Friday, July 27, 2012

Meanwhile, In Logansport

Since Monday night, I have been officially moved out of HappyVisionLand and moved back in (sort of) in Logansport. For the record, I say "sort of" because all of my belongings are currently packed in bins that lie scattered throughout my house. Unpacked or not, however, I have been able, over the past few days, to catch up on all the latest L-town news - and let me tell you, there is plenty of it.

The big event around my house this week is this weekend's Junior Civic Theatre production of The Music Man. For starters, I'll say that it's a lovely great show and you should all come see it. (It's tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 and Sunday at like 2:30 I guess. Whatever.) Because I am a good person who also has absolutely no life, I have spent every night this week at McHale watching and taking pictures of the dress rehearsals for this play. I, therefore, am in an excellent position to give you all a brief review of the show.

An evening spent with the JCT show begins with the little kids' show, Winnie the Pooh. I saw this beginning to end for the first time last night, and, let me tell you, it is a trip. The show is about thirty minutes long, and one group of kids sits on a bench onstage for the duration of the performance. Clearly, these kids are the best part of the show. When they're singing, dancing, or otherwise concentrating on things, they're fine. And for the first three or so minutes when they're left to their own devices on the bench, they're all right. After that point, they get bored. This, of course, is where the fun begins. My favorite moment from these kids came when the little boy dressed as a skunk repeatedly stared at the palm of his hand, licked said palm, and smacked people with it. Given how few laughs last night came from anyone who wasn't me, I think I am the only person who noticed this child. Should anyone reading this go to see Winnie the Pooh this weekend, I would advise you to watch these bench children...ceaselessly. They are the most entertaining thing you'll see all year. Another Pooh highlight (besides the show's self-perpetuating ability to create jokes by being called Pooh) is the sign casually thrown into the play that reads "BYOH" for Bring Your Own Honey. This was another hilarious moment during which I was the only person who laughed.

Then there's Music Man. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but to quote this century's best SNL character, Stefon, "This show has everything." The world's strangest quartet, my sister as a librarian (lolz), several of the ugliest hats in the state of Indiana, insensitivity towards Native Americans - everything. My favorite moment last night occurred when the kid playing Winthrop missed one of his entrances by about two full minutes. This gap left the guy playing Harold onstage with my sister, stroking her hair repeatedly and awkwardly while I sat in the audience, trying to keep from knocking my tripod over with my hysterical laughter. Come see the show, kids! In particular, come tonight when you can find me in the audience crying because I'm missing the opening ceremonies.

When not focusing on the theater, Logansport has been preoccupied of late with all things related to automobiles. First, they went and built a roundabout two blocks from my house. In addition to destroying the traffic patterns of everyone in my neighborhood for the past several months, this roundabout has singlehandedly wrecked my ability to viably tell my friends at school that I "live in the country." While this is essentially true - we're outside the city limits, there is a cornfield across from our house, etc - I do lose some major street cred with the arrival of this new-fangled roundabout. Furthermore, now that I have seen it and driven through it, I have only one thing to say: WHY IS IT A BLOCK OFF THE ROAD? For months now, I've been hearing about this roundabout and anticipating this cool new addition to my neighborhood. I get home to find the roundabout inexplicably plopped down about ten yards to the left of the center of the road. You're driving down the road, and then comes this roundabout, forcing you to practically drive into the next county and back before returning to the original road. I do not understand, Cass County.

Of course, the biggest news in town lately is the fabled new mayoral parking spot. For those readers not familiar with this debacle, the story, as I've heard it, goes something like this: Mayor parks in illegal not-a-spot parking spot. Mayor's office is contacted, instructing mayor to please move mayor's car. Mayor does not move said car. Mayor gets parking ticket. Mayor pays ticket. Shortly after paying ticket, mayor has a crew go out and paint him a new mayor spot so he can (depending on who you talk to) have easier access to the city building in the event of a mayoral emergency or, basically, emerge victorious from his encounter with the parking po-po. I don't really care about this whole thing. What matters about it are the following two things. Firstly, the mayor and/or his crew created this spot by painting themselves a car-sized yellow box. I may not have learned much in driver's training (as anyone in my car on break week can attest), but I do recall that yellow is the universal color for "don't put your car here." This makes me laugh. Clearly, in this instance, the mayor missed the perfect opportunity to paint himself a completely ridiculous parking spot. Perhaps purple, or zebra print. Maybe tie-dye! Keep this in mind for next time you paint yourself a parking spot, friends. The other notable development to come from this whole thing is that, for a while, it was a lead story on Oh, Logansport. Keep up the good work.

So that's what I've been up to since leaving Vision. I've watched play practice, and I've listened to people complain about a parking spot. And I've slept. A lot. For now, I'm off to prepare for opening night. Enjoy watching the opening ceremonies, all of you people whom I hate!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

One Last Top 9 for the Road

Back in October when I first learned that I was accepted as a mentor for ND Vision, I - and most of my friends - couldn't help but laugh. Sarah Cahalan is going to be a counselor at Jesus camp? You've got to be kidding me. But I took the job, and some nine months later, I can say confidently that it's one of the best decisions I have ever made. I spent the last 5-7 weeks with 65 of the strangest, beautiful-est, wonderful-est people Notre Dame has to offer, helping kids and singing songs all the time. Today, we start to head our separate ways, and I have for you all the only proper parting gift I could ever offer: the Top 9 Things About Vision 2012. (It should be noted that I'm leaving break week entirely out of this list, because it is obviously in a league of its own. Woostah fo lyfe.) 

9) The ridiculous kids I had in my small groups over the course of the summer. There was Week 2, when one small group member wrote in his affirmation letter to me, "I liked your mentor talk thing. I didn't even fall asleep during yours! (Don't tell [our other mentor])." Clearly, this was the undisputed winner of the "best affirmation I got this summer or will ever get" award. There was Week 4, when we had a Canadian shockingly tolerant of our incessant questions about hockey, maple syrup, and Celine Dion. And, of course, there were my Week 3 kids, who insisted that I was the next Tina Fey and who BOUGHT ME A JAR OF NUTELLA. My ego and my taste buds have voted this group the best small group of all of Vision 2012. 

8) The fact that I got to stand on stage once a week with my life-size Justin Bieber cardboard cutout. I got paid for this, people. 

7) The musicals. For those of you who may not know, part of the job that the music mentors did was putting on three musicals per week telling the stories of various parables. I could easily do an entire Top 9 for each musical, so I'll just share some highlights here. 
            7A) Every moment of the song "Late" in The Good Samaritan
            7B) Bobby Prodigal's line, "That's not fair, I'm very attractive!" 
            7C) The facial expressions of Sven the Svord-Svallowing Svede during "Angel" 
            7D) The "lemon" tree in The Talents, YOU ALL KNOW WHY 
            7E) The pig choreography for "Pro Bono" in Prodigal Son
            7F) Sally the Cow's line, "#%@3(*&#%$ STAR TREK" 

6) Watching our Vision Theology professor watch the musicals. 

5) Standing, dancing, and screaming in the aisle during ValLimar's talk. The best part of this besides the obvious is that I was always directly behind our music director and never bothered to avoid the complete destruction of my voice. Also, two of my favorite moments of the entire summer came from ValLimar, when she said the following: (in week 3), "Pretend you're singing this like a lullaby, to your little brother or sister, or to a little person" and (in week 4), "Turn to your neighbor and say 'Black is beautiful'. And red, and yellow, and green, and white.." Nice save, ValLimar. Nice save. 

4) The moment during the Week 1 reconciliation service when I looked down from the loft and saw two guys, dressed head-to-toe in bro gear, with their arms around each other, one crying, the other comforting him. More than any other this summer, that was the moment when I realized why we were here. 

3) Vision Prom, aka the longest time I've spent continuously on a dance floor ever, aka the night that our resident HoCro transfer got into Keough!!!!!! That is my date, people! Be jealous! 

2) "We Are Called" as sung at our impromptu closing mass last night, the a capella chorus of "Canticle of the Turning" as sung yesterday at morning prayer, and "Perfect Praise" as sung at the end of wrap-up after Week 2. To those three moments, I have only one thing to say: #cant. 

1) Each and every one of the mentors. I went into the summer knowing the Folk Choir kids and a small handful of others, and counting only two or so mentors among my closest friends. I'm leaving with 65 new BFFs. I actually went in this morning to rearrange my "close friends" list on Facebook so I could creep on you all more efficiently and decided I had to leave you all off because otherwise, I would have ended up with a close friends list of about 100 people, which would sort of defeat the purpose of giving them a separate news feed. To paraphrase the words of our old friend Jessica, "I love my master mentors! I love my small group mentors! I love my BOSC!! *clap* This whole Vision is great! We can do anything good! Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah." 

Now go, listen to "Some Nights," and we'll call it a summer. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

We Win Break Week

After eight wonderful days, Break Week 2K12 is officially over, and I'm safe and sound (and really freaking hot) in South Bend. From my last three posts, everyone can probably deduce that my week was awesome. By the end of this one, you will understand what all of us in the Woostah group already know: without a doubt, we won break week. Sure, other people went on trips. But, to needlessly quote Kanye West, yo other people - I'm really happy for you, I'ma let you finish, but we had one of the best break weeks of all time! Of all time! 

Following our whirlwind day in Boston, we decided to make Thursday a bit more relaxing. We started the day doing what we do best: sleeping in until mid-afternoon. We lounged around the house, eating breakfast, eating lunch 45 minutes later, and playing with Belle, the best dog in Worcester, before heading off to Walden Pond. At the pond - which, for the record, is significantly larger than either of Notre Dame's "lakes" - our first stop was the site of the cabin where Thoreau wrote and lived in the 1840s. For a group filled with liberal arts majors, this was a pretty serious pilgrimage site. The same can be said of the person who wrote "Katy Perry <3" on a rock in the pile on the cabin site next to all the Bible quotes and memorials of people's trips. (Yes, we left a rock with our names on it. I'm pretty sure it just said ND Vision, but I think we should've quoted "Some Nights." Inside joke with the Woo-town group; commence the laughter of 7 people.) More humor ensued when we realized that one of our group was sitting off to the side of the cabin, wearing a "Keep Calm and Drink On" bro tank, talking to her mom on her iPhone. At Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond. This, friends, is the life of the American college student. Following the cabin visit, we found a secluded little spot and went for a leisurely swim in, I repeat, Walden Pond. Our lives are not even real. The night ended with an hours-long Hot Seat session during which I decided that, if I were allowed no more friends in life than the six people on the trip with me, I would be happy. 

Just when we thought our week could not get any better, Friday came along. Friday, we had decided earlier in the week, was to be our day in Newport, Rhode Island, on the sailboat one of our guys' families owned. This was the best idea ever. The day began with the Ocean Drive, a ten-mile stint around the town's edge highlighting its ridiculous mansions - the group is saving up our Vision salaries to buy one for next summer, obviously - and even more ridiculous ocean views. We ate yet more delicious food (a theme of this trip in general) and headed out to the boat. If there was any hope left that my life was real and not just some weird dream/joke, that hope flew out the window when we stepped on that sailboat. These people, who, for the record, are now the favorite aunt and uncle not only of their  actual nephew in our group but of all seven of us, live on this boat all summer, so it is absolutely beautiful and spacious and fantastic. They taught us the literal ropes when it comes to sailing, we sailed around for the entire afternoon, and we ended the day with dinner on the boat as it sat at the dock while the sun set behind it. 

This was my week, people. New York City. Audra McDonald on Broadway. Boston for the Fourth of July. Incredible fireworks in a beautiful rainstorm that, yes, did include...lightninguh. Swimming in Walden Pond. Hours of sailing off Rhode Island. I'm sure that Cedar Point and the houses everyone else went to on Lake Michigan were lovely. Really. I am thrilled about the great times you all undoubtedly had. But this was the best week of my life. When our tear-jerker keynote speaker tells us all this week to bury our heads in our hands, listen to Miley Cyrus, and count our blessings, I know exactly what will be at the top of my list. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Check That Off the Bucket List

Happy belated independence day, everyone! I trust that the July 4th festivities in Logansport or wherever you were were lovely, and I hope you enjoyed them. I spent my Fourth of July in Boston, while wearing my ever-popular American flag TOMS. I am officially more American than every single person reading this. It was a very scrapbook-worthy, very patriotic, and very strange day, and I figured it was only right to tell you a bit about it.

 Our day began with the commuter train from Woostah to Boston. This was largely uneventful; I just felt it should be mentioned. Once in Boston, you may be wondering, what was our first stop? The Old North Church? Paul Revere's home? The site of the Boston Tea Party? No, friends, our first Boston hotspot was CVS. Several people in our group needed various CVS-y items, so we found one and stopped there. This wouldn't be so strange, but considering this stop was merely the first of what would be three CVS runs throughout the day, it's pretty freaking weird. Post-CVS, we headed over to Quincy Market for lunch. This stop was the start of both the seafood frenzy and the rapidly dwindling money supply that characterized my day. It was also here that I shared a four-seater lunch table with an elderly Asian man. (Told you my day was strange.)

 After lunch, our walking tour of the greater Boston metropolitan area began. We found our way to some fountains on the edge of the North End that were serving as a playground for some local children and had entirely too much fun joining in and taking obnoxious pictures of ourselves in such poses as the Broken Doll and the Mexico. We traversed the North End, passing by Mike's Pastry as I cried, wishing to be inside eating cannoli, and stopping briefly at the Paul Revere statue for the obligatory Paul Revere statue picture. Then we went to the Old North Church and saw and heard all about its role in the War for Independence, on Independence Day. This was the latest of many moments this week where I have been reduced to few thoughts other than "What is my life".

 To round out the daytime portion of our day, we spent some time by the water, trekked over to Bunker Hill (where I led the group of people who were going to nap on the lawn and NOT climb to the top of that giant monument that we had already walked 3000 miles to see, thank you very much), and had another delicious and astronomically expensive seafood meal. If you're wondering what I mean by "astronomically expensive," consider this. The night before, we had a fancy Italian dinner (including multiple bottles of wine for the over-21's) in Times Sqaure for fifteen people. Our bill for this Boston dinner - for seafood for nine people at a restaurant called the Barking Crab - beat that one by about $50. After Wednesday, I am pretty sure I will never spend money on anything, ever again.

 After dinner, we commenced with the official Fourth of July activities. On our way to the fireworks, our group was split up in the attempt to find a bathroom. My portion of the group forged ahead, heading down to the Esplanade/the thing I'm not sure how to spell so let's call it Escalade. The crowd already stationed along the whole path and the crowd making its way down to the water was insane. In the middle of this trek, my phone died and my terror at the prospect of losing the group began. We had just managed to find a spot (read: found a slice of sidewalk where we could stand without completely being trampled) when the announcements began. "Due to an imminent thunderstorm, the fireworks will be delayed 25-30 minutes." Cool. We decided to wait it out, assuming (correctly) that standing our ground would eventually earn us an actual spot on the ground. We waited in this spot for things to start back up, which, of course, they did. We listened to Jennifer Hudson - special guest of the Boston Pops for the night - over the loudspeakers, wondering just how far away from our spot she was, and awaited the fireworks. After about the second firework, the predicted rain finally began. Luckily, I had brought my umbrella with me for the day. Unluckily, I left it with a girl who, by the time the fireworks started, was sitting in an ice cream shop 12 miles from us. By a stroke of incredible good fortune, I had tossed my Folk Choir issue-gear rain jacket into somebody's backpack as we walked out the door that morning, and that bag was still in our group. By the time we reached the train station that night, I was soaked to the bone, exhausted, and fresh off the heels of watching every explosive thing in Massachusetts be blown into the sky, but I had marked "Boston for the Fourth of July" off my bucket list, and it was awesome. At this point, break week is pretty much over. We'll be South Bend bound tomorrow morning, and I still have so much more to blog about from this absolutely ridiculous week. If you're not jealous yet, you will be, so get ready - we'll see you back at Vision week 3.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Amen for NYC

Hello again, friends. As I sit in my room preparing to head to Boston for the Fourth of July (casually patriotic, I guess) I figured it was only right to update you on the first and probably forever best leg of our trip: New York City! In case you haven't deduced this from my other posts and/or from interacting with me in real life, I had never been to New York before this trip. I was a little bit excited. And I guess NYC was coolish.

OKAY JUST KIDDING I was heart-attack level excited and it was a shiny skyscraper-y ball of everything I could ever have wanted plus so much more!! On Monday, our first stop was Rockefeller Center. Given my unhealthy obsession with the Today show and my conviction that "writer for SNL" is a job absolutely created for me, this stop was the first of many that nearly drove Sarah to cardiac arrest. Our next stop was mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is, you know, pretty much a typical, boring Monday morning. (Hint: that was more of that new-fangled sarcasm stuff.) We spent most of that afternoon in Central Park, which, again, is like, whatever. So routine. Blah. JOKES. We didn't even do anything and it was still awesome. We met some cool hardcore parkour guys, we encountered a shockingly high number (no pun intended) of people smoking weed on various play areas, we took some horrendously touristy but incredibly fantastic jumping was the best. After a return trip to 30 Rock and dinner in Soho, it was back to our new home base on Long Island. This overnight, which should be the most boring part of the trip, was still awesome, what with the beautiful home, close and casual proximity to Billy Joel's old house, and rockin' slumber party.

Then there was yesterday. It was a relatively chill day, because we had devoted ourselves to one purpose and one purposes only: Broadway. I decided fairly early in the day that my goal show was Porgy and Bess. Classic American musical, starring Audra McDonald (ultimate Broadway rockstar of all time, casually). Then we got to the line and were informed that Audra would not, as advertised, be returning from her sick leave that night. I was bummed but still excited. We headed over to the Richard Rodgers Theater, and then I thought I was going to die. Excitement levels were not normal. Then we got inside, and it was even worse, then we sat down and I thought my heart rate would never return to normal for the rest of my life. The girl next to me informed me she was there by herself and was so excited she might cry. "Oh, I'll definitely cry," I assured her. "No," she replied, "I mean right now." We had a chat in which she informed me she had auditioned for Porgy and Bess just hours before (it went very well) and in which we plotted how we were going to rush the stage. Then the show happened. It changed my life. When Bess entered, we discovered that the morning's sources were mistaken: Audra was back. Audra McDonald is my hero. She is unbelievable. This was the best night of my life. More later, because we're off to Boston!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

So Guys, I'm in Boston

I bet, dear readers, that you were expecting a post about Vision week 2 right about now. Instead, you're getting a post about...Boston? You see, this week is break week for us Vision kids, and somehow I've managed to join the "going out east" group. Essentially, this is going to be the best week ever. You can probably expect multiple posts by the end of the week, but I figured I had better start out by telling you a bit about how I came to be here, sitting in the slumber-party-room attic of a house in Worcester, Massachusetts.

 Just after the end of Vision week one, "planning" began for break week. By planning, I mean that someone made a Google Doc and told everyone to write on it if they had a house somewhere that we could use. That Sunday afternoon, official planning began. The organizer of each trip idea told us about his or her plan, moved to one corner of the room, and instructed us to go stand with whichever trip we liked the most. I meandered my way over to the group that planned to split between a house on Long Island and a house on the Jersey Shore. By the end of that meeting, it had been decided that I was going to Boston - and I was driving.

 While the students were around during the week, we were forbidden from discussing break week plans. This, of course, did nothing to deter us from talking non-stop about break week every night when we were supposed to be writing Top 9. Deciding what to do during this week was basically a three-ring circus. We knew that my part of the group would make our home base in Worcester at the childhood home of one of our guys. But what should we do once we're there? What about en route? Niagara Falls was briefly tossed out as an idea. A day in the Poconos Mountains was discussed. (I still do not know where the Poconos Mountains are.) As suggestions grew steadily more ridiculous, I at one point threw out, Hey, why not do a side trip to Disneyland Paris? That's east of South Bend! Eventually, we decided to split the week up between Boston/nearby cool places/Woostah (as my current city of residence is properly pronounced); New York City; and Newport, RI. Since Boston is my favorite city in the US and I have wanted with my whole heart to visit NYC since about, eh, 1992, it will be an absolute miracle if I survive this week without dying of an excitement-induced heart attack.

So at 5:45 yesterday morning, our journey began. ...Sort of. 5:45 was our appointed meeting time for a 6 AM departure. After rounding up the over-sleepers, we managed to hit the road by 6:45. Because so few people in our group had cars with them at school, I was designated as one of the drivers for the trip. Those of you who know me well are undoubtedly laughing yourselves into tears upon seeing that sentence. For those of you who don't know, I am among the worst drivers on the face of the earth. Before yesterday, the longest trip my poor little Ford Focus had taken was the hour-and-a-half trek from Logansport to South Bend. Yesterday, it made the 13-hour voyage from South Bend to Worcester. I think this would be an appropriate time for a moment of silent thanks for my car, because it was a trooper. Luckily, I somehow managed to only be behind the wheel for about 3 hours all day, so we made it here alive. We have yet to do much but eat, sleep, and predict Vision couples (Vision kids reading this, none of you are safe).

 In all, then, this post is not the most interesting one I've ever written. Since an onslaught of break week posts are right around the corner, though, I figured I'd better at least point out where I am and why. Friends, if you're reading this and thinking, "hey, I live in Boston and/or New York, why didn't she tell me she was coming?", please do not take offense. The number of people who knew I was here prior to this post who are not my coworkers or parents is approximately three. (And, for the record, if you are in the area this week, I'd love to see you! Call me/beep me if you wanna reach me!) Ta ta for now, readers. To the Vision mentors among you, I wish you the best of break weeks and the best of luck in figuring out who we've forecasted as your new soul mate.