Math, penises, impaired visual memory and existential angst


Somewhere, in the math word problem instructions, was the phrase “be as creative as you like.” Oops. Here comes Flora:

Question: There are five elephants at the zoo. How many big elephant ears are there in the zoo herd?

Answer: There are nine ears, because Bill the male elephant only has one ear. He lost the other one when the zookeepers were rescuing him during the flood. This is a terrible tragedy, especially as all the other elephants make fun of him. You might think elephants are all cute and kind, but some of them are evil bastards.

And, here comes Cinder:

Question: Farmer Jones’ field is 167 m long and 4 m wide. Calculate the perimeter ( P ) and area ( A ).

Answer: P = ENIS A = SS.


Speaking of penises (and when don’t I?), we’re renovating our bathroom. Because we’re insane and the reconstruction in the basement isn’t enough (actually, truly: it was a sanity-saving move: this one small thing, we can do and get done NOW). We’re en route to one of those horrid stores full of home renovation crap* and Sean asks me what kind of faucet I want. I stare at him blankly.

Sean: You know there are different kinds of faucets.

Jane: Um… sure. Yeah.

Sean: Do you want one that’s like the one we have now, or do you want something different?

I spare you the long technical and thoroughly incomprehensible to me description of European versus North American faucet styles and why this matters that follows, and jump to this: I am trying, very hard, to visualize our current sink and faucet, the place where I wash my hands and brush my teeth several times a day and have done so for eight, nine years? What does our sink look like? I’m fairly sure it’s white… possibly that colour they call ecru or ivory… round? Aren’t most sinks round? And the faucet? Christ. It’s just a faucet. Water comes out of it. I gather that one of the things my considerate beloved is trying to determine is whether I want a faucet with two separate hot-and-cold taps or one swivel tap. I close my eyes. Concentrate. I have no fucking clue what our faucet looks like. He reads my mind…

Sean: You have no idea what our faucet looks like?

The kids howl.

Jane: Fine, laugh. What do you think our faucet looks like?

Flora: It’s this dark shade of silver, with a beautiful curve. A line of green just around its base.** It’s just high enough that it reflects in the mirror, and when the taps are turned off, the cold one points at Ender’s collection of orange tooth brushes and the hot one at that weird splotch of red that you say is not blood on the wall beside the toilet.***

Cinder: That is not what Mom wants to know. The faucet has three holes, and they’re less than an inch way from the back splash… and probably eight inches apart from each other―I mean the outside two. And the sink is just over three feet high, and not quite two feet deep and 30 inches―no, actually, probably only 26 inches long.

Ender, paying intense attention to the conversation, shakes his head. And jumps in…

Ender: Our faucet looks like a penis.

Cinder: Actually, I’d like to change my answer to Ender’s.

Flora: I hate to ever agree with the boys, Mom, but yeah, Ender’s right. Our faucet looks like a penis.

Apparently, so does the new one.

Or so they tell me. When I close my eyes and try to see it… all I see is flowing water…


Flora: Mom? What do adults talk about when there are no kids around?

Jane: Existential angst.

Flora: What’s that?

Jane: I think… it’s like trying to figure out who the heck you want to be when you grow up. Except that you’re already grown up, and so you feel like you should have figured this out already. But you haven’t. But you think you should…

Flora: But aren’t you just you?

Jane: What?

Flora: Well, I’m a kid. But I’m me. And when I grow up, maybe I’ll be a veterinarian. Or a painter. Or something. But I’ll still be me, right?

Right. And so… is that what existential angst is? Thinking that being you―being me―just isn’t enough?


PS For those of you who’ve been unfortunate enough to witness me hitting my head against a brick wall last week: I’m not quite ready for the sledge hammer, but I’ve found me a rope ladder… Don’t get the reference? Then you’ve missed “I just want my kids to be happy.” Really? I don’t, and here’s why.

Next week: why I think “The CEO has a uterus―no, wait, he doesn’t but half his workforce does” is the most important thing I’ve ever written (as my real self), and why you―yes, you―need to go change the work world.****


Footnotes galore

*I know you love those stores. I don’t. They smell. They’re too full of stuff. Worse, it’s all―well, a lot of it―stuff I need, because a third of my house is still a skeleton of its former self. Now what have you done? I’m all post-flood weepy again… OK. Moving on…

**The green is a deposit of limestone, because… crappy housekeeper. I know you think you are―I really am.

***It’s not blood. I promise. You don’t want to know what it is… but it’s not blood.

****Having a split on-line/writing personality is getting incredibly onerous. If you’re thinking of doing it: don’t. It leads to mild on-line schizophrenia, has bizarre implications on your real life, and reintegration is a bitch.

Looking for me?  Go to the for-stalkers-and-bloggers-and-no-I’m-a-real-sane-fan! section: Find “Jane”

4 thoughts on “Math, penises, impaired visual memory and existential angst

  1. Yes. Everything comes back to penises when there is a boy in the house. Occasionally there is a ritual dance done to penises.
    I am sorry but I can tell you what every faucet in our house looks like, but…. it’s not for everyone.
    And Isaiah made me a math problem today, then when he realized the numbers were too big he said. The answer is one million, and walked away.

  2. Pingback: Quote This: Joanna Cole on taking chances | Undogmatic Unschoolers

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