In Which Ella Apparently Only Likes to Photograph Trees

I figure a good way of beginning to talk about my trip would be to share some pictures.

Ideally, I’d have loads of interesting ones: some of buildings at Yale, one of me making some sort of goofy face, and plenty of shots from all of the walks I took. Unfortunately, that’s not how things turned out. My parents took one camera to Hawaii and Pippa took the other to prom, so I was left with the one on my iPhone. As a result, my selection of photographs is both meager and mostly shots of flowering trees, as Cecelia and George probably don’t want me posting all of my shots of them.

But before we get to pictures of springtime in New England, enjoy a picture of the awesome lemon sorbet I ate at an Italian restaurant.

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Air Like a Swimming Pool

Today, it was warm enough for sun dresses and sandals. Naturally, I wore a scarf and a coat to school. But tonight I wised up. I put on my purple dress, strapped on my favorite sandals and marched out the door with wet gold fingernails. Pippa, my mother and I rode the train into the city to get Pippa’s  hair cut.

With Pippa’s blond hair now shorter and straighter, my parents and I journeyed further into the tangle of gray buildings for tappas. I ate brussel sprouts and thought about how strange it is that I love brussel sprouts while most people hate them. But then it occurred to me that I am neither most people nor a good representation of the average man’s tastes. I tried to keep this mentality as I moved through the meal. The more I focussed on the details, the less I thought about the panic that ensued when I accidentally stuck a cheese rind in my mouth.

We left the restaurant and marched out onto the street. I felt the the wind rush around my legs. It wasn’t cold, and it wasn’t hot. You know how once you jump into a pool and adjust to the temperature, the water feels perfect, and you never want to get out? Well, the air oddly made me feel like I was swimming. And as we walked down street after street, looking for a movie theatre that was showing Jane Eyre, I thought about how wonderful everything felt and how every time that the weather improves, so does my mental health. I felt hopeful because now that spring is coming, things just might be looking up. After all, Euphoria on an Island happened when the weather was beautiful.

But the walking continued, and because I am me, and because this is what I do best, I began to go into full on freak-out mode. By this point, we had been searching for that Jane Eyre theatre for quite a while, and we had all but given up. My head hurt from the medication, and I was exhausted from having interactions with people from six a.m. onwards. And as soon as I started my weird mewing/moaning noises combined with hand flailing, I was a lost cause. My father had to get on the subway with me to head back home while Pippa and my mother followed behind.

But I calmed down somewhere in between climbing onto the subway and sitting down in the train station, and we all headed home without incident. Times like these make me wonder what’s really going on in my head: why is there a switch that seems to get flipped from functioning to freaking out and why does it happen so instantaneously?

But all of the earlier shenanigans don’t matter now. I’m just sitting on the couch with Pippa and Dad watching Lewis Black and Bo Burnham, and all is well on the western front.

The Field Day Planning Committee

When I was a sophomore and in a department called Global Action, one other person and I planned Field Day in its entirety for our politics and government small learning community. It wasn’t the most fun of processes, we kept running up against road-blocks–the administration didn’t want to let us use the field; the gym couldn’t find the rope for tug-of-war; the sacks we were going to use went missing; etc–and after all of our hard work, the event was rained out. It wasn’t pouring rain, just a light drizzle and the promise of a little bit more on the way. But rain is rain is rain, and wet turf does not a good surface for running make. We performed the department cheers in the little auditorium and there was a ridiculous dance-off. Everyone was disappointed, and I was more than a little upset.

Last year, things were a bit different. I turned all of my papers from the previous year over to my old department and let them take the reigns. All I did was show up and compete with the rest of the Executive and Judicial Branch. And it was a lot of fun not having to worry about the execution of the event. I passed out from my neurocardiogenic syncope, freaked out all the teachers, and then went to go play soccer in the blazing hot sun for about two hours. Unfortunately, the day was executed by one person again. Lola put loads of hours in, planning for the thing, and when the day came, she did almost all of the setting up and all of the cleaning up by herself.

But this year is going to be different. All of the departments are planning Field Day by electing to people to a committee. You’ll never guess who the representatives are from the Executive and Judicial Branch. That’s right, Lola, who is now in Executive, and I. We volunteered ourselves for the role because we knew that a) we have the experience needed and b) we weren’t entirely sure that the others could pull it off. It’s not that we don’t have faith in the community, we just don’t have faith in 18 kids’ ability to stop arguing and get work done. Plus, we’re masochistic idiots who actually really enjoy the event.

When I walked into the meeting today, I looked around at the people gathered there and though, You know, I think that this could actually work. And then, we tried to start. There was the typical arguing, too much talking over one another, everybody desperate for their oh-so-important point to be heard. But Lola stepped up to the white-board and started writing last year’s itinerary. When she was done and I was nearly done copying down what she had written, so we’d have notes, she turned around and said, “Let’s go through this event by event and make a list of new ideas.” And you know what? We were able to do exactly that. Group yoga was ruled out, because the school wouldn’t allow it for “insurance reasons,” but back-to-back races were in.

It really did work. People were interested, engaged, and really did seem up for the amount of work that the event would require. Even the sophomores who had never attended a Field Day before were shouting out ideas and calmly debating the legitimacy of and improvements to the old ones. One of the other girls volunteered to type up my notes, so that we could distribute copies to all the departments on Monday, and when we were done, Lola came over to breathe a sigh of relief and comment that she didn’t think that things would go as well as they did.

Guess what. I’m actually really excited about all of this, because I just know that everything will turn out really well if the good Lord’s willing, and the creek don’t rise.

(Note: This statement might be subject to change as we get closer to late May.)