Things Students Say (Week 1)

When you teach teenagers, you often hear very interesting things. Sometimes, they share interesting things in the classroom. More often, in the hallway. Most often? The lunchroom.

Hopefully, not a lunchroom like this one.

Although I don’t plan on tackling the lunch line anytime soon (unless it looks like a lunch lady land), I do have the opportunity of overhearing conversations—and even more often, spoken directly to the entire class. Here is a glimpse of some things that I’ve heard during the first week of school:

1.) [In the middle of a class discussion] A girl raised her hand and said “Ms. Looney, you know what I really want? A monkey.” The best part? No one else in the class responded to this whatsoever. They continued right on discussing the reading.

2.) [In a student’s classroom journal]: “In some ways, I am not sensible. For a long time, I thought that Seattle was a state.”

3.) In a student’s “About Me” inventory, the students answered a range of questions about their interests, family, friends, etc. The last question was simply “Miss Looney should know…___________.” I received a WIDE range of responses.  There were the helpful ones, such as “I tend to be shy speaking in front of people” and “It really helps me having many examples.” Then there were the very bizarre ones, such as, “I HATE BARACK OBAMA!!!” (Yes, with all 3 exclamation points).

I still have no idea why this was the one fact I NEEDED to know. I discovered the next day that this student started hunting at age 7. I’m pretty sure there’s a connection there, somehow?

4.) [In one of my classes’ first assignments, which was a “Letter to Looney” about their goals]: “I am the quietest/loudest and nicest/meanest kid there ever was.”

I think I’m in for an interesting year.


Facebook Flashback (and Future?)

I first heard of a site called “Facebook” the summer before my Senior Year of high school. Back then, it had a wall that you could erase like grafitti and you were given a single photo: Your profile picture. And believe me, if you were an 17-year old girl, you probably pondered this photo harder than any of your homework.

I joined the site, and listed Drake as my network. After doing this, I, like everyone, received random friend requests, and, if the person was particularly forward: A direct message. My favorite? I still remember receiving a “Happy Birthday” message on my 18th birthday from one of my soon-to-be-classmates which said: “Happy birthday gurl, no one show a birthday gurl better time than me :)” [Yes, with that impeccable grammar].

When I was 18, I also experienced the first—and only—time that I “blocked” someone on the site. There is a long story behind this one, but it involves Halloween, a fraternity party, and an uninvited, 20-something guest who neither went to Drake or any college, could barely speak English, and somehow found me on Facebook and sent me messages like “Stop running in the cold weather, will you? ;)”

I never mentioned I was a runner. It was (more than) slightly creepy.

A photo from the undesired dance floor “date night.”

There is now far more to Facebook than finding people. You can upload actual photos. There are one million apps, games, and events to keep you entertained. There are elementary students and even grandparents on Facebook (my grandma even has a profile picture! However, she only knows how to view albums if she is tagged in them).

Facebook also prevents anyone from ever forgetting a birthday. It also has, unfortunately, prevented many people from purchasing greeting cards, sending a text or making a call. Calls/Cards/Texts > Facebook “Happy birthday!” wish (although Facebook is still a nice gesture!)

I love Facebook, and use it frequently. However, as I go into my first year of teaching, I can’t help but wonder if Facebook is something that I should be more selective about. When I first went on Facebook, I vowed to delete my account after college. My relationship with Facebook was supposed to be short-term, and now I wonder if we’ll be in it forever.

Searching for someone on Facebook is so simple. With a simple “Request Accepted,” you can find out more about someone than you do on many first dates.

Luckily, in the case of my 18-year-old awkward encounter, pressing “Block this User” is significantly easier than awkwardly trying to ditch a guy on the dance floor who does not know a single person at the party and decided that you were destined to be his date for the night.

Do you think Facebook will be around forever? Do you plan on ever deleting your account?

Competitive Eating AND running?

I love running. I love food. I love competition. But putting them together? That is something I never thought I’d seriously attempt.

However, a few weeks ago, I did just that. It wasn’t a few bites of food. It involved eating this entire burrito (and then running immediately after):

Let me backtrack.

My roommate Jenn asked me to a race called Devour Des Moines the day before to fill in for a girl that hurt her foot. Jenn and I actually had a conversation the day before where I said “I definitely want to come watch you guys do this, but there is no way I could do it!”

Unfortunately for me, Jenn knows that I have a really hard time saying “No” to anything.

I was put in charge of the Burrito portion of this “triathlon.” After eating a burrito, we immediately  had to run 1.5 miles. When I thought “breakfast burrito,” I pictured this [one that I’ve eaten far too many of after hours at McDonalds]:

I also envisioned people primarily my same size and sex eating this burrito casually and then going for a relaxed run.

What I got? An intense eating competition where I was only one of 2 girls that were part of the burrito round. There were also serious runners part of this round.

My competition clearly sided with one sex.

Before the competition, I was nervous. Really nervous.

So nervous, in fact, that I asked a volunteer if he could help me out and pretend not to see me place part of my burrito under the table. I now realize that this is like telling the teacher “Hey, I really didn’t study, so would you mind if I just look off my friend’s paper? You can just pretend not to see!”

What actually happened: I ended up finishing the 1.5 pound burrito in 4 minutes. I was around the 8th person to finish, and then I finished in 4th after the run.

My burrito was NOT doing well at that point.

I then had to wait until my teammates finished their legs of the triathlon. We then had to share 2 pounds of wings between the four of us.

Clearly, I felt fantastic for the rest of the day.

I’ve only been in one other “competitive” eating contest prior to this. I was 16 and in a Watermelon eating contest. I won 2nd place, and received $25 dollars as a reward (considering I didn’t work at the time, that was like a mini-lottery!). I couldn’t eat Watermelon for months after that.

This time? My stomach ached for the rest of the day. I vowed to never eat another breakfast burrito.

What actually happened: I ordered a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich from the drive thru at 3AM.

Have you ever been involved in a competitive eating contest?

What Do You Do Daily?

Every person has a routine of some sorts. That routine may include going to work, going to the gym, cooking dinner or…

Eating peanut butter from the jar.

Ok, that may just be me.

There are some things that I do everyday that I’ve recently realized to some may seem a little, well, strange. Here are a few things that I do every that, to some, probably seem slightly strange:

  • I eat 2 (or 4) gummy bear vitamins. A sad (but true) fact about me: I couldn’t swallow pills before I went to college. I used to eat Flinstone vitamins, but I only liked the red ones. When I was little, I would either “forget” to eat them or hide the other (gross) orange ones under the couch. I discovered these, and I have never forgotten to eat a vitamin since.
  • I eat a frozen banana (or 3). I actually don’t love bananas in their regular form. However, I love them frozen. They seriously taste completely different. My sister Stacy and I have battles over frozen bananas when I’m back home.
  • I eat peanut butter. Peanut butter saved me when I was an (extremely, extremely) picky eater growing up. Even though I will now eat almost anything that is edible, I still eat peanut butter by the pound. I also usually have 4 jars on hand at all times.
  • I read blogs about food like and (and a many others). This is probably strange to many, but reading them is like a reality show on steroids. You are able to follow exactly what they’re up to daily, and can’t help but feel like you “know” them.
  • I read the “Word of the Day.” So far, none of these words have made the cut. Luckily.
  • I chew nearly an entire pack of gum. I have to make bi-weekly trips to the store to stock up.
  • I wake up before my alarm. I always set an alarm, but always rise at least a few minutes before. I still don’t know whether having this internal clock is a good thing. Sometimes, I’m wide awake at 4AM. When this happens, I decide that I may as well run. The only people out at this hour are those who are still up from the night before. Seeing guys rapping and blaring their base while you are trying to see the sidewalk is a strange experience.
What are some weird things that you do everyday?

Creepiness and Coyote Ugly

When I was in Nashville recently, a group of us went to the bar Coyote Ugly on a Sunday. Being Yearbook advisers from all over the country, we clearly fit right into the land of lap dance lovers.

Not a regular Coyote Ugly crowd!

Most of the crowd contained the waitresses, a Bachelorette Party, and guys who thought that their “day of rest” was best spent on body shots.

There was one such guy who fit that mold perfectly. The minute we walked in, he approached our group to see who were these strangers that were clearly not staples at Coyote Ugly, nor did we have huge “BRIDE-TO-BE” sashes on our shirts. The guy quickly learned that we were a group of teachers, and that I was from Iowa.

I think he had seen the movie Coyote Ugly too many times, because he was convinced being from the land of corn, I would decide that it was my destiny to dance on the counter at Coyote Ugly.

You better believe he was a lingerer. He was also at least 70 years old.

Rather than leaving the lingerer (or obviously taking up his offer to climb on the counter together), I decided to use it as a lesson—a Creative Writing, lesson that is. When I was in a Seminar the next day—paying very close attention—I decided to write about this guy. He was too ridiculous not to remember:

“From the neck down, he fit right in. He wore a bright blue polo and faded blue jeans, which he added a brown belt to hold them up. His clothes were common, not flashy.

If it weren’t for his handle bar grey moustache that nearly reached his nostrils that had such a flip that it looked as if he’d used a curling iron for the strands of hair, he’d have fit right into the crowd of customers.

The man had a smile like Santa Clause,  hair the same shade, and a stomach that suggested he spent many hours snacking. However, he wasn’t anyone that could be trusted to deliver gifts to small children and was definitely not someone who should have small children on his lap.

The moustached man had eyes like a makeup mirror. They weren’t like a store mirror, where shoppers give a brief glance to as they walk by to make sure they don’t have food in tehir teeth or a stray hair sticking up. His eyes were like a mirror that a teenager uses while carefully tweezing her eyebrows. His eyes made sure that they analyzed every single aspect of every girl that passed by, making sure that he didn’t miss a single spec.”

This stranger would have been SOLD on these expressions

Have you ever encountered an old, creepy man when out?

Accomplished on 2 hours of Sleep

Being a morning person, I’ve seen plenty of sunrises. Setting my alarm before 5 (barely) fazes me. I’m almost always up before my alarm and have (honestly) never used the snooze button.

However, Saturday was only the second time that I have stayed up for a sunrise. The only other time that I did this was during a sleepover with my basketball team in high school. We all vowed to stay up all night, and there were some serious prank threats for anyone who fell asleep. One ended up with a bra in the freezer. I’m still not sure why that was a threat taken so seriously.

Anyway, last night I didn’t fall asleep until 6:30AM. Since my “sleeping in” is 8, I got approximately 2 hours of sleep. This wouldn’t be a problem, if I weren’t such a horrible napper [Tips on how to turn into a great sleeper are always appreciated]. Studies say getting little sleep is supposed to have a negative, noticeable impact. Since napping wasn’t happening, I attempted to still accomplish anything I would do on a normal Sunday. Here is what I was able to accomplish sans sleep:

  • I went to breakfast at Cracker Barrel with my friends Zach and Eric, who were in town for the weekend. I was also able to eat my entire meal here, easily (including another muffin from Zach). I also got lost getting here, but, clearly, my lack of sleep did not lead to that.
  • I cleaned my closet (not that kind). It’d been too long. Let’s put it this way: I re-discovered pants that I hadn’t worn last winter because I thought that they were lost.
  • I walked the two dogs that I was dog sitting at least 5 times. They both realized that I was a pushover when it comes to walking (and feeding) within about two seconds of staying with me.
  • I ran a 5 mile tempo run. I was sure sleeping and speed work would mix, but somehow I felt surprisingly good!
  • I talked on the phone and texted [I’m aware this is not an accomplishment, but coherently using a cell phone without sleep is slightly impressive. Especially since it is impossible for me to talk and text at the same time.]
  • I watched the Bachelorette: Men Tell All. The only thing that is commendable about this is the fact that I stayed up until after 11 to watch another episode of “the most dramatic season ever.”
The fact that I was able to accomplish some things on little sleep made me wonder: How much sleep do I really need? I’m starting my first year of teaching and coaching in 3 short weeks (!). Most days, I’ll be waking up at around 5AM and coming back at about 5:30PM. In order to get 8 hours, I’ll have to go to bed by 9PM. I was unable to do this even when I was a toddler.
Is it OK to sacrifice sleep for being social, or should I listen to the sleep studies?