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.