Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sarah, Queen of ATVs

If you spoke to me at all during the month of June, you know that I did not anticipate making it to July. No, I wasn't suicidal or dying of smallpox; I just had an activity on the schedule at the end of the month that I was confident would spell my death.

For two days at the end of last month, I was headed to the northern tip of New Hampshire to go ATVing.

I hate most things in this world, but if I had to pick the two things I hate the very most, they would probably be the outdoors and driving. And what is an ATV, really, but a vehicle designed for the express purpose of driving recklessly through the outdoors?

I was invited on this excursion as research for a story about the local ATV industry, a story for which I freely volunteered, so I ultimately had no one to blame but myself—but voluntary death, I thought, was still death.

After texting my goodbyes to my family and friends and reminding my coworkers they may never see me again, my photographer and I set off for the far northern town of Pittsburg, New Hampshire. At nearly 300 square miles, Pittsburg (despite its population of around 900 people) is by far the largest town in New England, because Pittsburg encompasses all the territory in New Hampshire past a certain northern point where the state founding fathers apparently said, "Eh screw it, everything from here up is one giant town."

There is no cell service in Pittsburg. There is not much of anything in Pittsburg, aside from a lot of trees, several lakes, one steakhouse, and a small army of ATVs—and, for two days in late June, ten or so journalists and bloggers with a death wish.

We opened our trip with a group dinner at the aforementioned one steakhouse, where the ATV professionals in charge of the excursion dropped a lot of, "Well, you can drive a car, can't you?," and I dropped a lot of, "Can I?"

The line, "if you can drive a car, you can drive an ATV," is central to the effort to convince first-time ATVers that the sport is easy and won't kill them. But it fails to account for people who, like me, find driving terrifying and horrible. When confronted with someone who is not put at ease by the assurance that ATVs are just like cars, ATV people basically just laugh nervously and change the subject.

Needless to say, when it came time for our half-day ride, my confidence level was through the roof.

I put on my safety gear, I signed the waiver, I dutifully watched the safety video, and then I hopped in with the guy who works for the ATV manufacturer with a plan to get behind the wheel for a maximum of five minutes.

We set off, and, strapped safely in the passenger seat with one of the few drivers on our trip who actually knew how ATVs work, I was met with a surprise.

This actually wasn't terrible.

There was a pleasant breeze. The views were bananas. And I was exploring the great outdoors without exerting a single ounce of effort!

One of the other writers in the group switched places with our driver, and I decided that ATVs are actually legit. The rental company owner had mentioned at dinner the night before that they're great for grandparents and other people who'd like to climb mountains but can't or won't, and I suddenly understood what she meant. I also understood why people look down on ATVing—"get off your dune buggy and take an actual hike, lazy!"—but, to those people, I would suggest trying laziness sometime, because laziness is fantastic.

High on my no-exercise-required adventure in the outdoors, I agreed to give driving a try. I insisted on the manufacturer rep riding shotgun to shout advice at me or grab the reins in the event that I blacked out out of terror, but still, I thought, I'd try.

And, to my shock, things were once again...pretty fun!

I drove for a half-hour or so, marveling at the fact that 35 mph could feel like 335 and finding it a little odd that we hadn't stopped to switch drivers yet, but I pressed on. Everyone was alive. All was well.

Eventually, we came to a clearing, and the lead driver stopped, got out, and came to the drivers of the next three cars in line to give them some sort of instruction.

She skipped me.

The manufacturer rep shrugged this off, positing that, since he was with me, the lead driver must have figured I wouldn't need her advice. She must have been giving them tips for the next leg of the drive, he suggested. "There's just a bit of an incline coming up."

Like when my tour guide in Hawaii told me the 760-foot volcano we'd be climbing that day was an "easy little walk," I should have known not to believe the person who'd done this before.

The "bit of an incline" the rep warned me of turned out to be a mountain. Was it Mount Everest? No. But was it a friendly little hill? OH OF COURSE NOT.

We cross a highway, line up at the start of a trail, and when I look out in front of me, what I see is a path made up entirely of miniature boulders leading pretty much straight up the side of a small mountain. I laugh one of those "nothing here is funny" laughs and tell the rep and our other passenger that I hope they are both ready to meet Jesus today. We are all wearing full-head helmets and goggles, which is good, because were we able to see the terror on one another's faces, I think we all would have jumped off the ATV and run the 40 miles back to the rental office. I shift the thing into low gear, the rep flips on the four-wheel drive switch, and we head up.

Friends, we made it.

I can't really tell you any details about my voyage up this mountain and back down it, because frankly I think I've blocked it from my mind. I can tell you that our reward for getting down the mountain was a mile and a half or so of mud pits that I only got us stuck in once. I can tell you I didn't murder the driver in front of us, despite the fact that she kept stopping to take videos while I was left dangling off the side of a mountain and therefore clearly deserved to be murdered. I can tell you I don't think that ATV rep has ever been so happy to get off an ATV in his life as he was when we eventually reached the end of our trail.

But I drove an ATV up a mountain, down a mountain, and through a whole bunch of quicksand-y mud pits, and no one died!

I am never going to be a person who hikes without being forced. I'm certainly never going to be some kind of mountain biker. But if you ever need someone to accompany you on a half-formed-Jeep ride through a forest somewhere, I'm your girl. I'll bring the goggles and riding jersey they sent me home with and a framed copy of the email where the rep said lied that he was "impressed" with my driving. You bring the rosary beads.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Romantic Things My Boyfriend Would Do For Me For Valentine's Day If He Existed

Ah, Valentine's Day. That day of the year when, as a meme my mother mailed me puts it, we celebrate the feast day of a saint who was beaten, beheaded and disinterred by his followers by buying each other sweets. My plans for Valentine's Day this year are to spend it as I do every year: with plenty of chocolate (why abandon my normal Tuesday schedule?) and plenty of not having a boyfriend.


But what if I did have a boyfriend? Candlelit dinner dates are nice and all, but I have a few better ideas for what my significant other would do for me for V-Day if, you know, he were real. 

So take notes, dream boyfriend Michael Cera and any other guys harboring secret desires to date me. These are the gestures you have seven days to plan. 

1. Help me come up with a fake engagement story so I can trick the salespeople at BHLDN into thinking I have a legitimate reason for a bridal gown appointment. Not because I want to get married. Just because I want to put their pretty dresses on my body and it seems like I could convince them more successfully to let me do this if I could tell them how my beau and I got engaged and show them lots of nice selfies of the two of us. I would get around the engagement ring hurdle by pretending I don't believe in them, which I don't, unless they're this.

2. Buy me a print by the girl who played Lavender Brown in Harry Potter who's now a cartoonist. Because I'm obsessed with her. He would know I'm obsessed with her without me telling him because my hypothetical boyfriend is a psychic. But also, if you can't predict that I would be obsessed with a Harry Potter actress turned hipster cartoonist, do you know me at all?

3. Buy me lots of chocolate things, but not because it's Valentine's Day, just because I like chocolate. Have I mentioned chocolate enough in this post? It's possible I'm on an extremely dangerous sugar high from the box of candy that accompanied that meme from my mother. Could someone go ahead and call a doctor just in case?

4. Help me pounce on the 10 AM drop time for Lady Gaga tickets on Monday to make sure that, come hell or high water, I will be at that concert.

4B. Sign a contract binding him to drive me to the aforementioned Lady Gaga concert even if we have broken up by that point, because it is in Boston, I am not driving in Boston, and if you have loved me at any point in your life, you are obligated in perpetuity to help me avoid driving.

5. Not just agree to but, in fact, freely suggest a V-Day movie marathon of charming British rom-coms starring young Hugh Grant and/or of Baz Luhrmann's entire oeuvre.

6. Drink my homemade wine smoothies with me without complaint.

7. Reorganize my sweater drawer for me. Note: If anyone who is not hypothetical would like to come and do this for me, please, be my guest.

8. Memorize and perform a medley of my favorite works from female YouTube slam poets, because this would be hilarious.

9. Alternatively, write a book report on Rebecca Traister's All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of the Independent Nation. Though I may just make this the essay portion of the "So You Want to Date Sarah Cahalan — Good Luck With That" application packet. TBD.

10. Get me a book deal for the side-splitting collection of essays that our relationship will inevitably inspire. (In addition to being a psychic, my hypothetical boyfriend is incredibly well-connected in the literary world.)

11. Present me with a series of exquisitely wrapped gift boxes. They don't have to have any gifts in them. I just want him to prove himself by way of gift wrap.

12. Take me to the Chinese restaurant down by the Home Depot to finally prove or disprove the rumor I've heard that Yee Dynasty has the hottest karaoke nights in the Granite State.

13. Acquire a time-turner so the two of us can travel back through history and engage in some kind of wacky shenanigan that cements Barry and Uncle Joe in the White House for the rest of time.

14. Promise me that, if he ever does propose, it will go down exactly like this.

Happy disinterred martyr's day, everyone! <3

Friday, January 6, 2017

Resolutions for a New Year

Well, my friends, the awfulness that was 2016 has come to an end. The far worse fate that awaits us under our new Toddler in Chief is only beginning, of course, but that's beside the point. It's a new year! People are going to gyms and not drinking and stuff!

Personally, I've never seen the appeal of New Year's celebrations - something I mean literally, since I am not capable of staying up until midnight basically ever, holidays be damned - but who am I to resist as good a blog prompt as New Year's resolutions?

That's right; I have goals. They are simple, modest goals. And here they are: my resolutions for 2017.

1. Cry over reality TV 5-10% less often. You'd think this would be easy since I no longer get TLC in my cable package and therefore don't have Say Yes to the Dress to get emotional about. But don't doubt me - I've cried over that Amazon imam-and-priest ad more than once. 

2. Take down my Christmas tree some time before the next Advent begins. 

3. Be enough of a grown-up to finally trust myself to own dry shampoo without using it as an excuse to never shower again. 

4. Vacuum. Like, at least once. 

5. Make it through an entire year without breaking a pair of sunglasses. (Note: since all of my sunglasses cost $3.50 off of a spinning rack at Forever 21, this is exceedingly unlikely to happen.) 

6. Officially memorize all the dialogue from Mean Girls, at last. 

7. Correctly predict a JK Rowling Harry Potter revelation before she makes it. Early guess: McGonagall and Trelawney briefly shared a tiny London flat as broke college grads and sooooo many wacky hijinks ensued. 

8. Decide on a new favorite Kardashian now that Khloe is skinny. My current front runner is North.

9. Get a loaf of bread from grocery store to home without smashing it. 

10. Carry hair ties on me more often so I can stop CONSTANTLY DISAPPOINTING MYSELF by thinking I have one and digging around only to discover I DON'T, LIKE AN IDIOT. Not that that happens a lot. 

11. Match the liner on my left eye to the liner on my right someday. Not because I care, necessarily - more just because I'm curious what it's like to have fine motor skills. 

12. Use my stack of cookbooks a few times as something other than a pedestal for my Pop-Tart boxes.

13. Steadily become even more hilarious and fascinating than I already am. 

So there it is, folks. Check back in twelve months to see me at my dry-shampooed, even-eyelinered best. If you need me in the meantime, I'll be in my apartment, watching Khloe Kardashian's Revenge Body instead of working out. Happy 2017! 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Domerberry Album Review: The Bieber Christmas CD

If you know anything about me, you know that I have a deep and abiding love for one Mr. Justin Bieber. If you know lots of things about me, then you may be aware that one thing and only one thing plays on my car stereo during the Christmas season, and that thing is Justin Bieber's flawless 2011 holiday album, Under the Mistletoe. 

From whenever I remember the album exists until somewhere in the week after Christmas, the other four slots of my 5-CD changer are ignored — sorry, A*Teens and discs one and two of Hamilton — and my little black two-door becomes a 24/7 rolling homage to the Christmas tunes of the Biebs.

You may have been vaguely aware that a Bieber Christmas album existed, but have you ever really given it a listen? With Christmas barely a week away, now is the perfect time to explore this pop music masterpiece — and, being the benevolent servant leader that I am, I thought I'd take this opportunity to prepare you for this special musical journey.

Without further ado, enjoy this tour of the highlights of holiday music's magnum opus.

Mistletoe: Though confusingly not quite the title number of this album, this number is Under the Mistletoe's spiritual center. Have you forgotten how insane Beliebers went for the video for this song? Let me remind you. This video has everything. 17-year-old Justin at his middle-aged lesbian-resembling peak. Not one but two pairs of fingerless gloves. Subtle product placement for Justin's "Someday" eau de parfum. A Christmas card to his love interest that he signs with his first and last name. That this video only has 258 million views is a tragedy.

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire): This is a duet with Usher. What else do you even need to know? Forget the street-food vendors; chestnuts can find all the roasting they need in front of a speaker spitting the rifftastic fire of this smooth Christmas jam.

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town: If I ever get into a snow- or ice-related fender bender, assume it is because I was too busy bopping to this song to pay attention to road conditions. You are soulless if this song doesn't make you tap your elfin-shod toes.

All I Want for Christmas Is You (SuperFestive!) Duet with Mariah Carey: First of all, yes, friends, that is the full title of this song. SuperFestive indeed.

Secondly, this song is sacred and it is an affront to all things yuletide that Justin Bieber was allowed to appropriate it for this album. No further commentary.

Drummer Boy: Have you ever wanted to have a teen bad boy with a DUI conviction and a 90s star with multiple assault collars rap at you about giving to charity? If so, you're in luck! Cut to the three-minute mark to hear to Justin's philanthropy tirade, or listen to the whole song to catch the other two lyric nuances I want to point out in this unfortunately catchy number.

First, note that, as with our president-elect's hands, there's nothing "little" about this drummer boy. In Bieber's world, the dude who showed up with nothing but a snare solo for the Virgin Mother and newborn Christ was not a "little drummer boy" but just a regular drummer boy. Spring for some myrrh next time, "adult."

Second, just bask in the glory for a second of the following line, which ends Busta Rhymes' guest verse:

"People everywhere ****and all our Twitter followers****, Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Happy Hannukah!"

Italics and incredulous asterisks mine. Lack of Kwanzaa adjective Busta's.

Christmas Eve: This song is the sexy Nativity R&B slow jam sung by an underage Canadian teen you didn't know you needed.

Home This Christmas: I noticed something about this song this year. Justin was 17 when this song came out and sounds it — or younger, depending how generous you're feeling. The chick from the Band Perry, who sings the girl's part of the duet, was 28 and sounds 40. When the track started playing, I thought, "Oh, this is a mother-son home for the holidays thing. Cute!"

Then they launched into the chorus, which begins with, "I'll be waiting under the mistletoe."

Hmm.

Eh, maybe it's just to keep with the mistletoe motif?, I wondered. They continued.

"When the only gift that I really need is to have your arms wrapped around me."

...They could be hugging. The bridge begins.

"I'm praying that you make it home tonight / So we can lay down by the fireside / You and I, til Christmas morning."

Oooohhh. 

Honestly, the most disconcerting part is not that they have a woman 11 years Justin's senior playing his love interest — get down witcha cougar self, girl — it's that they take two and a half minutes to make it clear she's not his mom! If you're gonna write a love song duet for an alto-singing teen boy, maybe don't kick it off with an emphysemic country singer waiting by the window hoping her young male duet partner drives safely! This song is 2009 Folgers commercial levels of creepy guy-girl Christmas relations. Darn it for still being catchy.

Silent Night: Justin Bieber would like you to know that he knows Christmas is about Jesus. He's also edgy because he makes changes like "vir-gi-i-in" rather than "vi-ir-gi-in." But mostly he's Christian. Thanks, Justin!

BONUS TRACK ALERT! 

Okay, so yes, Under the Mistletoe does have a deluxe edition with some bonus tracks, but I don't know them (meaning they don't matter) and they are not what I am referring to.

What I am referring to is Celine Dion's cover of Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson's "Winter Song." If you're looking for more grade-A Canadian seasonal music — or even if you're not — you need this number in your life.

There's no joke here. Seriously. Just go listen to it, because it's brand new and not enough people know about its life-changing powers. Have a Celine moment. Your pre-holiday stress will melt away.

In the meantime, I'll be sitting in my apartment dreading the hour I'll have to spend in the morning shoveling dozens of cubic feet of snow off my car before I can get back to my natural December state of listening to Under the Mistletoe in the front seat of my Focus. Merry Christmas, adjective-less Kwanzaa, and Happy Hannukah, all my Twitter followers!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Logansport Lessons

Last week, I headed home to Logansport for an extended Thanksgiving break. Ol' L-town is always full of surprises, but I learned quite a few lessons on this latest six-day sojourn. From the bars of Erie Avenue to the drive-up window of La Casita de Pupusas, each corner of the 46947 had wisdom to impart this holiday - and, in my generosity, I am here to pass it on to you.

My first Logansport Lesson is that gambling is fun, but, like, so is an advent calendar. 

You'll be shocked, I'm sure, to hear that I have never participated in any gambling or lottery-related activities. I, after all, keep a tight budget I have to stick to by running my pantry down to half a bag of orzo so I can spend $130 on loafers. 

But, while out at the so-called Logan bars on the Thanksgiving-eve holiday known as Blackout Wednesday, a stack of pull-tab lotto tickets ended up at my table. If you don't know, these odd little vice devices are small cards with five tabs you snap back to reveal images - exactly like you do with a cardboard advent calendar. As with a slot machine, if your images match, you win a small amount of money. A classmate of mine bought a few cards from a vending machine, and a few of us set to work pulling off the tabs. 

OH MY GOD THAT'S FUN. 

Pulling apart bits of perforated cardboard is the perfect activity for a nail-biting, trash-folding sentient ball of nervous tics like me. For a brief moment, I understood why people enjoy gambling.

Somewhere around my hundredth tab, though, I realized I was getting no thrill at all from the increasingly slim chance of winning $5; I just liked the cat toy. My classmate dropped $60 on these things without winning a cent, and I reverted to my usual state of smugness, safe in the knowledge that I could have just at much fun at home with a leftover Pop-Tart box and some masking tape. Suck on that, lottery industrial complex!

Logansport Lesson number two is that, sometimes, when you leave your small, rural hometown for a while, it attempts to become a miniature foodie paradise in your absence. We'd already added token Thai place Dhing's to our existing restaurant selections (Applebee's and a local joint the kids call El Mexican), and now we've added a brand new bakery, a downtown fudge shop, and a pupusa stand. PUPUSAS, PEOPLE! I am a card-carrying pupusa obsessive, and now I can buy face-sized ones for $2 apiece from a drive-thru every time I visit my parents. God is real.

Finally, the third Logansport Lesson of this trip came from the recently resurrected Light Up Logansport parade. That lesson is that small-town parades are the best thing ever. We had the Children's Choir (led by my permanently hypothermic mother, who had the bright idea to avoid the cold by driving my dad's sedan as a pace car). We had two grown women in footie pajamas walking a horse they'd covered in glitter. We had the Shriners.

I don't know if Shriners do this in all small-town parades or just ours, but, in Logansport parades, the Shrine Club is known for traveling the route on motorized rickshaws that they spin around in little formations. While wearing fez hats. Don't ask me to explain.

This year, though, the Shriner entry in the parade was better than ever. One of the Shriners had somehow gotten his rickshaw stuck in reverse. While his club mates ran through their figure eights, this man rode backwards all the way down the East Broadway bike lane apologetically explaining to people that he couldn't get his vehicle turned around. I thought this was the best thing I'd ever seen. 

Then I saw the llamas.

Yes, folks, this parade had llamas. I saw the sign for the Cass County 4-H Llama and Alpaca Club coming from a block or so away, and, in a moment pulled straight from a sitcom, I said out loud, "Yesssss, the alpaca club! Wouldn't it be great if they had their--"

My jaw basically fell off my face when I saw that the alpaca club had indeed brought their alpacas. This group of teens was literally parading two Kuzcos, covered in Christmas lights, through downtown.

Keep your seven wonders, my friends. The best things on earth are happening in Logansport.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Simple Guide to Self-Care

Are you feeling bummed out? Perhaps your boyfriend dumped you? You didn't get into your third choice law school? Maybe you lost some money in a bet on something like, oh, I don't know, an election!

No matter the reason, if something's got you down and, like me, you're way too poor/cheap for therapy, you need a plan to drag yourself out of your slump. And you're in luck, readers - I've got one.

Follow these simple suggestions, dear friends, and you'll be feeling like a million bucks in no time.

How do I know they work, you ask? Why, I've done all of them! In the past five days! And if there's one person you should model your emotional well-being after, it is definitely me.

Step 1. Attempt to manually unfollow basically every one of your Facebook friends. Do this so quickly, thoroughly, and mindlessly that Facebook bans you from blocking people when you're halfway through your list. Now, instead of seeing political posts or life updates from people you only mildly care about, you'll see every single update, like, and comment from the totally random people you weren't able to block before Zuckerberg brought the hammer down on you. Hope you're ready to see every meme that your old summer camp acquaintance tags his roommate in!

Step 2. Buy yourself a ticket to your earliest local screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them this Thursday. You will go alone and eat popcorn and a slushie for dinner. It will be totally normal and not at all creepy, I'm sure.

Step 3. Finally crack open the copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child you've been hoarding since July and read the whole thing in one sitting. This is, again, totally normal adult behavior and a great use of your time.

Step 4. Browse Netflix for something to watch, and settle on The Chronicles of Narnia, which popped up in "family features," a category you're not quite sure why you have on your dashboard. Watch the whole, 2.5-hour thing, making multiple comments aloud to your empty apartment about what an idiot Edmund is for risking his and his entire family's lives for Turkish delight. Send a lot of texts about how fierce Tilda Swinton is.

In all of these things, ensure you are as immersed as children's science fiction and fantasy as you can possibly be. This will not at all make you feel weirder about your life than you already felt!

Step 5. Distract yourself for some time with a Google image search of the love of your life, Stanley Tucci.

Step 6. Eat nothing but Whole Foods falafel, raw carrots, and veggie juice for one meal.

Step 7. For your next meal, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

Step 8. If you're watching something stressful on live television - again, like, I don't know, the results of an election - accompany your watching with enough Pizza Hut wings and cheesy bread that you are physically unable to move. This way, if your television viewing doesn't go your way, you can blame your nausea on the honey barbecue and not on your racking sobs!

Step 9. Look into Celtic Woman tickets and become enraged when you discover they've REPLACED THEIR FIDDLE PLAYER, ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!!!!?????!!!!!!

Step 10. Wear your Celtic Woman merch for a day in mourning/protest. Yes, that's right, you lucky dog - you own Celtic Woman merch in this scenario.

Step 11. Unpack various boxes of things and leave their wrappings strewn all over your apartment. This will make you feel way better when you return home from work later, mood having finally improved somewhat, only to discover that your home looks like a tornado recently blew through.

Step 12. Lose something in your tornado zone apartment. Recalling steps 2-3, wander around mumbling "accio" until you've lost all will to live.

Step 13. Open all the blinds on your west-facing wall of windows because it's chilly in your apartment and you've heard rumors of a thing called the sun that could be worth experiencing. Watch three consecutive episodes of SVU from an armchair in the direct path of said sun. Emerge from your Mariska marathon with a sunburn on half your face.

Step 14. Decide to light a candle on your nightstand and try some breathing and mindfulness exercises before bed. Fall asleep. Wake up at 1 AM fully clothed with your contacts in feeling great about how your sleep cycle is going to go for the next few days!

Step 15. Decide that same process needs another try the next night. To the surprise of no one, fall asleep again! Wake up at 1 AM with your contacts still in; with a firm, bright red imprint of your left hand on your right arm from whatever convoluted position you nodded off in; and fully confirmed that your sleep cycle is going to be great for the next few days.

Step 16. Fall into a YouTube black hole so deep (dog weddings? Office supply hauls?), you come dangerously close to a permanent vegetative state. Congratulations! You have forgotten all about your old boyfriend/failed attempt at academia/new demagogue. Now enjoy that Harry Potter screening!

(Disclaimer: Yes, I actually did all these things this week, but first of all, chill out parents I'm fine; second of all, most of them - lookin' at you, Ben & Jerry's - describe a normal Saturday in my life; and third, no I'm not actually responding to the election with five full days of hopeless depression. I have, in fact, been looking into service opportunities. So should you.) 

(Disclaimer 2: If you are worried about your mental health and are in need of actual care, please get some!)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

GO VOTE, Y'ALL

Hey everyone! You may have noticed that, whoops, I haven't written a blog post in six months. My B! I've been waiting for a topic that I just had to say something about, and I've found it — the election.

Now, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for.

It should come as no surprise who I will be voting for. #ImWithHer. #ImWithHerAF. #couldiBEanymoreWithHer? I don't find Hillary Clinton to be "the lesser of two evils," and I'm not voting for her reluctantly or supporting her with my fingers crossed behind my back wishing she were someone else. I'm voting for her because I find her enormously well qualified, because I believe her when she claims to be a true public servant, and because her policies align both with my views and with the future I want to see for our country over the next four years. I like her.

(I like her so much, in fact, that I'm going to see her at a rally slash James Taylor concert tomorrow night down the street from my house two days before the election. Living in New Hampshire in an election season might be the best thing that's ever happened to me.)

And yes, I am terrified of the alternative. Setting aside the Stein and Johnson tickets for merely statistical reasons (and also because, like, come on), the remaining viable candidate is not what I want for our country. I disagree with his policies, I don't find him qualified or temperamentally suited for the office he is seeking, and, like, come on.

But you don't have to agree with me. That's the thing about America: we're allowed to disagree with each other. And we get the opportunity to get out there and voice those disagreements with our votes.

That's why I'm writing this, folks.

I don't care who you vote for on Tuesday. I just want you to vote.

Not everyone gets this opportunity! This is a cool thing we get to do!

So is voting, Marnie. So is voting.

It is pretty awesome that we get to engage in the political process and cast a vote for the way we want our future to go. If you're casting your ballot for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, you're showing the nation that third parties are worth considering. If you're voting for Donald Trump, sure, I'd encourage you to take a hard look at why — but that vote is still cool, because you've chosen a candidate and you're getting out there and committing to it. 

"But Sarah," you say, "I don't like any of the candidates, so the country's doomed anyway!" 

You know how you can prevent future doom? By participating. The more that we get out there and show that we don't just talk or complain about government but play an active part in its shaping, the more likely it is that future politicians will more closely reflect our wants and needs. It's hard for our leaders to respond to an electorate who only say what they want in a group message or a tweet, or worse, who complain without saying what they want at all. 


"But Sarah," you say, "I'm just sick of it and want it to be over!" 

Well, it's gonna be over, hopefully sometime in the middle of the night on Tuesday. At least those of us who vote can say we had a say in this year-long reality-TV-style torture session. If you stay home, you subjected yourself to the past 12+ months of news for nothing. 

"But Sarah," you say, "I'm not voting for either of those jokers for president, and that's that." 

My stubborn friend, did you know there are — gasp — other positions being determined in this election? 

Sure, the president may not affect you personally all that often. If you're determined not to have a say in the presidential election, I can at least in theory understand how you can justify that you're unlikely to be affected by either outcome. But the further down the ballot you read, the closer to your life you get. Perhaps you have a congressional race to vote for. Perhaps your state's electing a governor. Maybe you're due for a new mayor, or some school board members, or a freakin' county clerk. Those races will be decided on Tuesday, too, and you owe it to those candidates (and yourself!) not to let frustration with the top ticket get in the way of having a say in the smaller ones. 

So, if you haven't cast your ballot already, get out there and vote on Tuesday. I will be at my polling place when it opens at 6 a.m. Then I will sit at work for the day alternating between occasional actual work, existential dread, and toggling between several dozen browser tabs of election coverage. And then, I will be glued to my TV, sparkling fruit wine and dark chocolate peanut butter cups in hand, from the second I get home from work until the second Wolf, Anderson and the gang officially declare whether I'll be resting easy in the land of my girl Hill or taking a sudden interest in how all of my business associates in Ireland have been lately. 

If you don't know where you vote, you can find out here. There have also been polling place finder tools on Facebook, and many states also have sample ballots available online so you can scope out who's running for the lower-profile races in your area. If you type your home address into Uber on Tuesday, they'll look up your polling place for you and let you book a trip straight there with the touch of a button. The resources available to help you do your civic duty are pretty remarkable. Take advantage of them. 

Oh, and if you're a teenager reading this and just thinking, "-_____-", two things: 

1) There's always next year! (Somebody had to steal that phrase now that the Cubbies aren't using it, amirite? Heyo sports!)

2) Sixteen-year-old me campaigned door-to-door for Obama on Election Day 2008. (Yes, friends, I've always been like this.) If the rules are the same as they were then, Logansport schools may even give you an excused absence for election volunteering. It's last minute, but see what options are out there! And, at the very least, if the 2016 election cycle made you excited or angry or had you wishing you could vote this year, bottle that passion up and remember it for the next time around. 

It's the home stretch, y'all. Go vote.