Sunday, November 27, 2011

Confessions of a Thanksgiving Break Slacker

If you live or have ever lived in the good ol' U.S. of A., you are well aware that the past 4-7 days (depending on how kind your school or workplace administrators are) comprised that glorious holiday, Thanksgiving break. In fact, if you're a high school or college student worth your salt, you are probably at this very moment avoiding all the homework you didn't do over break by reading this post. For your reading pleasure, I thought I would share with you all a few secrets from my days off. Yes, like Usher, these are my confessions - and don't worry, my chick on the side does not, in fact, have one on the way.

Let's start with the obvious one: homework. I brought my backpack home with me for break, stuffed moderately full with the books from which I've missed readings in the past few weeks and the laptop where all the rest of my missed reading assignments lay in wait. I had really great intentions on the homework front, but unsurprising Confession #1 is that I did absolutely none of it. That's not to say I was completely unproductive...well...okay, actually, it is to say exactly that.

The strangest series of events that filled my homework-less break time came about on Wednesday night. My sister had some friends over, and, when the first one went to leave, she pulled out of our driveway and backed directly into the ditch across the road. Most people would probably express some kind of concern at such an occurrence. But Confession #2 - you guessed it - is that I may or may not have responded with laughter. In my defense, no one was hurt, the car wasn't damaged, and after 20 minutes of discussions, flashlight-shining, phone call-making, and manual labor from a 7-person moving team, the car was successfully removed from the ditch without even calling a tow truck. Thus, being one of the worst drivers I've ever met, I feel that I have every right to laugh a bit. And hey, I waited a whole four days to blog about it! She should consider herself lucky for that if nothing else.

Oh. Confession #2B is that, immediately after this, I accidentally let my fewer-than-six-months-licensed sister illegally drive one of her friends around town. Unlike a lot of people in Ltown, though, this is actually the only illegal thing I did all break. I am rule-follower; hear me roar.

Confession #3 pertains to the truly ridiculous level of laziness I succumbed to during this break. I watched three movies...on the first day. (I think the total is somewhere around 7. I lost count somewhere between Bridesmaids and Elf.) I consumed approximately my body weight in turkey alone, not to even mention the millions of side dishes and desserts that kept miraculously appearing on plates in front of me. I woke up at pretty reasonable hours, but considering the latest I went to bed all week was 11:30, I wouldn't exactly call that a victorious battle in the anti-laziness war.

One of the few things I did all week that involved me actually leaving my house and interacting with humans who aren't my relatives was going to a basketball game at my high school on Saturday night. (Go Berries.) And Confession #4, inevitably, is that I watched pretty much no basketball during the entire second half. Instead, I sat back with an older, (slightly) taller iteration of the pilgrim from my last post and talked about everyone from our graduating class and what they've all been up to since we bid adieu to LHS. If you're a classmate of mine fretting over this news, I wouldn't worry much - if you're reading my blog, you're probably one of the chosen few for whom we had good reviews. [Note: that rhyme was purely unintentional. But hey, watch out, Poetry Writing for Majors spring 2012.] I'd be more concerned if you're reading this as a current member of the LHS boys' basketball team - because we do not believe that you are 6'2".

Appropriately, my last confession comes from mass this morning. For my non-Catholic or obliviously Catholic readers, today was the first day of masses using the new translation of the Roman Missal. In other words, all the phrases we mindlessly rattled off during the mass are now completely different and tricking Catholics everywhere. Confession #5, then? I may or may not have spoken every newly-translated line like I was reading from a play script. "The Lord be with you," you say? Aaaand with your spirit, Padre Miguel! Okay, so I didn't say Padre Miguel. Out loud. But I did throw in some fun inflections here and there. My bad. In my defense, I do remember things better if I say them in weird ways; just ask my RA about how I sang my way through her homework last week. But yeah yeah, I know, sanctity of the mass, etc. I promise I won't do it again...soon.

In summation, bless me, readers, for I have sinned. This is part 1 of my confessions. Unlike Usher, though, I have no plans of boring you with parts two and three. You're welcome. Now go eat some leftovers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

In the category of "things you should've seen coming," I present to you a brief list of the things I am thankful for this holiday season.

1. The fact that people actually read this blog. How ridiculous is that, honestly?
1B. My dedicated readers, especially all the Howard Hall staff; the ladies of the fourth floor; my favorite penguino-loving, Asian-named Mexican; my favorite Logan Berry turned Wentworth Leopard turned Purdue Boilermaker; and my favowite wittle pilgwim:

2. Jenna Marbles
3. Spotify, not so much because it allows me to be cheap & legally avoid buying music, but because it provides such interesting insights into the lives of all of my Facebook friends...because I am creepy.
4. School breaks dedicated to holidays revolving solely around food
5. Ryan Gosling
6. The fact that the Kohl's Black Friday ads have Rebecca Black's "Friday" accompanying them...oh wait.
7. Native Americans, because they provide us with great films like Pocahontas and great photographs like this:

7B. Cultural insensitivity
8. Sycamore ice cream stored in the freezer during the off-season
9. Crewneck sweatshirts, because hoodies are for losers
10. The Book of Mormon (whether I mean the musical or the bible is up to you)
11. Everything Joel Stein has ever written, ever
12. The fact that I no longer look like this:

13. Khloe Kardashian, for telling me that headdresses are acceptable to wear in daily life
14. The Eli Lilly corporation and the Cass County Community Foundation - don't wur-E guyz, eye iz doin gr8 @ noter daym
15. Theology professors who cancel three weeks of class and replace tests with 100%s for everyone
16. Whoever decided that the Folk Choir needs to go to a certain city in a certain country for a certain football game next fall
17. Having an RA who enjoys keeping her residents from doing their homework and listening to me talk whenever she has her door open.
18. My recent (read: made-right-now) discovery that there is a character on NCIS Los Angeles who is an actual human representation of Edna Mode from The Incredibles.
19. People who partake in Facebook status gimmicks like "Truth Is," because they make the decision of who to put on that "hide from my News Feed" list so much easier
20. Idina Menzel
21. Mean Girls
22. Wedges, for saving me from a life in which I'm forced to wear miserable heels to be tall
23. The fact that my family does not partake in Black Friday shopping, because I would rather die than get up in the wee hours of the morning to go deal with coupon-loving hillbillies
24. Sperrys, North Face jackets, and Anthropologie sweaters, for allowing me to convince my Notre Dame peers that I'm as rich as them
25. Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Judgment Days

When you live your life as me, pretty much every day could be called Judgment Day. An embarrassingly huge portion of each of my days is spent judging the ridiculous people I'm forced to interact with or being judged by people who get to witness the equally ridiculous things I do all the time. The past few days, however, have been overflowing with opportunities for judgment. So many strange and/or interesting things have happened that I couldn't even pick just one to talk about - so you're about to hear them all.

We'll start with all the things from the past few days for which people have probably been judging me. Take Thursday night, for instance. I went to Folk Choir practice as usual, and afterwards, I went to the midnight premiere of Breaking Dawn. Yeah, I said it. Me, my RA, a few (awesome) sophomores, one of our ARs, one brave junior, and a bunch of freshmen headed over to the movie theater at 10 pm, homework in tow, and picked out our seats for the first showing of the new Twilight movie. I know that's a decision that a lot of people will laugh at, so I guess it's too bad I have no shame. I've read the books, I like the series, and Taylor Lautner is a god. Go ahead and judge me, haterz. Then there was yesterday. I skipped the last home game of the season to go home for the night. In my defense (because normally, let's not kid around, I'd judge myself for that one), this was only to see my sister perform the title role in Oliver at our high school. But still. I missed, among other things, Regis Philbin, Jon Bon effing Jovi, Brady Quinn, Chicago (the band), and, oh yeah, the last home football game until September 2012. I have a feeling that more than a few of my friends were thinking I'm pretty nuts for going home last night. Once again, I must repeat: I do not care. It was a great show; I got to hang around backstage (yeah, judge me for that too, people); and I got a delicious homemade breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes. Oh, and on that topic, yes, I eat like a small child. Judge away.

Of course, I've also come across some good judgments in the past few days. A certain intoxicated tenor who shall remain nameless called me bodacious on Friday, so, you know, that works. My high school English teacher asked me how school was going and proceeded to tell me I was an entirely too gifted writer to not pursue it as a career. So I mean, hey - if you're going to judge me with those results, feel free! Or if you're deciding I'm a total freak, really. If I was worried about people judging me, I would disconnect my Spotify account from Facebook before listening to the JBiebs Christmas CD on repeat.

Then there are the great opportunities I've had to judge other people in the past few days. Let's begin with Friday afternoon. Now, Ke$ha may have the famous line, "Tonight we're goin' ha-a-a-a-a-ard," but that did not stop several of my friends from goin' hard this Friday at 4 in the afternoon. This resulted in judgment all over the PLACE. First, there was a certain nameless best friend of mine who was attempting to earn herself a new boyfriend in the form of every person she saw or even thought of - even if said person was a girl, or, say, a 17-year-old ginger she's never met. Mostly, this was just hilarious. Normal people may have been judging her for this, but the only judgment I was really making was, "Good to know I have fantastic taste in BFFs." Then there was the obliterated freshman I escorted to dinner. It's a proven fact that drunk dining hall is the quickest way known to man to get huge crowds of people judging you harder than Simon Cowell judges/judged "singers" on American Idol. And this trip on Friday night was no exception. Typical, sober Sarah was just minding her own business, trying to serve herself some lukewarm DH pizza, and obliterated freshman insisted on calling out everyone in the place he'd ever met in his life and generally making an idiot of himself. I was just there to keep him out of trouble, really, but as he said, "I can feel you judging me right now, Sarah." Yes. Yes, you can.

Then there was the play last night. Fully-grown adults sitting behind me who sat with your legs dangled over the seats in front of you the whole time? Judging you (and feeling very tempted to steal one of your shoes and throw it, just to spite you). Lighting guys who left one poor soloist in the dark for her whole song? Judging you. Mom behind me who refused to tell her kid to shut up and/or to take her out into the lobby? JUDGING YOU SO HARD. Recent LHS grads returned home from college with a few extra pounds or a really weird haircut? Yup, judging you, too. Kid from my first post who broke my thumb last time I came home and spent all of last night complimenting me on my sweater and my eyeliner? Judg-- haha, just kidding; keep pilin' on those compliments, buddy! You know, I've been meaning to tell my dad-your choir director that you deserve a solo....

Okay, back to the post.

The moral of the story is that the past few days have involved more judging of people than your average trip to Indiana Beach on a hot summer's day. I saw and enjoyed the most hated movie in America. I missed the last home game of the season for a trip to Logansport. I was an escort to drunk dining hall and a witness to all of Logantucky's finest. In all, it's been a great few days. And now, if you don't mind, I think I'll watch some Tough Love Miami, eat some chocolate, and mercilessly stalk people on Facebook. Make of that what you will.

Monday, November 14, 2011

True Life: I Want to Study Abroad

As November 15 quickly approaches and the keyboards of sophomores (and a few overachieving freshmen) across campus are set ablaze by the furious typing of last-minute essays, I felt it was only appropriate to write a post about that time-honored tradition: applying to study abroad.

Pretty much everyone at ND applies to go abroad, and most people have great reasons for wanting to do so. On the actual application, though, let's not kid ourselves; we tell more subtle untruths than the coaching staff at Penn State (too soon? probably. Do I care? probably not). If we were totally honest on our applications, they would read quite differently. It is such an honest application that you are about to read.

Let's start with a seemingly easy question: Are there any foods you cannot eat? Well, I mean, I hate most vegetables. I may be the anti-vegetarian in a million ways, but I refuse to touch veal with a ten-foot pole. I mean, baby cows? Ew, so sad! Similarly, pistachios. Oh, and the time my high school French Club made escargots, I snuck my portion onto someone else's plate when they weren't looking.

Describe any concerns you might have about studying abroad: I'm concerned that my study-abroad blog won't be interesting enough for people to read it consistently, and I'm not sure if the three-day weekends built into my schedule every week will give me enough time to cavort around Europe instead of doing homework. But, it'll give me a great chance to improve my time management!

Describe any experiences or interests that could be considered in evaluating your application: One time, I went to Asian house - totally exotic! And the "American Girl in Paris" episodes are my all-time favorites from Sex and the City. I'm also VERY interested in Italian men, British accents, French wine, Swiss chocolate, and Volkswagens. I know I'm worldly; you can be jealous.

Describe how you plan to become involved in the community at the location to which you are applying: I will definitely be in the market for a local boyfriend, and I intend to fully investigate all the community's pubs and/or nightclubs. 

And finally, the Statement of Objectives: Basically, I want to study abroad because it's a great excuse for me to avoid a South Bend winter (blech) and instead spend a few months in a country where the drinking age is 5 and kids sneak into discotheques at 13. I've also heard from all my friends that no one ever goes to class or does any work, which sounds GREAT. I can't wait to go sightseeing and clubbing every day of every week. Oh, and finally, I really want to be able to come home and brag to all my friends who didn't go abroad about how fantastic it was. Please, please accept me! :) 

That, my friends, is what's going on in the minds of every person applying to study abroad. Because the stuff I just described is the only "cultural immersion" we have any interest in. [Note: I use the term "we" very loosely. Everyone reading this who knows me well knows that I am way too much of a loser for 90% of this "I like clubbing and snagging hot boys" stuff to ever apply to me. Hear that, Office of International Studies? If you're looking for a poster child, I volunteer!]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Day I Entered a Pageant

Though it's never formally been said (to my face, anyway), it would be very sensible to state that the day I participated in a pageant would be the day that hell froze over. Well, I'm sure that at some point or other, some USC fan or nineteenth-century Holy Cross priest who unwittingly ended up building a university here has referred to South Bend as hell on earth, so I guess it's fitting that today was the Bend's first snowfall of the season.

Because today, I, Sarah Cahalan, entered a pageant...and I didn't even lose.

As I mentioned in some other post, I was recently nominated to be Miss Howard Hall in the O'Neill-sponsored laugh-fest of a pageant, Miss ND. After laughing for a really long time, I decided I might as well go for it. I got a talent ready, practicing it in my room enough times to probably make my neighbors hate me more than Rick Perry hates looking intelligent; borrowed the duck suit for my "professional wear"; mustered up every ounce of irony and humor in my being; and, early this evening, headed over to Washington Hall ready to channel my inner Miss America. (I might add that I have never looked dumber in my life than on that brief commute: the biggest snowflakes I've ever seen were absolutely pouring down from the sky, covering all my clothes and hair and completely soaking the bottom half of my jeans, and I was carrying an approximately 85 gallon trash bag filled with a duck suit full of my other clothes. Oh, and I was wearing the duck head as a backpack.)

After a lot of awkward backstage time in which my innate competitive nature returned to me as I analyzed my fellow contestants and, to my great surprise, even started to get nervous, the pageant began. I got off to a great start, nearly knocking over a mic stand and a stool in my attempts to reach the stage in a duck suit out of which it's virtually impossible to see. I waved eagerly to my adoring if invisible public and skedaddled off to change for the talent portion of the competition. Before I knew it, I was being ushered once again onto the stage, deeply intimidated by the absolutely hilarious acts that had preceded mine and still not positive I knew all the words to my song. The opening chords of "Taylor the Latte Boy" rang out from the 69-cent karaoke arrangement I'd purchased from iTunes last week, and I got in the freaking zone. I was wearing purple tights, my Chuck Taylors, a huge pink bow on my head, and my glasses askew on the end of my nose (among other things, such as, you know, actual clothes), and out came the first line: "There'th a boy who workth at Thtarbuckth who ith very inthpirational." I had decided within the last hour to go big or go home and rock the lisp - and apparently, it was a popular choice. I kept going, and, when I reached the section where I always mess up the words, I triumphantly....messed up the words. I covered it with a lot of character-worthy awkwardness and repetition of "Taylor maketh me tho nervouth," the audience laughed harder than at any other point in the whole song (yeah guys, that was totally what I meant to do), and I headed back to the green room feeling fairly confident. I watched the rest of the acts, continuing to be intimidated, and eventually headed backstage once again to prepare for the announcement of the top 5. The eleven of us walked out on the stage and listened to the emcee announce the lucky ladies. In the middle of these announcements, I realized that he had called Miss Howard. Wait...WHAT? I stepped forward and waved awkwardly, watched the rest of the non-court contestants slink off the stage, and sat down with the rest of the top five for the most terrifying pageant portion of all: Q&A. I gave some moderately funny/awkward answers, listened to the other girls give some absolutely hilarious ones, and waited for them to announce the winners. The emcee began with the second-runner up - the only position I thought I had any realistic choice of winning - and read off my name! Then he, you know, announced those other two or something.

So, today, more than being 11/11/11-Eve and the day of the official first snowfall of the year, was the day that I entered a pageant and came in third place. As I sit in my room looking at the "go Sarah" posters plastered all over my door, I still have no idea how this day possibly just happened...but, sure enough, it did. (There's a video to prove it.) So watch out, Toddlers and Tiaras - there may be a new 19-year-old who cruelly competes against small children coming soon to a pageant near you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dear Boys

Dear boys of Notre Dame and the world,

After a weekend disproportionately full of baked goods and Howard girl bonding/ranting time, I have decided that it is high time for me to devote some blog space to educating you on how to interact with women. For if this weekend taught me anything, it's that you clearly have no clue where to begin. Literally every girl I chatted with this weekend had some boy to complain about, and each of these boys had at least five or six things he was doing terribly wrong. So, gentlemen, listen up. Take some notes. Trust me, you need to.

Your first lesson is in assertiveness. As long as you don't exercise this right to the point of creepiness or, say, "forcible fondling," assertiveness is great. For example: If you want a girl to hang out with you...tell her! Invite her over or something! Being vague enough to force a girl to ask you if you want her to come over is never good. Similarly, if a girl asks you some harmless question, give a real answer. Don't answer with another question ("what are you up to?" "idk what are you up to?" is not a conversation anyone wants to have), don't avoid the question altogether, don't say something meaningless. Give the answer you're actually thinking. It really isn't that hard. The girl you're talking to - and the collection of friends she's probably sitting around analyzing your behavior with - will appreciate it.

On a similar note, the general male population of earth could use a lesson in text etiquette. There is no surer way to send a girl into a mad frenzy to analyze your every move than by being strange in your texting habits. An important aspect of this lesson is the ever-present question of how long to wait before responding to a text. (Hint: "several days" is not a good option.) In general, as long as the girl you're texting is herself responding promptly, the "30 seconds to 3 minutes" time frame is ideal. There is an important caveat, though. If you're in a relatively fast-paced text conversation with a girl and you suddenly take 10 minutes or more to respond, she WILL assume that you have either A) died, B) been in a horrible accident leaving you unable to reach your phone, C) found some other girl to talk to/make out with, which you're probably doing while she waits for your answer, or D) spontaneously lost all interest in her. If you don't have a very good reason for a pause this lengthy, avoid it. At all costs. If you do, however, have a valid reason, be sure you point that out when you do respond. "Sorry I took 45 minutes to respond to your text - my roommate drunkenly threw my phone out our third floor window and I had to go get it" will suffice quite nicely. Other texting faux pas to avoid include the one-word (or worse yet, one letter) response, the excessive use of "lol" ("lol idk" is not a good answer to "what are you up to?" I'm guessing you do know, and I guarantee you did not just laugh out loud), and the attempt at any sarcasm short of 100% blatant (because sarcasm transfers suuuuper well to written word).

Finally, though it's incredible that you still struggle with this, it's become evident this weekend that many of you gents do, in fact, need a lesson in common courtesy. Step one: cab money. If you take a girl off-campus somewhere - a party, a restaurant, the circus, wherever - do. Not. Make. Her. Pay. For. Your. Cab. This is incredibly tacky. I don't care if you're not romantically interested in this girl; if you're going off-campus one-on-one with her, she at LEAST deserves for you to pay for your own cab fare, if not hers as well. Step two: casual conversation. If a lady appears to be uninterested in a long conversation with you, don't force her into one. I'm sure you would expect this courtesy of us; we expect it of you, too. We've got stuff to do and people to see. Sometimes we don't actually want to sit and listen to you talk for an hour. Step three: the sacredness of girls' night. This one should be self-explanatory. If a girl has chosen to devote her night, either staying in or going out, to her girls, you must not intrude. Honestly, you shouldn't want to - it will not be fun for you. If a girl wants to chill/dance with her friends, she is unlikely to even want to pay any attention to you. As Jenna Marbles once said, "Motha(impolite term), can't you see we havin' a girrrrls' night?" Stay away, for the good of all involved.

Well, boys, this should serve as an excellent primer for how to act with the lovely ladies of your life. If you take these to heart and still mess up or you're too stupid to retain anything I just said, try to make yourself as much as possible like Ryan Gosling. That will always work.


Women everywhere

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Few of My (Least) Favorite Things

Since my Facebook news feed has been positively blowing up of late with people - mostly stereotypical whiny girls from my high school - listing off their pet peeves, I figured I'd add my two cents by writing a post about a few of the many things that annoy me.

Let's start with one that the above paragraph (okay, sentence) should make obvious: excessive narcissism from people who are not me. Originally, I was going to just say "excessive narcissism," but then I remembered that I am one of the most self-interested people I know. That, however, is why I have a blog. For what really irks me in the arena of narcissism is practicing it in inappropriate forums. I have no problem with you wanting to talk about yourself a lot; trust me, I can relate. But do it on your own time. I do not want you clogging my Facebook and Twitter with every mundane detail of your life, every message you wish to send to your haters, and every low-quality mirror pic you've ever taken of yourself in your bathroom. On a similar note, unless you are one of my closest friends and/or you have a major issue you want my help with, I will probably be secretly annoyed if I have an entire conversation with you in which you talk about yourself too much to allow me to do the same.

Secondly, let it be known that there is no end to my disdain for people who take a "too cool" mentality in their choices of music. Those readers who know me well are aware that, when it comes to music, I am essentially the anti-hipster. Let's not kid around; my iTunes library is about 60% show tunes. If that's not your style, I'm okay with that. Similarly, I have nothing against hipsters. But if you make all of your choices in music based solely on their distance from the "mainstream," I would ask you to stop kidding yourself. Music does not end up on top 40 radio because of its deep lyrical or compositional quality. It's there because it's catchy and fun to listen to. I enjoy indie music as much as the next person - but I have no intention of pretending that I haven't also sat around listening to T.Swift and crying like a seventh grade girl. You can relate to her lyrics; admit it. Similarly, if you don't have some modicum of affection for Justin Bieber somewhere in your body, you might not be human. (Side note: if you think you don't love the Biebs at least a bit, go listen to his Christmas album. It will change your life.)

On a similar note to the previous thought, I am endlessly annoyed by people who take themselves too seriously. If you can't laugh at yourself, the odds are good that you are zero fun to be around. Ridiculous things happen sometimes. Maybe you dropped something loudly in the dining hall and everyone heard it.  Maybe you tried to say something intelligent in your Spanish class and accidentally said you like dancing with your pet kangaroo. Maybe you're on staff at some weird, cultish leadership camp where you're forced to lead absolutely imbecilic cheers in front of 150 high school kids. Maybe someone tagged a photo of you sleeping, or looking otherwise like a total idiot. Freaking own that. You drop that tray and you take a bow. You shame your classmates for not dancing with their kangaroos, too. You lead that cheer regardless of how dumb you look doing it. Finally, whatever you do, don't untag that picture. If someone cares enough to creep through your tagged photos and find that ugly one, it probably won't deter them from liking you. If you need help with laughing at yourself, talk to me. For one thing, I guarantee I can find some laughable things about you. For another, I have pretty much never taken myself seriously...ever. I mean, I recently agreed at the urging of RA to be the Howard representative in the Miss ND pageant. You've got to be kidding me. In all seriousness, though (see what I did there?), you need to know when the time is right to have a hearty guffaw at your own expense - and with that top you're wearing, that time is probably right now.