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"Some Things About Science" by Leah Donnella

Here is a thing:

When my mother was in 11th grade, she was the only girl in her physics class. She was 16 years old. Of the 400 some students in her high school, which lasted from 10-12th grade, she was the only girl in her physics class. There were fourteen boys.

Here is a thing:

Her teacher, Mr. Rubinstein, deemed every Wednesday “Ladies Day.” On Ladies Day, only the girls in his class could answer questions. The boys would sit and watch for 50 minutes as the girls were invited one by one to the board to solve problems in front of the class.

But in my mom’s class, there were no girls to invite to the board one by one. There was only one girl. So my mother stood at the blackboard for 50 minutes every Wednesday solving physics problems by herself while her teacher and classmates watched. No one else was allowed to help. She did the problems alone.

I asked her if she was nervous about getting stuck and not knowing the answers in front of her classmates.

“No,” she said. “I was good at physics. I got nervous about what I would wear those days. You know, you didn’t want to wear a shirt that could possibly ride up or something like that. That was embarrassing.”


Here is a thing:

When my mother was in 10th grade, she knew that she wanted to be a scientist. Her favorite author was Isaac Asimov, and her favorite television show was Star Trek. After my great grandmother died, my mother decided she was going to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. After the landing in 1969, my mother decided she was going to be the first woman to walk on the moon. She also decided she would invent a time-travel machine, just for fun. My mom loved that stuff.

Here is a thing:

When my mother got to college, she decided not to study science. She studied music instead, and later became a lawyer. My mother has been a lawyer for the past 36 years. No one really knew why she stopped studying science, but all agreed that she was doing excellent work anyway, and that it didn’t really matter.

Here is a thing:

I never really cared much for science, myself.

Here is a thing:

We still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Here is a thing:

A few months ago, my mother enrolled in a forensic DNA course at Drexel University. I was upset with her.

“Mom,” I said. “You work 80 hours a week. Why would you do this? It’s going to be hard and boring and you don’t have time. Just like retire already, GOD.”

“Sweetheart, I love this stuff,” she said. “It’s going to be good for my work for me to know about all this, and it’s really only three hours a week of class time, and besides we get to test real DNA from real samples of real human matter. This has been a dream of mine for a long time. In fact, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to do this.”

She paused.

Here is a thing:

I could wager a guess.

#nightmaresanddreams #essays



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