Ella and the Mail

Perhaps it’s because I’m still mostly a kid, but the thrill of getting anything in the mail, and I’m talking anything–magazines and brochures with my name on them are exciting–still hasn’t worn off in the slightest. If I notice a package or hear the mailbox, I come running, usually exclaiming, “MAIL!”

So pulling into the driveway after ten hours at work to discover that I had three packages and three letters was almost as good as suddenly being able to sleep normal hours (More later about how I’ve only slept for ten hours in the past seventy-two hours). Not only do I have all of the new SCBWI mailings, a package from DFTBA (hurray for new tee shirts and the John Green audio book of The Fault in Our Stars), and unexpected late Christmas gifts, but I also discovered that after someone sends you one envelope filled with confetti, you should open any future mailings from them with great amounts of care. Some colleges take their acceptance letters very seriously and like to add even larger elements of surprise, of which I heartily approve.

So please excuse me while I curl up with a ridiculous amount of chocolate, 30 Rock, sparkling cider, and all of my new, shiny things and doze.

You can also find me collecting lovely images and words on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/.

The Reason Why My Mouth Hurts When I See Whisks

With a whopping 67% of the vote, “The Reason Why My Mouth Hurts When I See Whisks” won this week’s reader-selected topic.

Now, this story would make sense if I were a toddler or even under the age of six. Alas, when the whisk incident went down, I was ten, which makes it a bit embarrassing and even more amusing.

For Christmas 2003, one of our neighbors gave us a beautiful Christmas card and an ornament. It was a very nice, thoughtful gift–the stationary was thick and glossy, depicting Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms, face aglow at the wonder of his birth (though quite frankly every new mother I’ve ever met has looked that much in awe and in love with her baby), and the ornament was a very small whisk, hung on a thin red ribbon, a reference to how much my mother loves cooking.

My mother was thrilled, propping the card up on the windowsill in the dining room and immediately hanging the miniature whisk on the tree. I was almost equally as excited. Sure, the card was lovely, but that wonderfully shiny whisk was just the right size for my American Girl Dolls’ hands, large enough to look a little strange and unwieldily in the way that all whisks do, yet the right size to make eggs or flour light and fluffy.

The moment my mother left the room, I snuck over to the tree and untangled the ribbon from the branch. This whisk was clearly destined to be mine. I selfishly fondled it in my hands for a moment, tracing my fingers over the twisted metal.

And then, I did something unexplainable.

I put the whisk into my mouth and bit down.

I was long past the age of putting things in my mouth to figure out how they worked. I wasn’t even teething.

Perhaps it was the shiny steel or how deliciously devious I felt wedged between the wall and the tree. Maybe I was hungry.

But whatever the reason was, I had abandoned all common sense. Whisks, even miniatures ones that almost fit, do not belong in mouths, and you most certainly should never bit them.

As I released my jaw, I discovered that the whisk was stuck. A tine was jammed between each set of my front two incisors–top and bottom–making me unable to open my mouth. I tugged at the handle, but it was no use. That whisk wasn’t going anywhere.

I may have just made an incredibly stupid decision, but I was not entirely lacking in intelligence. I knew that if I left my hiding place and sought help, everyone would know that I had been trying to nick the ornament, and I would get in trouble. So I tried to dislodge it again. And again. And again. It didn’t budge.

After five minutes of fruitless tugging, I began to cry. Having a whisk stuck in your mouth is painful. My teeth were being shoved apart, and my gums were throbbing. I was suddenly sure that I was going to be stuck with a whisk in my mouth for the rest of my life. The kids at school would call me whisk-head or something else ridiculous, but not ridiculous enough not to make me upset. My life was over, and I was going to have to starve to death behind the Christmas tree. I wondered if the pine scent would hide the smell of my decaying body.

A few more minutes of silent sobbing later, I gathered what was left of my courage and ran into the kitchen, crying and pointing at my mouth. My parents were shocked to see their ten-year-old daughter, who earlier that day had been sitting upside down on the couch reading Fast Food Nation, with a whisk stuck in her mouth and bawling like a banshee.

Thankfully, I was not subject to any questioning while they helped me dislodge each of the metal tines from between my teeth. Even though over eight years have passed, I can still feel that horrible scrape of the metal against my enamel as my mouth was slowly released. It was a horrible, disgusting feeling, not only because I knew that I had most likely caused permanent damage to my front teeth, but also because everyone was going to know just how stupid I was. And I was so determined to be finally be taken seriously and be allowed to sit at the “adult table” at dinner parties*.

When I was finally freed from my tine-y prison**, I ran down the hall to the bathroom to look at my teeth. They remained perfectly straight, still guaranteeing me entry into the no-braces-ever club, but there was a noticeable, albeit slight, space in between my top two teeth and another one, even smaller, between my bottom two incisors. My gums were, surprisingly, not bleeding, but looked red and angry all the same.

The ornament was washed and placed back on the tree within the hour, dangling from a branch, reflecting the white glow from the fairy lights almost too innocently. I glared back, willing it to look at least a little guilty for hurting me, though the entire experience had, admittedly, been my fault.

The next day, when I walked into the kitchen to make myself breakfast–two glasses of orange juice and all of the oatmeal I can consume, please–I noticed one of my mother’s people-sized whisks mixed in with other cooking utensils in crockery next to the stove. I raised my hand to my mouth and winced as I briefly had a flashback of the pain, the panic, and the terrible scrapping. Later that day when I saw the whisk, I winced again, and it repeated every time I looked at the ornament or the unoffending ones in the kitchen.

These unfortunate whisk flinching and flashback moments have not decreased over the years, and every time I think or see a whisk, my mouth briefly hurts with phantom pain. Christmastime and seeing that ornament again only makes it worse. This year, I succeeded in jamming it back into its box before anyone had a chance to hang it on the tree, which has made the holiday season considerably more enjoyable.

So there you have it: another example of why you should never be greedy and nick ornaments off of a tree.

An alternate take-away from this post is that Ella is sometimes very foolish.

Or we could all have a laugh about ornaments and the silly, silly things we did as children.

Do you have any funny Christmas stories? Feel free to tell them in the comments!

*Ten-year-old Ella, one day you are going to be eighteen and still be forced to sit at the folding table in the sunroom. However, you will be allowed to stay up as late as you want and talk with adults starting when you’re about fourteen. So stop complaining and go eat the pint of blueberries you hid under your bed again.

**Hahahaha. Puns, I can make them, you guys! Puns! (I should start writing these posts sometime before ten p.m. when I start to get giggly.)

I’m putting up another poll for next week’s reader-selected post down below. A lot of people want me to talk about food, so I’ve added that as an option as well. Hopefully, I’ll get my post about going to see John and Hank Green up before the end of the weekend. 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 Has a Lovely Christmas

Santa came with large boxes covered in geese à la The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Pippa opened it to discover a goose feather pillow-topper mattress for her bed.

Funny candies were inside of stockings.

No one has yet to eat it, and I’m not quite sure when anyone will decide to man up and eat the hard brown lumps.

And I got over twenty new books, and looked like this the entire day.

We had dinner, and I proved that I have neither a career in plating food or taking pictures of it. I swear it was MUCH better than it looks. Beef tenderloin is very hard not to like.

And then I turned on The Who and did the dishes while singing along. After all, nothing says Christmas like rock and roll and soap suds.

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.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Santa is currently in the basement doing something that involves a surprising amount of scotch tape and the use of my personal scissors. He also requested a cookie and a smoothie with green apples, kiwi, spinach, broccoli, garlic, ginger, barley grass, and something else that didn’t not sound like it should normally go in a blender. It’s almost as good as the year when we were assured that all Santa wanted were fancy chocolate truffles and a martini, which Pippa and I very poorly prepared (apparently lime juice should only be done in small quantities and upwards of three small olives is deemed excessive).

Pushkin is trying to drink the water out of the tree.

Zelda has fallen asleep in a chair right where Santa is supposed to deposit Pippa’s gifts and is refusing to go sleep in her bed.

Maxwell is lying in my bed and testing the limits of how many times he can kick me before I make him leave.

And Pippa has been attempting for hours in an attempt “to make the morning get here faster.” However, she is still awake and reading Christmas picture books. Hopefully, this will mean that I don’t get leapt on at 6:30 this year.

And I’m settling down for a long winter’s nap not wearing a kerchief or a cap, but instead a knitted toque (my half-hearted attempt to be festive while unconscious) and my flowered nightgown that buttons up to my chin and hangs down almost to my feet. I’ve always felt that it’s best to look old fashioned on Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Christ has been born!

(And commercialization of the holiday reigns)

(Though to be fair no one is certain at what time of year Christ was born, and the date was probably only chosen because it coincided with the Winter Solstice.)

(Still. Jesus, everybody! Jesus was born today!)

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 Finishes Preparing for Christmas

The Ella family household is officially prepared for Christmas.

We purchased the Christmas tree and located the ornaments so that we can decorate it tomorrow. I’ve always found it strange that many people put their tree directly after Thanksgiving, but I’m sure that our tradition of trimming it on the weekend closest to Christmas seems equally bizarre to others. And I’m sure the way that my parents and I decorate it would also confuse them. It’s a process that lasts many hours because everything has to go on in a specific order, starting with the lights, moving onto garlands of Norwegian flags (We’re very found of Scandinavian Christmas decorations around here.) and garlands of stars, and then finishing it with ornaments that have to go on in a very particular order. It takes over three hours and Pippa and my Dad usually quit after the first hour and a half.

My dad and I went to a Swiss pork store where I perused the candies, and my father bought beef tenderloin, bratwursts, bacon, salami, and beef bones for the coming week. By the time we left the store, my wool coat smelled faintly like smoked meats, and I was the proud owner of many packs of candy, including one that advertised in very butchered English that it was “cooked over an open fire and broken into pieces.” I have absolutely no idea what its going to taste like, but whenever I see candy, or any food for that matter, advertised like that, I’m going to buy it. I also have a pack of something that looks sort of yellow and spherical. I’m going to need Cecelia to translate to make sure that I’m not going to blindly eat lemon-flavored hardened liver, though I doubt the candy would make it in Switzerland and Germany if it were disgusting.

Later, I spent the evening finishing my Christmas wrapping, only to emerge from the craft space to discover that everyone else had gone to bed, which I suppose is what happens to you when you decide to take your wrapping very seriously. When my father came down to check on me a few hours earlier, he laughed at me for using a ruler to measure the distance between the paper ribbon I was taping to a package. I wanted to make sure that it was straight and only had a 3/4 inch gap between the other strip. Pippa bailed on me about twenty minutes into the process when I started asking for her assistance with selecting papers. Apparently, she does find it interesting to debate the relative textures and shades of two gold papers (though the ribbing on the lighter gold definitely gives a present a more architectural feel, especially when paired with a band of a darker, heavier, and smoother paper in lieu of a ribbon).

Tomorrow, it’s tree-trimming time and my favorite church service of the year. I also plan on consuming my weight in bacon-wrapped dates.

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.

Ella and Suspicious Glass Bottles

It seems like every year I get a picture taken of me drinking something that looks like alcohol from a glass bottle. Tonight it was French limonade that looked quite a bit like vodka. And while the faces I’m pulling usually look like I’m recoiling from the burn, it’s actually because I’ve managed to get carbonated liquid up my nose.

So cheers to the festive season and may we all down massive amounts of delicious and fancy sparkling drinks in the coming year.

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 and Pippa Christmas Shop and Ella Discovers Out of Print Clothing

Today, I picked up Pippa in the city as she returned home for her ridiculously long winter vacation. Boarding school, man, those kids get everything (except for Saturday morning classes).

And because we were in the city, we figured it was time for some Christmas shopping. I’m not talking let’s-go-into-Macy’s-to-only-look-at-the-displays-and-not-buy-anything-or-that-really-big-H&M-that’s-like-close-to-that-big-building-you-know-that-one shopping. Honestly, if appartition were possible, and I could only use it a limited number of times, avoiding that area of the city during this time of the year would be on the list.

(Also, someone seems to have gotten together and informed people that it’s a really good idea to pose for pictures at the bottom of escalators and stairs in subway and train stations. Note: This is a terrifically poor plan for all those involved. Not only are you a danger to people riding on the escalator, but your picture will be filled with the murderous faces of everyone behind you. Getting a feel for the city in your pictures is great, just try to take your “we’re in a station!” picture somewhere else.)

Instead, Pippa and I went shopping elsewhere and after what felt like hours of going through racks of clothes, I bought Pippa a hunter green cashmere dress, which I later had to stop her from rubbing all over her face while we were walking down a flight of stairs. During the winter, Pippa is addicted to cashmere. It’s odd not to see her totting around her big blue blanket or wearing a sweater.

And then I bought way too many books. By the time we got to the bookstore, Pippa was exhausted and in pain (the result of a desk landing on her foot and carrying around a very heavy bag), so the book shopping trip was shorter than I had hoped it would be (which is to say that I dragged her around the store for over half an hour). She also dealt with the brunt of my freak-out upon discovering that they sell tee-shirts with the original covers of classic books.

I mean, look at this genius!

There’s a whole company devoted to this type of clothing! It’s called Out of Print Clothing, and I have suddenly found myself in desperate need of all of it. They even have kids clothes, so all young children in my life, get prepared for your next birthday–it’s going to be awesome.

Pippa restricted me to one shirt that was immediately handed over to my parents for safe-keeping until Christmas. I am having supreme amounts of trouble resisting the urge to go find it and give it a hug and longing stares (not unlike my relationship with cats at the animal shelter). In the meantime, you can find me drooling all over my keyboard while pretending to buy massive amounts of tee shirts.

On a different note, the worldwide film rights of Laini Taylor‘s Daughter of Smoke and Bone were acquired by Universal Pictures! I’m so excited for her and the book!

I’d say that this was a good 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.

In Which Ella Pedals Like a Madwoman to Mail a Present

Today, I biked over a mile in well under five minutes to mail my cousins birthday presents, and managed to fly into the post office three minutes before it closed.

Now, I hadn’t intended to cut it so close. I was supposed to be there hours before it closed, but it turns out that wrapping presents takes a really long time, or at least it does when you wrap presents the way my mom and I do. Nothing gets hastily covered in thin paper with reindeer or snowmen. We go all out.

I am also not as good at wrapping things as my mom is. My folds are never as crisp, and nothing I do ever ends up being particularly artsy. I like my geometrical shapes and colors. Whenever I try to sew the wrapping paper it rips and me making anything complicated out of wrapping paper is just plain comical. But I get by.

I spent a long time cutting out squares of fancy paper and choosing colors and all of a sudden it was two hours later and I was nowhere close to finishing all of the presents I had to wrap. I had also stupidly not done any of them in order of priority, so while Christmas presents for other family members were all put together, there were still a few birthday ones not done. But I managed to get all but one done on time, and the one that wasn’t complete got wrapped in tissue paper and placed in a Rugrats gift bag for maximum classyness. My uncle will probably find it less amusing than I did when Cecelia gave the bag to me three years ago.

It wasn’t until I walked into the post office that I realized how ridiculous I looked. My hair was a disaster, the result of being unwashed, not very well combed, and the helmet, and I was wearing glasses, a geeky tee-shirt, and a ski parka. I don’t think that I have ever left the house looking like that ever.

But all of the birthday presents are in the mail, and that’s what really matters.

Then, I biked into the fence in our backyard because I saw a cat.

In other news, cats make very disturbing noises when they cough.

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.

Ella and Christmas Music

I’ve been feeling the Christmas cheer today. The advent wreath with its three tall purple and one pink candle, the lights and evergreen swag on the houses, and the little red Scandinavian wooden carvings we have set up in the dining room are making me especially happy. Christmas/winter holiday time is wonderful.

Now, when it comes to Christmas music, I tend to dislike pretty much anything that isn’t a hymn or a very traditional song. It’s not that I am overly religious, it’s just that the commercialization of Christmas gives me the creeps, and I generally don’t like the music style of songs like “Santa Baby.” (Getting me to go to the mall after Thanksgiving would involve a very large bribe or a present emergency.) Instead, I prefer to listen to CDs of the Vienna Boys Choir over and over again for the entire month of December.

But I digress. Today, I discovered something wonderful in my youtube subscription box! Rhett and Link made a “caption fail” video of Christmas carols.

To explain: youtube has this service that will put captions on videos uploaded to the site. However, the technology that does this is pretty poor, leading to some hilarious interpretations of what’s being said.

What Rhett and Link do is take the youtube interpreted captions and turn that into the script for the video.

For those of you who would like to laugh and be merry, I highly suggest that you watch this video.

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.