Esther Emery

Image credit: Jennifer Upton

I’m reposting this one from the spring because I’m getting all sorts of traffic — from a couple of places but mostly from my suddenly popular YouTube channel — and all my posts lately are super vulnerable and kind of wrecked. I mean, not that I’m not wrecked all the time. Or super vulnerable all the time. So it’s not like that’s weird or anything.


But people show up here with questions. Like, WHO IS THIS ESTHER PERSON? WHAT IS SHE LIKE? Here are some answers!!!!




  1. I was raised oddly. There’s no other way to put it. My mother, Carla Emery, was a countercultural figure, a writer and activist in the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970’s. Mostly she and I SUPER did not get along. She was passionate and charismatic – a redhead – and, except for the hair, so was I. It was my mission to be as completely different from her as I possibly could get, so of course here I am living right into her tracks. Serves me right.
  1. If you ever see me, you are very likely to see that I have sunglasses on the top of my head. This is because I am a losing-things kind of person, and on my head is the safest place for my sunglasses. But, then, possibly also because I am a losing things kind of person, I usually forget to put them down onto my eyes. Recently something fell on my head and didn’t hurt me because of my sunglasses, so my kids decided my sunglasses were there to protect my head. Like, that’s the true purpose of sunglasses. I’m teaching them all the important things.
  1. If you ever see me and I don’t see you, you have a good chance to catch me singing. “Hey you…YOU WITH THE STARS IN YOUR EYES…” Broadway tunes are number one. But folk and gospel and Christian pop songs, too. Or just made up songs. Possibly this is the real reason that I live out in the woods. It’s completely normal for me, in the course of a day, to hear all three of my children say, “Stop singing, mom.” But sometimes they like it.
  1. I was raised without TV. So I tend to not get it. Whatever “it” is. This is sometimes a real source of insecurity. My husband likes 80’s comics and the A-Team, because that’s his heritage, so I sometimes pretend (rather absurdly, come to think of it) that I like 80’s comics and the A-Team.
  1. I also was raised not drinking soda pop. The funny thing is that the marketing and mystique sort of still works on me. I often can’t help but want to take a sip of somebody else’s drink, but then as soon as I taste it I make a super squinty face. It’s involuntary, but predictable. Nick thinks it’s hilarious and will stop whatever he’s doing to see what he calls my “brown soda face.”
  1. I graduated from high school when I was 15 years old. Because I was a brain-i-ac and that’s one thing my mother and I could actually agree on. I was a star student at an Ivy League school on the East coast for about five minutes, but there wasn’t really money to sustain that life for me. So I came back to Idaho, worked nights in a nursing home, and with some help from my older brother put myself through school at the land grant state university.
  1. I met my husband young. Young, but in college, because I was in college young. We bonded immediately over our Complete Intolerance For People Who Aren’t Willing To Suffer For Their Convictions. Which is a virtue/vice that we both have wrestled ever since. We used it to our advantage to kick semi-professional theatre butt in Southern California through our 20’s. My only regret is that we never ran a Get-Your-Rear-In-Gear Theatre Boot Camp. We would have been really good at that.
  1. We succeeded in theatre partly because of our intolerance, but what the theatre gave back was the opposite. C. S. Lewis talks in The Four Loves about how friendship is standing shoulder to shoulder with someone, with your hearts directed toward the same goal. Collaborative storytelling is a whole world of that kind of friendship. Although the friendships are often brief, they are also true and strong. In this way I have stood shoulder to shoulder with many different kinds of people — like a cheap way to travel the world. It taught me things I might not otherwise know, about diversity and solidarity, and voice. But it didn’t help the not-understanding-TV problem.
  1. I don’t do theatre anymore. Except for reading Shakespeare sometimes in the evenings with my kids. And Nick doesn’t do much theatre either, unless you count working on fancy parties for rich people, which is occasionally his day job. The thing is, at the places where the performing arts intersect with capitalist economy you get some crappy things. Elitism, wasteful spending, a self-centered ego that entirely counteracts the nobility of the work. Also crazy divas. Still. If one of my kids wanted to spend ten years or so in the theatre I wouldn’t tell them not to. Just learn how to live on beans and rice. 🙂
  1. Now, instead of making theatre shows, we make one sustainable and (aiming toward) self-sufficient life for our family, off the grid. We’re only two years into this. Which means we have some things really figured out, and some other areas where we’re still flailing. But whenever we pull away from it we’re miserable, and when we come back to it, we are blessed like water from a rock. So that’s an incredibly awesome thing … to constantly be taking this kind of risk and growing into it. It makes us feel alive. Or at least awake.
  1. I’m hopelessly religious. Hopelessly. As in, there’s no stopping it. My husband and most of my origin family are atheists, and my conversion to Christianity, as an adult, met with some resistance. But now my husband is quite wonderful about it, mostly because he sees in my religion a lot of things he knew about me along. So, that’s an interfaith win. We haven’t solved, though, the issue of actually going to church. Maybe that will be in our next chapter.
  1. I’m a little more summer than winter, but I am WAY more fall than spring.
  1. And I haven’t used shampoo on my hair in over five years. << TRUE STORY

tree planting
What about you? Want to spill something about yourself? Come on, it’s fun. I know I have theatre people readers and Christian canyon readers and homestead readers, and some who have odd intersections not unlike mine. What is a thing you think I don’t know about you?