In Which Ella Loses the Internet

I haven’t had proper Internet in four days, and it’s freaking me out, in the same stupid way that I get anxious when I don’t have a notebook with me or we’re out of orange juice. Suddenly, all I can think about is desperately needing what I don’t have. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t necessary for survival, I just yearn for them with the same passion I feel for my bed or air.

Yes, it’s selfish and foolish and whole other slew of incredibly negative attributes, but I can’t help myself. My normal habit of looking something up the moment I’m curious has been compromised and not knowing which Civil War battle involved a deadly trench created with explosives makes me incredibly anxious. My solar plexus tightens, I feel as if I’m going to hyperventilate, and I am physically uncomfortable for hours on end. (If anyone has the answer, please post it in the comments. I am waiting on tender hooks.)

And in a way, the denial of the object only increases my gratitude for it when it returns.

“Darling bottle of orange juice,” I’ll say, “You must never leave me alone again. I love you and your perfect sweet and tart taste, and your yellow hue was crafted by God himself. We were made with each other in mind. I miss you with my whole heart and simply can’t get on without you. Let’s hide out in the kitchen and toast the miracle of oranges with big tumblers filled with your beautiful nectar.”

Alright, I won’t really say that. I start laughing the moment anyone so much as says soul or begins a long declaration of love.

(I mean, cut to the chase, will you? I don’t need to hear about your yearning heart or that you think your love is like a haiku. Make it short and to the point, cut the Romantic Era pontifications, the ridiculous sonnets, and read Billy Collins’ “Litany” before I come in contact with you again.)

But I will spend a long time feeling happy and thankful and be very slow and through about enjoying whatever I’ve gotten back.

So Internet, we will spend hours researching the discovery of Kimodo Dragons and looking up articles on Syria when we return and be exceedingly happy about the time we’ll spend together. Get ready.

In the meantime, I’m indulging in something that never requires so much as electricity: reading. I’m going to have to ask you to whisper while I lie in bed with Max and flip through the pages.

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Driving East at Sunset

Yesterday’s post, which was full of pictures, seems to have gotten caught in the mysterious land of ones and zeros that lies somewhere between my iPhone and this blog. So until I can figure out how to retrieve it, we’ll all just have to imagine that it exists. You can pretend for a little while, right?

Today, we drove home and watched as the sun went from beating directly overhead to setting at our backs, as our small silver Prius raced forward into the darkness and towards home.

At first, I thought it incredibly sad that we were running away from the light, that there was perhaps some tragic metaphor about losing something as we travelled home, but as the hours dragged on, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing remotely negative about heading into darkness.

After all, isn’t that what most of life is: racing forward into the unseeable unknown? We have our comfortable habits, the way we always like to do certain tasks, but even in our routines, there is an element of uncertainty.

When I ride my bike, I travel the same route, at the same time, three times a week, fifty two weeks a year, for exactly 5.32 miles. And yet, each time I set out, something different happens.

Sometimes the chain pops off, sometimes a bus decides to nearly run me over when I legally have the right of way, sometimes I get distracted by cats and crash into stationary objects. When I leave the house in the morning, I don’t even know if I’ll make it back alive or unhurt, as small as those possibilities might be. I may be caught up in a familiar pattern, but there is nothing guaranteed about the results at all.

And a large and a little cynical part of me doesn’t understand why we choose the rising sun, the beginning of daylight, as a symbol of hope and renewal. Time exists as a circle and has no end or starting point. We got to make them up. So why didn’t we choose sunset and darkness as the beginning? Why is January the first month of the year?

I continued staring out of the window, counting down the hours until I could crawl into bed and write in my journal, trying to convince myself that it wasn’t stupid, juvenile, or ridiculous to think about the metaphorical significance of traveling east at sunset. And soon the sky turned from purple to plum to navy, the stars began to appear, tiny pinpricks of bright white, and I went back to watching the speedometer, lulled into an almost meditative quiet by the rabidly changing numbers on the digital display.

In other news, sleeping in the bathtub isn’t all that bad if you’ve got a pillow and a blanket, and you somehow decided that it would be a good location to sleep when you woke up at three in the morning. (I spend a ridiculous amount of time sleeping in the bathroom when I shouldn’t. It’s quite strange, and I’m not sure why I seem to do it with such regularity. My bath mat and I seem to hang out together for a few minutes in the morning several times a week.)

Ella and Clear Nights in the Country

It occurs to me that it is easier to feel both infinite and insignificant when the night is clear enough to see the Milky Way.

As much as I love the go, go, go feeling to the city, I only ever recognize my tiny place in the universe when I’m alone in the country.

And I feel like crying not because I’m happy or because I’m sad, just because I exist in this parking lot, staring at the sky, being buffeted by wind.

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

Kidz Bop, Classical Music, NPR, and Me

Today, I discovered that not only does Kidz Bop still exist, but that I dislike pop songs even more when they cover them. I had become so convinced that it wouldn’t be possible to hate LMFAO any more than I already do.

However, everyone in my house is on a major classical music kick, so it was nice to come home to a house where Bach was being blasted in the kitchen.

(I reject out of hand the notion that classical music should only be played quietly. When you go to the symphony, you don’t find yourself wishing for a hearing aid to help you distinguish the first violin, and I have no desire to make my house sound like a doctor’s waiting room with the radio turned to some bad classical music station.)

In the spirit of sharing good music, please enjoy these amazing NPR Tiny Desk Concerts.

Hilary Hahn (This one is my favorite, and her CDs were the whole reason I played violin as a child.):

Charlie Siem (I must admit that I spent most of this video looking at the pink nail polish on his left pinky and admiring his amazing left-handed pizzicato.):

Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile And Stuart Duncan (I would listen to Yo-Yo Ma tuning his cello, he’s that amazing.):

Gil Shaham (I love Gil Shaman’s facial expressions and the obvious joy with which he plays–it’s infectious!):

In other news, I spent most of today in complete astonishment of how tired I was. Then, I discovered that at some point last night, I woke up and wrote well over a thousand words of what appears to be a very incoherent recollection of playing in the Hippo Park on New York’s Upper West Side at the age of three. I have no memory of doing this. However, judging by the number of times Max leapt out of bed to try to capture a very annoying moth (which I killed this morning by throwing a ball at the ceiling), I’m not surprised that I was apparently woken up for several hours. And writing is certainly preferable to sending people very long and strange text messages or deciding to take a shower and instead falling asleep on the bathmat (something I seem to do at least once a week). I also feel it is necessary to point out that none of these things were done under the influence. I neither drink nor imbibe any caffeine other than what is found in chocolate.

In other, other news, I got to spend the afternoon reading the names of Crayola crayon colors to an adorable three-year-old. We had a very interesting discussion about different hues and exactly what asparagus is (and yes, I did squash my initial impulse to say that while the tips are nice, the stalk is the spawn of the devil). Then, we pretended to be dogs and had a puppy freeze-dance party. Have I recently mentioned how much I love children? Because I do. So much.

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

Ella and Virginia

This weekend, I drive south.

I’m not sure what it is about rural Virginia that attracts me, but it does, and I find myself missing it all the time.

There were county fairs as a child, riding tired ponies in a circle for five minutes while parents snapped photographs, big slices of ham to eat, watching the very odd spectacle of sheep-showing, and tiny pieces of hay stuck in my hair. We visited battlefields, famous houses, cemeteries, farms, antique fairs, and restaurants. Dad gave history lessons.

Pippa threw up on me in the car.

I threw up in a parking lot after eating a hamburger.

Once, we spent a day going to the Route 11 potato chip factory where I ate my weight in fried chicken flavored chips. I discovered barbecue and hush puppies and there was no turning back.

Of course, there were the hikes up mountains, catching the Appalachian trail for ten miles or so, and defiantly sitting down on logs and refusing to budge another inch, only to get back up and march uphill for another two miles looking as sullen as possible.

I began my first in-depth study of regional accents.

And then it was gone.

We moved and weekends spent exploring life outside of the city were over.

Sure, we go back from time to time. A year and a half ago, I spent a week working with my church in true Appalachia, repairing trailers (This was the time when I fell through the floor, but that’s another story for another day.), which was amazing, but not the same as the luxury of frequent trips into the area.

But for three days, I’ll get to feel a little bit like nothing has changed, that I’m just on another weekend excursion into one of my favorite corners of the world, and that will be wonderful.

In other news, my ability to make typos is particularly embarrassing when it is in a post about teaching. In my defense, however, I’d like to point out that I was extraordinarily tired at the time and wasn’t fully mentally present.

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

Why Hello There!

While I must admit that the concept of taking a complete break is rather foreign to me, I decided that I really needed to take one from this blog. Keeping a daily blog can often be stressful and exhausting. Even on days when I’ve been teaching for more than 10 hours and want nothing more then to curl up with a book and go to sleep, I still force myself to write a post.

I value writing this blog more than sleep, and I’ve lost one or two hours that I could/should have spent sleeping more nights than not. And when I’m not writing here, I’m still thinking about what I’m going to post, how I’m going to find the time, or worrying about the quality of my writing.

But there comes a point where fourteen months and over 400 posts becomes a little too much and I need to step back and focus on things like vacuuming the embarrassing amount of cat fur under the couch and spending time with my family. So I didn’t so much as look at this blog for the past six days. It’s felt weird, and I’ve found myself thinking about it more than ever. Buying was able to spend my free time trying and failing to beat my dad at a version of Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition from 1979 and watching Downton Abbey (thanks for the amazing recommendation Saturday Evening Porch! I’m totally hooked and can’t wait for series three!) with with my mom. I also managed to get incredibly hooked on tumblr, which a newly formed habit I need to break.

But I’m back and ready to get back into action. And because the story-telling posts are the ones I enjoy writing the most, tomorrow there will be a piece about the time I went to the John and Hank Green Tour de Nerdfighting event in the city.

In other news, guess who graded 112 book reports today!

This girl!

I also hang out at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, where I can be found reblogging pretty images, funny .gifs, and the occasional liberal article.

In Which Ella Apparently Belongs on SNL

After spending the day out with Eliza, I returned home only to have my dad announce that I look like Father Guido Sarducci.

The hat is similar, I guess, but other than that, I don’t see it.

20120215-003054.jpg

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/313497/june-23-2010/prophet-glenn-beck—father-guido-sarducci

I’m not sure whether I should be amused or offended.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope that you had as great a day as I had!

(Even if I do think it’s a ridiculous holiday.)

I also hang out at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, where I posted some very nerdy and funny valentines today.

Words Do Not Always Mean What I Think They Do: In Which I Say Some Very Strange and Embarrassing Sentences

The readers have spoken and with a majority of 39.13% at the time of this post “Words Do Not Always Mean What I Think They Do: In Which I Say Some Very Strange and Embarrassing Sentences” has won. So let the embarrassment begin!

As I’ve said in previous posts, I make naive assumptions a lot. Especially when I was younger, I created my own, very sheltered world where absolutely nobody would ever do anything like use drugs or be crude. Those sorts of things only existed on the page or screen. And as the sole inhabitant of Ella’s Sheltered World, I just let everything that didn’t fit into this schema fall by the wayside.

I middle school, I was shocked to learn that “suck” and “screw” weren’t words that you could throw around like “darn” and “gosh.” And it wasn’t until last year that I learned that “screw you” actually has meaning behind it. Of course, both of these things were discovered when I said them in front of a lot of people who should not have been hearing things like this come out of my mouth.

To continue, there were several funny incidents beginning at the age of nine when I would use the words behind Harry Potter spells to refer to things. “Engorgio” got me into a lot of trouble during a Christmas party, though it was laughed off by the adults who knew that I had no idea what I was saying.

And it wasn’t until I was around fifteen that I learned that “breaking wind” had nothing to do with wind resistance, which made for a very strange remark in a science class.

There were also the typical childhood confusion with song lyrics. In the song, “Home on the Range,” there’s a line that goes:

“Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

Well, I thought that “seldom” was a discouraging word.

And it wasn’t until I saw Roger McGuin in concert at sixteen that I learned the my favorite Bob Dylan song, “My Back Pages” did not include the line:

“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that cow”

and instead was supposed to go:

“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”

I’m surprised that I didn’t figure it out sooner, as “cow” made little to no sense, but I continued singing it with that butchered line for over sixteen years (or however long it was once I learned how to sing).

Then, there is the matter of me failing to understand innuendoes, and standing around obliviously and interjecting with weird comments while people are talking about things like sex or drugs. I always seem to assume that people are actually talking about something else that’s far less sensitive and vulgar, and end up entirely confused.

The list could go on and on, and I’m sure that if I pressed my parents and friends, they could list all sorts of specific examples of things I have said or misunderstood over the years, but it is getting quite late, and I am incredibly tired. I’ll add them below as people remind me of them.

In other news, apparently there was some big awards show tonight. Tomorrow, I will feast my eyes on all of the pretty dresses! With the exception of The Oscars, I can never really get into the televised awards shows–too many over-the-top performances and often boring hosts, and people like Katie Perry and the actors of Glee don’t exactly interest me.

I also hang out at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, where I can be found reblogging pretty images, funny .gifs, and the occasional liberal article.