Monday, August 18, 2014

Full-Tilt Jungle Madness

When I woke up this morning, I assumed that today would be a fairly normal day. I ate breakfast, I spent twenty minutes reading over the finer points of the Notre Dame Honor Code, I lamented my total lack of anything to wear, and headed to church. Normal. 

It is when my family and I pulled into the parking lot at church that I first realized that today could be quite interesting indeed. Parked - or, more accurately, still trying with only marginal success to park - outside the parish hall door was a minibus full of residents of Woodbridge, a local nursing home. 

Now, if you don't hear "bus full of elderly people" and think "adventure," then you have clearly never seen the handicapped section at All Saints Catholic Church. Admittedly, it has about doubled in size in the last year thanks to recent renovations, but this thing is small. Two perpendicular pews - each of which seats only four people when there aren't any wheelchairs involved - form the basic outline. The square of open wheelchair space between these pews and the aisles is MAYBE 8'x8'. A bus filled with mostly wheelchair-bound elderly people, then, is gonna make for an interesting morning in the handicapped section. 

Luckily for me and for all of you now reading, my sister and I were seated in the handicapped section this morning, to accompany our grandmother. Since she had come from home, she beat the bus there by a fair margin and was blissfully unaware of the coming madness when we walked in to join her. 

All is well

Shortly after we sat down, another woman (who has claimed the same spot in the wheelchair section since before it even was a section) entered the ring. Fine. 

Still rockin' and rollin' was that in poor taste maybe

Then came the first of the bus folk. She settles into the space next to the not-my-grandma woman. Since I am sitting in the corner formed by the two perpendicular pews, this means that I am now trapped. But for the most part, we're still all relatively comfortable in the wheelchair section. 

Hm ok gettin' snug but aight

Then comes bus folk #2. He has his daughter with him, which is equal parts helpful and nightmarish, since she A) can maneuver him semi-easily if need be but B) sits directly behind his wheelchair at the end of the same pew as my sister and I, ensuring that I will never get out of this pew as long as I live. 


Then, finally, comes bus folk #3, which is, for those of you keeping track, wheelchair #5. By this time, the people wheeling in the bus folk have pretty much given up. It is possible that, with omnidirectional wheelchair wheels and no restrictions, one could fit three wheelchairs side by side along this pew. But with my sister and I sitting on either side of my grandmother's wheelchair and the space between grandma's wheelchair and BF2's wheelchair being only about 18 inches, there is no way BF3 is fitting in along the pew. The usher who wheeled her in leaves the poor woman in a single-wheelchair island in the middle of the section. 

Now, I realize that this is not a fun way to sit. What this woman does not realize, however, is that it is the only place where she will fit. Unable to see what's behind her, BF3 tries not once but twice to back up. Each time, she smashes into a wheelchair. 

The opening song begins. 

...And bus folk #4 walks in. 

BF4 has only a walker rather than a wheelchair, meaning she can sit in the regular front row. The regular front row, however, is obviously 2/3 full, because of course it is. Its occupants (who I later learn are relatives of BF2) reluctantly scoot over, opening a roughly 9-inch space for this woman. A Good Samaritan from a few rows back, who is himself 10 years younger than the bus folk at absolute most, runs up to help fold up the woman's walker and set it in front of the pew. In the middle of this, the bus parade ends with the entrance of BF5. Good Samaritan moves him into the pew & folds up his walker, which means there are now five people in wheelchairs and two walkers piled up roughly 15 feet from the priest. I look up at this point and notice that our distinguished young priest is definitely, 100% laughing. 

Things in the front of the church thus established as completely out of control, mass continues. At about 10 minutes in, a baby screams so loudly and inhumanly that I literally laugh out loud. At 30, BF1 begins to sob. No one knows why, and no one acknowledges it, but she does have a purse full of Kleenex, so the collective decides to ignore it. 

At communion, my sister and BF2's companion manage to escape & join the line. From my corner, I absolutely, positively cannot. I stay in my seat,  then, the only one standing in a sea of wheelchairs because of course at our church we stand for communion. Have you ever had an entire congregation turn and stare at you in unison? I have. 

Updated graphic

The end of communion comes and, just when I think we're safe, the little girl in the front row turns to enter her pew and breaks her flip-flop. Making matters worse or, depending who you're talking to, much, much better, the girl was also trying to enter the pew from the wrong side. So, upon realizing her error, she gimps her way clear back across the front of the church, past the walker graveyard, past her family, and into the pew, dragging her flip-flop all the way. 

In summation, if you went to a mass at All Saints this weekend that was not this morning's 10 AM, you missed a lot of things.

Of course, the story doesn't end there, because when we reach home after church, our neighbor's three chickens are free ranging around our backyard. My dad and another neighbor force the chickens into the fence corner between our homes, thinking there must be a hole there they've been using to break into our yard. WRONG! As it turns out, our neighbor apparently owns the only three chickens on earth capable of sustained flight, because when cornered, they simply fly over the fence, into yet another yard where they do not live.

Today starts my last full week in America for quite some time, and from the looks of today, it's gonna be a good week.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Twitter Rules Revisited

Two weeks ago, I live-tweeted the Tony Awards. I published seven tweets in three hours responding to an awards show that, for reference, gave six awards last year to a musical written by Cyndi Lauper about drag queen cobblers. A few days later, I accidentally became the seventeenth follower of someone I was under-the-radar Twitter stalking, and, upon discovering my error a full 36 hours later, unfollowed them, because yeah, like, that definitely makes it less weird.

So maybe I'm not the best at Twitter.

But in light of recent events, it has come to my attention that many of my peers are far, far worse. I've noticed a variety of trends on the social network recently - on #LogansportTwitter, primarily - that really are almost too straight-up crazytown to be believed. White kids referring to each other by the n-word? Selfies taken while being booked by the police? None of these things are off-limits on the Twitterverse these days, and I could literally not have made this reality up had I tried. I've written about how to not suck on Twitter before, but it seems that I need to revise my tips to make them a bit more basic. What follows is a list of Actual Totally Insane Things I've Seen on Twitter Lately That Oh My God I Need to Stop Seeing, Like, Preferably Yesterday.

1. Racial slurs, gay slurs, and any derivatives thereof. Dearest caucasian teenagers of northern Indiana, I cannot find the words to fully express my confusion at the fact that you don't know not to use racial slurs. I'm going to chalk one up for society or your friends and family or whatever is teaching you things, because my assumption is that race relations in your lives are so good these days that the advice, "Hey, maybe don't use the n-word" has been rendered so obvious as to be obsolete. I guess. Luckily, here I am to tell you what you've apparently never been told before: Hey, maybe don't use the n-word. Or any racial slurs. Or, while we're at it, gay slurs. Because those have been all over Teen Twitter lately, too, and dear baby Jesus this is a very confusing and horrible trend.

American Studies Sarah also has a lot of feelings on the "white girls" trend. Liking The Notebook or even liking Ryan Gosling's smokin'-hot bod does not make you necessarily female, and if you think it does, reevaluate yourself. Liking mocha chip frappuccinos doesn't make you necessarily white. But I digress. Don't use racial slurs and gay slurs, y'all. Civil rights. This is the 90s.

2. References to illegal activities in which the tweeter is partaking, will be partaking, or have partaken. Remember the entirety of Law & Order from roughly 1999 to 2003, where basically every last criminal was caught because they talked openly on the Internet about the illegal stuff they were doing? Remember how they were in no remote way light-handed about this? They and everyone else were apparently not heavy-handed enough. I am watching Law & Order right now, and the officer just said, "Nothing disappears from the Internet, ever." And this is not obvious enough.

Anyway, long story short, there's been a lot of talking about illegal activities on Teen Twitter lately, so let's just go over a few things on this front to avoid in your tweets:

- The smoking of the reefer, explicitly or in code. No one sees your tweets about your "fave medical supplies *sunglasses emoji*" and thinks, "Ah, yes - I, too, enjoy Advil."

- Drinking, being drunk, being hungover, your favorite drink, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. Most of the ill-advised tweets I've seen on this topic are from tweeters with public profiles, which I think is the literal definition of unemployable. This rule, mind-numbingly-obviously, goes quadruple for those tweeters aged fewer than twenty-one years. If you are under the legal drinking age, I wouldn't even put the word "party" on your Twitter unless it is proceeded by "Grand Old," "SNL skit 1920s," or, for instance, I don't know, "Donner."

- Ritual murder and human sacrifice.

3. Anger and ill-will towards law or law enforcement. There are instances - measured criticisms of police stop-and-frisk policies, perhaps, if you're a consistent social advocate - in which polite references to one's disappointment with law or law enforcement could lead to fruitful discussion on Twitter.

There are other instances - say, profane declarations of the shortcomings of cops who break up house parties - in which Twitter is pretty much the worst place to vent your feelings about law or law enforcement. Can we all take some guesses as to what the following meme would translate to in modern prose or, say, NWA lyrics? Yes? Can we agree that this category of language is probably one we should not use in our tweets? Yes? Well, TEEN TWITTER HAS NOT REALIZED THIS. I repeat: I cannot make these things up. This is real life. Talk to your friends about your disappointment in authority figures. Don't put it in writing on the internet.

4. Excessive - and I do mean EXCESSIVE - swearing. I heard a censored version of Jason DeRulo's "Talk Dirty to Me" on the radio the other day, and, by the time the station had cut out everything inappropriate, only about half of the rap verse was left. It was absurd. Some of the Twitter accounts I've seen recently would easily be the visual equivalent of such censoring were someone to take out all the expletives flying around, and, while I'm not going to sit here and pretend I have any right to tell you to stop swearing altogether, I'm gonna say it's a decent idea to maybe not swear publicly and in writing on the internet where literally anyone can see it more than, like, once a week? I don't know. I have ideas sometimes; you could argue I'm a radical. 

Friends. Tweeters. Countrymen. We are living in an age where high school principals have Twitter accounts and where CNN puts tweets in their news coverage on live cable television. I'm not going to tell you (this time) how to be less annoying on Twitter - my entire persona revolves around being annoyed, so even if you were to try not to annoy me, you would probably fail. But avoiding racial slurs and police-bashing probably isn't so difficult. Let's take some baby steps together towards a better Twitter world. It's within your reach. Si se puede. Yes we can. 

And if this post has made you angry, go watch Gotta Kick It Up with young America Ferrera. You'll feel better.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tinder Bueno

First of all, I need you all to be aware of the reference that this title is making. This is a play on the name of the best candy bar in the entire world, the Kinder Bueno. This is the Kinder Bueno. It is perfect. If you didn't know about it before now, A) I'm sorry and B) you're welcome. 

A few months ago, an app called Tinder hit the scene and revolutionized the ability of twenty-somethings to form meaningless "romantic" relationships with, largely, random strangers. The Apple App Store calls it a lifestyle app. A generous onlooker would call it a dating app. I'm going to call it what it is: a hookup app.

It came to my attention recently that not just skeezy unknowns but actual people I know have been using this app. My friends' experiences made it look like a land of endless amusing stupidity, and, as we all know, there are few things I love more in this world than amusing stupidity.

Naturally, then, I joined Tinder a few weeks ago. My purposes were twofold and simple: fly under the radar and find out how many of my acquaintances I could find on Tinder, lookin' for love. I had no particular interest in meeting or interacting with people on Tinder, but I had a feeling I knew some people who did. So I browsed, and my findings were fairly interesting.

At Notre Dame, nearly everyone I found on the app whom I recognized from real life was a member of the Glee Club. There are a lot of things I could say about this. So. Here we are.

In Logansport, there weren't many patterns to the gentlemen I found whom I knew from outside the Tinderverse. A few were my classmates. Many more were several years my junior, which is a bit sad. Others were several years older, which is probably sadder. Eventually, I ran out of people I knew, and this, I thought, was where my Tinder adventures would end.

Then I found Russell.

Russell is a Wilderness Explorer. His bio told me all about his interests in wilderness exploring, assisting people, traveling to exotic locales with his friend Mr. Frederickson, and the like. This is Russell.

Now, I want to be very clear. I never intended to press a single button on Tinder beyond the X that means "yeah, bored, keep scrolling through until you can show me another old classmate that I can blackmail with this, Tinder, come on." But the mystery man behind Russell's profile was clearly a genius. Such brilliance cannot simply be X'd. It must be rewarded. I hit Like on Russell's profile. "It's a match!" We chatted briefly. He spoke exclusively in Up quotes. I congratulated him on being a Tinder genius. And that was that. 

As I looked over Russell's profile and the countless other profiles that paled in comparison to his, I realized that I have some thoughts on what makes for a successful Tinder profile. 

Ladies, if you're looking for tips on how to craft your profiles, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere. As I've had only two matches including Russell (you could say I'm picky; you could also say I've only clicked like on four people in roughly three weeks), I am probably not the best person to ask for advice. I would point you instead in the direction of a dear friend of mine who joined Tinder this afternoon and had nineteen matches within a half hour.

But for the gentlemen, I have some ideas. I acknowledge, of course, that most ladies on the Tinder machine are probably not looking for the same things I'm looking for. I'm looking to make fun of old acquaintances' attempts to win over women - and in terms of actual potential matches, I'm looking for Aaron Tveit, whom I doubt is within 25 miles of Logansport. So I won't be presumptive enough to give you "advice" on how to cater your profiles to the things that ladies want. Instead, I will give you a list of Ways to Earn a Certain X On Tinder and In Life From Sarah Cahalan and Any Girl With Any Taste.

1. Be shirtless. Even if you are hot. When you're shirtless in your profile picture, my eyes add a filter that projects a Tupac tattoo across your stomach reading "Tool Life."

2. Wear camouflage. Attractive hobbies: tap dancing, reading acclaimed modern American novels, home-brewing cider, not killing animals for sport.

3. Pose with stereotypical Hot Girls.  "One time I got this chick to take a picture with me. Swipe right."

4. Use senior photos in your profile. Anywhere. I have actually run into this, a number of times, and I have only to say: hahahahahaha. Hahaha.

5. Make your phone visible in your selfie. Team Stop Selfies 2014.

6. Include your height in your bio. Should I be impressed? Alarmed? These are honest questions; I don't understand at all. Help.

7. Have Tinder.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Commencement of Samantha Cahan

A few weeks ago, I completed an exit interview of sorts with Notre Dame's chapter of HerCampus, an online publication for which I sporadically write. You can read it here. I thought I was all kinds of hilarious when I filled out these questions, and for the most part, this remains true. I would direct your attention, however, to the final question.

"You're about to graduate from the University of Notre Dame. Congratulations! Last thoughts?"

Because I am me, I replied with, "If I trip and fall on stage at graduation, will I become Internet famous like Lizzie McGuire?"

Flash forward, dear readers, to the first day of Notre Dame's commencement weekend, two short days ago. I straightened my hair and remembered to unplug the iron and not burn the dorm down. Success! I made it through the graduation reception for Major #1 without incident and with free chocolate-covered strawberries. Success! I ate steak in the dining hall. Success!

And then came the graduation reception for Major #2.

It should probably have been a red flag that, at the only one of my ceremonies where I would spend the entire time sitting on stage, I was assigned a seat in the front row. Nonetheless, I took my front row seat, in front of my closest English-major friend but with complete strangers on either side, and settled in for the festivities. Professors talked about the power of words and how we should potentially be good at using them by now. Thesis writers were recognized and their incredibly bleak-sounding titles read. I yawned a lot. And then, the undergraduate studies director announced, it was time for a game!

The undergraduate director listed off a series of accomplishments. Stand up and then sit back down, he instructed us, if you'd double majored. If you'd had two majors and a minor. If you'd studied abroad. If you'd written for a campus publication. As it happens, I did all four of those things, and with each successive return to my seat after standing to be recognized, my chair slid further and further towards the back edge of the platform. And before you could say "it's all fun and games until...," the back legs of my chair slid right on over that edge.

Now, had I been seated in the back row, on the fourth and highest platform, this would be a very different story, because I would probably be dead. Seeing as I was in the front row, however, this remains a funny if pathetic story and easily the most typically Sarah Cahalan thing that has ever happened in the history of earth.

There was no gap, you see, between platforms as they were placed front to back. The only gaps between the platforms were six-inch verticals, and this is the gap into which my chair legs fell.

Luckily for me and for everyone in the audience, my skirt was fairly modest in length and I managed to fall back into the next row without flashing the entire Decio Mainstage Theatre. I could not manage, however, to get myself out of this moderately compromising position without aid.

I want to be abundantly clear here: this was in no way subtle. It was handled with some measure of comportment insofar as I simply fell straight backwards and sat there - "thank God you do theatre," as one of my friends in the audience later put it - but it brought the proceedings to, you know, an utter, grinding halt. As you recall, the graduates seated on either side of me were complete and total strangers. So, while well-intentioned, they were aggressively unhelpful in my attempts to recover from my Lizzie McGuire moment. Eventually, after the aforementioned English BFF had confirmed that I was okay and followed with "BLOG POST BLOG POST BLOG POST," the department chair came over and dragged me out of the chair by my wrists. Since the chair was stuck between platforms and my legs were dangling several inches above the ground by way of their attachment to said chair, this was literally my only method of escape. I waved to the audience, placed my chair roughly 50 yards from the back edge of the platform, and returned to my seat.

Proceedings continued, and the undergraduate director not once but twice read my name as "Sarah Callahan."

I'm waiting, Internet fame.

The rest of the weekend came and went largely without incident. I smashed into an expensive-looking piece of sound equipment at the Folk Choir senior concert, sure, but that's nothing new. Saturday's breakfast reception, afternoon Service Send-Off, and evening mass, all fine, and this morning's university commencement, great.

Sure, I have third-degree sunburns all over my face and I look vaguely like a hunchbacked troll in the photo of my friends and I that's circulating all over the Internet, but, I mean, details.

The final event of the weekend was this afternoon's diploma ceremony for the College of Arts and Letters. While the morning ceremony in the stadium is technically The Big One, it is this final event where each member of the graduating class has his or her name read aloud as he/she walks across a stage, shakes hands with fancy people (possibly wizards), and receives The Diploma. Knowing how well pronunciation of my last name typically goes, I was a bit nervous going into this ceremony. When my alphabetical-order seatmate and former London roomie arrived, I felt somewhat better. Her shoe had straight-up fallen apart as she walked to the ceremony, she was holding it together with safety pins that stabbed her foot whenever she moved, and she was saved from walking at graduation barefoot only by the grace of God (read: a stranger two seats down who happened to have the same size feet and an extra pair of shoes in her bag).

Surely, I thought, this is a sign. Something can't go that utterly and hilariously wrong for my seat neighbor - and not even a stranger, at that, someone I lived with for four months - and then go wrong again for me, right?

WRONG! I filtered through the line of graduates. Byrnes. Cable. Caesar. The moment of truth. I'd had the name-reader as a professor during my sophomore year, so I wasn't too worried, but what would he say?

"Samantha Margaret"

The day's debate has been how closely he came to correctly pronouncing Cahalan. I thought he basically got it right, but I was a bit distracted by the fact that he READ MY FIVE-LETTER FIRST NAME, THE MOST COMMON FEMALE BABY NAME OF THE 1990s, AS SAMANTHA. In the man's defense, he'd had the card in front of him with my phonetically-spelled pronunciation guide for maybe one second by the time he read my name. There were people missing from my row. Someone's diploma had just gotten mixed up with someone else's. Tensions were high. All of that said, though, he read my name as Samantha. I have basically never been more confused in my life.

The confusion only multiplied, however, when the faculty assistants handed me The Diploma. Having been thrown off by their newfound belief that my name was Samantha, they could not find my diploma in the stack. They handed me a random, empty diploma folder, whispering that if I came back up later, they'd find me my real one.

Needless to say, by the time I returned to my seat, my friends in the row ahead of me could barely breathe for how hard they were laughing. Basically, my Notre Dame career had ended exactly how I always thought it would: absurdly. I did get my real diploma after the ceremony ended, confirming that I did in fact graduate and the Arts and Letters faculty weren't pulling a terrible, cruel trick on me.

I am reminded that, in my freshman year, the guy administering the swim test attempted to convince me upon finishing that I had failed. "Do you want to take swimming?" he asked as I crawled out of the pool.

"Well," I thought, "I would rather tie lead bricks to my ankles and jump back into this Olympic-sized pool, but yeah, dude, totally, that's why we're all here." I said no.

"I'm totally kidding," the monster guy said with a chuckle, "you obviously passed."

It just seems to fit, then, that my college career ended today with the handing over of the same empty diploma frame that would be handed to someone finding out that - surprise! - they didn't actually graduate after all. I fell on stage at my graduation ceremony, and a professor I'd had in class mispronounced my name when I got my diploma. Yeah...that sounds about right.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Wish I'd Done Everything On Earth With You

It's been two and a half years now since I first publicly acknowledged how stupid study days are. The university makes a bunch of empty statements about how nothing's allowed to be scheduled during this pre-finals long weekend, everyone pretends they will spend the entire 96 hours doing nothing but studying, and then 8,000 events are scheduled and everyone goes to them, entirely obliterating the notion that study days are for studying. This is fact.

Generally, I've avoided falling prey to the influx of study-days activities. This is not precisely because I feel the need to study a lot during study days. Indeed, now that I think about it, I think it would be impossible to spend 96 hours on the three papers that generally comprise my finals week, even if I wanted to for some completely insane reason. Rather, I don't go to stuff during study days because if I have nothing I have to go to all day, it will pretty much take the dorm going up in flames to get me to leave my room.

This year, though, a weird thing has happened. On Facebook, I've responded "yes" to not one but five events between now and Saturday. I plan on going out tonight, despite Finnys - Notre Dame's Wednesday night hotspot, for the uninitiated - being my #1 least favorite place on this planet. I'm seeing a show tonight, I'm going to an Undertones concert on Friday (my first ever, because I'm not a desperate, thirsty freshman*), I've signed on to drive friends to dinner and a musical at the Catholic Worker on Saturday, and on top of it all, I have four papers to write that I'm trying earnestly to make my best ever.

[*: I'm a desperate, thirsty senior. Get it right.] 

What's happened to me? Have I started to like people? Am I making a desperate last-second attempt at grade-grubbing? Do I have a brain tumor?

Well, assuming that the last one's not true (fingers crossed), it's none of those. As much as I hate myself for this sentimentality, it's a second-semester senior thing. My time at ND is dwindling - I had my last college class of all time today, for God's sake - and any second in my last weeks here not spent doing something is a second wasted.

Notre Dame, I wish I'd done everything on Earth with you.

Although doing everything on Earth with Leonardo DiCaprio would suffice.

Now don't get me wrong. I've been able to do a lot of awesome stuff in the past four years, and, cliched as it is, there's almost nothing I look back on with regret. I'm confident that my friends are the coolest kids around, and if I FOMO'ed about fun time with friends at any point along the way, I've long forgotten it by now. I've lucked my way into a great set of extra-curriculars and even some truly grade-A classes over the years. I spent half a year living in an apartment in Europe whose monthly rent value is about equal to the value of my car, and I've somehow convinced the powers that be to send me back to Europe for a whole year this time starting in August. I've run into famous people from Condoleezza Rice to Taylor Swift just by showing up to my own school's football games. It's been a good run. 

But in two and a half weeks, I'll be an alumna of this university and not a student. My cool-kid friends will move to all corners of the planet, my extra-curriculars will take in new classes of freshmen to replace the last year's seniors, and South Dining Hall will serve thousands of helpings of four-cheese pasta that I will no longer be here to eat. 

So in the next eighteen days, I hope you'll help me commit to a challenge. Am I going to that experimental performance art thing we saw on Instagram? Yes. Would I like to try that restaurant we've been talking about going to since spring of 2012? Yes, I would. Am I free for coffee tomorrow or for sitting around on x or y night watching Netflix and talking about life for enough hours to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy? Yeah probably, if you're cool. 

Admittedly, a fair portion of the time between now and next Friday will be devoted to my finals. I've finally managed to take a schedule of classes that I actually enjoy all of, and I intend to finish them off fairly respectably. But if you ask me about my homework and I can prove I'm not slacking off, hold me accountable for saying yes. Yes to love (although really if you're tryna date me at this point what's been the hold up for the past four years, ahem), yes to life, yes to staying in less for once. 

I wish I'd done everything on Earth with you, Notre Dame - and in the next 18 days, I plan to come as close to that as I possibly can. Cue the Lana Del Rey, y'all. Let's get forever wild.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Human

It will probably surprise few of you that, when I walk around this campus, I find myself quite frequently annoyed. I watch the walking, talking, and general human-ing etiquette of my fellow students, and I grow angry and perplexed. "How do they think it's okay to block the entire sidewalk?" I wonder to myself. "Why does this person refuse to walk at a different pace from me?" I query. People just don't know how to conduct themselves in a way that acknowledges other human beings, and I am sick of it. My fellow classmates and Notre Dame denizens clearly need some lessons in how to share space with other people, and I am here to teach them. In this guide, neatly alphabetized because I am neurotic, I will address some of the many things that people on this campus seem not to know how to do, and I will teach them in the proper ways of the human.

Avoiding snow and ice. I don't know if you've noticed, but in about 49 of the 50 states, it has snowed a lot this winter. While the grounds crew here at ND really has done an admirable job of cleaning and clearing our sidewalks, it's not always possible to keep these pathways completely free of wintry precipitation. Snow, ice, and slush build up around the edges of the sidewalks, and you know something? No one wants to walk on that. If you see from down the sidewalk that you're about to hit a one-lane dry stretch at the same time as another person, do your best to help a brotha/sista out. Slow or quicken your pace to ensure that you hit the slippery spot at different times. If you're not in a hurry, stop for a second and let the other person pass. I did this recently while in an uncharacteristically good mood, and from the look on the other person's face, I wasn't sure if I had let them pass safely on the sidewalk or handed them $20. Make people happy! Embrace that the sidewalk is shared by all.

Sometimes, though, you can't avoid walking through an icy patch at the same time as another person. Somebody's gonna get through on dry sidewalk, and the other person's gonna have to skate. A judgment call has to be made. Which brings me to...

Keeping an eye out for shoes. This sounds creepy - because it is, mostly - but I assure you that this simple act will make your life a thousand times easier. When it's clear that either you or your sidewalk companion is about to go off-roading, take a glance at the other person's shoes and at your own. Are you plodding along in Sorel snowboots while the other person skids by on moccasins? Give them the dry part of the sidewalk. Is the other person wearing knee-high Hunter boots while you totter along on stilettos for the career fair? Claim the dry sidewalk for yourself. It's like an extremely petty, simplified version of giving up your seat on the bus for a pregnant lady. If crossing that ice or snow is easier for you than it is for them, bite the bullet and walk on the ice.

Traveling in packs. I'm gonna start this out with a generalization: PEOPLE WHO WALK IN GROUPS IN THE WINTER ARE THE WORST, AND I HATE ALL OF YOU. I mean, honestly. Look at how hard it can be to get two strangers across a snowy sidewalk at the same time - what are you, big group, supposed to do when faced with someone coming from the opposite direction? You are making everyone's life hard. Stop doing what you are doing.

If you can't or don't want to stop walking in groups, though - ugh, sociable people, am I right? - there's still a pretty simple fix. Fall into single file when other people come along who need to cross your path. I'm not saying you have to stop and arrange yourselves with military precision; just make some room. You wouldn't want to walk through mud/snow/ice/puddles for 10 feet just because a sidewalk-width group of people failed to notice your presence, so don't force other people to do so, either.

BONUS: How to human in the dining hall. For the love of all that is holy, do not, ever, under any circumstances, sit alone in the dining hall in such a way that you are directly facing another person sitting alone in the dining hall. We all know what I'm talking about. You enter the DH, tray in hand, and decide to sit "right left." Upon finding an empty table, you notice that the person at the table you just passed is facing away from the dining room entrance. When you go to sit down, then, OH, MY GOD, do not face toward the entrance. You are forcing that person to stare at you for his or her entire meal, and it is nothing but uncomfortable and terrible and something I literally would not wish on my worst enemy. A side note? I've met people before who do this on purpose. You people are what's wrong with America. You're all of it. You're childhood obesity. You're low STEM test scores. You are the wage gap. By making someone eat their dinner while staring into your face, you are every single ill in our nation, personified. Just know that.

So that really extreme turn of events (for which I do not apologize) basically wraps up what I have to say about how to not be the worst. Take the advice given here, and campus will be a happier, better place. At the very least, you'll have made huge strides toward convincing me not to hate you. You're welcome for the advice, dear readers - I'll see you on the sidewalk.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Tale of Two iPhones

If you've had the pleasure of speaking with or observing me any time lately, you may have noticed that I've been even more of a hot shambly mess than usual for about ten days now. Some of you know the genesis of these shambles - though I assure you you are unprepared for the recent twists in the story - but in the interest of informing and entertaining you all, I present to you the full story of Sarah's Lost, Replaced, And Found Sort Of Cell Phone.

As so many good stories do, this one started out innocently enough. Two Saturdays ago, the Pasquerilla East Musical Company threw itself a little Canada-themed party. Naturally, I dug my "Aloha, Eh?" t-shirt out of storage, folded up my life-sized Justin Bieber cutout into his handy-dandy portable form, and headed over to said soiree. Justin and I had a lovely time, belting along to the Frozen soundtrack and (in Justin's case) posing for photos with adoring fans. The evening wound to a close, and I left the gathering with some friends.

Given that this was January in South Bend - indeed, a mid-polar vortex January, to be specific - I had to traverse some pretty significant snow banks on my trek from the house to the car I was riding home in. Phone in my back pocket, purse over my shoulder, and Biebs under my arm, I made my way through the snow. Knee-deep in someone's front yard, I crawled into the car, rejoicing that I had managed to get Justin through the whole evening without a single bump or bruise.

I rode back to campus with my friends and hopped out of the car at Main Circle. On instinct, I checked my pockets to make sure I had all my things - and discovered that my phone was MIA. We checked the area surrounding the spot where we had stopped. Nothing. I had my chauffeuring friend search her car. Nothing. Defeated but still holding the now infinitely frustrating Justin Bieber, I headed back to my dorm. By a stroke of luck, I happened to roll up at the exact moment that a parade of boys was exiting the dorm in observance of parietals, and one of these gentlemen let me in.

"Why would you need let in?" you ask. Oh! I suppose I should mention: my cell phone case has an ID pocket. In this ID pocket, I keep my student ID and my drivers license. To lose my phone is to lose not one but three of my most important personal items. In other words, any friends discerning which phone case to buy, ID-pocket cases are a great and efficient idea...until they're not.

Upon my reunion with my computer, I sent Facebook messages to the hosts of the party explaining I'd lost some things at their place. They promised to look around. I messaged another friend to let her know not to text me, and she had the brilliant idea to call my phone.

It went straight to voicemail.

Considering my phone had been on about 80% battery when I left the party, this did not bode well for my phone being lost in some cozy indoor locale. Nay, clearly, my phone - and my student ID, and my drivers license - had fallen out of my pocket and into the snow. I downloaded an alarm clock app for my iPad and reluctantly went to sleep, knowing there was nothing more that could be done. I recited my ID number at the entrance to the dining halls for two consecutive meals, confirmed with the party hosts that they had searched high and low to no avail, and sat down to think about my next steps. My parents would have to be told, of course - but not until I'd shoveled through that snow myself to make sure my phone was permanently gone from this world!

About 16 hours before the city of South Bend declared a state of emergency, then, a friend and I set off on a return trek to the party house. We should probably have realized the ill-advisedness of our mission when we reached my car and found it so deeply buried in the snow that only 30 minutes with a full-sized shovel could break it free. Determined that I was to search for that phone, though, we forged on. Sliding only very minimally on the iced-over roads, we made it to the house and pulled into the drive. We had left the shovel with the friend who came from nearby Carroll to dig us out of the parking lot, so we were left with just my scraper and snow brush to dig through what was now 3+ feet of snow. We dug for an hour. Freezing rain began to fall from the night sky. We gave up.

Remember now, though, that I am, at this point, without a driver's license. In the interest of not geting arrested, then, I had forced my friend to drive. This had gone perfectly well for us so far, but as we began our return voyage, we hit a snag. The flat street that had brought us into the neighborhood was one-way. To get back out again, we had only one option: drive, in the freezing rain, on an ice-covered road, up a massive hill. My friend's vehicular genius got us about halfway up the hill before the car stopped moving. Her foot holding down the brake for dear life, my friend called her parents and let them coach us, on speaker phone, through a lengthy recovery process. We backed down the hill. We tried again. Success.

By the time I made it back to the dorm this time around, I was so happy to have simply not died out on the roads that I no longer feared my inevitable death at the hands of my newly-informed parents. I sat down to explain the story to them in an email. As I was adding my final touches, an email from them appeared in my inbox. A message had popped up on my Facebook while my mother was snooping around. (Yeah, my mom knows my Facebook password. This is the first time that's ever been a problem.) She already knew my phone was missing.

Parent-rage phase over, we moved on to replacing the missing items. I pursued the necessary channels on the BMV website to replace my license. My parents vowed to go to our local AT&T store the next day to replace my phone. And, after my 11:00 class on Monday morning, I would head to the card services office and replace my student ID.

At 12:00 that Monday, the University of Notre Dame closed down for two days in accordance with the state of emergency and subsequent travel ban. That's right - card services was closed by the end of my 11:00 class! I ran to their office, just in case, and found it empty. I walked to the Notre Dame police headquarters out in the furthest corner of campus from my dorm and, along with three other girls with the same need, got my new ID printed here where they deal with emergency ID card needs. 20 minutes later, I was back to my dorm. No phone. No license. No feeling in my face or any of my limbs. But I had an ID.

Over the next few days, things returned slowly to a state of semi-normalcy. My new phone arrived on Tuesday; my new case came in on Friday. Slowly, I convinced myself that losing all of my belongings did not in fact make me totally worthless. Things were, on the whole, not bad.

And then yesterday afternoon rolls around. I'm sitting in my room, actually doing homework, believe it or not, and my parents call me. They had just gotten off the phone, they explain, with a lovely gentleman who owns an electronics repair shop here in South Bend. Someone had come in and sold the man this phone. Upon returning it to enough health to reach the "THIS IS NOT YOUR PHONE, CALL THIS NUMBER TO RETURN IT TO ITS RIGHTFUL OWNER, YOU FOUL THIEF" page my parents had set up, he called them to start the process of returning it.

While it sucks that they had already paid for a new phone by this time, this is, essentially, good news, right? Can't hurt to have an extra phone lying around the house for any future circumstances like mine. However, they ask the man, "Wasn't there a case on it?" .....Nope.

That's right, folks - as the electronics guy and my parents realized at this point to their shared chagrin - some random South Bend stranger found my phone somewhere in the snow and sold the separate parts for money. I'm sure the phone brought him or her in a decent chunk of change, and I'm sure that my driver's license made both this person and some lucky overweight brunette in need of a fake ID very, very happy.

Obviously, this is the skeeziest thing that has ever happened to me, and after a nice long chat with the BMV yesterday, it turns out there's absolutely nothing I can do about it! The BMV can't issue me a new driver's license until and unless there's proof of fraudulent activity with the license, and unlike with my student ID, there's no way besides finding and shredding it to deactivate the old one once it has been replaced. Fortunately, I can't get in any trouble for this hypothetical underage girl using my ID as a fake, but this is but a small comfort in a long line of things that range from deeply unfortunate to moderately terrifying.

Now that my replacement ID has found its way through the mail to me, as well, all is technically, on paper, back to normal. Personally, I'm hoping I run into the person using my old ID at the bar this weekend so I can school her sorry behind on how to properly Sarah Cahalan. Until then, I'll be sitting in my room reflecting on the skeeziness of the American public and hating my Justin Bieber cutout for making it back from that party in one unshaken piece.