Eleanor Eats Ice Cream

There is an often-told family story about my first reaction to ice cream in which I have a complete meltdown because it’s too cold and sweet. It ends with my mother having to actually take apart the stroller to clean up the sticky mess I made.

I always assumed that I remained stuck in my only-broccoli-and-sweet-potatoes-please phase for much longer than I apparently did because I recently discovered photographs of me at the age of three devouring a very large bowl of chocolate ice cream and making a huge mess in my grandparents’ dining room.



At least, I make an attempt of helping to clean up.


The New Song That’s Sweeping the Nation

This evening, I walked into the kitchen to see my father holding one of the cats and singing, “Roll your kitty like a hot dog on the rollers at the Wawa.”

I don’t know what we’re going to do with that ridiculous man.

A Scintillating Story in Which Ella Nearly Loses a Boot, Takes a Train, and Eats Lunch

They say that the best way to begin an adventure is not to run down the street with one cowboy boot falling off in a desperate attempt to make the train, but on Wednesday morning, I did exactly that.

I raced onto the platform just as the doors had opened and bounded onto the train, slipping down into the first seat I could find, my heart playing a tattoo in my chest. But then the train was moving again, and I could finally properly shove my already aching foot into my boot.

I know that cowboy boots, especially ones that aren’t entirely broken in, aren’t the best thing to wear when you’re going to be walking all day, but the way I see it, I’m only going to have feet that I can abuse in the name of fashion with little to no consequences for a very short period of my life, so I really ought to take advantage of it while it lasts.

I had a thirty minute layover, and Pippa called me just as I stepped into the station to figure out my connection. As it turns out, she had just gotten into Pottermore and was just bursting with news! I listened to some very long-winded descriptions of the wand selecting quiz and the sorting process, including being read most of the wand woods and flexibilities article. And we didn’t even snap at each other. I’m telling you Harry Potter is magic!*

I hung up just as my connecting train pulled into the station and settled back down into a seat. For this part of the train ride, I never like to read because there’s this river that the train passes over, and the water fascinates me. For some mind-boggling reason, there are these strange holes in the surfaces where the water is swirling as if it is going down a drain, you know, exactly like that tornado/hurricane shaped thing you see when you pull the plug in the bathtub. It’s not like this is happening in just one place either. There are loads of them, spaced every few yards or so. Unless the river is secretly a giant bathtub with multiple drains, I don’t know what’s going on.

Soon enough, we had pulled into the station in the city (let’s call it Swaziland) where my dad works, right across the river from the City. I walked through the station feeling important like all of the businessmen and women bustling around in suits. Then, as I walked along the pier, admiring the city’s skyline, I called my dad to meet him for lunch.

As we sat, eating Thai food, I tried to figure out how to avoid eating the egg they put in my noodles**, and we talked about books, writing, and publishing, which is one of my favorite topics of conversation and my dad’s career. And suddenly, it occurred to me that I was doing a very adult thing, meeting my dad for lunch and discussing real-life work, and it wasn’t like he was trying to explain to me what he does when he goes into his office***. We were actually talking about specific projects we’re working on. It seemed impossibly strange that this would be how more of our interactions would be go in the future.

This isn’t to say that I plan on restricting everything I discuss with my dad to work, but as I age, I’m going to spend increasingly smaller amounts of time asking him for things, arguing about food, and yammering on about topics that no one but a sympathetic parent would care about**** and much more time talking about things that truly matter. It’s been progressing in that direction for quite some time now, but it feels like it’s suddenly picked up so much speed, I’m going to go hurdling over the handlebars and break something.

After lunch, I got back on the train and finally arrived in the city.

Due to large amounts of chores and work, part II with all of the actually exciting bits will find its way onto the blog tomorrow.

*I am a laugh riot tonight.

**I haven’t eaten eggs in so long that when I took a bite of it, I couldn’t identify the taste or texture. All I knew was that it was gross, and it needed to get out of my mouth right now.

***It always disappointed me when I was little that he wasn’t physically making the books. In my six-year-old mind, working a book-printing factory was miles more impressive than being an editor.

****Long winded rants about the ink in tattoos not being regulated by the FDA and overly detailed analyzes of cat videos on youtube, I’m looking at you.

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

Me? I Like Walking In Silence, Spinning Stories In My Head, and Trying to Notice Every Detail

Today seems like a good day to tell you some stories about the beach.

Every time we go to our beach house, we try to drive up to a town* about forty minutes away and spend the day there.

My mother likes the stores and galleries. The stationary store there sells the incredibly fancy wrapping paper she adores. The type that comes in huge sheets about the size of poster board and is often so soft that it feels like cotton or a well-worn dollar bill. Sometimes, they’re thin and almost like lace made out of paper, so delicate that you’re scared to touch it, lest you rip it. But mostly, the paper is thick and soft and heavy with excellent “texture and patterns” and “deeply saturated colors.”

She’ll spend hours in there, picking out the best sheets, because Christmas is coming soon, and heaven help us if every present isn’t beautifully wrapped. I’ve been taught never to rip the paper, you have to carefully slide your finger under the tape so it won’t tear, because you can use the paper again, you know. Family and friends say that they always feel bad when Christmas comes, and you finally have to rip it all away. So we go to the stationary store for her and for us because hey, we all rather fond of leather bound notebooks, fancy pens, and stationary, too.

Pippa loves the ice cream. The store there, she says, is the best. I don’t agree, but it’s the rare day that I’ll say no to a cone of Junior Mint–mint ice cream so authentic it’s white with chocolate chips and real Junior Mint candies. In the same store as the ice cream, there’s a fudge and candy shop. The type of candy that gets called penny candy, even though the cheapest thing there–tootsie rolls–cost a nickel a piece. When Pippa and I were younger, we’d load little clear plastic bags full of sucking candies and peppermint sticks and huge chocolate bars and dozens and dozens of gummy bears and worms. “Only two pieces a day,” my mother would say, “And only one if you’re having one of the big pieces.”

When Pippa was five months and my mother was holding her while eating a cone of coffee ice cream, Pippa suddenly leaned over and took a huge, few tooth bite of it. It wound up all over her face, and as my mother stood there in shock and amusement, Pippa looked around with a huge grin and tried to go in for another bite. It’s safe to say that Pippa’s love of sweets has never been a secret. So every time we visit, we walk up to the window to place our orders, and then sit down in the green plastic chairs, warmed by sun, to eat our dripping cones.

My dad goes mostly for the history and adventures. The whole drive up, he points out the historic landmarks, even though we seen them all many, many times before, and tells us their significance. He’s usually read a new book about the subject, and suddenly we’re caught in a deluge of information about the area’s original inhabitants and the first settlers. I find it interesting, I love to know places’ stories, but Pippa always groans and sloaches more deeply into her seat and tries to see if she can stick her bare feet into the pocket on the back of the driver’s seat without getting in trouble.

Frequently, he’ll veer away from the normal route, and we’ll suddenly find ourselves at what looks to be the top of a hiking trail or a beach or a bay or a marsh. We’ll all pile out of the car and follow him as he leads us down some path until we end up some place magnificent. It’s never ever any good to ask him any questions, you just follow him and trust that he knows what he’s doing. Sometimes, after you’ve walked an impossibly long distance, he’ll take a sudden, seemingly strange, turn into the trees, and then we’ll all discover that it was actually a shortcut back to the car, which he somehow discovered even though it was his first time there.

But me? I like walking in silence, spinning stories in my in my head, and trying to notice every detail. Usually, I’ll have the camera with me, and so I’m at least twenty feet behind everyone else, stuck trying to aim a shot just right so that I can remember that scene forever.

Last year when we went to Puerto Rico, I spent the whole time taking pictures of the brightly colored buildings with their huge, heavy dark wooden doors and their European balconies and people.

As I walk, I plan out blog posts, scenes for the novel I’m writing, other pieces of fiction, and just narrate it all. And the words come like the air I’m slowly breathing, smooth and unhurried and easy. I just feel them. And I keep taking pictures and being silent because suddenly being trapped inside of my head is the most wonderful prison in the world.

Later, when I plug the camera into the computer and upload the pictures, it all comes rushing back. It’s like the images have taken bits of that running stream of consciousness and pinned them down with thin, silver sewing pins. I find myself picking back up right where I left off and having new words to weave together with the old ones, creating some sort of braid that strings all of the images together. And it’s wonderful.


*It’s the town that Lily lives in every summer!

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.

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!

Conversations With My Father: Part One

Ella: Do you know what’s fun?

Dad (in a deadpan voice): Parties and $hit.

Ella: Um…

Dad: Well, parties, mostly.


Ella: I was actually going to tell you about going through my internet history this morning and discovering the disturbing amount of time I spent yesterday researching forest fires in the southwest and Prince Phillip (Britain’s longest serving consort and famous for saying really horrible though amusing things*), but that works too.

*Click here for some of his best lines.

Another One From the Old Man

Ella is off on an adventure with her friends, so here’s another substitute post from mister Ella’s father. And speaking of adventure, picture this great moment in parenting. 3:30 am. Phone rings. I’m already half awake because Ella and 3 friends are in the middle of a long, late-night car trip to the beach. As a dad, I’ve been proud but also worried to let these four eighteen year-olds take off on their own. I’m glad they can be so independent, but at the same time, I’ve got to admit to trepidation about all the trouble that can befall young women who don’t have a lot of life experience.

So when the phone rings at 3:30, you’re hoping to hear, “we’ve made it to the house” not “there’s something seriously wrong with the car.” Which is what I did hear.
“We’re somewhere in Rhode Island and the exhaust pipe is dragging on the pavement. The guy in the gas station says it’s serious. What do we do?”

After some more discussion about where they are, how much more mileage they have to cover, and how disabled the car really seems to be, I advise them to get a hotel room and sort out the car in the AM. Which they proceed to do. And they stay calm throughout the whole episode. They find a holiday inn to sleep through what’s left of the night. In the morning they find a service station to replace the worn out brackets on the exhaust, and they continue on their way.That afternoon, they reach the beach house, worn out, but also happy and safe.

As a parent, this is what you hope for. I don’t mean that I wish hardship on Ella, obviously, but I know that hardships will come nonetheless. The important thing is that she is prepared to tackle tough situations and sort them out on their own. That’s why I OKed this trip in the first place. It’s time for Ella to step out on her own and weather the challenges that come her way.

She’s got this success under her belt. It should make the next ones that much easier.

Tunes for a Very Special Road Trip

Greetings Blogizens —

It’s Mr. Ella’s Dad, substitute blogging again. Ella is out spending the night with her friends before tomorrow’s very special day. Since I’m bracing for a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth in the months ahead, I thought I’d pull together a playlist to ease the journey. Enjoy listening to this rapturous collection; feel free to add your own suggestions.

Blondie – Rapture

Norman Greenbaum – Spirit in the Sky

REM – It’s the End of the World as We Know It

U2 — Until The End Of The World

Guns ‘n’ Roses -Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

The Pixies — Monkey Gone to Heaven

The Cure – (Feels like) Heaven

Cracker – Can I take my Gun to Heaven?

Mazzy Star – Be My Angel

Sly and the Family Stone – I Want to Take You Higher

Jimi Hendrix – Angel

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

In Which Ella Consumes Red Meat, Hangs Out with Cecelia, and Watches Comedy

Today has been one of those dreary tired days. I woke up at half past noon and felt ready to take a nap some ten minutes later. While the humidity and drizzle is godsend for everyone suffering from allergies, I can’t help my complaining. It’s spring, and it should be gorgeous out.

After I shuffled my way downstairs, I made bacon and stayed in my pajamas until three. However, once my mom discovered that I hadn’t eaten lunch, I went to go get dressed so my dad and I could go get burgers. Somehow showing up at a restaurant in a pink bathrobe with hearts on it that I only properly fit when I was nine did not seem like a good idea. As we drove through town, I remarked on the newly painted lane dividers and strained my eyes to see the city, but all there was was a mass of mist, almost like the city and valley were shrouded with a cloud.

Sitting in a corner of the restaurant, I ate a thick chocolate milkshake with a spoon and listened to my dad talk about success in the modern world. He’s always right about (nearly) everything, and I find a great deal of comfort in knowing that following a conventional path is not a necessity anymore, because goodness knows I’m rarely conventional. Then, we went back home and framed pictures that had been taken of me all the way back in September. My legs look very big, and my sweater makes it seem as though there is fat above the waist of my jeans. But other than that, I like the pictures.

At around five, my dad drove me to Cecelia’s. Now, one of the best things about hanging out with a close friend is that you don’t have to do anything. You can just lounge about and talk for hours not worrying about boring the other person to death. I told her how I had lost nine pounds, and we planned for our trip to the beach. Biking is in and cooking anything with meat is out. It was all too short: she had to go babysit, and I had dinner to eat.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of trouble gagging while eating. I’m a champion gagger already, having once thrown up on a chair in the doctor’s office after a strep test. I’ll spoon food into my mouth, start to chew, and then fight the urge to throw up. It’s monstrously unpleasant and not helping the gaining weight cause. In fact, eating normally is going so poorly that I’m seriously considering creating a soda and cookies diet where I drink one can of soda and eat two cookies everyday. It seems doable and could be effective.

I finished off my day by watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail with my father. Ever since I’ve seen Spamalot, I can’t stop mentally inserting the musical’s songs into the movie. It’s a major distraction. But the movie is still hilarious, and I will never fall out of love with the French knights.

So there you have it: my day.