Friday, November 23, 2012

And Then I Went Black Friday Shopping

Early yesterday evening, I heard through my post-turkey coma that my sister and cousins were going to Walmart to pick up a game of Catchphrase. Repulsed by the very thought of the den of white-trash iniquity that is the Logansport Walmart, I ignored this news and went back to sleep. A few hours later, though, I was faced with the prospect once more.

As it happens, on their first excursion to Wally World, my relatives were informed that Catchphrase was not being sold at the time and that, in order to purchase it, they would have to return at 8:00 for the first round of Black Friday deals.

(Why Walmart wouldn't just let them buy the thing at full price, thus bringing in extra profit, I do not know. But I digress.)

During dinner, then, the countdown began. "Guys, it's 7:31. Only 27 minutes until we need to leave."

"Leave for what?" the older relatives would ask.

"Walmart Black Friday shopping, of course! Sarah, you should come with us!"

After a few moments expressing my instinctual disgust at everything involved in this offer - Black Friday shopping, Walmart, excessive time spent away from my bed, Logansport natives - I realized the promise that this option held. 

What, after all, could make a better blog post than a firsthand view of Walmart on Black Friday (Eve)? Few things, it seemed. So my sister, four cousins, and I piled into one of their tiny cars, inexplicably turned on some Macklemore, and headed out.

As we approached Walmart, I started to realize the full magnitude of what we were about to face. For you see, the parking lot at the still-new-ish Logansport Super Walmart is big. According to my calculations, were it made of cropland instead of pavement, it would, by itself, be the third-biggest farm in Cass County. And by the time we pulled up, the lot was completely full. Every space occupied. Across the street, too, the parking lot at Buffalo Wild Wings was filled to capacity, as were, it appeared, the parking lots of both nearby banks. We grabbed the last available makeshift spot around the perimeter of the BDubs lot and headed over.

Keep in mind, of course, that I was still dressed for Thanksgiving dinner. Toms, tights, flippy skirt, bow-embellished Madewell top, leather jacket...

I think I could've walked into that place in a ballgown and moon boots and received fewer weird looks than I did last night.

So, Twitter-enabled phone in hand and kicking myself for not carrying a reporter's notebook or voice recorder, I walked in.

Laid out before me was every nightmarish vision of Black Friday shopping that I had ever had. Seemingly every teen mom and baby daddy I graduated with was there, decked out in flannel pajama pants, blinding neon hoodies, and varying degrees of house slippers. Dozens of people had screaming infants strapped into their carts. One woman had clearly missed the "men's department" sign wherever she had bought her T-shirt, a hot pink number emblazoned with "DON'T LAUGH THIS IS YOUR GIRLFRIENDS [sic] SHIRT".

The man who found us Catchphrase mentioned that a woman had come by earlier in tears over her inability to find the telescopes.

In the gun aisle, I am relieved to say there were no markdowns. I was less than relieved to discover that Walmart has a gun aisle.

The line for the deals of "Event 2" in the electronics department - savings that would not take effect until 10 PM - snaked up and down four neighboring aisles and was fenced in by enough caution tape for the scene of a mass homicide.

As we progressed through the store, it became clear that the chances of a riot were, to my chagrin, quite slim. The ability to induce a riot, however, was shockingly easy, since many of the deals were marked only by very moveable balloons with prices printed onto them. How did that "ONLY $10, ONE NIGHT ONLY" balloon end up sitting on top of a stack of microwaves? Huh! Weird! I don't know anything about that!

Come checkout time, we discovered the true idiocy of our fellow shoppers. We bypassed a 100-or-so-person line that seemed to be funneling into checkout lines 15-20 to become the only people in the store to notice that lines 15-19 were, in fact, almost completely deserted. We settled into the 2-person line at aisle 17 as the entire population of the store unwittingly stood in line solely for checkout desk #20.

So, all told, we survived Black Friday at Walmart. I could've done with a bit more outright violence, but I can't say it wasn't still a weirdly hilarious yet appalling view of the disgusting state of Logansport humanity. Maybe next year I'll be so bold as to try Kmart.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Friends, readers, Irish fans everywhere, on this night, the University of Notre Dame has the #1 football team in the country. Not Alabama. Not Kansas State. Not Oregon. (Not Hermione.) Notre Dame. 

(And yes, technically the rankings don't come out until tomorrow night, so it's not official official right at this moment, but whatever.) 

Tonight, Notre Dame is the best team in the country. And tonight, the students of Our Lady's University found out what it means to embody joy. The most joyful parts of the day were, of course, in the last few hours, but let's think back a bit and begin at the start of this beautiful, joyful day. 

At 8:00 this morning, I was tooling down the highway, Rihanna (yes, Rihanna) blasting from my speakers and frost-covered farmland flying by on all sides. After a night spent watching my sister star in her very last musical at my high school, I was headed from my first home back to my Irish one. The play was Oklahoma, and this morning, driving through northern Indiana, oh, what a beautiful morning it was. 

As my distance from South Bend grew smaller and the tailgate-ready traffic grew thicker, I was reminded of a conversation I'd had several times of late with my friends and classmates. We, as Notre Dame students, are afforded an opportunity practically unmatched in the world of higher education. For most of the country, Notre Dame is a vacation spot to rival DisneyWorld. It is magical. It is sacred. It is, on days like today, a surely incontestable holder of the title, "the happiest place on Earth." And we live here. We love here. Yes, we even study here. As students in this magical place, our entire existence is a fast pass. 

This morning, I pulled past blocks-long lines and dozens of security guards to take my place in a lot only yards from my dorm, reserved entirely for students - for fast-pass holders - like me. I walked past toddlers throwing footballs and alumni snapping pictures to enter the library. Here, silent Facebook study breaks and newly-minted Au Bon Pain coffee are the most interesting attractions, yet visitors still flock by the hundreds to take a look around. Even this most mundane aspect of their Notre Dame fantasy world simply must be experienced by visitors of all kinds, and as students, we get to just sit there and be part of the idyllic academic scenery. 

Eventually, after exhausting my library quota for a whole season's worth of gamedays, I switched gears and headed to a tailgate. Standing under a bow-bedecked tent and in the middle of a sunny street, I was filled to the brim with friendship, Wobbling, and yes, even commemorative buttons. 

En route to the game itself, my friends and I crossed paths with the personal golf cart of Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, a man who has advised Presidents and protested alongside Martin Luther King, and with whom each of us has conversed at least a time or two in his Cinderella-castle office on the thirteenth floor of the library that bears his name. 

At the game, we thanked our seniors. We offered our cheers and thanks to every last senior man who's helped lead us to the first 11-0 start that any undergraduate on campus has ever seen, and to the Manti who has inspired not just a campus, but a nation, to be great. We watched a 38-to-zero blowout. We threw many, many marshmallows. In the end, we watched all of the seniors who don't don football jerseys make their own way to the field. They, like all of us, love Notre Dame. They love the school that has given them so much in their four years, and they love each other. And in the looks on their faces as they milled around the field, you could see: they wanted this moment to never, ever end. 

Only then, after all of these incredible moments, did the moment come that truly defined this magical day. In dorm rooms and study lounges, on laptops and widescreen TVs, a campus watched as the biggest teams in the country fell. We watched in awe as an unranked team mowed over the #1 team in the nation, knowing what this meant for #1, #2, and a certain big game in Miami on January 7. With only one team standing between us and the most coveted spot in the country, we watched as the #2 team, too, came crashing down, and we knew: the number-one team in the country now? us. 

Then - at last, then - came the joy. The screams, inside dorms and out on the quad. The parties, springing up in what seemed to be every corner of the world. And the first phone call: "I'm running. Just running. Come with me." 

So, as a student body full of blessed, joyful fast-pass holders, we ran. We ran to Stonehenge. We ran through Stonehenge. We ran to the lakes. We ran anywhere we could. Because in this moment, on this night, we are undefeated. We are #1. And we are Notre Dame. No matter what the coming weeks bring, tonight, this campus knew - no, this campus was - joy. If you need us, we'll be sitting in our dorm rooms, happy-crying ourselves to sleep and booking our tickets to Miami. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

You Are All Horribly Boring

If you are particularly stalker-ish, you may have noticed that I haven't written anything here on the ol' blog in quite some time. Between fall break, the release of Red, and both Halloweekends, the end of last month gave me enough blog fodder to sustain myself for a good while. But in the dearth of slut-enabling holidays and major album releases that has been the beginning of November, I've realized something: you people are incredibly boring.

Since my last blog post, conversation around this campus has dropped to the point where it includes meaningless small talk and pretty much nothing else. Am I wrong? Let's think about it.

Last night at around 9:00, if you were a girl between the ages of 10 and, eh, 40, what were you doing? Based on the contents of my Twitter feed for three solid hours yesterday evening, there is only one answer to this question: watching The Notebook on television. That's what you were doing. That's also the only thing you were tweeting about. And you're right. Ryan Gosling is very attractive. That tweet you just composed containing only Gosling's most recent bit of voiceover and a cryptic hashtag obliquely referencing your ex-boyfriend will get you 25 retweets, because everyone you know is doing the same thing as you right now. And your complaint that you will never have a romance like Noah and Allie? Well, as long as you continue to do nothing more interesting with your life than watch The Notebook on TV and live-tweet it simultaneously with all of your friends, this, too, is spot-on!

Then there are my Notre Dame friends. What did you guys do all day on Saturday? You watched football. A lot of football. This weekend, not only did you watch, either on TV or live in Chestnut Hill, our own game, but you watched the Bama game, too. You did victory dances for Texas A&M. You spent three hours of your life watching Notre Dame be almost as boring as yourselves in a match-up against a team who has only won two games all season. You spent your whole Saturday watching football, and then you spent your whole Sunday talking about football.

"But Sarah," you say, "I didn't just talk about football on Sunday! It was 70 degrees on November 11th in Indiana!" Ah yes, that's right. You talked about two things on Sunday. Sports and the weather.

My friends, have we all been carrying water coolers around with us for the past twelve days? Because lately, we have been absolute pros at office small talk. I say "we," of course, because I, too, watched two football games on Saturday and I, too, spent all day yesterday talking about nat----l ch------ship odds and how yes, it is so crazy that I'm in shorts today and it's supposed to snow tomorrow, Indiana weather, amirite? I did not watch The Notebook yesterday, because I was reading about violence and decolonization in Algeria. At one point last night, I even dragged myself over to a Folk Choir basketball game in hopes that something exciting would happen or Rasta would show up. There were three people there and only one person ever got hit in the face with a basketball.

Disappointing all 'round.

Some of you may point out that not all of November so far has been boring, since there was an election sprinkled in there somewhere. To you I say, was that really that interesting? We kept the incumbent President in office, by a relatively wide margin in both the Electoral College and the popular vote. Indiana came to its senses and voted Republican again like it's supposed to do. NBC and CNN projected the winner by 11:15 PM. As presidential elections go, this was incredibly dull.

So people, let's start being interesting again! At this time last year, I had just been forced into competing in a pageant, which I ended up almost winning. Occupy Wall Street was still a thing. Last November was actually entertaining! My challenge to you, then, readers, is this: make November entertaining again. Do exciting things. Once in a while, talk about things other than football.

And, by all means, if you hear of someone doing something funny, tell me about it - because I am running out of things to say about you boring people.