a tumble of thoughts

I wanted to write something intelligent tonight. I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned lately or some of the anecdotes that my life seems to provide in abundance.

But it seems that I am just too tired.

My fingers clitter-clatter over the keys and I make up onomatopoeia and nothing really profound appears in the aftermath.

I am still living on an island.

I am still keeping track of how many more days must pass until I no longer have to wake up to a 5:30am alarm six days a week. (47 more days.)

I am still in love with horses and the sound of waves and the way the world smells just after it rains.

I am still vibrantly alive, more so than I ever dreamed was possible in the madness of the last few semesters of school.

It is funny, how coming to Mackinac where everything is slower has quickened my thirst for life.

Because everything is slower here.

The fastest you can go on the island is 50mph when you’re biking down the three steepest hills, and that’s against the law and so you have to risk a $100 ticket. The fastest you can legally go on the island is 25mph on your bike, and I don’t have a bike so for me it’s walking or horse-drawn carriage.

Horses don’t go too fast, especially around here.

So everything is slower on the island.

Time doesn’t move slower here, but it does seem to kind of get lost. Like, I intellectually know that it is July 10th and my summer is half gone. But it doesn’t feel like July to me. Heck, it doesn’t even feel like I exist in the same dimension as time belongs in.

Most days I have no idea what the date is or what day of the week it is, or even what time it is—short of hungry vs. not-so-hungry moments.

Life is blurry and drowsy and sometimes it’s disjointed around the edges. Life is horse kisses and horse manure and telling jokes about horse pee because it makes the tourists laugh and when they laugh they sometimes tip me. Life is good songs and songs that I’m sick of and hearing all my music so often that I despair and want to hurl my headphones across the lake.

Here on the island you can’t ever be more than four miles from anywhere else on the island.

I had a child ask on my tour the other day where my horse’s arms were. My roommate had someone ask her how much the island weighed and how many trees there are on the island.

You can never get more than four miles away from the questions here, from the entitlement of the rich and the young and the millennials, from the bikers who haven’t sat on a bike in years and years and years.

Life is compressed. It’s slow. It’s early mornings and it’s long days and it never sleeps.

And sometimes, life is worth it.

Sometimes life has Oscar.

Oscar is old.

He knows things. He’s seen things.

(Maybe numerically I’m older, but you know wisdom when you see it.)

Sometimes, in the morning, when I’m trying too hard to stay pleasant because the barn is chaos and my patience is thinnest when I’m tired, Oscar nuzzles my face and gazes at me with eyes so steady and deep and pure that I think maybe I’ve just caught a glimpse of what heaven might be like.

And then sometimes Oscar goes out in the corral and rolls in the mud until he’s no longer a white horse and I have to transform him back from the brown horse that he’s become, and then I think that there’s no heaven in Oscar at all.

There is pain in the world, and degradation, and inequality, and death. And it’s here, even on Mackinac, where life is so abundant and vibrant.

Life wends its way past death with the clatter of hooves and the cushion of obliviousness and the cheery smile of a tour guide.

I’m tired.

I miss church.

I miss friends and family so deeply that I can’t sleep without them walking through my dreams, but it’s wonderful because I wake with the echo of their hugs.

This summer has already been both fantastic and tragic, both giddy and despairing.

Over the next 47 days—days made edgeless by sleeplessness and routine—why should I expect any less tempestuous a ride?

When everything is disjointed, I am so glad to be held by the God who is the I Am.

– Melissa

Kumbaya by Rend Collective


what if I rode a tiger to Morocco?

I don’t know what I want to write about tonight.

I definitely want to write.

I just don’t know what about.

I thought maybe I wanted to write about how if I got everything I wished for then the world would be a disaster, and I thought maybe I’d talk about how I keep a solid white marble that I tell myself will grant a wish so that I have to stop and think about the full impact of whatever it is that I think I want more than anything else in the world. But that train of thought ran out about 100 words into a post, and so I decided that that wasn’t the rabbit trail to pursue.

I thought maybe I’d write about today, and how I actually made it through a set strike at the theatre without hating everybody around me, and how it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d prepped myself for it to be, and how much I love being useful and skillful with my hands, but there’s not much to that, and really oughtn’t I get over how much I usually hate strikes and just relax and let it all go? Yeah. I don’t really want to spend several hundred words contemplating that theme.

I thought maybe I could write about my absolute yearning for affection, how it consumes me sometimes and makes me think that I would say ‘yes’ if a total stranger proposed to me on the street, but that’s just weird and it might make people think I’m serious about that and I’m totally not because I distrust people like nobody’s business and that’s the main problem here because I don’t trust anybody enough to let them near enough for them to gain my trust enough for me to believe that they actually like me. And even that is an exaggeration that might make people worried about me and I’m really okay but I just wish that Toby would hug me back.

So I don’t know what to write about tonight.

Buffets are an awesome idea, but they’re totally impractical for me because I eat less at a buffet than I do basically anywhere else, and then I feel silly because everybody else seems to be eating ridiculous amounts of food and I’m just, like, I finished two slices of pizza… Not that I think of eating as a competition. And if buffets are what give me the self-control to stop eating when I ought to, maybe I should live in a buffet. But it does feel silly to pay that much and not eat that much. Does that make sense?

I’m so grateful for friends. For people who make me smile and who call me just so we can hear the sound of each other’s voices and who let me be whoever I want to be. Even if that person does claim to be a five year old and does tend to be socially withdrawn. It’s so awesome to do life alongside people.

Shoes are kind of the worst, and my stupid Walmart flats gave me blisters on both of my pinkie toes today and I think that’s ridiculous but they were the only thing that matched my dress! Why can’t all the clothes in the world go with dusty cowboy boots? Or with neon pink Converse? I don’t get it! I think it’s a conspiracy to make Melissa as miserable and blistered as possible.

I really ought to decide on something to write about…

I got a text, like, twenty minutes ago that my family is finally in Texas and I simply cannot wait to see them! Tomorrow is Monday, which is ew because Monday, but I get to see my minions and my mommy, which is not ew because family! So it’s all gonna work out to be okay. They’re coming out to do the Texas family rounds (which is what happens when your mom is the rebel who moved away from the family homeland) and so that Gracie can hang out with her college-age, rockin’ awesome sisters! The three of us are going to get to go to a Tenth Avenue North concert on Thursday and we are so excited. Or, at least, I am. Grace is. Hey, Abbie: you excited? Oh wait. She can’t hear me from Lubbock. Never mind.

Would you believe that it’s only 8:59pm? That I am writing loopy circles (as opposed to angular circles which aren’t actually a thing) at the measly time of 8:59pm? This is why I go to bed early, people: I am insane 24/7 and night time makes it worse.

I’m…like…the opposite of nocturnal. Plus I hate mornings. Basically, if I can sleep from 9pm to about 10am, that is great. It’s a ridiculous amount of sleep, I know, but it’s fine. I like sleep.

If I had a super power, it would be the ability to learn anything by osmosis. It’s literally the super power of napping. How great is that?!

Oh! I have a white board and it is where I write my homework assignments. Because I would forget where my head was if it wasn’t so solidly affixed to my neck. Anyway, what the all-knowing white board has to say tonight is that I have three papers due this week as well as a test in Spanish! So guess what I’m doing? I’m writing a blog post about nothing at all! I’m also becoming increasingly spastic, but it’s fine. No big deal.

You know what will be lovely? When I can do dishes in something other than a tiny dorm room sink. Because worse than the tiny sink is that absolute lack of counter space. There is nowhere to put the things I have cleaned! So then I have to juggle them while I wash everything else, because putting them down only gets them dirty again! It’s difficult and I know it’s a first world problem and I am ready for it to not be a thing anymore.

Okay. Increasing twitchiness wins the day. I am going to call it a night and head to bed, early though it be. Too bad I never figured out anything to write about…

– Melissa
I apologize for the ads on the site, but this is where you go to play this game.

I didn’t actually proofread this…

Sometimes you just hope beyond hope.

You plan beyond the impossible and you do your very best not to get yourself into a position where a letdown is going to let all of the air out of your sails. You know it will hurt, a little, if things fall through like you know they probably will, because that’s how letdowns work, but you brace yourself for the impact so that it doesn’t capsize you.

But some days your hope gets realized.

The pieces of your impossible dream settle in and you end up with a coherent possibility. A reality, if you can call it that despite the inevitability of life to catch you by surprise.

This afternoon I found out that I have been cast in the play that my theatre department is taking to Scotland next August.

And, to be honest, I thought my audition sucked. Truly. I was inwardly cringing even before I finished the one scene I was asked to read for, and when I wasn’t asked to read again I knew that that was it. I was done for. I’d blown it and that was that. But Scotland is expensive anyway, and I could always act as stage crew if finances came through and I could go.

But I got cast.

Despite everything I thought and everything my insecurities screamed at me.

(And let’s be real: my insecurities are still screaming, maybe even a bit louder now.)

So yeah. That’s my terrifically exciting news for the day:

I will be playing Agnes in Shadow Box here in Texas come April, and then I will be playing Agnes in Shadow Box in Scotland come August.

Aside from that, I didn’t have a spectacular day.

Toby’s been being an idiot and he’s managed to drum up an inflammation in one of the (numerous) scrapes on his leg, and since Saturday his leg has been swollen from the knee down. I swear, that horse thinks I’m studying Veterinary Medicine. The swelling is down somewhat today, but it’s still there and it’s still worrying away at me. I really don’t want to spend money on a vet right now.

Also, Spanish is the worst, and I totally didn’t study for the test we had today and the language does not come intuitively to me and I really need to study next time. That’s all.

But it is Happy Pufferfish Tuesday! So that’s fantabulous!

If you haven’t gotten the vibe yet, I’m kind of in a strange mood, brought on by a terrifying cocktail of emotions compounded by a case of (ever-present) exhaustion. I’ll be okay, but everything’s a bit…oh, what’s the word…spikey? at the moment.

You know…


Like, it peaks and then it valleys and then it peaks and then it valleys?

Like your heartbeat on a monitor.

Except this isn’t just my heart beating.

This is life pulsing, first bright and then dingy.

It’s kind of normal for me, but it’s a little more tonight because I’m going to Scotland!

Do you live like that ever?

In spikes? Up and down, good and bad, each distinct unto itself and each startlingly real and pressing in the moment?

My dad talks about it like a mountain. Like I get to experience the mountains but I also have to trudge through the valleys, and since I’m from California the mountains are all Mount Whitney and the valleys are all Death Valley, and that makes sense when applied to my life as a whole, but what do you call it when it’s happening over and over again in the course of five minutes?

What’s that?


Sometimes I think that it is.

But…it’s beautiful. Despite it’s overwhelming nature and its tendency to bounce me back and forth between bouncing and…well…not.

I’m rambling. Because I’m hyper, I think, in a sit-down sort of way.

I should probably stop typing. Because now is when life…well, this post…gets weirder and weirder until suddenly I’m posting pictures of happy pufferfish to social media.


I already did that.

Just kidding, we’re apparently past the pufferfish stage.

Now is when I…

I what?

I don’t know.

I think maybe it’s when I start questioning life. Reality.

I love the word Ontology.

A) Because it’s a beautiful word.

and also

B) Because of what it means.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘Ontology’ as “a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being.”

Isn’t that confusing?

My psychology teacher taught me that, and I’ve clung to the term ever since. Because ontological is me past a certain time of night on a certain cocktail of emotions compounded by a case of (ever-present) exhaustion.

But anyway, morning comes early and I recognize that I’m venturing further and further down a path of weirdness.

Stay chill, my people.

– Melissa
Something odd for your day.

unique like a SNOWflake

It’s Monday.

Monday evening actually.

But it doesn’t feel like Monday.

Because I haven’t had to do much of anything all day.

I drove my suitemate to the doctor. Which was terrifying.

Not because I’m afraid of doctors.

I am.

Because the roads are covered in ice.

It’s snowing outside.

Which is why I haven’t had to do anything this Monday.

It’s actually a really good thing that I haven’t had to do anything, because I’m in the weirdest state of mind. Have been all weekend, actually. Add to that the fact that I’ve been operating on five hours of sleep today, and my thought process and writing style just end up being…not sloppy. Sloshy. I think sloshy is the right word for it.

Something like that.

It’s not that I’m not thinking straight. I’m just not thinking in straight lines.

I tied my scarf around my head; I think maybe it’ll help keep my brain in place.

I have spent practically all weekend in this room. With my laptop. And a plethora of fairytale characters who’ve enlisted me to tell their stories properly.

I can’t imagine, as a career, being paid to listen to people’s stories and secrets. I’d go mad. I am going mad.

Perhaps some people would call this madness ‘being a writer’. I just call it madness. Lack of sanity. Complete and utter lunacy.

Did you know that Goldilocks is the daughter of Rapunzel? That’s where she gets her golden locks.

And that fairy godmothers don’t actually turn pumpkins into carriages? They’re far more practical than that.

I was wide awake until 4:50am this morning.

WIDE awake.

I don’t do that.

Last semester I decided that I was a night owl.

I think it was because I was so ready to do some deciding for myself, and the bedtime that had been imposed on me at home was a restriction I could throw off without feeling exposed or insecure. (I’m the kind of baby bird that you have to push out of the nest so that instinct will kick in and I’ll spread my wings to keep from going SPLAT. Hopefully. Most of the time.)

But I’m not a night owl.

According to the self-test we did in Psychology, I’m not really an early bird either. I’m one of those middle people.

Maybe that’ll change when I’m not in college anymore.

Maybe I’ll go back to being the lark who used to wake up half an hour before she was allowed out of bed and silently sing a 60-second-long song to herself thirty times every morning, all while wriggling with impatience to get out of bed and start the day.

No joke.

That’s what I did every morning for a long while.

And then I just didn’t get out of bed in the mornings for a while.

And now I alternate.

Except for that one random night when I can’t shut off my brain until 4:50am because I have so many fairytales and plots and costumes and staging instructions and prices whirling about in my mind. And then wake up, for a day of no obligations, at 10:15am. Yup. Sleep deprivation, here we go.

If I could be on a creative high like this all the time, it would be great.

Except that I’m currently a full-time student. And this mind buzzing doesn’t work well in a classroom.

I may have sat still most of today, but my attention keeps bouncing back and forth between here, there, and the moon. Computers are good about accommodating for this. Professors…not so much.

Anyway, my basic point was to say hullo and to say that it snowed, and to take a break from trying to negotiate a misunderstanding between a handful of fairytale characters.

Happy Monday!

I hope your day has been at least half as nice as mine and at least five times more sane than mine.


– Melissa
OREO Wonderfilled Song feat. Owl City

to you, my __________

I miss you today. With the swirl of holiday joy about me, your absence is keenly felt.

But who is ‘You’?

You on its own is just an empty pronoun.

You are the ‘friend’ who wasn’t, who I had to walk…no, run away from but who still haunts my thoughts at unexpected moments. And I wish things had worked out differently. And I wish I could just text you to say, ‘hey.’ Safe doesn’t mean easy. Safe doesn’t mean desirable.

You are that feeling of absolute abandon, when the game ceased to be a game and became life and somehow that skinny child was a horse and somehow I really was a world famous horse breeder and somehow we really did win all kind of ribbons and trophies and acclaim without ever leaving our corner of the yard. Growing up has had its benefits. But imagination free of self-consciousness was pretty great too.

You are four legs and a mane and a tail and all the mass of muscles in between. Kind eyes and soft nose and a shoulder to cry on. You’re an idiot, and you’re afraid of everything, but this semester has been so long without you, and the three days until I see you again seems an eternity, and there’s a little pang in my heart when I know that you haven’t missed me. Not really. But there will be adventures together in the next month and I’ll pretend that another goodbye isn’t in our future.

You are laughter in the safety of camaraderie, that feeling of belonging among people, of simple blissful rightness. The too-late nights and the afterward wondering if we’d squeak in by curfew. The radio volume that should have deafened us but only made us giddy. I keep hoping I’ve tasted something here akin to our friendship. I’ve found friends, but not friends; not soul-siblings.

You are someone I’ve never met. Someone Mom used to tell me will love me more than Daddy does—and that’s gonna be pretty hard to accomplish. And let me tell you what, Christmas-time of all times reminds me that you’re not here. Don’t believe me? Listen to any Christmas song. If it’s not about a baby in a manger, then nine times out of ten it’s about you. You may not be All I Want For Christmas, but I do miss you, somehow, deeply, despite your unfamiliarity. And some days I look at the mess of me and wonder how you could even exist, how I could have a future that involves a ‘me’ being united into a ‘we.’

You are the stars. Pure and simple. A galaxy-filled sky to lose my eyes in and whisper my fears to. The campus is too bright to find you here. And Colorado was too full of…other things. I don’t even know what exactly. But I miss you and your light, and I’ll try to carve a bit of the next month to come and reacquaint myself to you. Do you remember me? Or have you been watching me all along, hiding in a seemingly dark sky?

You are my best friend. And texts and phone calls and Skype don’t begin to do our friendship justice. You remind me to keep my chin up and somehow know when my eyes fill with tears. Even though you shouldn’t possibly be able to know. You hear all my schemes and nod with silent willingness and get dragged into all kinds of mischief. Your loyalty blows my mind and pushes me to be a better person. And I don’t know how our story ends, because life seems intent on keeping us in different states for a while. But I know that someway it’ll all work out. I cling to that. I cling to the God that brought us to meet each other. And twenty-eight days is just enough time for us to get into real trouble.

All in all, I miss you. Achingly much. I guess all the emotions of the end of finals and the end of this semester and the idea of being home in just a few days decided that they wanted to express themselves in tears of longing. But I feel better. At least a little better. Even with the missing still there.

Maybe I’ll get to see you again. And maybe I won’t. Maybe sometimes there’s no room for maybes. Maybe I need sleep.

You seems such an empty pronoun.

But it’s so much more than that.

– Melissa

on the Contrary

I officially desperately need to be asleep. And yet…here I am: down in the classroom in the Anderson lobby, laptop and speech materials and empty dishes and all. Why? Because I am a rebel.

Me? A rebel? The straight-As, rule following, don’t make ripples girl? Huh. You better believe it.

I rebel against all kinds of things all the time.

Tonight, though, I’m particularly rebelling against sleep. Which is a surprisingly frequent occurrence.

I’m not sure quite when I started hating going to bed. Because I don’t mean that nightly routine each of us perfected when we were young: Mom or Dad announced bedtime and we proceeded to argue that we weren’t tired and we couldn’t possibly sleep and that nobody needs sleep anyway and etc.. (For me, this routine included Dad telling me to look him in the eyes, and I knew that if I kept my eyes open he’d say that he could see in them how tired I was, and if I closed them that he’d say that I obviously was so tired that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. You just can’t win sometimes!) What I’m talking about is after I got over that and then suddenly found myself not protesting bed because of lack of exhaustion, but just protesting bed because of the idea of sleep itself—no matter how necessary I knew it to be.

I think maybe I’m not communicating well. That’s pretty typical for this time of night.

I remember, oh, a year ago? lying on the floor in the living room, desperately tired but resolved not to sleep. I think mostly because life was out of control and it seemed that the one thing I could control was whether I inhabited the world of wakefulness or sleep. Kind of a stupid reason to be awake. But most people seem to think that the teen years are marked by stupid decisions, and sometimes I live up to that.

I also remember two years ago, nights of lying awake, staring at the ceiling, terrified of what I’d see if I let sleep overcome me and dreams play against my eyelids. There were some doozy nightmares, especially as my world was consumed in words like ‘seizures’, ‘tumors’, and ‘brain surgery’. This kind of wakefulness makes more sense to me. Though why the human mind so fears nightmares that we know to be only fantasies is beyond my knowledge. (No, I don’t need someone to enlighten me. I’ve got more than enough on my plate just learning about geology and speech communication and Spanish and theatre and the New Testament and wellness.)

All that to say, I don’t really know when I started hating sleep. And I still don’t always hate it. Occasionally I’ll find myself in a place where I willingly fall into bed and close my eyes and drift off to sleep. Like last night. And the night before. But then nights like tonight come and maybe I worry people and maybe I worry myself and I stay up way too late battling exhaustion and accomplishing nothing except maybe a garbled blog post (and most nights not even that).

Some things defy explanation.

And sometimes that’s good.

Like when it comes to everything I ought to be studying for my New Testament exam tomorrow: the fact that the Son of God would humble himself to the point of incarnation and dwell in a crummy human body (that requires sleep) and live a perfect life in spite of temptations and then die an agonizing death and feel, for the first time ever, total separation from God, and that He’d do all that for me in all my rebelliousness. That defies all explanation.

Grace defies explanation.

Unconditional love defies explanation.

The fact that any of us are even still breathing defies explanation.

I don’t know how that really relates to anything. After all, it’s 12:37am and I’m sick and I’m tired. But I think maybe I’m ready to sleep. I always eventually reach this point: when my eyes really just require too much work to keep open and I have to collapse in surrender to the natural processes God instilled in my body.

Why do I fight God until the same thing happens? It’s so much easier to just submit than to fight until the fight has gone out of me and I have to surrender out of sheer inability to go on.

More things to ponder.

But be blessed tonight, whether you’re on a sleep strike or whether you’re the kind of person who is early to bed and early to rise and ridiculously cheerful upon both occasions.

All my love,
Melissa Emig
Psalm 4:8

borrowed smiles

There’s a bird here on campus who only has one leg. I happen past her about once a week as I walk to or from the cafeteria, and she never fails to make me smile. She’s so perky as she hops about, functioning for all the world like a normal bird, despite what must be an exceedingly annoying handicap. (I don’t know if birds get annoyed. I just know that I would.)

The squirrels make me smile, too. I know they’re viewed as pests, and cause a mess and all that. But good gracious, what agile little fellows and what gorgeous coats and tails! The way they leap, like, halfway up a tree in one bound… Yeah, I’m totally jealous.

I’m midweek in the second week in a row of incredible difficulty. And I need little smiles like birds and squirrels and stupid Spanish mistakes that have me talking about my ‘beautiful’ rather than about my ‘sister’.

As Owl City so eloquently put it, “I’ve heard it said that every mushroom cloud has a silver lining…”

And actually, Owl City is part of my silver lining at the moment: of the two new(!!!) songs he released yesterday, one is his first ever song speaking super directly to his faith, and it features Britt Nicole—another of my favorites! I highly suggest you go pick up ‘You’re Not Alone’ on iTunes, or at least check it out here.

Music is so amazing. Currently I’m jumping around between all my trusted old favorites. Trying out new music is great too, but some days I just need simple familiarity.

I guess I don’t have overmuch to say today. I kind of just needed to see my thoughts in words, to shake free of the hopelessness that I keep letting settle over me. The world isn’t an awful place, there is hope, not all is lost, and I get to see my family a week from tomorrow. (I keep murmuring to myself, ‘Just one more week. You can do this,’ under my breath when I’m most ready to scream/give up, and I suspect that people are going to start thinking I’m utterly insane soon.)

Oh! A shout-out to the amazing Jonah, who sent me dark chocolate and fuzzy socks and totally made my Monday morning! (I’m pretty sure that that’s better even than a pirate ship at this point in my life.)

Savor life today. And if you can’t, if the sky is overcast and you half-believe that the sun has disappeared forever, remember that things will get better, that this isn’t the end, and that I am here for you wherever you are in your journey. Thank you, God, that none of us have to go it alone.

– Melissa Emig
Psalm 16:5