In Which Ella Has to Take the SAT

Guess what’s happening tomorrow.

I’m taking the SAT.

Guess how happy this makes me.

Not at all.

On the upside, I’m going to a book signing tomorrow evening for Laini Taylor and her new book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I reviewed here.

And now I’m off to do some more panicking.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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Books and Math: They’re All Mine

I’ve got books. New ARCs that I’m contractually not allowed to tell anyone about. And I’ve got a crazy smile on my face, the type accompanied by wide eyes and an especially intense gaze. Because oh do I have books. And they’re all mine.

I’ve got improved math scores. Math scores that aren’t exactly fabulous, but certainly are no longer cringe worthy. And I’ve taken loads of practice SATs, more than anyone should ever have to do in one day and the ink stained hands to prove it. Because oh do I have better math scores And they’re all mine.

So I’m off to do a crazy dance, probably accidentally scaring the cats, and finish the laundry. After all, that’s the way all sophisticated people celebrate good things, right? The Jam, frightening animals, and scrubbing grass stains just ooze classy and elegant.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Is Worn Out

I would love to gripe about math to you, to tell you just how hard I’m trying and just how much I continue to fail, but I won’t. Because I’ve done that a lot already and no one needs to hear it again.

Instead, maybe I’ll tell you about how bothersome it is to have run out of shelf space and room for new bookshelves, about how I’ve got stacks of books inside the cubbies of my desk, in piles next to the closet, and balanced on top of the books already in my three, large bookcases. But I’d bet that would be annoying, too. No one likes to listen to storage complaints.

I think something upbeat, amusing, fun would be a good choice. I probably ought to recount yesterday’s adventure before some of the details slide from my memory, before the images of the parks and signing become a bit more pixilated.

Ah, but you’ve forgotten that I’m worn out today. There was the calming down from yesterday’s overwhelming amount of stimuli and today’s surprise three-hour-long babysitting job. There was even a huge sleep-deficit to make up. All I can bare to do is study for the SAT, watch videos on Khan Academy, and read.

But I didn’t lie in bed and stare at the wall all day. That’s an activity only for my “dark days” when I’m too depressed to travel further than the bathroom. I was busy until mid-afternoon, and I spent a long time talking to Pippa and Cecelia*, though not at the same time and not about the same things.

In other news, Pippa and I have finally gotten into Pottermore, so there was sorting and wand-getting to be done. Pippa’s a Ravenclaw with a 14-inch unicorn hair rowan wand, and I’m a Gryffindor with a 10 3/4 inch unicorn hair rowan wand. And, you know, that is pretty darn exciting.

There are numerous “extras” to read where Rowling finally explains McGonagall’s past and the history of the Hogwarts Express, and there are all sorts of flash games to “brew” potions and “duel” other students. I like the reading, but Pippa likes the playing, so I’ll probably end up giving her access to my account to get me more points. Such is the beauty of younger sisters**. You can always persuade (force) them to do the things you don’t want to***.

*Cecelia is the greatest.

**I’m kidding, of course. I do not recommend mistreating your younger sister. She will grow up to be taller, bigger, and scarier than you, and you will regret every single dollar you conned her out of when you were ten. Also, I hear being nice is considered a “good” quality.

***From the time I was six until I was twelve, I forced Pippa to drink my milk at dinner. Surprisingly, my mother never had a clue until we told her earlier this year.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Falls in Love with Happiness

I have blisters on my feet, my eyes are seeing double, and I’m so tired I could fall asleep without a pillow on the kitchen’s tiled floor.

But none of that matters.

I had the most terribly perfect, horribly wonderful, and awfully amazing day today. There were books and there were parks and there was shopping and there was walking and there was modern art and there was meeting some of my literary idols. Libba Bray and I had a conversation so awesome that it nearly made me cry later on when I was walking back to the subway. On the train home, I figured out part of my novel that I had been struggling with and was suddenly struck by an idea for another book. And now, I’m in bed with my beloved laptop ready to relish the night and darkness before I go to sleep.

Every year, I have a few days like this, where nothing in the world goes wrong and everything just feels good. It doesn’t last, but, in a way, I don’t want it to. It wouldn’t be as lovely if everyday were perfect. It’d just be a monotony of joy. I want my happiness to be shocking, like ice water on a hot day or an unexpected present. And that’s what today was: a genuine surprise of wonderful.

But I am tired and babbling. My eyes keep drifting shut, and I feel the urge to hum a long, contented “mmhm” until I run out of breath. So I will. I’ll be just like a purring cat or a dog thumping his tail or a rabbit doing whatever weird happy thing rabbits do.

Mmhm. Happy.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Declares Her Love for the Night

Oh for goodness sakes am I tired. My eyelids burn, my head is heavy, and I want nothing more than to lean over, bury my head in the pillows, and just sleep. For hours and hours and hours. But it’s not exactly an option.

It is night, and I hate to waste it sleeping. These dark hours are my favorite. It’s as if I am the only one alive in the world, and I can do whatever I want without anyone ever seeing or knowing. I do my best writing after midnight, and I’ve grown accustomed to the clock showing one, two, even three in the morning before I drift off. But the exhaustion is worth it just to have those quiet hours where it’s only me and the crickets chirping.

Perhaps it’s because bad things never happen in the middle of the night, and you don’t have to deal with all of the sucky parts of the day. You’re running away from them, but this time it’s okay. You can’t be expected to fix an argument or stop being so depressed because everyone’s asleep and every place is closed. So it’s okay to pretend that everything is alright and that you’re gonna be okay.

And the cats are always up. They climb up on my bed. All three of them. Rolley fur-balls, nuzzling their wet noses and mouths against my hand and settling down in the most inconvenient places, forcing me to contort my body in order to share the bed. But I don’t mind. I think they might be the best companions in the world. But people are still pretty good, too.

Sometimes, you don’t have to share the darkness alone. Sometimes, there’s someone there with you to talk to and say things you never would if it were light out. The night makes life feel a little more safe to let down all of those barriers. I love talking on the phone, leaning halfway off my bed, seeing how close I can get my head to the floor before I overbalance and have to grab at the sheets to avoid falling. I love talking to people at sleep-overs until the wee hours and when they fall asleep in the middle of an answer, leaving me wondering how lucky I am to have friends like them.

But most of all, I love how not so many people like the night as much as I do. It’s my time, all for me, and it’s rare that I ever have to share it. I get to be horribly selfish with absolutely no consequences.

But as much as I’d like to, I can’t stay up until all hours tonight. I really ought to go to bed. Because tomorrow morning, I’m going on an adventure.

I’m taking my self to MoMA and to a book launch for Maureen Johnson’s In the Name of the Star. I might go my favorite book store and to nerdfighter MJ party. Maybe I’ll take some pictures to share. I’ll write in a park and make up stories while I’m riding on the subway. It’ll be amazing.

But when I come home, it’ll be dark again, and I’ll have these wonderful hours just to be, exactly the way I like it.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

I Have a Confession to Make: I Sleep With Books

Hello. I’m Ella, I’m seventeen, and I sleep with books.

It’s kind of a problem, you know, such hard rectangles do not make very good pillows, and they are often wont to leave curious red marks on your face and body when you lie on them for too long. Beds are made for people and animals, not things. Besides, wouldn’t it be so much better, if you didn’t have to worry about rolling over into a face full of paper?

Ah, but you don’t know what lovely bed-mates books make. They don’t snore or kick*, and they don’t hog the covers. They stay where you want them until you decide to move them, and they don’t wake up really early in the morning and leave you all alone**. They don’t even get annoyed when the cats sleep on top of them! And whenever you wake up or can’t sleep, they’re there, ready to do your bidding without complaint until you drift off again.

Right now, I’ve got four books neatly piled next to the pillows and three cats curled up on the bed. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to fit, but we’ll make it work. We always do.

*About five years ago, Pippa and I had to share a bed at an hotel over Thanksgiving, and I woke up in the morning to discover that she had put her pillow on top of my bottom and was sleeping on it. I kid you not.

**It always freaks me out when I wake up and discover that whomever was in my bed when I fell asleep isn’t there anymore. In those first groggy moments of wakefulness, I become panicked that they’ve been abducted or abandoned me for good. Thankfully, the kidnappers tend to leave them in the kitchen, and the abandoners always seem to end up there, too. It must be the hip place to be at six a.m. I hear it’s got coffee and yogurt.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Reviews Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I bring you my review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, written for my local bookstore. It’s the first one I’ve ever written, and I had a lot of fun. I don’t think it’s all that bad for a first review.

Seventeen-year-old Prague art student, Karou, has some curious pictures in her sketchbooks. Her “gorgeously rendered and deeply strange” drawings of fantastical creatures tell the story of a devil’s workshop where Brimstone, a wishmonger, grants wishes and strings gems and teeth for mysterious purposes. Trained in martial arts, knife-fighting, and fluent in many languages, Karou’s adventures keep the reader riveted and on the edge of their seat as Karou discovers the ancient battle between the angels and chimera, learns of her past, and meets Akiva, an angel with whom she just might be in love. Every teenage girl will wish she had Karou’s spunk, strength, and independence and a friend as loyal and kind as “Rabid Fairy” Zuzana, and boys will enjoy the fast-paced action and suspense. From the book’s first lines, Laini Taylor reels the reader in with her excellent word choice, quick wit, and loveable characters. Karou’s world is so beautifully imagined that at times it seems real. This book could quite possibly be the next big young adult fantasy series. The book’s conclusion just leaves you begging for more.

I just got the ARC for Pure, a novel by Julianna Baggott, so we’ll see how the next one goes. It looks like it’ll be a good read. Of course, I’m also in the middle of The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, Poetry 180 editted by Billy Collins, and Humor Me edited by Ian Frazier. I’m in such an happy avalanche of books.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Plus Stickers Equals Embarrassment

This afternoon while unpacking groceries, I decided that it would be a great idea to peel one of the stickers off of the bananas and stick it to my forehead. After all, it said “brain fuel,” and I can never refuse the opportunity to do something silly to make someone laugh.

Of course, in typical fashion, I forgot that it was stuck there, and eight hours later, it is still firmly attached to my forehead. This reminds of me of two embarassing stories from middle school.

When I was fourteen, my waist was too small for most normal pairs of jeans, and I had to resort to the jeans from Kids’ Gap or Lucky Brand (very opposite ends of the price spectrum, I know). My mom had recently purchased me a new pair of jeans, and I was very excited to wear them*. So I put them on and headed off to school, thinking that I looked fabulous. It wasn’t until third period that someone informed me that I still had the very long vertical size sticker still stuck to one of the legs, informing everybody that my jeans were a size 12 narrow and were from the Kids’ Gap. I didn’t live that one down for about a month.

The second one is quite a bit like what happened today, only this time I went off to school with the sticker, which was both upside-down and said “slice me on cheerios.” Once again, no one pointed it out to me until I stood up to give a presentation in French class.

Thankfully, none of these things ever ended up bothering me that much, mostly because I was so wrapped up in trying to prove to people that I was smart and interesting. Weirdly, at the time I kind of liked it when people said something about my appearance because I could always come up with some snappy retort or just give them a smile**.

Do you have any funny and embarrassing stories involving stickers or from when you were in middle school? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

*In another somewhat related embarrassing story, I wore sweaters, Keens with socks, and black velour bell-bottoms for the entirety of seventh grade. I feel it’s necessary to note that my fashion sense has improved significantly since then.

**Giving someone a big smile when they’re trying to hurt you is actually incredibly effective and feels really, really good.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Goes to the Doctor

It is a well known fact that I do not like doctors. And by doctors, I mean the type of doctors who do strep tests and poke your stomach and tell you that the reason you feel miserable is that you have a virus and they’re sorry but you’re just going to have to wait it out because they can’t give you medicine to make the fever and vomiting stop because antibiotics don’t work like that. You know, those magical life-saving people who scare me.

I had to go to the doctor today. It was not a fun experience. I cried so much and had enough of a freak-out that I have to go back on Saturday to get my vaccinations. Yes, vaccinations with an s. Plural. I then went into hiding in my bedroom for the rest of the day and only emerged for dinner and to read aloud the last words of famous people to my parents*.

Saturday is going to require very large amounts of Xanax.

In other news, novel writing is going quite well.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

*I am absolutely fascinated by last words, something that I will elaborate on in a future post.

In Which Ella Gets Attacked by Pushkin

I got attacked by a cat this morning. While I was trying to put a very reluctant and terrified Pushkin into his cat carrier to take him to the vet, he managed to wiggle free from my clutches and claw me and my shirt while leaping across the room to hide behind some guitars.

I now have a sliced palm, a bunch of very long scratches covering my arms, two punctures, and a brand new shirt from Banana Republic that has blood stains and holes in it.

Needless to say, I am not exactly pleased with the situation.

However, Pushkin has forgiven me for the visit to the vet, and I have forgiven him for decorating my arms with scabs and ruining my shirt. It looks like he’ll be sleeping on my bed again tonight.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.