In Which Ella Falls Asleep Ridiculously Early

Apparently, it is possible for me to start falling asleep before one a.m. I’ve already woken myself up twice from dozing with my head on the desk, so tonight’s longer post will have to wait for tomorrow. If you want to keep voting on its subject, check out the poll in yesterday’s post.

As someone requested more cats, here is a picture of Maxwell hanging out on the stairs. Isn’t he the sweetest?

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In Which Ella Trains Maxwell

Tonight, while I got ready for bed, Maxwell waited in the hall for me before lying down in bed.

It appears like my training of the lad is going very well.

In other news, I made and cleaned up three separate baking projects today, which I think is some sort of record. Amusingly (and also sadly), I have not and will not be tasting any of them.

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.

Two Pictures for Thursday

Picture Number One:

Maxwell and Zelda were sitting like this when I walked into the sunroom this morning, so I naturally had to make a scrammbling dash up the stairs to find a camera to document it. I think that the cuteness is definietly worth the bruise I now have on my shin.

Picture Number Two:

I was walking down to the basement, when I glanced over at a spot on the wall that had some water damage, and I noticed something very strange. I’m hardly sure if this is intentional–there are a few other spots circled in blue–but the marks seem to indicate something rather, um, unseemly. Judge for yourself.

On False Starts, Melancholy, the Old Order Amish, and Pippa’s Procedure

Somedays I feel like taking off running into the woods. I’d go barefoot and not even bother to put on a coat. Maybe I’d scream as I went, some sort of crazy reflection of how much I needed to get away. I’m not even sure what I’d do once I got there, but I wouldn’t be here dealing with all of this, and that’s all that really matters. But then I remember that running into the woods would require actually leaving my room and wearing something other than flannel nightgowns marketed to the over fifty crowd, so I just switch to reading about the Old Order Amish or something else that’s entirely mind-numbing and distracting.

You see, when you’re depressed, just emerging from your covers is some sort of feat. And then to make it down the stairs and into the kitchen makes you deserving of some sort of medal. But today I managed not only to get out of bed, but to eat a (albeit entirely liquid) breakfast and to bike five miles to therapy and back because today I was going “get my stinkin’ act together and get things done.”

Then, I nearly got run over by an overly aggressive bus driver, and my two-hour long romance with becoming a productive and mostly happy member of society was over. It was a rather bad dumping, and it took over two hours of reading about Herman Cain and fuming about the GOP to be able to somewhat recover. Then, I ate a Heath Bar and contemplated the healthiness of a non-solid diet. Because just eating things like soup and yogurt would be totally doable in my world.

The rest of the day continued to be a series of false starts. “Okay, three, two, one, GO!” I would say and then not get up and go do the thing I planned. I just couldn’t do it. Everything was leaden and lethargic and I just wanted nothing more than to sleep. I didn’t even have the energy to read anything that wasn’t nonfiction. And that, my fine feathered friends, is saying a lot.

But then the cats needed to be fed and the laundry needed doing. (I’m in the process of perfecting my recipe for making white clothing even whiter.) So I finally, finally, finally left my bed and slunk downstairs with as much enthusiasm as a tired sloth (something that despite the words’ initial appearance, is not redundant).

And now it is much, much later and I’m just as melancholy. No one else is awake so I may start cracking jokes to the cats, namely Maxwell who has made it his life goal to sleep or sit on my feet all day long. If I had enough energy, I’d make some joke about how even though I had cold feet when it came time to do things, they were actually quite toasty thanks to the cat. Only I’d make it funny. Like stand-up comedy funny. And then everyone would laugh and I would be mostly content to happy forever and ever, and everyone would drink orange juice and eat organic no-sugar-added applesauce, mangos, and real (none of that “instant” or Jello junk) chocolate pudding for the rest of their days.

But tomorrow is going to be different. When I yell “GO!” things will actually happen. And if I feel like running off into the woods just to get away, I’m going to do it. Only I’ll probably wear shoes and a coat because it’s getting kind of cold out now.

In other news, dearest, darling, Pippa has an endoscopy tomorrow. She’s going to be under general anesthesia for upwards of six hours while they stick all sorts of things down her throat, and then she’ll stuck in bed for quite a while after that. Hopefully, we’ll finally get to the bottom of what’s happening with her stomach, and they’ll figure out whether they need to put in a pacemaker. I’ve sent her many pictures of our cats, and she’s said that if she dies, I will get all of her clothes. There wasn’t any word about the future of her bedspread, but I fully plan on keeping it in my possession no matter how she comes out of this procedure. Alive, dead, zombie, reincarnated chicken, she’s not getting it back (until she asks for it and I reluctantly return it).

(To be clear: Pippa’s test is a totally routine procedure, and there is an incredibly, incredibly, incredibly microscopic chance that she will die. Somehow, we’ve both found it amusing, calming, and helpful to joke about the seriousness of it. A little levity makes anything in life easier.)

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.

Pippa’s Comforter and the Cats

Remember that time I said that I stole Pippa’s comforter because the power was out and I needed more blankets? Well, it was probably one of my greatest decisions of the week.

The cats are in love with it. They don’t care for it on her bed, but when it’s on mine, they’re all over it all of the time. I think it’s just because the bed is super cushy now, but I can’t keep them off of it. Trying to sleep with the three of them on there is incredibly difficult as much as it is enjoyable.

Also, Maxwell and I have become a very good lonely team. He follows me all over the house and sits in my lap or next to me while I’m writing or staring at the walls. It’s very sweet.

For the month, you can find me updating my word count on NaNoWriMo here.

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.

In Which Ella Gets New Shoes and Entertains Maxwell Perkins the Cat

Sometimes when I get really depressed, I write a lot. Clearly, this is not one of those times.

To save everyone from a melodramatic life sucks spiel, I offer you two good, happy stories.

One: This evening, I discovered that Maxwell Perkins the Cat L-O-V-E loves watching cat videos on youtube. We watched Surprised Kitty close to ten times and then a plethora of Maru videos. Max kept sniffing the computer and walking around behind it, trying to figure out where the image was coming from.

Two: I got new shoes.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing. It’s a happier place than the blog right now, so it might be good to check it out to cleanse your mind of this suck.

Saturday Night Realizations

I just realized that…

I just spent an entire week doing nothing but lying in bed and reading. I didn’t even go outside on Sunday or Friday. It’s kind of a problem and a complete reflection of how I feel about everyone leaving for college.

I overuse the word “thing.” Cue the beginning of yesterday’s post. It’s embarrassing.

I have now officially struggled to spell the word beginning properly for thirteen years of my life–I have my kindergarden book on tadpoles to prove it.

Not many people get excited about the list of documentaries available for instant streaming on Netflix as I do.

My family members don’t like the way that I look up movie plots before I watch the movie even if I don’t spill what’s going to happen.

Trying to get a cat to stand still on a bathroom scale is near impossible.

Ella and the Backpack

Everyday for over six years, my backpack has lived on a chair in the back of the kitchen. Sometimes, I keep a pair of shoes tucked underneath, and one or more of my purses hangs off the back. It’s “my chair,” and no one else is allowed to mess with it.

About a week ago, when all of my family was arriving at my house, my dad removed my backpack so people could sit in the chair. It was a totally reasonable request–I’m not heading back to school in the fall, and I don’t have anything hefty that I need to regularly carry around on my back–but it made me really angry. That was MY chair he was messing with. It was MY territory with MY sacred things, and I might have well stuck “Keep Out” and “If You Touch This You Will Suffer a Painful Doom” stickers all over it, the way I did with Post-It Notes on my dresser when I was nine.

I suppose I’m angry about moving that backpack because removing it would feel like the final admittance that everyone is leaving. As long as my backpack stays on that chair, it just looks like I’m home on break and that soon it’ll be time to go back to school and catch up with everyone about what they did over the summer. All my binders are exactly the way I left them on the last day of school. I haven’t touched a single paper. I’ve raided the pencil pouch a few times, but I always put everything back the way it was because it still feels like I’m going to need it for class later.

I say that I’ll deal with everything in the backpack when my parents buy me a file cabinet–I need some place to put all the paper, because those 250-word reactions I wrote about democracy quotes are going to be really important to have at some point. But I don’t know if even then, when everything is all set up, if I’ll have the heart to do it.

I don’t want to let go of high school quite yet, no matter how much life tended to suck while I was in it. I was always surrounded by such lovely, lovely people who made me so happy; I got to see my friends everyday; I had really great teachers and fun classes; I got to be a part of amazing clubs with awesome people; and I had finally become friends with every secretary in the school, guaranteeing me preferential treatment in every office. Things were wonderful when I wasn’t dealing with mental illness.

And now all of that’s gone. Some people have already left for college and by the end of the month it will be everyone. Even if I still keep my backpack on that kitchen chair, my sham will be utterly destroyed.

My lie to myself becomes more and more obvious as time wears on, and I find myself become more and more withdrawn. I spend even more time than usual on the internet reading. My research of various topics becomes more and more intense, and I’ve begun to let my room get messy. I owe Cecelia a bunch of letters. I talk to the cats more, and one of my favorite parts of the day is when the AC starts blowing. But I will not move that bag, no matter how ridiculous it’s getting.

On Cats Running Across Highways, Imagining Stories, and Empathy

I saw a cat run across the highway today. White with multi-colored spots, it seemed to float above the asphalt, its legs moved so fast. I gasped, bracing myself against the dashboard, scared that it wouldn’t make it, that the Honda Civic almost neck and neck with our car would speed up. But it fled onto the shoulder, unharmed and disappeared into the trees at the edge of the road. What on earth was a cat doing in the median of a highway? I thought, But what courage it must have taken to make such a dash across three lanes of traffic.

We drove on, past little green mile markers counting down to the state line. Thirty minutes. Just thirty minutes until I can see my own three cats. They’ll be rolling on the kitchen floor in hunger for dry kibble and human affection. I’ll be able to pick them up in my arms, hugging them almost uncomfortably tight and then reprimand them for peeing on that section of the tiled kitchen floor. Twenty-nine minutes. Remember that time Pushkin slept on top of my legs, and I held my breath so that he’d stay? It worked until my leg twitched. Twenty-eight minutes. What about the time Pippa and my dad tried to take Max to the liquor store? Twenty seven minutes. Cats. Nineteen. Cats. Seven. Cats. Thirty seconds. Cats, cats, cats. The word almost lost its meaning, I repeated it so much.

It wasn’t until I was in the shower two hours later that I thought of the scene on the highway again.

I like stories, knowing how things came to be and how people or animals felt along the way. And when the story isn’t entirely evident, say the history of that vintage dress I bought–the one from the fifties with a poofy skirt, big black polka dots on white, and that low back–I just imagine it.

I see a young woman wearing it to a wedding where she dances and meets a nice boy. She wears it again when the two of them go to parties, and she wonders if he’ll notice that she’s worn it twice, three times, four. If he does, he doesn’t say anything. They get married, and she wears it at the first dinner party she hosts, trying desperately to pull off an image of domestic perfection. It works, and she smoothes an invisible crease, thanking the dress for the luck its brought her. Finally, it doesn’t fit anymore, and it gets jammed into the back corner of a closet, never to be seen again until her son gives it away last year. The woman who buys for the store spots it, and it ends up in a rack in a shop where I try it on, knowing that it’s a little to big, but too perfect to leave behind. It gets placed in my closet, lying dormant once again. A month later, I put it on to show my friends possible dresses for prom, but it still doesn’t fit, and there probably isn’t enough time for tailoring. But  Tal needs a dress, and it fits her beautiful. Her measurements match the woman’s who owned it first. She wears it, and her night is wonderful, just as much fun as the woman before. A week later she gives it back to me. And so on.

I can go on like this for a while particularly if I’m feeling somewhat poetic. So I got going on the story of that cat. It got longer and longer, concluding with it dying in a pile of leaves when it got leukemia at the age of eighteen. The water had long gotten cold, and I was sitting on the bath mat feeling a little bit silly about how sad I was over the future death of a cat I had only seen once.

Stories make me fall in love with people and things. I become full of compassion for something I don’t actually know. But because of the story I do know it in a way. My world of make-believe becomes real. The cat isn’t just a guess-what-I-saw story, it has a deeper meaning. It is alive and just as complex as the person I’m recounting the incident to.

I wish everyone saw people and things the way that I see that dress and the cat. Nothing has one characteristic. The citizens of the United States aren’t just a mass of fat people wearing their own flag on their shirts, they’re 307,006,550 individual people with histories and relationships, and that person or group you hate may have opposing political views or even engage in acts of terrorism, but they’re still a person who loves their family with as much passion as you. Imagining stories, even if you’re just reading someone else’s, inspires empathy. And the Lord knows the world needs more of that.

It’s late, and I know I’m rambling. I feel like this is going to be one of those posts that I’ll wake up tomorrow, read, and wonder, “What did I even mean?”

*My command of grammar is so embarrassingly poor. I just punctuate creatively based on the rhythm of the words in my head.

In Which Ella Pretends to Be Jane Goodall

Note: I wrote this last night, but WordPress failed to post it.

Sometimes when I’m supposed to be doing work, I spend long periods of time following around the cats, observing their behavior, and taking pictures of them. I like to pretend that I’m Jane Goodall.

An example:

I do recognize that this make me appear to be certifiably crazy. But I swear I’m not. This is just one of those things I do to procrastinate. Just like what you’re probably doing right now as you read this blog. (You’re probably going to go to Facebook next or maybe I’ve made you guilty enough to get back to work.) It’s totally normal behavior, and I am not going to become a crazy cat lady. Promise.