I do not hate school.

I mean it.

I do not hate the stench that oozes out of the cafeteria on meat loaf Mondays.  Even if it does make everything in my locker smell like something that died on the side of the highway.

I do not hate the girls’ bathroom on the second floor, where two of the toilets are always broken and the third is almost always surrounded by a suspicious-looking puddle.

I do not hate the stink bombs that go off in the middle stairwell every afternoon.  I do not hate Jordan Pollet, the eighth grader with bad skin and worse breath, whose favorite hobby is lobbing spitballs at me from the back of our school bus.  I do not hate my math teacher’s monotone; the sticky, crumb-spattered gunk covering every seat in the cafeteria; or even the marching band’s perky grins when they parade through my homeroom every Friday morning and interrupt my nap.

Yes, Susan B. Anthony Middle School has room for improvement.  Plenty of room.  But I don’t hate it.

“Don’t say hate,” my mom always tells me.  “Words matter.  Don’t use that one unless you really mean it.”

So I use other words instead.  Words that I mean.  Words like detestDespise.  Loathe.  Abhor.  (That one’s my favorite.)  And okay, I admit it, I use these words a lot—but there’s a lost out there not to hate.  A lot to detest, despise, loathe, and seriously, seriously abhor.  My top three?

1.       Gym class.

2.       Brianna Blake.

3.       Wednesdays.

Gym class, because it’s inhuman.  Brianna Blake, because she’s inhuman.

And Wednesdays most of all—because that’s when I’m stuck with them both.  At the same time.

“I’d make her do quadratic equations twenty-four seven,” my best friend Maxine Samuels suggested.  Her was the girls’ gym teacher, Ms. Soderberg.  (I don’t hate her, either—though sometimes it’s tempting.)  Max and I were stranded deep in left field, brainstorming creative ways to torture our enemies.  And since it was Ms. Soderberg’s fault that we were shivering in the middle of a muddy field, with only our mucus-green Susan B. Anthony T-shirts and mandatory orange shorts to protect us from the cold, she was enemy number one.