In Which Ella Gets Locked in the Study ALL NIGHT LONG

I have just done something I have had nightmares about for ages.

No, I did not get kidnapped or have to watch Pippa be brutalized. I was also not forced to marry anyone against my will.

I did, however, lock myself inside of a room. The study, to be exact.

Somewhere around eleven thirty when Pippa called and I shut the door so that I could tell her SEKRIT things without being overheard and now, the wood in the door swelled, and now I can’t get it open. I’ve even tried that ridiculous thing where you put both feet on the wall to use all of your body weight (and also pretty much guaranteeing your general demise should the door spring open suddenly and your body go flying backwards into the wall). Nothing has worked.

But instead of going into full-blown panic mode, I’m mostly amused. I’ve written “I AM STUCK!!! PLEASE SAVE ME!!!” notes and slipped them under the door and out into the hall for someone to see when they wake up, and it’s not like I’m going to be stuck in here forever. It’ll just be until six a.m. And I can handle until six a.m.

It’s rather strange living out a nightmare. Being trapped is a lot less scary than I thought. My two biggest concerns are one, that Zelda will need to pee and she will refuse to use make-shift litter box I’ve made her (empty cardboard box that once held reams of paper, all the plastic things I could find to line it, and a ton of shredded paper) and two, that Zelda and I will sleep through the time while everyone else is up, and then we’ll be stuck in here until eight p.m. without food or a toilet. We do have drinks, though because I was smart enough to carry a whole carton of orange juice plus a glass when I first came in here hours ago.

In the meantime, I’m going to look up youtube videos of people trapped in elevators so that I can both give them proper empathy and feel better about my own plight.

Edit: This would be significantly easier if I hadn’t already spent pretty much the entire day in this same room. There would be things to EXPLORE.

Edit: After much yanking, the door finally opened at around five a.m. and I was able to sleep for a few hours. Zelda made an immediate trip to the litter box and proceeded to ignore me for many hours. I think she’s convinced I did this on purpose.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Stupidly Ignores Officer Buckle and His Dog, Gloria

When I was in second grade, we read a book called Officer Buckle and Gloria about a policeman and his dog who make presentations at school to kids about safety.

The only thing I remember from this book is to not sit on tacks or stand on swivel chairs. It’s something I think about a lot, mainly because I have a huge fear of impaling my foot on sharp objects,* and there a lot of tacks stuck into bulletin board in my room. But apparently I didn’t take the not standing on swivel chairs rule to heart.

This afternoon a new poster I had ordered arrived, and in my excitement to carefully pin it above my dresser, I decided to forgo a step ladder and just drag my swivel chair across the room. And as I would with any other chair, I put one foot on the seat and stepped up. But because swivel chairs are made to swivel, and I was not holding the chair steady, I began to spin with one foot on the chair and one leg suspended in the air while my arms spun in circles, trying to regain my balance.

And as I wobbled and the chair travelled its first 360 degrees, I couldn’t help but think, “Picture books are often more on point than you give them credit for.”

I quickly regained my balance and positioned the chair so that it wouldn’t spin anymore and put up the poster. I’m very pleased with the result. All of the furniture in my room is white, and I think that the poster “pops” quite nicely. I don’t have a picture of it hanging on the wall, but I do have picture of the poster**.

Awesome, isn’t it?

*I was once playing in a construction site in flip flops and had a nail go all the way through my shoe and into my foot. My mother had me wear the punctured and blood stained flip flop for the rest of the summer as a reminder to not play in construction sites. I just put on sneakers and snuck back there three days later. But this is an amusing story for another day.

**”ftl” stands for “French the Llama,” which is a Vlogbrothers’ joke. Check out their made of awesome youtube videos here.

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

Newscasters Say the Darnest Things

I was watching The Office this evening when the news cut in. It was one of those watch-the-news-at-eleven promos, and they said the following:

Will texting and tweeting give you wrinkles?


It’s questions like these that make me feel optimistic about the future.

On Stupidity and Here Comes Treble

I like to consider myself the sort of person who is quick on the uptake. However, I did not realize until ten thirty tonight while driving in the car with Cecelia that Andy Brenard of The Office’s a cappella group’s name “Here Comes Treble” is a play on “here comes trouble.” I had just thought that it meant that treble notes are coming closer to the listeners when the group sings.

And it’s not like I just learned about Here Comes Treble yesterday. I’ve been watching this show for THREE YEARS.

In other news, I have the AP Literature test tomorrow. If I fall asleep on my desk, I will kill a small animal in my mind.

On Looking Forward to the Summer

Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on pictures like this one, instead of all the stress and unhappiness. It isn’t going so well.

I really wish I was at the beach right now.

For April Fools Everywhere

Ella is off doing political battle — well, mock-battle — leaving her dad to write tonight’s post.  And what springs to mind?  Spring.  Today begins the month that T.S. Eliot called the cruelest.  He saw a near-obscenity in April “breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire.”  In the wake of ‘The Great War,’ a profusion of spring flowers probably did seem like nature mocking humanity’s pointless bloodlust.  Scanning today’s news – war, disaster, cruelty, terror, deceit and tyranny – can make one feel that in the return of birdsong nature is mocking us still.  The challenge of climate change, after all, is not that we need to save the planet – it will endure.  It’s that we need to keep from so thoroughly fouling our nest that we can no longer thrive.

But spring comes nonetheless, whether sunny and bright, or as this morning, with snow flurries, drizzle and persistently gray skies.  Earth has swung once more round its orbit to tilt its northern end toward the sun, just as in billions of orbits before, and billions more to come.   Like it or not, we’re in for some beautiful days ahead, at least until the next equinox.

Which leads me to another thing that springs to mind this April first: Rebecca Black. Even amid earthquakes, civil wars, tsunamis, air strikes and nuclear meltdowns, reviewers of her song “Friday” suggest she has raised disaster to new heights.

I have to confess I’m thankful for “Friday” in a way that old Tom Eliot might never understand. Despite a domestic and global political climate that seems like it can hardly get bleaker, one gormless teen can rise up and geek-bop her way into our national consciousness.  The middle east may be teetering on the brink of genocide or civil war, but we have bigger crises here at home.  Today the Arab world must choose, under force of arms, between tyranny and democracy.  Our Ms. Black faces a choice every bit as stark: “kickin’ in the front seat, kickin; in the back seat, gotta make my mind up: which seat can I take?”

As art, “Friday” is undoubtedly an excrescence. But as a cultural lightning rod, it is merely one of Eliot’s lilacs, a vain burst of happiness that mocks us in our mourning for a world gone deeply wrong.  This, after all, is what April fools day is all about.  Spring comes as surely as winter, whether we greet it with a dirge or drecky pop.

Tomorrow I’ll return to worrying about the all-out war on working families currently being waged by Republicans in the House, and in state Houses across the country.  But tonight it’s Friday, and I’m looking forward to the weekend.

Dumb Ideas: Part One

Today, I discovered a picture from the time I made a dress out of three trash bags. I was thirteen, and it was not a good look.

The bizarre and ugly fringe bottom was cut so that I would be able to walk.

The plastic didn’t allow my skin to breathe, so as it grew hotter, I became sweatier, and the plastic stuck to every inch of my body. To top it all off, that evening I discovered that it was impossible to take off by pulling it over my head or trying to rip the plastic. I ended up standing on my trunk in the middle of the cabin while my counselor carefully cut me out of it. Needless to say, I was equal parts mortified and scared that the scissors would cut me.

Kidnapping the Magical Math Elves

Today, I trudged up the street through the snow and drizzle to Tal’s house so that she could help me with math. As I walked, I wanted to throw my notebook into the air, watch it become soaked on the ground, and stomp on it. But I didn’t, because I am a Big Girl now. So I took several deep breaths, kept moving, and braced myself for the anxiety and panic associated with not understanding math.

I sat down at Tal’s family room table and proudly showed off the seven problems that I completed by myself. Then, we got to the hard stuff. The stuff I missed. The stuff that might as well be Ancient Greek. But Tal was my Rosetta Stone. Patiently, she explained each problem, writing explanations on the back of an email from the Guidance Department. And it all made sense. Of course, arcsin x was the same thing as sin-1 x! Who doesn’t know that arcsines and sines cancel each other out?

My heart rate didn’t elevate, my breathing wasn’t ragged, and I didn’t feel any waves of electric anxiety. Doing this math was easy. No more Magical Math Elves. And it’s all thanks to Tal. I don’t think she’ll ever know just how grateful I am.

I’ve got those magical math elves bound with zip ties and in a tarp filled with rocks. Anyone want to drive to river with me to dump them in?

The Magical Math Elves

Last year, I missed six months of school (fun times) due to mental illness. While I was able to keep with English HH, AP US History, and Government Studies all on my lonesome, AP Biology, Trig/Calc HH and AP French went into the garbage pail. Teaching yourself those subjects is incredibly difficult. I managed to learn enough biology to do well on the SAT II, but I can’t exactly look at the plant cells required for AP labs when I’m in an outpatient facility all day. And me successfully figuring out derivations on my own is a joke. A really hilarious makes-your-sides-hurt joke.

Despite all that, I like math, I really do. I love figuring out angles, percentages, and prices, playing with triangles, circles, and squares, and figuring out the heights and areas of things. I did incredibly well in Geometry and Algebra One, but I just managed to squeak by in Algebra II.

This year, I’m stuck in Pre-Calculus Honors because Trig/Calc HH wouldn’t fit in my schedule, and man, do I feel like an idiot. I managed to miss almost every class in January and February, so I not only have no idea what’s going on right now, but I also have no idea what led up to it. Apparently, knowing that cos^2 α + sin^2 α = 1 is essential to figuring out equations that use cos 2α = cos2 α − sin2 α, and wouldn’t it be great if I knew what the heck cos^2 α + sin^2 α = 1 meant so that I could just attempt cos 2α = cos^2 α − sin^2 α?

Everyday last week I sat in class willing the numbers and letters to somehow make sense. I was just dying for that Eureka! moment to happen so that I could leap out of the bathtub and run through the streets naked, just like Archimedes did when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose. Only, I wasn’t on planning on discovering that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of object submerged, I just want an A on Wednesday’s quiz, preferably a high one.

But I’m just completely mystified. I’ve spent several hours in the library with my math textbook, trying all the verifications on my own before looking them up in the back. So far, I haven’t been able to complete a single one. When I’m in class, staring at the board and furiously scribbling notes, I sit there wondering how on earth the teacher knew to input that formula or knew to flip those numbers. It all just seems to happen arbitrarily.

This has led me to the conclusion that I am not the stupid one here. Instead, there are these magical math elves that are creating these crazy answers just to mess with me. But let me warn you, elves, I’m on to you and ready to take you down.

Dinner Table Conversations: Part Two

Pippa arrived home tonight from prep school and immediately began bouncing off the walls like a human cannonball. After she finished chasing Maxwell Perkins around the living room in an effort to hold him, she plopped herself down at the dining room table. The following ensued.

In describing a friend, Pippa said, “She’s from one of the little Spains.” This was then modified, albiet jokingly, as “the one with the mushrooms.”

Later, when she was complaining about how she was the youngest and only non-Asian in her math class, my mother said, “You need to represent your race, Pippa! Caucasian pride!” This was met with a bemused and curious look from my father as he momentarily appeared from behind his New York Times crossword. I just laughed and shook my head.

It’s good to have Pippa home. I’m sure the shenanigans* will continue.

*Pippa just leaned over my shoulder and thought that said “Albanians.”