Goat Love

How to survive in Washington Co., Maine


Guirl_C with horses
In a moment of honesty I would confess to you that I sometimes hate this place. The smallness of it, and how everyone knows everyone. What I hate most of all is that when I had first arrived and it was unclear of my intentions – to stay or not to stay – I was the news. Everyone knew me before I’d even heard their name in aside conversation. I was hot. I was it. I was being fixed up with people behind my back and without my knowledge. Everyone wanted to know me.

Then when I decided to stay, I instantly felt like day-old bagels. I imagine people sitting around their woodstoves or kitchen tables saying, “Oh, let’s call Emily. Well… never mind. I don’t quite feel like it right now. And she’ll be around.”

The other problem is that when I first arrived, I was me. And when I decided to stay I was suddenly The Collector’s Girlfriend. Which is not to say that I don’t carry that title with some pride because, after all, we’re talking about a very special person indeed. But it is to say that I’d rather just be myself. Only I don’t seem to be able to figure out who exactly that is at the moment.



Guirl_Gooch mushrooms
There’s some sort of magic that really does happen after one pint of a really good beer has been consumed – the kind of beer that hits your tongue in just the right places. I am there.

I’ll bet you didn’t know this about me, but I’ve become quite shy in these later years. I didn’t use to be. God no. I used to be the life of the party. In some cases I’m sure I was the party, for better or worse. But of late I’ve become quite comfortable with my body at home. Which is why it was, honestly, difficult for me to leave the house this evening to go get a (freakin’!) beer at the Liberty bar.

I will actually change my route in order to not intercept someone I may or may not have to hold a conversation, or eye contact, with.

But tonight I found my old self – my true self, as I still think of it – and I faired just fine, thank you very much. I sidled up to the bar as if I’d been sidling up to bars all my life, which, in fact, I have been.
It was a delight, seeing old friends I never see even though they live two doors down. Meeting new people I’ve never met even though I edit articles about them in the newspaper every two weeks.

I’d say it was a success. And even though Plinko failed me and I had to pay full price for my happy hour beverage, I think it should happen more often.


If I had a bakery in Eastport I would make it a small affair. I’d only be open a few days a week. And for limited hours, with a siesta of course, during which I would make a fresh batch of something.

I’d offer limited items each day, but I’d always have crusty baguettes and one or two kinds of sandwich loaves on the shelves. And I’d bake one or two types of cookies, and either two varieties of pie or one pie and one cake.
From morning to siesta I’d have fresh bagels – two or three varieties.

Maybe later on, if the business grew, I’d have for sale homemade vanilla extract, spices, artisanal cookbooks. And more breads. Maybe a variety or two of vegan ice cream. Pistachio anyone?

stick a pin in it

Guirl_Shadow rider
If I could do one thing all day long for the rest of my life, I could never choose.

Sometimes I think I’m doomed to know just too little about everything to be really good at anything.

Is it my generation, as a whole, that’s lost? “Career” is something I simultaneously long for or love to hate. The stability is the appeal, but it’s also the boredom.

I love to cook, and bake, and be near people. I love traveling and eating and meeting new people. I love to make things and use my hands – for pottery, in the kitchen, building things, sharpening blades, planting seeds. I want to give back somehow – to my community, to the country, to the world.

You can see how it’s hard for me to stick a pin into one spot on a map and say, “This is what I’ll do. This is where I’ll be.”


We drove up to PEI for an overnight, the Collector and I.  What a disaster.  We had one of those fights that just won’t quit. You know the kind – it was about everything, but at its bones it was about the same old thing.

Me: need more compassion, more communication, need more, need more!
the Collector: need more space, less talking. Less, less!

And we ate our fancy dinner in silence as I realized, to my horror, that we had no business taking this trip, what with our severe lack of funds.  We decided to camp, in November, to stretch them; and there went the movie playing in my head of a romantic evening in a bed and breakfast – mattress raised off the floor and everything, sheets and dishes washed by someone else. So long.  

How could I possibly express in that moment, to my partner, the heavy feeling of sadness and anxiety that comes in a moment of realized poverty. Isn’t it always in those moments, when I can’t quite put a finger on what I’m feeling, that I act the most monstrous. 

Our moment of grace was the northern lights, which lit an irregular and shifting arc as we scrabbled together a makeshift campsite.  Pausing as we loaded our tent, I took the Collector’s hand and we stared at the sky together.

liquid brain-spiration

Today is the first day I real feel the winter. It’s cold and windy and the oil burner is pumping away in the basement like a feeble, determined old man.

The cold moved me to visit the library today.  I went with nonfiction in mind and my eyes dripped over the new titles with gooey lust.  I read something recently, actually it was something my mom blogged about (she’s a ghost blogger), that said as we age we soak up information differently.  When we’re young we crave repetition, and learn through it.  But as the brain gets older, it’s bored by the same ol’.  New input.  Need new input.

I’ve felt stupid, of late.  My thoughts feel like they move through a sand dune from their inception until they reach the tip of my tongue.  I’ve lost my quick wit, and my recall is a couch potato.

It’s possible that my hunger for learning was bigger today than the capacity my eyes can scan in, in a two week span.  I took out eight books.  One of them was just for looking at pictures… of cottages.  A girl can dream, eh.

I’ve got three birthday (not mine, someone else’s) drinks in me and I’m feeling magic.  What is it about three drinks that is so magic? This feeling, it’s like liquid brain-spiration.  I feel totally complete knowing that ahead of me this evening is eating and picking apart a pile of books.


I went home to Ohio last weekend. These are the few things I do every time:

Eat Thai food and dairy-free ice cream
Get a hair cut
Eat dried mango and papaya from Clintonville Co-op
Search high and low for Great Lakes Brewery Christmas Ale
Eat vegan cookies from Patty Cakes bakery
Eat grassfed beef brisket at Raye-Raye’s pork truck

When will I stop referring to Ohio as “home,” I wonder? The only thing about it that’s “home” is my mom, Grandma, Aunt Janet and Uncle John and the kids. I’ve never had any friends there – Mom moved to Columbus when I started college in northeastern Ohio, and we had moved from Illinois.

The house mom lives in is familiar, though. My grandparents lived there when I was a child.

snow tires

Well, I got my snow tires put on the ol’ Camry. The spinning wheels sounds like a muffled swarm of locusts. The sweet sound of confidence behind the wheel.

Last year’s lack of snowfall hardly necessitated studded tires, but I found them to be something in the way of a security blanket. This area has the trifecta of horrific winter driving conditions. There are the snow storms themselves, of course. Then there’s the late winter build-up of slick stuff missed by the plow blades, something we never had to deal with in the Chicago area. And let’s not forget the myth of black ice, a nightmare I hope to never encounter.


I was hauling my keister through downtown Eastport today and saw a group of tourists making a spectacle posing in front of the fisherman statue.

They were holding up mini-kegs and bottles of wine, their hearty laughs bouncing off the Main Street façade. And as I started to look down in embarrassment at their attention whoring, my leg warmers caught my eye – red-and-black-striped and over my jeans. I quietly bit my tongue.

it’s good

Usually I don’t talk about “the good times” between the Collector and myself on this blog. Frankly, it’s less interesting and public romanticism makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth. But I just thought you might like to know that things are on an even keel.

It seems to me that with each fight, I understand the Collector a little bit more. And when we come out of each fight, I appreciate him more for all the weird little things about me that he seems willing to shrug off.

Neither of us would profess to know what the future holds – we’re both too realistic, or cynical. But I think we’ve proven to each other that we’re both just stubborn enough not to leave. And there’s some comfort in that.