My friend Katie called me tonight as I was situating my new sprinkler in my front yard. Some days I feel like I am one trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond away from permanently establishing myself as my own worst nightmare. Today was one of those days.
Me:I've finished setting up the sprinkler in the front yard.
Katie:Well Sarah, that's great. Big night.
Me:I know. My grass is going to be so green.
Katie:Uh huh. You're so cool.
Me:Oh no. It just occurred to me. Is watering your yard with a sprinkler like some kind of old person in suburbia kind of thing to do? Am I passing some kind of benchmark and I didn't even realize it? I am, aren't I?
Katie:No Sarah. Don't worry. Until you're standing out there with your hands on your hips watching it go around in circles, you don't have a problem.
Me (dropping my hand off my hip):I think I may have a problem.
That’s really the only way to describe it. I’ve watched the show since I planned my nights around it coming on. I own all ten seasons on DVD. I can quote most episodes word for word. I constantly have to restrain myself from comparing every single real life situation to something that happened once on Friends. My parents refer to Joey, Monica, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, and Chandler as my friends because I talk about them so much. If I ever get another dog, it will be named Chandler after the character. So yeah, an obsession.
However, tonight, as Laura and I sipped wine and finished our dessert under trees twinkling with white lights in a small Notting Hill bistro, my mind was very, very far from thoughts of Central Perk and the crew of six. We were talking about London and life and enjoying the warm evening air.
Then, it vaguely registered with me that the group of women at the table next to us were quoting Friends. I didn’t pay much attention. Then I realized they were only quoting Joey. And then I heard one say, “I just couldn’t help it, I had to have a photo.”
And then I realized that JOEY FREAKING TRIBBIANNI was sitting on a bench ten feet away from me, waiting to go into the restaurant.
And I LOST it.
Like, I’m not a crazy celebrity person. Half the time I don’t even know who celebrities are. My extent of reading tabloids is the seconds when I stand in the grocery line. If someone like Tom Cruise or George Clooney had been sitting there, I would have been mildly excited.
But I immediately lost the ability to breathe. Laura had to tell me to chill. Repeatedly.
I gathered myself. Then lost it again. Then composed myself. And lost it again. It took awhile.
Eventually, I was calm and watched as Matt LeBlanc shook hands, smiled, and was genuinely friendly to the people who came up to him on the near-empty restaurant patio. I hate the idea of approaching celebrities and so Laura and I remained sitting, but my ability to carry on a conversation was totally gone. Eventually, Laura got up to go to the bathroom while I stayed sitting.
Joey slowly moved from his place across the patio and began heading for the door to inside the restaurant—a door conveniently located next to our table. I looked up. He looked at me. And then he smiled (and then raised his eyebrows in true Joey fashion) and said hey and I smiled and squeaked out hi.
And now, there will forever be the time in my life before I saw a Friend and the time after. It’s a dividing moment. Like before and after meeting the love of your life or having your first child or tasting a rose macaroon. Everything is different now*.
*Laura would like it duly noted that everything is different now because of her. She chose the restaurant. And she requested the table on the patio. I am forever indebted.
My dad:So apparently everyone is watching all of this soccer stuff and it's what all men everywhere are talking about. I need you to refresh my memory on some rules and help me out here. I need to show I am a man with, you know, plenty of testosterone and stuff.
Me:Ok. So, first tip to showing you're a man is never asking your DAUGHTER the rules to a sports game.
My dad:Fine. I'm not asking. I'm telling you to tell me the rules. Manly enough?
After my junior year of high school, I spent my summer studying in France. This statement sounds kind of idyllic when I throw it out like that, but in actuality, the summer had its highs and lows.
I’d always had a tendency to get homesick so I’m not really sure why I thought spending the summer on the other side of the Atlantic would work well for me. But I went. I was the youngest in the program by at least three years and I quickly discovered just how sheltered the first 17 years of my life had been.
The first morning I almost choked on my orange juice when every other girl at the table pulled out her birth control to take with breakfast. That night, as I watched my dorm mates snort coke in the hall bathroom, I began having some serious second thoughts about the trip.
The thing is though, my homesickness didn’t stem from my previously drug free life. I was homesick because every time I leave home—even if for only a few days—I become absolutely certain something terrible is going to happen to someone I care about while I’m gone. And in that sense, very little has changed.
I’m going to London in a few days and dropping Rosie with my parents before I go. I have now gone over in my head every possible disaster that could occur. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Attacking snakes. (Ahem, Herman) And now Bigfoot. (See entry below.) You name it, I’ve thought of it. My level of fear is such that you would think I was dropping Rosie off in the Amazon for the next week.
After calling home crying every day for the first week of my French summer, my dad finally got me on the phone without my mom on the line. He essentially told me to get my shit together, or else he was sending my mom to France for the rest of the summer because he couldn’t deal with how much she was worrying about me.
I got off the phone, stopped crying, ate a bunch of bread and cheese and Nutella, and pulled myself together. And that was the end of me being homesick for pretty much forever.
Unfortunately, I’ve never gotten past the “impending disaster” line of thinking though. There’s probably a very good chance that a hurricane will not hit my parents house (and therefore Rosie), which is approximately 400 miles inland, at any point over the next week. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t be keeping one eye on the weather forecast just to be sure. Completely irrational? Sure. But, chances are I won’t call home sobbing about it, so I guess I’ve made some progress in the last ten years.
I grew up in the county where this happened. In fact, from my childhood bedroom window I can see the mountains where Bigfoot was allegedly spotted.
I’d like to say I find it surprising that someone in Cleveland County is claiming to have seen the legendary animal. Or even that it’s surprising that this isn’t the first time and that there were actually a rash of sightings in the late 70’s that led to a “Bigfoot Hunt” for “Knobby” (the Bigfoot’s name, obviously).
But I’m not. Because I’m pretty sure I grew up in one of the weirdest places on earth. In fact, Bigfoot should feel welcome there. I feel confident saying he won’t be the strangest being in the area.
This morning, as I was still curled up in bed, my mom called, saying she was on her way to Charlotte and asking if I wanted to grab lunch. The benefit of having parents this close to where I live are things like spontaneous lunches on sunny Sunday afternoons. Unfortunately, the downfall is that sometimes those Sunday afternoons follow late Saturday nights that make the idea of doing things like holding your head up seem somewhat impossible.
I agreed to lunch though, threw on a sundress, and headed to meet her for salad and about fourteen iced teas. As we were sitting at lunch, I pulled out the medication I’d been given for my poison ivy to take one. I complained that the pills were making me feel pretty sick and I was tired of taking them. “You haven’t been drinking while you’ve been taking them, right?” she said.
Uh oh. My eyes widened.
“Um. Maybe.” I said, mentally trying to calculate how much I’d had to drink over the course of two concerts and a soccer game viewing this weekend.
“Sarah! You can’t drink with that!”
I pulled out my phone and frantically Googled the side effects of drinking on the medication. Internal bleeding. Inflamed stomach ulcers. Possible death.
I immediately broke into a sweat, certain my death was impending. I had a small breakdown at the table. My mom tried to console me, “Well, I’m sure you’re ok. Maybe you should wait a few more hours to take your next pill. When did you have your last drink?”
I thought about it. “Around 2 a.m.”
I didn’t mention that I’d used that drink to take two of the pills. I figured I’d let her believe just a little bit longer that her daughter isn’t a complete idiot.
Ok. So maybe the jig is up on the idiot thing.
“Yes,” I said. “I didn’t know! There were no directions except to take them!”
My mom shook her head, clearly wondering where she’d gone wrong in life that she ended up with a daughter like me. I guess eventually she just decided at this rate I probably was going to accidentally kill myself soon. So she got me to write her a check for some money I’d borrowed from her and my dad to ensure that was taken care of pre-death, paid for my lunch, and then told me she hoped I didn’t die.
Now, 47 Google searches later, I’m just working on writing my will while I wait for the signs of internal bleeding to show up.
“I had to go through my cell phone and erase texts from last night just in case the police ever read it.”—Filing this paranoid early Saturday morning quote under “things that indicate last night got out of hand.”
“I always tell the girls, never take it seriously. If you never take it seriously, you’ll always have fun. If you always have fun, you’ll always have friends. And if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.”—
Penny Lane, Almost Famous
I’m working on an article about a band this weekend. William Miller is my inspiration.
So, I have poison ivy. I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but if I was going to blame someone it would probably be a certain four-inch-tall dog who goes romping through woods and then jumps on top of me.
When most people get poison ivy, they simply throw some anti-itch lotion on there, take a benedryl, and call it a day. Not so for me. I don’t do poison ivy reactions half assed. Nope, when I get it, I tend to end up bearing an uncanny resemblance to Sloth from The Goonies.
Once, a few years ago, it snuck up on me when I was on vacation with my family. I had to wear sunglasses and hats in public and be led through restaurants because I could barely see from my swollen shut eyes. Waiters didn’t give me menus because they assumed I was blind. Children pointed and ran away. Seriously. These things happened.
I called my dermatologist this afternoon and pleaded for drugs. I’ll start them tonight. Unfortunately, between now and when the medication begins to work its blessed magic, I have to go speak on stage to 100+ people. Scratching behind my knees in the middle of my talk? Not awkward at all.
I have an apology to make and it feels appropriate that I should do it in this forum as yesterday I gloated about my Chick-fil-A glory in this space.
On Thanksgiving Day of 2009, I was in the car with my parents and brother, driving to Atlanta. My brother casually asked if I’d tried the Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Chick-fil-A. I told him not to be an idiot, there was no such thing. I may have made some remarks about me knowing CFA’s menu like the back of my hand and him having no idea what he was talking about.
In a lifelong effort to prove me wrong, he insisted that we go to a Chick-fil-A on our drive. As it was Thanksgiving, the restaurant was closed, but he wanted to show us the sandwich on the drive thru menu. When we pulled up, it wasn’t there. Just as I’d said it wouldn’t be. Obviously, I promptly jumped out of the car and began doing a triumphant dance in the parking lot.
My brother wasn’t deterred though. He insisted the CFA had a Spicy Chicken Sandwich—that he’d eaten it in Baltimore, where he was living. I mocked him. I told him not to be ridiculous. He threatened to punch me.
Fast forward to this morning when I received an email titled “Scooped!” It began like this:
"Um, do you not remember Thanksgiving? How you were like, no there’s no spicy chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A, and I was like, yeah there is, I freaking had one, and you were like, no you didn’t that’s impossible, and I was like, no it’s not impossible because I ate it and I have eaten sandwiches before and this one wasn’t any different except it was really good, and you were like you’re wrong, and I was like no I’m not, and then I got really excited about being right and shoving your stupid face in it, and then Chick-fil-A was closed."
He goes on to explain that apparently CFA did market testing on the sandwich in the Maryland area before releasing it to the rest of the country. Who knew? So, he had actually eaten the sandwich. But, he didn’t stop there:
"Anyway, I think you should recognize that you could have been way ahead of the curve, saying that Chick-fil-A is testing a spicy chicken sandwich and it would be great if it were released nationally, but instead you are "reporting" (I just did the annoying air quotation thing with my pinkies because I’m typing, and apparently don’t use those fingers for anything), on something after the fact. You know really good reporters report on news before it happens. Take for instance Glenn Beck, he has been reporting on the apocalypse for years now, everyone (save for the crazies who will luckily die out soon enough because of the inbreeding fad) thinks he’s annoying and dangerous, but really Glenn is ahead of the game."
So, I think I’ve been properly chastised. My apologies world for not alerting you to this sandwich sooner. Also, sorry for not being more like Glenn Beck.
I’m trying to coordinate how my friend Laura and I will be meeting up with my brother the first night we’re in London. It will be a Friday and I will have arrived there that morning. My brother’s flight gets into Gatwick at 10:45 that night from Vienna. Meaning if he gets into the city before midnight, we’ll be lucky.
So I emailed and asked: “You think you’ll want to go out that night or be ready to crash?”
His response: “I am a man Sarah. I go out after getting off of planes. It’s in my DNA, it will be in my son’s DNA, it’s probably even in Isaac’s [his golden retriever] DNA, only he’s never been able to exercise his duty as a man-dog to go out after getting off of a plane.”
Because the only thing that could possibly make a Diddy and TI song better is making a remix that features Nicki Minaj.
(Side note: I’m aware that I love rap music way too much for a blond girl who wears J Crew and is a member of the Junior Charity League. But, you know what, when another musical genre offers lyrics as good as Jay-Z’s or beats as good as Lil Wayne’s or songs as entertaining as TI’s, I’ll be happy to listen to that.)
So, apparently some colleges are making it easier for students to have pets in their dorms. My initial reaction to this was “Wow. I went to college 10 years too early. I want to do college over again with a dachshund.” Then, I thought about it realistically and realized that having a pet in college would have in no way been beneficial to me or the pet.
In fact, I had an illegal pet in my college dorm room and I’d say the experience was a bit of a struggle for both myself and that pet.
His name was Winston. He was an albino Siberian dwarf hamster with one red eye. I begged my senior year roommate, Jenn, to allow me to have him. Jenn, who had decorated our room on our sorority halls to look like something straight out of Pottery Barn’s fall catalogue had some hesitations. She eventually agreed to Winston (full name: Sir Winston Churchhamster) when I said I’d keep his cage tucked away behind the custom-covered love seat next to the window.
I loved Winston. He went with me many places a twenty-something-year-old girl probably shouldn’t take a hamster. Meetings, study groups, sorority events, parties. Winston was there, usually in my pocket or quite literally up my sleeve. (Even as I write this it becomes more and more apparent how creepy the entire thing sounds. And how remarkable it is that I had any friends at all.)
Everyone knew Winston though. People would stop by to play with him. He rolled in a ball up and down the hall into friends’ rooms. Other friends would pet sit for hours just for fun. On sunny afternoons Winston would play in the grass on the quad and on rainy evenings, he’d sit happily chewing pizza crusts in a Papa John’s box while we watched movies. Over Christmas break that year I went to Vietnam for two and half weeks and left him in my dubious brother’s care. I’m certain they bonded.
Unfortunately, as the weather grew colder Winston’s cage location became a bit of an issue. His home was located on top of the heater. And sometimes the heat became so high that Winston would hang from the rails at the top of his cage to cool off. Those weren’t Winston’s favorite times.
His other least favorite times were bath time. No one likes dorm bathrooms. Winston hated them more than anyone.
I don’t know why Winston died, but I do know it was a very, very, very sad day. He only lived six months with Jenn and me before he died one cold day in February. The outpouring of sympathy was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Obituaries were written. Dirges were played. There was a funeral.
So, while owning a pet in college had its perks, I’m not sure it’s really for the best for anyone involved. On the other hand, there’s a small chance some college students are more mature than I was and might not slowly roast their pets and/or bring them along on social outings. A small, but distinct chance.
I have an opinion that I fear may be largely unpopular, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.
In the last several weeks I’ve watched/listened/read as the oil spill in the Gulf has shifted from a terrible tragedy that killed 11 workers to an environmental disaster detrimental to hundreds of thousands of people and animals and then finally to an evil occurrence whose blame lies directly at the feet of BP.
Those who needed someone to blame have picked big oil. That was an easy choice.
And so, it’s BP who is smothering pelicans. It’s BP’s CEO who so selfishly wants his life back. And it’s BRITISH Petroleum that is damaging AMERICAN shores (nice job Obama speechwriter, by the way, on that).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m horrified by the lack of preparation for this kind of accident. I’m angry and saddened on behalf of those animals and people whose lives have been ruined—and even ended—because of this tragedy. I’m furious by the use of the toxic dispersant. And I’m shocked by the fact that torrents of oil continue to spill into fragile marshlands and clean seawater.
I want someone to blame.
But it’s not going to be BP. At least, not entirely. I blame Congress for not instilling more regulations for monitoring the oil industry. I blame my government for not creating a rail system that would make its citizens less dependent on oil. I blame my society for creating lifestyles for which we need to use oil every single day. I blame automakers for creating cars that need incredible amounts of oil to run. I blame myself for owning one of those cars. And driving it every day. And using oil. And more oil. And more oil. And more oil. Oil that is at this moment is making it so a pelican can’t fly and a dolphin can’t breathe and a fisherman can’t pay his bills.
I’m tired of sitting through dinner conversations where everyone blames BP, then gets up, hops in their individual SUVs and drives home. We did this. We are to blame. Hopefully, one day soon the torrents of oil will stop gushing from BP’s well. But, unless something dramatic happens, it won’t stop gushing from gas pumps into cars across this country… including mine.
And so that’s who I blame every time I see the heart wrenching images from the once beautiful waters of the Gulf.
I can’t think of anything better to do right now than to sit in my backyard and look at the Mississippi and listen to Bach cello suites and enjoy a dish of ice cream with fresh raspberries.
As the Gulf turns dark and the polar ice cap melts, I intend to listen to Bach more and listen to the news less. It’s good to know that, in the midst of vast indifference and mediocrity and narcissism, mankind did manage to produce the St. Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor.
This sounds mildly more painful than the whole “icing” thing. Warm Smirnoff chugging or vodka in your eyes? Hard call.
This actually reminds me of something. And so, a story:
When I was a senior in college I went on a cruise with what felt like half of my graduating class. I roomed in teeny room with three friends who happened to be three of the most insane people I knew. Unfortunately, I have some serious issues with motion sickness and about 45 seconds after I got on the boat, I realized there was going to be a problem.
My seasickness resulted in me OD’ing on dramamine, which in turn resulted in me being asleep for 95% of the cruise. My roommates were not. In fact, on a cruise ship with hundreds of other people, they quickly became infamous.
One day, the ship docked in Cozumel. I got off with about twenty friends to head to a beach for the day where we’d paid some all-inclusive price for drinks and beach side entertainment. We caught a cab there and I promptly fell asleep for six hours, relieved to be on land that wasn’t moving.
When I woke up, everyone was leaving and telling me that it was my responsibility to make sure my three roommates and another friend with us, who was another one of my best friends, made it back to the ship alive and before it left.
I looked down the beach. My friend, who we’ll call M, was chatting with a guy who looked like he’d probably put something in her drink except that she really didn’t look like she needed it. Then I looked further down the beach.
And this is where I get to the thing that reminds me of these vodka eye shots. There, down the beach were my three roommates talking to three guys who had somehow convinced them to do a shot that was a unique twist on a tequila shot in that involved them snorting salt, squeezing lime in their eyes, and then taking a shot of tequila.
Do you realize how drunk you have to be to think that squeezing lime in your eye is a good idea? Really, really, really drunk. And also, kind of not smart.
I grabbed my friend M by the arm, said thanks but no thanks to her would be roofie donor, and headed to my roommates. I apologized for breaking up the obvious fun of snorting salt and said we had to go back to the cruise ship.
Not surprisingly, I was ignored.
It took me almost two hours to pry them away from the lime squeezing fun and make it back to the ship. Several hours later, my roommate turned to me over a very sloppy dinner, and asked “Why are my eyes burning?” And then another one asked, “Why does it feel like I have sand in my nose?”
Well, not so much a pet as a snake she has named who lives on her front porch. The snake’s name is Herman and apparently, according to my mom, Herman is approximately seven feet long. Also, according to my mom, he’s a black snake who enjoys stretching out across the warm stone of the front steps in late afternoons and curling up under the hanging plants for a bath while my mom is watering them.
In other words, my mother has officially lost it.
Yesterday, I asked if she was concerned that Herman (all 7 feet of him) might try to eat Abby (her dog who looks distinctly like a cross between a guinea pig and a prairie dog).
"Herman wouldn’t do that," she said adamantly.
"Because you know Herman?" I asked.
"Of course I know Herman. I gave him a bath this morning."
We went on, arguing about whether or not Herman was a threat. Personally, my first instinct upon seeing any kind of snake is to murder it. I kind of scare myself with how much I want to kill snakes. I always thought my mom was with me on this, but apparently not.
"You know, if I’m at your house and I see Herman, I’m going to kill him," I said.
"Oh no you’re not," she said. "Herman keeps the mice away."
"Is that what this is about? Your irrational fear of mice?" I asked.
Silence. And then: “Mice carry disease! Herman is keeping them away!”