Young Ella and the Unfortunate Outfit

I recently discovered this picture of me from elementary school.

And I have to wonder, why on earth did I think that this was a good idea? My mother’s sneakers, my soccer socks and shorts, various bizarre necklaces, a vintage negligee*, pink feather boa, literal rose-tinted glasses, and blue bow clip. I have memories of actually wearing this to school and running around at recess trying not to trip over the toes of the too big shoes.

Though I must admit that as crazy as this outfit was, I’m very blessed to have parents who were okay with me wearing it out of the house. It was rare that I was ever constricted creatively, and it’s always fun to look back at the insane things I managed to get myself into.

*Thanks to my grandmother and great-grandmother, I have a lot of (very conservative–we’re talking ones that go down to your toes) negligees from the early twentieth century. They make excellent wall art or fit wonderfully in Pippa’s closet where I occasionally drag them out and wonder what to do with them. I have determined that whatever I did in that photograph is not a good look.

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In Which Ella Goes to the Rock God Book Launch, Sees Tiger Beat Perform, Talks to Libba Bray, and Gets Books Signed

This afternoon after spending five hours perfecting a powerpoint presentation for a writing workshop I’m running tomorrow, I put on something that wasn’t a leotard and cashmere sweater, painted my nails silver and black, and took off into the city.

I like going to book events. I like going to them a lot. I like going to them so much that I will do it alone and travel for several hours just to see an author I like. I know the whole routine of listening to the author talk about the book, read a section, answer some questions, and then sign and talk with fans. While each author is incredibly different and the events are always extremely enjoyable, the format is mostly more or less the same.

Enter the Rock God (by Barney Miller) book launch and Tiger Beat.

I spent my evening watching a rock concert and listening to Libba Bray, Natalie Standiford, Daniel Ehrenhaft, and Barney Miller play covers of hits from the eighties and read from their books. It was–in a word–awesome.

And while I will admit that I am automatically biased towards any person that can play Velvet Underground songs, or any good music from the eighties, I can say with confidence that objectively they play very, very well!

Libba Bray remembered me from the Maureen Johnson, The Name of the Star, book launch back in September and from Twitter, greeted me by name, and introduced me to Natalie Standiford and Daniel Ehrenhaft, telling them that I was a “very good writer,” which was incredibly surreal. And wait until you see what she wrote in my books!

Authors, man, they’re the best.

My ability to take pictures with my iPhone needs to seriously improve.

Inside of Beauty Queens

And then because I was thrilled to see all of these books, a lot of which I’ve reviewed, here’s a picture of Barnes and Noble’s “Can’t-Miss Books.”

You can also find me bopping about on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/.

Ella’s Mother and Technology: Part One

You know how parents say, “I’m going to miss it when [insert name here] stops saying ‘crash-can’ instead of ‘trashcan’ all the time*.”

Well, I’m going to miss it when I move out and don’t get called into the study several times a day to fix the computer for my mother.

I had a wonderful laugh this evening when I taught my mom how to use the floppy-disc icon for save in Microsoft Word instead of clicking through the file menu, and then had to tell her a few minutes later that it wasn’t necessary to print out the entire menu from the Indian restaurant in order to read it.

Safari also “broke” this morning because she had about twenty windows open and was running a gazillion other programs. Momentary panic ensued, and I was blamed for leaving tumblr open.

There was also discussion about how difficult it is to go through all of the copies of The New Yorker just to reread the Adam Gopnik ones. When I pointed out that she could go online and access them via a very quick search, she said that she can’t use computers while lying down and she can’t be sitting up while reading The New Yorker.

Oh, Mum.

She also didn’t know that cellphones had clocks in them or showed you the signal strength. She thought that they were “technical numbers.” Glad we got that one straightened out after six-plus years of cell phone ownership.

It’s little quirks like this that make me really love my mom.

(Also, she mostly doesn’t yell at me when I joke that I never need to put the dishes in the dishwater because every time I leave the room, a magical fairy cleans them up.)

I’m going to miss her so much next year.

*And yes, that kid was me. I was a very “creative” talker for a long time. I used too many big words incorrectly and could never pronounce the simple ones. I still struggle with library and specific.

In other news, my bedroom looks like a bomb of books went off. Looks like tomorrow will be a good day for recataloguing my library. At last count, I had close to three hundred books, but that was over four years ago. I’m a little scared to see how many I have now. I’m also in need of a new bookcase for my bedroom, but I haven’t been able to find the right one. It needs to be white and either modern and minamalistic or cute and antique. This should be a very fun shopping process.

Mugs Are For Hot Beverages And Glasses Are For Dweebs Who Can’t See

This is Cecelia, covering for a super sleepy Ella tonight. I was going to talk about those scary hours (minutes? seconds?) in between sleep and consciousness where you’re not sure if you’re awake or dreaming. And you just had this outlandish/terrifying/heartbreaking dream that your commonroom was a brothel or that Sylvia Plath is and has always been the Dean of Yale College and your roommate got in a fight with you over it and you’re really anxious just because you’re pretty sure what you just experienced was too absurd to be a reality but sometimes life is absurd so maybe not! Ah well. Enjoy this picture of my cat followed by a poem by Charles Bukowski.

 

The Aliens

you may not believe it
but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction or
distress.
they dress well, eat
well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
life.
they have moments of
grief
but all in all
they are undisturbed
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy
death, usually in their
sleep.

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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Ella’s Very Bizarre Relationship With Mirrors

The readers have spoken, and with a clear majority of 66.67%, my very bizarre relationship with mirrors won tonight’s post competition.

I have to admit that I am the sort of person who looks at themselves in mirrors a lot. Like a lot, a lot. But it’s never been because I’m checking my hair or makeup.

Mostly, when I look in the mirror it’s to make a silly face. For example, a few months ago, I decided that I wanted to be able to raise one eyebrow independently from the other in order to expand my repertoire of goofy expressions. Of course like with any new expression, I need to strengthen the facial muscles so that I can do it in the most exaggerated manner possible, so every time I see a mirror, I automatically start practicing. I have been caught doing this many, many times, and I must say that people in public restrooms give you funny looks if you’re pulling faces while washing your hands.

However, it must be noted that my tendency to make weird faces at myself is a huge improvement over what childhood Ella would do. I used to–and I kid you not–have this running “tv show” with myself where I would pretend to be a newscaster or a political talk show host.

Of all the times that I have been walked in on in the bathroom, the by far most awkward experience was when someone opened the door to discover ten-year-old me still standing in a towel after a bath, talking about the weather to the mirror. We also have extensive videotape footage of me doing the same thing (but this time fully clothed) complete with “guests” to interview and “graphics” (achieved by holding a copy of the newspaper very close to the camera).

I also spend an awful lot of time observing people very carefully, so I’m always interested to know what I look like when I’m doing different tasks. If I’m writing, I often need to go watch my face or the way I do something in order to depict it properly. It’s akin to getting up to go smell coffee or touch cashmere. Also, I enjoy the humor in how ridiculous I often look, particularly when I’ve bundled to go outside in the winter–I end up looking like puffy marshmallow from the ski jacket and numerous scarves with a very small, multi colored head.

Unfortunately, in our house, the large antique mirror we have at the base of the stairs is in clear view of the window in the front door, which has led to me being caught looking at myself numerous, numerous times, which is always horribly embarrassing. I always feel very vulnerable knowing that I’ve been caught doing something wacky and a bit socially unacceptable. People who look in mirrors a lot are thought to be vain and petty, I don’t consider myself to be either, and I certainly hope that others don’t think I am.

Of course, I am sure that what I am describing is a lot less weird than it sounds in my head. Who isn’t fascinated by the reflection of ourselves. It’s only natural to want to know what we look like, and I am sure that other people enjoy making faces and pretending host weather reports.

One of the best things about being alive is knowing that you are never the only one to feel a certain way. The moment I realized that everyone else is insecure and worried about how the rest of the world is perceiving them and their actions, life got a lot easier. It reminds me of Postsecret, a project where people send in secrets on homemade postcards to a man who posts them on the Postsecret blog every Sunday. He’s always talking about how he receives multiples of almost every secret and how people find solace in knowing that they’re not the only one.

The more I think about that, the more I read, and the more I observe of others, my amount of empathy towards others and comfort with myself only increases. Things like what I do with mirrors are funny, yes, and perhaps a bit abnormal, but they’re never shameful. I like sharing eccentricities and discovering how universal and common they are.

So if you’ve managed to get this far in the post, I’d love to know what you think.

  1. What do you do with mirrors? Do you know anyone else who does the same thing?
  2. What do you think about other people sharing the same emotions and eccentricities about you? Do you think it’s true?

As I only got six votes total on these two polls so far, I’m keeping the voting open for about a week longer. I’d really like to know what people did and didn’t like about my daily posting in 2011, and what they’d like to see in 2012. Finally, you can vote at the bottom for what you’d like to see in Saturday’s post.

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.

Ella the Outdoors Wimp

Tomorrow I have to venture outdoors, and while I often am opposed to non-level surfaces and air that is below or above 70-77 degrees, tomorrow is going to be especially bad. Below freezing weather all day is not my idea of a good time. I also am going to be biking, which will make it hard to wear bulkier clothes, even though it’s 12 degrees. I’m already working on my self-entitled and ridiculous pout.

In other news, I’ve been testing the limits of how many times I can watch this video of a labrador chasing deer through a London park. Fenton really reminds me of Lee and Zach’s dog, Louis, an Australian sheepdog, known mainly for herding anything that moved and pulling down the occasional person’s pants.

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 Fulfills Her 2011 Goals and Sets Ones for 2012

Last year, I made three New Years resolutions. One, start a blog and post everyday, two, become a more serious writer, and three, read over 50 books. I achieved all of them.

I dragged myself over to a computer every night without fail to write about my day. Sometimes, it was just a sentence or a picture, and sometimes it was well over a thousand words, but there was a post everyday. I have a record of what happened to me every single day that I can look back and shake my head (Honestly, March-2011-version-of-Ella, you were seriously melodramatic.) or nod approvingly at (Nice job graduating from high school, June-23rd-Ella).

I wrote well approximately 70,000 words in November as part of National Novel Writing Month (and later deleted over 50,000 of them), proving to myself that I can write fiction even when the quality is embarrassingly sucky. I wrote numerous short-stories and letters. I had many, many, many affairs with 4 a.m. because I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop. I attended several book signings–the Maureen Johnson The Name of the Star book launch and a Daughter of Smoke and Bone event. I met Libba Bray and Laini Taylor, had long conversations with both of them, and am now followed by them on Twitter. I became a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and am going to their NYC Winter Conference at the end of February. I finally learned how to spell “series” and “business” at the old age of 18.

I read well over 96 pleasure books this year and ran out of shelf space again. Books are stacked in piles of ten on my floor, on my desk, and bedside table. Of the money I spent, 30% was on clothing, food, and gifts, 60% on books, and 10% on other necessities. I regret none of it.

So for 2012, I figured that it would be good to step up the resolutions up a notch.

This year I will post on this blog everyday, finish, edit, and query my YA novel, bring my BMI up to at least 18.5, redecorate my bedroom, wear vintage clothing at least once a week, and run a mile in under eight minutes. I can do this.

Because this was a self-indulgent blog post, enjoy this picture of Pippa and me that I put on our New Years card.

Isn't Pippa (right) adorable? (She also, annoyingly, vetoed me posting a picture of us laughing. It was much better, and it had color in it so you could see her BEAUTIFUL naturally blond hair.)