We had a deal, California: You get the good weather, we get the solid ground!

It’s a miracle that I’m alive right now.

Yes, I’m talking about the earthquake that shook the entire east coast yesterday.

And yes, California people, I can hear you laughing at me right now.  All the way from California.  But shut up. A 5.8 (or 5.9, since in true Washington fashion, the experts keep flip-flopping on the actual answer) earthquake is really intense for us. But it’s normally a fair trade. You get the good weather, we get the solid ground. No one gets both. It just doesn’t work that way. You made your choice and we made ours.

But the planet broke that sacred trust yesterday, and took my earthquake virginity.

Yes, I know that it’s shocking, but I was an earthquake virgin.

I mean, there had been other earthquakes, but they didn’t count because I didn’t actually feel them. (Which is the definition of date-rape logic, but we’ll ignore that for now.)

Like the one last summer that led to this picture of the damage being circulated.

Yeah. Saw that one last summer. So those of you who think you’re being clever by sending it around now, you’re not. The National Cathedral was actually damaged. Don’t feel so clever now, do you?

But I didn’t actually feel the one last summer. Which is how I know it doesn’t count, because I slept through it. And I’m the world’s lightest sleeper. I suffer from the Butterfly Effect. If a butterfly flaps its wings anywhere in the world, I’ll wake up.

(Okay, I’m not sure if that’s actually what the Butterfly Effect is because I categorically refuse to see Ashton Kutcher movies. I won’t even look up terms from his movies on Wikipedia to find out if I’m defining them right. Dude may be pretty, but he can’t act.)

Yesterday, however, was a legitimate earthquake. Maybe not by those lofty California standards, but I come from the DC area, where nothing earth-shattering ever happens—because Congress can’t work together well enough to make anything earth-shattering happen! (Sorry. I know that was terrible. But it had to be said. And because it had to be said, I’m going to need you to laugh now. It’s a requirement of reading my blog. Don’t ask questions. Just do it.)

And like the true earthquake novice that I was, I had no idea what was going on. There I was, sitting in a meeting in my new school, when everything starts vibrating.

Which I, quite logically, assumed was the rapture and that the Mayans had only been off by a year.

No, not really. But I did stand there like an idiot in a room on the third floor, while everyone else ran out into doorways. And I’m ashamed to say that the first thing that I thought of when I felt the earth quaking wasn’t “earthquake” but, “hey, this feels like a moon bounce! Cool!”

Then, when everyone ran out of the room yelling, “Earthquake!” I laughed and sauntered out into the hall after them, then went back to my room to get my purse before leaving the building.  Because we don’t get earthquakes. We live in DC! We have a deal with nature! Ten billion percent humidity at all times and no earthquakes.

Damn you, Mother Nature.

But Sara, you’re fine. And unlike all other disasters, both natural and man-made, it didn’t even damage your car!

(Sadly, my car does tend to be the first casualty of any and all disasters. And I JUST got the most recent damage—from when construction workers dropped something through a hole in the ceiling of my parking garage and put a hole in my convertible top—fixed, so Murphy’s Law does indicate that any disturbance in the universe is bound to damage my car.)

So why am I so pissed at Mother Nature?

Because I believe in evolution. And during natural disasters, I become incontrovertible proof that natural selection does not exist. And I REALLY do not want to give the creationists any solid evidence that they can use to dispute evolution.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice. Because I apparently have the worst survival instincts in the world. And if natural selection existed, I would be dead by now. But as I’m not writing this from beyond the grave, evolutionary theory has a problem. Sorry Darwin.

Need more proof other than my moonbounce analogy?

Well there was that catastrophe that happened almost exactly ten years ago.

No, I do NOT mean September 11. In fact, I want to punch everyone who compared yesterday to 9/11. It was an earthquake people, not a terrorist attack. The only things the two have in common are that it was hard to get a cell phone call through and the Pentagon had to be evacuated in both situations. And in case you missed the memo, we got Osama months ago. (Although I do have a theory that people secretly loved Osama Bin Laden. Think about it, he’s caught on Obama’s watch and Obama’s approval rating goes to hell. Talk about letting the terrorists win! And by terrorists, in this case, I mean Glenn Beck and Fox News.)

I’m talking about the tornado that hit College Park in 2001.

I’m quite familiar with tornados and have been since a very young age, thanks to a slightly unhealthy obsession with The Wizard of Oz. And I do know that you’re supposed to get away from all windows during a tornado. Under no circumstances should you stand there with your face pressed up against the glass.

Like I did.

Then there was the tsunami incident.

Well, okay, I guess it wasn’t TECHNICALLY a tsunami. But the one time I got in the ocean this summer, I wound up facedown in the sand and minus one bathing suit. Disaster caused by nature = natural disaster in my book.

I mean, I’m sure it was a good day for the guys on the beach.  But a bandeau-bikini top in the ocean was not my finest hour.

But I do have a newfound sympathy for my California cousins and my brother, because that feeling of having no control over your environment is pretty scary.

Actually, I take that back. I feel no sympathy for you. You have the good weather. If you want to make fun of us for freaking out about a 5.8 earthquake, I want to see how you react to a blizzard in LA.

Which, sadly, would still probably be better than how DC reacts in a blizzard.

Fine, California. You win this round.

But we never elected Arnold Schwarzenegger to any position of power.

So I think we’re about even.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… unless it doesn’t get me out of school!

Yesterday, as I was going about my job (you know, nothing too exciting, just educating the youth of America), I experienced one of the worst things that can happen to a teacher.

It began to snow.

Now, I personally get more excited about snow than any student could ever understand. Because when the kids get a snow day, they just get a day off from doing their homework. When I get a snow day, I get a PAID day off from doing my homework. Sorry kids, I win this one.

But when the snow starts during the school day, it turns into every teacher’s worst nightmare. Because the second even a single flake falls from the sky, all hints of civilization vanish from the classroom and it descends into complete and utter anarchy. The kind of anarchy that makes Lord of the Flies look like a British etiquette class run by Audrey Hepburn.

It’s pretty scary. Once it starts snowing, I tend to hide under my desk bomb-drill style and pray that I survive until they let us leave for the day. And if the kids find me, I’ve learned that playing dead works pretty well. Just like when you’re attacked by a bear. Lay perfectly still and you might survive.

I also try to avoid ever finding myself in this situation by keeping the blinds of my classroom completely closed when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. Why 40 degrees? Because the DC area’s weather is so screwed up that apparently the freezing point ranges from 4 to 25 degrees and 36 to 40 degrees. Between 26 and 35 degrees, water is still a liquid. It’s one of those paradoxes of the universe that no one can explain. I mean, there was an eight year period when I thought I understood—clearly God was mad at the Bush administration. But I don’t know how to explain the freakish DC area weather now.

So even if there’s no hint of snow in the weather forecast, I’ve learned that it’s better not to take chances. I plan ahead and book as much time in the school computer labs as I can during the winter months because most of them in my school are windowless.

But that doesn’t help much. Kids can sense snow the way dogs sense fear. The way animals sense earthquakes and tsunamis. The way I sense shoe sales. It’s instinctual and unavoidable.

 Although cell phones don’t help. Because as soon as one kid knows it’s snowing, the news spreads faster than the rumor of a celebrity death on Twitter.

Last week for example, it flurried for about an hour. Now, I’m personally of the belief that flurries are the cruelest of all weather phenomenons. I’d take a tornado or typhoon over flurries any day. Because flurries get your hopes up for a snow day, but don’t deliver. And they make everyone and their mother forget how to drive even though the roads aren’t even damp, let alone treacherous.

And when the first of the microscopic snowflakes fell last week, my classroom turned into a scene that would make a European soccer riot look sane. Literally. A kid whipped his shirt off and ran around my classroom at full speed yelling “IT’S SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWING! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” while waving his shirt over his head.

Granted, that particular situation was my fault. I hadn’t closed the blinds that day.

But once a kid is screaming and waving his shirt like a flag, there’s no real way to regain control of the class that day. Like honestly, what do you do then? Send the kid out, shirtless and screaming? Then the rest of the school will know how ridiculous my class got! Although, to be fair, I’m pretty sure my class wasn’t the worst of the snow-mania. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I heard a rumor that some kids literally climbed out of a classroom window to roll in the snow. At least mine stayed in my room that day.

Yesterday was worse, however. Because the weather had predicted that it would snow all day. So every three seconds, a student would run to the window to see if it had started. And short of covering the windows in electrified barbed wire or bringing a cattle prod to school (which I’ve been told is frowned upon… they don’t let teachers have ANY fun), there just isn’t any way to keep this from happening.

It’s actually not that bad when we get out of school early though. I’m not going to lie, I don’t mind getting paid to go home. And even though the kids are more amped up than if they’d chugged six gallons of 5 Hour Energy (which I’m 100 percent positive shouldn’t be legal. I swear I had heart palpitations after drinking half of one. To misquote Shakespeare, an amphetamine by any other name is still an amphetamine), if they know they’re going home, they’re amped up and HAPPY.

But when the message comes down from the powers that be that we’re staying for a full day of school, that excess energy turns to horror movie-esque rage. And it’s not directed at the people who actually make the decision about whether schools stay open or not. Oh no. It’s directed at any authority figure that the kids can find.

Luckily, I’ve developed a solution to keep from being sacrificed to the snow gods when this rage strikes. If I complain before they do and louder than they do about the travesty of staying for the full day, they think I’m one of them.

Which, let’s be honest, I am. At least when it comes to getting out of school early.

The only thing worse than the Metro? Driving in DC

I am one of those rare, strange people who enjoys driving in New York City.

There’s an easy explanation for this: I learned to drive in the DC area.

No one is ever going to dispute that New York City drivers are crazy. They are. But they’re the GOOD kind of crazy. They’ll scream at you and give you the finger and zigzag around you in traffic. But they can do all that without ACTUALLY endangering your life. That’s why I say they’re good drivers. They have to be good to drive in NYC without dying. I can identify with that kind of driving. I respect that kind of driving.

But DC drivers are the worst of the worst. Marylanders will argue with you that Virginia drivers are the worst, and Virginians will say Maryland drivers are the worst. But it doesn’t matter where you hail from. If you’re driving in DC, I probably hate you.

 I’m a native Washingtonian, and I love my home city. But as far as traffic goes, it is the worst city in the world. Part of the problem is the city itself. I know it was laid out deliberately to be confusing to anyone who attacked, but honestly, no one who attacks is going to do it by land anymore. It’s as out of date as a walkman.

I still don’t understand why there’s no J Street in DC. Like there’s all kinds of theories about it. But none of them make any sense. Why would you use letters for streets and then leave one out? I mean, I get it if they did it to screw with peoples’ heads. I would be impressed if that was the case. But it’s not. It’s random.

Then there are the traffic circles. I have no problem with traffic circles in general. I understand how they work (if not the need for them), and don’t have a problem navigating them. But 99.999 percent of the population lacks the ability to handle them. Putting the average person in a traffic circle is like putting metal in the microwave; it causes a serious problem and it stinks. And something (in this case, my head) might explode as a result.

Traffic circles DO, however, have one perk. Say someone you hate is crossing through the circle. If you don’t manage to hit them when you try the first time, you can drive around the traffic circle a couple of times to wait for them, and get them when they cross the other side of the circle.*

(*Note: I am not responsible for any legal repercussions if you do this. I’m only telling you for entertainment purposes. Or in case Dan Snyder is crossing Dupont Circle. No Redskins fan jury will
find you guilty. Go for it. You may even get a medal.)

 I have seen more stupidity from people driving in DC, however, than in any other area of my life. And I’m a teacher. There literally used to be a sign on Constitution Avenue that said “Red means stop.” Really? Are there REALLY people driving who don’t know that? Don’t you think there’s a bigger problem if you need a sign like that?

The DC government knows that its drivers suck. That’s why they have a law against talking on a cellphone without some kind of hands-free device while driving.

 In theory, this law is great and could save lives. In theory.

But this law has a side effect (one that even I have been guilty of). You’re driving in DC and your phone rings. You’re not sure where you’re going (and your navigation system is useless in DC because sometimes there are two streets with the same name, but one is in NW and one is in SW and there’s no distinguishing between the two on your nav system—been there, done that, felt like an idiot), and you need to talk to the person calling you so that you can find out where to go.

But you can’t find your headset.


This leads to the frantic scramble to find it before the phone stops ringing. During this panicked digging through your purse/center console/backseat/glove compartment, you wind up paying less attention to the road than you would be if you were texting while driving.

In desperation, you look around for somewhere to pull over so that you can call your friend back.

HAHAHAHA that doesn’t exist in DC! What are you? A tourist?

Then, you finally decide that you HAVE to break the law so that you don’t spend the rest of your life driving around the city aimlessly looking for streets that don’t exist. So you answer your phone, but you have to keep your head low, to avoid getting a ticket if a cop sees you. And at this point, if you’re still alive and haven’t crashed your car, you’re probably going to get pulled over anyway for weaving all over the place like you were drunk.

Again, in theory, it’s a great law.

But it doesn’t help with the idiots who think they’re still on the Metro and are reading the newspaper while driving! (I’ve seen it! I mean, who still reads a real paper newspaper these days, let alone WHILE DRIVING? And they’re worried about people talking on their phones?)

Then again, maybe the bad driving and the horrible street layout is part of a plan to make DC more green. I know that I’m more likely to take the Metro than drive there, because I fear for my life every time I cross the border from Maryland into DC. But then again, if that was true, wouldn’t Metro service be better to encourage people to take it?

Like the mystery of J street, I guess there are just some questions without answers.

I bleed burgundy and gold… even though we suck

I am a Redskins fan.

Go ahead. Laugh. I can take it.

I know. The Lions beat us last year. The Lions.

Are you done laughing and mocking me yet?

I’ll wait.

Okay, to get back to what I was saying, I am a Redskins fan.

I can’t help it, and I don’t want to. I’ve been a ‘Skins fan since before I was born, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll continue to be one after I die. (Unless some other team takes a page from the Book of Mormon and start converting the dead, in which case I want it stated on my tombstone that I was born and died a Redskins fan.)

My dad has been a season-ticket holder since 1963. And I’m pretty sure that the number of games he’s missed since then is lower than his shoe size. The soundtrack of my childhood was filled with my father screaming loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear him, either in warrior-like pride or a murderous rage, depending on how our team was doing. It was never necessary to ask what had happened in the games that were played past my bedtime; my father’s howling was a more descriptive commentary than anything that any former players could ever provide. (And it was also the source of most of the colorful language that I now use while stuck in traffic. Thanks dad!)

When I was in high school, my father sat me down for a serious talk. I immediately assumed that I was in deep trouble. He invited me to sit on the white living room sofa, which my brother and I were ONLY ever allowed to sit on when we were about to be murdered over something we had done, or when we were being told that someone had died. To this day, I’m scared to sit on those sofas.

That time though, I wasn’t in trouble and no one was dead. My dad said the following to me:

“You can marry someone who’s not Jewish. I won’t be thrilled, but I will understand. You can marry a Republican. I’ll have nothing to say to him, but I will understand. But if you marry a Cowboys fan, you’re out of the family, and you’re dead to us. We’ll sit shivah for you, and it’s over.”

And because I was on the white sofa, I knew that he meant business.

He later proved his point when I brought home a boyfriend who was a Republican Baptist. He loved the Redskins though, so my dad had no problem with him.

As a lifelong ‘Skins fan, there are several groups of people whom I hate more than anything else in the world. Literally. Like on the level that I hate Osama Bin Laden and George W. Bush.

All other Redskins fans already know what three of these things are: The Cowboys, the Giants, and the Eagles. And even more than the teams themselves, their fans.

I’m not going to go too far into the rivalry there (partially because I don’t have much that I CAN say until we have a better season than last season), because I have discovered a group of people that I hate if not MORE than the Cowboys, then at least as much.

The bandwagon fans.

Is there anything worse on this planet (other than Dan Snyder) than people who only like a team when they’re winning? This is the ultimate hypocrisy. Think about it, do you stop loving your child because he wets the bed? Do you stop loving your puppy because she ate your favorite shoe? If I can say no to that last one (and unfortunately, I know from experience that I can), then no REAL fan can stop loving his or her team because they lost a few games. Even if one of those games was to the freaking Lions.

As a Marylander though, I have a particular group of bandwagon fans who make me the most angry: Ravens fans.

If you live in Baltimore, are old enough to have been upset when the Colts left for Indiana, or are young enough to have never been a Redskins fan, then I have no problem with you. You are entitled to like the Ravens. Enjoy your purple jerseys.

If, however, you were a Redskins fan until the Ravens won the Superbowl and then switched your allegiance, you will be forever banned from watching any sporting event when I rule the world. (I also plan to get rid of Delaware entirely when I rule the world. But I’ll explain that plan another time.)

There’s only one group of Ravens fans though who are worse than the former-Redskins fans: the girls who wear Ravens gear because they like the purple jerseys. I hate to break it to you ladies, but that doesn’t impress your boyfriend even though you’re wearing a football jersey. It makes you look like an idiot. Man up, pick a team, and stick with them till the bitter end.

That’s what I’ve done. I will love the Redskins even if they never have another winning season.

But when they DO get better someday (Come on God, DC needs this!), my fellow REAL fans and I are going to be far happier about it than any of the bandwagon fans could ever be.

And if we win against the Cowboys, even better.