In Which Ella is Jet-Lagged

And…I’m back from Europe.

Today has been spent trying to stay awake until eight p.m. I have one hour to go, and I don’t know if I’ll make it. It is nice, however, to have regular internet access again, and the chance to get back into daily blogging. I’m looking forward to sharing pictures and stories from the trip. Tomorrow, I tell you, tomorrow I’ll begin.

But for now, I’m make myself take another walk around the block before collapsing into my lovely, lovely, absolutely wonderful bed.

Goodnight.

Numb Ella

I find myself not caring when a few of the colleges I’ve applied to have said no. Perhaps this is just because I always file away the big things that hurt, jam them into boxes, and shove them into the attic crawl-space, never to be looked at again.

“Don’t think about it, Eleanor. It’s gone,” I tell myself, “Let it go.”

And so I make myself numb and move on. The rejection, the funeral, the sickness, the disaster passes while I look on with steely eyes and my jaw set.

The hospital nurse is surprised that I’m cracking jokes while she hooks me up to a machine for yet another test. It’s been twelve hours in the emergency room, and I’ve been strangely calm the entire time. I read about the North African Front in WWII and another tank blows up while she attaches a cord to a sticker on my ankle.

My mother is shocked that I can get through a magazine spread of children dying from a suicide bomber blowing up a café. I don’t bat an eye and comment on the framing of the shot and look up aid organizations in the region. I send Doctors Without Borders five dollars and continue reading about the attack.

Pippa is disturbed that I don’t do much crying when people die. “What’s wrong with you?” she asks, and I find myself asking the same question. It’s a free pass to be inconsolable, and I never take it. I restock the napkin holder and search for more ice, instead.

The elementary school nurse is surprised that I have been stung several times by a hornet and reacted by walking into her office, holding out my arm, and announcing, “I think it was a hornet this time. Can I have some ice?” without shedding a tear or hissing in pain. I go back outside immediately.

You just disconnect, float above it all, and never, ever think about it again with an ounce of vulnerability. I let myself fly into that second place that isn’t here and lose myself in the quiet.

But I’m not entirely deadened to emotion, that certainly is clear. I save it all for the trivial, selfish stuff. I get depressed about nothing, spend time staring at walls and lying in bed. I have panic attacks and freak out about imagined gas fumes. I cry about writing essays. I am often consumed by shame and self-loathing. Cecelia’s phone can tell you just how often I reach out to her when I’m upset. And I am also one of those saps who bursts into tears during Water.org’s videos about bring wells to impoverished people or during Matthew’s proposal in Downton Abbey.

Sometimes I ask for the balance to be switched. How much more social acceptable, easier, and moral it would be to react so extravagantly to life changing things. Let’s bring it back to zero, re-calibrate, and begin again. Please, God? If not for me, for the people I affect?

But of course that never changes. My brain came wired a certain way. I was a glum child, prone to tears and insecurities, more likely to play by myself in the corner than hang out with other children. There are infinite memories of wandering around classrooms and playgrounds at recess, lost in my own thoughts, creating narratives describing what I saw or creating stories about lives I imagined living. Why chase people across the asphalt when you can sit under the slide and pretend to live on the Prairie in 1870.

There’s my school picture from when I was four: sad faced and looking sightly away from the camera, arms folded on top of a book, the page open to a picture of an owl swooping down on a mouse. The memory of being told to smile, but instead staring past the photographer to the other children running about and playing, wondering what it would be like to join in, but knowing all the same that I wouldn’t. One more day of walking in circles, thinking and waiting for something extraordinary to happen.

I tell Cecelia that I’m feeling sad right now, and I suppose I am on some level—the allure of lying down and enjoying the silence of my bedroom is tantalizing, a sure sign of something being wrong—but I feel just fine. I’ll have heard from all of the schools within a week, and then I’ll begin to plan.

For now, I’ll think of ways to decorate a dorm room and pretend that I’m the main character in the novel I’m writing, a girl who is always like the animated, foot-in-mouth, passionate about everything Ella. I’m so very tired.

Tomorrow, we’ll go on a rollicking adventure where I’ll be the bouncy, extroverted Ella I’m half of the time. We’ll be goofy and happy together. I promise.

On another note, I learned today that lucid dreaming isn’t something that everybody does. I’ve been aware that I am dreaming and capable of waking myself up or changing the dream ever since I can remember. When I talk about waking up screaming and punching, it’s because I’m sort of physically fighting my way awake, not because I’m suddenly in a panic.

Ella the Molasses-Meandering Tortoise

I have two speeds: whirling dervish of efficiency and nervous energy or giant tortoise meandering through molasses.

And the speed is almost entirely determined by the amount of work on my plate.

In high school, I would work myself into the ground and get less than five hours of sleep for weeks on end. One more thing never seemed like much of a bother because the list was so long anyway, and one more hour of work felt like nothing. My room was neat as a pin, and I would do crazy things like climb onto the roof and clean the outside of my bedroom windows.

And then there’s Tortoise Ella. Tortoise Ella does things like stare at the wall, pile clothing in wicker baskets in the bathroom, leave mugs on the table, and spend ten minutes trying to come up with a way to avoid having to get the paper from the end of the driveway because that would require putting on an outfit that isn’t comprised of nightclothes. She also sleeps like an infant and forgets to eat lunch.

Currently, I’m at the latter speed. I’m behind on blog commenting and my room looks like my dresser and bookshelf both got the flu and regurgitated their contents all over the room. (You’ll have to excuse the vomit metaphor. Max puked this evening, and I unfortunately still have throw up on the brain.)

But tomorrow! Tomorrow, I tell you! Tomorrow, I will start to shift gears. I may be a whirling tortoise instead of dervish, but that’s okay.

In other news, Pippa is dragging me to The Hunger Games midnight premiere tomorrow. I have less than 24 hours to read the book.

In Which Ella is Fatigued

My body is tired. I don’t know why, but it is. I suppose that this is what you call fatigue, that type of exhaustion that doesn’t touch your head or make you feel bleary-eyed and confused.

All I want to do is lie down and rest. You know, do that thing where you close your eyes and slip into that second place that isn’t really sleep or awake, where you can just hang suspended for hours and hours at a time.

And I am a champion rester. I can rest for days, if needed. I can rest even if I’m feeling particularly poorly and my medication had just been changed, leaving me feeling every side effect listed on the bottle and then some other ones that didn’t make the cut.

But I’m feeling okay right now, a little slow, a little avoidant. I’m just fatigued. It’s weird, a bit concerning, but nothing bad, I suppose. I’ll get my energy back soon enough.

Ella and the Daylight Savings Time Grumbles

On my list of things I dislike, you will find Daylight Savings Time sandwiched in between lima beans and vacuuming. It’s not enough of a time change forward to make it easy for me to adjust (for whatever reason, I handle jet lag in Europe incredibly well), and I don’t care enough for having an extra hour of light in the evening to get excited about the change. Instead, I just wander around in a bit of a tired daze for half a week trying adjust and getting confused by clocks I’ve forgotten to change. (When you insist upon having clocks set at a varying number of minutes fast in nearly every room of the house, it can be difficult to keep up with power outages and Daylight Savings)

For anyone else feeling grumbly and tired or who is just plain interested in how Daylight Savings Time came about and opperates, I highly recommend watching this video:

In Which Ella Is Mysteriously Exhausted

This past spring, I was a champion sleeper thanks to some medication I had to take for around four months. I could sleep standing up in the shower, waiting for the bus, at my desk, at lunch, and in the car, not to mention sofas and my bed. I would walk around in a lethargic stupor, just waiting to crash. And the evenings were often a race against the clock to get things done before I passed out as early as eight.

Now, in the nature of illnesses, I got better and the need for the medication passed, but for the past few days, I’ve been acting almost as if I’m on it again. Saturday, I fell asleep at six thirty in the evening; I couldn’t even remain awake until the end of the Super Bowl yesterday; and tonight it’s only nine thirty, and my eyes are already drooping shut. It’s terribly frustrating, and I don’t why I’ve been doing it.

To put it simply, I do not like sleep. If it weren’t a medical necessity, I wouldn’t do it. Just think of those tantalizing nighttime hours when you could get all sorts of work done! I could write for more than ten hours a day, and still have time for a full day of teaching and chores. The possibilities are endless! But my sight is now going fuzzy at the edges and my mind feels sluggish, so I should probably abandon my fantasies of sleeplessness and curl up under the covers.

Goodnight!

In Which Ella Attends SCBWI: Part One

If I were not so exhausted, this post would go one for hundreds more words as I gushed about how amazing the Society of Children’s Books Authors and Illustrators New York Winter Conference has been, how many kind and wonderful people I’ve met, and the awesome speeches and breakout sessions I’ve attended, but I feel like I could fall asleep even if I were curled up on a sharp and ragged boulder, so we’ll save the longer post for Monday, and do the reader-selected post on Tuesday.

But I will share some quick snapshots before I crawl off to my boulder to catch a few hours rest.

I wore my leopard print flats so that nothing would go wrong.

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And then I was surrounded by sparrows who were apparently confused about the weather. For a few minutes, I felt like the bird woman in Mary Poppins. It was lovely.

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Ella and the Misery of Normal Sleeping Hours

This week’s project has been to get up early, and I must say that it’s got me confused.

First of all, who put all of this extra time in the morning? Is breakfast really supposed to be eaten five hours before noon? What about lunch? Isn’t that supposed to be eaten at three in the afternoon?

And what’s the deal with needing to go to bed before midnight? I mean, who does that? How am I supposed to spend hours in my room, hunched over my laptop, typing if I have to go to bed at ten? This is insanity!

On a much more serious note, it’s been very difficult to get back to a regular sleeping schedule. For the past six months, I’ve been blessed with a very flexible schedule that allows me to become the nocturnal creature that I love. It’s been completely acceptable to stay up until four or five, sleep until noon, and take a cat nap from five to six in the evening.

Unfortunately, the real world does not operate on this marvelous schedule. They clearly don’t love the quiet and darkness of night the way I do. It’s such a pity that its magic doesn’t call to it, alluring and exciting. They don’t love the feel of being the only one awake in the world. They laugh when I tell them that they can’t go to bed because something exciting is going to happen! “Ella, it’s nighttime,” they’ll say, “Nothing happens at three a.m.” But they don’t know the wonder of the dark, and I’d rather not share it, anyway. After midnight until five a.m. is my time.

So join me on another night of climbing into bed absurdly early and dragging myself back out of bed at an hour that I would normally be just falling asleep. It’ll be fun, and I promise not to hog the pillows. Max can attest to my ability to remain stock still while asleep.

This week’s reader-selected post was “How to Shut Up a Bully in French Class.” If you click on the link, you can vote in the poll at the bottom of the post for the topic you’d like to read about next week.

You can also find me collecting lovely images and words on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/. I’d love for you to follow me on my trek into the wilds of tumblr.

Ella and the Mail

Perhaps it’s because I’m still mostly a kid, but the thrill of getting anything in the mail, and I’m talking anything–magazines and brochures with my name on them are exciting–still hasn’t worn off in the slightest. If I notice a package or hear the mailbox, I come running, usually exclaiming, “MAIL!”

So pulling into the driveway after ten hours at work to discover that I had three packages and three letters was almost as good as suddenly being able to sleep normal hours (More later about how I’ve only slept for ten hours in the past seventy-two hours). Not only do I have all of the new SCBWI mailings, a package from DFTBA (hurray for new tee shirts and the John Green audio book of The Fault in Our Stars), and unexpected late Christmas gifts, but I also discovered that after someone sends you one envelope filled with confetti, you should open any future mailings from them with great amounts of care. Some colleges take their acceptance letters very seriously and like to add even larger elements of surprise, of which I heartily approve.

So please excuse me while I curl up with a ridiculous amount of chocolate, 30 Rock, sparkling cider, and all of my new, shiny things and doze.

You can also find me collecting lovely images and words on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/.

In Which Ella Falls Asleep Ridiculously Early

Apparently, it is possible for me to start falling asleep before one a.m. I’ve already woken myself up twice from dozing with my head on the desk, so tonight’s longer post will have to wait for tomorrow. If you want to keep voting on its subject, check out the poll in yesterday’s post.

As someone requested more cats, here is a picture of Maxwell hanging out on the stairs. Isn’t he the sweetest?

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