listen here : episode 1 – Ms.Johnson

Harper:  Hi, this is episode one of Spartans In Focus. We are your hosts, Harper and Phoebe. And today we will be joined by psychology and history teacher Ms. Johnson. 

Johnson: Hello. 

Phoebe:  Hello, Ms. Johnson. Thank you for joining us!

Johnson: My pleasure. Thank you for asking me.  

Phoebe: Of course. All right, so I guess we’re just gonna hop into it. Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

Johnson: Ooh, what a loaded question. Well, naturally I wanted the summers off. Of course. You know? It’s just a given. In all seriousness, when I started college I was 16 and I started off as an English major. Turns out I do not like that. Surprise! So I think I became a teacher out of kind of, just, this need to to interact with content. I really love history. It’s weird. I really love history, but…I also wound up marrying into a family that has a history of educators and it made sense. I like..I don’t know. That’s a weird sentence I was about to say…but I like teenagers. I find them to be funny and predictable and easy to get along with. So it just seemed like a natural course of events to make that transition. Figured I’d be well suited to it. 

Harper: You said you started college when you were 16?

Johnson: I did. 

Harper: That’s really impressive. 

Johnson: I’m just at good time management. Just, I’m…I’m good at planning. That’s all. 

Phoebe: Who was the most influential person in your life? 

Johnson: [The] most influential person in my life has to be probably my grandmother. I really love my grandmother. I feel like she deserves the majority of the credit for raising me, and some of my happiest memories are of my grandma.

Phoebe: Do you have…an earliest memory of your grandma?

Johnson: Of my grandma? I don’t know. It’s hard to tell what memories have been implanted there from pictures of your childhood versus what you actually remember. One that I can vividly recall, though, of an earlier time, was for my fourth birthday. She took me down to Myrtle Beach and bought me a weird little wallet. It was very kitschy, very touristy. And yeah, just being on the beach with my grandma, trying to make little pools and then having the tide wash it away. 

       Harper: Can you tell us a story? Just like any story? Anything? 

Johnson: Any story. All right. So, oh my gosh. How old was I? I was like 22 and I got leave from the Army. And I went on a road trip. So I was stationed in Louisiana. I’m from Maryland, but I joined up when I was living in Georgia and I just decided I’m gonna go back to Maryland, see what’s going on, you know, visit the old homestead. And I get in my car and I’m driving and I stop in Georgia to stay with some friends and stuff. But I go for…absolutely no reason to a Petsmart, and they’re hosting an adoption thing for their animals. And it’s late, it’s like maybe six o’clock at night, and there’s these two dogs, and one of them’s a schnauzer. And I hate to say it, but I think that schnauzer was on his last leg and he wasn’t interested in me. But then the other one was really excited, really fat and loved me. I guess they had been there all day, so they were getting fed a bunch of treats from children and random onlookers. But the one that came up to me, I don’t know, I felt it. And…I bought him (bought her, rather). And I finished out that road trip with my first dog as an adult. Her name was Prudence; I named her that because…I was looking for a name and I just started rattling off Beatles songs. And she finally came when I said, “Dear Prudence…”, and she was Prudence from then on. 

Harper: That is the best way to name a dog I have ever heard in my life. 

Johnson: Yeah, she got to choose it herself. How great! She was the best dog. 

Harper: How many dogs have you had as an adult since? 

Johnson: …so Prudence was the first, then there was Abby, then Daisy, then Ace, then Charlie. That’s it. 

Phoebe: So you’re a dog household for sure though? 

Johnson: Oh yes. Lots and lots of fur everywhere. 

Phoebe: Did you grow up with dogs?

Johnson: I did not. I grew up with no animals.

Phoebe: Okay. So you really were deprived then. 

Johnson: Yeah…I’m definitely trying to overcome something, break the cycle. I don’t know. 

Harper: What’s the moment you were proudest of yourself? 

Johnson: …I am the first person in my family to go to college, let alone graduate with a degree.So haha – beat ya’. I am proud of that. My father dropped out of school in middle school. My mother graduated high school, but nobody went. Just me. When I go on hikes, I listen to podcasts, usually murder podcasts, just to…up my game. 

Harper: You spook creep yourself out? In the middle of the woods, listening to murder podcasts?  

Johnson: Yeah…Crime Junkie all the time. Crime.. So you’re like Ashley and Brit right now. 

Harper: Oh, okay. I’ll take that. You know? 

Johnson: Yeah. 

Phoebe: What’s your earliest memory? Just like in general? 

Johnson: Earliest memory in general.. When I was three (you can only remember…bits and pieces of your own – the rest is always usually planted in there somehow). I remember walking down the stairs, holding my mother’s hand…walking down the stairs to this basement level of a house that was owned by the woman that would become my babysitter. Her name was Miss Dottie; we were were sitting down at the table and her feeding me scrambled eggs with ketchup.And it was the first time anyone had done that. It was kind of life-changing. And I went through a weird childhood phase where that was acceptable. As an adult it’s not. Nope, not my thing. But that was the first time I ever had eggs and ketchup. Thanks, Miss Dottie.

Harper: Definitely not something I plan on trying ever in my life.

Phoebe: No. You know, you see people do it and it’s….just…

Johnson: …yeah. 

Harper: It’s cringe. 

Johnson: It is, it is. 

Harper: It makes me cringe. 

Phoebe: Like, I get eggs and hot sauce…I mean [because]… 

Harper: …eggs and Tabasco… 

Phoebe: …you can handle the spice… 

Harper: …eggs in Tabasco that, that’s good. But eggs and ketchup? 

Johnson: It feels somehow…inappropriate. 

Harper: It feels like wearing wet socks. 

Johnson: Yeah. 

Phoebe: Ketchup’s like the non-spicy version of wet socks. It’s just like… 

Harper: …it’s boring. 

Phoebe: …are you a two-year- old? 

Johnson: Well, at the time, close. 

Phoebe: Okay. 

Johnson: But I’ve grown. I’ve grown a lot since then.  

Harper: That growing is important. If you were still eating eggs and ketchup and you said that…here to us…

Johnson: Just end the interview now. 

Harper: It’s done. 

Johnson: Yeah. 

Harper: You’re leaving… 

Johnson: I would respect that. 

Harper: We are going to shame you by posting that. 

Johnson: Good. Yes…I promise…I’m a grown up now. I’m a real boy. 

Phoebe: You’re good kid. 

Harper: We’ll trust you. 

Phoebe: What’s your scariest memory? 

Johnson: Ah, ooh! Dun dun dun...

Harper: Does it have something to do with the murder podcasts in the woods? 

Johnson: Uh, no. Not yet. So my scariest memory: my daughter was, it was her first birthday. Like, on the day I’m cleaning up and stuff and she had been able to walk since she was seven months, which was terrifying. So she’s roaming around, feral as usual, and I’m cleaning up from her birthday and I have a tray, so I don’t really see her. And she hits my leg in her, like, running stage and…hits my leg, spins as she bounces off, and then smacks her face into an ottoman. And I was like, ‘Uh, idiot!’ And, and then I was like, ‘Oh my God! You’re bleeding!’ And her front teeth had gone through her lip. And I was mortified…I’m in full-blown panic mode then. And I have to race to the hospital, holding my baby. Like, ‘Don’t swallow your blood!’ And she barely speaks English.And I’m just like, ‘Come on, you can do this!’ I’m scared, and…yeah. That was terrifying. And the emergency room was like, ‘Yeah, she’ll be fine’. She didn’t even need stitches. They were like, ‘She’ll heal’. But she has this weird little ‘W’ scar on her bottom lip from the teeth going through. 

Phoebe: To remind you Always. 

Johnson: Yeah.Watch…watch where you’re going. 

Harper: Children are terrifying. Like…their own actions. Just…they’re so fragile. 

Johnson: Yes. They’re somehow extremely breakable and also made out of rubber. It’s the weirdest juxtaposition of qualities. 

Harper: I feel like they shouldn’t be allowed to have teeth because I’ve heard so many horror stories with children and teeth. At summer camp this past season, we had one kid run into another and their two front teeth came out and got stuck in the other kid’s forehead. 

Johnson: Oh, that makes me wanna throw up. 

Harper: It’s horrifying. 

Johnson: I…do not like that… 

Harper: Like, do not give children teeth. Let’s just take that privilege away from them. 

Johnson: Just pull the baby teeth out.You have to earn these.

Phoebe: Blend..blended. Blended foods, soup milk, and blended foods. I drank sour milk the other day It was really, really gross. 

Harper: This is quickly going in the wrong direction. 

Phoebe: My mom made a whole bowl…of cereal with the milk . 

Harper: Was it chunky or just bad? 

Phoebe: It just was sour…it just tasted really gross. 

Harper: Well, at least it wasn’t chunky. 

Phoebe: Then I was eating my toast and I was like, ‘Hmm, the peanut butter’s getting real stuck’. So I took a sip of the milk and I was like “*gasping*’, and my mom was like, ‘I ate a whole bowl of cereal with that!’ 

Harper: And she didn’t throw it away?! 

Phoebe: [laughing] And then I went to school…

Johnson: [laughing] …she put it back in the fridge.

Harper: [laughing] She ate it first? 

Johnson: That’s like, ‘A-ha! Gotcha!’ 

Phoebe: She poured herself a bowl of cereal and was eating it and was like, ‘Something’s not right here’. And just, like, kept eating it… 

Harper: …and then left it in the fridge? 

Phoebe: [laughing] …and she thought it was, like, the walnuts or something. Which is… 

Harper: Did she see you pour the milk?

Phoebe: …yeah. 

Harper: And she didn’t say anything?! 

Phoebe: Well because she didn’t think it was the milk, but it was so clearly the milk . Anyway…do you have a funny story? 

Johnson: Oh, I feel like what I did to Noah last year was funny with the donuts. 

Harper: Yeah, that was funny.

Phoebe: Wait, did you not give him the donuts? 

Johnson: No, we did. We had donuts…he was late, habitually, for like most of the year and then fourth quarter rolls around and I’ve, I’ve had it.  I’m done with his tardies. It comes in all soggy and crocky… 

Harper: …with, like, his frozen hair…all winter long.. 

Johnson: Yeah. [Because] he swims in the morning, so if he can get there on time every day I will reward the whole class with donuts. 

Harper: I’m so mad I transferred out of that class before that happened. 

Johnson: And he managed it. 

Phoebe: Yeah, he had, he got some excused, too. 

Johnson: He  did…little cheater, but it’s all right. 

Harper: Did you ever wear the Vans you made in our class last year? 

Johnson: Oh yeah! I wear ’em all the time.

Harper: I’ve never seen them.

Johnson: What? I’ll wear ’em on Monday. Yeah. They have the hideous, hideous leopard print and dinosaurs. Of course. 

Harper: I remember them. They were awful. 

Johnson: They are, they are awful…delightfully awful. 

Harper: Yes. 

Phoebe: What is your happiest memory? 

Johnson: My happiest memory. So…I said my grandmother should get a lot of the credit for raising me. Well, every Tuesday my grandma would pick me up from Ms. Dottie’s house (that was my daycare provider). And she would take me to Pizza Hut and we would share a family order of cheese sticks. But sitting down in the Pizza Hut, it was like, this was…the nineties were a wild time to be alive. You could go in, you could eat there…someone brought you your food. Craziness, right? And our waitress was Tina. I remember Tina vividly. And my grandmother would, she would use the marinara. I would just eat like a feral cat. Yeah…cheese sticks with Barb. One of my happiest memories for sure.

Phoebe: So, what is your outlook on life?

Johnson: …iIf you were talking about, like, ‘Big L’ life, like the big concepts, then I feel like it’s just you get what you put in. But for me personally, like the ‘little l’ life – because I feel like there’s an important distinction there. For me personally, it’s just have fun and don’t do anything that you wouldn’t admit to. And yeah, the rest sort of just works out.

Phoebe: Thank you, Ms. Johnson, for joining us for the first episode of Spartans in Focus! 

Harper: And thank everyone who listened… all the way through.  

Phoebe: Bye! 

Harper: bye! 

Phoebe: Can you make a weird noise into the mic, please?

Harper: Pretty please? 

Johnson: …meow.