It was a year of Hope — at first in the sense of “I feel hopeful!” and later in the sense of “I hope this year ends soon!”
It was also a year of Change, especially in Washington, where the tired old hacks of yesteryear finally yielded the reins of power to a group of fresh, young, idealistic, new-idea outsiders such as Nancy Pelosi. As a result Washington, rejecting “business as usual,” finally stopped trying to solve every problem by throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at it and instead started trying to solve every problem by throwing trillions of taxpayer dollars at it.
This is amazing. Like, can’t-breath-because-I’m-laughing-so-hard amazing.
So, for some reason all week long I’ve been getting random hoax emails at my work account. There was the one about needing money for a divorce from someone who is apparently my friend in London. And the one about needing money for a new student visa from another “friend” in London. I’d love to know why these hoax masterminds targeted my work email during a holiday week.
Anyway, today I received this one:
I’m sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it’s because of the situation of things right now, I’m stuck in London,England right now. I came down here on vacation, i was robbed, worse of it is that bags, cash and cards and my cell phone was stolen at GUN POINT, it’s such a crazy experience for me, i need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is i still have my passport and return ticket but currently having troubles paying off the hotel bills and also getting a cab to take me to the airport.
Please i need you to loan me some money, will refund you as soon as i’m back home, i promise.
Erin, don’t put a period after your name. It’s weird. And seems kind of pretentious. Actually, on second thought, I might try that. It’s kind of bad ass. Also, Erin, things don’t get to you “too urgent.” That doesn’t make any sense. A lot of other things don’t make sense either in this email though. I can only assume your grammar is suffering from the trauma you experienced having been robbed at GUN POINT. YES. I AM YELLING GUN POINT. JUST LIKE YOU DID. BECAUSE GUN POINT IS MUCH MORE EMPHATIC WHEN YELLED. OR TYPED IN ALL CAPS. Ok, I’ll stop yelling now. Sorry.
You know what I really appreciate, Erin? I like that you’re only asking me for the money for the hotel bills and for getting a cab to the airport. I can imagine that the plane ticket home is going to cost you a heck of a lot more than both those things, but you’re sensitive enough to only ask me for the hotel bill and cab fare. So, here’s the thing Erin, I’m really sorry about your “crazy experience,” but I DON’T KNOW YOU. AND I’M PRETTY SURE YOU’RE A LIAR WHO DOESN’T ACTUALLY SPEAK ENGLISH AND USED AN ONLINE TRANSLATING SITE TO WRITE THIS RIDICULOUS EMAIL. Sorry. I didn’t mean to yell. But Erin, it makes me angry when people like you do this because some people are idiots and they’ll fall for it and give WORTHLESS HUMANS LIKE YOU MONEY. Crap. You made me yell again. Sorry.
Ok, anyway, on the off chance you’re actually my friend Erin who I don’t remember and you really just need cab fare, I apologize for this response and wish you all the luck in the world paying off those hotel bills.
For dinner on Christmas day this year my family invited over some of our extended family who live around North Carolina. My mom spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen preparing various amazing foods while my brother, dad, and I followed the orders for whatever chores we had been given. The guests were supposed to arrive at 6 and by 5:45 the house looked great and the food was coming along perfectly.
I was upstairs straightening up my room and happened to look into our front yard where I saw four deer grazing in the circle of the driveway just in front of our house. I started yelling for my parents to look—their home is on 90 acres and appearances by wildlife are frequent, but I’d never seen deer so close before and it was cool to see them in the misty evening air as the sun had almost set.
My brother heard me yelling and ran out of his room, asking where they were. I pointed to the front yard. He began loading his gun. I began yelling that he couldn’t shoot them. He told me to shut it. At that point, I ran downstairs to the kitchen where I yelled to my mom that my brother was going to shoot the deer in the front yard. She just shook her head. I tried to appeal to her irrational mothering fears “He’s going to shoot someone! Or the dog! It’s dark outside! You can’t hunt in the dark!” She told me to be quiet and then she went back to preparing the gravy.
I ran looking for my dad. I was yelling for him and my brother was telling me to shut it as he walked down the stairs and out the door with his gun. My mom told me she thought he was up in their room so I went running up the stairs, yelling for him. Their room was dark. By this point, I was panicking regarding the imminent death of the deer. And so, I threw open the window to my parents’ bedroom and yelled again for my dad as loudly as I could. The deer paused in their grazing and turned to the house.
And then my brother shot one.
It was easily the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve always known I wasn’t a hunter. I’ve always even said that if it weren’t for Chick-Fil-A, I’d probably be a vegetarian. I knew I didn’t like the idea of killing animals. I didn’t know how much though until that second.
I saw the deer go down, flopping on the driveway. I screamed, slammed shut the window, and started gagging and sobbing. Like uncontrollably shaking sobbing. I ran to my room. Meanwhile, chaos ensued downstairs. My dad, who had been in his study, heard a gunshot and then screaming sobbing. He ran to the front of the house. As did my mom.
I didn’t see any of this because I was in my room trying (unsuccessfully) to gain some semblance of control over my emotions. Meanwhile, the deer ran away, into the dark. My brother later described the scene as feeling as if he had murdered someone since apparently after I saw the deer be shot I screamed, “You killed him!” and then let out a bloodcurdling scream and slammed down the window. It’s all fuzzy to me due to the trauma of it.
My dad came up to my room and tried to calm me down. My brother walked in behind him and apologized. Then they both went to find the deer. Then my mom came and eventually calmed me down. I would say it was probably the worst thing I’ve ever had happen on Christmas day.
Since the deer had run away and it was already dark by now and the guests were coming in five minutes, we eventually all returned to the house after searching for it and agreed not to mention the murder to our dinner guests because there would be small children who might be disturbed by it. My dad would go out the next day and track the deer and find it.
Halfway through cocktails one of my cousins started telling my brother that she wanted to go hunting with him some time because she loved venison. She said she’d never been before, but she didn’t think it would bother her. My brother stared at me and said “You never know how you’re going to handle it until you see it. Some people will surprise you.” I agreed and encouraged her not to go hunting. Ever.
Eventually, the guests left and I congratulated by family on their ability to keep quiet in the cover up of the slaughter that had occurred in the front yard just moments before their arrival. It was really just another Christmas day with blood on the driveway, me having a total breakdown, and my brother feeling like a murderer. I’m sure most family’s were pretty much exactly the same.
These articles come from incredible stories—they’re about interesting people, fascinating subjects, and life-changing moments. However, what makes every one of these articles so good is their respective writers. As a writer, I only fantasize about ever being able to do what these authors have done.
Things That Carried Him is the best article I’ve ever read. I say that with total certainty. I felt breathless the first time I read it—it’s that powerful. The lyrical nature of the writing, the incredibly tight simplicity of the descriptions, and the unique form of telling the story—all of it makes this a piece of work that I hope is the kind of thing future generations read to better grasp this period in history.
Anyway, you should read it. If you haven’t already (it was published in May 2008). Oh, and if you’re still looking for reading material, those other links are pretty awesome too.
I’m not the type of person who cries very often. Most of my friends have probably never even seen me tear up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not like an emotionally-stunted-unable-to-cry-Cameron-Diaz-in-The-Holiday kind of non-crier, I occasionally get misty eyed during a sweet song or when someone does something really kind. I’m just not the type of person who needs Kleenex at weddings or gets emotional over the sweet stuff some people do.
There is, however, one exception to this rule: the movie The Notebook. The first time I saw it was in the theater. Luckily, I went to a matinee with a friend who is actually a big time crier. We sobbed our way through the ending.
The second time, my then-boyfriend gave me a copy for Valentines. We were at his parents’ home and decided to watch it with his family. I had to get up halfway through the end and go to the bathroom to gain some semblance of control over myself.
Last night my friends Katie, Laura, and I snuggled under blankets on my couch. It had been a long, cold day. That morning Katie and I had run 5Ks and then cheered Laura on in a half marathon. Then Katie had worked while Laura and I went Christmas shopping. By the time 8 p.m. rolled around all of us just wanted to be warm and go to sleep soon.
So, as we flipped through the channels and came across The Notebook, we decided watching a chick flick seemed like the perfect way to spend the evening. I’d forgotten about my little problem.
Until the last twenty minutes. Oh. my. word. It was like nothing the world has ever seen. I was sobbing, while simultaneously laughing because Katie couldn’t stop laughing at me. Laura had already gone to bed, but was yelling from her room for Katie to describe what was happening. I was hiccuping, breaking a sweat, and pretty much just bawling my eyes out. Finally, it was over. (And by that I mean my crying. The movie was over ten minutes before that ended. )
By the time I went to bed I had a headache, my eyes were insanely puffy, and I’d vowed that even if someone held a gun to my head, I was never watching that movie again. It was worse than reading the last forty pages of Marley & Me. Seriously. Pure torture. Anyone want a used copy of The Notebook?
So I have this ex-boyfriend who is totally crazy. I know everyone says they have a crazy ex, but seriously, tell me any story about yours and I’ll one up you times like 40 million. That’s a fact.
We don’t actually speak anymore (see aforementioned issues with insanity), however, he likes to call every so often and act as if we do. It’s an awesome maneuver really. Just act like you’re friends with someone in the hope they respond in kind. I plan to use it when I finally meet John Mayer. But less with the “friends” bit and more with “spouses.” I think it should go over really well.
So last night this ex left me the following voice mail:
“Hi Sarah! Just calling to catch up! It’s been awhile. Can’t believe how long since we spoke! Hope you’re doing well. Just give me a call back whenever you get a minute.”
I returned his call and left this voice mail:
“Hi! Always great to hear from you as a reminder that evil still exists in the world! Do you think maybe it’s been so long because WE’RE NOT FRIENDS? Anyway, hope you’re miserable and alone and really fat. Can you wait until 2092 to call me back? That’s kind of the next time it will be convenient for us to talk.”
Ok. That’s a lie. I didn’t leave that voice mail. In a totally uncharacteristic move, I acted like a mature adult and simply deleted his message. Maybe next time. We’ll see how long this maturity spell lasts.
Today I met with a Jewish matchmaker for my upcoming dating article. (Quick note: I’m not Jewish.) It doesn’t bode well that someone desperate to date in Charlotte has resorted to using non applicable matching services. Soon I’ll be going to AA meetings to break my Diet Coke addiction.
I learned two things from my pseudo matchmaker (she can’t actually match me with anyone apparently as I’m not Jewish): 1) Men almost always request that their match be “slender.” 2) Being in a relationship requires being dependent on another person.
I thought about these things as I munched through my Chick-fil-A lunch combo following our meeting. Slender doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me (See aforementioned Chick-Fil-A.) And being dependent on another person sounds like a recipe for disaster (See Elin Woods.). And I like my pasta-eating, solo-home-owning, self-supporting, working-woman life just fine.
So, I thought, as I enjoyed my fries, maybe I’m meant to be single. It occurs to me however, that I read on one of these dating sites that “paying bills” typically falls to the male in a relationship. That gave me pause. This week I went without heat for three days in freezing temperatures because I’d forgotten to pay my gas bill.
I thought about those cold mornings. Could that have been avoided if there was a Mr. Sarah? I slowly put down the chicken. Maybe my new Jewish matchmaker was on to something. Maybe I should eat lettuce and thereby find someone to keep up with the bills. I might never have to take a shower in 30 degree weather again.
Then it occurred to me that life is short, there are only so many chicken sandwiches to be eaten, and if the heat goes off again, I’m going to need the extra insulation they give.
I don’t like my neighbors. Not the ones next door to my left who gave me cookies when I moved in and then mysteriously vacated their house a month ago, moved to NYC, and haven’t had their yard mowed since. And not the ones next door to my right who I actually saw sitting on their front steps in a bathrobe smoking a cigarette at noon on my lunch break today. (Seriously. Are you in some kind of competition to live up to white trash stereotypes?)
The ones I don’t like live across the street. Their house is adorable. It looks like something out of a movie where Reese Witherspoon and some dark, handsome actor would have two small children who would play on swings in the backyard. And at night, when their lights are on and their blinds are up I can see that it’s equally precious inside.
It’s a couple who live there. He drives a jeep with William & Mary and UNC Law stickers on it. She drives a Volvo. They look like they’re my age. They’re attractive and preppy and dammit, I hate even admitting this, but their lawn looks a little better than mine.
So, what don’t I like, you might say? Well, I started not liking them when I saw the UNC Law sticker, but then I thought “No Sarah. Some attorneys are nice people. Also, some people who went to UNC are nice people… At least, you’ve heard rumors that’s true. You could be friends at least until basketball season.”
My dislike continued when I noticed him doing yard work in khakis and a button down shirt. Ok, seriously? There’s preppy and then there’s just ridiculous. Remove the Brooks Brothers when you’re mowing that perfect lawn of yours.
The nail in the coffin though is the simple fact that they ignore me. When we’re outside at the same time I pretty much stare at them, waiting for them to look back so I can wave. They NEVER look back. I am NOT invisible people. I am willing to look past your school, your profession, and your fancy pants yard, and you can’t even LOOK at me?!
I told my family about my issues with them over the holiday. They told me to quit staring at them and looking through their windows because that’s creepy. Point taken. They also told me it sounded like I was jealous of their lawn. That may be true. They also told me they thought Mr. Brooks Brothers might be dressing that way just to show me up in the lawn department. (I can always depend on my family to encourage my irrational anger.) I think this weekend when I see him out there I’m going to throw on a formal gown and grab my weed wacker.
Or maybe just give up, stay in my bathrobe, and head next door with some cigarettes. We’ll see.
Do you really want to be the new “war president”? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do — destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they’ve always heard is true — that all politicians are alike. I simply can’t believe you’re about to do what they say you are going to do.
- An open letter to President Obama from Michael Moore. The rest is here. It’s interesting.