One late summer afternoon I was hanging out at my parents’ house, when a squirrel just outside the window caught my eye. Their second-floor sun-room looks out directly into a huge, old oak tree, which is filled with squirrels. That day, I saw a squirrel on a branch munching on a nut. When he turned, rays of sunlight filtered through his fluffy tail, revealing a skinny, tapered rat-tail underneath.
What?! I called my dad over to have a look.
“Yep,” he said, unfazed. “A squirrel is a rodent.”
Again: what?! I’d never realized this before, but it changed my image of squirrels from adorable, furry yard creatures to big ol’ tree vermin. I mean, they’re still pretty cute, but sometimes I have unwelcome flashbacks to that back-lit skinny tail.
What does this have to do with my bio? This is where I describe myself as a charming, fluffy squirrel and cover up all the rat parts. Here goes.
I’m Emily, and I live in the St. Louis metro-east with my husband, daughter, and a cat named Charlie Parker. Part of the time, I work with students at a local high school in a Saturday program that prepares them for important exams, notably the SAT. During the week, I volunteer at my daughter’s elementary school, substitute-teach as needed, and write at my home computer. My family and I attend Christ United Methodist, a.k.a. Christ Church, in Fairview Heights.
Before my daughter was born, I completed a doctorate in English at Saint Louis University, and loved the grad student life. In 2013, with my daughter becoming more independent, I started writing on a blog I named Commonplace Soil. A few thousand words later, in 2016, I started a fresh, new blog, Desert Island Letters.
Traditionally, this is the part where I talk about the beverages that keep me going—whether coffee, green tea, Diet Coke, or Starbucks. (Does anyone really care? If so, drumroll, please . . .) I like Keurig coffee made with Schnuck’s private-label 100% Arabica K-cups, hazelnut or plain. And a side of Cheez-Its. Pleeze(its).
I was brought up in a Baptist church for the first five years of my life, then my family took a deep-dive into the charismatic movement. Hey, it was the eighties. A while later, in the middle of high school, we moved to a new town, new school. It was stressful, so I coped by trying to be perfect.
After holding on so tight for so long, things fell apart, and in the middle of my freshman year I dropped out of college, desperately depressed and anxious. I soon went back to college and stayed as long as they’d let me. That’s how I ended up with a Ph.D.
When Phil and I had been married for six or seven years, we got our diagnosis: unexplained infertility. Now we have a beautiful daughter who is bound to become a comedian if she maintains her current level of goofiness. How we got her is a miracle—and a long story. So, that’s what my book is about, titled Desert Island Letters. I’m in the process of finding the right publisher.
A little bit squirrel, a little bit rat. No worries, Jesus loves us.