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Emily Morrison

Emily Morrison

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Wednesday, 13 November 2013 23:17

Party animals

There is something so reassuring about Friday night. You've made it through the five day dash, but you feel like a marathoner who has crossed the finish line mere moments from collapsing. The work week is behind you, the weekend is in front of you, and it's time to drink lots of fluids and recover at home.

On nights like tonight, when two out of three kids are clean before supper time, I'm feeling pretty good about Friday night. In our house, Friday night means one raging party after another. The soiree starts immediately after school when we hit the grocery store with three kids in tow and pick up a pie dough for phase one of our evening: pizza party. Before long, we've been conned into buying ginger ale (that holy grail of all kids' sodas), popcorn and enough junk food for three weekends of fun. Once we arrive home, the husband and I engage in a bit of conviviality in the kitchen (with our holy grail of all adult beverages) while the kids enjoy some creative play in the living room. When the pie comes out of the oven, we gather around our island in the kitchen and enjoy a rousing game of 'In Plain Sight.' It's basically 'I Spy' with a name change. This is where they pick the most obvious object that everyone can see, and we all get one yes or no question and one wild guess as to what the object in plain sight might be. If no one guesses the right object we all take turns saying, 'Wow, that's a real stumpah!' Dinner ends with my taking all creative credit for our supper time fun and my husband batting clean-up. 

Wednesday, 06 November 2013 23:53

I'm no Lois Lane...

My high school English teacher used to perch on the edge of her desk and ask these questions that no one wanted to answer. I remember the sense of silence in the room. I also remember thinking, 'Well, I'll get things going for her...' and filling the silence. I don't know why silence seemed so painful for me. How come those other kids didn't mind it? How come her teaching literally left them speechless? 

She was the kind of person I strived to impress. High standards. She pinned up Broadway handbills of the shows she had somehow been a part of on the bulletin board. I think of her as my first mentor, but she wasn't exactly the warm fuzzy type. I think it was her snappy sarcasm (some of which I've come into) that ultimately made students afraid to speak. I liked her and I knew that she liked me, but like was never part of the equation. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought, 'I could never be an English teacher,' because I just wasn't that poised. I also wasn't that smart. I didn't enjoy 'The Simpsons.' I didn't understand the little cartoons she pasted to her handouts. I never had a good, academic chuckle. I just wanted to go home, hide under the covers and read a Harlequin. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 16:28

Choosing happiness

Ever felt like life is just one big crap shoot? That if the universe were different or people were nicer, then maybe you could be happy? We have all had moments when we questioned whether or not happiness was in the cards for us. For some, these moments stretch out into years. Every now and again, especially when we're in one of these soul-sucking, crap-flying moments, it's important to remind ourselves that happiness isn't instantaneous. Joy isn't the result of immediately getting what we want. It's a process that starts with understanding this most basic truth: happiness is a choice. It doesn't happen by chance, by fate or because we think we deserve it. Contentment is a process that boils down to four simple questions.

1. Do you want to be happy?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 22:25

Million dollar day

Some days you feel like a million bucks. This is a good feeling, since relatively few of us will ever amass a million big ones. Whether it's the wind in your hair on the way to work or the sunset in the rearview mirror on the way home, some days just make you feel like the world is smiling back at you.

I had one of those million dollar days today, and it has nothing to do with my bank account. Let's face it, as a public school teacher and a freelance writer, the bank account doesn't exactly scream 'Retire early and move to Boca!' Mine says, 'Teach until senility sets in and pray for a pension!'

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 20:38

Bed, bath and beyond soccer mom

Being a soccer mom isn't easy. In fact, it's downright grueling. You start your day frantically drying the uniform from the night before, trying to locate chin guards and those ridiculously long soccer socks that always smell like goat cheese that's gone by. If by some miracle the uniform is dry by the time you roll out in the morning, throw a clean linen dryer sheet in the gym bag next to the goat cheese socks, fling a Poland Spring and a rice crispy treat into the mix and say, 'Here's your soccer stuff, sweetheart. Now, have you packed your school bag yet? No? Where do you think that might be?'

Work might just be the easiest part of your day. You're in the grind, the zone, the fast, the furious car chase minus Vin Diesel's well-oiled body. But even your nose pressed up against the grindstone seems tranquil compared to the kids' after school schedule. One child needs to be picked up at 2:35 at the front of the school for her 3:00 practice in the back, and the next two are simultaneously dismissed at 2:40. So, you clone yourself (which isn't all that hard to do these days). You split yourself in two so that one of you can be waiting in the parent pick-up line at all times. In auto-pilot mode, your clone utters phrases like, 'What kind of a day did you have?' and 'Good, good.' You wish she could be a little more lively and say, 'Let's go get some fresh air on the field, kiddos!' but really, clones are so stupid. They only retain a tenth of your overall brain capacity and, sadly, no one notices the difference between you (the real mom) and the soccer mom clone you've created.

Wednesday, 09 October 2013 16:13

Loss of a beloved student

Walking into school today, a sound I've never heard before echoed through the lobby. Deafening and heavy, silence hung over the hallways of Bucksport High School like a pall. As if they were stepping into a church, students quietly filed in through the double doors they have begrudgingly walked through so many times before, all too aware that fellow Golden Buck Taylor Darveau would never walk through these doors again.   

There is no amount of training or experience that can ever prepare a teacher for this day. We study, we plan, we constantly work on our craft, but there is so much more to teaching than what we teach. The teachers I am privileged to work with care as much about who they teach as what. I did not have the chance to teach Taylor, but I saw what her teachers looked like today. I saw her middle school teachers, her former coaches, her current cheering coach, her current teachers, her friends and her classmates and I could not tell their faces apart. They cried together. They hugged each other. They stared off into the same space. They got up and moved and came back together. Students went to the gym to shoot hoops, to the library to sign cards, to locker # 98 to decorate. They drew her name, hung her picture and wrote notes to her. A few notes from her classmates read, 'I didn't talk to you much, but I wish that I did.' 'You are so beautiful.' 'You are my best friend.' 'I love you so much.' 'Fly high, baby girl. R.I.P.' 'WE MISS YOU.' 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013 22:42

What women over 30 dare not wear...

We live in a world that prizes fashion and beauty. When we look good, we feel good. That's easy enough to understand. What isn't so easy to understand are the lengths that some women will go to in order to keep looking good. So much has been said about the perils of plastic surgery, botox, colon cleanses, juice diets and insane exercise regimens, there's no need to reiterate how detrimental these approaches are to women's sense of self. So let's be absolutely ridiculous for a moment and focus solely on the fashion of women over 30.  Consider these five items of apparel that do not 'still look good' after decade number three. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 23:10

Shoring the dam

On the last morning of my son's last day as a pre-schooler I heard my 5-year-old mutter, 'Damn, damn, damn,' under his breath. Beside my basic shock that my son swore in his car seat, a crushing sense of loss swept over me. Had the baby bubble finally burst? Should I warn him of the hazards of smoking now, or wait until his first day of kindergarten?

'Jack Morrison, what did you just say?' I looked back at him in the rearview mirror in disbelief. Our eyes locked for a moment before he looked down, with, of all things, a smile on his face.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 21:46

Back from the dead...

For the past three months I've been on a writing hiatus. I don't know why I stopped writing. It wasn't a conscious decision. One week of silence turned into two, then three, then a month. One month ebbed and flowed into another, then another, until the still waters of time covered over any remaining urge I had to write. Though I've written grocery lists, sent sporadic emails, scrawled my John Hancock for purchasing purposes, for the past few moons I've barely sent a thought out into the void. In fact, this is the longest period of time since third grade (I was in a real drought first and second) that I have gone without writing. Let me tell you, something dies inside when a writer stops writing. 

This is how the death begins: You get busy. Your day job seems like your night job and the freshman in college comes home with more health predicaments than doctors have diagnosed yet. Your house is a disaster and something about the insidious mess starts eating away at you from within. You go to sleep amid piles of clothes, clothes that by some miracle have been washed but not yet sorted and clothes that have been sorted but not yet washed. At times, you think of crawling into the piles instead of your own bed it's been a while since the sheets have smelled of an ocean breeze.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 14:26

You, me, we?

 

Have you ever found yourself in a useless argument? Have you ever wondered why you're so upset you could easily tattoo your husband's forearm with something grotesque and still not feel better? Could it be that what burns your biscuit today would leave it only slightly toasted tomorrow?

Chances are we've all found ourselves in irrational disputes, and though we may legitimately believe that we are fighting for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we probably aren't in danger of losing our constitutional rights anytime soon. So why does it feel like every time we have a disagreement with those we love, life will never be the same again?

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