when I was a little girl (say 10, 11 years old) I was kinda totallyoutrageouslyobsessed with The Babysitter’s Club books.

obsessed.

picture 247 babysitter’s club books (if you squint you can see the purple, yellow and light green binders). now picture a poster with the four original members, a Kristy doll and 5 vhs tapes of Babysitter’s club episodes.

ya. that’s MY room.

one of my favorite characters was Mary Anne.

she was everything I wasn’t — she had pretty BROWN hair. she was quiet. she was nice. she wore pretty clothes. and most importantly she was a good listener.

i wanted to be a good listener SO bad.

In fifth grade i would pretend to listen when my friend Sharon had problems. and i would fake interest when my friend Kim would tell me about a bad day. but the whole time I’d be thinking “When can i talk about what’s REALLY important? ME!”

Mary Anne, on the other hand, never had to fake things like that. She was nothing like me. She was sympathetic.

because I have a strange affection for imaginary characters in books that has carried over into my adult life in the form of celebrity worship because Mary Anne inspired me, I’ve spent most of my post-tween life consciously trying to become more sympathetic. Over the past decade I’ve learned that more sh*tty things happen to me, the more I can sympathize with people who’ve gone through the same problems.

i.e. if you have a scratch on your eye ball, I’ll so be there for you. Or if your commute sucks, feel free to call me and complain.

the problem I run into is: if it hasn’t happened to me, i don’t feel bad for you.

lately this has been readily apparent because my new-orleans based family has come to stay in Illinois in an effort to avoid gustav.

i have NO IDEA how to sympathize with these people.

i keep hearing myself say stupid things like ‘im really excited you guys had to evacuate, because now we can go the mall.’ and ‘wow. rain? huh.’ and even worse. ‘well i move a lot, so I could totally teach you guys how to pack. oh? you don’t think you’ll have anything TO pack. i see.’

I want to be able to feel their pain. i really do.

I can see on their faces that they are scared about, you know, losing their house. and their sense of place. and their cats they left behind.

but all i can think is, ‘i really hope their house gets destroyed so they’ll come live in Illinois and I can hang out with them all the time.’

im pretty sure this means i suck as a person.

at any rate, im still going to try to feel bad for them. my plan is to view EVERY SINGLE photo gallery on CNN of hurricane damage until i feel bad for them. then im going to go straight over to MSNBC and do the same thing.

wish me luck.

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