Category Archives: Family


For those of you that just know me on the Internet, you may be shocked (SHOCKED!) to find that I wasn’t always Emily Heist Moss. I added the Heist a couple of years back to correct an imbalance I felt in my name.

After reading Molly Caro May’s excellent essay on The Hairpin about giving her daughter her last name instead of her husband’s, I decided to share the full rationale for the Heist addition this week on Role/Reboot:




Related Post: What’s in a name? A post for The Good Men Project on other options besides adopting the husband’s last name.

Related Post: Guest post from Julianna Britto Schwartz

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Filed under Family, Gender, Republished!

Moms on the Tube

“I don’t really watch TV.”

THIS BAFFLES ME. I mean, obviously, to each his or her own, but I just love television so much that when I hear this declaration (less and less frequently, according to my unscientific and entirely anecdotal experience) I’m as shocked as I’d be if someone said, “I don’t really eat cheese.”

Wait, what? Some people don’t eat cheese?

I kid. But in all seriousness, deciding to give up cheese or TV would be a fucking heartbreaker of a Sophie’s Choice in my world. But in the end, the cheese would have to go, because the satisfaction of a hunk of brie is temporary,  but the joy of a ten-year relationship with my shows (or 8-episode relationship for these new miniseries deals) gives me stuff to chew over for weeks and months to come.

This week for Role/Reboot, in honor of Mother’s Day, I wrote about the range and variety of TV moms. June Cleaver is out, Cersei Lannister is in. Is that a good thing? Read on!


Related Post: Moms and body image, from Mika Brzezinski to Jennifer Weiner

Related Post: True Detective and the male gaze.

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Filed under Family, Hollywood, Republished!

Solo in the City

A few months ago I moved into my first solo apartment. From parent house one to parent house two to dorm, dorm, roommates, roommates, roommates, I am now all by my lonesome in my little rickety, high-ceilinged, ancient-refrigeratored one-bedroom. After Sara Eckel wrote a modern love column about moving in with her boyfriend after 20 years of living solo, I decided to reflect on the beginning of that journey. So, 159 days into solo-living, here’s where I’m at:


Related Post: The break-up museum, and relics of exes that we cart from place to place.

Related Post: That time the roof caught on fire.

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Filed under Chicago, Family, Republished!

Home for the holiday is a little different this year

For Role/Reboot this week, I wrote about a little bit of a lot of things. A little bit of Christmas blues, a little bit of holiday traditions, a little bit of family drama. Last Christmas my brother and I had our first “grown up” argument about whether or not he’d be home for Christmas. I “won” the battle, but only on the condition that I wrap my head around the idea that our traditions will eventually evolve and I’m going to have to be okay with that.

This year, the chips have fallen as he predicted, and I can’t call in favors, beg/plead, cry and weasel my way into winning again. So… he won’t be home for Christmas. Now what? Given that this is the reality, and I feel as strongly as I do, it seemed worth exploring why I have SO MUCH attachment to this particular set of traditions. It has something to do with divorce, I think, and the desire of kids of divorce to preserve the most stable of traditions they have.



Related Post: Why I’m glad my parents chose joint custody.

Related Post: Massachusetts reconsiders its custody bias.

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Filed under Family, Republished!

Bodies, Moms, Bodies of Moms, Moms on Bodies

This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about this:


I keep hearing the same chorus from moms writing about body image and aging, and it goes something like this: Man, I have been micromanaging my body for thirty years and I haven’t been able to stop. I really hope my daughters figure out a different way. 

What kills me about it is that, obviously, we the daughters look to you the mothers as our first source of inspiration on how one should be with one’s body. Even if we eventually outgrow our reliance on that one source, it is the first, the most primal, the most difficult to shake.


Related Post: The problem with “strong is the new skinny”

Related Post: How Title IX changed my life. 

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Filed under Body Image, Family, Gender, Republished!

First Comes Love…

On consecutive weekends I watched two couples get married. First, in Iowa City, I played the witness for Helen and Lindi of Clover + Lace in a magistrate’s office. Then, I was the maid of honor as my oldest friend got married in the Hudson Valley. I know everyone is supposed to cry at weddings, and all that jazz, but I really thought that it wouldn’t get to me. I was truly surprised by how emotional I was during both occasions, enough so as to trigger a little introspection on the subject of marriage and my knee-jerk feelings towards it.


Related Post: There’s no wrong way to make a family.

Related Post: Andrew Sullivan on how marriage inequality = the infliction of emotional distress


Filed under Family, Gender, Republished!

S(Tuesday) Scraps 109


1. HOOPS: Bill Simmons, who I generally love, gets rightfully reamed by college basketball player Wayne Washington when Simmons refers to his dreads as “stinky.”

2. AUTHORS: Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep, American Wife) gets interviewed by The Rumpus about her new book, Sisterland.

3. NEW MEXICO: The New Yorker‘s Rachel Syme, writes eloquently about the hometown she shares with Walter White.

4. CELEB: I really dig this advice from Olivie Wilde in Glamour, or rather, this advice from her ghostwriter. Regardless, I’m into it.

5. MOMS: My favorite, Roxane Gay, interviews her mother for The Hairpin about how she feels about her mothering decisions, 30 years later. Should we all be so lucky as to have these conversations.

6. SPORTS: What does it say about you as a parent when you push your daughter down the path of soccer, dance, or chess? Apparently a lot?

Related Post: Sunday 108: George Saunders, OITNB, Ill-Doctrine, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 107: Amanda Palmer = awesome, millennials worry, email mapping!

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Filed under Books, Family, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Pre-emptive Father’s Day

Did you know that Father’s Day was signed into law more than 50 years after Mother’s Day? Just one of the many fun facts I learned while writing my new Role/Reboot essay about the evolving role of dads (and the inevitable gift of a tie).


Related Post: How to accidentally raise a feminist daughter

Related Post: The stubbornly persistent “idiot dad” trope.

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Filed under Family, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Republished!

A Couple, a Cab Driver, a Pharmacist, a Banker, and Two Spanish Teachers

IMG_3343I’m back. Photos and stories, tips and tricks, will come later. First, a thank you note:

Dear Anonymous American Couple on Your Honeymoon,

When you met me, in an airport in Lima, Peru, I was clearly trying to contain my panic. I’d just landed after 10 hours in the airspace of nine countries, and I couldn’t find my wallet.  The airline claimed they didn’t have it and it wasn’t in the seatback pocket or under the cushion or in any of the obvious places. It was gone. I asked to borrow your phone, and you told me you didn’t have one, but asked me why. I shakily explained, forcing the tears out of my voice and creating a false cheerinees, a jaunty, “oh, you know how these things go” positivity. In my head, I had already resorted to sleeping in the airport. Instead, you asked me how much money I needed and handed me $75 to get me to a hostel and to find me some dinner.

Dear Marcelo the Taxi Driver,

When you picked me up at the airport, I explained to you in rather shaky high school Spanish (lots of unconjugated verbs and a tendency to repeat “entonces,” and “pues,”) that I had lost my wallet on the way here. You asked if I had called my mom, which I hadn’t. You offered your phone, insisting I call whomever I needed. “But it’s international,…” I said, and you just waved away my concerns. I reached my mother in Florida and explained the situation. She promised to figure out how to wire money across continents and assured me it would be fine. Sir, the cab fare was only $11, and had I had any more money than the kind couple had given me, I hope you know I would have tipped you better.

Dear Eleri, My New Friend and Moral Support,

Over coca tea and bread and jam in the tiny kitchen of our hostel, we started chatting. After explaining the bind I’d gotten myself into, you offered to accompany me to the bank–“for moral support,” you said–where I was going to try to secure some sort of emergency cash or limited access to my funds, anything to enable me to continue on my trip. During the walk, we talked about your work as a pharmacist, your adventures through South America, and the kind of world we both wanted to travel in. At the bank, you waited patiently with me for over an hour while I negotiated paperwork and red tape. “It would be hard to do this kind of thing alone,” you said, and you were right.

Dear Miguel, the Most Patient Banker Alive,

When I walked into your office explaining my “emergencia,” and asking for “ayuda,” you did not roll your eyes at the silly American. You did not tell me that it was Saturday morning and the bank would be closing soon. You did not tell me that on the weekend what I was asking was next to impossible. You picked up the phone and made some calls. And then more calls. And then some faxes. You filled out form after form, helped me answer security question after security question. Most importantly, you kept smiling at me and assuring me that it would all work out. You told me sometimes it can take hours, and when I told you my next flight left in less than three, you made it happen. I walked out of your office with my money safely tucked into three separate locations and the first easy breath I’d taken in 12 hours.

Dear Senoras Huff and Woodward,

You two are the most memorable Spanish teachers I had, 12 and 10 years ago, respectively. While practicing irregular verbs or memorizing airport vocabulary, it never occurred to me how essential your training might ever be. There is not a chance in hell I would have successfully walked out of that bank without the conversational Spanish I learned in your classrooms. My facility with the language is halting these days, rusty and gooey from lack of use, but man, the fundamentals are strong. There’s a particular kind of confidence that comes from knowing you can understand and make yourself understood in another tongue. It’s not a skill on which we Americans place a lot of value, but I find it infinitely easier to show a little linguistic humility than to slam my American passport on a counter and start issuing demands.

Dear Family of Mine,

You are all pretty awesome. You sent encouraging emails. You provided financial and emotional assistance. You followed up. You checked in. More than any of that, though, you imbued in me through direction and example the kind of calm in the face of calamity that allowed me to figure my way out of this particular tight spot. Mom, Dad, I have seen you both navigate emergencies with grace under fire and solve problems with charm and ingenuity. From you I learned that lesson #1 is Don’t Panic. Lesson #2 is Seriously, Don’t Panic, It Will All Be Fine. That’s a certain kind of desperate optimism that I don’t have to call on very often, but when I do, I’m glad I’ve got such an example.

Thanks a bunch, you guys, it was a GREAT trip,




Filed under Family

Sunday Scraps 96


1. ART: This Colossal photo series of art by Takahiro Iwasaki is called called Topographical Maps Carved from Electrical Tape. I think that about covers it.

2. DATING: Jory John’s take on Nate Silver’s take on the statistical realities of your relationship (from McSweeney’s). 

3. FAMILY: If you don’t cry, you have a heart of stone. Twelve years ago, a young gay couple found a baby on a subway platform.

4. GENDER: The always excellent Amanda Marcotte for Slate writes about Philip Roth’s relationship with women. Wanting to fuck them is not the same thing as respecting them.

5. PLAYBOY: Fun little personal essay from Lynn Levin on meeting her father at the original Chicago Playboy mansion in the early 70s.

6. EDUCATION: Part 2 of This American Life’s series on Chicago’s Harper High School.

Related Post: Sunday 95: Seth McFarlane, missed connections, Leslie Knope’s wedding dress

Related Post: Sunday 94: Connie Britton, Queen Bey, Jane Austen


Filed under Art, Books, Chicago, Education, Family, Gender, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People