In which my day job bleeds into the life it funds before my eyes.

Kid: I thought you were coming at 4.

Emily: I thought I was coming at 4:30, until 4, when I suddenly realized I was supposed to come at 4. In any case, I’m here now, and it’s math o’clock. Hour of power! Let’s get to it!

{It is now 4:20.}

Emily: I thought I told you to do this whole review sheet even if you had to stay up late.

Kid: I did some of it.

Emily: You did none of it.

Kid: I did this logarithm.

Emily: This is wrong. I thought I told you to study the list of logarithm rules I wrote out the last time I was here and commit them to memory and make up a song if necessary and perform it for me. Where is the list? Do you even HAVE the list?

Kid: It’s in my locker.

Emily: Do you even HAVE a locker?

Kid: Did I tell you I’m taking lead climbing class this summer at Ironworks?

Emily: That’s awesome! I’m so stoked for you. Don’t try to change the subject. Do you know what an inverse function is?

Kid: Yeah.

Emily: What is an inverse function?


Emily: Gimme a piece of paper. Somebody took my last pencil. Was it you? Did you take my last pencil? Gimme a pencil. Okay, this is an inverse function. {explains inverse function}

Kid: So, you do think that, like, learning to, lead climb is, like, pretty easy?

Emily: Compared to what?

Kid: Like, if I go to the class, and I learn to do it, will it be easy, to, like, get up to the bolts at the top?

Emily: I think it will be just as easy or hard as it is at any given moment depending where you are exactly. I will not be distracted by talk of climbing. Do you know what a composite function is?

Kid: Yeah.

Emily: What’s a composite function?


Emily: Gimme another piece of paper. {Pencil lead breaks off.} Your pencil has inferior lead. I cannot work under these conditions. {Explains composite function}

Kid: Do you need, like, special stuff?

Emily: To do a composite function?

Kid: No, to lead climb. Do you need stuff?

Emily: Yes, you need some stuff.

Kid: For the bolts?

Emily: For the anchor? If it’s bolted?

Kid: No, for the bolts. That you clip. As you climb.

Emily: Oh, for sport climbing. Yes, to do that you need quickdraws.

Kid: What’s a quickdraw?

Emily: It’s two cara–They will tell you at the class what a quickdraw is. How’s it going with the unit circle?

Kid: Uh, good.

Emily: What is the unit circle?


Emily. Gimme another piece of paper. Gimme that water bottle. {Draws and explains the unit circle.} {Checks phone, which has replaced watch entirely as timekeeping device in our society.} Well, looks like that’s almost all the time we have on our show! Make me feel useful. Do that problem and I’ll come back and check it in two minutes. But if you check it yourself first it’ll be right. And I want it done right. If you get confused, look at the problem we just did. Now I’m gonna use your bathroom.

Kid: It’s on the left, the sec–

Emily: I know where your bathroom is. {Hasn’t actually been in this particular bathroom in two years, but upon entering, remembers everything. How the light switch only controls the fan, and after switching it on there is noise, but not light, and if the door is closed, a brief moment of panic. The light switch itself has a tiny light inside it. In this bathroom, there is a book about bathrooms. There is a vase full of dried lavender. The faucet in the bathroom sink whispers, then whistles. What would it be like to own this house? But they never own it. The bank does. The bank buys it for you and sells it back to you? Is that how it works? Back to the kitchen table.}

Emily: Let’s see what’s going on. Okay, good start. Yep. Yep. Nope. Oh, no. You are NEVER ALLOWED TO DO THIS! Who told you you could do it? Okay, I see your logic. I see how you could THINK you could divide log 8 by log 2 and get log 4. But you cannot do this. EVER. THIS IS NOT TRUE, EVER, EVER, EVER. Logs are not, in themselves, numbers. Or rather, they are numbers, but they are not the numbers they appear to be. Put log 8 in your calculator and press enter. That crazy decimal is the POWER you raise the number 10 TO to GET 8, okay? {Explains horrible logarithm problem.} So, that’s all the time we have here for today. My official professional advice is to do this ENTIRE review sheet, check the answers, and RE-DO any wrong problems FROM SCRATCH to the point of comprehension. That sounds horrible and I don’t think I’d have the strength to do it myself. But apparently, once, I did it, and you should, too, if you want to pass your math final, or achieve a grade that may impress your parents, or at least keep them off your back. We all know what that grade is. D is unacceptable, C is not great, and A is out of the realm of possibility due to other mathematical realities we spoke of earlier, like your test average (which is in no way a measure of your self-worth). That leaves us with B. B is within your reach IF YOU MAKE SOME EFFORT. I understand you are not genuinely moved to make an effort in this area. And there is no real reason to make effort, other than your own knowledge of your own effort, which, by the way, is what morality, if it exists, which it does not, really is. You are only going to make an effort to extract a letter grade from an arbitrary authority figure whose authority is arbitrary. Is that clear? Are you with me? Does that make sense?

Kid: Yes.

Emily: However, you possess free will and are free to do as you see fit and choose in this moment and all others. I am available via text and will respond to any QUICK questions you may have. I guarantee I’m up later than you are so never hesitate to ask a QUICK question via text. Good luck with your final. I just want to re-iterate that further studying is most definitely required. Without further studying, results are very likely to be negative. Is that clear? Do you have any questions?

Kid: So, if I take lead climbing class at the gym, can we go climbing sometime?

One Response to “Signs”
  1. kevin says:

    I like kid 1, inverse function sounds like some kind of climbing move…

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