October Snow Storm

I thought today might be a nice day to share some photographs from the snow storm on Saturday and the aftermath on Sunday.

I took a very long bike ride today–over seven miles–and the entire town is just littered with downed limbs and wires. It looks the way I imagined the town to be after Hurricane Irene–nature utterly ripped apart by the weather. It’s so easy to look at a tall, wide, old tree and think, nothing short of a chainsaw could take this sucker down, and then along comes some frozen water and does the job without a wood-chipper and electricity. I’d have taken a picture, but I was far more focused on not having a branch land on me or letting any

But when you ignore all of the damage and the fact that the parks in town are going to be looking a little sparse, it’s incredibly beautiful. I heard today that it hasn’t snowed this early and with this ferocity since the Civil War, and to think that I’m alive to see this awesome (and I mean that in the awe-inspiring sense of the word, and not the cool-dude meaning) feat of nature that generations have missed is spectacular. The juxtaposition of the bright leaves against the snow, and the fallen beauty of destroyed trees is oddly lovely.

And I even have to admit that a huge part of me actually enjoyed the power outage. I like finally being able to use all of those half-burnt advent candles for something–watching those various lengths of pink, white, and deep purple wax jammed into candleholders and set up next to the stove so that we can actually see what we’re cooking. I like eating “Saturday night supper” with my parents, a meal I haven’t had in years. Nothing says New England like franks and beans, with a little bacon thrown in, of course. I liked contorting my neck into odd positions so that I could read lying down while holding a flashlight. And even though I was quite cold, it was fun having to pile loads of blankets on the bed and wearing long underwear, thick flannel pajamas, and my favorite flannel nightgown (It buttons up to my chin and comes down to mid shin. It may not be hip or very becoming, but it’s absolutely perfect) over all of that. I liked having all the cats huddled even closer to me than usual as we slept. But I must admit that it was wonderful to wake up and discover that we had power and–much more importantly–internet back.

Here’s the scene during the storm:

And here is Sunday morning:

Just for comparison’s sake, here’s a picture of one of the huge storms last winter:

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.

Kidnapping the Magical Math Elves

Today, I trudged up the street through the snow and drizzle to Tal’s house so that she could help me with math. As I walked, I wanted to throw my notebook into the air, watch it become soaked on the ground, and stomp on it. But I didn’t, because I am a Big Girl now. So I took several deep breaths, kept moving, and braced myself for the anxiety and panic associated with not understanding math.

I sat down at Tal’s family room table and proudly showed off the seven problems that I completed by myself. Then, we got to the hard stuff. The stuff I missed. The stuff that might as well be Ancient Greek. But Tal was my Rosetta Stone. Patiently, she explained each problem, writing explanations on the back of an email from the Guidance Department. And it all made sense. Of course, arcsin x was the same thing as sin-1 x! Who doesn’t know that arcsines and sines cancel each other out?

My heart rate didn’t elevate, my breathing wasn’t ragged, and I didn’t feel any waves of electric anxiety. Doing this math was easy. No more Magical Math Elves. And it’s all thanks to Tal. I don’t think she’ll ever know just how grateful I am.

I’ve got those magical math elves bound with zip ties and in a tarp filled with rocks. Anyone want to drive to river with me to dump them in?

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.

It’s Been One Snow-Filled Month

There has officially been snow on the ground for a month. One WHOLE month. And the weather has decided to celebrate this month-iversary? (weirdest term) 1/12 anniversary? by hitting us with yet another snow storm. I’m positively ecstatic.

Naturally, I’ve been thinking about snow a lot. I’ve actually been counting down to this day for the last two weeks. I mean, there were a few days where I thought, if these 37° F days keep happening, it’s all going to melt away! There was this one snow-free patch in the corner of the backyard for a few days and all the snow on one side of the garage roof melted twice, but it kept snowing and snowing and snowing all month long. A small part of me thinks the only reason it’s lasted so long is by my sheer force of will, and that same part of me feels more than a little bit smug.

And because this is all I have thought about it, it’s also been all I’ve talked about and all I’ve obsessively checked on the internet. Here is a list of today’s snow-related things:

Number of times I have looked out of the window at the snow: ∞

Number of times I have informed the public that there has been snow on the ground for a month: ~50

Number of times I stated the obvious and announced that it’s snowing: ~30

Number of times I have checked Weather.com: 17

Number of times I have told anyone in the general vicinity of the latest weather report and accumulation predictions: 17

Number of times I have checked the school district’s site: 14

Number of times I have seen the red banner and gotten tricked into thinking that they’ve cancelled school tomorrow rather than announcing that today’s after-school activities have been cancelled: 12

Number of times that I have announced to whomever is listening that that banner NEEDS to be in a different color: 12

Number of times I have refreshed the page to see if it’s changed: 12

Number of times it’s remained static: 12

Number of times I went through my text inbox and internet history to compile this highly scientific and useful data: 6

Puddle Hopping

There has been snow on the ground out since Christmas. Naturally, I’ve been thrilled. But it’s starting to melt, and I am certainly not happy about that. Grey, wet, icy slush is not attractive and it creates huge freezing puddles. (In the City, pristine snow turns into slush in a day, and that fact is one of the main reasons why I’m happy that I don’t live there anymore.) Thankfully, I have bright, flowery rain-boots that are perfect for stomping my way through them. But today, I did not wear them. Why, you might ask? Because I am stupid.

You see, I was wearing this beautiful sweater that is somewhere between carmine and maroon, and my pants were dark navy. My white keds looked really nice with them, and the boots would have clashed. So I did what the mirror told me to do and walked out of the front door with my feet clad in canvas.

Now, I didn’t attend school today, which meant that instead of walking a block to therapy, I had to walk over two and a half miles. Without boots. Because I am an idiot. So, I stuck my iPod earbuds (even though I hate wearing them because the fact that I can only hear the noise freaks the BEEGEEBUS out of me and I’m scared of loosing my hearing), hit play, and set off. I made it down the font path without a problem, crossed the street, and immediately had to hop over a puddle. And I tried to be graceful about it. Hey, passing motorist, I’m not doing weird flying leaps down the sidewalk, I’m just taking really big, flying steps like a really awkward ballerina. You know…

And it was going pretty well. I walked through two parks, said hi to some dogs and their owners, nearly walked into a street sign, and tried to remember not to jaywalk until I got to Monster Number One. I mean, this puddle was huge. It spanned three sidewalk squares and I was boxed in by snow banks (as high as my waist) and a fence. So I looked at the Monster, and it looked back at me and said, “Gotcha”. Then, I tried to walk through the drift really quickly. And it mostly worked. There was snow stuck to me, but I brushed it off and plowed ahead.

A block or two later, I met Monster Numbers Two and Three, which I traversed via creative leaps. Monster Number Four required climbing on a park bench. Finally, I crossed Monster Number Five by trying to walk through the shallowest parts so that it would only touch the rubbery side of the shoe. And I managed to get to therapy mostly dry and feeling very self-important for having achieved what I thought to be a stepping-in-puddles-free day.

However, when I was walking down my street on the way home from Tal’s, I got distracted by the skyline, and meandered my way right into a slush puddle. Fun stuff. My shoes are now in the dryer making spectacular clunking noises and scaring the cats.

I think I’ll wear my boots tomorrow.

The Declaration of Excitement and Nerves

Regionals for my national government and politics competition is tomorrow, and it would be an understatement to say that I am not freaked out. I’ve forgone the butterflies-in-my-stomach stage and moved straight to the rampaging-elephants-in-my-stomach level. There’s this intense fear lingering inside of me that I am going to say something so horribly wrong that my group will do poorly, my school’s team will loose, and everyone will hate my stinkin’ guts.

Now, there isn’t anything that I would deliberately do to make this happen. I don’t plan on not showing up, shrieking and cursing in the middle of the of the presentation, or telling the judges that people trust the Supreme Court because the Justices are magical elves. But the terror of answering their questions still persists. I’m convinced that I’m going to say something so impossibly stupid that I’m going to be sent back to the first-grade and be forced to wear a dunce cap until the Rapture (May 21, 2011, guys. Better get ready.), the apocalypse, or until I die.

When we did in-class presentations and the in-house competition, I would become so over run by adrenaline that I can barely remember what happened. At the in-house competition, our presentation had to do with the president’s power as commander-in-chief. Unfortunately, because the judges were members of the community, and some of them did not know much about the subject, we got asked a lot of weird questions. I’m still trying to figure out why we were asked about how Monica Lewinsky distracted the nation’s attention from the then military activity. First, that has nothing to do with our question. Second, there wasn’t any substantial military activity then. Third, REALLY!?! I MEAN, REALLY!?! We were out of Bosnia, and the Gulf War was long over. Thank God, Doc was able to figure that one out and give a good answer.

When we’ve practiced questions with one another I’ve become convinced that I sound like a blathering idiot and have apologized profusely much to everyone’s annoyance. I’m still working on the whole not-apologizing-when-you-haven’t-exactly-done-anything-wrong thing. Here’s to hoping that tomorrow comes with more peace and grace than these past few day’s meetings.

But the anxiety hasn’t taken away my love for the competition. I adore my group. Last night, we ran around outside when the snow was just beginning to pour down. Chip wrote his name in the street by using some funny hopping and shuffling method; Cecelia made a snow angel; and all of us ran around throwing snow at each other. Because it was powder, you could take a running start and slide across the thin layer of snow on the street. However, it did not make for good packing snow. I spent a majority of the time cupping my hands the way I would if I was holding water and hoping that most of it would land on the person when I threw it in their direction.

Milky (who now wants to be called “Champ” in light of his recent impressive fencing victory) drove me home because he lives one block over. And let me tell you, the roads were scary, and Milky’s driving was quite impressive. The car had trouble turning, the brakes weren’t at their best, and the wheels would spin twice for every wheel-length travelled. I’ve never had to plan a route home based on the path of the least elevation before. But we didn’t die!

On a different, more whiney note, I’ve got two essays to write, critical essays to read, speeches to memorize, and facts to drill into my brain before I go to bed tonight. Good grief.

Snow, Snow, Snow!

Snow’s coming! Snow’s coming! I’m spinning in circles with giddy joy.

Snow has a smell and a sound. I’m dead serious. It smells damp and winter-y and a bit like childhood magic. And it sounds like silence. It muffles every noise, every angry car motor, every yelling teenager. Try opening up your window next time it snows, and I promise that you’ll agree with me.

What’s our fascination with snow, anyways? It’s just precipitation. We don’t run around and throw rainwater scooped from puddles into the air. (Okay, I have been known to do that on occasion, but that’s not the point.) But snow stays the way that rain doesn’t. It sticks to our houses, yards, trees, cars. It turns hills into slick tracks for sleds. We have to shovel it out of the way so that we can easily leave our houses. You can pack it into lumps and hurl them at friends and then throw your hands up in front of your face and turn your back as they lob one back at you. It gets into your coat, caught in your eyelashes and hair, tries to suck your boots off when you wade through it.

It covers everything and hides all the imperfections. Lumpy grass? Now the same as the neighbors gorgeous lawn. Window box full of dead plants?  Now beautiful suspended drifts under the windows. Everything is smoothed and entirely peaceful until you burst out of your door and go charging through it, breaking it up with your footprints, snowmen, snow angels, sled tracks.

Though I’m old enough to know how much of a pain (literally) it is to shovel and how it tends to ruin plans, I can’t help but love it. My government and politics group can attest to how excited I got when a bulldozer came down our street to plow last Friday. (I’m telling you, it was the most amazing thing ever with the exception of the time that I watched a backhoe plow our hill at two in the morning. It had the funniest contraption to provide light and had to go up and down around five times to clear the street)

Nothing makes me happier than to wake up and discover that the world is blanketed in snow. The rumor is that we’re going to have a snow day tomorrow, and because the district website has just posted their system for informing parents, I think that it’s going to happen. I plan on twisting myself into a pretzel as soon as I finish this post to help make sure that it comes true. I will also be flushing the toilet at nine o’clock, doing a snow dance, and sleeping with a spoon under my pillow and my pajamas inside-out.