March 2015
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Preceded by eyelashes


I had the privilege of attending the 8th-grade Science Fair not so long ago.

Two years ago, Maj did an exceptional science-fair project on the impact of weight distribution within her gravity-powered soapbox car on the speed the car then attained traveling downhill.

Kallan’s project was on the durability of various brands of mascara.


Which meant Kallan needed to go to Target, where I reluctantly agreed to purchase far too much mascara because it was FOR SCIENCE, MOM … I NEED ALL OF THESE.

I see her. Don’t think I don’t see her.

She’s hard to miss these days, anyway, because her eyes are popping.


Kallan compared mascara durability across the three types of liquid with which mascara might most commonly come into contact:

Rain (played by plain cool tap water)
Tears (played by precisely salted warm water)
Pool water (played by precisely chlorinated cool water)

Without going into the details of her project’s accomplishment, Kallan actually did a very impressive job. She did careful research, put great thought into her procedure, collected meaningful data, and carefully analyzed her results. She typed everything up and learned how to use a new-to-her graphing program (there was some frustrated screaming during this step) to make perfect graphs. Her finished tri-fold poster-board display was quite fabulous, filled with charts and graphs and explanations and research summaries and citations and gorgeous sparkly background accents, all painstakingly glued into place. There were also several dozen large adhesive-backed googly eyes to which she had carefully attached fringe (because eyelashes … obviously).

Kallan put a lot of work into this project in the weeks leading up to the Science Fair.

Plus, when all was said and done, she was prepared for any mascara apocalypse that might befall our town.

Like I said, I see her.

On the evening of the Science Fair, I wandered around the school, inspecting the various projects the kids (or their parents, in a few easily identifiable instances) had done. One of my favorite projects was done by a student who hypothesized cats do not always land on their feet, and that if one dropped a cat from progressively higher distances, there would come a point at which the cat would fail to land on all fours. Sadly, there was a note in the data presentation revealing that scientific investigation had been called to an abrupt halt by the researcher’s mother, who had not been pleased to discover that Fluffy was about to be pitched off the roof.

That wasn’t my absolute favorite, though.

I don’t do photos, so let me see if I can describe it to you.

Bright red tri-fold poster-board. So far, so good.

The various written exhibits were all hand-scrawled on wildly uneven scraps of printer paper which had then been attached to the poster-board with great lengths of shiny scotch tape. From a distance, the whole thing had the look of a huge bloody ransom note. It was awesome in its complete failure to live up to even the lowest of expectations.

I stepped closer.

Title: The Board-Game Monopoly: A Study of Rage Quitters


OK, to be clear … the board is supposed to present the entirety of the student’s work. Everything gets glued or stapled (or taped) to the board. Everything. There is no separate research paper that might reveal heretofore unseen depths of intelligent analysis; everything is on the board.

So. Let’s see what we have.

Hypothesis: If you are playing Monopoly with a friend for too long, then you want to rage quit because the game makes you crazy.

So awesome.

Background: The game is called Monopoly. The test is to see if a person can keep his cool. For example, if the person wants to land on Boardwalk and someone else buys it, then the person will freak completely out.

Who is this child?

Materials: The game. Duh.


Results: (Kris speaking here) … Although I took a photo, I can’t share that, and so here’s what it shows:  A single sloppy handwritten graph, its axes several degrees short of right-angled. The horizontal axis is labeled in five-minute increments up to an hour, with the explanatory inquiry, “How long will the person keep his cool?” The vertical axis is simply labeled “Temper” with a scale ranging from 1-25. Five dots are marked on the chart to signify five players who apparently lasted 7, 15, 25, 35, and 45 minutes, at which point they lost their tempers at rage-levels marked as 5, 12, 21, 18, and 24, respectively.

In case it’s not clear, NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE.

The entire project was obviously done on the bus-ride to school the morning the project was due. I bet he borrowed the scotch-tape from the school secretary on his way into class. I’m glad this child is not mine, but I love this child.

The only other offering on the board is the conclusion.

Conclusion: The board-game Monopoly will make you lose your friends, because it turns out they are all rage-quitters.

If I had been the Science teacher, I might have given this project an A, just because.

I’m pretty sure it did not receive an A.

At this point in my typing, Kallan walks into the room, preceded by her eyelashes.

I see her.


    Like a pilgrim girl


    Kallan leans her head into the room. “Mom, do you have time for a short presentation?”

    I take off my reading glasses and rest my book on the bed beside me. “A presentation?”

    She steps into the room with a large poster-board and several sheets of paper. “Could you hold these for a …Like a pilgrim girl

    Vertical leap


    Mark walks into the room and stands, his hands on his hips, his face twisted with exaggerated thought. He is clearly going to say something, but he says nothing. I sip my coffee and wait. With small considering movements he surveys the entirety of the room, but still says nothing.

    I sip my …Vertical leap

    Tandem splaying


    “Mother, first of all? I need to dress-up as Gertrude Stein for History class tomorrow.”

    “Gertrude Stein?”

    “Yes, Mother.”

    “Huh. Good luck with that.”

    “That’s the extent of your assistance?”

    “Oh right … let me just go to the big closet of literary-figure cosplay and pull out Gertrude Stein.”

    “Cosplay, Mother?”

    “Right? I …Tandem splaying

    Anonymous child I birthed


    I was going through some old bits and pieces of writing, thinking I might tell you about buying the house in which we currently live. I have a lot of notes and a lot of emails that contain scraps of what I like to call “genius,” but none of them are organized in …Anonymous child I birthed