The NSA wants my cell phone data? Meh. Most of it is on Facebook anyway!

So this whole “the government is going all Big Brother on us” thing is everywhere right now, and I’ve come to an important conclusion about it all.

I don’t really care.

Like I know that, as an American, I should care that my Fourth Amendment rights are potentially being violated. But honestly, I had to Google what the Fourth Amendment even was. And considering that we’re talking about an amendment written so far before the existence of cell phones that it was fifteen whole amendments before women were allowed to vote, I’m not sure that it’s actually being violated here.

In talking to a lot of my friends, I found many of them (except for the extreme righties, who are still protesting the amendment that gave my kind and people of other races the right to vote and who claim creationism is the only thing that should be taught in schools) don’t care either.


But Sara, you freaked out over all of Bush’s Homeland Security stuff! You’re such a hypocrite! You’re only saying this stuff is okay because you support Obama.

Well, you’re right and you’re wrong.

I DO support Obama. I’m the freaking poster child for supporting Obama. I own a sparkly Obama tank top.

And wore said tank top on stage with Bruce Springsteen. Because that’s how I roll.

But there are several key factors that I feel aren’t being addressed here.

For starters, I’ll admit, when the idea of Homeland Security stuff was first introduced, it sounded scary. It felt like the Harold and Kumar 2 version, where the dumbest possible people were going to look for the worst in everyone and we’d all end up with Big Bob in Guantanamo if we even said the word “bomb” within thirty miles of an airport.

Want to know how much my daily life has changed since then?

Not a whole lot. Is it annoying that I have to check my luggage to go anywhere because I’m incapable of packing my toiletries in small enough containers to carry on? Yes. But I don’t travel that often. And if we’re being entirely honest, that is the full extent to which the NSA has overall interfered with the quality of my life.

So with that said, if the government has already been monitoring my phone records without my knowledge and it hasn’t been a problem, I’m fine with them continuing to do so. If they start sending the SWAT team in every time I text my best friend that I’m going to kill my mother (which I would NEVER say, mom, honest! Please don’t hurt me!) then okay, I feel my Fourth Amendment rights are being violated.

But, at least as far as we’re being told, they’re only monitoring who people are contacting, not the content of phone calls or text messages. So the government now knows that my dad calls me every three minutes for approximately nine seconds, that my best friends and I text a lot, and that my mother calls me every single afternoon at the very second that she leaves work/as soon as I start working out. Oooooooh. Seriously important stuff here people!

The truth is though that for law-abiding citizens, cell phone records aren’t exactly super incriminating. Sure, you don’t want your significant other getting ahold of them if you’re cheating. But the government doesn’t care if you cheat. The media does, if you’re famous, but the government practically condones cheating.Hell, so many people in the government itself cheat that they’d probably cover for you, if that’s what you’re worried about!

It’s also worth noting that anyone who thinks they have any privacy, yet uses a smart phone/has a Facebook or other social media account/uses a cell phone at all for that matter, is an idiot. Even if you DON’T walk around in public having excessively loud cell phone conversations about extremely personal matters (which most of us do), it’s super easy for people to hack cell phones. Not me, because A) I don’t have those skills and B) I don’t care, but people who DO care can hear your conversations if they want to regardless of who they are/if they work for the government. And if you’re updating your Facebook with what you ate for dinner every night, you’re broadcasting your every move to the world anyway. Why do you really care if the government knows WHO you’re talking to when you’re putting all that info out there on your own?

And to be totally honest again, even if the government actually WANTS to listen to my conversations and read my text messages, it would be a HUGE waste of their time, but I don’t care that much.

Want to know what they would learn?

Here’s the conversation that my mother and I have every day.

(Phone rings) Me (without even looking at the caller ID): Hi mom.

My mom: (Depressed Eyore voice) Hi Sara.

Me: What’s up?

My mom: Ugh, I’m just leaving work. (Pause) Are you at the gym?

Me: Yup.

My mom: I should go to the gym. But I had such a long day. Blah blah work blah blah feel fat blah blah work blah blah your father blah blah work blah blah blah you’re a horrible person and fail at life blah blah.

Me: I actually had something interesting happen today. I—

My mom: I’m pulling into the garage, gotta go, bye!

Me: Sigh.

EVERY SINGLE DAY. I pity the government agent whose job it is to listen to that EVERY DAY. Really. I do. But if they want to, cool. Good for them.

And if they want to read my text messages, they’ll see a lot of conversations with Ary about the zombie apocalypse (don’t ask), a lot of emoji combinations that are code for “I’m going to jump off a building” and “I super lesbian love you” between me and Darya, messages telling the boyfriend that I’m heading to the gym and asking what he wants for dinner, and ten billion pictures of Rosie. And a bunch of pictures of Rosie pooping, which I send to the boyfriend. Yes, I’m a weirdo. But he laughs every time I send those, so it’s really okay. And he even makes up little songs about her pooping. We really are the perfect couple.

But I’m getting off track. If the government wants to see all that, then yes, they too can see pictures of my dog defecating. In fact, I’m happy to send those pictures to them if they want (I even have a few politicians topping my list of people whom I’d like to send pictures of Rosie pooping to! John Boehner, be ready!) Now if they start coming after me to see if I scoop the poop based on those pictures, I’ll start yelling about my Fourth Amendment rights, but until then, I’m cool.

Yes, I would be much more freaked if we were still in the Bush years. NOT because I’m a diehard Democrat (see pictures above) and being a hypocrite, but because I trust the Obama administration to not misinterpret what they see in my messages. I’m half convinced that the Bush administration went into Iraq over a text acronym that someone intended to mean, “Where’s My Dinner?” or something along those lines. With Obama, at least I’m not worried that an army of NSA SWAT guerrillas will come swinging in through my windows screaming about “Weapons of Terrorist Functions” if I text my best friend and ask her WTF she’s talking about when she starts saying where we should hide when the zombies come for us.

Although, maybe the government SHOULD be reading our conversations. I’d rather be safe than sorry when the zombies DO rise up. Which, according to Ary, is happening any day now.

Which actually concerns me more than Verizon’s cooperation with the government.

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My family has class… in very small doses. And will do ANYTHING for dessert!

As I’ve learned over the past couple of weekends, there IS such a thing as too much family time.

 

Okay, I already knew that, and I would usually claim too much family time as anything over five minutes every three months.

But last weekend, we had my mom’s birthday (a dinner) and a Memorial Day barbeque that we tried to combine with the boyfriend’s family’s barbeque (fail—two separate barbeques, one Sunday, one Monday).

Then this past weekend was my grandfather’s birthday, which had to be split into two separate celebrations because of my uncle’s ultra-orthodox (cough believes-Obama-is-a-Muslim-and-everything-else-Fox-News-says cough) wife and children. So there was a (not-kosher) dinner Saturday night, followed by a (super kosher to the point where I wasn’t allowed to bring anything even though my grandmother doesn’t keep a kosher house either and made stuff for it) brunch Sunday morning.

All were mostly legitimate enterprises, and I understand the inherent value in celebrating the extended life of my mother and grandfather, even if I disagree with the fact that it necessitates two separate celebrations.

I can even almost handle how much of my free time it destroyed.

That wasn’t the problem. The problem is that THAT much family time results in the boyfriend having WAY too much overexposure to my family in WAY too short of a time period.

Mom’s birthday was lovely. It was just me, him, and my parents at a nice restaurant. Yes, there was some food sharing, but all preceded by very polite offering of food or asking to try a bite.

The barbeque the next night was a little less civilized, with my grandparents and Rosie now in attendance. My grandmother is notorious about feeding Rosie from the table. I always warn her not to and she always SWEARS she would NEVER feed Rosie ANYTHING without asking my permission first.

Then she gives her anything and everything.

Like the time I left Rosie at Grandma’s house for an hour to run some errands. Grandma had complained about not seeing her “only great-grandchild” frequently enough (we’ll ignore the Jewish guilt inherent in that complaint. If it were up to her, I’d have married a random Jewish guy years ago and have already popped out a small army of babies named after her parents and siblings).

When I came to get Rosie, Grandma informed me that Rosie had been starving. “How do you know?” I asked, eying her untouched food bowl that I had filled before I left her with my grandparents.

“Well, because we were eating steaks and she kept crying for some, so I gave her one.”

“You mean you gave her a PIECE of steak?”

“No,” my grandma said. “I gave her a whole steak. And she ate the whole thing. You clearly don’t feed her enough.”

Not to mention the time I left the table at a family dinner during dessert and walked back a minute later to see my grandmother holding Rosie up so that she could stick her entire face into a container of Cool Whip.

So that barbeque meant that Rosie was in a chicken coma for the rest of the weekend because I’m pretty sure my grandmother fed her AT LEAST double her body weight in chicken.

But okay, the boyfriend wasn’t scared off yet. He loves my grandparents and even played tennis with my dad the following morning. And we had the barbeque with his aunt the next night to balance everything out.

Then came Grandpa’s birthday. It was the boyfriend’s first time meeting a few of the people there, including the uncle who, after shaking my boyfriend’s hand, immediately offered us an old crib he has in his attic. A little premature (and no, I do NOT want a deathtrap crib from the 1960s, thank you). But he handled that with grace and we all sat down to dinner.


 Remember the food fight scene in Hook?

That looked civilized compared to Grandpa’s birthday dinner.

And sadly, it was one of the nicest dinners our family has ever had out. It was a much larger gathering, with aunts, uncles, and cousins of varying ages.

Which consisted of everyone reaching across the table to eat off of everyone else’s plate, my uncle taking the lobster claws off my grandfather’s plate and pinching people with them, then my grandfather still eating the meat out of them, half a crabcake disappearing off of my plate and onto someone else’s while I wasn’t looking, and my mother basically whoring herself out for a bite of Boston cream pie.

I’ve gone to dinner with the boyfriend’s family. The men wore jackets. There were no cell phones at the table. People used the appropriate forks for the appropriate courses. No one wore a lobster bib. There were civilized silences (which I’ll admit, scared the crap out of me. But apparently they like to enjoy their meals in dignity. Who knew that existed?). And no one—NO ONE ate from anyone else’s plate.

At one point, during Saturday night’s dinner, it got so bad that I turned to the boyfriend and asked if he still loved me.

To which he replied, “Yes. But now I see where you get it from.” Which made me feel like a total barbarian. Yes, he’s accused me of “Cookie Monster eating” before—not because I shove food in my mouth at an abnormal speed, but because I lack the coordination to always ensure that food stays on my fork.


(Which, to be fair, we can blame my parents for. Anyone who remembers eating at my house when we were kids remembers the sporks. They got them in the 70s, when apparently anything went, which also applied to multi-functional silverware.)

But I wasn’t like the rest of the family, I argued! Although my case would have been stronger had I not tried to make that argument with a mouth full of half-chewed french fries pilfered off a neighboring plate and a fistful of fried clams stolen from a family friend at the other end of the table in my hand.

I may have also kissed the family friend’s husband on the cheek to taste the Boston cream pie. But that’s neither here nor there.

Like mother like daughter I suppose.