In Which Sadie’s Birthday Is Celebrated

Today, I hosted a “surprise party” for Sadie. Now, the only real surprise was that the get-together with all of my friends that I had organized wasn’t just an afternoon lunch, it was also a birthday party for Sadie’s nineteenth. I made an ice cream cake, other people brought snacks and dishes, and we played a long and rollicking game of Loaded Questions.

If you squinted, it was like we were still in high school having fun on another weekend afternoon, half-dreading and half-looking forward to another week of classes and hours spent together in rehearsal, in class, and eating sandwich while perched on stools in the art room. But come tomorrow morning we won’t be grumbling over our math homework and calling each other to double check the assignments for AP English, instead everyone will be traveling back to college, ready to jump back into their new and exciting lives.

Thankfully, this time we won’t have such a huge gap before we get to see each other again.  Winter holidays are rolling around soon, and in the coming weeks Clara and I will be busy planning this year’s New Year’s party.

For the month, you can find me updating my word count on NaNoWriMo here. (I need to do it more regularly so that it doesn’t become flat for a few days, only to receive an enormous spike, indicating that I somehow magically wrote about twelve thousand words in one day.)

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

As It Turns Out, Eighteen Doesn’t Feel Any Different

Today has been one of those perfect beach days. I got up early and took a shower outdoors while the air was still clouded with fog. Stupidly, I left my towel in the back hall, and had to put my pajamas back on while I was still soaking wet. I marched my way back into the house, the grass sticking to my ankles and feet, feeling pretty defeated. Walking around in wet clothing with your hair deshelved is not a very elegant way of inaugerating being eighteen.

But things quickly got better. I dunked oat squares in lemon yogurt and drank a glass of orange juice, trying to see if I could keep the pulp out my mouth by making a sieve with my teeth. Then, I went out to the porch to talk to my grandmother and aunt and stare wistfully at my presents. I was really give maturity a run for its money.

We finally got around to present opening, and there were sun dresses from Free People, pretty cards, more clothes, a beautiful blue wooden box with a scarf inside, checks, books, and iTunes gift certificates. Tied for first place with the dresses was a poem by Mary Oliver that my aunt wrote out and backed on gorgeous blue paper.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I’m going to have to reorganize my bulletin boards at home to fit this in. It’s lovely, and I plan on memorizing it. That way, I’ll have more happy and beautiful things to repeat to myself when I’m bored or sad.

The house still needs cleaning from having been closed up all winter, so all five of us attacked the living room. All the furniture was pulled out from the walls and every picture, bowl, shell, doohickey, etc was dusted by my aunt and me. Then, I rearranged the mantle so that everything was in height order. As much as this makes me feel happy and organized, it kind of looks wonky and needs fixing. Clearly, I do not have a future in candlestick and trinket arranging.

I ate a goat’s cheese and roast beef sandwich for lunch, which is not a combination I would recommend. However, it’s still above eating Provolone cheese (the spawn of the devil), my other option. I did homework, sent in my voter registration forms, and fooled around until dinner. We ate at my favorite restaurant in town, and I ordered poorly. Scallops in cream sauce with bacon over fettucini seemed like a really great idea until it was right before me and screaming, “I AM PROBABLY OVER A THOUSAND CALORIES!” in my face. I just ate my mango salad and dubiously poked at it for the next hour.

And in the way that poor meals typically go, I ended up feeling so depressed that we just went home after eating. I had been planning on having my all-time-favorite-best-ever Milky Way ice cream for dessert to celebrate but even getting up to walk to the car felt like a chore. We drove home and watched the Bruins beat Tampa and the Red Sox beat Detroit as my dad periodically yelled at good plays, and my grandmother laughed.

Later, I pretended to officiate a church service while wearing a UConn snuggie backwards, and my dad and I went for a walk through the fog. Drops of water dripped down from the condensation on the leaves as we meandered down the roads near the beach. Maybe one night it will be so clear we can see the Milky Way. But I like how it is now, the way I feel cosy and enclosed in the safety of the house. Nothing can hurt me here. Going to sleep should be easy.

Today more than ever I felt loved. People kept texting me, and relatives called to sing Happy Birthday. It is so easy to forget experiences like today when I’m overrun with emotions. I am blessed, and I have a good life. Pain is always fleeting.

So here’s to another year of my life. Let’s see how it goes.

On Childhood Songs, Turning Eighteen, Going to the Beach, and Becoming a Real Life Voter

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite songs was “Going to the Zoo Tomorrow.”

This version isn’t the same as the one of the CD, which was infinitely better.

It’s the sort of song that I still think about a lot. I like to sing it when I’m going to be going some place terribly exciting the next day or whenever I’m home alone and feeling a little bit scared. I just change the words to fit the setting. Anyways, we’re going to the Cape tonight until Monday or Tuesday. And in my world this ranks as EXTREMELY IMPORTANT JUMP UP AND DOWN NEWS.

It’s going to be excellent for many reasons. I plan on taking walks incredibly early in the morning, eating ice cream, going kayaking, reading on the porch, writing on the porch, sleeping on the porch, staring at the water on the porch. There may or may not be a theme to what I’m excited about.

Also, I’m going to turn 18 tomorrow, which is a moderately big deal. I had a very nice, small party last night that’ll I’ll write about soon. I’m going to celebrate by going out to dinner, eating clam chowder and Milky Way ice cream (not at the same time), and writing. It should be a pleasant day.

In other news, I just filled my voter registration forms. This is definetly the best part about being eighteen. Well, this and buying those things they advertise on Nickelodeon.

Euphoria on an Island

I thought that instead of writing about medication for the umpteenth time, I’d tell a story.

Instead of going to Junior Prom last year, I went to Audrey’s summer house. That trip was the best two days of 2010.

I begged my parents for weeks to let me go. I had only just gotten back to school, but I was stable and done with my outpatient program. Everyday was sunny, and I loved being surrounded by classmates again. It all seemed too perfect to be real.

After a half day at school (which actually I didn’t attend due to a doctor’s appointment), we were off.  We had to ride on two trains and take a ferry to get there, and the farther I got from home, the more excited and happier I got. The whole way there I imagined exactly what it would be like, adjusting my mental image as we got closer and closer. On the ferry ride, our hair flew all over the place, and I tried to reassure myself that the ferry wouldn’t sink or flip over.

Once were on the island, we walked to Audrey’s house. I could feel little grains of sand under my feet, making scratching noises against the concrete path.  The houses were raised a few feet off the ground and were low structures made out of wood. Finally, we rounded a corner and walked down a small street that ended at the beach.

Audrey’s house was lovely. The kitchen, dining room, and living room all ran into each other and felt both spacious and cozy at the same time. After setting down our bags and changing, we immediately headed down to the beach. I slapped myself in the face when no one was looking to verify that this was all really happening. I felt happy the way that I do when I’m hypomanic, but this time I was entirely in control.

Audrey wore my shorts that say “COCKS” that were purchased at University of South Carolina, home of the Fighting Gamecocks. I find them amusing, especially when I combine them with tee shirts from church. On the beach, I watched Cecelia and Audrey dash in and out of the waves while Alexandra and Grace ran around on shore. I took pictures and laughed.

Sometimes, there would be a huge wave that would wash all the way up and stop a few yards away from my towels. I watched the pieces of foam it left behind. It felt springy underfoot.

Grace and I drew huge patterns in the sand.

We went back to the house once everyone was worn out and hungry, and Cecelia and I cooked dinner. Sitting around a table on her back deck, I thought to myself, all those months out of school and the week in the hospital were worth it if it means that I am going to have more and more days like this.

We walked all the way back to the landing where the ferry had docked and watched the sunset. I held my glass bottle of Ginger Ale and let my feet dangle over the side. We played on a playground, and I thought about how ironic it is that I hate heights, but I love swing sets. I watched Cecelia clown around, and then we headed back. I tried walking toe, heel, toe, heel.

Back at the house, we did the dishes, eight hands scrubbing, rinsing, drying, and putting away. Water spilled down our fronts. In the living room, we curled up on the couch, watched episodes of The Office, and ate ice cream. I didn’t look at the nutrition facts.

And at midnight, I turned 17. Sadie called to wish me a happy birthday, and I unwrapped a beautiful white tank top from Audrey. It was perfect and wonderful and lovely. Later, when I was lying in bed, I couldn’t sleep for about an hour; I was too happy to relax.

The next morning, we packed up, I made lunch for the road, and we took the ferry and two trains home. Cecelia and Audrey went to my house to get ready to leave for my beach house that evening. But that Memorial Day weekend story is something separate and special and a tale for another day.

When things get difficult, I have to remember these moments of euphoria. I need to cling onto them tightly, hold them close, and drape them around me. I must remember how I felt in this picture.


With my dress billowing out behind me, I ran, full of hope, happiness, and optimism. For that day and a half, nothing was wrong with the world.

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.

Happy Birthday, Pippa!

Today is Pippa’s sixteenth birthday, which means that she gets a BONUS POST all about her!

Pippa, you should be very proud of yourself for making it to sixteen. I must admit that I thought my attempts to finish you off when you were a young child would be a success. Kidding! But if you look back at all that I did (slamming your hand in the screen door, breaking your finger with the window seat, cutting your head open when I pushing you into the coffee table, etc), they were largely accidents.

Along with the two CDs I gave you, which I promptly uploaded onto my computer (They’re both quite good, by the way), I have made you a list of some things that you can do at sixteen that you couldn’t do before.

1. Get your permit/license at school (but not at home)

2. Donate blood (because you love needles)

3. Drop out of school

4. Get an adult job and retire your never successful lemonade-selling ventures

5. Say you’re sixteen without lying

One last thing: Remember our dance routine to this song that we used to perform with the gang when I was ten and you were eight? I think it involved wearing bathing suit tops with velour bell-bottoms and jumping up and down on my bed. Anyways, it’s applicable now!