Ella’s Mother and Technology: Part One

You know how parents say, “I’m going to miss it when [insert name here] stops saying ‘crash-can’ instead of ‘trashcan’ all the time*.”

Well, I’m going to miss it when I move out and don’t get called into the study several times a day to fix the computer for my mother.

I had a wonderful laugh this evening when I taught my mom how to use the floppy-disc icon for save in Microsoft Word instead of clicking through the file menu, and then had to tell her a few minutes later that it wasn’t necessary to print out the entire menu from the Indian restaurant in order to read it.

Safari also “broke” this morning because she had about twenty windows open and was running a gazillion other programs. Momentary panic ensued, and I was blamed for leaving tumblr open.

There was also discussion about how difficult it is to go through all of the copies of The New Yorker just to reread the Adam Gopnik ones. When I pointed out that she could go online and access them via a very quick search, she said that she can’t use computers while lying down and she can’t be sitting up while reading The New Yorker.

Oh, Mum.

She also didn’t know that cellphones had clocks in them or showed you the signal strength. She thought that they were “technical numbers.” Glad we got that one straightened out after six-plus years of cell phone ownership.

It’s little quirks like this that make me really love my mom.

(Also, she mostly doesn’t yell at me when I joke that I never need to put the dishes in the dishwater because every time I leave the room, a magical fairy cleans them up.)

I’m going to miss her so much next year.

*And yes, that kid was me. I was a very “creative” talker for a long time. I used too many big words incorrectly and could never pronounce the simple ones. I still struggle with library and specific.

In other news, my bedroom looks like a bomb of books went off. Looks like tomorrow will be a good day for recataloguing my library. At last count, I had close to three hundred books, but that was over four years ago. I’m a little scared to see how many I have now. I’m also in need of a new bookcase for my bedroom, but I haven’t been able to find the right one. It needs to be white and either modern and minamalistic or cute and antique. This should be a very fun shopping process.

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In Which Ella and Pippa Are Hopelessly Different

Unfortunately, Pippa and I do not have much in common anymore, and there are many times when I just don’t know how to relate to her.

She tells me to shut up when I start telling her about an interesting video I saw about particle physics or when I start talking about current events.

She has no interest in watching documentaries or historical films–instead, she likes shows like Friends and The Nine Lives of Chloe King, which I find to be very surface-level and boring.

And when I even mention current events or a book to her, she doesn’t want to listen because “I’m not in school and I don’t want to think about school stuff!”

She overuses the word “like” and ends every few sentences with a slurred together youknowwhatImean, while I just mispronounce words I’ve only ever seen in print. (I thought that chaos was actually pronounced chaw-oh-ss and was actually a synonym of the word until fifth grade.)

She likes to talk very loudly on videochat and type with abbreviations, yet I find myself incapable of writing fragments or leaving out commas or capitalization (though typos and spelling are a whole other matter) while sending a text message.

And this unfortunately leaves me at a loss.

What do I talk to her about? What can we do together?

It’s not that one of our preferences is better–they’re not–we just are intrinsically different, and I have no idea how on earth to relate to her.

Lately, it just leads to arguing or me questioning her about school. And there only so many times I can listen to explanations of inside jokes or the time that a girl got kicked out of school for having sex with five different guys in exchange for cocaine (oh, boarding school and your “fancier” drugs).

I’m not sure where this leaves me, but it sure isn’t a comfortable place.

In other news, Pippa just told me that I look like I’m at a ski lodge because I’m wandering around in a toque and a heavy sweater. I just like to think of the outfit as I’m-cold chic.

In other, other news, I apparently possess the ability to wake up in a panic in the middle of the night for ten days running, thinking that I have an infant or a child who is in need of immediate attention. While this is better than the dreams I have of failing to adequately protect people, and certainly better than the ones where I have woken myself up by hitting something and screaming in my sleep, I have to admit that it is worse than the dreams where I’m getting married and something has gone terribly wrong or the dreams where no one wants to buy the flowers I’m selling.

I other, other, other news, when you’re adding additional post scripts (P.S.) to a letter you should only be adding additional p’s and not s’s because the p’s mean after the above. This has been amusing me to no end today, mostly because I just got an email that would have a section, if read literally, called “post script script script script script,” something that sounds very funny if you say it quickly.

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 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 http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

On Family Portraits

We took family portraits today, and I am very hopeful that this time I will not be the person to mess up the entire group shot. Here’s an example of what would happen five years ago when I was in middle school:

I kid you not, I look like this in about five out of the seven photographs my father took. I have my eyes half closed and a Cheshire Cat grin on my face in the other two.

But since as of late I seem to be particularly determined to add more bad pictures of my to the internet, here, have one that isn’t atrocious, just so that you know that I don’t look like a possessed demon in everyday life. (I bring that one out just for situations in which I’ll be photographed.)

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.

Ella and Hurricane Preparedness

Today, I was rudely awaken at around noon (yesterday was one of those thirteen hours of sleep nights) by the ominous whooshing of the beginning of a torrential downpour. I hopped out of bed, put on my hurricane preparedness outfit, and headed outside to move everything into the garage.

I never knew that we owned so many garbage cans or potted plants. Getting it all into the garage along with one of the cars was like playing Tetris, only with very large heavy objects, which, surprisingly, is not as fun as playing it on my phone. Watching Pippa and my Dad carry the two big gas grills down the deck stairs was particularly exciting, like they’re about to announce the winner on one of Pippa’s favorite reality shows exciting. I, on the other hand, was sent to go do the lighter things, like gather up all of the soaker hoses, which turned me into a complete mud ball. I did find an enourmous amount of earthworms, though, which made me exceedingly happy*.

I’ve got seven flashlights ready to go, two lanterns with fresh batteries, and extra batteries stationed in the living room, and I’ve made sure all the laptops, cell phones, iPods, and iPads are fully charged. My dad is currently nailing plywood over all the windows on the porch and over the huge sliding glass door onto the back deck**. I’m fully prepared to spend the next few days catching up*** on some reading and playing Scrabble****.

This should be quite the adventure.

Because our power will inevitably go out, and therefore the internet, for the next few days, I’ve written some posts to publish automatically for the next few days. Expect lots of writing about the beach!

*Remember that time I wrote this post? Ella the Worm Saver to the Rescue? Well, I like earthworms. A lot.

**Getting out of the house is going to be interesting. I vote that we somersault out of the windows.

***That’s funny, considering that was what I’ve spent a majority of the summer doing.

****One of these days, I’m going to overcome my inability to spell and come in first place.

Ella Goes to the Drive-In

Pippa has wanted to go to the drive-in movie theatre here at the beach for quite some time now. And since Jeanne, her best friend, is here with us this time, we decided to give it a shot.

I was very hopeful that something interesting would be showing, but of course, the only thing on tonight was a double feature of The Smurfs and Crazy, Stupid, Love. We’re twenty minutes into The Smurfs, and I’m ready to run out of the theatre and down the highway screaming in horror.

The good thing is that it’s fifties/sixties themed, and before the first feature, they showed old ads and played the national anthem, complete with subtitles and animation. I particularly enjoyed the rocket going to the moon.

The little blue things just showed up in Central Park, and they’re playing and ruining the Vampire Weekend song, Holiday. I’ve got at least another three hours of this. Golly geez.

Bright Skies and Salt-Scented Air

Let’s hope this gets my mind off of all of these sorrowful goodbyes, If being at the beach doesn’t work, I can always lock myself in my room and watch Frost/Nixon and Miracle over and over and over again.

Dinner Table Conversations: Part Four

Scene: We were playing Loaded Questions, a board game that requires you to guess who gave what answer to a series of personal questions.

Mom (reading off of a card): “What historic event would you want to take credit for masterminding?”

Pippa immediately responds: Nine elev… Wait! No! Not that!

We all laugh, write our answers, and my mom makes her guesses.

As the dice are handed off to me, Pippa says: Actually I’d want to be responsible for Osama Bin Laden’s death, ’cause then I’d be like a super sloth!

Dad: Sloth?

Pippa: Yeah, sloth!

Dad, Ella, Mom: It’s sleuth!

Ella’s Fabulous Triumph

Today, I celebrate a great achievement. I went into the city to the art mueseum that had this summer’s most popular fashion exhibit and didn’t even feel the beginnings of a freak out.

We were jammed in the exhibit, shoulder to shoulder, and some morbidly obese man kept ramming his wheelchair into my legs in an attempt to push through the crowd, pushing me into whoever was next to me, and I didn’t even bat an eye. I just shifted my weight so that every time his foot rest hit my boot, I didn’t budge and politely told him that he was hurting me.

I ate an entire lunch without any prompting, and I rode in several glass elevators and walked down a bunch of escalators and stairs. I even didn’t feel a tinge of anxiety when a cab driver tried to pull away from the curb with my younger cousin halfway out of the car and me standing on the sidewalk.

And I also did this all on an hour and a half of sleep.

I’m a bit delirious right now, but I’m proud, really, really proud.

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.