what is grief, if not love

Let me tell you, writing about grief as an intellectual experiment and writing about grief as someone firmly in its clutches are two very different experiences.

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who can turn the world on with her smile?

“Mary: Why are you smiling at me?

Lou: Because you just reaffirmed my faith in human nature.

Mary: You mean what I did wasn’t rotten?

Lou: Oh, no, that was rotten all right. It’s just nice to know that everyone’s rotten. Up to now, I thought you were one of the few holdouts.”

The Mary Tyler Moore ShowSeason 2. . . Is a Friend in Need

I’ve been watching a lot of the Mary Tyler Moore show. Most of the episodes are up on youtube, though I think Hulu has it, too. There’s something really comforting about classic television, to me. MTM ages pretty well, all things considered. There are some cringe things, like how Valerie Harper’s Rhoda is considered the fat friend when she’s like, tiny, but all in all, I can see how it was an incredibly progressive show for it’s time and there are lines that still make me laugh out loud. Plus, I’ve always found any Betty White content comforting, even before she passed away and even more so now.

I think my favorite relationship is the one between Mary and Lou Grant. Partly because he’s a pessimist and she’s the forever optimist. Partly because he’s settled into his life of middle management and she comes in and livens up the place, makes him care about his job again. Partly because for as gruff as he is, he’s competent and does a great job nurturing her talent.

I think in this era of extreme workplace burnout, watching a workplace comedy where everyone cares and the boss isn’t the worst person in the building, soaking up a salary and taking up space, is like the ultimate fantasy.

I’ve also been watching old gameshows. Password, watching Betty White be so sweetly in love with her beloved husband, host Allen Ludden, but also being smart as a whip and cleaning house more often than not. I’ve watched some Match Game episodes too, but those have NOT aged well and I can’t in good conscience recommend those.

I guess it’s part nostalgia. I guess it’s part longing for “normal” times, even though I know we can’t get back to that, and have to figure out life moving forward. But I think it’s not too late to look at the things from the past that we love and that worked and carry them with us into this new, uncertain future.

Things like Mary’s independence and spunk. Lou’s ability to tell a great story, one that was ethical and true. Sue Ann’s agency and unapologetic zest for life’s pleasures.

Maybe we take with us drinking scotch midday at work, too, I dunno. Let’s think about it.

January, be kind to us.

January? The month is dumb. It is fraudulent. It does not cleanse itself.”

Anne Sexton.

There’s been this challenge going around of showing yourself in 2012 and showing yourself now. I have a lot of pictures from back then (see above) and far less now. But I’m up for a challenge.

I’m not 26 anymore. Not (currently) blonde, certainly not as thin, but I have to say I’m so much happier? Even here, kicking off the third year of this stupid pandemic. Even though things are getting bad again and the prospect of getting through this thing without catching covid seems more and more unsustainable. I’m still much happier in my 30s.

Part of that is practicalities. A happy marriage, financial security, a career instead of odd jobs cobbled together to make ends meet. My favorite thing about getting older, too, is just how much less you care about stuff? I don’t put up with crap I don’t like anymore. I removed the people from my life that were hurting me and disrespecting my boundaries. I stand up for myself to rude people or cruel people. I’ve transitioned from being the woman older women felt like they had to protect to being a woman who looks after my younger female friends and coworkers.

The WORLD is worse, but my life is better and I’m happy for the last ten years. I’m happy I married my partner. Got two dogs. Lived through Taylor Swift releasing RED twice.

Would I trade it all for that 26 year old body back? …no? No, right? No. Definitely no.

Anyway, happy new year. My book comes out this year. That’s cool, dude.

Also, I leave you with this clip I posted on my twitter to watch:

Betty White was the real deal, man.

fanfic manifesto

I write, uhhh, a lot of fanfic. I am a fanfic old, if you will. An elder internet millennial. I’ve been here a long time and have had the same one hobby since I dialed up that modem and realized other people felt the same about Mulder and Scully as I did.

I was already an adult when ao3 hit the scene. So while that’s not an all encompassing view of my fandom history, the statistics page there is illuminating. For instance, I have 126 works posted, which seems like a lot until you consider I’ve been scribbling down pretend stories about other people’s characters for nearly 25 years. And yeah, typing that did hurt. My word count is… over two million. Easily.

ANYWAY, I write a lot of fanfic.

It means for the last twenty years or so, I’ve always been working on something. Some story, some idea, some fandom. Always something in the hopper. I realized driving to work this morning that I’ve been writing my current WIP for over a year. Did I mean for it to become a behemoth? No, but it happens. I remember when I started writing it, I was like, why am I even doing this? This is gonna take forever.

With fanfic, your deadlines are kind of your own. You can make yourself a schedule and stick to it or you can post whenever or you can start something and never finish it and because it’s a hobby you do that doesn’t make money, and if people don’t like it, too bad. I’ve always been really good about finishing things and keeping to a schedule of some sort. Once a week. Once a month. Something.

However, I’ve been feeling so guilty about my current WIP because this is the first time I’ve had to juggle my career and my book deadlines AND my fanfic and I bet you can guess which one always gets put on the backburner. It kind of breaks my heart because my fanfic is WHY I have book deadlines in the first place. My fanfic audience who have read my stories devotedly and shared them and reblogged them and talked about them with their friends is why I get to now be published. So I don’t want to abandon something that has been such an enormously large part of my life for so long, but I also want to wholeheartedly go on this new journey. I know that I’ll never stop writing fanfic because I love to do it and because the community is so, so important to me. But I might write it slower and I may write less. And that’s okay.

In conclusion, here are some of the great things I have because of fanfic.

This meme:

These fanarts:

And the time someone had one of my fics bound like a real book and so kindly sent me some copies:

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned from this hobby is that I absolutely have to write what I want to read, even if it’s very specific and niche. My longtime fandom friend mylittleredgirl was on the fanfic maverick podcast talking about her fanfic journey and it was a little like listening to myself because our experiences were so parallel. But she was saying she wrote for an audience of one: herself. I do the same thing. It’s always an extremely happy accident that other people like those stories, but they’ve always been tailored exactly for me and that’s definitely a lesson I can take with me as I move into the publishing world.

I’m gonna write for me, but for a nominal fee, you can read it too. Or, if you’re broke, you can still read two million words of my fanfic for free.

Also, if you think I’m writing this blog post to procrastinate on finishing my next chapter, mind your business!

To be fair, my top artist was always and will always be Taylor Swift.

I hope everyone is surviving the holidays so far. Here’s a glimpse of my last couple weeks:

Okay, sure, one of these things is not like the other but I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift and it’s as much a part of me as my love for star trek, diet coke, and schnoodles.

It’s a weird time, I feel like people are being especially edgy. I think the pressure of the holidays mixed with the on-going pandemic are setting people off. I work in a public library, so I really see a diverse cross-section of humanity, and everyone is just barely hanging in there. Someone did try to set our library on fire, for instance. That sort of edgy. (I wasn’t there, but my co-workers were amazing and everything turned out fine.)

I’m trying to be patient with everyone in hopes that they will be patient with me. Maybe not the arsonist, but like, everyone else.

Hang in there, you guys.

hashtag icarus

It’s not that I don’t want to achieve my goals, but sometimes it feels like I’ve girl bossed a little too close to the sun when I have too many things up in the air. I can plow through obligations with the best of them, but I can’t do it forever and the recovery is always kind of dicey.

I signed with Ylva Publishing in April, turned in the first draft of my book in the summer and then spent most of this fall working through the editing process. And somewhere in between waiting for edits to come back, I started the second book. Now, the final, final draft has been submitted and it’s a big weight off, but ALSO, the first draft for the second book is due at the end of the year, so now I’m just realizing that I’m always going to be caught up somewhere in this process of writing and deadlines and edits. Maybe in multiple places at the same time! It’s okay, but I’m new at it and so it’s been somewhat of a learning curve, figuring out how to manage it all.

My body knows, too, when I’ve completed something stressful and important because the moment it’s off my plate, my body forces me to take a break. Sleep all day, nurse my joints, survive a migraine. I spent most of yesterday in bed. (Relatedly, I cannot recommend the Starry Eyes Self-Warming eye masks enough for people who get migraines. I use the ice hats a lot, but sometimes you just want something warm and not cold and these are great for naps.) I even gave myself the day off from working out, and I hate to upset my routine, so you know it was ~serious~.

It’s easier to beat myself up about not being perfect at handling a bunch of new responsibilities on the first try, but even I know that’s not productive or a good use of my mental energy. And the truth of the matter is, even though it’s been difficult, I think I did handle it well. I learned a lot about how I need to structure my time and my environment to make progress. I’ve been lucky to have the physical space to work and a partner who has been very supportive of both respecting my time and helping me change my space when I realized my original set up wasn’t working.

I’m a very disciplined person when it comes to work. I’m organized, I’m self-motivated, I’m efficient and so I was suited to take on a side hustle, so to speak, but knowing you can do it and actually doing it are two different things! But now that I’m somewhere between doing it and having done it, I find myself strangely motivated to keep doing it. To do it better. To have some success at it, even! I’ve watched my body slow degrading since I was a teenager and my vague plan about that, besides pretending it’s not happening, has always been to just work until I can’t and then it’s just like a blurry row of questions marks, but now maybe I do have a back up plan? Wild. Next stop, the sun!

Two Week Vacation

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who is particularly thrilled with their job right now. I’ve worked for the same employer for the last eight years, and while there’s value in the longevity and stability, you really start to see how the sausages are made after a while. In my first ever job, at a restaurant when I was in college, it was drilled into me that you never called out. Even if you were half dead, you came to work and if you seemed bad enough, they might send you home.

It seems ludicrous, in the midst of a pandemic, but the truth was they’d rather have you at work with a head cold (over FOOD) than to call out sick. And in college, my time off always aligned with spring break or holidays. I didn’t have vacations, I just went home to see my family.

By the time I got through college and working two crummy jobs and grad school and the multiple jobs I had during that time, taking time off was just not something I did. I remember when I first came back to my home state after grad school, I worked as a barista from like, 4:30 a.m. to noon and then I took a nap and then I worked my minimum wage library job from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and that was most of my week. Sometimes I only worked one job, but for a good year, I just never even had days off. I had to negotiate both jobs to give me the same day off, and that was hard!

So when I got my government job at a public library system, for the first few years I barely took vacation. It got to the point where I’d accrued so much vacation I was going to start to lose it and I had to start taking it.

I’m better now. During this pandemic especially, I’ve taken more time off than I think I ever have since I started working any job. Our location was, and still is, insanely busy and we’ve been going hard ever since we reopened, so rest days and mental health days have become mandatory to survive it.

All of which to say, I’m on my two week vacation now. I always take two weeks off in October. I take other time, but this is my good vacation, the long stretch and it’s been really good and really needed. I’ve tried hard to actually rest. We went to Tahoe and lucked into some snow. I saw a bear! My husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. It’s been great.

I don’t necessarily WANT to go back to work on Monday, but I’m not absolutely dreading it, and I think that’s a good sign. It means I got some rest, had some time to reset, got to work on some other projects that I don’t usually have time for during regular work weeks.

Take your time off, if you can. Everything is so difficult right now, we need to take care of ourselves and find a way to make our creative endeavors our priorities, if only for a little while.

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

October is the best month. It’s not a debate. FACTS ARE FACTS. I love the fall, I love the Taylor Swift RED aesthetic, and I love being a spooky bog witch. Halloween is my favorite time and I never met a costume I didn’t want to wear.

This October has been lovely so far. Currently I am on a two week vacation that has only just started. Yesterday, I completed the first round of edits on my book and turned it in, which is like an enormous weight off. On Saturday, we had a backyard party for a coworker who is moving out of state and I got to see some of my lovely, fully vaccinated friends that I haven’t seen in person in like two years. We strung lights in the backyard and everyone brought food to share and there were drinks and it was just fully wonderful.

I also got a tattoo to celebrate my love of all things autumnal!

It was done by Kristina Bennett at Sugar City Tattoo Company and she was so nice to work with. I gave her some vague reference photos and said “autumnal floral with a pumpkin” and she knew the vibe exactly.

In a few days, we’re going up to South Lake Tahoe, which I’m excited to say did NOT burn down, so it will be so good to get out of town and decompress. I’m halfway through writing my second book, something I started while waiting for edits on the first one, so hopefully I can make some progress on that.

Anyway, I’m just popping in to say I love, love, love October and I hope you’re having a good fall so far.

The Underwear Drawer

I like this little blog. It gives me old school livejournal vibes. I used to be a die hard livejournaler. Yes, it’s still there. No, you can’t see it. But I spent a solid number of years – essentially from my senior year of high school until I got married, chronicling my life there.

And then I stopped. I don’t know, I think life just got more busy and social media sort of took over that slower paced blog life style and I just let it slip away.

So this is nice. This is fun. A little spot to say whatever I want. To those of you who have subscribed to this blog, thank you.

I’m learning the ropes about publishing, especially in my little niche wlw fiction genre, and apparently the thing To Do™ is to have a newsletter. As a millennial, it baffles me, but if it’s what the people want, I’ll give it to them.

So you can stay subscribed to the blog and just the blog updates and that’s fine. Or you can subscribe to the newsletter below and get notified of other stuff too. Blog updates, book launches, giveaways, etc.

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As always, thank you so much for your support. It’s weird to launch a new facet of yourself, to say hey look, I’m doing this thing and I’d like your support. It feels a little like opening your underwear drawer and asking a stranger to look inside.

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