The world is your oyster!: December 2010        
 
                 
     
       

These are a few of my favorite things:

summertime
pina-colada flavored italian ice
ribbons
sisters
i.n.s.t.a.n.t...o.a.t.m.e.a.l.
dance parties
pearls
flamingos
America
missionaries
s.u.n.g.l.a.s.s.e.s.
playgrounds
dressing up
love :)
     
       

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My name is Heather.

I am 22 years old.

I am an East Coast girl
who also loves Utah.

I love my life. How could I not?

The world is my oyster :)
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's a Christmas Hangover!

A side by side comparison of Sunday in Utah vs. Sunday in Maryland:


In Utah, I wake up at 10:25. Caitlin and I listen to Sunday music while we get dressed in the outfits we very carefully picked out the night before. We talk about who we should get a ride from. We usually leave our apartment at about 11:10 and get to church at 11:20, just in time for 11:30 church. At church, I wait until the Sacrament is over before passing out coloring books, crayons, and ritz crackers to whoever is sitting by me. When church is over, I take a nap, eat some food, play with my friends, go to ward prayer, etc. It is a wonderful and relaxing day.


Please see below for a picture of one of my outfits on a Sunday in Utah.

When I am in Maryland, it is a very different story. I wake up at 8:00 for 9:00 church. Someone is probably yelling. Everyone is running around frantically. There are hootenanny pancakes on the table. Will I eat them at the table? You can bet that I will not.

I drag myself out of bed and try to find an outfit to wear. I rummage through my suitcases, trying to keep them packed. I change my outfit three times, because I can't find tights, or a flower that matches, or my other shoe. I become frustrated with everyone and everything around me. I make some comment about how this house is a black hole. I throw my makeup on. I think about brushing my hair. I run around the house, looking for my coat. I finally find the one that doesn't match with my outfit. I run around the house, looking for my church bag. I run around the house, looking for my purse. I lose my coat in the process and have to find it again.

I pick up my plate of hootenanny pancakes and hand it to one of my brothers to take out to the car. I eat it on the way to church. I sit through sacrament meeting in the hard seats in the gym with my family. I'm not sure why, since one car got to the church twenty minutes before 9, when Sacrament Meeting here starts. After Sacrament, I go to Nursery to help out. I kind of just invited myself to work there, since I like it so much, but no one has kicked me out yet, so whatever.

This morning, I had an especially difficult time getting ready for church. Mostly because last night, snow was all over the forecast, and I actually thought that church would be cancelled. (This is Maryland, after all.) It was expected to start snowing early this morning and wasn't supposed to stop until tomorrow at about 4 in the afternoon.

Looking at the forecast, I imagined myself sitting on the kitchen floor with my brothers andsisters, sipping hot chocolate from my Disney Princess mug. Like we always do when church is cancelled, we would give little talks and sing Christmas songs in a makeshift church meeting. We would play Perpetual Commotion, make dinner all together and do a photo shoot in the snow. I was very excited.

So you can imagine how surprised and disgruntled I felt when, this morning, instead of waking up to a winter wonderland, I woke up to the scene I described above. And, although it might not be an acceptable excuse, it's all I have by way of an explanation for my appearance at church today.

Please see below for a picture of my outfit.

black headband: Forever 21.

black turtleneck tee: Papaya.

pink necklace: Club Libby Lu.

pink skirt: Target.

gray tights: Target.

pink and black argyle knee highs: Santa Claus.

gray boots: Julie's closet.

Oh, and that blue jacket? That absolutely does not match with my outfit, in any world, under any circumstances? That is the jacket I wore to church today.

This morning Sarah said, "I don't get why, for church, girls can't just wear like, jeans, and a nice top. Or something."

I said, "Well, it's just because we want to look our very very best. What if Jesus came to our ward this Sunday?"

Then I felt like a hypocrite because I didn't even touch my hair. I put it up in a poof last night and didn't have time to fix it any other way this morning. And I think I wore this shirt last week. And I didn't put on deodorant. All the people in my ward probably wondered if I was suffering from a Christmas hangover.

It was a particularly unhappy Sunday morning for me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I could really use a wish right now.....

Today I got on an airplane and left the state of Utah, not to return for the next 6 months. I'm actually shocked that made it on the airplane in the first place. Here's a kind of summary of my trip:

Last night, about 9:30: I finally decide to start packing. It was incredibly daunting, since I won't be coming back until June, so I basically had to pack my entire life. I don't know how, but I somehow managed to pack 120 lbs of absolute necessities into two suitcases, another 35 lbs in my carry-on bag, and probably another 15 lbs in backpack that I didn't weigh. The rest of my stuff fit nicely into 6 boxes that I am leaving in Utah. I am seriously confused about where I got so much stuff and how I ever fit all of it under my bed.

Dear stuff,

Where did you come from? Why have you chosen to attach yourself to me so insistently? Please get out of my life. ......Oh no wait, don't go! I might need you someday!

Love,

Heather

Today, 8:00 am: Wake up so I can be ready to leave at 8:30. My flight was at 12:40, but I wanted to visit Jake's family before I had to leave.

9:30 am: Kelly and Dahl pick me up and we drive to Lindon.

9:50 am: We arrive at Jake's house and get to visit for a little bit. Halli made us pancakes, which was so nice, especially since I hadn't eaten breakfast yet. Dahl took the car to get the oil changed, since it was making a weird sound and he didn't want to have to replace the engine.

10:40 am: We say goodbye to the Crafts and head towards the airport.

10:45 am: Dad txts me to ask if I am at the airport. I say no, we are just leaving Lindon. He says that we better hurry, since my flight is at 12:05.

10:46 am: Panic.

10:47 am: Feel better because there is literally no traffic. We are making excellent time!

11:15 am: See the signs for the airport. Rejoice that the traffic has been so spectacular.

11:16 am: Pull into the drop off area. Drive past the Southwest drop off because every car in the state of Utah is parked there. Pull up to Jet Blue's drop off and get out of the car. Dahl helps me get my suitcases out and we run inside.

11:17 am: Walk past a huge line. Feel sorry for the people that have to wait in it. Walk past bag check stations for two other airlines and come to Southwest's bag check station. Realize with a sinking feeling that this line is your line.

Dear all the residents of Utah,

Why did you decide to fly at the exact same time and on the exact same airline as me? Our schedules can never be this similar again. Let's coordinate a little better next time.

Yours,

Heather

11:19 Accidentally say a bad word. Quickly wonder if anyone heard and look around for people who might be judging me. Realize that I have bigger problems. Feel panicky.

11:20 The following conversation ensues:

Dahl: This is your line. You have to get in line with someone.

Me: But....I don't know anyone in this line!

Dahl: You have to flirt with someone. Here....flirt with these boys and get in line with them.

Me: What!? No, I can't do that.

Dahl: You have to. You'll miss your flight if you don't.

Me: Maybe we can ask a security guard.....

Dahl: They won't help. Talk to these boys. Look, go flirt with them.

Me: I can't, I can't! What about him? Can I flirt with him? (I pointed to a kind of insecure looking boy in a hat, thinking he would not be brave enough to send me unsympathetically to the back of the line. Dahl was wanting me to flirt with some college boys who were wearing ski hats and looked way more confident. Dahl shook his head and pointed me back to the skiers.)

Dahl: I gotta go Heather. Give me a hug.

Me: Wait....Dahl where are you going?

Dahl: I have to go trade places with Kelly so she can come say goodbye to you.

Me: What....what do I say?

Dahl: Just ask what time their flight is. You can do it.

Me: I can't!

Dahl: See you later, Heather.

Me: Ok....okaaaay byyyye, thanks Dahl.

And then he walked off, leaving me with three suitcases, a backpack, and a rapidly sinking heart.

I made eye contact with one of the boys. "What time is your guys flight?" I asked. I felt awful about what I was doing and right after asking this question, my face spasmed into a worried expression.

Dear self,

Please learn how to flirt in a more carefree manner. And on that note,

Dear face,

Please do not spasm when I am trying to flirt to accomplish a purpose.

Sincerely,

Heather

"Uhhh, ours is at.....12:35? Yeah. 12:35."

"Ohhh," I said, looking at the clock.

"What time is yours?" he asked.

"12:05," I said. My face involuntarily spasmed again.

"Ooooh," both of the boys said together.

"Mine too!" said the lady standing behind them. "Are you going to Denver?"

"No, I'm going to Baltimore," I said. Then, talking to the skier again, I said, "Do you think I could like....get in line with you guys? Is that okay?"

He looked around and then said, "If no one sees, sure," and scooted up in line, smiling.

I think I almost started crying, I was so relieved. I grabbed my suitcases and scooted in right behind him.

11:30 am: Kelly comes in and sees me in the line. "Whoa, how did you get so far in line??" she asked loudly. I could feel a million eyes belonging to people I had just butted turn to look at me. I cleared my throat and said, "Hi Kelly. Do you want to come stand by me?" She nodded, considering the line. "Okay. But that's crazy, how did you get there so fast?" Pulling her in line with me, I quickly explained that the really nice boys in front of me just let me get in line with them. I tried to talk loudly enough so the boys in front of me would know how much I appreciated them, without anyone behind me hearing and getting mad.

Dear people behind me,

I'm sorry I butted you. I know that you had flights to make, too, and I should have gotten to the airport sooner. Thank you thank you thank you for being so nice and understanding! (Or just for keeping your annoyance to yourself.) It was awfully Christmas spirity of you.

All my gratitude,

Heather

11:32 am: Kelly leaves me in the line. I don't want to talk about it.

Dear sister,

Ytb! Ily s m f. Ty f b m t t ap t m!

Love,

Heather

11:35 am: I make it to the front of the line! A nice flight lady with a Christmas sweater helps me print off my boarding pass and weighs my bags. One bag is 63 lbs, and the other is 57. I ask if I can just be charged for one bag being overweight, but she says no, I have to put 7 lbs from the smaller bag into the heavier one. I start switching things around.

11:40 am: I have two suitcases, one that is 69 lbs and one that is 51. The Southwest worker winks at me and says that is fine. I pay for the extra weight and take one of my bags over to the little conveyor belt where you leave your bags with the security officers.

11:41 am: Take my second bag to the same place. Look around for the skiers so I can kiss them, and feel a little sad when I don't see them.

Dear skier boys,

You saved my life today! I would never have made my flight if it were not for you. Thank you for being so nice even when my face spasmed twice in our conversation. If you ever see me again, I owe you.

Gratefully,

Heather

11:43 am: Get in the mile-long line for security. Realize that there is no one I can butt this time. Panic. Txt Dad saying I am going to miss my flight. Almost flip out when the girl in front of me is met by her boyfriend and they start making out and he is not cute enough for her. Realize that I am being irrational. Suddenly get bombarded by 4 txts from Dad, who is also freaking out.

11:47 am: Get ready to send my things through the scanners. Take off my coat and boots and take my laptop out of my backpack. Feel sick because my flight is surely boarding right at this minute.

11:50 am: Get to the front of the security line. Throw everything in the plastic bins and run to the scanner. Look a little over-eager when I jump in the scanner.

11:51 am: A security guard lady asks me if I have anything in my pockets to hold it in my hands. I pull out my cards and hold them in one hand. I remember my bobby pins in my other pocket and pull them out too. The security guard remembers that she forgot to re-calibrate her machine. I have to step out while she pushes some buttons.

11:52 am: The machine is ready! I jump back in and get scanned. The security guard asks me to wait on a mat until she gets confirmation that I am not a terrorist. I stand on the mat, kind of dancing around.

Dear people who are concerned about TSA full-body scans,

I would just like to re-direct your energy to the outrageous lines at the airport. This is a real problem that is of greater concern to me than the full-body scanners.

Cordially,

Heather

11:55 am: I am cleared and allowed off the mat. I throw on my coat, shove my feet into my boots, grab my backpack and my rolling carry-on bag and start towards the escalator.

11:56 am: I run back to the table for my laptop, which I accidentally left.

11:57 am: Kelly calls me. I abruptly end the call as I run towards my gate, B22.

Dear Gate B22,

I really think you and Security need to make up and move back to being closer to one another. This long-distance relationship isn't working. I know I'm just a third party, not really involved in the relationship, but did you know that there are 2 escalators and 21 terminals between you two? Please work on fixing this, because it has started to affect other people who want to see both of you at the same time.

Respectfully,

Heather

11:58 am: Run past gates B1-B10.

11:59 am: Run past a Santa Claus taking pictures with a huge crowd of people. Feel annoyed that everyone in the crowd seems to want to get in your way.

12:00 noon: Keep running. Panic.

12:01: Consider stopping off at another one of the gates to ask a worker to call my gate and tell them that I am on my way and to please wait for me. Decide that there is no time for that. Keep running.

12:02: Wonder why I had to go up an escalator if now I am just going down one to get to my terminal.

12:04: Somehow arrive at gate B22. See that the door is open still. Wonder if I may have actually made it. The lady checking boarding passes called out to me as I got closer, "Are you Heather?" "Yes!" I said, relieved to be there. She smiled at me and gestured through the door. "Go right on in!" she said.

Dear stewardess lady,

You are the kindest ever. I wish I had given you a hug, too.

Sincerely,

Heather

12:05: Walk down the aisle until I see an open seat in the middle of a grandpa and a high school boy. The grandpa winked at me and pointed to the seat in the middle of their row. I ask if there is room in their overhead bin. Just as I had been hoping would happen, the high school boy offered to put my bags up for me. I gladly accept. Once I am seated, the grandpa leans forward and says to the high school boy next to me, "You can pay me later."

12:10 We depart! And I am actually on the plane.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finals can make you write pointless blog entries.

Today was a confusing day for feelings.

I said goodbye to my friends at the Writing Center. (Kind of sad but I had so much fun today so, not too sad.)

Then I walked to my last final. (Excited! Almost done!)

Then it took 2 hours. (Oh. My. Goshhhh.)

But then I was done! (Yay!)

Then I called my dad. It stressed me out because I still haven't sold my contract and he got stressed, so I got stressed. (Sad slash stressed.)

Then I got home. (Tired.)

Then I saw that I had gotten a package! With presents for my friends! (Excited!)

Then I saw that none of my roommates were home. Larissa was out with friends, Caitlin is now in Maryland, and AnnaLisa was still on campus. (Looooonesome.)

Then I saw that That 70's Show was on! (Whoa excited!)

Then That 70's Show was over. (Tired.)

And then I just felt really tired. And I wrote a crappy blog post. (Dissatisfied with myself.)

As you can see, it was a confusing day for my feelings. I think the reason I wanted to blog in the first place was just to say that I think I've been really lucky this semester. I have loved my ward, loved my roommates, and loved both of my jobs. I've had awesome home teachers and a wonderful bishop. I've had so many people treat me kindly and befriend me. So I think that, I am actually lucky to be a little sad to be leaving. If I was 100% excited, maybe it would be because I wasn't so happy where I am now.

Regardless, I am excited to be going to Disney World. I decided today that my word that I am going to live by next year is going to be "adapt." No matter where I end up, or what happens to me, I am going to love it. I am going to go new places and do new things, and I am going to be just ridiculously happy about it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Everybody's Gonna Love Today

You know what is really great? My morning playlist. Waking up to Mika, Britney Spears, Flo Rida, Michael Jackson, and Justin Bieber just makes life so much better. And it makes it so I end the semester on a really good note.

Why My Life was Awesome on Thursday:

1. Theresa brought raspberry muffins into the Writing Center today. She made them from scratch. They are the best muffins she has ever made. I loved them. And her.

2. I tutored a Brazilian. He was from Brazil. He spoke Portuguese. He had a Brazilian accent. He was Brazilian. I tutored him.

3. I had lunch with Kelly. We have had lunch almost every day this semester and I realized I am going to miss it so much when I am in Disney World! Right now, this is what our lunch goes like:

-I txt kelly and say, "Lunch at 12?" or whatever time.
-She txts me back and says, "Yes :)"
-We meet at the CougarEat and get in line at L&T. Or wherever.
-She talks. I talk. We talk. Sometimes our conversations are random, sometimes organized. We kind of just go back and forth and it doesn't always make sense if you are just listening in.

Here's what I'm wondered my lunch will look like in Disney World:

-me to random friend at work: Hey, do you want to go get lunch?
-friend: yeah sure!
-We go to a random cart or restaurant. We order our food. We sit.
-And sit.
-me: So. Work is fun today huh?
-her: Yeah. I love Disney World, don't you?
-me: Yeah.
-We sit.

I am just so worried that it won't be as fun!

4. I had my last health class. I loved this class, even though it was only once a week and we missed like a whole month of classes, since my teacher was sick or there was a holiday or I had my sister's wedding or whatever else. Anyway, today we got our final and it is going to be so easy and I am so excited about it.

5. I sent Crystal a letter! We were roommates last year and it was so fun. We are kind of opposite but somehow we became really good friends. Unfortunately, she moved to Hawaii to go to school there, so now we only get to communicate through txting. We've been talking about being pen pals all semester and I finally got around to sending a letter today. It was so exciting! Sending letters is really one of my favorite pasttimes.

6. I took a nap. I love naps with all my heart, might, mind, soul, brain, strength, bosom. Everything about me loves naps.

7. I worked with Jackie. I was planning on going 80's dancing but that fell through, so I went to work at Coldstone instead. It was really fun to work at Jackie because I haven't seen her in forever! She left at about 10:30 and Ashlyn covered the rest of her shift which was also awesome because I haven't seen her in even longer. Like, since we went mancamping.

8. As roommates, we decided to do a dare of the week, every week. We had to complete the dare by the week and then report back to each other. We are still on our first dare because Caitlin and I, who have been named the social ones of the apartment, are chickens and cannot bring ourselves to compliment a random boy on his physical appearance. Not sure why this is so hard but I've tried to do it like ten times and every time, I get super-nervous and just look away. Or run away.

This made the list of things that made my day awesome for a reason, I promise.

It's because today, this boy came into ColdStone. He was a college student and was with two other friends, a girl and a boy. He had pretty eyes that went really well with his shirt. I thought about the dare. I tried to work up the courage to tell him that his eyes looked pretty.

I opened my mouth.

"Um, do you want this in a waffle bowl?" I asked.

"Oooh," he said. "I'd better not. It's probably a lot more calories, huh?"

I shook my head. "No!" I said. "The waffle bowls are zero calories!" I say this every time a customer asks me about calories because it is so obviously false. You just need to not think about calories when you are in ColdStone. It's the only way to be happy. (If you want to be miserable, you can look at the nutritional information here.)

Anyway, he believed me for a second. He said, "Really?" and seemed to be considering the waffle bowl. A split second later, I started shaking my head on accident (I'm a really bad liar) and he stopped believing me.

"No, waffle bowls have calories. You're full of crap," he said. I put his ice cream in a boring old cup and brought it down to the cash register. He handed me his card and I rang up his ice cream.

"I can't believe you just said I'm full of crap!" I said. We talked a little bit more and I noticed that his eyes went really well with his shirt. I got really excited because I could easily say, "That shirt really brings out your eyes" and then I would have done the dare. I would probably never see this boy again anyway!

I opened my mouth to say my compliment, but before I could, he said: "Has anyone told you that you are really cute?"

I closed my mouth. "Um.....like ever?" I said.

"Like, today," he clarified.

"Nope, not today."

"Well I'll say it. You're just, really cute."

"Thank you!" I said. "That just made my day." So I appreciated the compliment, but I never did get to do the dare. I think I just need to learn how to compliment boys, besides saying "You're looking dapper today."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Awkward

Today, I went to the Creamery on 9th. This is what I needed to buy:

and .


Oh, also:
.

Whatever. I am a twenty-year-old woman. Making this kind of purchase does not bother me. I am far too mature to be fazed by such a responsibility. Except, I have never had such an awkward experience with it as I did today.

My first priority was getting paper plates, for a class party we are having on Wednesday. Then I picked up some conditioner. Then, as I walked confidently towards the section for feminine hygiene, it happened.

The creamery was suddenly swarmed by all the freshman boys currently living at Heritage. Seven of them, all about eight feet tall, nonchalantly set up camp right in front of my targeted purchase. They looked around, discussing how they should be at Subway instead. I couldn't have agreed more. I wanted them to be at Subway, too.

After idly looking over the hair products for a few minutes, I got tired of waiting. I marched up to them, determined not to be awkward. "Excuse me," I said.

"Oh, sorry," said one of them, and started to meander away. His friends turned to look at what I needed. Twelve eyes fell on the tampons, six necks turned red, and six awkward freshman boys scattered to all corners of the store. I might as well have been buying the antidote to the plague.

Still, in my earnest desire to avoid awkwardness, I took my time to make an educated decision about exactly which brand and box I wanted. I then walked up to the cash registers, where I was rejoined by the six giant freshmen, still talking about how great it would be if they were at Subway instead of the Creamery. I don't know what was keeping them there.

I put my conditioner, paper plates, and tampons on the little conveyor belt. The lady at the register snatched the tampons off the belt, scanned them, and threw them in a bag. Then she smiled sympathetically at me. "How is your day going?" she asked, her voice oozing with compassion.

I smiled. "Great!" I said. She smiled knowingly and started scanning my other items. "How's yours?" I asked.

"Pretty good," she said, and told me my total. I paid, thanked her, and left the Creamery.

Never to return again, because I just don't think I can handle it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Middle School = Jail.

Every time I come home, I like to visit my siblings at their school and eat lunch with them. Since I was home for Kelly's wedding last week, I got to go to both Sarah and Jacob's lunches. They couldn't have been more drastically different.


First, Nicole, Savana and I went to Jacob's lunch. Jacob is in 6th grade. I remember my year in 6th grade as one where kids I had known for years suddenly starting swearing and fighting, teachers suddenly didn't want to take care of me anymore, and I suddenly became very aware of my own awkwardness. All things considered, it was not my favorite time.


In seventh grade, things started to improve. Teachers still didn't want to take care of me, but I didn't mind so much. I got to know Ms. Gottlieb, the GT resource teacher with curly bright red hair who loved me and let me visit her anytime I wanted throughout the day. I joined choir and drama and discovered that I could be a star on stage. I became more comfortable with the people I went to school with.


By the time I was in eighth grade, I loved everything about my life. I had so much fun with my friends in school. I knew how to get good grades and didn't worry so much about it. When I entered high school a few months later, I came into it with such good memories of middle school that I had completely forgotten how miserable I was my whole first year. In fact, I didn't remember my troubles until I went back over Thanksgiving break for lunch with Jacob.


Nicole, Bana and I went into the school and signed in in the front office, like good visitors. The secretaries told us that 6th grade was having their lunch, so we walked towards the cafeteria. It was strangely quiet and I wondered if their lunch hadn't yet started. But no, lunch was just beginning.



As we stepped into the cafeteria, hundreds of bowed heads turned their empty eyes to look at us questioningly. We looked around for Jacob and finally spotted him, sitting at a crowded table by the stage. I ran over and gave him a hug, and then we sat down with him. He smiled, happy to see us, but didn't say anything. Everyone just sat, with their heads down, quietly eating their food. No one spoke, expect Mr. Fairbanks on the microphone.


"The other teachers and I have been seeing some behavior, that we don't like!" he was saying. "We've been noticing behaviors that make us think, we. can't. take. you.....on a three-day field trip, later this year."


I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable as this speech went on. What could these students possibly have done? Outdoor Ed, the 3-day field trip Mr. Fairbanks was referring to, was a time-honored tradition! How could they just take it away from these kids?



"What did you guys do?" I whispered to Jacob. He shrugged and kept eating his sandwich, unconcerned.



Mr. Fairbanks said, "We just had an awards assembly yesterday. And a lot of you said that you like the new independence we give you here. You like that we don't walk you from class to class. You like that we don't try to babysit you all the time. A lot of you said, that you like these freedoms we give you."



(I actually went to this assembly with Kelly. We sat in the meager audience and cheered our hearts out. We danced along to the Jazz Band's songs, shouted our approval of the students' cute outfits, and applauded as their good grades were announced. I think we were more excited than the rest of the audience combined. At the assembly, Mr. Fairbanks read off a few fun facts about each of the students who got straight A's. One of the questions the students had been asked for this introduction was, "What is your favorite thing about middle school?" This is what Mr. Fairbanks was referring to.)


"But some of you are taking advantage of those freedoms!" Mr. Fairbanks continued, his voice rising in indignation. "I see you walking to class and....let me tell you something. You don't have time to be walking in the wrong direction! You have time to walk straight to class and if you're not, you're going to be late. You don't have time to be.....touchin' each other. Sayin' hi to your friends, you don't have that kind of time!"



At this point, I started to feel claustrophobic. And I felt like I was in trouble. And I felt a little bit like crying. But as I looked around, none of the students seemed flustered by this at all! They were acting like it was normal! The most I saw, by way of any emotion on their faces, was resignation.


Mr. Fairbanks prowled through the tables, stopping behind a round table and turning to face the rest of the students to share the following anecdote: "I saw someone today who was passin' around....some birthday thing for their friends to sign, I don't know. You can't be passing things around in between classes! This is middle school and you need to start exhibiting a little bit more responsibility and maturity."



I had to laugh a little at that story. Was Mr. Fairbanks being serious?? (He was.) Eventually, he had said his piece and concluded his speech with, "Alright. You guys have a few minutes left that you can talk QUIIIETTTTLYY!"



The cafeteria started to come alive with little conversations and I felt a lot better. I met some of Jacob's friends and asked them about some of my old teachers. I introduced myself to a kid who has been giving Jacob a hard time. I tried my best to ignore Mr. Fairbanks, who seemed to think that we had come to see him and that it was appropriate for him to put Nicole's hood over her head and laugh at her driver's license. (We did not agree.)



Lunch was over about five minutes after Mr. Fairbanks got off the microphone, so we said goodbye to Jacob and his friends and left. On our way out, we passed several kids who were marching in a circle around the flagpole under the careful supervision of three teachers, all standing menacingly with their arms folded and their whistles clenched in their teeth. We theorized that this was their recess.


Later in the afternoon, we went to the elementary school for Sarah's lunch. We walked in, chatted with the friendly secretaries, and made our way to the cafeteria. Thankfully, the atmosphere there could not have been more different than the one we experienced in the middle school.


The students were allowed to sit wherever, moved from table to table as they pleased. The air was alive with bubbly conversations. A few teachers and parent volunteers milled through the cafeteria, making friendly comments to the students.


When we walked in, Sarah ran up and gave us a hug, then led us back to her table. The teachers smiled over at us. Sarah's friends ran over to meet us and try to claim a seat near us. We were thrilled by this welcome. Sarah took me by the hand and walked me from table to table, introducing me to her friends who weren't sitting with us. When the teacher in charge reached for the microphone the first time, it was to announce that snack was served.


The next time she took the microphone, she said, "Okay, it's almost time to clean up! If everyone can be quiet and helpful, we'll get to listen to the music."


All the kids were acting really excited about this, so I wondered which nursery rhyme we would listen to and followed their example in putting up my quiet sign. Apparently this was a really dumb thought, because the first song that came on was "Just the Way You Are," by Bruno Mars.
The kids happily sang along and ran around, wiping down their tables and throwing away trash.

One little boy made his way up to the teacher with the microphone and asked her a question. She looked out at the rest of the students and said, "OK, I've had a request for Dynamite, is that what you guys want to hear?"

A cheer went up in the lunchroom. Then everyone threw up their quiet signs so they would be allowed to have music. In a few minutes, "Dynamite," by Taio Cruz, was playing, and lunchtime became dance time. One boy threw away his trash and then dropped to the ground to do the worm. Everyone threw his hands up in the air at the appropriate time. They sang and danced all the way back to their classrooms, where we said goodbye to Sarah and went back home.

I'm really glad I'm going to work at an elementary school, and not at a middle school.