Harper’s Index for Jill

Cover for Harper’s in May, 1971.

Continuing with Alice LaPlante’s book The Making of a Story, I have just finished the “Details, Details” chapter.  This next exercise was not really my favorite and I don’t think I did a particularly good job but I can see some minds coming up with some stellar responses, so I wanted to include it here.  The goal of this exercise is “to show how very specific, even quantifiable, details can add up to a ‘big picture,” in this case, a self-portrait. The exercise is modelled after the Harper’s Index, a monthly compilation of seemingly random statistics.

 Harper’s Index for Jill

Rank of the name Jill for girl babies in 1971: 59

Average number of months a driver gets their license after their 16th birthday: 0

Actual number of months after my 16th birthday that I got my license:  15

Number of diseases I’ve thought I had:  82

Number of diseases I’ve actually had: 2

Number of hours I’ve spent googling obscure facts: 7,581

Average number of hours per day cleaning house: 0.5

Number of times I’ve left my phone on my car bumper: 3

Number of times my phone made it home riding on my bumper: 2

Number of times I’ve told my husband I left my phone on my bumper: 0

Percent chance that my husband will say, “Sure, we can have sandwiches.”: 0%

Average American family size in 2012: 2.47

My family size 2012: 7

Percentage of friends who ask, “Are you done yet?”: 100%

Average number of days per month that a child will shout, “I can’t find my shoes!”: 30

Ratio of pairs of shoes to child: 7:1

Number of living things in my house that are not people, pets, or plants,  and that are grown for food: 5


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