Saturday, November 6, 2010


Some days I wake up, and after five or six hours of battling it out with a sixty-year old proofing press, I think to myself-- I'm not very good at things.

I was meticulous. I performed open heart surgery about 13 times on that text block. But I still didn't notice the bolded "t" in the 10th line until I was almost done. And the letter forms aren't filled uniformly....or very dark. Shoot. Can someone tell me how to do that? Because I checked the roller height a million times.

At one point. Actually, while I was cleaning up. I wondered if there was a point to what I was doing. I mean, if it was very valuable. I don't have very much time on this planet, and should I be spending it on printing words on expensive paper? Especially when I'm not very good at it. (I'm not Guttenberg. I'm not printing the Bible.) Anyways, I wondered while I spent half an hour cleaning the press (because it really takes that long or usually longer).

I've forgotten that some things have very technical processes. I've forgotten how to make things with my hands. How to make my fingers move in meaningful ways. It's like a math problem.

So, after I finished, I walked to my car. I had to run all these errands. And everything was just gorgeous. The sky was dark pink haziness and all the trees were super gold and mysterious. I was so happy to be driving around.

And then at Costco, I was standing there in line and the lady in front of me turned around and said: "Are you tired?"

I started laughing and said, "Yes, do I look tired?"
And she said, "Well, I just worked 8 hours, I know how it feels."

Then she told me she was going home to make dinner for her sons. Her grown-up sons. She was making them the kind of crepes that have special meat inside them.

She told me she was born by the Caspian Sea. When I asked what country, she said, "It was formerly known as the USSR." When I told her about Z, she said, Oh I lived in the Ukraine. Because I'm Armenian. There was a genocide. I had to leave.

Just as she was collecting her groceries, she told her name was Emilia. She hoped I'd have a good night.

Later, one of my best friends made me walk outside to her garage so she could show me the table she just re-finished and painted bright orange. She was so excited. And it was so beautiful, and I always wanted to remember how happy she looked showing it off.

And I missed the call, but my Dad left a message just to say hi. To say he loved me. He said it seemed like forever since we'd talked.

I have no idea what I'm doing. Just so you know. And I still don't know how I feel about pursuing an art that doesn't save anyone's life. But, I know that God is extravagant. He is one eternal round, and he is the same yesterday today and forever, but he also gave us November.

In the meantime, I'll thank Him for saving my life. And try to make something useful.


  1. E, I loved this post. Mostly, because I related to so much of it. I felt that same way writing out my long thesis about an obscure author from Brazil, thinking what contribution am I making? In the end though, I think the arts we practice (writing, researching, typography, printing) are lifesaving for some, it's just harder to tell who we helped save :)

    Have a beautiful Sunday!

  2. That is really beautiful, Emily! I love that her name is Emilia. How fitting. Did you feel like saying, "me too!" I wanted her to invite you to eat with her 4 grown sons. It's okay to not know you're doing I think. I still don't know what I'm doing. I just asked Brian yesterday if I could go to hair school when all my kids are in school. I can't even french braid.

  3. this made me cry. in a good way.

  4. I don't know why... but I love this.


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