All the Kinds of Tape

Space Tape

Electrical tape, masking tape.
Double-stick tape.
Duct tape. Adhesive tape. Clear tape. Packing tape. Strapping tape.
Marine grade vinyl tape. Self-adhesive tape.
Sandwich tape. Cake tape. Sushi tape. Flower tape. Rehab Tape.
Creepy Tape.
Hair Tape, that makes the up-do you envision stick together.
Stop Texting Me Tape.
Special treasure tape.
Endangered species tape.
Hard to articulate ideas tape.
Tape that holds people together. 
Tape that keeps your pants up. 
Tape that holds ideas together.
Tape that tells good jokes.
Tape that keeps the old dog from dying.
Tape that makes this easier to read.
Tape for re-sealing the yogurt container because you changed your mind.
Tape that changes the weather.
Tape that keeps pollutants out of the drinking water.
Second Chance Tape.
Tape that reminds people that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner.
Tape that plays your favorite song when you really need to hear your favorite song.
Jewelry tape.
Resume tape (makes your random life experiences seem like there is a point!).
Tape for making outfits match even though they don’t really match.
Tape that inserts this story:
The next day, I gave the Bacon Provider a ride to his appointment, and went back to the closed fabric store for a second time.
They were closed again.
The sign said they should be open, but the door was locked, and the lights were off. I sat down on a bench on the corner and considered my options.
I heard a slight noise and a dark blur dashing into the store.
Rising and walking to the threshold, I peered in: dark with the door now wide open. The tiny fabric shop had shelves stuffed full of fabric bolts, and an uneven fence of upholstery fabrics, on rolls, all the way around the shop. 
I stepped in hesitantly. One fluorescent light flickered to life, and then another. I kept my eyes in an active scan of the topmost shelves, where I saw a variety of charming modern cotton fabrics. There was barely room to snake through the store and see everything and turn around without toppling over the long bolts. I stumbled over a set of drawers containing buttons. Another bank of lights came on.
Behind the counter, a woman made a phone call, inquiring about the possibility of getting more indigo batiks. “We could sell a lot of those,” she said into the phone, repeating it a couple of times. “Everybody’s looking for indigo batiks.”
I considered; I would be interested in some indigo batiks. My mother really liked them, too.
The woman in the shop had long black hair, scattered with white threads of gray, and eyebrows, drawn on, in two straight lines. I busied myself at the sale shelf, beginning to fret about the duration of my paid parking out front. I found a Japanese import, navy with small gray rabbits, and a bolt end that was promising, and carried my armload to the cutting table.
I had her attention, and described the yardages I wanted.
Suddenly there was another woman, exactly the same as the first, the same black hair with white threads of gray. Same drawn on eyebrows, in two straight lines. Did she walk in behind me? Materialize behind the counter? Emerge from under the table? There were two of them, a matched set. They cut at the same time, with two pairs of matching, very-sharp scissors, half-way across the width of the bolt in a fluid motion ending with a snip, and then turning it over and repeating. Synchronized.
I left with a hand-written receipt. I don’t know which one wrote it.
Tape that gives stories a point.
Rage prevention Tape.
Tape that makes a person tell the truth.
Tape that settles debts.
Tape that makes amends.
Tape that keeps the tank full.
Tape that brings back the dead.
Tape that gives you credit for the work no one ever acknowledged.
Tape to tape the shimmy and groan out of the elevator.
Tape that fixes broken furniture.
Vacation plans tape.
Tape that reminds you of the better qualities of people.
Invincible tape.
Relationship tape.
Tape for easing the pain of betrayal.
Tape for putting ornaments on the Christmas tree.
Excessive cleavage tape.
Bathrobe tape.
Experimental tape.
Do-over tape.
Tape for regrets.
Better Decisions Tape.
Gerrymandering tape.
Subway fare tape.
Decorative tape for creating ironic ambiance.
Tape for droughts.
Tape that makes an argument make sense.

Tape tape.

Just Not Good

Can you evaluate this double integral?  Even if you can’t, isn’t it a smart-looking thing? I have a laundry list’s worth of crackpot ideas, and one of them is that we don’t do enough real, challenging mathematics on a regular basis to appreciate how beautiful and amazing it is.  People think math is arithmetic, which is like saying that novel-writing is spelling. People also think balancing their checkbooks is math, and that’s simple accounting, based on arithmetic. In countries like Romania, there is no gender gap in mathematics achievement because mathematicians are revered. Everyone wants Americans to study more math and do better in math,  and I think the only way we  get there is to change how we as a society view math.  We have to get to the point where everyone thinks math is cool.
Pay the best math teachers like professional athletes. Put problems like the one above next to the Wednesday crossword puzzle in the New York Times. Stop letting adults and teens and children say, “I’m just not good at math.” Dogs are not good at math. People invented math. Everyone can do math.
Before I was a math major in college, I was an English major. I believed I was meant to write fantasy novels for teens about horses and cats and angry apples.  I kept a journal because an aspiring writer is supposed to keep a journal, filling it with drawings and story ideas and names of characters, interesting phrases and words, and page after page of complaints about the imagined injustices heaped upon me by my bad, unlucky life. I wrote short stories, and they were never very long, and bit by bit they got shorter and shorter until I wrote the shortest and best short story I ever wrote: “The drummer died.”
That is the whole of it.
I don’t think I’ve gone a day in my life without at least one inventive thought, yet for all that creativity, I suffered from writer’s block so intense that I even made a writer’s block. All of my ideas seemed boring. Everything serious I tried to do was actually silly or just embarrassing. Stories had no endings, plots never went anywhere. The drummer died.
I changed majors in college, temporarily alleviating the crushing guilt of wanting to do something but not figuring out how to do it.  I got an advanced degree, a job, had a kid, had another, and so on.  I like everything I wrote six years ago and nothing I wrote six minutes ago.  I still struggle with the voice that asks, “Who gives a shit?” Maybe I’m just not good at writing.