Ella, Tee Shirts, and Holden Caulfield

I am not the sort of person who normally wears boxy tee shirts or shirts with words on them–I don’t even own many shirts with patterns–but I do have an extreme weakness for shirts with literary references or clever jokes. The last time Pippa and I were at The Strand, she physically dragged me away from the shirt selection and this was done after I had already selected a The Great Gatsby sweatshirt to buy for her.

I am currently sleeping in a metal_floss tee shirt that says, “Hyperbole is the Best Thing Ever!”

Then, this afternoon I discovered that DFTBA Records is selling this shirt:

Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books by far, to the point where I once told my mom, while heavily doped up on medication, that I was going to name my children Holden and Gatsby, even if they were girls.

Of course, I don’t *need* this shirt, but I certainly predict that one will be in my possession within the next few months.

In Which Ella Meets John and Hank Green

Today, I journeyed into the city for some adventuring and to see John and Hank Green at a signing. It was fantastic. I’m much to tired and giddy with excitement, so tonight’s post will be limited to some pictures of the event taken with my iPhone. If you stick around and check back tomorrow, expect a very long post full of gushing about how surreal and fun it was to finally meet them.


On Friday, I’ll write about this week’s reader’s chosen topic, so vote here:


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.


These Words Are Calm and Brown, the Color of Coffee Mixed With Milk

My dress smells like coffee, the way that all clothing and hair does when it stays inside of a coffee shop too long. Pippa and I sat for hours at a small table next to the window and an outlet as I wrote a incredibly long email to Sadie, and she annotated a book on the Founding Fathers. When she mentioned Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton’s duel, I laughed and tried to get her more enthusiastic about it. But twenty pages of dense academic writing can be boring if you’re not a history lover, so I just posted links to her Facebook wall in a half-joking manner. I doubt she’ll read any of the articles about the duel or Aaron Burr’s treason, but it felt nice to try to share something I feel so passionate about.

But I wasn’t thinking about Aaron Burr and the way that his name begins and ends with double letters or Alexander Hamilton and the fact that he wasn’t born in the United States when I first noticed the coffee smell that had infused my clothes and hair. I was just lying on my back, diagonal across the bed, staring at the ceiling. I had read the previews of Laini Taylor’s and Maureen Johnson’s new books earlier in the day, and I was hungry for more. Hungry in a way that made my neck hurt and my fingers tingle, because I wanted to grab those books and hole up in a corner of the house and just read. Read and read and read. But I couldn’t. They don’t come out until the end of September.

So I just lay there and thought about the way that the coffee smell was so close to that of cigarettes after you’ve been around somebody whose been chain smoking. The way that my clothing used to smell on Thanksgiving. Only the coffee doesn’t make me choke or give me headaches, or make me screw up my eyes and hold my breath as I move to someplace in the house that isn’t quite so full of smoke. But even though I hate, hate, hate cigarettes, I always associated the smell with love and smooth mashed potatoes and online poker and horse racing where you use fake money instead of credit cards and cold wind that turns my cheeks red when I run across the fairgrounds to play on the swings.

Coffee just smells like work.

So I closed my eyes, pulled my hair roughly out of its ponytail, draped the ends across my face, and just lay back. Because I needed some sort of good idea. Something to write that was proper fiction or at least something to turn into blog post. But nothing was coming. My mind was just blank and lethargic, the way it always is after I stay up too late for too many nights without taking any naps.

And I wished that I could have people to hang out with so that I didn’t have to write so many darn letters. Because I’m scared of this quote from a John Green novel, An Abundance of Katherines: “You can love someone so much…But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”

But I didn’t cry because crying means admitting how lonely and jealous I sometimes am when all I want to be is happy and excited for everyone gone at college. I just opened my computer and wrote all of this down in some jumbled sort of mess because it sounded nice inside my head. It was calm and pale brown, like coffee mixed with milk after the swirling of the white against the dark brown has stopped, and it’s just one smooth color. And the words needed to find a home.

In Which Ella Gleefully Shares Math With You

Today’s post comes to you today by numbers!

As a rule, I am generally not fond of math, and I dislike it for two reasons. One, I am not particularly good at it, and two, I dislike problems with only one solution. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to discover a few things. The purpose of math is not to make me cry, and it can actually be more than a little fascinating. It’s less about the certainty that two and two make four, and more about how circles are actually bloated triangles. It’s an abstract system that explains the world around us, and not a torture mechanism designed to cause me distress.

I’ve been thinking about math a lot lately, especially the way that my body automatically does it to figure out when I can cross the street without being hit by cars, so you can imagine my surprise and happiness at discovering that John’s Vlogbrother’s video today was all about “the education continuum and why math and literature both help us understand the universe in surprisingly similar ways.” This was exactly what I had been stewing over for weeks! Yessss! Validation! I thought and immediately scurried off to share the video with the masses.

I’ve posted the video below, and I hope you’ll watch it.

Dinner Table Conversations: Part One

Tonight, I was raving about Looking for Alaska at the dinner table. (I had just re-read it for the fifth time.)

Me: Dad, you really need to read this! It’s not even that long! Listen to this:

“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and falling. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail” (220).

Isn’t that beautiful? (I wave the book around to get his attention.)

Dad: Ella, I don’t want to read it. I’m reading other things.

Me: Come on, Dad! It’s short and fabulous!

Dad: Like Truman Capote?

Dad and I laugh and high-five, and Mom wonders how she ended up with a man who comes up with quips that quickly.