Emily Morrison

Emily Morrison

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Friday, 28 December 2012 09:45

The small stuff

Do you ever wonder what's it all about, Alfie? Of course you do. It's not like I've got the answer to the great cosmic question up my sleeve. If I did, I'd be sitting pretty somewhere in Boca working on my winter tan. I do, however, have a hypothesis. I hypothesize that in the grand scheme of things, life is about the little things, the little moments that indelibly leave their mark on the rest of them. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012 10:16

Our grief

Is there anything anyone can really say that touches the depth of grief a parent suffers over the loss of a child? I'm not sure there are words to express the profound sadness the parents, teachers, children and community members of Newton, Connecticut are feeling right now. As a mother and teacher, my heart is broken and with the victims of this unfathomable atrocity.

Out of touch with the media during the work day, I was sitting in a Friday afternoon department meeting when a colleague asked me if I had heard the news. Thankfully, I've heard this question sparingly in my life, but every time I have, it sends a shiver down my spine. I was in college during the Columbine shooting and somewhat insulated from the world at the time. Still a child myself, I had no way of looking at such tragedy in a manner that felt real. I simply couldn't grasp what others were going through.

Thursday, 13 December 2012 14:10

In sickness and health

Just about everybody I know is sick. I don't mean sick like mentally ill, or sick like, 'Woah, that's sick' (totally tubular in my generation's lingo). I mean sick like coughing, drippy nose, scratchy throat, cold hands, warm heart sick. Like the work ox in the field, I have kept my nose to the grindstone. I have refused to let the germs infiltrate my system. I have boldly bellowed out to the sick ones around me, 'I will not submit, do you hear me?'

Then it happened. My kids came down with colds. We have always had an understanding. When they're ill, everyone gets a 'get out of bed' free card. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to Mom's bed because this is your lucky day, kiddo. You get to sleep with Mom. I held up remarkably well against the insidious sickness lying in wait all around me. One scratchy throat, snot-nosed kid after another came to claim my bedside, and I let them come. 'Bring on the boogies,' I said.

Wednesday, 05 December 2012 16:21

Fa La La Land

As we all rush into this holiday season, it settles me to know that to my children, there's nothing essentially different about Christmas. You didn't expect me to say that, did you? The pat response to the yuletide is something like this: 'It's a magical season of joy and giving.' Yeah, yeah, yeah. There is joy. There is giving. We all know they're excited about the presents. My kids love singing a good 'Jingle Bells, Batman Smells' just as much as the next kids do. But, kids, they live in 'fa la la' land all year long.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012 23:58

Romance with a capital R'

Why do you suppose grown women like Romance so much? I'm not talking about coming home to take-out and candles. I'm talking about Romance with a capital 'R,' a genre near and dear to my heart. In the name of all that's trashy, why do we care about Twilight?' How come Nora Roberts is a billionaire by now, and I just brought home the new version of Footloose' for my Friday night viewing? I teach high school I'm not in high school.

My husband rolls his eyes at me whenever he spies me reading a cheap paperback romance novel. 'You teach Shakespeare. How can you possibly be reading a book called Storm Over Paradise?'' It doesn't make sense to him, a literary snob reading Harlequins in her spare time, analyzing whether the stud on the cover matches the histrionic hero inside the book. What sort of sensible woman makes time for such frivolity?

Wednesday, 07 November 2012 23:58


Two days after the big storm, we woke up without power. My husband had an early morning meeting and left the house at the crack of dawn. Naturally, his morning wake-up call never rang through, my cell phone just so happened to be dead, and my alarm did not go off. Ten minutes to 7, the light from the skylight slowly filtered into the room. While my eyes adjusted to the brightness, a vague uneasiness set in. It was too bright.

Thursday, 01 November 2012 12:47

Seven things you should never say

1. 'You look tired.' 

No one wants to hear they look as tired as they feel. Chances are, if they look tired, they are tired. Who wants to know they look like crap when they feel like crap? Every time someone tells me I look tired, do you know what I want to tell them? When are you going to get tired of telling me how tired I look? The whole thing is quite tiring actually. I'm tired just talking about it. Next.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012 16:11

Motherhood: no rest for the weary

Sometimes when I can't sleep at night, I creep into my kids' bedroom and stare at their faces for a while. When they were babies I used to watch them sleep. It wasn't hard since we co-slept. By co-sleep, I mean they slept beside me, and I prayed for the miracle to continue.

It's different now that they aren't tiny amoebas anymore. They've been mobile for years, and life seems so far removed from those long maternity leaves when going to the grocery store felt like an adventure. It was. Taking three children under four into a public establishment certainly upped Hannaford's wine sales. Looking back, I don't know how I did it, but doesn't every mother say this?

Saturday, 13 October 2012 14:23

Writing shepherdess

For the past two years, I have taken several courses in writing and the teaching of writing. Though I love to write, writing classes always make me feel like a fraud. In my graduate classes, we were frequently asked, 'What makes writing hard or easy?' Later in our sessions, after the initial ice melted, a few of us self-flagellating types would usually confess, 'What writing?' I mean, really, are writing teachers truly expected to write in our spare time? What spare time?

The funny thing is, the more writing classes I took, the more in touch I became with my students' writing struggles: meeting deadlines, coming up with ideas, juggling school work with other commitments. Beyond a sense of empathy, I felt a surprising urge to use my spare time more sparingly. If I could find time for daily exercise, cleaning, snuggling the chilluns and ogling Robert Pattinson, then how come I couldn't find time to write? The truth was, I was afraid. Maybe after all of the lectures I've spouted about what good writing looks like, after all the years I've secretly found myself brilliant, no one would want to read my writing.

Thursday, 04 October 2012 07:38

Text me, maybe'

Today, on an old fashioned land-line, my mother said to me, 'Do you know anything about this texting thing?' Preparing for a spiritual retreat, she anticipated being out of contact for a few days and wondered if texting could bridge the distance.

Unsure what she meant by 'this texting thing,' I asked her to clarify. 'Are you talking about using your cell phone to send a text message?' The ludicrousness of my expert position was not lost on me. Years ago, I posed this same question to my cell phone savvy students. I'm sure they found my texting trouble as laughable as I now found my mother's naivete.

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