In Which Ella Buys Books for Christmas

Since Thanksgiving is officially over, I can finally justify getting started on my Christmas shopping. And let me tell you, I take my Christmas shopping very, very seriously. While I do enjoy receiving presents (particularly books, all relatives who have been asking me for a Christmas wishlist), giving gifts is a thousand times more fun and exciting.

Today, after dropping Pippa at the the train station, I took the subway downtown to my favorite independent bookstore, The Strand, and hung out in their children’s book section for over an hour selecting titles for my youngest cousins. Of course, I can’t tell you any of the names here, because those two wonderful scoundrels could potentially wind up on this blog, but trust me, the books are good.

It was interesting selecting them because I am neither a ten-year-old boy or a twelve-year-old girl, and I have never had restrictions on what I was allowed to read. If it was in the house or the librarian would let me check it out, I could read it.

I was the type of kid that knew my own limits and would ask my parents questions about everything, and it all worked out okay. I read Fast Food Nation when I was ten and began making self-righteous rants about nutrition and cruelty anytime we passed a fast-food restaurant and throughly enjoyed being taken to two-hour long speeches about a book on Myanmar when I was nine (During the question and answer session I got to ask the author why he chose to write the book and completely surprised the author and audience with the seriousness of the question and how sincerely and earnestly I asked it. I also tried to convince my dad to let me visit the country, but for obvious reasons I wasn’t allowed.).

So when I was collecting books that I thought might interest my cousins, it felt strange to have to ask myself about how appropriate the book would be for that age group. One day, I know that the twelve-year-old will love Shine by Lauren Myracle someday, but rape, drug abuse, and a hate crime don’t exactly add up to something the average parent wants their twelve year old daughter to be reading. The oral sex scene, cursing, and smoking also knocked Looking for Alaska by John Green out of the running, even though I had been exactly her age when I read it. And even Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan was probably too much, considering that the characters meet each other in a porn store (they’re both there by accident), and there is some underaged drinking.

The ten-year-old was a bit more difficult because while I have been a twelve-year-old girl at one point, I have never been male. And from what I’ve heard, boys don’t often enjoy the same books as girls. Something about the ridiculously sparkling vampires and drama-filled romances seem to put them off, and frankly I can’t say that I disagree with them in many cases. It takes the rare author to pull it off. (Stephanie Perkins, I’m looking at you.) So I approached this gift selection with a bit of help. An employee and I traipsed up and down the aisles searching for things he might like, a task made more difficult by the fact that his reading abilities far outstrip his maturity–not many ten-year-olds are happily reading The Lord of the Rings on their own.

But despite the limitations, I still have a whole bunch of excellent books to give to both of them, and I cannot wait to hear what they think of them. December 25th cannot come soon enough.

Next on the Christmas to-do list is taking care of the cards and finding the world’s most ridiculous pair of underwear to give to Pippa as a gag gift. Pippa, the strange tutu-thong get-up I saw in Victoria’s Secret a few months ago is no longer for sale, but just you wait, I’ll find something ten times worse. Watch me.

And with that, Maxwell and I bid you all a good night from our very cushy and warm pile of blankets and pillows.

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 a weird 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, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

Poseidon’s Arrow

Every year when my cousins come to visit, we stage an elaborate fake restaurant meal for the adults.

I definitely consider this year’s effort a success.

Also, here’s a picture of the crazy outfit I was describing yesterday.

In Which Ella Puts on Crazy Get-Ups and Dances Abysmally

My aunt, uncle, and cousins are visiting from California this week, and tonight their kids, Pippa, and I decided to play Just Dance 2 on Pippa’s Wii.

Now, I suck at dancing. Remember how in this post (To Be a Prima Ballerina Assoluta) I wrote about a girl that got kicked out of a ballet class? Well, I also got politely asked not to return to my dance class when I was fourteen. I’m all flailing limbs, and I’m perpetually a few beats behind, racing to catch back up. It’s unfortunate, but I’m too amused by my incompetence to be embarrassed.

So tonight when we decided to play the game, I knew that I would have to do something big to stand out. Naturally, I decided that the game needed costumes. Because, let’s face it, what in life doesn’t need costumes?

I dragged everyone upstairs, and we started putting on silly clothes. And by we, I mean me. I grabbed a pair of Pippa’s neon pink tights, furry pale pink leg warmers, pale blue shorts, and one of my mother’s racing swimsuits. You know, the type that has the intense and crazy swirls of color so you can look just that more impressive and athletic. I put all of it on, tie my hair up in high pigtails, and apply an obscene amount of lipstick and eyeshadow, all the while encouraging the others to get into something spectacularly insane.

Pippa followed my lead, albeit in a much more restrained fashion and minus the makeup, and I got one of my cousins to put on Pippa’s old soccer shorts and wear a fedora and his sweatshirt backwards and the other one to wear my running clothes, the leg warmers that I had ditched because they began to seem like too much,* and her hair in a high ponytail, secured with a scrunchie.

Then, we all proceeded to march downstairs much to the adults’** amusement and play Wii for over an hour. But before I could grab a controller and get started my dad pulled me aside to question me.

“Are you okay?” he said.

I gave him a funny look, because of course I was okay! I was organizing games that involve silly costumes, something I am not apt to do when I’m depressed, anxious, or manic.

And then he reminded me that my I-am-having-the-time-of-my-life expression is very similar to my everything-in-the-world-is-hilarious-let’s-make-six-thousand-trays-of-ice-cubes-reorganize-the-kitchen-and-play-with-bleach look. And when I’m acting nuts like that I do frequently wear weird things.

I know why he asked me what was going on–I do have a habit of going off the deep end–and I don’t begrudge him at all, it just would be nice to be able to act goofy without causing concern.

All that aside, I’m proud to announce that I did win a few rounds***.

*In retrospect, everything in my outfit was too much.

**It’s rather crazy to think that I can be considered one of the adults right now, because I certainly do not act like at times like that.

***Though it mostly was the result of the way I moved the controller and not the quality of my actual dancing, which was hilariously awful.