Ella and the Way too Windy Bike Ride

It was scarily windy today, the type of windy that sends trashcans flying across the street and makes large branches fall on top of roofs.

Naturally, I decided that this afternoon was the opportune time for a bike ride.

One of the ways that I motivate myself to exercise is to convince myself that I need to be as physically fit as possible so that I can survive disasters by outrunning tsunamis and bears and live by myself in the woods in case I become a character in a dystopian novel. (This same fixation is what leads me to believe that it is also imperative that I become proficient in hunting with a gun or bow and arrow (An idea that my father laughed at when I mentioned it at the dinner table).)

With this in mind, I set out. For the first three miles, I felt fabulous. Sure, it was chillier than I anticipated and I had to do some creative swerving around debris, but I was just whizzing along. I don’t think I’ve ever done this route this quickly before! I thought and continued pedaling with a very smug smile on my face,  I could keep going forever! I am never going to die from a natural disaster now!

So biked further than I usually do, enjoying the crisp air and planning out an imaginary trip to Europe. Maybe I could convince my grandmother to take me, and we could visit her childhood home in Versailles! Scotland might be nice. What about Berlin? I thought.

And then I realized that I should probably turn around. I still need to bring my weight up by at least ten pounds, so my body continues to be fairly weak. Having to constantly stop for breaks on the way home is not my idea of fun. So I did an about face and began to head back.

This is when things got weird.

Now, I bike the same route around three times a week. I know the topography and my average speeds very well. And something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but something was definitely wrong.

(Some background: When I sit at a table, I usually angle myself so that my legs are over the side of the chair rather than under the table. It’s a terrible habit, I know, and one that I try to correct, but I naturally gravitate towards sitting this way. So when I’m cruising on my bike, I end up sort of doing the same thing. I obviously can’t ride a bike side-saddle (though if they make a bike like this, I’d be very interested in giving it a go), but I will push my left leg into the body of the bike and shift my weight so that I’m more diagonal.)

After a few more seconds, it became clear that my problem was that I wasn’t sitting the way I normally do for that section of the bike ride. I was still pedaling on a portion of the road that goes downhill. And this wasn’t I-want-to-see-if-I-can-break-the-sound-barrier-on-my-bike-or-at-least-beat-that-car-to-the-mailbox pedaling, I was pedaling in order to remain upright and moving forward. When the road leveled out, it got worse. I had to change gears several times and was wobbling all over the place. The wind was blowing directly in my face and was much stronger than I had thought. All of that extra speed on my way out must have been from having the wind at my back.

The fifth time I had to put my foot down out of fear of toppling over, I just got off my bike and started that awkward and humiliating trudge back to my house, trying not to bruise my legs against the bike (an unsuccessful endeavor). Cold air was working its way up the sleeves of my jacket, and I considered sitting down on the curb and waiting to see if the wind would die down in the way that a rainstorm would. But I persevered and walked about two shin-bumping miles before finally wobbling my way back home where I discovered lawn and leaf bags sitting in the middle of the street and a very large branch in our flower bed.

Then, I got the mail, learned that I didn’t get into one of the colleges I applied to, and started researching the Silk Road just for the heck of it.

The end.

Rain Again for Wednesday

Remember that time I wrote about being inside while it was raining? You know, yesterday? Well, it’s raining again right now, and yesterday’s storm is nothing compared to this. Someone might as well be dangling from the old maple trees in the front yards and pouring down huge buckets of water from the sounds it’s making on the roof. But there is no thunder. Oh, how I do love a good clap of thunder. The type of thunder that’s so shocking, deep, and loud that you feel it in your chest.

UPDATE: Never mind, there was just a giant bolt of lightening and some thunder. This girl is very happy right now. I do love a good thunderstorm. If it’s got to rain, it should at least do it with some passion.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Rain, the Bluish Tinge of Aquariums, Dancing With Scarves, And Wonderful Feelings

It’s raining.

And there’s something thumping against the side of the house.

But I am inside, separate from the deluge of water, caught in what seems to be one of the common situations ever written about: being inside and watching the rain fall.

And yet, even though it is so common, I rather like it. I like the safety of my second floor bedroom as the rain comes streaming down. I like the sound of the rushing water on the roof. I like watching the rain run in rivers down the side of the street, nestled against the curb, towards the storm drain at the end of the block.

It doesn’t have the same ferocious beauty of a thunderstorm or the brilliant calm of snow, my two favorite types of inclement weather, but it’ll do with its dull, somewhat depressing gloom.

When I look out the window, I’m reminded of the color settings on my camera, and how when you go to change the picture to black and white, there’s also an option for blue, which casts the image in that same sort of tinge you see inside of an aquarium, where the passages between the giant tanks of sharks and tropical fish–though never in the same tank together– are mostly lit by the light shining into the tanks, so that the animals are brighter than you.

The red shirt I was wearing when I ran by the stingrays at the age of ten appeared almost purple, exactly like the way the car across the street looks right now, and my green sandals were even more deeply saturated than usual, not unlike the front lawn and the shrubs along the front walk.

If it weren’t so late and if it weren’t so chilly, I would run outside without an umbrella or coat, not caring that my shirt is mostly white and that my jeans will take forever to dry. I’d go barefoot, because dancing in the rain  should be done in wild abandon, without any sorts of constraints. I’d let pieces of grass stick to my feet and dirt cover my toes, and I’d spin in circles and run leaping through the yard.

It would be like the movement classes I took at school until I was twelve. The classes where we would be handed grey gauzy scarves and told to portray jealousy while the teacher played classical music on the harpsichord. Sometimes, she would pass out balloons and tell us to throw them in the air and very carefully watch how they fell, the way they seemed to be caught and cushioned by the air as they drifted down into our reaching hands.

And so I would watch the rain and how it fell. I would hold out my arms and pretend I had scarves and just move in some sort of fashion that meant everything to me and looked a little loony to everyone else.

And it would be perfect.

But I’m inside, and I won’t be leaving tonight. I’m lying on my bed, propped against pillows, reading about Nicholas Tesla, watching videos online of beautiful things, like the Game of Life, people’s travels and thoughts, landscapes, and portraits made out of corkscrews, and looking at pictures of rooms so impeccable, they seem utopian.

Click on the picture for more house yum.

I imagine Tesla’s lightening and his infatuation for pigeons, the way that all brilliance is sprinkled with something mad. I think about the power of words and pictures and all things impossibly lovely and how they cast such a wonderful feeling over me. The sort of blissful feeling that makes me want to cry a little bit and smile all at the same time and just stay still breathing for as long as I can. I like to think of it as my love for the universe. And when I have that feeling draped over me, I just enjoy it. Because in those moments, nothing hurts.

Finally, when I feel as though I’ve soaked it in as much as I can, I put fingers to keys and write. Because, sometimes, I think that writing and loving things, people, and animals is what I do best. Also, it’s what I love most to do.

And so I am here, watching the rain pour down and drench the black, asphalt of the road, the granite curbstones, and the slate sidewalk. It makes the merciless grey concrete of the front walk shiny and the potted plants overflow as water pours over their terra cotta rims. And the grass and the plant bed soak in the wet, like a sponge, until they can’t anymore, and the water pools in indents in the earth. It creates droplets on the cars, and if I weren’t so far away, I could race the raindrops as they zigzagged their way downwards.

But I’m inside.

So here it is, my cliché and for once I love it.

In the spirit of trying new, creative things, I have made a youtube video of me reading today’s post.

(Yes, I know I stumbled over saying Tesla the first time, no need to point it out.)

I’d like to know what you think: Should I do this again for some other posts or is having me read it annoying or uninteresting?

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

“Hurricane, Hurricane, Hurricane!” She Says While Dancing Madly Around the House

I suppose that by the time one reaches eighteen their reaction to news of imminent catastrophic weather impacting their area should not be one of somewhat giddy anticipation. But I can’t help myself. Something terribly exciting is about to happen and I’m pretty much guaranteed to be in the middle of it.

I’ve lived through category three hurricanes before. I know how it goes. Trees fall down and hit things, often knocking down wires; the electricity goes out; sticks are littered everywhere; the grocery store is a mad house; no one has batteries in stock; you nearly light your hair on fire with some candles; and you have to eat all of the perishables in the refrigerator and freezer before they go bad. I’m particularly fond of the eating all the ice cream part.

Unfortunately, this hurricane means we have to cut our beach time short. After we make sure everything here is secure, we’re headed home tomorrow morning to batten down the hatches in our non-vacation-fun-times-abound house. Plus, the cats shouldn’t be left alone in the storm.

I leave you with one funny story from the time Hurricane Isabel hit Washington, D.C. when I was ten.

At the time, I was, to put it lightly, obsessed with the Sheryl Crow song, Soak Up the Sun. I had a dance I did to it while lip syncing, and everyday after I finished my homework, I would play the song over and over and over again. It got to the point where my dad had to physically pry the CD from my hands and confiscate it so that no one would commit suicide or go bonkers from being forced to listen to it too much. So just as the sky was turning a sickly shade of gray-green and the wind was picking up, I popped the CD into the stereo and hit play.

As soon as my index finger hit the button, I heard a wooshing noise, the lights went out, and the house became oddly silent. That’s odd, I thought, A fuse must have just flipped. But then I looked out the window and noticed that the power was out in the house behind us and in both of our next door neighbors’ houses, too. I panicked. I just cut out the electricity for the whole neighborhood, maybe even the whole city! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! What did I do? Oh, gosh! Dad is right! This song really does wreak havoc!

Then, my father came into the room and informed me that even though the world would be a much happier place if we didn’t have to listen to Soak Up the Sun ten times a day, I was not responsible for the power outage. It was just lucky timing. “Oh,” I said as I felt my muscles relax and the lines on my forehead fade, “Good. I didn’t want everyone mad at me.” And the storm raged on with me not the cause of darkened houses, missed TV shows, and slowly warming refrigerators.

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.

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