The following essay comes via a friend of mine named Esther Weiss. She wrote it for a writing assignment with a simple prompt: 14%. When she read her essay to me over the phone, something about it just tickled me. I love her wry humor and the fact that she went all over town asking people what 14% meant to them. She said I could share her piece for others to enjoy on my blog.



By Esther Weiss 

Not having an immediate reaction to what 14% was, I began to do research and discovered that 14% of Californians are Hmong.

14% of my cousin Jimmy’s advertising business is car dealers.

At the “Y,” I was told that 14% of people who work out do not do strength training.

At a well-known pizza place in Chicago, a kitchen worker there said that 14% of his job involves fixing mistakes made by others.

A podiatrist asserts that 14% of people who have metatarsal surgery below their big toe and second toe will have further problems with the rest of their metatarsals. He went on to say that he just loves statistics – and has noted that 14% of his patients are on Medicare and another 14% live along the lake in the northern suburbs.

A smallish subset – say 14% of those people who use the Evanston Public Library are lower income people with few or no computer skills who need help applying for jobs online, typing resumes and cover letters, applying for student aid, grants, circuit breakers, stimulus grants and so forth.

Another 14% who use he EPL are home school families who check out lots of books, look for testbooks, reviews of curricula and who use the library as a meeting space, and as edu-tainment during the school day participating in story hours, family book discussions and more.

When I taught, of 28 children to a kindergarten class, roughly 14% were very knowledgeable about dinosaurs. They were my “resident paleontologists” – and entered kindergarten with a sense of what learning was. There was another 14% who were very good and never got into trouble. Another 14% cried at the beginning of school and took more than a few days for the tears to diminish.

Thankfully only 14% of my time as a teacher was spent in building or district meetings as these were rarely informative, helpful or enlightening.

In my co-op building, 14% of the owners in my building are single men. 14% do not have parking places inside the garage and another 14% are almost 80 or are already there!

Now that I teach seniors, I think that only 14% of class participants have an idea what the exercises are for, they have pretty limited understanding of the mechanics of their bodies and pains. I think another 14% are eager to understand.

I am able to do things independently 86% of the time, but the 14% when I don’t just get out there and do what I want, whether or not I have a buddy sometimes gets painted in day glow colors, and I forget which part is bigger.

There is, unfortunately, only 14% of the time that I like what I write!

I only understand one of my grandsons 14% of the time – but I love talking with him all the time. 14% of the time I question my son-in-law’s decisions, but I love them all the time. 14% of the time, my ex-husband asks me how I am – but that is such an improvement from 3% that I’m 100% delighted. Sometimes I only hear 14% of what’s being said – but I watch the lips moving and nod happily all of the time.

Only 14% of the time do people have a sense of how old I am – or how much of my body doesn’t really work well. That’s great! I forget things 14% of the time and that’s scary – but my friends say that they’re in the same boat so I guess I don’t paddle alone.

And what else about me? 14% of my life was under 10 years of age and I’m sure that by 14% of that time, someone tried to potty train me. 14% of high school was looking around at other people wondering what it would be like to be someone else. 14% of college was trying to be like someone else. Now that being someone else has failed to happen, I try to devote 14% of each day to me – to my exercise including a yoga practice at home, reading, writing, reflecting and listening to something. I have another 14% of my evening activities which include a yoga movement of gratitude and writing about my gratitudes.

When I was 14 I didn’t like myself very much. But now I like me and I know me and I can give that 14-year-old lots of love and let her know that it’s OK!

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Diane on May 17, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I LOVE Esther’s writing. She has a wonderful way of exploring a subject and her sense of humor is divine.



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