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.

Are You Positive There Isn’t Any Chocolate Left on my Face?

As it turns out biking over three miles and then walking around the city for four hours while you’re getting over being sick makes one very, very worn out.

But it was still a lovely day filled with chocolate cake, many, many books, running into friends, fancy Spanish cheeses, and minimal arguing.

I did try to take pictures, but it got dark very early and so the pictures look more than a little wonky. Whoops. I’ll post some well lit pictures of Pippa’s and my desserts tomorrow. Expect to be very jealous of the chocolate yum.

Also, happy book birthday to Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher whose book, The Future of Us, (which I reviewed here) came out today! It was fun going into a bookstore and seeing it on display. It’s fantastic, and you should read it.

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.

A Whirlwind Adventure That Probably Shouldn’t Be Classified As Such

Pippa is coming home tomorrow, and we’re going on a whirlwind adventure.

And by whirlwind I mean that we’re shopping, picking some things up for my mom, and eating a meal.

But whirlwind sounds so much better. It sounds like we’re going to be dashing places at top speed, all light and floaty, when in reality, the fastest we’re going to travel is probably going to be the speed of the subway, which is not known for its effortless elegance. Orange plastic benches, grime, loud noises, and crowds don’t really cast an image of grace.

But still. It will be fun. I am making sure of that.

On a different note, hopefully, I’ll remember to take the camera so you all can see us as we tromp through the city streets. Additionally, I will try not to purchase any more books for myself, as I have run out of shelf space again, but I’m not sure if that is a promise I can keep. (Three tall bookcases in my room are no longer cutting it. They’re in tall piles on the floor, wedged on top of books in the shelves, and inside of every drawer and cubby in my desk. They obstruct traffic. It’s a problem.)

Also, I hope that I stop coughing soon, because it is really putting a damper on doing things I want to do, like writing more, for example.

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.

Pippa’s Comforter and the Cats

Remember that time I said that I stole Pippa’s comforter because the power was out and I needed more blankets? Well, it was probably one of my greatest decisions of the week.

The cats are in love with it. They don’t care for it on her bed, but when it’s on mine, they’re all over it all of the time. I think it’s just because the bed is super cushy now, but I can’t keep them off of it. Trying to sleep with the three of them on there is incredibly difficult as much as it is enjoyable.

Also, Maxwell and I have become a very good lonely team. He follows me all over the house and sits in my lap or next to me while I’m writing or staring at the walls. It’s very sweet.

For the month, you can find me updating my word count on NaNoWriMo 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.

A Lousy Week and That Time Ella Made Pippa Be a Groom for Halloween

I’ve been having a very lousy week so far.

Like only wearing pajamas lousy.

Also not getting out of bed all day lousy.

And not cleaning anything up lousy.

Just lousy.

So I’ve been drowning my sorrows in cold organic applesauce (none of that sugar added junk for me), cornbread, orange juice, and miniature Snickers bars. It’s not a very healthy diet.

I’ve been doing lots of writing (and forgetting to update my word count on my NaNoWriMo account), but everything else has been entirely neglected as I stare at walls and cry.

And after that major suckage, let’s have a funny story and picture.

When I was five, I was very into marriage. But I wasn’t into it in the way that most little kids were. I was into the idea of marriage and officiating fake marriages for other kids and had no interested in getting “married” myself. I was just absolutely fascinated by how fickle my classmates’ relationships were. Marital status seemed to change every five minutes and did not at all reflect what I saw in actual marriage among adults.

Yet despite all of that, I was intent upon being a bride for Halloween. Aznd I needed a groom to complete the picture.

And that’s where Pippa factored into the equation. You see, three-year-old sisters are nothing if not good at being talked into things. So Pippa got dressed up in a little tux, and my father used my mother’s eyeliner (without asking, may I add) to draw her a goatee. I wore an actual wedding dress my mother purchased at a consignment shop that she pinned up so that I wouldn’t be constantly tripping and a lot of white tulle stitched to a white headband. Then, my father put on his white tuxedo (I will never understand why he decided that he needs both a white one and a black one) and took us trick-or-treating. Everyone thought Pippa was a boy, and it was hilarious.

The end.

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 Gets Locked in the Study ALL NIGHT LONG

I have just done something I have had nightmares about for ages.

No, I did not get kidnapped or have to watch Pippa be brutalized. I was also not forced to marry anyone against my will.

I did, however, lock myself inside of a room. The study, to be exact.

Somewhere around eleven thirty when Pippa called and I shut the door so that I could tell her SEKRIT things without being overheard and now, the wood in the door swelled, and now I can’t get it open. I’ve even tried that ridiculous thing where you put both feet on the wall to use all of your body weight (and also pretty much guaranteeing your general demise should the door spring open suddenly and your body go flying backwards into the wall). Nothing has worked.

But instead of going into full-blown panic mode, I’m mostly amused. I’ve written “I AM STUCK!!! PLEASE SAVE ME!!!” notes and slipped them under the door and out into the hall for someone to see when they wake up, and it’s not like I’m going to be stuck in here forever. It’ll just be until six a.m. And I can handle until six a.m.

It’s rather strange living out a nightmare. Being trapped is a lot less scary than I thought. My two biggest concerns are one, that Zelda will need to pee and she will refuse to use make-shift litter box I’ve made her (empty cardboard box that once held reams of paper, all the plastic things I could find to line it, and a ton of shredded paper) and two, that Zelda and I will sleep through the time while everyone else is up, and then we’ll be stuck in here until eight p.m. without food or a toilet. We do have drinks, though because I was smart enough to carry a whole carton of orange juice plus a glass when I first came in here hours ago.

In the meantime, I’m going to look up youtube videos of people trapped in elevators so that I can both give them proper empathy and feel better about my own plight.

Edit: This would be significantly easier if I hadn’t already spent pretty much the entire day in this same room. There would be things to EXPLORE.

Edit: After much yanking, the door finally opened at around five a.m. and I was able to sleep for a few hours. Zelda made an immediate trip to the litter box and proceeded to ignore me for many hours. I think she’s convinced I did this on purpose.

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 Is Worn Out

I would love to gripe about math to you, to tell you just how hard I’m trying and just how much I continue to fail, but I won’t. Because I’ve done that a lot already and no one needs to hear it again.

Instead, maybe I’ll tell you about how bothersome it is to have run out of shelf space and room for new bookshelves, about how I’ve got stacks of books inside the cubbies of my desk, in piles next to the closet, and balanced on top of the books already in my three, large bookcases. But I’d bet that would be annoying, too. No one likes to listen to storage complaints.

I think something upbeat, amusing, fun would be a good choice. I probably ought to recount yesterday’s adventure before some of the details slide from my memory, before the images of the parks and signing become a bit more pixilated.

Ah, but you’ve forgotten that I’m worn out today. There was the calming down from yesterday’s overwhelming amount of stimuli and today’s surprise three-hour-long babysitting job. There was even a huge sleep-deficit to make up. All I can bare to do is study for the SAT, watch videos on Khan Academy, and read.

But I didn’t lie in bed and stare at the wall all day. That’s an activity only for my “dark days” when I’m too depressed to travel further than the bathroom. I was busy until mid-afternoon, and I spent a long time talking to Pippa and Cecelia*, though not at the same time and not about the same things.

In other news, Pippa and I have finally gotten into Pottermore, so there was sorting and wand-getting to be done. Pippa’s a Ravenclaw with a 14-inch unicorn hair rowan wand, and I’m a Gryffindor with a 10 3/4 inch unicorn hair rowan wand. And, you know, that is pretty darn exciting.

There are numerous “extras” to read where Rowling finally explains McGonagall’s past and the history of the Hogwarts Express, and there are all sorts of flash games to “brew” potions and “duel” other students. I like the reading, but Pippa likes the playing, so I’ll probably end up giving her access to my account to get me more points. Such is the beauty of younger sisters**. You can always persuade (force) them to do the things you don’t want to***.

*Cecelia is the greatest.

**I’m kidding, of course. I do not recommend mistreating your younger sister. She will grow up to be taller, bigger, and scarier than you, and you will regret every single dollar you conned her out of when you were ten. Also, I hear being nice is considered a “good” quality.

***From the time I was six until I was twelve, I forced Pippa to drink my milk at dinner. Surprisingly, my mother never had a clue until we told her earlier this year.

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

Once Upon a Time Pippa and Ella Were Adorable

I spent a huge portion of today scanning pictures and editing photographs. It’s well after midnight, and I still have quite a ways to go.

Here are a few unedited pictures from my childhood:

A Museum Gala Dedicating a Gallery to My Great Grandfather (from left to right: Pippa, cousin, Ella)

Boca Raton (left to right: Pippa, Jean L'Ours, Ella

I also spent about three hours in the mall, shopping with my mom. On the upside, I got to take pictures of all the ridiculous clothes and send them to people while I waited for my mom outside of the dressing rooms. My favorite was the weird thong attached to a tutu-thing I found at Victoria’s Secret, which I sadly don’t have in picture form on the internet yet. (When I get it, it will be posted. It is totally worth it.) The other best thing about being dragged in there is standing by the door and watching guys nearly run into a conveniently positioned planter because they’re looking at the mannequins and posters in front of the store instead of the ground in front of them. Finally, if you get really bored with all of those shenanigans, you can sit on the floor next to the dressing rooms, put underwear from the nearby display on your head, and send a picture to your younger sister, Pippa, who will call you a dork and ask you to buy her clothes.

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

Pippa Leaves for School

Pippa left for school yesterday. And yes, some selfish, wicked part of me was glad to see her gone. We’re like oil and water, we naturally repel the other, but there are times, like when you’re boiling pasta, when when we make an excellent team. There will be no more fights over the state of the bathroom. I won’t be able to call her vapid and petty for watching too much tv and not caring about current events, and she won’t be there to call me neurotic and lame. But she usually becomes my best friend when were in an unfamiliar situation or when one of us is afraid.

It’s kind of odd, but when Pippa is gone, I feel a lot more alone. The house is oddly quiet and still. The slightly metallic sounds of video chatting voices, muffled by the walls are gone, and I don’t hear the laugh tracks from comedies until late into the night. When I lie in bed now, it’s just me and the cats and the the faint chirping of crickets and cicadas. I don’t spend those restless minutes before sleep wondering what jokes are amusing the studio audiences so much.

So yes, I will miss her a great deal, but she’ll come home for Thanksgiving and call every few days with exciting news. It seems like every weekend the school has booked some stand-up comedian or there’s a big dance or a carnival with mechanical bulls or a bungee cord/trampoline contraption. (It’s hearing about those exciting sorts of things that make me think, Why did I not choose to go to prep school? And then I remember exactly how much I love my friends and school at home and just how much I ended up rather disliking the school when I went to visit–too many rich kids caught up in their own little WASP-y world who don’t understand that so much hardship exists outside of their sheltered lives, also there are too many uneducated conservatives who only support the Republican Party because of their economic policies that help the wealthy and big corporations and destroy small businesses and lower and middle class Americans.*) She’s happy there, much happier than when she’s at home.

I wish her much luck during the dreaded Junior year of too many APs and too little sleep, and may she find many more moments of tranquility than I did in eleventh grade.

*I believe that sentence wins the Ella’s Most Poorly Formed Sentence of the Week Award by a long shot.

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!