Constructing a future




My book manuscript is currently with the literary agent. 

I’m anxious about it and its future.

This article set in 1986 is about that.



It’s fourth period. Chemistry class. 

I hate chemistry class. 

Dr. Nobile. I hate Dr. Nobile.

Chemistry is stupid. 

Dr. Nobile and his ridiculous laugh and the way he calls each of us “Champ” is stupid.


“Champ, what are metalloids and where are they found on the periodic table?”


“Who cares?” I think, but don’t say.

I probably won’t pass this class. And that will be a first for me. I’ve never not taken my academics seriously.

This is just too much for me.

I won’t pass. That’s ok.

Because, besides, anyway, I have a plan.

In Geometry, we’ve been learning constructions with a compass and straightedge. It’s the coolest. We’ve learned how to copy an angle, how to bisect a line segment, and how to create tangents to circles.


I’m actually pretty good at them. 

Ms. Kalder even said so.


So, I’m working on trisecting an angle during Chemistry class. And it beats listening to Champ blather about stoichiometry and valences of the elements.


Ms. Kalder said it’s impossible to trisect an angle with a compass and straightedge.

But I am pretty certain I will be the one to figure it out.

So, I’m working on it incessantly. 


Dr. Nobile doesn’t care that I seem off task. “Just don’t detract from anyone else’s learning” is his dictum, and the one that I will adopt later in life when I have classes of my own.

Here’s my thinking: as soon as I trisect an angle with my compass and straightedge, no one will care if I can apply the formula for Boyle’s Law. I’ll be too busy being lauded with praise from academies the world over. Superstars don’t need to know that sodium hydroxide is a strong base or what the pH of a 0.02M solution of it is.

Years and years later, I will learn that the classic Greek conundrum of trisecting an angle was proven impossible to solve. 


And, as you probably figured out, I didn’t solve it.

Dr. Nobile called my mom to discuss my rapidly-declining quiz scores and suggested I pay some more attention in class. And I got a B+, like a champ.


This episode from 1986 repeats and replays in my mind. I think it’s because of the book I’ve been working on for more than three years.

I worry—like with trisecting an angle—that pouring so much effort, resource, and hoped-for future success into my book will not result in something worthwhile.




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