You probably see Emily very poised, emitting a got-it-together attitude. Her hair is pulled back, her glasses are on, and she’s carrying a book (right now it’s Lewis Hyde’s The Gift). More likely than not, she’s wearing a flowing skirt, and a very special necklace. Today though, she poses without a book, which comes as a sort of shock. “It’s interesting to see what people pick up about you. I imagined posing with a book or something. I’ve always had a book in my hand, so that’s what I expected.”
Emily openly embraces reading and writing: she studied English at Vassar College; is the primary writer of the Pushcart Journal; compares the communal alone-ness of coffee shops to, naturally, libraries (although much less somber). Emily is a talented writer of creative non-fiction and her particular specialty is… lists. Her to-do list is ever growing: “I’m never satisfied – I never finish what I want to finish. New York intensifies that drive.” Lists are essential to responsible people (and Emily is responsible), but she’ll have you know that there are also some fun and spontaneous things on that ‘responsible’ list. Case in Point: New York.
A native of Georgia, Emily came running to The Empire State with both arms open. She was ready for a new, more long-term adventure. But less than a year into it, Emily admits, “It can be exhausting to do ‘the New York thing.’ It’s difficult to find a balance for myself, to learn to let go of the restaurant that friends tell me that I just have to try out.” She’ll just add it to her list.
Before New York, Emily spent considerable time in India, an empowering experience for her. Of course, life in rural India is a lot different than life in New York, but Emily can actually find similarities: “The pure chaos, the incredible diversity, they’re both fun, stimulating, puzzling, and you don’t have to drive a car.” Her special necklace comes from India– it’s turquoise, which is sacred to Tibetans. “For me, it’s a reminder that wherever I go, if I’m settled in myself, I can handle anything else.”
Emily really can handle anything – an empty shop or a raging morning shift. “The Lower East Side is neighborhood-y, historical, tucked away. There are people who have lived here for decades, and those who just moved in. The outside of Pushcart feels like my front porch – I love being able to talk to customers and know who they are.”
So, the next time you see Emily emerge onto the Pushcart ‘porch,’ give her a subject for her next writing piece, a recommendation for a book she might like, or a place she just has to see. She’ll add it to her to-do list.
Profile written by Liz Fullerton.