Too Cool for Costumes

Halloween in Junior High is not so happening.

Of my 109 students, there were only 6 that dressed up. 5 of those 6 were part of a pack of girls who wore sparkly shoes and suspenders and dressed as [very pink and accessorized] nerds. The other was a boy who, trying to be funny, wore his hair in a ponytail on top of his head and stuck on a post-it that said “Really Ugly Girl” on his shirt. Cute.

At first, I was shocked. The students show plenty of spirit during “Spirit Week,” so I figured that the day would be full of costume contests by class.  At the very least, I figured that I’d probably end up posting about the ridiculous amount of Justin Bieber “look-alikes.”

Then, I remembered how it is to be a 13-year old on Halloween. It’s full of perhaps more awkwardness than your first stages of puberty. It’s not cool to dress-up, you’re still scared of scary movies, but you still really, really love free candy. Unfortunately, many of your peers or potential candy givers aren’t quite cool with costuming.

I love Halloween, but there were a few years that I definitely experienced a Halloween hiatus. From 7th-9th grade, my “costume” consisted of Orange and Black clothes (probably from Abercrombie and Fitch). It was finally “ok” to revert back to costumes when I was a Sophomore. My friends and I dressed up as the Spice Girls [give a guess which girl I was].

We continued dressing up after that and, my Senior Year, we even went trick-or-treating. I was a can of 7-Up, compliments of my friend Amy’s endless array of creative costumes. We certainly got stares, but we didn’t care. It was free candy. Plus, we were dressed as Pizza, a can of Pop, and pigs. None of our neighbors had to worry about opening the door to a Nightmare on Elm Street.

Halloween seems to happen in stages. When you’re in elementary school, everyone dresses up. In Junior High, it’s on a hiatus. In High School, Halloween only happens in groups.  In college, finally, it comes to full circle and costuming is cool again.

Which makes me wonder: Do you think there is a dress-up deadline? Did you ever have a Halloween hiatus?


Where in the World is…Anywhere?

I am the proud owner of a map of the Amana Colonies from Casey’s General Store. How did I end up with such an odd artifact? I was lost.

I have probably uttered the words “I was lost” well over 1,000 times in my life. I leave myself an extra 15 minutes when going anywhere, regardless if the mystfying Mapquest tells me that it will take 5 minutes.

The odd thing? I try so hard to be good at directions. I don’t text or talk on the phone when I drive. I keep my eyes peeled for any landmarks or road signs that will potentially (read: certainly) help me out in the future. I quiz myself on Mapquest in hopes that I’ll remember the way (if only the directions detailed someone’s birthday).

Yet regardless, I end up in the same place: Making small talk to a gas station attendant, stuck in a place which only contains cows and cornfields, or, even worse, going the wrong direction on a one-way street. Here are three of my most directionally dense decisions:

1.) I once got lost in Evergreen Park, where I have lived my entire life until college. This town also spans only a few square miles [Note: I actually have no idea what a square mile means, but I know my town is very small and I feel directionally savvy using the term ‘square mile’]. I went to Pappy’s to eat, and ended up stuck in a cul-de-sac and had no idea how to get out. I made circles around Circle Park and debated frantically calling someone to come find me, which would have taken anyone from any area of Evergreen, less than 5 minutes to do so.

2.) I had a date in Downtown Des Moines, and ended up 45 minutes late. All the one-way streets completely threw me off, and, this time, I decided it was worth a call (perhaps because I no longer had to pay for a prepaid phone?) to my friend Kathy. [A sidenote: I had previously visited Downtown Des Moines at least 45 times, and, for any non-Iowan readers, Downtown Des Moines does not = Downtown Chicago]. My date was forgiving after a few drinks, and, somehow, someway, there was a second one.

3.) I had classes at Moraine Valley, which, like the other two instances, I had visited numerous times in the past. It is usually a 15 minute drive home. I somehow took a wrong turn and ended up going through plenty of sketchy areas, then a Forest Preserve, the highway, and, finally a private golf course in Lemont (which is nowhere near my house). This detour lasted approximately 1.5 hours.

Are you street savvy, or directionally dense?

Filterless Friends

I’ve always liked having a variety of friends. I love that my friends all have different personalities, and have often thought of how some of them are POLAR opposites. For example, some don’t feel right if their day doesn’t include a run. Others consider the only necessary “run” one that ends with something edible.

However, I’ve recently realized that there is one thing that all of my friends share: We are (nearly) all filterless.

Sure, there’s some things that we don’t share. However, that list is very (very, very) short. Bodily functions? Bring it on. Er, ah, personal problems? Never kept private. Strange situations? Shared within seconds.

The problem? We use many of the specifics of these (over)sharing sessions as blackmail. We know each other’s Cosmo-cringe worthy confessions, and use them to our full advantage. I have far too many of my friends secrets up my sleeve, and vice versa.

I don’t open up immediately upon meeting someone. I don’t want to scare strangers away the second I meet them by exposing my (many) awkward experiences. My best friends may have blackmail, but I don’t want bar buddies to have the same boost.

Yet sometimes I wonder: Is it just especially easy for myself and my friends to talk without filters? Are you born filterless? Should I start putting my filter on rather than revealing my never-ending awkwardness?

Concerts and Chaos

I love people watching. The perfect place for prying? Concerts.

I went to the Mike Posner concert last night (on FREE tickets that I WON from KissFM!).  I only brag about this because my usual “winnings” are only free samples…which I get far too excited about and take full advantage of.

Anyway, I went into the concert knowing a few Posner songs (the vast majority of which I learned the day of the concert…er, all but one) and knowing that going out on a Monday night when I wake up at 6AM was probably a poor choice. But I LOVE concerts and decided there was no way I wasn’t going to give it a go.

Although Posner was pretty good, the people watching was prime. Here’s a glimpse of a few goings-on for a few that had a mess of a Monday night:

1. A girl in the bathroom wearing a pink ruffle skirt that looked like it belonged at Limited Too when she was more the Torrid type, who also spent several minutes in the mirror to pull it up even more.

2. Another girl in the bathroom wearing a skirt that looked identical to my former Limited Too (training) tube bra.

3. Yet another girl in the bathroom frantically begging people to help her find a half a $5 dollar bill.

4. Numerous couples making out, straddle-style, for nearly as long as the opening set sang.

5. A boy/girl dance-off who both thought that their moves were Spears-style and were set on making the entire concert floor their stage.

6. A Boston guy who was nice, but also was a wanna-be “Situation” with the color tan of Magda’s from “There’s Something About Mary”, who was also oddly into politics and professed his undying hate for George W. Bush for nearly an entire song.

7. A group of high school boys with their Big Gulps who were so completely in the Posner posse that they noticed absolutely none of the above.

Do you people watch at concerts? Please tell me I’m not the only one that goes to concerts partly for the chaotic crowd.


Style Snafus

About a month ago, I decided my bangs were getting a bit long. I pondered paying Great Clips a visit. Nah, I said. I’ll do it myself. I chopped them. Way too short. Not to mention slanted. And far from stylish. This is not the first time I have done this. And believe me, every time should have been the last.

I have had many self-styling mishaps over the years. Others have also suffered from my scissors, such as my American girl doll who I had the genius idea of giving a choppy haircut and a makeover. I thought it would grow and wash off. It did not.

However, I have had far more style snafus. All of these have been a result of two things: My extreme gullibility and lack of common sense. Allow me to take you through a few follicle foils:

1. In 6th grade, my hairstylist (aka, the Spanish-speaking Supercuts employee) decided that my bangs were not nearly short enough. She proceeded to cut them nearly to my hairline. Being a pre-teen girl, I obviously thought my short bangs meant the world was going to end.

Somehow, I thought the snow was my solution. I was convinced the snow had miracle hair-stretching superpowers. I spent a half hour in sub-zero temperatures putting snow into my hands and tugging and pulling on my bangs until my fingers froze. My bangs didn’t budge.

2. In 7th grade, I was introduced to sparkly hair clips. Not bad, right? Even slightly stylish. Not when you decide that rather than bedazzling your messy bun with a single sparkler, you place 13 all over your hair and call it a day.

3. My freshman year of high school, I decided that my eyebrows needed to be plucked. I should not have been trusted with tweezers. I somehow failed to realize that you tweeze for width, not length. I plucked them so short, and then proceeded to tell all my friends that my eyebrows somehow fell out.

Did you have any styling malfunctions, or do you specifically (smartly) save scissors for salons?

That was in “Austin Powers!”

During my lesson today, we listened to a variety of songs from the 1960s. We’re studying “The Outsiders” (if you have never read this, please, please, please do. I promise it’s fabulous. I will only confess love for “The Pearl” to students to persuade them to please (please, please) actually do their reading).

Anyway, the students listened to the songs and then had to connect the lyrics to particular moments in the novel or to describe the characters. They had alot of fun with it and had fabulous analysis.

The thing that was not so fabulous? The fact that this was the first time many of them had heard any of the artists! The students had heard of many of the artists—Elvis, The Beatles, The Who, Steppenwolf, etc.—yet had not heard the songs.

During my first hour, I had only one student who ever heard an Elvis song. During other hours, the only reason why the students recognized “The Who” were either because they either A.) Played at the Super Bowl a few years ago or B.) Heard “My Generation” in the movie “Austin Powers.”

I was shocked by this. I know that the majority of students prefer Beiber over The Beatles (yikes!). Yet I didn’t anticipate that a childhood with Eminem could entirely eliminate knowledge of Elvis.

Like many 80s babies, I grew up with a wide array of musical interests (and, of course, ensembles). I can honestly say I enjoy all music (minus death metal). However, I wonder if it’s also because I grew up aware of a wide range of music. My iPod contains samples from each decade—from Bing Crosby to the Beatles to Billy Joel to Bruce Springsteen to the Backstreet Boys to, yes, Beiber.

Will the students of today be stuck on the same style? Do your music preferences span many decades? Do you believe Justin Beiber is this generation’s Beatles?


Fright Fest

Skittish (adj.) extremely nervous and easily frightened; shy or timid; extremely cautious; unstable, undependable.

I love Vocabulary. I receive a word of the day. My students? They don’t exactly enjoy workin’ it with Webster.

To make vocabulary a little more interesting, I relate it back to the students. This is typically a win-win because 1.) The students love sharing information about themselves and 2.) I can find out many awkward anecdotes.

Today, one of the words was skittish. As usual, I asked my students: What are some things that make you skittish? Unfortunately, no one revealed any crazy fears—the typical spiders, snakes, heights, roller coasters, etc.

My fears? They’re a bit more strange.

I’ve never thought of myself as a skittish person. I would do almost anything on a dare. I would love to try bungee jumping or skydiving. I rode roller coasters the second I reached the height limit. Spiders, sharks, and snakes don’t scare me in the slightest. Bees don’t bother me a bit.

I’m skittish about slightly ridiculous things.

1.) Getting stuck in an elevator . I think this fear began when Mrs. Belding got trapped in an elevator while giving birth on “Saved by the Bell” [Surprise, surprise].

2.) Locking my keys in my car. The odds of this happening seem slim. Unfortunately, I’ve done this before—with the car running. Luckily, my sisters were 1.5 miles away and could unlock it for me. What if this were to happen on the highway? My story would probably turn into a Lifetime Original Movie.

3.) Falling off the second floor at a mall. I’ve been terrified of this ever since I watched Clueless. I’ll ride a roller coaster with my hands up, but wish I could be buckled inside a mall balcony.

What strange things make you skittish?