Are You, Are You Coming to the Tree

I know I’m about four years behind the cool kids and totally one of those lame bandwaggoners everyone’s always complaining about, but I have an announcement. I finally read Mockingjay, the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy. It made me cry my eyes out.

I didn’t cry about *SPOILER ALERT* that first really sad thing that happened near the beginning. Or *SPOILERS AGAIN* that other super, super sad thing in the middle. I didn’t even cry at the end when *SO MANY SPOILERS ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW* that thing-that-is-so-impossibly-sad-it-made-everyone’s-soul-break-in-half happened. (This is how spoilers work, right?)

No, my lower lip only started trembling every time the government committed some terrible travesty. So… I cried through the whole book. By the end of the thing, I was curled up on the floor with my knees pulled tight to my chest blubbering things like, “F-f-f-freeedommm! Certain un-un-unaaaaaalienable riiiiiiiights! Katnisssss and Buttercuh-uh-uh-uppppp!”

This was all coming at a weird time for me, because I can’t remember ever having been so frustrated with the actual, non-fictional government in my life. I wasn’t always this way. I registered to vote on my 18th birthday. I interned in Washington, D.C., I worked more than a thousand hours on a congressional campaign and I’ve almost peed my pants in excitement during presidential rallies and inaugurations. But over time, I’ve become angrier and angrier with the behavior I see in politics. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was born jaded, but I just finished working on a campaign that ended so badly and left me so bitter that it will be months before I can look at a candidate yard sign without throwing up a little. I’m frustrated, I’ve completely stopped trusting in the government, and I don’t know what to do about it. Mockingjay hit me right where it hurt the most.

After 20 minutes of lying in a puddle of my own tears, and drool, and shattered faith in all political systems, the pain had hardened into a little, cold stone of rage in my heart. I stopped crying abruptly, stood up and tied a bandana around my forehead, Rambo-style. Then I went out to the shed to find a shovel so I could start digging a bunker in the desert outside of town, because I’m not Stephanie the Soft, Pale Blogger anymore. Oh no. I’m Stephanie the Survivalist. The government is coming for us all, and I say:

Bring. It. On.

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Survivalists…

… live in bunkers. They go without plumbing or electricity, surrounded by 10,000 cans of Manwiches and animals they hunted.

… fall off the grid. They don’t use social media. They don’t have paper trails. They don’t have any attachments.

… own a lot of guns. Like, a lot of guns. Like, if there was a Swiss Army Knife but the knife part was a gun and all the other tools were also guns, that would only be one of the guns in a survivalists arsenal.

… have medical training. Forget the first aid kit! Survivalists are prepared for any disaster, from nuclear fallout to full-blown war.

… are conspiracy theorists. Only survivalists know they aren’t conspiracies. The government is definitely controlling the weather. Also the government is an imaginary front for the leaders of the robot uprising.

… are very fit. A high level of physical fitness is important because they know they’ll probably have to punch government agents, withstand torture and survive the onrushing apocalypse.

… trust no one. Not their friends. Not their families. Not even their cats. Especially not their cats.

… are so, so crazy. Crazy like a fox. A fox who has sustained head injuries and severe psychological trauma.

I’m charmingly mentally unstable myself. Why, just this morning I had a full-on panic attack because last night I dreamed Freddie Mercury came back from the dead to diagnose me with AIDS and criticize my upper lip.

WE CAN’T ALL HAVE MUSTACHES THAT MAKE GOD WEEP, FREDDIE.

WE CAN’T ALL HAVE MUSTACHES THAT MAKE GOD WEEP, FREDDIE.

I also have a hard time trusting anyone. Jordan, for example, welcomes strangers into his life with open arms. Even if they let him down, he works to maintain the relationship. On the other hand, if it was socially acceptable to growl at people upon meeting them, I would do it because I know the world is filled with lying liars just waiting to lie about something. I burn bridges so quickly that I often can’t even remember why I did it — I just know that there can never be a bridge there again, for the ground is cursed.

I’m almost a third of the way to being a full-fledged survivalist already. It’s a natural fit! Unfortunately, there have been a few obstacles.

Stephanie…

… can’t live in a bunker. I just finished repainting my kitchen, for goodness’ sake. Plus, I like plumbing and not having to kill my food. Can I be a survivalist who lives above-ground, in a normal house, with electricity and cookies?

… loves the grid. How would I know about potential government threats without Twitter? As far as paper trails go, I can start paying for everything in gold but I’m very attached to my library card. I’d need it for all my anti-government reading! The Handmaid’s Tale! 1984! The Giver!

… is nervous around guns. I do have a mean-looking baseball bat, though. And my keychain has a key on it specifically for stabbing people.

… gets a little woozy around blood. It’s not the blood that gets me so much as the red, wet, warmth — it’s the blood, ok? I don’t like blood.

… is a little skeptical of conspiracies. Obviously I know the government is not controlling the weather. It’s too busy experimenting on us with the mind-control drugs from chemtrails.

… loves rules. I often wonder if I’m the kind of person who would look at a law and go, “Say, this isn’t right. This is infringing on my rights as a human!” or if I’m the kind of person who would go, “Oh, wow! Yet another guideline for appropriate and civil behavior that I will follow to keep the peace like the nonconfrontational chicken I am!” I hope I’m the first kind, but I worry I’m the second.

… keeps skipping the gym. Actually, the survivalists I’ve met have not been particularly fit either. In fact, in my experience they’ve mostly been sexist old men with a gratuitous number of weapons and no friends.

Man, I don’t want to be that way. I don’t want to be a survivalist.

I just want to be a crazy lady who lives in a hole in the desert with a smoochy cat.

Mission accomplished.

Mission accomplished.

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Poor Poor Pitiful Me

If I could go back in time to any one moment, I would kill Hitler because that is the time travel rule. But if I could go back to any two moments, after I killed Hitler I would visit myself last Sunday morning, just as Past Me’s head was getting stuck in a sweatshirt.

I would step quickly and quietly up behind myself and press my ray gun into Past Me’s side.

A typical imaginary raygun

I’m a time traveler in this scenario. Obviously I have a ray gun.

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Adventure Time, C’mon Grab Your Friends

I need you to know that I am a really fun person. It’s important to remember that as you’re reading the next few paragraphs. I am a fun person who likes fun things, like amusement parks and bubbles and turning pictures of Vladimir Putin into unicorns. I get invited to parties. Hell, I’ve even thrown a party. Once. I AM A FUN LADY AND PEOPLE LIKE ME.

But I am also a teeny, tiny bit anal.

[Editorial Note: In the first draft, that sentence was "I have a little bit of an anal problem," which would have made this a very different blog post.]

I know what you’re thinking. You never saw it coming. A copy editor who categorizes things into lists in her spare time seems like such an easygoing, loosey-goosey gal! Well you’re wrong. In the words of “Harry Potter” heroine villain Dolores Umbridge, I will have order.

I’ve always been aware of some charming control freak tendencies, but every so often a moment of terrifying clarity sneaks up on me. I had one such moment today, when I saw this:

Yikes.

Yikes.

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Bangs Bangs, I Shot You Down

I generally don’t include physical descriptions of myself in blog posts.

This is because…

a) Writing should stand on its own. You can enjoy “For Whom the Bell Tolls” without knowing Hemingway had a beard, and “Mrs. Dalloway” without knowing Woolf wore her hair in a bun, and “The Great Gatsby” without knowing that Fitzgerald was a 10-foot merman with tuna breath. If that knowledge impacts your opinion the work, you’re doing something wrong. (It’s ok if it impacts your interpretation, though. I will admit that the Fitzgerald thing threw “Gatsby” into a whole new light for me.)

b) This is the internet. I can just upload a photo.

I bring it up now because before I begin, I need you to know something about me. I have bangs. These bangs:

I'm the one with bangs.

(I’m the one with bangs.)

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You’ve Got a Friend in Me

In the last month, I have received five Facebook friend requests from boys I knew in high school. “Knew” is a strong word in this case, because they have all been people that I knew of – we didn’t hang out in the same groups, we didn’t speak more than once or twice a semester and I can’t say I’ve given any of them much thought since graduating six years ago.

Maybe it’s been long enough that those facts have faded beneath an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for these guys. Maybe those four interactions we had stuck with them all this time and they felt like I would be a worthy addition to their Facebook feed. Maybe my shirts have been too low-cut in my profile pictures. Whatever the reason, they’re hitting the “send request” button and leaving me to stare at my computer screen in confusion.

I don’t know what to do because I can’t really justify not adding them, but I also know that if I’d wanted their virtual friendship, I would have sought it in 2008. I turned to the social media coordinator at my local university for help.

Yes, she seems like a woman I can trust.

Yes, she seems like a woman I can trust.

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