The Little Orange and Gold Book and the First Law of Idea-dynamics

Lately, I’ve developed the habit of writing down anything that I find interesting. There’s so much that I am desperate to remember, to work into other narratives, to repeat to others, or maybe to even stick up here on my blog. There are so many beautiful things being said by the people that surround me and in books that I don’t want to lose. The power of language and thought is astounding, and the nature and creation of ideas never fails to amaze me.

So I’ve been carrying around a little gold and orange notebook that I was given by a friend in eighth grade. The gold designs are raised a little bit from the cover, and I love running my fingers over them absentmindedly in class. It’s got a magnetic flap that keeps it closed, which makes a very satisfying clapping noise, and the paper has thin brown-ish grey-ish lines just the right space apart.

Because it’s rather old, it’s got some interesting artifacts inside. There are random sentences–often later used in short stories–from the summer I spent in France, notes on meetings and a few packing lists from over the years, and some protein counts and food logs from this summer, but I’ve used a paperclip to push all of that to the side. It’s got a new and very important job now.

I’ve furiously scribbled things down when I’m talking with people on the phone, written down things people sent in texts, or carefully copied things out of books, but mostly it’s just full of snippets of conversations.

Today, I was speaking to my father on the phone about my recent obsession with mortality (which has made me unable to sleep, but more on that later). The moment that he said, “Everyone has to come to peace with mortality in their own way. We all imagine it differently,” I scrambled to get a pen. I knew that whatever he said next would be worth recording.

Here’s a quote from the conversation:

“I am a collection of atoms that changes continually. The collection is called me and has a self-consciousness that is me. At some point, the atoms will reintegrate with the world. I imagine my atoms becoming grass. Part of the living force in the world is aligned in me right now.”

Last night, George quoted Camus in a text message and then sent me this Dorothy Sayers quote today when I asked permission to quote her:

“A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.”

But I am convinced that both George and Dorothy Sayers are wrong. Original thought comes from listening to others, whether it be by hearing or reading, writing those things down, and mulling over what they’ve said, until you come to new, independent, and perhaps ingenious conclusions. Energy can neither be created or destroyed: it can only be transformed from one state to another, and the same holds true for ideas.

And that, my friends, is why I’m writing things down.

Oscar Night

Tonight, in an attempt to run away from all that is awful and scary, I will be at Audrey’s house, watching the Oscars. I’m bringing sparkling cider and we’re going eat Chinese food, because we’re pretty classy people. (I am hopeful that the combination won’t be comparable to the time that I mixed falafel mix with pink lemonade.) I’ve got Oscar predictions sheets printed out and ready to go. I’m even wearing a dress (not a fancy one, though) and some silvery blue eyeshadow on to match the navy material to get into the glamour spirit. I can barely contain my excitement!

On Disassociation and Strapping Blades to Your Feet

Last night, I had a psychotic episode at midnight that lasted until one in the morning. Then, I attempted to go ice skating this afternoon. I soon became convinced that I was going to fall over and get cut up by someone skating over me.

These past twenty-four hours have been a blast and a half.

The Medication Adventures Continue

Yesterday, one of the medications I am on was doubled, and I was supposed to start taking it in the morning, as well as at night. It was working well just in the evening, so I guess the logic was: if it’s working well now, more will make it even better.

Unfortunately, I did what I so rarely do and forgot to take my medication in the morning. I had to call my mom from school and have her bring it to me, so I wouldn’t freak out. The last time I missed it, I ended up standing in the middle of a crowded hallway, feeling like the world was tipping back and forth, and I had trouble remembering which way to turn.

So I took the medication at around twelve thirty, and by the three thirty I was a mess. I was in therapy, and after half a session, I started to get unbelievably drowsy and was getting close to dozing off while sitting on the couch. My mom picked me up when it was over, and I immediately crawled into bed and took a three hour nap. I stayed up for about three and a half hours to do my homework and eat dinner before crawling back into bed nine thirty.

Not so good, right?

Today, I remembered to take my medication at seven twenty, as I was getting ready for school. The day was going pretty well. My creative writing elective was fun, my AP English class was really interesting as always, but at around ten, I fell asleep on my desk. Yes, you read that right, Ella really did do the unthinkable and slept in class.

I woke up at around ten forty, and after some freaking out at what had just happened, I headed on down to the Child Study Team office to inform my case manager of what was going on. I asked to go home, and he told me that I really ought to call my psychiatrist. At around eleven forty-five, my mom picked me up and I did a repeat performance of yesterday: I crawled into bed and slept for three hours until three this afternoon.

My mom has informed me that the psychiatrist is out of her office all day because of a family emergency and won’t get back to us until tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m rushing to get all of my homework done before I need to go back to sleep.

I’m thinking that it might be a good idea to skip tomorrow’s morning dose even without having heard from the doctor, if it’s making me this tired. I hear that it’s healthy and good for your grades to actually be awake in school. Plus, I’m getting my hair cut in the city tomorrow, and falling asleep in the chair would probably give me an uneven cut.

But here’s what I really want to know: Will the medication adventures ever end?

The Field Day Planning Committee

When I was a sophomore and in a department called Global Action, one other person and I planned Field Day in its entirety for our politics and government small learning community. It wasn’t the most fun of processes, we kept running up against road-blocks–the administration didn’t want to let us use the field; the gym couldn’t find the rope for tug-of-war; the sacks we were going to use went missing; etc–and after all of our hard work, the event was rained out. It wasn’t pouring rain, just a light drizzle and the promise of a little bit more on the way. But rain is rain is rain, and wet turf does not a good surface for running make. We performed the department cheers in the little auditorium and there was a ridiculous dance-off. Everyone was disappointed, and I was more than a little upset.

Last year, things were a bit different. I turned all of my papers from the previous year over to my old department and let them take the reigns. All I did was show up and compete with the rest of the Executive and Judicial Branch. And it was a lot of fun not having to worry about the execution of the event. I passed out from my neurocardiogenic syncope, freaked out all the teachers, and then went to go play soccer in the blazing hot sun for about two hours. Unfortunately, the day was executed by one person again. Lola put loads of hours in, planning for the thing, and when the day came, she did almost all of the setting up and all of the cleaning up by herself.

But this year is going to be different. All of the departments are planning Field Day by electing to people to a committee. You’ll never guess who the representatives are from the Executive and Judicial Branch. That’s right, Lola, who is now in Executive, and I. We volunteered ourselves for the role because we knew that a) we have the experience needed and b) we weren’t entirely sure that the others could pull it off. It’s not that we don’t have faith in the community, we just don’t have faith in 18 kids’ ability to stop arguing and get work done. Plus, we’re masochistic idiots who actually really enjoy the event.

When I walked into the meeting today, I looked around at the people gathered there and though, You know, I think that this could actually work. And then, we tried to start. There was the typical arguing, too much talking over one another, everybody desperate for their oh-so-important point to be heard. But Lola stepped up to the white-board and started writing last year’s itinerary. When she was done and I was nearly done copying down what she had written, so we’d have notes, she turned around and said, “Let’s go through this event by event and make a list of new ideas.” And you know what? We were able to do exactly that. Group yoga was ruled out, because the school wouldn’t allow it for “insurance reasons,” but back-to-back races were in.

It really did work. People were interested, engaged, and really did seem up for the amount of work that the event would require. Even the sophomores who had never attended a Field Day before were shouting out ideas and calmly debating the legitimacy of and improvements to the old ones. One of the other girls volunteered to type up my notes, so that we could distribute copies to all the departments on Monday, and when we were done, Lola came over to breathe a sigh of relief and comment that she didn’t think that things would go as well as they did.

Guess what. I’m actually really excited about all of this, because I just know that everything will turn out really well if the good Lord’s willing, and the creek don’t rise.

(Note: This statement might be subject to change as we get closer to late May.)

So, You Know, A Piece of my Scalp Fell Out Today

Today, I was all like, “I am going to get so much done today. I’m going to finish my journal on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, write my essay on Frankenstein, and do a butt-load of studying for the three quizzes that I need to make up in AP Government and Politics. And I did/am doing it.

Miraculously, I was able to write the essay without having a panic attack. I required lots of breaks and there were two-and-a-half glasses of orange juice involved, but that essay is complete. Complete, complete, complete. It’s been hanging out on my to-do list, making me anxious, since December. And now it’s done. All I have left to make up in AP English is a long essay on The Heart of Darkness, which I’m sure I will enjoy doing. And even that essay is already outlined.

But that isn’t the important part. Sure, it’s a triumph, but the essay-writing story gets a lot more interesting.

Watching me write that essay is probably quite amusing. There’s a lot of sighing, hand wringing, groaning, lip chewing, and running of my hands through my hair. When I was in therapy today, I ran my hand through my hair, as I am wont to do, and noticed a bump. So when I was writing the final paragraph and getting increasingly frustrated, I put my hand in my hair and leaned on my elbow that was resting on the desk. When I drew my hand away, after a minute of deep breathing, a piece of my scalp came away with it. Yes, a piece of my scalp. It was a circle about a centimeter in diameter and there was hair attached to the skin. My first thought was, This is just like the Indians and the scalps they got by scalping people! Cool!

Soon, reality set in, and I realized that my head was bleeding and that I was literally holding a piece of my scalp in my hand. And it wasn’t so cool anymore. I tried cleaning it with peroxide, which was an abject failure because I was so scared that I would end up bleaching my hair with it that I didn’t get enough on it to fizz. (I learned that from The Outsiders, a book I throughly hated, in seventh grade.) Now, I’m walking around the house, with my hair pinned out of the way and sticking up in funny directions. My mother is freaked out, and I think that I look like a lunatic.

I have a big scar on the back of my head from when I was little and fell off of the chair I was spinning in circles on and hit my head against our steel and glass coffee table. Thankfully, it’s well hidden by my hair, and is low enough that it doesn’t even show up when I pull my hair half back. But if this scars the way the other one did and the hair doesn’t re-grow, I’m going to have to walk around with a really obvious bald spot right in the front of my head. Lovely.

At the very least, this should make for an interesting story to tell when people ask me tomorrow about my weekend. Well, this and my trip to the city.

On the Freezing Cold, Godmothers, Sun Dresses, and Chocolate Frappes

Today, I headed into the City with my mother to meet up with my godmother and her daughter, Isla, to spend the morning shopping, before having lunch at a restaurant specializing in chocolate.

It snowed last night, so when we got up this morning, we had to shovel out, before driving to the only train station in town that’s open on holidays and weekends. We got there, and we were standing on the platform, staring at the train waiting on the other tracks until someone told us that the trains were running on the opposite sides of the tracks today. Then, we had to run lickity-split up three flights of stairs through the glass overpass and back down the other set of stairs. Normally, I would have required five minutes to inch my way up and down the stairs and God knows how long across the overpass, but I was moving too quickly to even think about the height. Skidding our way onto the train, we collapsed into our seats, and endured a train ride riddled with delays and passenger confusion at every stop.

We hopped on the subway and headed downtown to spend some shopping before meeting up with my godmother. I insisted upon dragging my mother into my second-favorite independent book store (after Politics and Prose, of course). She kept insisting that she had never been there before, until we walked in. Living with my dad means that you will spend lots of time in bookstores, pouring over history books and getting antsy after it’s been an hour and a half, and he’s showing no sign of leaving. We bought Pippa some gifts for a care package and a cookbook, because cookbooks and do-hickeys are the sorts of things you buy when you go book shopping with my mother. I got happily lost in the new books and memoirs sections because that’s what you buy when you go book shopping with me.

We braved the terrible cold and mighty wind to walk over to agnès b where I fell in love with a million blazers that I most certainly did not need, but most certainly wanted. After meeting up with my godmother and Isla, we went to Free People, which is a store quite firmly on my list of places-where-I-walk-in-and-want-everything-in-sight. I milled around and wondering, for the millionth time, how do people come up with so many amazing designs? (I’m always wondering when and what will happen when all the creative ideas in the world will run out, when every idea will all be used up and already done, and they’ll be nothing else to find. I don’t expect that it will ever happen, but it’s a thought that keeps me going when I can’t sleep, and I’ve exhausted nearly every self-conversation topic in the book.)

My mother ended up getting me a bunch of things for my birthday. . .which is in late May. Though to be fair, a majority of the clothes were summer and spring oriented. I’m a very, very happy camper. My favorite piece that my mother bought me was this dress:

I can't wait to walk around barefoot at my beach house in this dress with my straw hat on my head.

I love dresses with low backs like this.

Then, my godmother surprised me by buying me the other dress that I really wanted. I still can’t believe my windfall. It’s just lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Sun dresses are such the best, and I love them so so so much. Like big smiles and laugher much. This is what that dress looks like:

My love of eyelet knows no bounds.

I love the corset detail on the back.

Today was one of those days where shopping makes me feel beautiful and charming and attractive. Everything I put on fit, and I liked nearly everything that I brought into the dressing room. My godmother found the best pair of cargo pants (and I am not normally a fan of cargo pants) that fit me really well. Among other things, I now have another long-sleeved purple shirt. God, I love purple. The saleslady wrapped it all up and put it in the neatest bag. I swear, all of my favorite clothing stores have developed bags that I want to reuse again and again and again. I mean, look at it:

It just begs to carry home groceries and the like.

Lunch was amazing. The restaurant we went to is, essentially, a shrine to chocolate. There are pipes on the ceiling that are actually pumping chocolate, and right when you walk in, you see these giant vats, stirring gallons and gallons of chocolate. And the smell just hits you like…uh…a bulldozer carrying all things good and wonderful. The food is wonderful, the waffle fries are dusted with cocoa (and other spices), and every time I read the dessert menu my brain melts a little, and I feel tempted to order anything and everything on it. (Of course, the little voice of anorexia kicks in pretty quickly, and I start estimating the number of calories in whatever I’ve picked out and the number of calories I’ve burned by walking around.)

My godmother and I both had fish tacos, and Isla and my mom both had a B.L.A.T. (a B.L.T. with avocado). I really, really wanted to order for one of them and say, ” I’ll have the splat, I mean blat, please!” but I didn’t, because I’m seventeen now and mature (about three-quarters of the time). And the food was really, really good. There was mango in my taco, and for some inexplicable, yet awesome, reason, my mom gave me all of her waffle fries. I ate one and the rest are hanging out in the fridge in a doggy bag for when I feel less like a tub of jelly.

But while the food-food portion of the meal was excellent, the dessert portion was miles and miles better. I had a combo that came on the cutest tiny cake stand dusted with powdered sugar that had a little chocolate cake with a red raspberry heart, a shot glass with a chocolate frappe and loads of whipped cream, and a tiny saucer with vanilla bourbon ice cream with crêpe flakes. And I did a pretty good job of eating half of it and enjoying it, too.

While I really had to fight against the anxiety over all the calories that I was consuming and the worry that no one would like the restaurant that I picked, I managed to make it through the meal unscathed. I took lots of deep breaths, counted by threes to ninety-nine and negative ninety-nine, and did various mudras under the table. It was hard work not to talk about the nutritional value of the food, if I looked too fat, or if everyone was having a good time every five seconds, but I saved all of those concerns for therapy this afternoon. I consider that a job quite well done.

In other news, I have been asked to give the Senior Sermon at my Episcopal Church. I’m very, very excited and nervous, but mostly excited.

On Poison Apples, Steak Tumors, and Other Food Related Phobias

In the past two hours I have been poisoned three times. To be perfectly clear, poisoning in my book means being in close contact with food I deem inedible. The first time was when I was making myself hot chocolate using a new mix, and it didn’t smell right. I leaned over it when it was still steaming to get a nice whiff of warm chocolate and I was met with something that smelt like little bits burned chocolate on burned plastic. So my mom said that she would drink it.

Then, I went to eat an apple. I got out the vegetable peeler, because I can’t eat things with peels on them or without cutting them to make sure that they don’t have any bad spots, and started peeling. You know how there are bruises on apples that look really grainy, are pale brown, and are supremely yucky? Well, this one was covered with them. Like any logical person, I screamed, dropped the apple and peeler, ran across the kitchen, and hid from it behind the refrigerator door. (Yes, I am 17.) My mom and dad ate the apple with dinner.

The last time was when we were all sitting at the table, eating these nice sausages from the Swiss German butcher. I had to work really hard to even convince myself that it was okay to eat the sausages and that they weren’t filled with icky stuff that I could see and didn’t know about. In a bite, about a third of the way into the sausage, I discovered something hard. Naturally, I immediately started gagging and spit everything in my throat and mouth out onto the plate. (I’m a champion gagger-on-food-and-spitter-outer-of-said-food.) My parents were oh-so-happy about that. The cats were even happier.

I wish that I could say that I hope that things could go back to the way that they were when I was x-years-old. Unfortunately, I can’t recall a time when I was a “good eater.” I made Pippa drink my milk for years, and I have never been able to eat meat without dissecting the entire piece with my knife and fork. I cut out the little bits of fat like they’re cancerous tumors.

I honestly could become a surgeon with my steak knife dexterity. Anybody got something they would like cut out of them? I’d give you enough of my Xanax so you’d feel really dopey. I wouldn’t cost as much as a regular doctor, and I’d clean everything with rubbing alchohol and boil it twice. Maybe throw a little bleach in there, too. It’d be great. Let’s do it! Just kidding. Not really. I totally would do it. Just kidding. I’m lying. Just kidding. Just kidding.

Weight Unhappiness

I’ve been having such problems with body image lately. This happens every time I start get to a stable weight or see a picture of me wearing a bathing suit. Now, I know that I am somewhere between 110 and 115–right were I need to be at five foot four–and on the lower end of that range, but those numbers still freak me out. Last year, at this time, I was down to 100 or maybe even less. And I also know that being at this weight is healthy and is supposed to make my medication work better. Supposedly, I’ll have fewer mood swings, I’ll be less obsessive, compulsive, anxious, and depressed. But while my head feels loads clearer, and I have been able to get a lot more homework done, I do not feel much happier. Not at all.