Cornelius and the Mystery of Credit Card Numbers

Pippa just burst into my room to tell me a story that definitely bears repeating.

She was Skyping with her best friend, Jeanne, and the two of them were privy to a very amusing conversation between Jeanne’s younger brother (whose name is–and this is not made up or exaggerated in the slightest–Cornelius) and her mom.

Scene: Cornelius is trying to purchase some item off of the internet using his mother’s credit card.

Cornelius: Mom! I don’t know what the website wants me to do! It says that I need to type in the credit card number! Where is it?

Jeanne’s Mom: It’s on the front of the card!

Cornelius: Yeah, but which number?

Jeanne’s Mom: The ones on the front! It’s obvious, Cornelius!

Cornelius: There are a lot of numbers! Which one do they want? Which one should I choose?

They continued to volley back and forth until it became evident that Cornelius thought that he needed to pick one of the many numbers on the card to type while checking out, and Jeanne’s mom ended up taking the computer away and completing the transaction for him.

In a way, I suppose that it’s a good thing that he was so clueless when it came to using a credit card–kids shouldn’t be given them until they know the real value of money and how easily you can get yourself in trouble with this magic rectangle of plastic–but I’m rather shocked that he didn’t know how to use one online. I can remember shopping for clothes from DPam (their kids clothes are so cute!) when I was seven and watching my mom use her credit card on a website. Somehow, Cornelius has managed to get through fourteen years of his life without observing this once.

In other news, I just spent half and hour looking at children’s clothes and debating whether or not I could justify purchasing a dress if I got it in a size 14 kids. I fit into that size at Petit Bateau.

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Pippa is Seventeen!

I have a stomach full of chocolate cake, a new black cloche, and very tired feet. Pippa’s birthday has been celebrated with much pomp and circumstance.

The birthday girl:

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In Which Ella and Pippa Christmas Shop and Ella Discovers Out of Print Clothing

Today, I picked up Pippa in the city as she returned home for her ridiculously long winter vacation. Boarding school, man, those kids get everything (except for Saturday morning classes).

And because we were in the city, we figured it was time for some Christmas shopping. I’m not talking let’s-go-into-Macy’s-to-only-look-at-the-displays-and-not-buy-anything-or-that-really-big-H&M-that’s-like-close-to-that-big-building-you-know-that-one shopping. Honestly, if appartition were possible, and I could only use it a limited number of times, avoiding that area of the city during this time of the year would be on the list.

(Also, someone seems to have gotten together and informed people that it’s a really good idea to pose for pictures at the bottom of escalators and stairs in subway and train stations. Note: This is a terrifically poor plan for all those involved. Not only are you a danger to people riding on the escalator, but your picture will be filled with the murderous faces of everyone behind you. Getting a feel for the city in your pictures is great, just try to take your “we’re in a station!” picture somewhere else.)

Instead, Pippa and I went shopping elsewhere and after what felt like hours of going through racks of clothes, I bought Pippa a hunter green cashmere dress, which I later had to stop her from rubbing all over her face while we were walking down a flight of stairs. During the winter, Pippa is addicted to cashmere. It’s odd not to see her totting around her big blue blanket or wearing a sweater.

And then I bought way too many books. By the time we got to the bookstore, Pippa was exhausted and in pain (the result of a desk landing on her foot and carrying around a very heavy bag), so the book shopping trip was shorter than I had hoped it would be (which is to say that I dragged her around the store for over half an hour). She also dealt with the brunt of my freak-out upon discovering that they sell tee-shirts with the original covers of classic books.

I mean, look at this genius!

There’s a whole company devoted to this type of clothing! It’s called Out of Print Clothing, and I have suddenly found myself in desperate need of all of it. They even have kids clothes, so all young children in my life, get prepared for your next birthday–it’s going to be awesome.

Pippa restricted me to one shirt that was immediately handed over to my parents for safe-keeping until Christmas. I am having supreme amounts of trouble resisting the urge to go find it and give it a hug and longing stares (not unlike my relationship with cats at the animal shelter). In the meantime, you can find me drooling all over my keyboard while pretending to buy massive amounts of tee shirts.

On a different note, the worldwide film rights of Laini Taylor‘s Daughter of Smoke and Bone were acquired by Universal Pictures! I’m so excited for her and the book!

I’d say that this was a good 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.

In Which Ella Buys Books for Christmas

Since Thanksgiving is officially over, I can finally justify getting started on my Christmas shopping. And let me tell you, I take my Christmas shopping very, very seriously. While I do enjoy receiving presents (particularly books, all relatives who have been asking me for a Christmas wishlist), giving gifts is a thousand times more fun and exciting.

Today, after dropping Pippa at the the train station, I took the subway downtown to my favorite independent bookstore, The Strand, and hung out in their children’s book section for over an hour selecting titles for my youngest cousins. Of course, I can’t tell you any of the names here, because those two wonderful scoundrels could potentially wind up on this blog, but trust me, the books are good.

It was interesting selecting them because I am neither a ten-year-old boy or a twelve-year-old girl, and I have never had restrictions on what I was allowed to read. If it was in the house or the librarian would let me check it out, I could read it.

I was the type of kid that knew my own limits and would ask my parents questions about everything, and it all worked out okay. I read Fast Food Nation when I was ten and began making self-righteous rants about nutrition and cruelty anytime we passed a fast-food restaurant and throughly enjoyed being taken to two-hour long speeches about a book on Myanmar when I was nine (During the question and answer session I got to ask the author why he chose to write the book and completely surprised the author and audience with the seriousness of the question and how sincerely and earnestly I asked it. I also tried to convince my dad to let me visit the country, but for obvious reasons I wasn’t allowed.).

So when I was collecting books that I thought might interest my cousins, it felt strange to have to ask myself about how appropriate the book would be for that age group. One day, I know that the twelve-year-old will love Shine by Lauren Myracle someday, but rape, drug abuse, and a hate crime don’t exactly add up to something the average parent wants their twelve year old daughter to be reading. The oral sex scene, cursing, and smoking also knocked Looking for Alaska by John Green out of the running, even though I had been exactly her age when I read it. And even Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan was probably too much, considering that the characters meet each other in a porn store (they’re both there by accident), and there is some underaged drinking.

The ten-year-old was a bit more difficult because while I have been a twelve-year-old girl at one point, I have never been male. And from what I’ve heard, boys don’t often enjoy the same books as girls. Something about the ridiculously sparkling vampires and drama-filled romances seem to put them off, and frankly I can’t say that I disagree with them in many cases. It takes the rare author to pull it off. (Stephanie Perkins, I’m looking at you.) So I approached this gift selection with a bit of help. An employee and I traipsed up and down the aisles searching for things he might like, a task made more difficult by the fact that his reading abilities far outstrip his maturity–not many ten-year-olds are happily reading The Lord of the Rings on their own.

But despite the limitations, I still have a whole bunch of excellent books to give to both of them, and I cannot wait to hear what they think of them. December 25th cannot come soon enough.

Next on the Christmas to-do list is taking care of the cards and finding the world’s most ridiculous pair of underwear to give to Pippa as a gag gift. Pippa, the strange tutu-thong get-up I saw in Victoria’s Secret a few months ago is no longer for sale, but just you wait, I’ll find something ten times worse. Watch me.

And with that, Maxwell and I bid you all a good night from our very cushy and warm pile of blankets and pillows.

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 a weird 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.