As a veteran teacher, I have collected more than my fair share of school portraits. This year I decided to stack my 2-by-3-inch photos on top of one another and create a flipbook. With the collection pressed between my index finger and thumb, I set the pictures in motion and watched in horror as I morphed from a taut-skinned, hair-endowed rookie into a giant forehead with etched facial features. I tell myself I'm still a kid at heart, but the camera doesn't lie.
Pedaling speedily, late for an exam, I dodge iPodded pedestrians, estimating the marginal benefits of reducing pollution by biking. Wham. Struck by an SUV, I lie sprawled on the road before stalled commuters. Largely unscathed, I mutter "I'm fine" to the undergraduate behind the wheel and limp away, maimed bike in tow. I take the exam then head to the doctor -- with a concussion, sprained ankle and tough bruises. I get a C-minus and protest. The economist peers over his bifocals, "But what have you learned?" "The cost of biking outweighs the benefits." He makes it a C-plus.
Find a way to give insight into your life in under 100 words. Authors of selected entries will be notified and paid $100. Send text (accompanied by a home phone number) via e-mail (email@example.com), fax (202-334-5587) or mail (Style, Life Is Short, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071).