Musings of an Ethnomusicologist on Unrelated Topics

My Open Letter to Tina Fey

Dear Ms. Tina Fey,

I have put off the writing of this letter due to things like “obligations,” “school,” “work,” and “friends,” but lucky for you, I am home sick today. I finished watching all the episodes of 30 Rock, then I started a Twitter account, looked at puppies on Craigslist, then perused Pintrest after hanging some Buddhist prayer flags on my wall. This, as I hope you now understand, is a last resort for entertainment and also an effective procrastination tool, since I have a paper due later today.

In any case: It’s your lucky day, Ms. Fey. You get a fan letter from a graduate student. I know, we’re the worst. Get over it.

The reason I wish to write to you is this: You saved my life.

No. That’s not quite accurate. You saved me from thinking about the preciousness of life in a moment where the barrier between this world and the hereafter seemed precariously thin.

The story:

I was in Kazakhstan. It is the 9th largest country in the world (little known fact)! It was also part of the USSR! Which collapsed! So, if you wish to travel from one part of the massive expanse of post-Soviet land to another, and you don’t wish to ride the rails of a train system comprised of the leftovers of the mid-century European industrial revolution, then you must hire a driver.

(I promise this all pertains to you, so please keep reading)

I hired said driver, and we started out for the rolling-hilled and horse-strewn Kazakh countryside on a quaint country road. Though I live in chic, cosmopolitan Seattle now, I’m from Montana, so I’m quite familiar with the archetypal Quaint Country Road (QCR). A few notable characteristics:

– They run for miles in the middle of nothing nowhere – ribbons of highway in expanses of void. This means nobody with a bucket and some tar happens by to patch up the gaping holes which accumulate as the result of unpredictable weather and cow crossings;

– Road shoulders are for pussies. Trust me. They are for women. Because if women designed the roads, they would heed facts: Road shoulders make good sense, prevent disasters in case of emergency, and allow for one to pull over and pee on the side of the road without being rear-ended. QCRs were NOT designed by women, and thus do not have sensible shoulders;

– You never meet another car. Except when you’re going around a blind corner while taking up both lanes for speed preservation. You never hear those stories anecdotally, though,because both parties died on impact and were never recovered. 

Ah, yes. Somehow these timeless lessons of the QCR were never recounted to my Kazakh driver. Maybe it was a cross-cultural thing.

No, never mind. Because certain dumbasses in Montana do things like pick up live rattlesnakes by the head. Montana “Men” also die on impact in the above road-related scenarios, though the Lessons of the QCR (which stands for Quaint Country Road, in case you forgot) were doubtless repeated like the story of Noah and the Arc to these Majestic Specimens of Good Sense since infancy. Because, like the God-ordained death of humankind in a natural catastrophe and the subsequent incest-contingent repopulation of Earth, the rules of death prevention behind the wheel in rural areas make for good, child-appropriate bedtime story content.

Back to Kazakhstan: My driver was going 120 km per hour on the Kazakh QCR. I pulled out my pocket calculator (read: iPhone that doesn’t have service, but I insist upon carrying with me anyway) and… number of km X 2/3 =


Oh yes, I know I’m a square. But, at this point, we’re swerving blind corners, bouncing through pot holes that bottom out the car, and there are no seatbelts, which would have been as useful as (in the words of Kenneth Parcell) “a mom’s college degree.” The point is that, while I sat in the back seat, I kept imagining a few things, most of which involved my mother and the anguish my death would cause her (she is the reason I have such high self esteem, or such high narcissism, which in American culture are just concentric circles).

When, suddenly, I realize what is necessary.

What’s necessary when I have insomnia and can’t sleep?

When I’ve just been reading Foucault and experience existential stress about the prison industrial complex?

When I’m worried about the indigenous Mexican girl I know who’s 16, got raped, had a baby by that same guy and can’t find a flexible job?


Nothing can strip away the stress of existential angst or the unwelcome fears and frustrations of waking life like the sweet, hilarious roar of Fey, Baldwin, Morgan and Krakowski (incidentally, also my lawyers. Kidding. But maybe after the show is over, that can be your next career move as a team).

But, alas, I’m cheap and I pay my $7.99/month to Netflix and Hulu for streaming archives of shows because I don’t want to buy the DVDs because they’re too expensive, and I found a good cheeseburger I like in the neighborhood which I’d rather put my money toward. But, now that I think of it, buying the DVD set would have been considerably cheaper in the long term. Nerd.

Suddenly, it occurs to me: a Great Savior abides in the archives of my iPhone Kindle Ap! 30 Rock’s Great Elizabeth Stamatina “Tina” Fey has composed a masterpiece! A tale for the ages! A pseudo-biographical opus of prose! Which includes 30 Rock scripts!

Okay, so I read Bossypants. Twice. In the car when I was sure death was imminent. And, hey, it totally distracted me, and I even fell asleep. And I didn’t even puke! Or die!

Alas, today, I’m sitting in bed with a cold, writing a letter to you, Tina Fey(‘s intern who probably will read the first line and throw it away). Take that, Death!

Full disclosure: I read Bossypants last summer, too, but under less dire circumstances. Which makes for three times, total. I’m trying to get my 10,000 hours in. Because I hear that thorough knowledge of the book Bossypants is about as likely an asset for gainful employment as a PhD in Ethnomusicology.

But, in all seriousness: Tina, you rock and if you’re ever in Seattle, I’ll take you out for that cheeseburger I mentioned above. That said, you should really pay, because I live under the poverty line (did I say I’m a grad student?).

Keep on keeping on. And Happy Holidays: Halloween edition. In closing, here is a fun link you should click on. It’s The 45 Best Pictures of Scared Bros at a Haunted House:

Good sweatshirt to you,

Maren Haynes

MA, Ethnomusicology (the most useful field, I swear. Hire me, and I’ll prove it to you!)

P.S. Please send me an autographed picture.

P.P.S. I’m in a band called & Yet and we’re looking to appear on the Colbert Report, if you can pull some strings. We have 227 likes on our Facebook page as of this afternoon. Stop asking about it!


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This entry was posted on October 21, 2012 by .


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