Sunday, December 29, 2013

Look Everybody, It's a List!

As the year draws to a close, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the past twelve months and how strange and awesome and miserable/magical they were. This past semester was rough on a lot of levels - PSA: never take 4 research seminars at once - but, in looking at the year as a whole, it occurs to me that I did a lot of crazy, incredible stuff in 2013. Obviously, it's my civic duty as a blogger and internet user to craft some sort of year in review post, and in thinking over the ways I could do this, I settled on a plain old list. I did a lot of things in 2013, my friends - and here, in roughly chronological order, they are.
  • Made the 10-hour drive from Atlanta to Miami in a mere 14 hours after getting stuck behind a crashed pig truck, which is one of those things that really you just can't make up. 
  • Watched the sun rise on South Beach.
  • [Insert European Guesthouse comment here] 
  • Witnessed the slaughtering of Notre Dame football by the evil Alabama, but it was the national championship and I was there, so let's not pretend this was a bad thing.
  • Moved to London. 
  • Got "food poisoning" one week after moving to London and one hour after hearing about the Manti Te'o Fake Dead Girlfriend Scandal, so thanks for upsetting my "stomach," "Uncle Ben's Express Rice" 
  • Watched the sun rise from the courtyard of Edinburgh Castle. 
  • Bought the perfect sweater at Topshop and lost it - literally lost it - within 12 hours. Just to bring things down a couple notches here. 
  • Did this: 
  • Saw Les Miserables on the West End. Twice.
  • Spent the night on a boat hostel in Amsterdam that I had booked five days previously. 
  • Didn't die. 
  • Went to Amsterdam and didn't do drugs.
Ladies is pimps too, go and brush your shoulders off.
  • Took a transcontinental flight across Europe by myself. 
  • Haggled with an Italian saleslady in French for a purse I was buying at the Florentine leather markets because English is not always the universal language.
  • Did a Tuscan wine tour for my twenty-first birthday because doesn't everyone? 
  • Lived in this apartment down the street from Notre Dame (the French one) for five days. 
A decent view of the place, though there were more fresh flowers when we were there. 
And you can't see the glass doors or the bedroom chandelier in this photo.
  • Spent a full afternoon in a Parisian police station, in the category of "things that three years of high school French did not prepare me for"
  • Saw Hogwarts/sat in Hagrid's flying motorcycle/basically died and went to heaven
  • Saw the Pope. 
  • Rode the London night bus, at 1 AM, in the opposite direction of my home, while carrying a duffel bag of all my earthly possessions and wearing a pencil skirt and sneakers, for about twenty minutes. 
  • Again, didn't die. Somehow. Not honestly sure how I pulled that one off. 
  • Allowed a stranger from off the street to climb into my bedroom window. 
  • Took this sweet pic with him.
Missin u, Greg
  • Overdrew my credit card for the first (and only!) time buying margaritas and miniature tacos at a Mexican restaurant made of shipping containers on the South Bank of the Thames.
  • Moved back to America. 
  • Sang a concert at a church in Harlem while soaked head to toe after walking from Rockefeller Center to Lincoln Center in a rainstorm and, in the process, hailing a New York City cab by myself. Again, 
  • Climbed to the top of a volcano. 
  • Snorkeled. 
  • Got almost tan kind of. Thanks, Hawaii! 
  • Started senior year off with a bang a trip to a bar on a Saturday night, which I wouldn't do again for three full months! Hashtag YOLO! 
  • Appeared in a full-fledged musical with a four-person cast and a thirteen-day rehearsal schedule. 
  • Came down with pneumonia on opening day of said musical. Went on every night in said musical anyway. 
  • Re: the above: very nearly died.
  • Watched The Breakfast Club and Heathers and Clueless for the first time and did very little else for the months of September and October, because pneumonia. 
  • Got a parking ticket at a university that I do not attend. 
  • Had said parking ticket rescinded. And AGAIN: 
  • Brought an umbrella to Feverween. 
  • Made lots of friends in Feverween entrance line. 
  • Saw a David Sedaris live show, which was, depressingly, the closest thing to a concert I went to this year besides the Dierks Bentley concert in Miami that I guess I was technically present for but paid exactly no attention to whatsoever. 
  • Did this: 
Inhalers: 2013's hottest Finny's accessory 
  • Did THIS: 
See also: threw up a whole lot of thumbs ups
  • Sneakily got cast in my second PEMCo show in one year after - surprise! - never actually acting in a PEMCo show before.
  • Shared a table with a literal homeless man while doing homework at the Logansport-Cass County Public Library.
  • Actively participated in observed the placing of a bike in a tree and a scarf on a campus statue after three and a half years of empty, meaningless rule following.
  • Wrote 80 pages of papers for one single finals week, and still emerged with a perfectly respectable and borderline impressive GPA, despite what my mother thinks. 
  • Didn't die. 

So, 2013, you were quite the year (particularly the first half of you). It'll be tough for 2014 to top you, but for now, here's to starting next year like we started the last one: in Florida. Have a happy new year, readers - see you on the flip side.  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Baby Sarah: The Time Capsule Edition

On the morning of Black Friday 2013, I was greeted at the breakfast table by my mother very suspiciously telling me she had something for me. She said she'd been holding on to this something for quite some time and that it was now time to present it to me. From a tucked-away corner of our documents/loose change/mysteries cabinet, she pulls out a periwinkle-blue piece of magazine paper, postcard sized, emblazoned with the message, "Do not open until _____ (Today's date) 2013." In what looks suspiciously like gel pen, "November 29th" was written on the line in the handwriting I knew to be middle-school Sarah's. (And yes, for the record, I had hand-written in the comma that the template left out between the date line and 2013.) The logo at the bottom of the page showed this was clearly some feature from American Girl magazine, and the unblemished purple star sticker holding the page closed on the back side showed that this had literally been sealed since whenever Baby Sarah filled it out. I ripped the sticker in half carefully and unfolded the page.

Inside was a combination form letter/mad lib for AG readers to fill in all of their predictions for ten years down the road from [today's date], 2003. Unsurprisingly, this letter is full of gems. Also unsurprisingly, I will reproduce it in full for you below. The bits in italics are Baby Sarah's handwritten additions to the form letter. The signature at the bottom was, for the record, written in perfect cursive - right down to that stupid cursive S that no one uses. And finally, the bolded words are those which American Girl embellished with funky colors and shadow effects! Enjoy.

Date: November 29, 2003
Dear Sarah (your name), 

Today I am 11 years old. My friends Ali, Brianna (Bri), Jessie, and Ashleigh (not a typo), and I love doing all sorts of things, such as walking to McDonald's after school on PBA days. What I'll remember most about 2003 is finding out that I could no longer go to All Saints. My biggest accomplishment of the year was being Student of the Six Weeks on the 1st grading period of the 03-04 year. My favorite book this year was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix! And by far, my favorite movie of 2003 was Agent Cody Banks with hottie Frankie Muniz!!! In ten years I predict I'll be living in on Notre Dame or St. Mary's campus. I hope to become an editor & author. The friend I'll most likely keep in touch with is [two girls, names omitted because let's not be weird, to whom I have not spoken since about 2011 and 2008, respectively]. One of the goals I hope to accomplish by 2013 is being Valedictorian of the Class of 2010 @ LHS. I also hope that in ten years, someone will have invented ...that's hard! I don't know. - that will make life much better! 

[Note: I crossed out that last clause with my gel pen because it didn't apply to my answer. Of course.] 

For now, what I love most about being 11 years old is my life! 

[Note again: Here I was sure to cross out the magazine-provided period at the end of the sentence, since I had written in my own terminal punctuation.]

See you in ten years! 


Sarah Cahalan

P.S. (anything else you want to add) Mom thinks I should marry [guy friend] - did/will I? :) 

So, just was was the case with the first and second Baby Sarah posts, I'm most surprised/impressed here by just how little has changed about me over the years. In the very first question requiring anything more than name and age, I'm already over-explaining everything. My friend's name is Brianna, Baby Sarah says, but we call her Bri - better explain that! Ashleigh, meanwhile, is a rather unusual alternate spelling of the hegemonic "Ashley" - better point that out to future readers! It's troubling to note that since I would obviously remember and know that the name of one of my 2003 best friends is just spelled unusually and not written incorrectly, Baby Sarah seems to have foreseen that this letter would reach a wider audience than just Future Sarah. I'm so proud. 

The next two answers Baby Sarah provides are, perhaps unsurprisingly, mostly depressing. Fun social time is going to McDonald's (though, hey, don't knock it until you've known the joy of a half day followed by a walk to a McFlurry), and the year's most memorable event is the finance-induced shutdown of my school. Way to report the hard news, Baby Sarah. You are bleak. 

That my biggest accomplishment of the year is an academic award should surprise absolutely no one at all. Moving on. 

Clearly, I had a solid hold on 2003 in terms of valuable entertainment. Were there books released in 2003 other than Order of the Phoenix? Um...doubt it! And say what you want about my analysis of Agent Cody Banks, but, uh, homeboy looks pretty fly in that suit. 

This student of the 6 weeks will help you pass math any day of the week, Cody Banks.

The next four Baby Sarah comments are basically clairvoyant. Where will I be living in ten years? Notre Dame, duh. (I even knew I'd stay on campus - so wise.) What do I hope to become? Well, I write and edit this blog, do I not? So Baby Sarah basically got that one right. Give it a couple years. What's your goal for the next 10 years? Become valedictorian of your high school graduating class? 


Even the guess as to which friends I'd keep in touch with wasn't that far off. Considering one of the friends I'd listed had already moved to a different state by 2003, it's fairly impressive that I've spoken to her in person a few times since then and still send the occasional Facebook happy birthday message. As for the other friend, well, it's not like we go out for coffee every time we're home, but considering she goes to my church and is the daughter of my parents' best friends, I'd say that was a pretty clever move on Baby Sarah's part predicting we'd stay in touch. Baby Sarah, you sly dog. 

Also eerily reminiscent of Future Sarah is Baby Sarah's complete abandonment of good writing in the last couple sentences of her draft. What's an invention you'd like to see in the future? "Oh, I'm sorry," I can picture Baby Sarah saying, "I thought this interview was about ME." What's the best thing about your current age? "I dunno...everything?" Way to end strong, Baby Sarah. Way to end strong. 

Of course, I do redeem myself on some level with that ridiculous and typical PS. No, Baby Sarah, you are not on track to marry the guy listed there - and I must say I'm alarmed by your implication that I could be already married by 21, but I'll let one mistake slide - but he is one of about three people from Logansport with whom you actually still communicate, so overall not a bad guess! As of November 29, 2013, you remain almost aggressively not married. But your boy craziness hasn't waned one bit! Yes, for those of you wondering, I have written another one of these to be opened over Thanksgiving 2023, and my big romance goal by that point is to have had a boyfriend. Ever. Aim low. 

So, friends, I hope you've all enjoyed this walk down memory lane as much as I have. Here's hoping my inhuman mother has it in her to hide and remember another time-capsule note for ten entire years. (She claims, if you're wondering, to have found it while cleaning my room for my high school graduation, and to have therefore only had to remember/store it for three years, not ten. I, meanwhile, once lost a textbook that I had only owned for three months.) 

Stay tuned ten years down the road from now, people - because in case this weird, public collection of my thoughts isn't enough, I'm writing myself a time capsule letter.

SaRaH c.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Gameday Nosebleed Story

If you're reading this post as a friend of mine from college and not from high school, you may not know that I have a long childhood history of debilitating nosebleeds. If you're reading as a friend from high school and not college, you may not know that yesterday, at Notre Dame, was the final home football game of the season and of my college career, known to students and spectators as "Senior Day." No matter how you know me, though, you're probably confused (with a small handful of exceptions) as to what those two sentences have to do with one another.

Well, friends, these two facts of my life collided yesterday in glorious fashion. Because this concept of nosebleeds made this concept of Senior Day so literally unbelievable to behold, I have taken it upon myself to give you the full story of Sarah Cahalan's Last Home Football Game. Buckle in, dear readers - it's a weird, weird ride.

At 12:45 yesterday afternoon, I settled on the perfect outfit to balance marshmallow storage, marshmallow/snow-proof materials, and warmth to shield against what would be the coldest Notre Dame home game since 1991. Two pairs of tights, one pair of jeans, one pair of knee socks, one pair of already-destroyed old sneakers, one long-sleeved shirt, one short-sleeved The Shirt (completing, by the way, my perfect record of wearing The Shirt at home games as a student), one North Face coat, one rain jacket, and two gallon-sized Ziplocs full of Jet-Puffed marshmallows stood between me and the elements. It was 25 degrees and snowing, and it was time to tailgate.

After some aimless wandering through what can really only be called a blizzard, I found my way to the one tailgate I realistically expected to attend, and I set up camp. They had chili. They had cider. They had cupcakes. They had a parking spot only a few feet from DPAC, which had unlocked its exterior doors to allow freezing tailgaters to warm up in the space between the exterior and interior doors. I took advantage of all of these glorious offerings, and at 3:15 or so, I set off with two friends for the stadium. At 3:17 or so, I popped a marshmallow into my mouth for one last pre-game snack. At 3:18, the saga of the Epic Gameday Nosebleed officially began.

I pinched my nose shut as quickly as I could, basically ruining one of my poor texting gloves - let's not pretend I'm responsible enough to keep Kleenex in my purse like some kind of adult or something - and made a brief pit stop with my friends at the first tailgate we saw that had napkins lying around. Armed with these, we headed for the Senior line and processed (in my case, with much assistance) into the stadium. [Note: If you ever want to sneak things into the stadium, walk in conspicuously trying to stop a bloody nose. They will ignore your student ID, they will barely look in your purse...I feel confident you could smuggle in a small dog so long as your nose was bleeding.]

Knowing we couldn't just waltz into the student section with my nose bleeding everywhere, my friends and I headed for the bathroom. I explained to roughly 3 dozen old acquaintances that yes, my nose was bleeding, yes, that was both terrible and funny, and, no, I didn't get punched in the face. I went through about 2 large trees' worth of paper towels. I had two tampons opened for and given to me by a well-meaning young lady who promised that "it's weird, but they really are great for nosebleeds!" By the time 3:50 rolled around with no real break in the severity of this mystery nosebleed, my friends and I realized that we weren't getting into the game any time soon if left to our own rudimentary medical devices. After calling my mother in a panic and getting a reminder that stadium first aid is, in fact, a thing, we headed to the stadium's first aid office.

This, oddly enough, is where things get AWESOME. Friends, stadium first aid is an underutilized and undervalued miracle resource. As the snow flew and the temperatures dropped a few yards away in the stands, my friends and I sat in a heated room full of creature comforts for almost the entire first half of the game. We watched the game on TV. We sat down (or, in my case, laid down) in comfortable chairs and hospital beds as our peers stood for the first of four hours on those miserable wooden benches. I held an ice pack to my nose for twenty minutes without a hint of discomfort while my classmates watched their noses slowly turn to ice in the chill of the stadium. My nose eventually stopped bleeding, and the staff sent me on my way with a purse full of gauze, a bottle of nasal spray, and an inside scoop on which techniques to avoid in the marshmallow fight to emerge free of gruesome bodily harm. (Insider tip: scratched corneas - from marshmallows, which are basically just sugar - are a big problem on marshmallow fight day.)

With a few minutes left in the second quarter, we made our way out to the student section. I unlocked a hidden talent for lobbing marshmallows at people. I took one marshmallow directly to the right cheekbone at at least 15 miles per hour. (Fingers crossed for a sweet black eye tomorrow!) I got into several violent scuffles with a turquoise poncho that some idiot decided to leave in the vat of marshmallow goo that had overtaken our section. I proudly but narrowly avoided tears as we sang our final student-section alma mater and the band took the field in the valve-freezing, sky-concealing snowstorm of the century. I really underwhelmingly "stormed" the field with my class (read: walked onto the field in an orderly fashion through the gate at the bottom of our section). I went to dinner. All was well.


Wrong. You see, after dinner, a different set of friends and I decided to return to one's off-campus abode for a quick movie before all heading back to our own places and off to bed. This, of course, was also lovely. We watched 27 Dresses; I was reminded of how precisely James Marsden's character is my soul mate and Judy Greer's character is, well, me; all was well.

Upon leaving the house, my friend and I discovered that the snow had come down rather harder in this movie-watching interval than we had expected. We brushed off my windows and very cautiously hit the road. At an average speed just about equal to that of the marshmallow that had crashed into my face a few hours earlier, we made our way back to the D6 parking lot. We decided, as our dorms lie rather far apart from each other, that we'd give a ring to NDSP's SafeRide program to get ourselves escorted the rest of the way home. Reasonable, right?

Wrong again! The NDSP dispatcher informed us essentially that, well, since we're talking to NDSP anyway, we might as well know that there's a "suspicious party" wandering around D6 at that very moment, and that our altogether safer bet would be to hang out next door in the WNDU-TV staff lot until SafeRide could send us both a ride and an all-clear. We headed to WNDU and watched as four separate NDSP squad cars traipsed in and out of D6 and seemed to totally ignore our presence. After a long while sitting unattended outside the empty studio, we finally got an all-clear call from NDSP and returned to the D6 lot. The officer appeared and drove us back to our dorms - stopping between them, of course, to "talk with" some gentlemen he spotted who matched the description of the alleged D6 suspicious party.

I made it back to my room - pausing briefly, of course, to tell my RA the full story of this ridiculous day when we happened to cross paths - and went, at long last, to bed, confident in the knowledge that this is hands-down the weirdest Senior Day of all time. Think you can top it, my friends? I'd love to see you try.

I may not have any more home games from the student section left in my schedule, but it's been a good run, ND football - and I wouldn't have ended my time with you in any other way.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Domerberry Movie Review: Catching Fire

For the past two weeks, I have been sitting around debating whether to go to the confusingly pre-12 AM midnight premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I was on a list with my dorm, but I realized that Folk Choir rehearsal would be going late, and there was much indecision and many, many feels. This morning, the Folk Choir's friendly neighborhood social chair emailed the choir informing us that she was organizing a group to go see the film this evening after rehearsal. Obviously, I immediately volunteered (get it?) to join her, and tonight, at 10:20 PM, the most stressful 146 minutes of my life began.

It goes without saying that I loved every second of this film and that I spent the entire time A) planning this completely inevitable blog post and B) wondering how on earth I would write a review of this movie without giving away lots (and lots, and lots) of spoilers. For nostalgia/research's sake, I took a look back at my review of the first film and was reminded of my own brilliance - I reviewed that one by character! Because I don't have time for originality, I will use that same technique here. I would advise you to read my old review to get some background on the opinions I'm about to give - and also because I'm funny and you should be re-reading my old blog posts on a daily basis anyway.

KATNISS: I didn't hate Katniss quite so much in this movie as I did in the first one. As has been the case since the first film, J. Law does a lovely job playing her in a manner true to the book - I just like Katniss' character arc a lot better in the second book. I think it's because, in this one, she has so much less control than she did in the first. I don't want to spoil the plot for you all, but even when Katniss thinks she's in charge in this movie, she isn't. And I like that in a female character. There's only room for one independent-thinkin', spunky young lady in my movie-going experience, Katniss Everdeen, and that young lady is me.

PEETA: I liked Peeta a lot better in this movie than I did in the first. First of all, thanks to the whole "year's worth of getting ignored by the love of his life" thing, he just seems sassier somehow this time around - and, unsurprisingly, I like that in a man. Secondly, Josh Hutcherson has finally started to look like he's only seven months younger than I am! (Yes, I mean seven months exactly. I looked it up. Don't worry about it.) In the last film, he looked suspiciously too young for his actual age, and, much like when I watched Tom Daley in the 2012 Olympics, I felt weird about finding him attractive. I didn't feel that weirdness in this film. So, thanks, Catching Fire costume department - because I'm pretty sure this shift came from all those stupid tank tops.

Mmm...muscle shirts

GALE: Still hot. This character exists literally only to be hot. I'm pretty sure he's had 10 lines in the entire Hunger Games franchise so far, and yet he still gets top billing for some reason. He is in these films solely as eye candy. Sweet, sweet eye candy. And this lack of respect for the acting process Yeah.

CINNA: I can't remember now whether or not I said this out loud mid-movie when the thought first entered my head tonight, but it's official: Lenny Kravitz is the love of my life. There's a lot I can't say about Cinna in this film in the interest of avoiding spoilers, but I'll say this: the Cinna-Katniss dynamic had a lot less awkward, cross-generational sexual tension in this film than it did in the first, and that is a step in the right direction. After all, Katniss gets Peeta AND Gale - leave Cinna to the rest of us. 

CAESAR FLICKERMAN: For a hot second here, I'm going to shift from my normal reviewing mode and say something actually meaningful about the acting in this film. The subtle shifts in Caesar's character from the last film to this one as the Capitol becomes increasingly evil were fantastic. The constant over-the-top laughter, the constant creepy white teeth, the small tensions as things fall apart at the final interviews before the Games...all of it. Stanley Tucci for Best Actor. And for Sarah's Best Friend. Please. 

HAYMITCH: You know, it probably reflects poorly on my character that I am deeply attracted to a character with both a serious drinking problem and arguably the worst haircut in the history of film, but I am, in fact, deeply attracted to Woody Harrelson in this movie. This review is quickly descending into just a series of semi-coherent ramblings about hot guys who I can't decide whether to identify by their real-life or on-screen identities, but, well, you know, I just don't care anymore. 

I mean, honestly. Either grow your hair out or don't. 

FINNICK: Like Gale, Finnick is another character who seems to be billed by the film as more important than he actually ends up being as a plot actor. Also like Gale, Finnick is just stupidly hot. I see a trend developing here, Lionsgate. You are robbing these characters of depth! I am outrage...ously over it. My only complaint here is, Finnick, when it comes to wearing shirts, do less. 

EFFIE: Look! A character I'm going to discuss for merits/demerits based on things other than candidacy for Sexiest Man Alive! Like Caesar's, Effie Trinket's character progression in this film was really nice. Unlike almost anyone else in the film or the books, she has an actual emotional range here. She also continues to have awesome clothes.

That dress! Those SHOES! Second and third only to the incredible glitter tights she wears at the Presidential Palace gala. Watch for them. Observe them. Report back to me with your desire, on a scale from 1-10, to have those tights in your closet. I'm at about a 12.

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: Let's not pretend anyone caught this guy's actual name. The character is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and I think we can all agree that that weirds us out a little bit. He's too famous for this weirdly-named role, and not in a cool Lenny Kravitz way. 

WIRESS, AKA "NUTS" OF NUTS 'N' VOLTS, AKA "TICK TOCK TI-" SHUT UP ALREADY: I'm including this character for one reason and one reason only. I spent the whole movie agonizing over where on earth I had seen this actress before, and thanks to a quick IMDB check after leaving the film, I figured it out. She was the crazy teacher lady in Get a Clue, the Disney Channel Original Movie starring Lindsay Lohan. You are welcome.

What she looked like in Get a Clue. Essentially the same as her look in this movie: pitiable crazy person 

THOSE MONKEYS!!!: Thanks, Catching Fire, for instilling in me what is bound to become a lifelong fear of baboons. These stupid creatures look exactly like real-life monkeys, but larger, scarier, and with a much realer thirst for human blood. I'm writing this blog post at 2:35 AM partially so I don't forget anything important about the movie, but mostly because I'm trying to put off the genetically-modified-killer-monkey dreams I'm inevitably going to have when I finally succumb to sleep tonight. I hate you, stupid monkeys - almost as much as I hate the concept of tracker jackers

So, friends, those are my lightly abridged thoughts on the people, animals, and unrealistically attractive men of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I have plenty more to say about actual plot elements of the film, so please, feel free to engage me in conversation about them if you run into me this weekend. To get those Catching Fire-discussing embers glowing, I'll leave you with this important, entirely non-rhetorical question: 

Which cliffhanger was worse: this? Or Deathly Hallows Part 1? Discuss amongst yourselves, my friends. If you need me, I'll be kneeling at my bedside, praying for God to send me Stanley Tucci as my best friend and/or lover (went there) and to keep me safe from monkey-related attacks and/or nightmares. Good night, dear readers - and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What WOULD I Say?

Well, friends, at long last, I have found the force to drive me back into the long-neglected blogosphere. A website has come into my life today that has changed it forever, and I felt it was my duty to share this special, special development with all of you.

The website, owned and run (from the look of it) by an absolutely brilliant group of Princeton students, is "What Would I Say?". When you log into the site with your Facebook account, some sort of tech wizardry mines all of your statuses, photo captions, and other written updates to create an apparently endless stream of updates written in your online voice. The results, of course, are nothing short of STUPIDLY funny.

I have spent the past 24 hours generating status after status with this website, and it has taught me some interesting things about what I spend my time discussing. Using some of the site's greatest results as examples, let's explore!

First, What Would I Say has taught me that I am a deeply pretentious human being. On far too many occasions, I use big words for totally undecipherable reasons.

What did I ever say on Facebook to inspire this? Good question.

I also am far too liberal in discussing my extensive European travel. I didn't screenshot many of my pretentious Europe-related statuses, but some highlights that I wrote down include: "just made the best european pic"; "is it melts into your average european churchyard"; "Here's to gelato and a 15th century Italian flag is this"; "not quite as in venice"; and "du Lac, take that, France." 

What Would I Say has also forced me to confront the reality of my addiction to caps lock. Some examples: 

A two-for-one: gratuitous caps lock AND a reminder that I've been to mass with the Pope

SarahBot status or accurately-typed screamo lyrics?

Just speaking generally, I seem to be confused as to the driving force behind my personality. At one moment, I'm pretentious; at the next, I am a relentless gangsta. One of my favorites of the entire day, without question, is "This is, so far, a huge shoutout to the street." Where do these things come from? I don't know. I do now know, however, that I apparently make a lot of references to "the homies," including another top 5 favorite on the day, "is back in the homies doing something." Other gangsta favorites include...

One hand in the air for the big city 

and this kind gem:
(Sorry not sorry about the inconsistent screenshot format, by the way)

I am, of course, well aware of the fact that food is important to me. What Would I Say, though, has corroborated this knowledge again...and again...and again. 

For some reason, these are the only three food-related statuses that I bothered to screenshot, but oh, there have been many more. WWIS produced one status this morning that combined two of my favorite things - food and attractive men - with, "Here's to gelato and [a very hot guy from my high school whose presence in my Facebook status history is completely inexplicable and whom I'm not going to mention by name here, you know, just in case]." Another gem I texted to a friend this morning was a status that really, I believe, captures my linguistic essence in six little words: "brb, going to the dining hall." 

While I like What Would I Say for a lot of reasons, I'm particularly fond of the way in which it makes me look like a gifted poet/philosopher. 

Literally, when did I say publicly, "how i've missed you"?!


Because aren't they all?

Ultimately, though, What Would I Say has simply alerted me to one important thing: I am, apparently, definitely on drugs. 

Or is it? 

We are the world, we are the children.                                                 I think. Not sure.

So that's a pretty good summary of just what it is that I would say. If you're one of those people who hates all Facebook games and trends equally and is sick of seeing posts from this app, I'm sorry kind of, but I also mostly feel bad for you. 

Oh, and for the record? This particular app may be acceptable to plaster all over your Facebook at the moment, but posting 20 Bitstrips updates a day still makes you a freak.

Friday, September 20, 2013

If It Ain't Broke

I did not realize this when writing it, but my last post was a celebration of the first in a long line of things this semester that have failed to comprehend the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." There was essentially nothing wrong with the old football seating system, yet we changed it - and look at us now. The entire back half of the senior section has been reduced to a faceless mass of high confusion and higher BACs. Despite this clear model in favor of not fixing things that are not broken, though, the world has just gone on doing that same thing in the weeks since my last post. The iPhone has gone and completely redone itself for no discernible reason. My lungs are staging a full-scale mutiny against the rest of my body. Chaos reigns. So naturally, I'm blogging about it.

Though this should come as a surprise to probably zero people, I have a lot of feelings about the iPhone's new "iOS 7." For those of you who don't have iPhones - or who, like my parents, do have iPhones but don't center your lives around reading things on the Internet about how disappointed people are with their $200 portable telephones - the news here is that the people behind iPhone have redesigned the phone's operating system. Some new features, like the easily accessible flashlight, are great. Others, like the inexplicable shift in the search bar from left-of-home-screen limbo to barely accessible ether above the home screen, are mostly confusing. I don't know. Google them.

The primary change in the iOS 6-7 shift, though, is in design. This is where my substantial lot of feelings comes in. iOS 7 has introduced a new, "sleeker" design for pretty much all facets of the phone, but the change that's easiest to see is in the various icons for the built-in apps of the home screen. Under the old operating system, the home screen of an iPhone looked more or less like this:

The good ol' days. 

With iOS 7 - which, yes, does sound remarkably like "Iowa Seven" when said out loud - the home screen looks roughly like this: 

Every icon takes on a different shade of neon, and the icons all take on the exact same shade of "minimalism." The only primary color on my entire home screen is the angry red sliver in the corner telling me that I need to plug my phone in to the charger. I can't tell you exactly how much battery life I have left, because that percentage - like every other word and number on iOS 7 - is displayed in an impossibly thin, white font that is right around 100% impossible to read. The shades of blue and green in my text messages grow increasingly, distractingly light as one reads back in time, showing us all that Apple clearly did not notice when ombre stopped being cool. Luckily, as long as you own a moderately high-powered magnifying glass, the numbers of the time on the lock screen are still totally legible. 

iPhone, you know, I think I'm probably going to like iOS 7. After all, the color scheme is vaguely reminiscent of the pencil bag of a seventh grade girl, and that's generally how I like to think of my life, too. But what was so wrong with iOS 6? Who complained about that? I think the new system will be just fine, eventually, I'm just lost as to why we needed a new system in the first place. 

At present, I am having an similar argument to this one with my lungs. You see, two weekends ago, there was nothing whatsoever wrong with my general health. I wasn't coughing. I didn't have a fever. I was feeling, in fact, quite dandy! Certainly, with the exception of my general lack of physical fitness, nothing here was broken, and nothing needed any fixing. My lungs, however, disagreed. "Sarah," they said, "something is wrong here. You're one of four cast members in a musical next weekend, and you can sing just fine!" This, thought my lungs, is simply not enough of a challenge. To ameliorate this lack of challenge in my life, my lungs decided to start a slow and steady march straight out of my chest. Suddenly, days before our opening night, I was coughing. I was wheezing. I was losing my voice. When I walked more than about 40 feet in a straight line, I was panting like I had recently completed a half-marathon. This was great! Somehow, through a fog of cough drops and mid-scene cough breaks, I finished the show, and the next day, finally dragged myself in to the health center. 

After about 10 minutes and one stethoscope-y attempt to listen to my labored, pathetic breathing with one of the St. Liam's doctors, the mystery of my mutinous lungs was solved: I have pneumonia! 

That's right, people: I did a full run of a four-person, no-intermission musical while I had pneumonia. Normally even I am not quite self-interested enough for a paragraph like this, but, like...let's just take a minute and think about that. I still wonder how exactly I am alive right now. Quite honestly, I'm still entertaining the possibility that this is all an illusion and that last weekend actually did kill me. To anyone who wants to come over and check my pulse: welcome. I have legally-obtained codeine!

This week, then, was a lovely prolonged attempt to still kind of do school while under the influence of right around 5000 milligrams of medicine per day. I have a sweet inhaler to carry around for cough emergencies, which, of course, I have forgotten to bring with me on most of the occasions of true cough emergencies that I've had this week. College: I am doing it right.

For a really fun game, I encourage you to follow me around tomorrow in my attempt to brave the student section of the football stadium without killing anyone in the wake of my inevitable Levaquin- and iOS 7-fueled rage. And hey, football team? Our record against Michigan State in the past couple of years is not broken. Let's not choose tomorrow to "fix" it. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013


One of my favorite videos by my favorite internet person, Jenna Marbles, is this lovely gem entitled "What Are This?". While "what are this" is applied quite nicely in Jenna's dog-related iteration of the phrase, today showed me the true reason that these words were ever strung together.

Throughout this first encounter of the student body with the new Notre Dame Stadium seating policy, three little words kept returning to my mind. Notre Dame...what ARE this?

The first "what are this" moment of my general admission adventure came around lunchtime, when I realized that I have no idea how to spend my time when I don't have friends who are contractually obligated by a $300 ticket booklet to hang out with me. At least in theory, this is a pretty great perk of the new ticket system. You aren't assigned specific people to sit with, so you can sit with as many people from your various friend groups as you want. Diversity!

When it's noon on gameday and you're alone in your room furiously chopping the sleeves off your The Shirt to beat the August heat/achieve maximum rain-on-skin surface area, however, the freedom to spend your time with whomever you choose is slightly overwhelming. For the Folk Choir, this "what are this" conundrum was compounded by the our entrapment in the Keenan-Stanford chapel all morning for a 4- and 5-figure-donor mass.

(With regards to this infuriating morning's activity, FC's resident class president emeritus put it best: "I would feel a lot better about singing for you people if your names were on a building.")

I eventually solved my who-to-hang-out-with problem by texting everyone in my phone book until I landed on someone with a similar desire to hit up the one tailgate we knew about and head into the stadium before all "what-are-this" hell broke loose.

We made it to said tailgate, ran into everyone we had ever met, and ate some baked goods, and before you knew it, it was time to meet up with the girls I had arranged to walk into the stadium with. A few detours and incorrect gates later, we were in - and into a tiny, tiny space.

As per always with Notre Dame, we had wandered in in a giant group, and the 5 or so of us who remained when we spotted friends in row 37 all squeezed into a stretch of bench designed for approximately two 13-year-olds. This complete lack of organization and actual "seat"-ing was "what are this" enough in itself, but before long, the feeling grew as a group of impossibly tall, unspeakably drunk guys stumble-forced their way into the aisle behind our row.

Though this seating phenomenon never fails to drive me insane, it's far from unusual for people to pop into the between-rows space to briefly chat with friends before finishing the trek up to their seats. These gentlemen, however, barely knew anyone in about a 5-row radius of us. One of my friends had been close with one of them early on in freshman year, and another had been in class with some of the guys, but essentially, these were strangers. And they didn't pop in to say hi - they popped in to stand there. Permanently.

In the absence of assigned seat numbers, these giants had taken it upon themselves to create seats for themselves in the six-inch space between two rows of not-drunk-enough-for-this girls who, like, sing in choirs and stuff. Two of the three most conspicuous offenders eventually wandered off to the more intoxicated waters of the upper rows, but the third - Drunk Tommy - was determined to make this non-seat his permanent place in the stadium. Occasionally, he'd shove his Hawaiian-shirted way onto an actual seat, only to make us all (against all odds) even more uncomfortable.

Drunk Tommy: everyone's favorite seat buddy

Shortly after my friends and I returned from a brief trip to the concessions area for a break from the madness of the senior section and to search for the backstage seating that - spoiler alert - no longer exists, Drunk Tommy stumbled back out of our row for a bathroom break or second round of hip-flask-chaser buying or something, and all in the vicinity of his now-recaptured seat was well. 

...For a while. Sometime just before the One Direction number in the band's halftime show, Drunk Tommy's friends returned from the upper-row drunk tank they'd been stewing in to torture us once more. It started innocently enough - yelling, the occasional miniature stumble - but then came The Fall. 

Just as I was settling in for "The Best Song Ever," one of the boys took a tumble that was truly nothing short of epic. In the process of stepping down from a bench to the concrete, the fellow lost his footing. And I mean he really lost it. Truly, madly, deeply lost it. And between the size of this falling human and the size of the space left between knees and backs when the entire student section sits at once, this kid was irreparably wedged between our rows. 

Taken when I realized that if I couldn't help the kid, I might as well let him help me.

The boy's shoulders had pinned me against the person in front of me in such a way that I literally could not have stood up to un-wedge him had I wanted to. Everyone who could still move, though, stood to give the kid some room, and slowly, with the aid of what seemed like 90 well-meaning seniors, the fallen drunkard was restored to his feet. Student section...what ARE this?! 

Of course, the biggest "what are this" of them all was reserved for the last ten or so rows of the three blocks of seats reserved for seniors. This strange yet somehow predictable phenomenon is by far the best and most dangerous side effect of the new ticket policy. The truest drunks, you see, won't let the mere fact of a seat in the stratosphere deter them from their day-long tailgates. As they always have, the people who go the hardest out in the tailgate lots began trickling into the stadium somewhere in the middle of the first half. With the rest of their classmates having stopped their tailgating early to secure the good seats, these late-arriving drunks were forced to occupy the final rows of the senior sections. Though there's plenty of inebriation in the lower seats, these top rows take it to a level as yet unimagined by mankind. The falling on top of people that so angered and surprised us in row 37 is a literal constant once you pass row 50. Vomit - liters of the stuff - is guaranteed. I would venture to guess that not one person from this student section drunk tank could approach the right numbers if I asked them what today's final score was. More than one are probably unsure of who we played. It seems that this intoxicated mass must be some kind of enormous liability for the university. At the same time, though, it's also a stroke of absolute genius. It saves the sober (or at least soberer) of us from the alcoholics that we would previously have been legally forced to sit next to, and it keeps the worst antics in one neat space from which the ushers can pick the ripest law-breaking fruit from the "what are this" tree. Here's hoping none of them fall too straight forward, though - because if one starts collapsing into the rows below, I have a feeling that all 60 are coming down with him. 

New ticket policy, I think I'm probably going to like you at some point before this season ends. It's nice to have the luxury of sitting with whomever I want, and it's cool that, should I ever get my act together enough to bother with this, I can be in the front row for a game in my final season as a student at ND regardless of the whim of the ticket-assigning system. But after today, general admission policy, I've got a lot of questions - and all of them start with "what are this." 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blocking Roads & Breaking Hearts

For eight primetime midday hours this past Friday and Saturday, the intersection outside of the Logansport City Building was taken over by volunteers in neon vests and utility belts organizing the latest roadblock fundraiser for the Logansport Children's Choir. When we ended up one volunteer short on Friday afternoon, I was torn from my marathon Gossip Girl watching and forced into Director's Kid duty for three hours. During my time with the roadblock, I learned a lot of things: the sun shines brighter from the city-building side of the road despite the shadows from the buildings being longer, the tar that fills up the cracks on your average city street is really much stickier than it looks, sending a mass Snapchat of yourself in the middle of a busy road engenders surprisingly little concern. Most importantly, though, it gave me an all-new picture of what a strange place Logansport really is.

Let's begin with the music I heard people playing as they drove through town on this fine summer's day. For those unfamiliar with this style of fundraiser, I'll clarify now that, in a roadblock, volunteers stand in the road at a stoplight and collect small bills and loose change from drivers as donations to their cause. Doing this for three hours, you hear the radio stations of choice of a whole lot of people.

Now, the size of Logansport being what it is (18,396), there obviously aren't a ton of choices available to us in non-Sirius XM radio entertainment. Our two local FM stations are Hoosier Country 103.7 (not kidding) and Mix 102, which used to be cool but then started playing oldies. Radio stations from nearby towns expand our options a good bit, but, in my experience, everyone who's anyone listens to the always hip Lafayette station, Z 96.5. Z 96.5 plays top 40 hits. Songs by Ke$ha! Nationally syndicated countdowns hosted by Ryan Seacrest! Everyone in town must listen to this station, right?

Wrong. In my entire time standing in the middle of East Broadway - let's put it this way -  I heard "Blurred Lines" one time. Do you know how unusual it is, in the United States, on August 9, 2013, to hear "Blurred Lines" only one time in a progression of what had to be several hundred radio-blasting cars? Upon hearing this first and last evidence of top 40 pop music near the end of my shift, it hit me that something strange was afoot in the listening habits of the people of Logansport. I heard what seemed like at least nine thousand individual, ear- and soul-destroying country songs. I heard a lifetime's worth of what Daddy Yankee taught me is "reggaeton." I heard a serious deep cut from an old Tupac record from the pickup truck of an elderly man. But only one time all day did I hear pop music. What even is this city?

Things got even weirder when you consider the types of vehicles from which the people of Logansport were tossing money into my collection bucket. Among my favorites of the day was a tiny compact stuffed to the point of absolute absurdity. Each of the seven barely-English-speaking Burmese denizens of the clown car gave at least two dollars, which both A) was great for the children's choir and B) made me somewhat concerned that they thought donation was required to get through the intersection. Great, too, was the driver of the enormous trash truck who threw some change down from ten feet up as he forced me practically back to the sidewalk with the width of his vehicle. By far the greatest vehicle of the day, though, was the BACKHOE that came lumbering down the street at a cool 10 miles per hour whose driver tossed a few dollars into my bucket without setting foot on the brake or, apparently, noticing my shameless staring at him for driving down Logansport's main street at midday in a backhoe.

But weirder than the listening choices or the vehicles of the people of Logansport, of  course, were the people themselves. On four occasions, I walked up to people's open windows with my bucket at the ready to discover that they were not digging for change but, in fact, texting. On another, a driver leaned out his window and "HEY"ed at me to get my attention, which I would probably have found quite rude were he not giving my bucket its first and only ten dollar bill. I discovered that an almost alarming number of people apparently have reason to drive past the city building two or even three times in a one- or two-hour span on a Friday afternoon, but that only one of those is awesome enough to donate to the children's choir on both passes through the intersection. I found that way more of my former high school classmates are in town right now than I would ever have guessed - and that three hours of standing in the middle of the road in 90 degree heat leaves me capable of noticing only one of them waving at me. To the car full of LHS Class of 2010 graduates who waved quite nicely at me and got no response until you were about a block down the road and I realized who you were....sorry.

(To the guy about my age who stared at me for 10 straight minutes while sitting in the back seat of his parents' SUV, puffing away on a cigarette, and flicking ashes into the occasional open window driving past while waiting for your dad to return from whatever business he had in the city are frightening.)

Ultimately, the roadblock can be summed up in the words of a guy who donated some change about halfway through my shift. I saw him sort of chuckle and start to lower his window from a few feet off, and when he came to a full stop in front of the green light in my lane, I'll admit I had to laugh. "I just want you to know," he said, tossing his money into my collection bucket, "that this is only because you look so excited."

There it pretty much is, people. A bored, easily-sunburn-able college kid, standing in the middle of the road in a neon pink safety vest, ill-chosen electric blue running shorts, comically oversized sunglasses, and a rhinestone-encrusted headband, is what the city of Logansport grants its organizations as a valuable fundraising tool. This town is almost as strange as the roadblock tan lines I currently have across my right bicep, in a triangle across my chest (thanks, V-Neck Pocket Tee), and in patches all over the sun-facing side of my face.

For the remainder of my time in Logansport this summer, you can find me tending to my fading sunburn, counting the surprisingly large sums of money that the roadblock brought in, or, for the rest of today, celebrating my mother's birthday. You should all help us with this last task by sending my mother emoji-filled birthday texts like my sister's friends did. After all, nothing says "I love you" like a tiny picture of cake.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Am Connected to an Unsolved Ax Murder

This morning started off like any other Sunday in the Cahalan home. I woke up, laid in bed for a few moments debating whether to bother washing my hair today, and headed out to breakfast. Normal. I dug into my Rice Krispies, my sister into her weird cinnamon toast. Normal. As we groggily ate, my mother leaned across the counter, newspaper in hand, and says, "So, want to hear the creepy, creepy story of the day?"

Now, bearing in mind that this is Logansport and this morning's front page headline involved a routine traffic stop turning up a car filled with IEDs - not kidding - even this odd breakfast detail is not that crazy. What followed this query, though, is unusual indeed.

Today, our local newspaper printed the latest in a series of special supplements honoring Logansport's history in this, its 175th year. We had paid little attention to these in our home before today, but this week's supplement covered the 1930s. My grandparents were all around by then. Maybe they'd remember some of the history from this issue! This one, then, my mother took a glance at.

On the ninth page, an interesting and rather un-Logansporty headline caught her eye: "Unsolved murder plays out in headlines."

Murder? Here? No, no, 1930s, you silly, depressed decade - Logansport doesn't have murders. Logansport has problems with amphetamines. Logansport has comically unfounded middle school bomb threats. Okay, so Logansport has the occasional station wagon full of improvised explosive devices. But, statistically unlikely as this may be, Logansport hardly ever has homicides.

On April 2, 1930, though, a body was discovered in a Logansport home. It was the body of 64-year-old Katie Ray, who lived in the home with her 52-year-old husband, James. To quote the paper, "She was believed to have been beaten to death - evidently with a hatchet." Quelle violence, Logansport!

At this point, though, you're probably all wondering, "Why on earth is Sarah writing a blog post about this?"

Well, well, well. The home in which the unfortunate Mrs. Ray's body was discovered? It belongs to my grandparents. They didn't buy the home until a solid 30 years after this incident occurred, but still, a woman was hacked to death with an ax in the house where my lovely old grandparents have lived since the Kennedy administration.

The foot of the main stairs, where my mother would sit on the phone as a teenager and where my sister and I would play games as wee tots, was the spot where poor Mr. James Ray discovered the body of his brutally and freshly ax-murdered cougar wife. My mother's childhood bedroom was the place where a man tore into someone's head with a hatchet before shoving her over the staircase banister. This is disturbing.

It is also, however - by leaps and bounds - the best story I have heard all summer. A blog post and a probable future book deal are entirely necessary.

Because this tale, of course, does not simply end with the discovery of a body at the foot of the stairs. From there, there were suspects to consider, and there were clues to (quite literally) unearth. The primary suspect, unsurprisingly, was Mr. James Ray, the deceased's husband. He found the body and, from the look of the article, had no real alibi for the gap between his alleged departure from the home and his return and subsequent discovery of the body. Everyone pretty much believed him when he explained he was at the butcher shop for the entire period from 6 to 6:45 AM on a Wednesday. Despite these suspicious details, though, he was never charged with any crime, mostly (from the look of it) because he fainted one time in an interview and guilty people just don't faint. Indeed, in the months following Mrs. Ray's untimely demise, no one at all was charged with or even very seriously suspected of her murder. To this day, the question of who killed Mrs. Katie Ray remains unanswered.

If you ask me, I think the cops somehow knew of the relative dearth of murders in the next 80 years of Logansport's existence and decided to not bother with any, you know, cop stuff because they were determined to leave the most exciting story possible for future residents.

After all, if this story doesn't excite you enough yet, there is more. A full year after the murder, the home's new owners were having some renovations done when they found a trap door built into their living room floor. The police - who, just to make it clear, had obviously failed to ever notice this trap door in any of their investigations - returned to the home to try their hand again at the whole policing thing. Under this trap door, they found the bloody mattress and bedclothes that had been missing from the murder scene. (Previously, they had assumed that the mystery murderer had burned these items in an oven. Because murderers with 45 minutes of action time always burn mattresses in the kitchen stove instead of ditching them somewhere.)

In the end, without a murderer or even a suspect, the case, like the trap door, was closed and forgotten, left to be rediscovered by 21st century Pharos-Tribune archivists or unsuspecting carpet installers. For most Logansport residents, it will stand as simply a weird story from a newspaper history supplement. For us, though, it will forever be the story of the woman who was hatcheted to death in grandma's house.

We talked to our grandparents about this, of course, who informed us that they had no clue about their home's grisly past. While this is a disturbing testament to whoever sold them the place (made creepier by the fact that they bought it from my grandma's sister), the alternative is probably worse. Would you rather my grandparents had known forever that a terrible unsolved murder played out in their daughter's bedroom and a scary trapdoor sat under the living room couch without ever bringing this up with their kids? I think not.

As a function of my grandparents' extreme over-preparation for their own eventual deaths, my mother technically owns their house - and I think it's high time she act on this truth and start ripping up the carpet. I want to find that trap door, and I want, in the most morbid way possible, to take a blacklight to a few of those walls. 83 years is more than enough time for this case to be closed; I say we crack it wide open.

I'll leave you all, in case this story isn't creepy enough standing alone, with the picture that the paper ran along with the article. The photo is of a young Mrs. Ray, some decades before her death, and, as it happens, it enhances your reading experience on two levels. Of course, it provides a visual on the story. But it solves another problem, too. Have you ever read my blog and struggled to picture what my oft-quoted mother looks like?

Well, friends...she looks an awful lot like this.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hawaii Hates Me

So, as many of you have probably discerned from my various forms of social media, I spent the past couple of weeks on a trip to Oahu and Maui, Hawaii. This sounds like a fun, stress-free adventure, does it not?

Well, while my trip did have its fun moments and even its occasional stress-free moments (read: that time I took a 3-hour nap accidentally during scheduled free time), this was not your average Hawaiian vacation. This was my two-week stint as chaperone and blogger for children's choir tour. On this trip, I sat through seven choir concerts, ate 21 mass-group catered meals, and took approximately 3 million pictures of my chaperone group and their friends. Even these things in themselves would not have been that bad. Really! I don't mind. (Much.)

The problem with this trip, my friends, is that Hawaii hates me. I am convinced. The mere combination of the islands' blazing tropical sun and my paper-white skin's unwavering ability to burn should be enough to prove this Hawaii-Sarah animosity. The sun, however, turned out to be just one small problem of a whole slew that America's fiftieth state threw at me over the course of the trip.

First, Hawaii proved to be rather anti-Sarah in its presentation of its history, from sovereign state to U.S. state. In all the history lessons we had during our time in Hawaii, I kept leaving with an insatiable desire to apologize to every native-Hawaiian-looking person I came across. "I'm sorry we stole this country from you!" "I'm sorry we put your queen, a close personal friend of Queen Victoria, in lockdown in her own home because we'd decided her nation wasn't a nation anymore!" "I'm sorry these choir kids are walking around with their audio guide headsets plugged in to Beyonce Pandora stations instead of the actual audio guides!" The history lessons were rough. Do Hawaiians actually resent the US at this point for the various injustices performed against them in colonial times? Probably not - or at least not enough for it to be remotely normal for a random Indiana white girl running around the imperial palace apologizing to people. But still, the overall impression from these lessons? Oh my god Hawaii hates me.

When not in history lessons, there was, of course, the whole sun issue. The angle of the sun in this unreasonably-close-to-the-Equator US state is particularly unforgiving to a burnable person like myself, and I had my fair share of sun troubles during my 12 days on the island. My spray-on sunscreen turned out, unsurprisingly, to be almost totally worthless. Luckily for me, though, the temperature during my first beach trip wearing this sunscreen was so high that I only stayed out for a half hour or so before retreating into the totally empty sea of pool chairs situated in the shade of the hotel's thirty stories. I emerged from this first day with one slightly burnt shoulder and a bright red 2-inch burned patch on my left wrist, but little other color. A success! A few days later, though, we headed out for our hike up Diamondhead Mountain. News had trickled down from our tour director (who was clearly insane) that the hike was both not very strenuous and comprised of large indoor stretches. Everything about this was, of course, untrue, but, like the idiot I am, I headed out pumped for a light hike and wearing exactly no sunscreen.

I should really have seen from miles away that this day would be trouble. Do we all remember my miserable day at Manoventurehell during Vision training last summer? This one? Well, this hike had far too much in common with that day for it to ever have gone well. It was forced physical activity with a large group; it was a ridiculously hot, sunny day; it forced me to elevations rather higher than I typically enjoy; and it even found me wearing the exact same bro tank that gave me the moronic-looking Great Burn of 2012. By the time I'd consumed my weight in the strawberry shave ice sold at the bottom of the mountain and returned to our hotel, my shoulders and chest were just about identical in color to said frozen beverage. Fortunately, though, some areas of my upper body were immune from the burn: those covered by my ill-chosen clothing! Huge white swaths remained where the tank top sat, along with various sizes of snow-white stripes from bra straps and, my particular favorite, the straps from my drawstring backpack.

Jokes aside, this burn did fade almost shockingly fast by my standards - the Great Burn of July 2008 was still detectable at Christmas - but as I had to don a strapless dress about five hours post-hike for our dinner cruise, don't worry, friends - it still ensured that I looked really, really stupid in a large number of our pictures. With this suntan gone wrong, the Hawaii hate fire continued to burn.

The most improbable way in which Hawaii clearly hated me, though, was neither the historical tension nor the blazing, Irish-skin-destroying sun. Rather, Hawaii most obviously hated me in the near-daily injuries it kept throwing my way. It should surprise no one that I'm a pretty uncoordinated lady who, admittedly, runs into stuff pretty often. On this trip, though, my injuries were so frequent as to be truly comical. I tripped over uneven spaces in the pavement and smashed my sandaled foot into solid concrete. I watched helplessly as my computer slid off my bed and landed, phone charger plug-in down, straight on the base of my toenail. I got blisters from new sandals that promised to give their wearers "the happiest feet on earth."

Then, on day 7 of the trip, came the mother of all tour injuries. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, trying to reach over behind me to pick up my shoes from the space they occupied on the short stretch of carpet between the bed and the glass door to our balcony, when I felt myself starting to lose my balance. With nothing to grab on to in front of me, I knew that I was going to have to let myself fall off the bed. This is not unusual. With the plate glass door stationed two feet or so behind my head, though, I realized quickly that I would have to fall strategically. I determined that flipping over so my hands could hit the ground before my skull was probably a good plan. So, as the girls in my chaperone group watched, incredulous and aggressively unhelpful, and my sister, I later learned, nearly choked to death on her lemonade in her laughing at me, I lined up my hands with the ground just in time for the momentum to send me crashing over the edge of the bed.

My strategic falling had prevented any grave skull-to-window injury, and I was ready to write this off as a classically embarrassing but harmless story. Just as I decided I was fine, though, I stood up, shook myself off, and noticed that my leg was bleeding. That's right, people, I hurt myself falling off my bed. As my legs had followed my upper half in its progression to the ground, my left shin had come into pretty serious contact with the hard plastic corner of my suitcase. The adrenaline of the fall kept me from registering the pain of this contact until I noticed it bleeding, but from that moment on, it followed me throughout the trip. I tossed a Band-Aid on the injury and sat back, watching it progress. It - no joke - made it painful to walk for the next couple of days, and the inevitable bruise hit all the color bases, from ruby red (which was particularly disconcerting) to purple to a normal shade of black and blue. With this injury, my hypothesis was finally proven that Hawaii most definitely hates me.

Still looking for proof? Listen to this one. I came home from this trip almost impossibly tan by non-Laura Cahalan family standards. I have never, in my life, been any color but snow white, beet red, or, during my brief severely-jaundiced-infant days, sickly yellow. And I came back from Hawaii with what can really must be called a tan. Sure, it still left me a solid 50 shades lighter than my sister, and sure, it basically just left my skin closer to "manila envelope" than "computer paper," but still - it was a definite tan. Ever since the bed incident, though, I had had a Band-Aid plastered across 3 inches of my left shin. Yesterday morning, I decided to peel the Band-Aid off.

White as the driven snow. I have a tan for the first time in my life, and it is ruined by a Band-Aid tan line.

Hawaii hates me. Let's go back.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Untitled Post About iPhones

After fifteen months as a reluctant member of Android Nation, I finally made the switch to iPhone this past weekend with my family. While I'm glad to finally have the phone that, like, everyone in the world has, Mom, and my sister is glad to be rid of the archaic Samsung that's been holding her in indentured servitude for three years, the Great Switch has left me with a few questions. I love my new iPhone - with the world of emoji reading and sending that it has opened to me and its promise of easy Snapchat screenshotting for whenever one of you sends me something worth saving - but when I gaze upon my charging phone and miss the soothing red charge light of my Galaxy, these are the things that keep me awake at night.

Does this phone brand me as "loser" to 20-something, low-income tech nerds? 
As I stood waiting for my parents' contacts to finish transferring, a gentleman bedecked in Tall Tee and Etnies sneakers like those that your seventh grade class' resident skaters wore asked me what kind of phone mine was. I answered "five," and, registering his confusion, amended my answer to, "iPhone 5." Surprised, the man said, "Aren't you a little young for that?" Assuming he was referring to the idea that fancy phones aren't for kids, I responded, with the real comeback of the century, "Uhh, I'm twenty-one." (Insert facepalm here.) At this point, seeing that I had misinterpreted his question, he explained, "No, no, I mean, iPhones are for old people!" ...But like are they though? Thinking over my vast network of iPhone-equipped friends and weighing whether that many twenty-first birthday parties could really have been retirement celebrations in disguise, I decided this man must have been crazy. His words resounded in my head all day, though, so I eventually caved and did a Google search for "iPhone old people???". To my surprise, I did find other evidence of this mantra...and other evidence that it's crazy. "iPhones are for old people" is, in fact, a fairly commonly held belief of the young and tech-enthused. "For people with disposable income, and more stuff to do than sit around customizing their Androids!" Sorry, Etnies man, but I don't think I'm going to trade in my "young and hip" card any time soon.

Is the government spying on me through this phone? 
Yesterday, I used the maps feature on my iPhone for the first time. I'll admit, it was pretty cool on some level to watch the route on the map adapt to my location as my mom's minivan tooled down the highway - but it was also creepy. The navigation features on my Droid never even remotely functioned, so going from 0 to 60 on accurate global satellite mapping this quickly is a bit disconcerting. Watching that little blue dot pulse its way across the map like Gatsby's green light, I couldn't help but wonder, "Am I being surveilled right now?" Answer still pending on this one. I'll keep you posted.

Why are emojis their own separate keyboard?
This one is, like, an actual technical question about this phone. Why are emojis an extra keyboard? To use emojis, for those of you who don't know, you have to scroll through the foreign language keyboard list and pick out the one wedged between "Dutch" and "Estonian." Emojis are not a language, Apple. Stop trying to convince the people of America that they are bilingual. They are not.

Does Siri hate me? 
If you ask me, I have been a pretty benevolent master to the unpaid virtual servant that is Siri. I haven't asked her anything funny disturbing like "What's a good place to hide a body?". I haven't forced her to tell me jokes or keep me entertained. The first thing I even used her for was to tell her she was cool, and she responded by deflecting compliment after compliment like the shy girl at prom. Really, I haven't asked her much at all. I don't necessarily find it convenient to speak my queries aloud into my phone speaker like some kind of idiot. Typing my questions into a Google search is fine with me. But when I do ask Siri questions, she insists on messing with me. If I mumble a bit or cough mid-question, she inserts whole extra phrases into my questions. Just the other day, she turned "what is the current humidity in Honolulu" (don't ask) into "Howell Howell in humidity Honolulu." She had gotten through "what is the current temperature in New Orleans" with flying colors only moments before, even deigning to add the state as if I didn't know it and to correct my pronunciation of "Orleans." Yet the second I struggle a bit with voicing my question, she turns it into a ridiculous mockery.

Yesterday, the Siri struggle returned when I asked her, "How big is Noblesville, Indiana?" She sat there thinking for a moment, then spat back at me the physical size specifications for Noblesville and the surrounding area in square feet, square meters, square miles, and square toadstools, before beeping again like she knew I was going to rebut with a more specific version of my question. "Fine, Siri," I said, "What is the population of Noblesville, Indiana?" She answered me promptly and went on to provide the populations for Fishers, the Indy metro area, and, inexplicably, Chicago, and we all moved on with our lives. But come on, Siri. In all of your artificial intelligence training, you never learned that "how big" a city is generally refers to its population size? I don't think so. I think Siri knew exactly what I meant, and that she simply wanted to call me out on my vague question. You can sass me all you want, Siri, but at least I know that there should be a comma between a city and its state. Take that, Siri. Take that.

In all, Team iPhone is a pretty good place to be. It's infinitely easier to use than my Droid, it's about half as big and a third as brick-ish, and it has finally brought my sister into the simpler world of selfies with a front-facing camera. My parents clearly enjoy the bells and whistles, as I just heard my mother telling Siri to "call Laura" as she walked through the house. It's granted me instant access, through the still somewhat confusing iMessage, to the knowledge of exactly which of my friends are and are not cool enough for iPhones. These questions do linger, though, and I'm sure others will arise as I continue to get to know my new phone.

Until they do, you can find me giddily experimenting with Instagram video and deciding whether it's appropriate to use my favorite emoji - the cat with hearts for eyes - in casual iMessage chats with guys.