Tag Archives: love



I remember where I started. I was a creative wriitng major whose time was consumed with course work which kept me from doing what I went to college to learn how to do well: write.

I started a blog to force myself to write.

And I have. I have written every day for four years.

Is writing easier now? Writing is never easy. Writing is hard work. Writing takes time and dedication and craftsmanship, all things which I’ve not always been able to apply here. Sometimes I wrote posts in the last thirty seconds before midnight. Sometimes I wrote posts days in advance. Sometimes I wrote with passions about something really important to me, and sometimes all I could brain out was a list.

But it is much easier to write what I really think. It is much easier to be honest and objective with myself than it used to be.

This blog has helped me realize I am far better at creative nonfiction than fiction. Far better at poetry than at short stories. Far better and pantoums than song lyrics.

Far better at being me than being anyone else.

I will not post tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure when i’m going to post here again–I haven’t gotten that far. I plan to publish the first post on my new blog on Friday, but the best laid plans of mice and men, so they say, oft go awry. If I start the new blog on Friday, I’ll be sure to put a link here.

I may not post. But I will write. I will always write. Old habits die hard.

I can’t stop now.


Perks of Having a Husband (At Least, Perks of Having MY Husband)

  1. He’s good at surprises.
  2. He enjoys cooking. And the resulting meals are delicious.
  3. He has more experience doing laundry than I do.
  4. Free hugs.
  5. He’s handy with computers. And numbers. And I’m not.
  6. He comes with a Netflix account and a Spotify account.
  7. He carefully selects the music he’ll have playing when I get home.
  8. He’s good at installing or dismantling things, like taking down shower doors and replacing them with a shower curtain.
  9. He also enjoys sleeping with the AC going full blast and a fan on.
  10. He helps me write blog posts.



I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I feel any different, now that I’m married. This question has come to me from both people who are married or people who have never been married. It seems that there’s a universal assumption that being married “feels different” from being unmarried, as if something about matrimony changes people at a cellular level.

I have an increasing number of married friends. Every week, more of my friends end up married, and all of them have weighed in on this feeling (sometimes because I asked). Suddenly, I’m married, which is something I never thought would happen. Yet it has.

Yet, aside from surprise and delight, I feel no different from the Risabella Rambler of three weeks ago. I feel exactly the same.

Exactly the same, but more so. Not an ounce less than what I was before, yet somehow the essential pieces of myself have become amplified. I am more myself than I have ever been before. I do not feel shackled; I feel absolutely free.

No, I do not feel different. AB and I talked about this, and he doesn’t feel any different either. We both feel very much ourselves. More comfortable, more us, than we have ever been. We are finally where we belong, so what we feel is contentment and peace and wholeness.

Yet I felt content and peaceful and whole before marriage as well. Just not to this degree.

Nothing has changed. Everything has changed.

It’s quite a paradox.

Short Story 12


“Sam,” I continued, blathering, “thank you. Thank you for treating me like a human being. Thank you for staying yourself.”

“You’re welcome.” His eyebrows creased inwards and upwards at the bridge of his nose, as they always do when he asks a question. “Lunch tomorrow?”


“Alright. See you then. Goodnight!”


I wrote it all in my journal so I wouldn’t forget.

And no, I hadn’t recovered yet. My journey had only just started. But at least I knew I wasn’t alone. I had Sam. And I had hope.

“We’re after the same rainbow’s end,

            Waiting ‘round the bend,

            My huckleberry friend,

            Moon River,

            And me.”

Short Story 11


We had gone together to see The Mikado, which was performed in the largest campus theater. We were standing outside my dorm, surrounded by crowds of students flocking back to their rooms for the night or lingering on the sidewalk like we were. It was March and the air was already sticky. Our conversation flitted all over the theater we’d left behind, going over every detail of what we’d seen and heard.

There was a pause. I don’t remember this pause, but Sam assured me recently that there was indeed a long pause, and for him it was then or never.

“I really like you,” he blurted. “Just so you know.”

I heard glass shatter.

“Is that alright with you?”  he asked.

“I…I don’t know.” Everything I ever wanted to say to him crowded into my mind at once, trampling any clear answer I could have given. “I don’t know how I feel about you.” I took a deep breath. “The last boy wasn’t…wasn’t very nice. I’m nervous about trying a relationship again. I’m terrified.”

He shrugged and calmly said, “Don’t worry about it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t worry about it. There’s no rush. No deadlines. I’m happy enough just being your friend.” He checked himself. “We are still friends, right?”

“Of course we are.”

“Well, good.”

Short Story 10


He had never explicitly said that he liked me. Sure, he’d sent me chocolate and a Valentine’s package and had asked me to join him for every campus function. But he never said he liked me. We were in an odd limbo between friendship and the potential for more.

I was happy to stay there. As long as he remained silent, our friendship was safe from complication.  The moment he voiced his feelings for me would be the moment the friendship would end.

Besides, I didn’t think he had the courage to say anything. I had known so many of his kind—intelligent and sweet, but too afraid to speak up about how they felt or what their intentions were.

Short Story 9


“That song always makes me picture myself alone,” I said. “Myself, in a long dress, standing beside the water and above it, with a bustling party behind me that I’m attending but no longer interests me.”

“No, I’ve never seen it that way,” he said with a gentle shake of his head, his eyes looking past me towards something impossibly beautiful that I couldn’t see. “When I hear ‘Moon River,’ I always see myself and someone else adrift on a raft, floating down the river to where the moon touches the horizon line, off on some adventure.”

The conversation shifted after that. I let it. I didn’t want an opportunity to share the other part of my imaginary river scene. I couldn’t muster the bravery to say that I’d always imagined someone emerging from the throng behind me, separating himself from the music long enough to put his arm around my shoulder and ask me to dance.

Short Story 8


So if I didn’t want to be in a relationship and he clearly did, why did I keep talking to him?

I asked myself the same question. I asked myself that question every time we went to lunch or dinner or the campus game room for a round of UNO. Because I asked, I had to know the answer. We shared a strangely beautiful friendship, and he didn’t ask anything more of me than that. I felt that if I walked away, I’d be walking away from the most priceless possession I had. If he asked to hang out, I rarely said “no.”

“Not bad,” he said, after I won a round or two. The game room was mostly empty with only a few clusters of people sitting at the scattered tables and chairs. It was a Tuesday, which meant most people were doing homework. Not us. Not until later.

“I learned the how to play in Croatia,” I explained. “The kids over there are crazy about this game. They play mean.”

“They trained you well.” He kept his face straight, but there was something at the corners of his mouth and the center of his mouth that suggested a smile was soon to follow, even if it didn’t. Sometimes I think I went places with him just to see if the smile would actually happen, which it did often, but only in bursts, like spotting the sun on a cloudy day.

“Play again?” I asked.

“Actually, I’m a little thirsty. Would you like something?”

Five minutes later, we were in a campus eatery. He had an orange juice and I had a cup of decaf. We talked about movies, music, and stories about our childhoods. Those were the supporting pillars of all our conversations. We would wander off to related topics, but we’d always come back to those three.

“You know the song ‘Moon River’?”

I shook myself mentally. I wasn’t sure what he had said immediately before that. I had gotten lost in his mannerisms: the tilt of his head, the crisp enunciation of his ts, the way he gestured with his wrists and elbows instead of his hands and arms, so freely, so uninhibited.

“Yes. I adore that song. I could listen to Sinatra forever.”

“It’s hard for me to pick a favorite song, but if I were to pick just one, I’d claim ‘Moon River.’ I have a lot of happy memories connected to that song.”

“I’ve always wondered what the song is actually describing, though,” I said, looking intently at my cup of coffee. It was hard to look at him when I spoke. It was easy enough to watch him when he told me stories, but the moment I opened my mouth I felt like a fool. “Who is the ‘huckleberry friend’? The river itself, or someone else the song doesn’t mention directly?”

“I always saw three figures,” he replied. “When I hear the song, I see the singer, the river, and the beloved beside him.”

“The beloved”? Not be-loved, two syllables, but a three-syllable be-love-ed? People still talk that way? Now that he said it, it seemed perfect. Not “the girl” or “the guy” but an all-inclusive “the beloved,” the person the song is really about.

Short Story 7


For years I’ve had this recurring dream. In this dream I’m at my church—a little white church on the top of a green hill. I’m in a wedding dress, and I’m terrified. I’m about to marry someone I’ve never met. I don’t want to, but everyone I love is there and all of them are telling me it’s too late to back out now. I start to walk down the aisle, trembling and teary, but I never see the groom. I wake up before I can.

The dream came back in the early days of Sam, only twice as vivid. Suddenly my subconscious had decided that Sam was the groom-to-be, and I wasn’t ready to marry him. I tearfully told him I wasn’t ready, braced myself for his anger.

It didn’t come. He shrugged and calmly said, “Don’t worry about it.” Clearly the time wasn’t right, and he could wait until it was.

And then I woke up.

Short Story 6


Over Christmas, mother and I went on a walk. Back in high school, we used to walk together all the time, thirty minutes a day around the neighborhood. We hadn’t walked together for some time, now that I was away at college. But a walk meant we would have time for a serious uninterrupted conversation.

“Do you like him?”

I watched my breath smoke as I released it in a long, controlled sigh. “I don’t know. Do I have to know?”

“No,” she answered.

“I don’t want to rush things. I’ve had enough of rushing things.” Another smoky sigh. “My heart’s too worn out to go through all of that again. Not now. Not ever.”

“Don’t say that.”

“I’m serious, Mom. I get sick every time I think about being with anyone.”

We didn’t look at each other, but kept our eyes ahead, watching for traffic. Even without her looking at me, I knew I was being carefully studied.

“Your father and I always wanted you to end up with someone nice.”


“But we don’t want you settling for anyone either.”

“I’m not settling. You know how I feel about this. I’m happy on my own. My happiness doesn’t depend on anyone else for once, and I like it that way.”

A nod. Then a few paces of silence.

“If—and that’s a big ‘if’,” I said tentatively, “if anyone decides he loves me, he’s got his work cut out for him.”

“I don’t doubt that.” She smiled at me. “He’ll have to be someone really special for my beautiful girl.”

I smiled back.

“Do you suppose they’re fighting over you?” she asked after a longer silence.

“Who, Sam and his brother?”

“Yeah. He sent you chocolate, right?”

I laughed. “Well, it could have been David’s handwriting on the note. I have no way of knowing. Maybe it was Sam. Anyway, I don’t think they’re fighting over me. That doesn’t seem like something they’d put up with from each other. And I keep seeing David with some other girl.”

“I see.”

I laughed at a vivid image in my mind of those two skinny brothers putting up their fists in their dorm room, jabbing back and forth while glaring at each other with steely expressions.

Short Story 5


Funny thing was, you couldn’t tell he liked me from the way he acted. Not that he treated me like trash, not at all—the opposite, in fact. But he always acted like himself around me.

Here’s what normally happens when a boy is interested in you: his demeanor changes when he’s around you, he follows you like a lost puppy, he laughs too long at your stupidest jokes, he brags about his accomplishments, most of which are fictionalized. He ceases, in a way, to be himself. He becomes someone else, someone he thinks you will like. The mask comes off when he gets close enough to go for your jugular. I learned this too late.

“You’re so lucky to have me taking care of you.”

            “No one else would be patient enough to love someone like you.”

            “If you leave me, you’ll live your life alone.”

If I was alone, so be it, I shouted back to the phantom of him in my head. A lifetime alone, my mother says, is infinitely better than a lifetime with the wrong person.

He had hidden his true nature from me to lure me closer. But Sam kept acting like Sam.

Short Story 4


S-sure, uh, what night works for you.” Did he and the girlfriend have a falling out? Was she away for the weekend? Was he trying to make her jealous? Get back at her for something? The cad.

“Any of them. Name a night.”

“Monday the 3rd?”

“Sure. I’ll get the tickets. See you then! Happy Thanksgiving!”

He hung up. I stared at the receiver and cried aloud to the empty room:

“But you’re dating!

We went to the play. December 3rd, 2012. I wrote it down in my journal so I wouldn’t forget.

I cornered David in the cafeteria later that week.

“David, is your brother dating?”

A hem. A haw. “Well…apparently not.”

So that was it. Sam wasn’t dating, and he liked me. We had this comfortably platonic relationship, and he had to go and like me, ruining everything. The first normal, healthy, pleasant friendship I’d ever had with a boy, and he just had to try and turn it into a romance. Jerk.

Short Story 3


It was the day before Thanksgiving break. Everyone in the dorms was throwing jeans and sweatshirts into duffel bags and driving home. A semester of doing every extracurricular known to man left me breathing heavily and ready for a break. I was packing necessities into a few bags while listening to Christmas music.

The phone rang.

My dorm was built sometime during the 70’s or 80’s—the days of landlines and waiting by the phone. Every room has a mud-brown wall-mounted phone that only rings if a teacher needs to talk to you and you won’t check your email. They never ring.

Yet that day, it rang. I picked up the receiver.


“May I speak to Emma, please?” Male voice. Vaguely nasal. Cheery. Familiar. I thought it might be David, Sam’s brother, who had asked me out twice and sent me chocolate not-so-anonymously.

“This is she.”

“Oh, hey! This is Sam.”

Sam. The brother with a girlfriend. What could he possibly want?

“Hey, Sam.” Maybe he’d detect the note of confusion. Maybe not.

“I was wondering if you’d like to go to It’s a Wonderful Life with me.” A stage adaptation of the Frank Capra feels-fest was playing in the little theater on back campus. I was planning on going, but hadn’t bought tickets yet. I was going to go alone, but if a friend asked me to join him, I saw no problem with accepting the invitation. But Sam was dating someone. Why was he asking me?

Short Story 2


I dove into my junior year head first and arms flailing. After two years of swallowing his lies, I didn’t know who I was. The only way to reconstruct my identity was to try on as many hats as possible. Was I an actress? A leader? An artist? A singer? A victor? A victim? I wasn’t sure, but I was sure that the days of self-doubt and self-loathing were over. I was sure I was finally free to be myself. Whoever that was.

I was sure of one thing more: I was never going to be in love again.

I had met Sam the year before, during a shaky honeymoon period in my relationship with my then-boyfriend. Sam was his opposite in every way: tall, thin, brainy, fidgety. Happy.

We met backstage as cast members of a campus production. My boyfriend had recently told me that I was no good at acting and I shouldn’t audition for any more plays, so I was enjoying this one as one of my last, savoring every cue. The whole time I felt a coldness in other cast members’ eyes, as if they pitied me for my feeble efforts. Their scorn was nonexistent, of course; his words tended to poison my perception of other people.

But Sam was kind, and nothing my boyfriend said about how people saw me could convince me otherwise. Yet I avoided Sam, lest I be tempted to dream of a life with someone other than my self-proclaimed savior.

Sam didn’t avoid me. Fast-forward eight months, and we were running into each other all the time. Campus leadership meetings. On the sidewalk. In the halls. In the cafeteria. I didn’t mind. He was dating a spunky go-getter he’d known for years—I got that from credible sources. He wouldn’t be coming after me. We formed a happy, pressure-free camaraderie. I was safe.

Until the fateful day I got the phone call.