Peanut butter & jelly

I always try to do what makes sense.

Take bread, peanut butter and jelly from the hotel continental breakfast in the morning to have for lunch. (Don’t forget the banana and yogurt.)

10397226_10203581310885364_8723498419017002550_oIf it’s a beautiful day, go outside instead of staying in staring at a rectangle.

Ride your bike to the gym instead of driving. It’s only three miles away.

Getting a master’s in business administration makes sense. Right?

I have seven credits to take before graduation knocks on my door and force-feeds me a diploma. So let’s take a foundations accounting course, get a little math in there, get a taste of what an MBA would be all about. Be one of those few woman CEOs and run an entire company. Make a shitload of money.

…there goes my right brain.

I want to be successful, but maybe there’s another way. Another master’s program to enroll in, another path that is math free and more Emily-esque.

When I hung up from a phone call with the director of the MBA program at my school on Tuesday, I almost cried. Partly because of PMS, but also because I’m scared. College has basically been a walk in the park for me. The mistakes I’ve made have helped me learn and I’ve become a better writer, a better listener and a better intellectual. The idea of buying more textbooks, studying business strategies, solving math problems, stumbling over statistics… well, it scares me. Even though it makes sense. Even though I like the idea of being a boss to many.

For now I’ll save money by making a PB&J sandwich for my lunches with supplies taken from my hotel’s lobby. I’m a “poor” college student who can’t figure out if she wants to pursue what she loves or what makes sense.


14 to 20

My brother’s college professor encouraged his students to begin a blog. LiveJournal, BlogSpot, WordPress…power up your iBook, find the site that works for you and create an account.

So he did.

Jordan started a WordPress blog, called it “Innocence, In a Sense” and practiced his writing. (This is why Jordan is WAY smarter than I am; I just now realized how clever his title was. I’m a year older now than he was when he started his blog.)

Fourteen-year-old Emily wrote poetry.

Fourteen-year-old Emily idolized Jordan.

Fourteen-year-old Emily wanted to blog, too.

Following in Jordan’s too-big-to-fill footsteps, 14-year-old Emily became “Blackbyrd” and started writing about stupid shit. Stupid shit that, at the time, seemed relevant and important. Stupid shit that is, of course, entirely too fun to look back on now.

To go with the theme here, I wrote 14 posts this month six years ago. Fourteen. Now any number over five is an accomplishment because – and you’ve heard me say this before – writing on my blog takes me forever.

Now I put in 43 hours a week at my very corporate summer job. In 2008? Work had no relevance. With food on the table and a pool to swim in on the hotter days, I spent my time reading and, I guess, posting on my blog. Excessively, I daresay.

Twenty-year-old Emily still writes poetry. (She actually slams it, too.)

Twenty-year-old Emily still idolizes Jordan.

Twenty-year-old Emily still wants to blog and tries to as often as she can, but, after actually learning how to write, posting takes her a lot longer than it used to.

Twenty-year-old Emily lives on her own and provides for herself.

Twenty-year-old Emily is fully aware of her upcoming career search, apartment search, friend search, life search.

Still, twenty-year-old Emily couldn’t believe it when this notification popped up when she logged into WordPress today:









Cheers to present Emily, the past Emilys and hello to 2015, fresh-out-of-college Emily. Everything will be okay. It always is.

Life, man

Writing is hard.

Writing sucks. A lot (of dick, if we’re going beyond PG here).

Writing takes me forever. 

So that explains my absence. I can’t tell you  how many times I’ve conjured up the “Add New Post” screen, only to look at the clock and realize two hours of writing would cut my sleeping time down immensely.

Writing a post means spending time away from the book I’ve been reading or the people I could get to know. Writing means solitude, a word and thing I’ve been trying to avoid as of late. Writing means having to pay close attention to detail and trying so very hard not to make a mistake I’m sure my “enemies” would call me out on Twitter for.

Three years of college and I’ve made some enemies, apparently. Imagine that.

I’ve spent the last couple days at home, watching my grandparents’ belongings get sold to strangers and Walnut trees fall in all their green-and-brown glory.

Some things are ending, but others are beginning. Like my life. My life, man.

IMG_20140427_114504Seven credits of college classes separate me from what I’m told is actually – this time – the “real world.” They had lied to me before when I graduated from high school. College isn’t the real world. College is the excuse I use for the drunken weekends and the hangover I have on Friday mornings that is too severe to make it through that morning’s class. But the professor understands when I email him. It’s college, after all.

More than 30 credits separated me from life then. Now I’m down to seven. Seven credits. Seven.

I could graduate early. Get a job. Leave my friends. Get an apartment. Save money. Pay back my loans.

Writing is hard, yet I’m trying to make a career out of it.

A career that I can actually see now. A career where an email on Friday morning from a hungover Emily just won’t fly anymore. I’m more mature than most at my age, but I am having difficulty with accepting this.

Life, man.

Diamonds vs. Claddaghs

I’m young. My parents’ generation got married at my age. My mother was married at my age. I’m not even close to that. I get excited about new books and the next tattoo I’m going to get. I get excited when the guy I like texts me, goddammit. So the fact people my age –– especially classmates from high school –– are close to marriage really freaks me out. Here’s one of the results.

“Single” changes to “In a relationship.”

“Who is it?!?” 17 of her 1,042 friends type, and click “post.” “He’s a lucky guy!” 

All 1,042 of you will know as soon as he logs in and changes his status as well. Which will be in, like, five minutes. Hold your horses. Half of you won’t even know him, anyway.  Follow the link and creep. Half of you don’t even know her, anyway.

FacebookLikeLet the Facebook Official (FBO, as it’s often called) nonsense begin, complete with kissy-face photos, longwinded statuses about “the best boyfriend ever!” and vice versa.

I scroll through my feed and laugh at the stupid couple-y messages written on friends’ pages. I did that once, but I know better now. I’m happier now.

“In a relationship” changes to “Engaged to.”

Fuck. Game changer.

Am I the one doing something wrong? Did I miss this memo? Should be meeting someone I can see myself settling down with?

What does “settle down” mean? WHAT THE FUCK DOES “SETTLE DOWN” MEAN?


“We’re so happy for you!”

“What a beautiful couple!” 

I have a Claddagh ring I switch back and forth on what seems like a monthly basis. Sometimes men want to date you, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I want to date, sometimes I don’t. That’s college. That’s life. I’m not torn up about it.

“When’s the wedding?”

“Look at that ring!” 

I sip from the Dollar Tree glass I filled with red wine from the box I’ve been working on all semester. I upload pictures from our agency’s trip to compete in New York City. I get tagged in pictures from our drunken escapades the weekend before.

I take another sip.

“Married to.”

Last name changes (maiden name in parentheses).

Wedding photos.

One more sip.  One more scroll through. One more click.

Then I’m back to applying for internships and scholarships, perfecting my résumé, designing the freshman newsletter, writing a story, setting up an interview, proofing students’ papers, (homework?), reading, writing blog posts, updating my digital portfolio, fiddling with my camera.

My 472 “friends” don’t need to know all my business.

Moving out

This is going to suck.

By “this” I mean leaving and by “suck” I mean I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE.

The dust bunnies under my bed can stay where they are; I don’t want to disturb them or make them fly around.

Less than a week from today, this won’t be my room anymore.

This isn’t my room anymore.

My room for the summer is in a hotel with generic paintings, wallpapers and bedspreads.

Eh, at least it’ll be a queen bed. And the hotel opened yesterday.

Oh, and at least I’m not a senior.

But for now I’ll keep drinking wine and wishing for permanence.

Photo on 5-3-14 at 9.09 PM

A brief meltdown at 3 a.m.

I felt my cheeks redden the more Tom talked.

Illustrator this, Illustrator that. Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop.

He showed me some of his own designs and a few projects he’d been working on, both for his internship and for his portfolio school classes. I sat and stared, mouth open, fist rammed into my cheek.

Wow, I realized, I SUCK. 

I know that’s not the initial reaction Tom wanted, but it’s the one I experienced. He showed me more, had me scroll around to build up my own ideas, taught me the basics of the infamous pen tool in Adobe Illustrator and then left the room.

In the meantime, I messed around on Illustrator and couldn’t figure it out. So, much to my chagrin, I tweeted this:

Screenshot 2014-03-12 02.22.00

I’ve been thrown into design projects since my junior year of high school when my then-English teacher requested I take over the position of yearbook editor for my senior year. Because I’m a masochist, I accepted without thinking (then proceeded to stay up late all summer, worrying about the 144 pages I had to fill). I knew nothing about design. Absolutely nothing. But, because I’m Emily, I worked at it, spending hours in my school’s computer lab, ultimately recruiting my mother to sit by me at home and proofread as I wrote names upon names upon names before submitting a page a minute before its due date. Phew. Deep breath.

I haven’t changed much in terms of procrastination –– I just submitted a newsletter that is due to debut today, as in Wednesday, March 12 today –– but shit, have I learned a lot in my three years here. Currently, some students in the Integrated Marketing Communications program here at Bona’s are working on their final book to give to the judges during their respective presentations. I’ve heard complaints (“How am I supposed to create this book when nobody taught me InDesign?”) and feel my colleagues’ pain. But still, I appeared at Bona’s curly haired and freckle faced in September of 2011, sat at one of the school’s iMacs and began learning the ins and outs of InDesign. With some help along the way –– though none from my oldest brother whom I’ve heard is actually quite the design guru –– I’ve come so, so far, though I still have a ways to go. Tom and the hotness of my cheeks that day reminded me of that.

So yeah, it sucks that St. Bonaventure doesn’t have a proper graphic design/desktop publishing program or even a class on it, for that matter. But nearly every computer is equipped with the software, leaving students absolutely no excuse for their failure to dabble around. Like I’ve written in nearly every cover letter I’ve submitted, “I’ve learned that versatility is the key to becoming an effective communicator.” I’m going to learn Illustrator. Just watch me.

…after I sleep and get a few other projects done. Oh, and after my neck stops hurting. I’ve been staring at these Apple computers far too often as of late.

“Whispered words of wisdom…”

The familiar piano introduction played over the chapel’s sound system and drowned out the sniffling student body. I sat on the floor and convulsed with silent sobs. I didn’t know the girl on my left or the girl on my right, but that hardly mattered. We shared flames, shared touches, shared eye contact.

We shared voices.

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me.”

I sang. I stumbled over the words. I bit my lip to calm its trembling. I looked down at the ground instead of looking at the many people whom I had seen around campus. Many people whom I had seen plenty of times, yet only a small handful had names to me. To me. 

“Speaking words of wisdom. Let it be.” 

Let it be. Let it be. Let it be.

Because, sometimes, there really is nothing you can do. Everything happens for a reason. One of our brothers died that weekend and there is no explanation. Why did this happen? I don’t know. Let it be.

Be nice.

Pay it forward.

Fucking look at me when I walk by.

I have a name, you have a name, we all have names. We all have a purpose, regardless of major, religion, race… Maybe our brother’s purpose was to bring us to the chapel that evening to sing one powerful song together. Put down your books, take out your headphones, turn your phone off. Sing this song with me. Let’s sing this song together.

“Let it be, let it be, let it be.” 

I got up, put my jacket on, smiled at a friend and left the chapel. I trudged through the snow alone, but another

Recognize the color of those feathers? (Hint hint, look at my blog design.)
Recognize the color of those feathers? (Hint hint, look at my blog design.)

friend caught up with me. She, another Emily, cried. We held each other. Then I went home and cried some more.

I’ll never forget the time we all sang “Let It Be” by The Beatles together in the chapel.

I don’t want to forget it.

I won’t forget it.

I won’t forget it.

Make new friends, but keep the old

Karly, Nick and I sat in the front row of composition and critical thinking freshman year, but we didn’t really talk. Madison and Jordan sat in the second row. I didn’t really talk to them much, either. I rolled my eyes at their married-couple-esque arguing, instead.

I’m almost positive we all went from that class to another class together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We still didn’t really talk.

I didn’t get out much freshman year. I had meets on the weekends, plus the cross country team provided built-in friends for me; I felt like I didn’t need anyone else.

I would never have foreseen close friendships with any of the aforementioned people.

Mado and me at a Yankees game last April.
Mado and me at a Yankees game last April.

Now, Madison’s my housemate and I  practically spend my weekends either at Karly’s house or texting Karly. Nick and I talk on a regular basis and, the last –– and only –– time Jordan visited when he actually had a free moment, he hugged me before he left.

You may find your supposed “group” freshman year, but that shit can change. Be open to it. Meet new people. Establish new connections. Don’t be that clique in the dining hall that always eats together. Mix it up. Say “hi” to people when you pass them. Be friendly.

Next semester’s new classes could mean a whole new set of friends to talk to and hang out with. A whole new house to go to and someone new to meet in the café for coffee. New conversations. New stories.

St. Bonaventure University is a family and we often forget to be kind to our brothers and sisters. I judged Karly, Nick, Madison and Jordan freshman year. I tossed them aside and disregarded any potential friendships. They’re the ones who reached out to me. I’m thankful for that outreach. Having them as friends has provided me with laughter, someone to seek advice from, deep conversations and, yes, hugs.

I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve changed. I’ve let people in whom I never saw myself opening up to. Most of all, I’ve learned how to be empathetic.

We lost a member of our Bonaventure family this past weekend. I didn’t know him; I’d only seen him around campus. But I’ll write it again: we lost a member of our family. In all the times I saw him walking around wearing a straight-brimmed hat, I never foresaw tragedy striking his life. I never knew what impact he might one day have on me and the rest of my family.

We gathered in the chapel tonight for a candlelight vigil. The beauty of it struck me. One flame ignites all of our candles. We’re in this together. 

He’ll always be remembered. He pushed us closer together as a family.

Let’s say “hi” to each other more often. Let’s be empathetic. Let’s embrace new relationships instead of shying away from them, sticking only to our comfort zones.

Karly and I have a hug planned for when we see each other tomorrow in class. Madison made me laugh hysterically tonight. Nick and I talked until 2 a.m. Jordan hasn’t been around recently, but that’s understandable.

Let it be.

Eat the damn potatoes

This whole not sleeping thing is getting a tad old. 

It’s getting worse, even.

I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table scarfing down a butter-covered potato and onion concoction I threw together. 

Aaaand the milk I’m drinking out of a classy green mug just went down the wrong pipe and I had a coughing fit. So much for not waking up my housemates. 

But I lay in bed just a minute ago thinking I’m craving those potatoes I made earlier. I really want more. Like, really want more. 

I tried to silence my thoughts but they’re just as stubborn as the rest of me. 

Me, in my kitchen with its cupboards full of groceries. The potatoes are simmering in the background.

You have a kitchen at your disposal now, Emily, and a cupboard full of groceries. 

I read something recently that said, “Ordering a pizza at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday isn’t going to kill you.”

It’s Thursday. I’m eating potatoes instead of pizza. Sure, they’re smothered in butter, but there are onions, too! That makes them healthy, right? 

I never used to care about that shit, but my one housemate counts calories while I shovel my dinner down my throat. Then I have seconds. Later on I have thirds. Then a bowl of ice cream. And probably a chocolate bar to top it all off. 

Then I feel guilty, but I eat these potatoes at 1:15 a.m. on a Thursday, anyway.

My weekend ritual is to come home, heat up a plate identical to my carb-heavy dinner hours earlier and then eat it in bed while drinking as much water as my stomach can hold. 

I worry about my weight sometimes, but not enough to give up these late, late night “snacks” or that bowl of ice cream I had earlier. Sometimes I’m not exactly happy with what the scale says when I step on it. My coach freshman year weighed us and made me that way. I gained ten pounds in muscle weight from the weight room and haven’t lost it since. 

We don’t have a scale in our townhouse.

I think women worry too much.

Stop counting calories. Just eat the damn potatoes.

Especially if they’re covered in butter.

Now my full stomach and I must catch some Zs.

Blog posts and birthdays

When I turned 13, I got my room redone. We covered the ugly mauve walls with bright raspberry, periwinkle, lime green and orange. I had my first boy-girl party that year. My crush came. He gave me AFI’s Decemberunderground CDNothing happened.

When I turned 14, I got my first iPod, a square, silver Nano that I promptly named “Pandora.” I wish I could access my mom’s computer right now to upload those pictures. My hair was long and curly. My crush-turned-boyfriend gave me a beautiful little heart necklace. If I remember correctly. Maybe that was Christmas…

When I turned 15, my mom made homemade pizza and wings, but didn’t think to thaw out the wings before putting them in the deep fryer. It overflowed, spilling oil all over the floor. Grandma and Papa came over with cleaning supplies to save our ship. With my brand-new camera (an orange Kodak EasyShare point-and-shoot), I took a “selfie” of my Papa and me. I have pizza sauce in the corners of my mouth.

When I turned 16, my dad couldn’t find my birth certificate. We rushed out to the DMV after he found it, but they had already stopped offering driver’s permit tests for the day. I pouted. And I couldn’t eat cake because I had the most important cross-country meet of the season (Sectionals) the next day. I made it to the state championship meet. Then I bought myself another iPod with my birthday money.

When I turned 17, I ran at Sectionals and qualified for the state championship meet again. Robby and his mom both gave me iPods. (I know…) And, to my mother’s dismay, I told our waitress at Red Robin it was my birthday and the wait staff gathered around our table and sang. My mom sat with her head in her hands.

When I turned 18, Robby gave me a diamond promise ring. I haven’t worn it in almost a year.

When I turned 19, Mom and I went on a shopping spree and Robby gave me diamond earrings. The cross-country girls sang to me at my door when I returned to school.

When I turned 20, my parents and brothers gave me my grandparents. I cried.

I love my family so much.

They’re all I need.

There they are.
There they are.