Let’s Go Dancing!

“Let’s go dancing!” I’ll say because I’m happy and want an excuse to wear a pretty dress.

But we won’t actually go dancing because I don’t dance the way you should. I just like to flounce about and spin.

So we’ll do that instead.

I’ll wear my long cream dress with the small pink and purple flowers, and if it’s sunny, I’ll wear my straw hat as well. I’ll be spring and summer and warm and happy weather personified. And you can be it, too.

So go on! Grab your favorite clothes and find a patch of grass and spin in a dizzy circle with me!

I’ll laugh and laugh and laugh and probably fall over once the spinning gets to be too much. And then I’ll lie on the grass and watch the world tip back and forth until my inner ear recalibrates.

Next, we’ll eat popsicles, the good kind, the type made with real frozen fruit and laugh as the melting juice covers our arms and drips down to our elbows. The last little bits will inevitably fall off the stick, hopefully into our mouths and not onto our laps or the ground. But even if they do, it’s no matter. We can always have another, and washing machines were invented for a reason.

We’ll rinse our arms off with the hose and compared dyed tongues. I’ll end up with wet patches on my dress, of course, but that’s no matter! That’s what the sun’s for, right? World’s best dryer.

And did I mention that this adventure is no-shoes-allowed? It is! All the better to feel the cool grass under our feet, the tickle of the blades in between our toes, and the hot, stinging concrete as we dash along the path or street. But step carefully! You don’t want to get a cut, though you have to admit that the slight danger is part of what makes shoelessness alluring.

Want to go to the beach with me? I can show you all of my special places. First, we’ll run towards the water and leap over the clumps of seaweed past the high tide mark.

Alright, roll up your clothes, so they don’t get wet. Now, stand here and feel the waves hit your ankles. Cold, isn’t it? See the way that water washes away the sand at your feet, letting you sink down a few more inches until the sand feels as fluid as the water.

But watch your hem there! Don’t let it get to close!

Come on! And move quickly, too–this part isn’t as fun if you walk. Okay, so just follow me, and be careful. If you aren’t, you could get hurt.

So do you see the end of that rock jetty? Now, we can’t go out there, it’s too dangerous, but we can go this far. It’s just a third out, and isn’t it fun to leap from rock to rock? If you go any farther, they get slippery and covered with seaweed and algae, and you could fall and break your leg or stung or pinched by something mean. But here, we’re safe.

Sit down for a moment. Feel the rock underneath you. You can prop your feet up on the one in front of you, if you like. Yes, just like that! That’s my favorite spot.

Let’s just wait a while and watch the ocean, let the sounds of everyone else fade away until it’s just you and the water and the rock. Don’t worry about the people playing with the beach ball or the squeals of the children running in and out of the water. Ignore the yells of the kids playing with the skimboards. I’m going to be quiet, too.

Just sit and be.

Once you’ve sat there long enough to feel almost dopey with relaxation, get up and follow me again! There are plenty more things for us to see this afternoon.

Of course, we could take a long walk down the beach, and I could try to add to my collection of rocks that look like seals (Okay, I only have one, but it’s lovely and needs a friend.).

But there’s a baseball game starting at the high school, and we just can’t miss it. And no, it’s not a high school baseball league. It’s a million times more exciting than that. It’s part of this special, selective summer league for college players to play against the best players their age and get scouted. They live with local families, and they all play in this big tournament. Our town won a few years ago, and I’m think that this year’s our year again.

If you look right behind the screen in back of homeplate, you can see the scouts. They wear plain caps, so no one will know what team they’re from (even though everyone already does. Word gets around quickly, doesn’t it?), and they write things on clipboards. I’m sure their notes are very important. But for right now, pick up your beach chair, and follow me. I know the perfect place for sitting.

Want a hot dog? I’m going to eat two, and I’ve got plenty of ketchup, sauerkraut, and mustard, if you’d like those as well. Go ahead, eat as much as you’d like. There’s soda, water, and juice, but no beer. This is a school field, remember? And don’t mind me while I score the game in this notebook and jump up and down every time something exciting happens. Did you see that catch?!

We’ve won! We’ve won! And yes, I know you’re tired and that the fog is rolling in, making it hard to even see the exit from the parking lot, but don’t you want some ice cream? We can’t count those popsicles as dessert, now can we? They were just frozen juice, after all.

I’m getting Milky Way, and maybe you should, too. But there’s a huge chalkboard up there with all of their homemade flavors. Everything here is good. Just remember that when they say jimmies, they’re talking about what you probably call sprinkles, and frappes are milkshakes and don’t actually have any coffee in them.

Isn’t that delicious? I know that I’ve probably got chocolate on the tip of my nose and the scoop is threatening to fall off the cone, but isn’t this just the best day ever?

We can walk home from here, past the kite shop that might still be open and is the best place to buy toys and the most spectacular kites. If it’s windy tomorrow, I’ll show you mine. It looks like a dragon and has a tail that stretches on for yards.

There’s a trash can to your left, if you need to throw away your napkin. And I really should go to the post office in the morning to check my mailbox, even though I can never open the darn thing on the first try.

And there’s the bar/pub which is showing the wrap up commentary on a MLB game. If you feel like staying up, we could watch the rerun at one a.m. But you’re probably tired. It is late after all.

But before we call it a day, look up. Throw your head all the way back and look at the sky. Can you see the real Milky Way? I’m not talking about my slowly melting cone of ice cream. Look at all of those stars! Makes you feel small, doesn’t it?

Sometimes, when I look up at the night sky, I get scared by just how little I am. In the grand scheme of things, I can be awfully insignificant. But then, I turn my gaze to everything back here on earth, and I’m reminded that it’s all rather relative. I’m not tiny. And you’re not either.

We get to do fantastic, amazing things, and run around barefoot and climb on rocks and stand in the ocean and eat popsicles and ice cream and watch baseball games. And tomorrow will be just as wonderful. I’m thinking about taking a motorboat out of the harbor to go look at the seals and explore that inhabited island a mile or so off the coast.

But for now, we can watch the stars and marvel at how clear a night it is and what great a day it was until it’s time to say goodnight and go to bed. It won’t be too long until we can go on another adventure.

You can also find me bopping about on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/.

Ella Explores the Beach

Thanks to a hurricane power outage, please enjoy some teaser pictures from my vacation in this post written before the storm struck. I’ll provide the story behind them as soon as we’ve got the power back!

I Am In Love With the Impossible Miracle of the Universe

The day that I spent close to eight hours in the airport, I purchased The Year of Living Biblically from the airport bookstore. I’ve been reading it off and on since then, so one day when we were at the beach, I grabbed the book and headed down to the beach to read. My parents had just carried our kayak down, so while they swam the long distance to the buoy and back, I perched on the green hull and read the final fifty pages.

My parents are the two black dots on the left next to the buoy.

And when I finished, I slowly closed the book, dug my feet a little deeper into the sand and stared out across the beach in silence, letting people’s shouting, conversations, and the crashing of the waves becoming a dull buzzing in the background.

I slowed my breathing down and reached out for that periwinkle calm feeling that descends on me whenever I write or pray. I didn’t grab at it with needy fingers the way I am now as I desperately try to write blog posts for the coming days without power or the internet. I merely turned my hands palms up in my lap and waited. And it came with its softness and gentle weight, settling down over my shoulders and in the pit of my stomach.

Pressing my palms and fingers lightly together, I looked straight out over the water, let out a slow breath through my lips, and said, “Hello, God? Are you here, somewhere around me? I want to talk to you.”

I don’t pray very much. It’s more like a three to four times a week kind of thing for me, and it only ever happens when I’m really, really happy, really, really scared, or at church. Normally, I rush it, almost as if He wouldn’t hear it if I took more than a few minutes. But even if I’m trying to jam it all in in the minute of silence during Prayers of the People or in the few minutes following communion, I always ask permission. I know I never need it–God is always there, listening–but if I’m going to do something so terribly important, I want to make sure that we’re both entirely ready.

I waited a moment just feeling the pressure between my two hands and then said, “Hi, God. It’s me, Ella. I know that sounds just like the title of the Judy Blume novel about a girl named Margaret, but it sounds like such a nice opening to begin talking to you.”

And so I prayed, sitting there silently, trying to thank God for all that He has done for me. The clouds drifted slowly across the sky, and I thanked him for my friends, for my family, and I kept going until I was waxing poetic about the grains of sand clinging to my legs.

All of a sudden, the sky seemed to get a little brighter and the sun just a little bit warmer, but it wasn’t in a you-should-put-on-some-more-sunscreen sort of way–it felt like the miracle of the world was embracing me a little more tightly and that God was responding to my thanksgivings.

I don’t know how much I believe in the literal stories of the Bible sometimes, but I do know that some things are sacred, that there is some tremendous force of good and power that has given us the miracle of life, and that we must give thanks.

Out of all the ways that the particles from the Big Bang could have arranged themselves, this is the way they came to be. And from this arrangement, I had been chosen, also by chance, to be born. For a brief moment in time, I will have consciousness and experience this miracle; I will have the opportunity to experience the infinite good of the world. There will be other people from the same origins as me to interact with and there will be other animals with consciousness, and plants, and rocks, and all other sorts of inorganic materials, so much to explore and consider. It doesn’t matter how this was all created–it is a gift, and I will give thanks.

A little while later I stopped my prayers and examined my hands, still lightly held together. I traced the lines of the veins on the back of my hands and noticed for what felt like both the millionth and the first time, how I could watch the thin bones in my hand move as I wiggled my fingers. Beautiful, I thought, What a miracle.

If I were less self-conscious, I would have climbed up on the kayak and yelled, “I am in love with everything, dead and alive and about to be born! I am in love with this impossible miracle! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” But I didn’t, because people would have stared, and I probably would have frightened them. So instead, I did it in my mind. My voice rang out all the way across the ocean, and it was heard by all. And we all gave thanks together, a perfect harmony of thank you in an infinite number of languages to the air around us that would be heard across the universe and into the ears of God, wherever he may be.

Then, I stood up, carrying my book in my right hand and walked across the sand to the landing at the bottom of our street, up the stairs, and past the five houses between us and the sea to the back door, where I carefully brushed the sand off my legs and feet and walked into the house.

Back at the house everyone was moving around with the same speed they were before. Pippa and Jeanne were fixing themselves tall glasses of cold Gatorade, and my mother and my grandmother had started to fix dinner. There was a constant hubbub of noise and everyone seemed to in a hurry. Such a stark difference to what I had just experienced. I stood in the back hall for a moment, embracing my periwinkle feeling of calm before throwing it all off and diving back into reality.

“Did you get the yellow type of Gatorade, Mom?” I asked as I opened the refrigerator door to look for the bottle. “The red one tastes icky.”

A Light Tap of the Spacebar

I talked to Anastasia this afternoon on Skype for over an hour.

We had been near inseparable in middle school, but when she moved away in ninth grade we’ve slowly drifted somewhat apart. I haven’t seen her since the summer before Junior year, and we hadn’t communicated directly beyond Facebook “liking” since January. So when we planned to talk this afternoon, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

But the moment that her face popped up on my screen, it felt like we were fourteen again and giggling almost maniacally as we wrote up study guides for the high-school level science class we were taking with a teacher who we very kindly likened to both a bloated yoga ball and a pigeon. And after we had to hang up so she could go to dinner, I leaned back against the wall on the front porch and smiled to myself because that conversation proved once again that if you are truly friends with someone, it doesn’t matter how much time has gone by or how different you or your lives are, you can still fall back into the same comfortable interactions you had before. It’s as if you just hit the pause button on your relationship and all it took was a light tap of the spacebar to get it going again.

Here’s hoping I get to see Anastasia again soon. I miss and love that girl so much.

On My Grandmother, Harry Potter, and Happiness

About four years back, when I went to visit my grandmother (who shall hence forth be called Mémé so as to distinguish her from my dad’s mom) over summer vacation, I showed her the first three Harry Potter films on DVD and gave her the corresponding books. I knew that she had gone to see a few of the other films in the movie theatre after their release dates, but I didn’t think that her affection for the series extended past an interest to keep up with her grandchildren’s interests.

Well, I was wrong big time. We were driving home from the city today when I mentioned the eighth Harry Potter movie to her, which she had been wanting to see. And instead of having a short conversation about the logistics of our trip to the theatre, we spent about half the ride talking about just how much we love the series.

She’s introduced some of her friends to the books and movies and a few weeks back brought over the first DVD and book to my great aunt’s house to help cheer her sister up. And, like any good Harry Potter fan, (this makes me so happy) she emphasized the importance of reading the book first. She had also recently seen the Lifetime movie about J.K. Rowling’s life and loved it.

I’m taking her to see the Harry Potter exhibit on Tuesday, and I’m so terribly excited. I love being able to share one of my all-time favorite things with her, and I really want to add to my collection of chocolate frogs. It’s going to be so much fun.

I also got to spend over two hours in an exhibit about the brain, and my Mémé gave me a beautiful pearl necklace that had belonged to my great-grandmother. It’s been a very awesome day.

Sporcle

I spent a good portion of this evening playing on Sporcle. It’s this website full of “mentally stimulating games,” which basically means trivia and lots of it. Labeling maps and reciting presidents is fairly easy and fun, but learning how to spell Massachusetts and Buchanan is not an easy task.

P.S. I dare you to beat my minute and fifty seconds (on the first try!) on the U.S. Presidents in Reverse Quiz.

On Childhood Songs, Turning Eighteen, Going to the Beach, and Becoming a Real Life Voter

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite songs was “Going to the Zoo Tomorrow.”

This version isn’t the same as the one of the CD, which was infinitely better.

It’s the sort of song that I still think about a lot. I like to sing it when I’m going to be going some place terribly exciting the next day or whenever I’m home alone and feeling a little bit scared. I just change the words to fit the setting. Anyways, we’re going to the Cape tonight until Monday or Tuesday. And in my world this ranks as EXTREMELY IMPORTANT JUMP UP AND DOWN NEWS.

It’s going to be excellent for many reasons. I plan on taking walks incredibly early in the morning, eating ice cream, going kayaking, reading on the porch, writing on the porch, sleeping on the porch, staring at the water on the porch. There may or may not be a theme to what I’m excited about.

Also, I’m going to turn 18 tomorrow, which is a moderately big deal. I had a very nice, small party last night that’ll I’ll write about soon. I’m going to celebrate by going out to dinner, eating clam chowder and Milky Way ice cream (not at the same time), and writing. It should be a pleasant day.

In other news, I just filled my voter registration forms. This is definetly the best part about being eighteen. Well, this and buying those things they advertise on Nickelodeon.

In Which I Go to Philadelphia, Wear Shoes That Really Hurt, and Win a Golden Gavel: Part Two

I went out to lunch, journeying into the cold, grey streets of gritty Philadelphia. We walked all the way across campus in search of the food trucks, where I stood on tip toe to lean up to a truck counter and order a tuna salad sandwich. Then, we turned around again and walked all the way back to the Student Center to eat in a crowded, noisy room and watch a boy get recruited for soccer and a whole lot of people staring at laptops. I focussed on finishing my sandwich, and laughing as much as I could.

It’s those sorts of things that I love about Model Congress: The instants where everybody’s together, talking and having a good time in a way that we wouldn’t if we were anywhere else. At school, we’d sit in separate groups and never spend an hour complaining about immigration and other people’s stupidity. Well, we would, but we wouldn’t do it collectively and with the same sort of zeal. Every moment at Model Congress is crucial. Nothing can be missed. It’s go, go, go, win, win, win, but please have fun while you’re doing it.

I walked back to Huntsman, looking through the basement at oddly and irregularly
numbered and lettered rooms for my committee.  I slid into a grey desk, tugged at my blazer, and braced for impact. This morning went really, really well. It should be smooth sailing from here on out, I told myself. I stood up to present my bill to the committee, feeling on top of the world. I gave my speech, leaving exactly fifteen seconds for points, and then the strangest thing happened: no one raised their hand. I was discussing gay marriage, a topic that really riles people up, and no one had a question. I had statistics, a highlighted copy of the Constitution, graphs about how it would help the economy, case law, and no one cared. My eyes got so wide that they started to sting, and the chair told me to sit down.

Then, when they asked for someone to speak against it, no one raised their hand again. Finally, a guy stood up and said that he opposed the bill because it didn’t “go far enough.” Go far enough?  Are you kidding me? As I gave him the knitted forehead are-you-crazy look, he went on to say that we should be allowed to marry as many people as we want, animals, and inanimate objects. Suddenly, the debate became focussed on that and not gay marriage. I was quite ready to slam my head into the desk. Things were not going as planned.

An amendment got passed, supporting his insane belief, and I got up to give my final authorship speech in a daze. It went something along the lines of: This bill is only about gay marriage. I am upset that it got changed. Business. Economics. Health Insurance. Seeing People in the Hospital. The Constitution. Vote for this. I have no idea what is coming out of my mouth. Sit down.

The bill passed, and it was all over. Hours of preparation for a big battle turned into twenty minutes of confusion. I felt like a week old helium balloon–slowly floating down from the ceiling a wrinkled, sorry mess. But I couldn’t cry yet, there was the “game” to be played. After every bill, the chairs gave the author a topic, such as states in America, and the author had to list as many things within that category as they could in thirty seconds. I got given languages, and let me tell you, it was easy. I swept through Europe east through west, dipped into North Africa, did all of South Africa’s official and tribal languages (thank you ten-page sixth grade report), and headed off into the Middle East. I got twenty-nine. I can’t believe that my bill fell on its face, but I just performed phenomenally well on a categories game, I thought.

Once the shock wore off, I began to cry. I excused myself from the room, and found myself in an odd circular quasi-room with financial newspapers and a screen with important stock market numbers (It’s phrases like stock market numbers that prove that I have a future career as an investment banker.) that changed every second or so. One of the girls from the committee left see if I was okay, which was incredibly kind, and a little while later one of the chairs came out to speak to me. Apparently, my bill had been really good after all, and I was “standing out in debate.” Strange.

Once again, Lady Macbeth offered me her sage advice to be courageous, and I marched back into the room ready to kill Duncan and some poorly written bills. I was feeling fine. Not good. Not bad. Just fine. And somehow it all worked. Debate came naturally.

I went out to dinner with people from my school, magically finding the ability to eat half a Caesar salad in ten minutes. With a spring in my step, I walked into the last committee session of the day. A girl introduced a bill that would give money to a militant “whale-saving” organization that would tries to tip over Japanese whaling ships, and I felt the wonderful aggressive intelligence feeling wash over me again. A long speech about international relations, unprecedented actions, and constitutionality later, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. But sure enough the tears and the fear of failure came, and I found myself in the hall.

But like every time before, I picked myself back up, dusted off my hands, and headed back into the fray. One of the really great guys in my committee introduced this awesome bill:

I was ready to do battle. I had a printed out sheet of federal prison statsics, more than a working knowledge of psychotropic medication, and very strong feelings in support. Out of all of the speeches I gave in committee, that one by far the best. It felt awesome. Like chocolate Milky Way ice cream on a sunny day awesome.

Committee ended, and I scurried back across campus through the dark. I had packed Taboo and was desperate to get a game going. Besides, my shoes had begun to hurt. Not just the I’ve-been-wearing-heels-all-day hurting, but these-shoes-are-rubbing-the-skin-off-of-my-feet hurting. I would have done anything to walk back barefoot. But city streets have glass and God knows what on them, so it wasn’t exactly an option.

Later that evening, we had a wonderful game of Taboo. There must have been fifteen people in our room, and everyone was rolling around laughing. But as fun as it was, I began to crash. First, my head started to feel a little foggy, and then the ticking time bomb set in. I was actually going to pass out in the middle of the loud game, if I didn’t get moving. It was like I was drugged, which, of course actually was the truth. (Thanks, Geodon. You rock.) I hopped into the shower, willing myself to keep my eyes open, blow dried, my hair, and curled up on a corner of my bed. Thankfully, Ashley or Doc–I can’t remember which–noticed, and everyone left the room. I was asleep within a minute.

In Which I Go to Philadelphia, Wear Shoes That Really Hurt, and Win a Golden Gavel: Part One

Originally, this was going to be one long post, but it quickly became too long to write in one day. I will now force you to read this story in parts.

On the morning of Thursday, March, 31st, I happily and nervously trotted off to school, wheeling my red suitcase and wearing my Dad’s old Jonathan Edwards Residential College tee shirt in celebration of Cecelia being accepted into Yale.

As I yanked my bag up the steps outside of the auditorium and pulled it into the coat check room, I bemoaned how weak my arms are. I mean, you could easily fasten a watch around my upper arm, and they start shivering anytime I try to lift something around thrity pounds above shoulder height. Carrying small children can be a real struggle, which is a major problem if you’re babysitting. But all that aside, I parked my bag and wandered towards the main building through the art gallery filled with pictures that I wish that I could have created.

There were little elves taking up residence in my abdomen, and as I walked and thought about the conference, they started hopping around and doing jumping-jacks. Like most enjoyable things that I do, Model Congress makes me equally anxious, excited, and happy. Even though I was going to be in school until lunch, the whole day felt different, which was probably due the fact that I wasn’t carrying a backpack. Instead, I had my big black bucket tote from Neiman Marcus from Obama’s inauguration. Stacked in between my English binder and a collection of John Donne’s poems, the binder full of research kept singing to me about how someone was going to find a loop-hole in my bill and how if I didn’t know the percentage of jailed drug abusers, I would immediately be sent home in shame. But I walked on, dragging my feet up the stairs to the library.

In English, I desperately tried to stay on task and write about a comparisons of Donne’s Holy Sonnets to his earlier ones, but it really was no use. The anxiety of in-class writing coupled with concerns about Model Congress turned my brain into jammed machinery, and I only succeeded in writing an outline and good introduction.

At lunch, I dragged Clara with me to go buy pizza with my babysitting money. It was drizzling, and the pizza was steaming, and I was struck once again by how much better hot food tastes when it’s chilly out. But the pizza eating didn’t last long, and soon I was dragging my suitcase back down the auditorium steps and up to the back of the bus. As the boys pilled the suitcases into the back seats, I took up residence in a two-seater and quietly prayed that we’d get to Model Congress safely. The memories of the November bus crash still haunt me.

Thankfully, no one died, and only eleven people went to the hospital.

But the bus began moving, and I pulled out my binder to go over my research. As the highway mile-markers slid by, I highlighted statistics and practiced arguments in my head about gun control and immigration. People chatted and Tiny Wings was played. Soon, we were off the highway and driving through Philadelphia, and like every time I go there, I was shocked by the dichotomy between the beautiful downtown, Penn campus, and historic district and everywhere else. It’s depressed, and posters sag on dirty buildings in need of window washing and new paint.

At the hotel, I rode the elevator up to the eighth floor and walked with Tal to the room that we’d be sharing with two other girls. I unpacked, carefully smoothing out my dress clothes. There’s a certain comfort in unpacking. It makes you feel solid and safe. You’ve got a place that’s yours for the time being, and you don’t have to get up and move at a moment’s notice.

Outside again, our whole delegation walked to the sports bar we go to every year to get a very early dinner. I sat in the exact same seat that I had sat in two years before at the end of the table with my chair against the wall and across from Micah and next to John and Tal. I wasn’t the same girl I was back then. I’m maybe an inch taller, I weigh a little less, but I’ve done a heck of a lot more living. I’ve been through things younger me couldn’t even begin to comprehend. But in a way things hadn’t changed at all. Little me planned on going back to Penn Model Congress, sitting in that chair, and feeling nervous about debate.

Just like last time, we played the game where you write a person on a piece of paper, pass it to your neighbor, hold it up to your head, and ask yes or no questions until you figure out who it is. I had Pamela Anderson, who I know next to nothing about. Someone had to finally give me her initials. The whole debacle was just like Model UN this fall, when I had James Joyce stuck to my head, and someone told me that he was a social reformer. But the game was funny and made me laugh while I ate a bowl full of salad and a little Caesar dressing.

Back in the hotel, I picked up binder full of all the Green Senate bills and started going through the ones in my committee. With one hand firmly jammed in my hair, I cross referenced facts from my research, wrote down points, and outlined arguments. I was surprised by how poor a few of the bills were and thanked God that none of them were better than mine. Some of the worry wandered away, and I began to think that maybe I could do this. Soon enough, I was putting on my wrap dress and trying not to fall over while pulling up my stockings. I slid my feet into my pumps, grabbed my bag with both binders, and looked at myself in the mirror. This is what I’m going to look like as an adult, I thought, though hopefully I won’t be this nervous heading to the office.

As we walked across campus to Irving Auditorium, I repeated “I can do this. I am good at this. It will all be okay.” with each click of my heels on the stone path. Opening ceremonies began, and Joe Sestak gave an amazing speech. I nodded along when I discovered that our opinions about education policy are exactly the same. But the best part was when he was talking about the budget and how small programs that directly benefit the states and the people are being cut instead of military and other large program spending because of all a sudden he said: “It’s a pimple on an elephant.”

I laughed, and some of the anxiety washed away. But half an hour later, I was sitting in a classroom with fifteen other Senators feeling like the elves in my abdomen were having a rave and trying to claw their out through my stomach. I stood up to speak about the first bill and as always, thought that I sounded like a complete idiot. I began to cry, and as I tend do in public, let my hair cover my face as I slipped out of the room. This is it, I thought, Ella, you have seriously screwed up. And it really did feel like it was all a disaster, that I would be miserable for the next four days, and that I would go home royally embarrassed.

But Ashley was came out into the hallway and gave me a hug, and five minutes later, during his committee’s recess, Doc spoke to me. So after a few more minutes, I remembered Lady Macbeth, screwed my courage to the sticking point, decided that I would not fail, and marched back into the room. And things improved. They always do, even when it seems impossible. At the recess, I told the chairs about my anxiety disorder like a mature person, and did a tiny bit of socializing. I stood up to talk some more and used my research to make some great points.

Back at the hotel that evening, I relapsed and spent ten minutes sobbing. Pulling my act together, I promised myself that if half of tomorrow was as bad as tonight, I could call home. But the next morning was wonderful. We were in the Wharton School of Business, in a beautiful room, and I was in my element. I love talking to over a hundred people because no one is an individual anymore. It’s just me informing a mass of blurry faces. And I am pretty darn good at talking to blurry faces. I referenced and extolled the virtues of the Constitution, recalled New York Times and The Week articles from months ago, and wedged in a good deal of American history.

Musings on Transparency

I’ve known for a little while now that people I know are reading my blog. I’m not talking about my closest friends, of course–they’ve known all along–but the people who I see in class, the people who I pass in the hall, the people who I know nothing more about than their names. It’s a strange feeling to know that they’re seeing everything I post here, reading it, digesting it, and adjusting their perception of me. I write candidly, and my life is on display.

But I don’t mind. I never write anything here that I would be uncomfortable announcing to a room of fifty people. I shy away from cruel judgments of others or things–those are better left in my head and pushed away as immoral. I don’t post secrets. I try to never quote people without asking their permission. This blog is a safe representation of myself and the people I talk about.

In a way, it’s terribly exciting to know that people are interested in me enough to read it. It’s really nice to know they care. I am always trying to “figure people out,” to understand why they act the way that they do, and what’s behind the persona that they present to the world. It’s only fair that I also offer the insight that I seek.

There’s a large sense of revelry in living your life without confines. It’s liberating to tell people how you truly feel, what scares you, what you fear, and what makes you happy and hopeful. I like sharing things with the world and discovering what world shares with me. It makes for a more peaceful existence. Besides, I love things, people, and places too much to ever keep my joy and interest quiet. There’s just too much beauty.

There’s really only been one thing bad about finding out about this and that’s my insatiable desire to know who is reading my blog. I can’t help but look at people suspiciously now and wonder if they’ve seen it and what they think. Some part of me is desperate for their approval. But ultimately, none of that matters. This blog is really just for me to say the things I’m dying to share and to become a better writer.

So a warm hello to people who have discovered my blog and also know me in real life. It’s nice to have you here. I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I love writing it. And never be afraid to ask me about it when you see me or to leave a comment. I’m really curious to know who you are.