Pet peeves

I see the glass half-full. I can genuinely say that I do not hate a single soul, and I actually enjoy the song “Sunshine Day” by the Brady Bunch.

But although I’m a positive person, I definitely have a few peeves. I may not explode, but the following five make me cringe:

1.) Overeager salesmen. I know you’re on commission, but I will not spend $75 to get my eyebrows threaded when I can pluck them myself with a $2 tweezer.

2.) Terrible grammar. You lose a game, your pants are loose. You may eat when you’re eight, but you do not eat when you’re ate. I don’t except elementary students to have impeccable grammar, but once you’ve graduated college, you better know your their, there and they’re.

3.) Calling Country music ‘Country Western.’ Not all country singers say ya’ll, spend all their time at rodeos, wear mullets, and keep a shotgun under their pillow.

4.) Odd spellings of common names. It’s cute when kids are creative with spelling, but not so much when it comes to names. What’s so wrong with “Jessica” that it has to be “Jessequah” or “Jessikah?”

5.) When people don’t clear the microwave timer. Ok, I am fully aware that this is an extremely odd annoyance. It’s so weird that I don’t even have a way to explain it. But for some reason, seeing the 0:02 from your leftover tacos rather than the time drives me crazy.


Reunited and it feels so_________.

Reunions. Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t dodge them.

You may forgo your five-year high school reunion and vow to make graduation your final goodbye, but, let’s face it, it’s impossible to get rid yourself of all reunions. You’ll run into the boy you sat behind in math class at the mall (and no, coat racks are not an adequate invisibility clock). You’ll run into a former friend at the grocery store. You’ll stand behind a former flame at the bank.

And then, you’ll go to a local bar, where you run into well, everyone you remember…and those that you entirely forgot.

I may play hide-and-go-seek behind the produce to prevent an awkward convo with a former acquaintance, but, overall, I like random run-ins. Which is why I’m very excited for Black Wednesday, the reunion of all reunions. For non-Chicagoans, Black Wednesday is a “holiday” that takes place the day before Thanksgiving and was created by Chicagoans. Basically, everyone comes home from college and goes to bars. It bring the importance of deodorant to a whole new level.

There is some awkwardness involved, for sure. You’ll ask someone how school’s going, and they’ll tell you they dropped out two years ago and currently work at Wal-Mart. You’ll congratulate someone on their engagement and they’ll tell you all about their cheating (now) ex. You’ll hardly recognize someone because they’ve enjoyed college a bit too much. You may draw a blank on someone’s name or, even worse, call them the wrong one.

But what’s the worst thing that could happen? You have a few minutes of awkwardness, and then some great gossip. It’s an event where you may need to dodge, but definitely not ditch.

Scaring the Sitter

Scary movies are not kind to babysitters: They’re either the ones that go missing or the murderers. Plus, they lack any common sense—a mysterious noise makes them become a part-time detectives (with either no weapon whatsoever, or an extremely useless one, like their cell phone or frayed telephone cord, in hand) and then they, surprise, surprise, get axed.

The stereotypical scary movie babysitter always makes me laugh, because I’ve always thought it’s such a ridiculous stretch. Surely no one can be that dense. Today, I proved myself wrong.

I walked up to watch Harry at 8:30, as usual. I waited a few minutes, but still no answer. It was a little chilly, so I decided to open the door and go inside (Casey, Harry’s mom, had told me to do this before—sometimes she’ll be changing Harry upstairs when I arrive). Their German Shepard, Nicki, nearly plowed me over. She’s always excited when I come over, but you’d have thought I was a huge T-Bone today. I called out to see if anyone was home, but still no answer. And here’s where I become the banal babysitter…

The house is dark. There is half-eaten food on the table. Do I leave? Nooo. I decide to investigate the upstairs. Solo, sans weapon. I look in every room, including the bathrooms.

I’m no scary movie buff, but I know the formulaic plot of one: As I’m moving down the staircase, someone (likely in a ridiculous mask, or at least donned in black) is going to grab me. Luckily, I make it out of the house safe. But do I speed out of my spot so fast that I burn rubber? Nope. I wait in my car for 30 minutes. It takes 10 before I even think about locking the door. I call Casey. Her phone is turned off. I leave a slightly (okay, probably seriously) frantic message.

Luckily, this movie-in-the-making did not live up to its potential: Everything was fine. The Websters went to a last minute funeral in Kansas City, and she forgot to call (she is extremely organized, so this is very unlike her). She apologizes over and over.

Still, the experience makes me wonder, how did I fall for every scary movie stunt in the book? I guess there’s one redeeming quality: I didn’t decide to pull a Drew and take a break—and burn—some Jiffy Pop.

Wanna be a balla

I spent ALOT of my life with an orange-and-black ball. I first started playing basketball in 3rd grade. My first career choice was a professional basketball player. Throughout my life, I played on 13 different teams. I spent hours on end traveling to tournaments for school or AAU, and even spent two nights a week over the summer in mandatory Summer League ball.

But I loved it. I would dribble around my block in the freezing cold winter, shoot baskets under the streetlights, and even taught my dog how to play defense (seriously). For me, sinking that game winning shot—or really, any shot at all—was one of the best feelings in the world.

Yet, until today, I hadn’t picked up a basketball in years. Sure, I could blame it on Track rules—No partaking in intramurals during season—but, really, if I could break rules regarding, ahem, drinking before 21, I’m pretty sure the fear of punishment for a few free throws wasn’t the deciding factor.

But lately, I’ve been dreaming about basketball—almost nightly, in fact. Maybe it has to do with not being part of a team since the time I was 8, but I’ve lately my subconscious has been telling me to get back to shooting.

So today I did. Solo. I’ll have to admit, I was a little worried: Was I going to be able to sink a single shot? I was definitely a little rusty, but I surprised myself. I still hit 14 free throws in a row, and threes weren’t out of my range. I ended up shooting for over an hour, and I came back with an enormous endorphin rush.

I’m not willing to stop running, but who said you had to be monogomous when it comes to sports? As they say, you never forget your first love. And, in my case, perhaps my first love will be my rebound.

Check yes or no.


It’s a very simple word. Two letters. One syllable. Then why is it so difficult to say? And why is saying its longer counterpart so simple?

I’ve never been good at saying ‘No.’ The only time I say the word, in fact, is if I am ask to directly respond “Yes” or “No,” and even then I can usually find some drawn out way to circle around the latter.

But “No” is gracing my vocabulary even less these days. I’m booking my calendar like crazy—and a large portion of this “booking” does not actually include books. I’m studying, and studying hard at that. But I firmly believe recess is just as crucial requirement.

I want to see it all, do it all, and, yes, spend it all, regardless of whether my nagging work and homework, tired body, or meager checkbook strongly suggest otherwise. I’m willing to add a cup of coffee, sacrifice an hour of sleep, and go through a bit of procrastination panic to load my checklist with “Yeses.”

But, ultimately, the “Yeses” are what I’m going to remember. What fun is it saying “No” to everything? I’d rather regret doing something at the last minute, then not doing something that I want to do at all.

And now onto the research paper that I just procrastinated longer by posting…:)


Boys Will Be Boys

You tend to forget what 8th grade boys are like, particularly when you never were one yourself. Their hormones are raging and their filter, well, isn’t. They may be shy about asking a girl to slow dance, but they certainly aren’t timid about talking up the teacher.

During my practicum today, students worked on their hero character sketches with COWs (Computers-on-Wheels…the perfect Iowa acronym). However, there weren’t enough COWs for the entire class, so I was put in charge of taking students to the library to work. For the most part, they worked pretty diligently. Until Core 4 came in: (AKA “The Class of Blunt Boys”).

I was alone in the library with the class, and since I’m not a “real” teacher yet, the boys are a bit more outspoken. Here’s a sample of their candid comments:

“Ms. Looney, who is your favorite?”—Psh, I can handle that. A simple “I like you all, I don’t have a favorite” (clearly a lie, but I believe any teacher who claims to not having a few pets is lying).

After asking a few more of my stats—namely, my age—the Q&A session turned personal. It began with this  direct question from Sean (yes, the same sly name swapper in the previous post):

“Ms. Looney, who is cuter, me or Sam?”—Sorry, I’m no Mary Kay Letourneau. No way am I answering this question.

However, I forgot that 8th graders have endurance. Ignoring them merely adds interest. They continue this dialogue both “to themselves” (aka, as loud and public as possible) and by asking me similar questions, and then Sam ends the conversation:

“You know, I’m going to be Mr. Looney someday.”

Awkwardness to the extreme. The plus side? He has a hidden feminist side, and would be willing to take my last name. 8th graders may be blunt, but apparently they’re all for women’s lib.


What’s my name again?

Thanks to 3 years of working as a Day Camp Counselor for 70+ 6-8 year-olds, I’m generally good with names. After all, how can you reprimand someone if you’re unsure whether they are “Roderick” or “Ronte?”

Of course, there are plenty of times when you draw a complete blank. Which, fortunately for them, allows them to avoid punishment (Note to parents: If you never want your kid to be reprimanded, make their name as many syllables as possible. Even better, simply make it up).

Luckily, you can slide by without panic. Unfortunately, I was not so fortunate today.

I was talking to one student about the book he was reading, when his classmate/friend sitting next to him asked me, ever so bluntly, “Do you know this kid’s name?”

Uh oh.

I was slightly sure his name was “Nick,” but I definitely needed a lifeline to double check. But did I pause? Nope, I answered “Nick”—so confidently you’d have thought I was answering my own name.


Other Student: “No! His name is Nate.”

Me: “Er…uh…I knew it started with an N.”

“Nick” (Laughing)

OS: “You don’t know his name!”

Me: “Er…uh…I’m so sorry!”

I was both embarassed and perplexed—I could have sworn his name was Nick. I consulted the handy seating chart in the front of the room and low-and-behold: His name actually was Nick! Apparently Nick and Sean (whose name I did not know pre-seating chart examination—thank goodness the question didn’t come from Nick), had decided to pull a fast one on me. They created fake names to test my recall ability.

So I passed this test (barely): My confidence collapsed as soon as Sean declared me wrong. But what’s a teacher to do if they draw a blank during this pesky pop quiz? So far, my only “technique” is the very one teachers speak out against: Peek at your peer’s paper.