum of minutes and hours and said to myself, "But you could have been writing!" But then I thought, No, no, I really could not have been. Reading has always felt leisurely to me, thank goodness. And yes, I'm counting on the patience of my writer self. Trusting that each impulse is stored away somewhere. What words I will write about this boy when he is tall and grown, mostly just to latch on to all the moments I'll wish I could relive...

      Off to live them, fully.

  7. You sound as though you've settled into a routine that may be nourishing you in unexpected ways. There are seasons in life as well as in the year, after all, and this is a new season for you.

    What have I been up to? I'm just back from two weeks traveling through Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Texas I've not seen before. I have piles of photos on my camera's cards, and my first posting up. Lots of joys - the Tallgrass Prairie, Konza Prairie, the Santa Fe Trail. It's been a couple of decades since I've done such a thing. It really was quite wonderful, although getting back into "the routine" always is a challenge.

    On the other hand, the routine may change a bit because of the trip. We'll see!

    1. Sounds fabulous. I so enjoyed reading your Tumbleweed post, and I'll keep my eye out for others!


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