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.

Random 3rd Grade Ramblings

So, this is Eleanor’s mother, who’s been pressed into service as Eleanor’s substitute Thurs.-night-March-31st blog writer while she’s flying the flag at Model UN.

I’m fresh off a day of student teaching my inclusive class of third graders, so I thought I’d throw some random third grade happenings out there — for lack of anything better to say.  (I woke up at 5:55 am this morning to rehearse for a formal lesson observation on measuring angles, so my brain isn’t up for anything more profound.)

  • After flag salute this morning, one of my teachers gently informed me that I was wearing my sweater inside out.  I guess that’s what comes of getting dressed in the dark.  I comforted myself that I was in good company, since Jason arrived at school last week with his jeans on backwards.  (If you’re wondering how he got them on in the first place, you’ve forgotten the magic of elasticized backs.)
  • Annemarie was having trouble locating the word “hopefully” in the dictionary — a difficulty I was able to set right once I discovered she was looking it up in the “w’s”.
  • I learned that Connor thinks Columbus sailed to Mexico on the Mayflower.  Other ship candidates included the Pinto and El Ninyo.
  • Ten minutes is a long time to squat in the dark in a closet with 22 kids for a lockdown drill when the boy across from you is claustrophobic.  At least I wasn’t sitting at the other end of the closet, where Garfield was keeping his friends entertained with a steady stream of farts.
  • This past week, I’ve been getting an intensive refresher course in knock-knock jokes and bus driver riddles, as well as the lowdown on the relative coolness of various Lego Skeleton and Ninja weaponry. Nunchucks are clearly superior to shurikens, swords, and giant golden dog bones.

That’s all from crazy third-grade land.  I’m off to bed.

When Nutella French Toast Goes on a Soviet Trip Into Space

Today, I went out to brunch with my family. We piled in the car and drove to the restaurant. After discovering that we had to wait for thirty minutes, wandering into an Italian deli, and explaining to my mother how earthquake magnitudes are measured, we were seated. I love the smell of pancakes and bacon and all of the happy morning chatter. I had an apple soda in a mason jar, which reminded me of being ten and having picnics in my neighbor’s tree house. If there were pieces of turkey a in cigar box, brought into the tree house by way of a pulley, the memory would be complete.

I sat in the booth, one arm hugging myself and my other hand tracing the groves of the jar like it was Braille, and tried to decide on something. It’s okay. You can eat anything. It’ll all be fine, I kept repeating to myself. A private little mantra. Just do what you practice in therapy, and it’ll all be okay. After trying to estimate the number of calories in several things, shivering at the idea of eggs (I haven’t had an omelet since I was eight, and I certainly don’t plan on starting now.), and contemplating putting my head down on the table and refusing to speak to anyone until I calmed down, I chose something. Nutella stuffed French toast with strawberries. It was something that I knew I would enjoy even though I can rattle off the nutrition facts off the top of my head. (200 calories for two tablespoons of Nutella, and half of it is from fat.)

Then, it came. And when it was right in front of me, looking me in the eye, I thought, Man, this looks really, really good, and not, How many calories does challah have? Because if there are at least three tablespoons of Nutella, and the chalah is about 200 a slice, then… I picked up my fork and knife and dug in. Actually dug in. Like I’m going to eat all of this and complain if someone takes it away from me before I’m done, digging in.

And it was great. The Nutella reminded me of France and how I once ate a heaping spoonful of it while reading all of Life of Pi in one afternoon. The stawberries reminded me of summer and the time I ate an entire carton all by myself underneath the deck when I was nine. (Pippa, if you’re reading this, sorry for blaming you when Mom asked where they all went.) And the challah reminded me of the bakery we used to go to when I was little and lived in Washington.

Pippa talked about how she was going to dye her hair and accidentally said, “Hair is just dead brain cells.” Then, she smacked me when I laughed. I deserved it, but it did hurt. Halfway through the meal, my  dad made everyone tell a joke. When Pippa said, “knock, knock,” I responded, “come in!” After that, I told the joke that had been making my dad laugh all week,”What’s the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts? Beer nuts are about a dollar fifty and deer nuts are under a buck.” Sadly, until a few days ago I thought that the joke was about how deer droppings looked like nuts.

For some reason, after telling a lame joke off a Dixie cup from her childhood, my mom decided to talk about Vladimir Komarov, the first Soviet to travel into space more than once and the first human to die during a space mission (when the Soyuz module crashed after re-entry on April 24 1967). Obviously, this freaked the beegeebus out of me. I do not like heights, and I do not like airplanes. The last time I flew in an airplane I had to be heavily medicated, and I still panicked and ended up accidentally slapping my father. Thus, I do not like thinking too much about space travel. So for the next hour and a half, my food triumph was ignored, and all I could think about was dying in airplane crash. Thanks, Mom.

Happily, I’ve mostly gotten that whole incident out of my head and am now celebrating my food triumph. Because that’s the right thing to do. I’m not planning on becoming an astronaut, so I don’t have to worry about that, right? Yeah, Nutella stuffed French toast with strawberries is so much more important.

On Breathing Too Quickly, Crying, and Freaking-Out

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with sleeping lately. Ever since Miles died in his sleep, I’m scared that the same will happen to me. I made the doctor who is monitoring my anorexia spend extra time checking my heart a few weeks ago, but the knowledge that my heart is perfectly healthy hasn’t helped the anxiety.

For the past week and a half I have had a panic attack every night. Sometimes, like last weekend, it has lead to extreme detachment. Other times, it leads to me being convinced that I have died. But mostly, I’m sure that if I go to sleep and therefore loose consciencousness, I’ll die.

Logical? No.

Easy for people around me to deal with? No.

Enjoyable? You’re funny.

Remember this post, The Medication Adventures Continue? Well, my mother discovered that if I take the medication at eight, I am knocked out by ten. While this has helped me get more sleep, it hasn’t stopped the anxiety, as proven by yesterday’s attack when I attempted to walk out of the house while crying, making weird noises, flailing my hands, and marching. (I know that this makes me sound deranged. I swear that I am not. I’m quite normal most of the time.)

Here’s to hoping that tonight is better. I mean, it has to improve at some point, right?

Dinner Table Conversations: Part Two

Pippa arrived home tonight from prep school and immediately began bouncing off the walls like a human cannonball. After she finished chasing Maxwell Perkins around the living room in an effort to hold him, she plopped herself down at the dining room table. The following ensued.

In describing a friend, Pippa said, “She’s from one of the little Spains.” This was then modified, albiet jokingly, as “the one with the mushrooms.”

Later, when she was complaining about how she was the youngest and only non-Asian in her math class, my mother said, “You need to represent your race, Pippa! Caucasian pride!” This was met with a bemused and curious look from my father as he momentarily appeared from behind his New York Times crossword. I just laughed and shook my head.

It’s good to have Pippa home. I’m sure the shenanigans* will continue.

*Pippa just leaned over my shoulder and thought that said “Albanians.”

On the Freezing Cold, Godmothers, Sun Dresses, and Chocolate Frappes

Today, I headed into the City with my mother to meet up with my godmother and her daughter, Isla, to spend the morning shopping, before having lunch at a restaurant specializing in chocolate.

It snowed last night, so when we got up this morning, we had to shovel out, before driving to the only train station in town that’s open on holidays and weekends. We got there, and we were standing on the platform, staring at the train waiting on the other tracks until someone told us that the trains were running on the opposite sides of the tracks today. Then, we had to run lickity-split up three flights of stairs through the glass overpass and back down the other set of stairs. Normally, I would have required five minutes to inch my way up and down the stairs and God knows how long across the overpass, but I was moving too quickly to even think about the height. Skidding our way onto the train, we collapsed into our seats, and endured a train ride riddled with delays and passenger confusion at every stop.

We hopped on the subway and headed downtown to spend some shopping before meeting up with my godmother. I insisted upon dragging my mother into my second-favorite independent book store (after Politics and Prose, of course). She kept insisting that she had never been there before, until we walked in. Living with my dad means that you will spend lots of time in bookstores, pouring over history books and getting antsy after it’s been an hour and a half, and he’s showing no sign of leaving. We bought Pippa some gifts for a care package and a cookbook, because cookbooks and do-hickeys are the sorts of things you buy when you go book shopping with my mother. I got happily lost in the new books and memoirs sections because that’s what you buy when you go book shopping with me.

We braved the terrible cold and mighty wind to walk over to agnès b where I fell in love with a million blazers that I most certainly did not need, but most certainly wanted. After meeting up with my godmother and Isla, we went to Free People, which is a store quite firmly on my list of places-where-I-walk-in-and-want-everything-in-sight. I milled around and wondering, for the millionth time, how do people come up with so many amazing designs? (I’m always wondering when and what will happen when all the creative ideas in the world will run out, when every idea will all be used up and already done, and they’ll be nothing else to find. I don’t expect that it will ever happen, but it’s a thought that keeps me going when I can’t sleep, and I’ve exhausted nearly every self-conversation topic in the book.)

My mother ended up getting me a bunch of things for my birthday. . .which is in late May. Though to be fair, a majority of the clothes were summer and spring oriented. I’m a very, very happy camper. My favorite piece that my mother bought me was this dress:

I can't wait to walk around barefoot at my beach house in this dress with my straw hat on my head.

I love dresses with low backs like this.

Then, my godmother surprised me by buying me the other dress that I really wanted. I still can’t believe my windfall. It’s just lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Sun dresses are such the best, and I love them so so so much. Like big smiles and laugher much. This is what that dress looks like:

My love of eyelet knows no bounds.

I love the corset detail on the back.

Today was one of those days where shopping makes me feel beautiful and charming and attractive. Everything I put on fit, and I liked nearly everything that I brought into the dressing room. My godmother found the best pair of cargo pants (and I am not normally a fan of cargo pants) that fit me really well. Among other things, I now have another long-sleeved purple shirt. God, I love purple. The saleslady wrapped it all up and put it in the neatest bag. I swear, all of my favorite clothing stores have developed bags that I want to reuse again and again and again. I mean, look at it:

It just begs to carry home groceries and the like.

Lunch was amazing. The restaurant we went to is, essentially, a shrine to chocolate. There are pipes on the ceiling that are actually pumping chocolate, and right when you walk in, you see these giant vats, stirring gallons and gallons of chocolate. And the smell just hits you like…uh…a bulldozer carrying all things good and wonderful. The food is wonderful, the waffle fries are dusted with cocoa (and other spices), and every time I read the dessert menu my brain melts a little, and I feel tempted to order anything and everything on it. (Of course, the little voice of anorexia kicks in pretty quickly, and I start estimating the number of calories in whatever I’ve picked out and the number of calories I’ve burned by walking around.)

My godmother and I both had fish tacos, and Isla and my mom both had a B.L.A.T. (a B.L.T. with avocado). I really, really wanted to order for one of them and say, ” I’ll have the splat, I mean blat, please!” but I didn’t, because I’m seventeen now and mature (about three-quarters of the time). And the food was really, really good. There was mango in my taco, and for some inexplicable, yet awesome, reason, my mom gave me all of her waffle fries. I ate one and the rest are hanging out in the fridge in a doggy bag for when I feel less like a tub of jelly.

But while the food-food portion of the meal was excellent, the dessert portion was miles and miles better. I had a combo that came on the cutest tiny cake stand dusted with powdered sugar that had a little chocolate cake with a red raspberry heart, a shot glass with a chocolate frappe and loads of whipped cream, and a tiny saucer with vanilla bourbon ice cream with crêpe flakes. And I did a pretty good job of eating half of it and enjoying it, too.

While I really had to fight against the anxiety over all the calories that I was consuming and the worry that no one would like the restaurant that I picked, I managed to make it through the meal unscathed. I took lots of deep breaths, counted by threes to ninety-nine and negative ninety-nine, and did various mudras under the table. It was hard work not to talk about the nutritional value of the food, if I looked too fat, or if everyone was having a good time every five seconds, but I saved all of those concerns for therapy this afternoon. I consider that a job quite well done.

In other news, I have been asked to give the Senior Sermon at my Episcopal Church. I’m very, very excited and nervous, but mostly excited.

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.