Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Logansport Lessons

Last week, I headed home to Logansport for an extended Thanksgiving break. Ol' L-town is always full of surprises, but I learned quite a few lessons on this latest six-day sojourn. From the bars of Erie Avenue to the drive-up window of La Casita de Pupusas, each corner of the 46947 had wisdom to impart this holiday - and, in my generosity, I am here to pass it on to you.

My first Logansport Lesson is that gambling is fun, but, like, so is an advent calendar. 

You'll be shocked, I'm sure, to hear that I have never participated in any gambling or lottery-related activities. I, after all, keep a tight budget I have to stick to by running my pantry down to half a bag of orzo so I can spend $130 on loafers. 

But, while out at the so-called Logan bars on the Thanksgiving-eve holiday known as Blackout Wednesday, a stack of pull-tab lotto tickets ended up at my table. If you don't know, these odd little vice devices are small cards with five tabs you snap back to reveal images - exactly like you do with a cardboard advent calendar. As with a slot machine, if your images match, you win a small amount of money. A classmate of mine bought a few cards from a vending machine, and a few of us set to work pulling off the tabs. 


Pulling apart bits of perforated cardboard is the perfect activity for a nail-biting, trash-folding sentient ball of nervous tics like me. For a brief moment, I understood why people enjoy gambling.

Somewhere around my hundredth tab, though, I realized I was getting no thrill at all from the increasingly slim chance of winning $5; I just liked the cat toy. My classmate dropped $60 on these things without winning a cent, and I reverted to my usual state of smugness, safe in the knowledge that I could have just at much fun at home with a leftover Pop-Tart box and some masking tape. Suck on that, lottery industrial complex!

Logansport Lesson number two is that, sometimes, when you leave your small, rural hometown for a while, it attempts to become a miniature foodie paradise in your absence. We'd already added token Thai place Dhing's to our existing restaurant selections (Applebee's and a local joint the kids call El Mexican), and now we've added a brand new bakery, a downtown fudge shop, and a pupusa stand. PUPUSAS, PEOPLE! I am a card-carrying pupusa obsessive, and now I can buy face-sized ones for $2 apiece from a drive-thru every time I visit my parents. God is real.

Finally, the third Logansport Lesson of this trip came from the recently resurrected Light Up Logansport parade. That lesson is that small-town parades are the best thing ever. We had the Children's Choir (led by my permanently hypothermic mother, who had the bright idea to avoid the cold by driving my dad's sedan as a pace car). We had two grown women in footie pajamas walking a horse they'd covered in glitter. We had the Shriners.

I don't know if Shriners do this in all small-town parades or just ours, but, in Logansport parades, the Shrine Club is known for traveling the route on motorized rickshaws that they spin around in little formations. While wearing fez hats. Don't ask me to explain.

This year, though, the Shriner entry in the parade was better than ever. One of the Shriners had somehow gotten his rickshaw stuck in reverse. While his club mates ran through their figure eights, this man rode backwards all the way down the East Broadway bike lane apologetically explaining to people that he couldn't get his vehicle turned around. I thought this was the best thing I'd ever seen. 

Then I saw the llamas.

Yes, folks, this parade had llamas. I saw the sign for the Cass County 4-H Llama and Alpaca Club coming from a block or so away, and, in a moment pulled straight from a sitcom, I said out loud, "Yesssss, the alpaca club! Wouldn't it be great if they had their--"

My jaw basically fell off my face when I saw that the alpaca club had indeed brought their alpacas. This group of teens was literally parading two Kuzcos, covered in Christmas lights, through downtown.

Keep your seven wonders, my friends. The best things on earth are happening in Logansport.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Simple Guide to Self-Care

Are you feeling bummed out? Perhaps your boyfriend dumped you? You didn't get into your third choice law school? Maybe you lost some money in a bet on something like, oh, I don't know, an election!

No matter the reason, if something's got you down and, like me, you're way too poor/cheap for therapy, you need a plan to drag yourself out of your slump. And you're in luck, readers - I've got one.

Follow these simple suggestions, dear friends, and you'll be feeling like a million bucks in no time.

How do I know they work, you ask? Why, I've done all of them! In the past five days! And if there's one person you should model your emotional well-being after, it is definitely me.

Step 1. Attempt to manually unfollow basically every one of your Facebook friends. Do this so quickly, thoroughly, and mindlessly that Facebook bans you from blocking people when you're halfway through your list. Now, instead of seeing political posts or life updates from people you only mildly care about, you'll see every single update, like, and comment from the totally random people you weren't able to block before Zuckerberg brought the hammer down on you. Hope you're ready to see every meme that your old summer camp acquaintance tags his roommate in!

Step 2. Buy yourself a ticket to your earliest local screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them this Thursday. You will go alone and eat popcorn and a slushie for dinner. It will be totally normal and not at all creepy, I'm sure.

Step 3. Finally crack open the copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child you've been hoarding since July and read the whole thing in one sitting. This is, again, totally normal adult behavior and a great use of your time.

Step 4. Browse Netflix for something to watch, and settle on The Chronicles of Narnia, which popped up in "family features," a category you're not quite sure why you have on your dashboard. Watch the whole, 2.5-hour thing, making multiple comments aloud to your empty apartment about what an idiot Edmund is for risking his and his entire family's lives for Turkish delight. Send a lot of texts about how fierce Tilda Swinton is.

In all of these things, ensure you are as immersed as children's science fiction and fantasy as you can possibly be. This will not at all make you feel weirder about your life than you already felt!

Step 5. Distract yourself for some time with a Google image search of the love of your life, Stanley Tucci.

Step 6. Eat nothing but Whole Foods falafel, raw carrots, and veggie juice for one meal.

Step 7. For your next meal, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

Step 8. If you're watching something stressful on live television - again, like, I don't know, the results of an election - accompany your watching with enough Pizza Hut wings and cheesy bread that you are physically unable to move. This way, if your television viewing doesn't go your way, you can blame your nausea on the honey barbecue and not on your racking sobs!

Step 9. Look into Celtic Woman tickets and become enraged when you discover they've REPLACED THEIR FIDDLE PLAYER, ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!!!!?????!!!!!!

Step 10. Wear your Celtic Woman merch for a day in mourning/protest. Yes, that's right, you lucky dog - you own Celtic Woman merch in this scenario.

Step 11. Unpack various boxes of things and leave their wrappings strewn all over your apartment. This will make you feel way better when you return home from work later, mood having finally improved somewhat, only to discover that your home looks like a tornado recently blew through.

Step 12. Lose something in your tornado zone apartment. Recalling steps 2-3, wander around mumbling "accio" until you've lost all will to live.

Step 13. Open all the blinds on your west-facing wall of windows because it's chilly in your apartment and you've heard rumors of a thing called the sun that could be worth experiencing. Watch three consecutive episodes of SVU from an armchair in the direct path of said sun. Emerge from your Mariska marathon with a sunburn on half your face.

Step 14. Decide to light a candle on your nightstand and try some breathing and mindfulness exercises before bed. Fall asleep. Wake up at 1 AM fully clothed with your contacts in feeling great about how your sleep cycle is going to go for the next few days!

Step 15. Decide that same process needs another try the next night. To the surprise of no one, fall asleep again! Wake up at 1 AM with your contacts still in; with a firm, bright red imprint of your left hand on your right arm from whatever convoluted position you nodded off in; and fully confirmed that your sleep cycle is going to be great for the next few days.

Step 16. Fall into a YouTube black hole so deep (dog weddings? Office supply hauls?), you come dangerously close to a permanent vegetative state. Congratulations! You have forgotten all about your old boyfriend/failed attempt at academia/new demagogue. Now enjoy that Harry Potter screening!

(Disclaimer: Yes, I actually did all these things this week, but first of all, chill out parents I'm fine; second of all, most of them - lookin' at you, Ben & Jerry's - describe a normal Saturday in my life; and third, no I'm not actually responding to the election with five full days of hopeless depression. I have, in fact, been looking into service opportunities. So should you.) 

(Disclaimer 2: If you are worried about your mental health and are in need of actual care, please get some!)

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Hey everyone! You may have noticed that, whoops, I haven't written a blog post in six months. My B! I've been waiting for a topic that I just had to say something about, and I've found it — the election.

Now, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for.

It should come as no surprise who I will be voting for. #ImWithHer. #ImWithHerAF. #couldiBEanymoreWithHer? I don't find Hillary Clinton to be "the lesser of two evils," and I'm not voting for her reluctantly or supporting her with my fingers crossed behind my back wishing she were someone else. I'm voting for her because I find her enormously well qualified, because I believe her when she claims to be a true public servant, and because her policies align both with my views and with the future I want to see for our country over the next four years. I like her.

(I like her so much, in fact, that I'm going to see her at a rally slash James Taylor concert tomorrow night down the street from my house two days before the election. Living in New Hampshire in an election season might be the best thing that's ever happened to me.)

And yes, I am terrified of the alternative. Setting aside the Stein and Johnson tickets for merely statistical reasons (and also because, like, come on), the remaining viable candidate is not what I want for our country. I disagree with his policies, I don't find him qualified or temperamentally suited for the office he is seeking, and, like, come on.

But you don't have to agree with me. That's the thing about America: we're allowed to disagree with each other. And we get the opportunity to get out there and voice those disagreements with our votes.

That's why I'm writing this, folks.

I don't care who you vote for on Tuesday. I just want you to vote.

Not everyone gets this opportunity! This is a cool thing we get to do!

So is voting, Marnie. So is voting.

It is pretty awesome that we get to engage in the political process and cast a vote for the way we want our future to go. If you're casting your ballot for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, you're showing the nation that third parties are worth considering. If you're voting for Donald Trump, sure, I'd encourage you to take a hard look at why — but that vote is still cool, because you've chosen a candidate and you're getting out there and committing to it. 

"But Sarah," you say, "I don't like any of the candidates, so the country's doomed anyway!" 

You know how you can prevent future doom? By participating. The more that we get out there and show that we don't just talk or complain about government but play an active part in its shaping, the more likely it is that future politicians will more closely reflect our wants and needs. It's hard for our leaders to respond to an electorate who only say what they want in a group message or a tweet, or worse, who complain without saying what they want at all. 

"But Sarah," you say, "I'm just sick of it and want it to be over!" 

Well, it's gonna be over, hopefully sometime in the middle of the night on Tuesday. At least those of us who vote can say we had a say in this year-long reality-TV-style torture session. If you stay home, you subjected yourself to the past 12+ months of news for nothing. 

"But Sarah," you say, "I'm not voting for either of those jokers for president, and that's that." 

My stubborn friend, did you know there are — gasp — other positions being determined in this election? 

Sure, the president may not affect you personally all that often. If you're determined not to have a say in the presidential election, I can at least in theory understand how you can justify that you're unlikely to be affected by either outcome. But the further down the ballot you read, the closer to your life you get. Perhaps you have a congressional race to vote for. Perhaps your state's electing a governor. Maybe you're due for a new mayor, or some school board members, or a freakin' county clerk. Those races will be decided on Tuesday, too, and you owe it to those candidates (and yourself!) not to let frustration with the top ticket get in the way of having a say in the smaller ones. 

So, if you haven't cast your ballot already, get out there and vote on Tuesday. I will be at my polling place when it opens at 6 a.m. Then I will sit at work for the day alternating between occasional actual work, existential dread, and toggling between several dozen browser tabs of election coverage. And then, I will be glued to my TV, sparkling fruit wine and dark chocolate peanut butter cups in hand, from the second I get home from work until the second Wolf, Anderson and the gang officially declare whether I'll be resting easy in the land of my girl Hill or taking a sudden interest in how all of my business associates in Ireland have been lately. 

If you don't know where you vote, you can find out here. There have also been polling place finder tools on Facebook, and many states also have sample ballots available online so you can scope out who's running for the lower-profile races in your area. If you type your home address into Uber on Tuesday, they'll look up your polling place for you and let you book a trip straight there with the touch of a button. The resources available to help you do your civic duty are pretty remarkable. Take advantage of them. 

Oh, and if you're a teenager reading this and just thinking, "-_____-", two things: 

1) There's always next year! (Somebody had to steal that phrase now that the Cubbies aren't using it, amirite? Heyo sports!)

2) Sixteen-year-old me campaigned door-to-door for Obama on Election Day 2008. (Yes, friends, I've always been like this.) If the rules are the same as they were then, Logansport schools may even give you an excused absence for election volunteering. It's last minute, but see what options are out there! And, at the very least, if the 2016 election cycle made you excited or angry or had you wishing you could vote this year, bottle that passion up and remember it for the next time around. 

It's the home stretch, y'all. Go vote.