We’re proud to announce that McMath Wood P.A.’s first annual scholarship campaign aimed to help first-year undergraduate and graduate students has just came to a close. We were humbled by the amount of responses and applications we received. The quality of the essays was outstanding.
We’ve chosen a winner for Fall 2019!
Congratulations to Madeline Quasebarth of Baltimore!
Madeline will be starting University of Chicago this Fall and will be obtaining her Masters in Anthropology.
This was the essay topic:
“If you could invite three people to dinner, alive or dead, who would they be and why?”
This was her winning essay:
Build Each Other Up
The fire alarm blares off. Letting out a silent curse, I grab a broom and fan the alarm with one hand while flicking off the stove with the other.
“Please don’t be too burnt,” I plead to myself, peering into the stove once the alarm had finally quieted. Figuring out the menu for this night had been a headache. Briefly, I considered a paleo-themed dinner party but decided that was to cliché. Instead I decided to go back to my roots with a classic Baltimorean meal – crab cakes, old bay, and lemon sticks. However, now looking at the rather sad looking charred crab cakes, perhaps this was a little out of the wheelhouse for a vegetarian of 23 years.
The clock blinked a menacing 7:03 pm giving me only 28 minutes to pull off something slightly edible for my dinner guests. Resting my head against the cool fridge I couldn’t believe what a mess I had made of this evening already. What had I been thinking when I accepted this once in a lifetime opportunity?
Months ago I had sent out three invitations, which I imagined arriving with a pop into the air in front of each of my guests. Elegantly gliding down into their palms – they would be surprised, of course, maybe even a little apprehensive, but eventually excited I could only imagine, or at least I hope they would be. My first guest, Jane Goodall, would be out in some far distant tropical forest, inches from an ape when her invitation would appear in her hands. Of course, being the experienced naturist, she wouldn’t make a sound as to not disturb her study subjects and would tuck the invitation deep into one of her many vest pockets.
My second guest was a little harder for me to imagine. Perhaps she would be sitting by an open fire with baby in arms, singing some ancient song. Genetic Eve would look up at the pop of the invitation. It would dance, carried by the smoke of the flame, and flirt with the fire’s edge before Genetic Eve swept the paper into her hands along with her child. Calmly she would examine the paper, as the proud matriarch of humanity, nod, and then continue her lullaby to the infant at her chest.
My final guest – the most foreign to me – would most likely be tucked in a cave surrounded by ice and snow. Even in the coldness, the Neanderthal continued to dip her brush into the paint at her feet. Carefully outlining the stick-like figures of her family, transcribing the fabric of their people’s history. Until – pop – the invitation again appeared. Now this one, I could only imagine would be the least calm with the arrival of the alien object. The Neanderthal would flip her paint over and throw her brush at the floating paper, shouting to her family around her to get back, to stay safe. After a few moments with the invitation, assured that it meant no harm, the Neanderthal would go near and prod the paper, before handing it to her fellow companions.
At the time I had thought that there could be no better dinner party then this collection of the human progression: the Neanderthal, the Genetic Eve, and the Contemporary Homo Saipan (me), studied by one of the most renowned naturalist – Jane Goodall. It would be one glorious night of scientific discovery.
But now I had ruined it with these burnt crab cakes. Glancing down at my phone I defeatedly opened GrubHub and ordered 4 large pizzas. This will have to be good enough, I thought to myself, hoping that they would arrive in the 15 minutes I had left before my guests were to arrive. Anxiously I paced in the dining room, moving a fork a half an inch this way and a glass a half an inch that way. At 7:28 my phone blinked “Your order has arrived” I let out a sigh of relief and darted out to meet Derek T. and my four large pizzas.
At 7:30 on the dot, with three pops suddenly sitting in front of me, were my guests, looking slightly bemused and confused. Jane Goodall sat perched on the edge of her chair scribbling a note on a pad of paper. Genetic Eve quietly rocked back and forth cautiously touching the nearby fork. The Neanderthal let out a guttural grunt and stood up from her chair.
“Um- well welcome, welcome.” I began placing the pizzas on the table, “First I would just like to thank every one of you for deciding to take this rather arduous journey to join me here at this dinner table.” I looked around and with a sinking feeling, I realized that only Jane could understand a word I was saying. Genetic Eve was piously watching me with her head tilted while the Neanderthal had completely stopped paying attention and was examining the nearby China cabinet.
“Um, excuse me, could you not touch that?” I exclaimed rushing over to the Neanderthal who had proceeded to remove the most fragile sugar bowl and was dangling it on one pinky finger. She looked right at me, and I looked right at her.
“Well, aren’t you a rude little one,” Came the smooth voice of the Neanderthal. “You don’t need to look at me like that – with such surprise – we Neanderthals were actually very intelligent before we were exterminated by you humans.”
With that, the Neanderthal let the sugar bowl fall crashing to the floor. “And not only did you make us travel across time and space – without an RSVP might I point out – but to someone’s house ordered pizza?” The Neanderthal continued picking up with the top of the pizza box with that same pinky. “Really, where are your manners, little human?”
“I, for one, am over the moon about this pizza. Really, my dear,” Jane said, excitedly picking up a slice in both hands. “I haven’t had pizza in years,” she said in between each bite, “They just don’t have them in the middle of the forest, you know, dear?”
“Um, I’m so sorry, Ms. Neanderthal. I had intended to make another dinner, but I let it burn. I am so sorry.”
“Well, the first step to getting this apology right is by calling me by my name – Wooly Hut. Honestly, did you humans get rid of manners just as you got rid of us?”
Wooly Hut sat back down in a huff. Jane Goodall had moved on to her fourth slice of pizza without showing any signs of slowing down. Her notebook which I had hoped would hold insight to this historic meeting was now being used as a napkin – soaked in grease. I stood there, my knees trembling slightly. I wistfully looked at the clock willing for the minute hand to move faster.
Slowly Genetic Eve stood up and I braced myself for whatever angry onslaught that she may have. As she walked over to me, I tried to not flinch, fearful of this powerful ancient creature. She raised her arms wide and I braced for impact. To my shock, I found myself in a warm embrace and a soft hum of an ancient lullaby reverberated from deep in her throat.
“There, there, little one. Wooly Hut is just feeling a little cranky I assure you, maybe a little hungry, Wooly Hut?” Genetic Eve said over my head to Wooly Hut. She grunted what may have been approval. “Why don’t you give the pizza a try, Wooly Hut?”
Sheepishly Wooly Hot took a slice in her hands, also bypassing the plates as Jane had.
“Ah, thank you, Wooly Hut.” Genetic Eve had such a presence about her, it was a mixture of calm and fierce – she was the power of the silence before the storm. Of a potential that could be just as deadly as it was a herald of life, and for the first time this evening I felt comforted.
“Jane, maybe you could take a seat?” Eve asked. Jane grabbed a pizza box and shuffled to her seat.
“Isn’t that better, everyone?” Eve continued slowly looking around the table. “There is a beauty here between the four of us, and it became dimmed with this cattiness and fighting – like copper that has been allowed to oxidize and rust.” Eve beamed at the three of us, Jane looking up between a bite of pizza stopped with her mouth open slightly, Wooly Hut still sitting with her arms crossed had the slightest upturn on the sides of her lips, and I sat still aghast and confused enchanted by this woman in front of me. Historically and scientifically there is still debate if this woman is truly the Genetic Eve – the mother of modern humanity – but there was no question in my mind seeing the elegance this woman held herself in front of us. In short, the three of us were bewitched.
Genetic Eve continued to exude her powerful smile. “I know that our host has called us here to better understand how humans have progressed, and to be studied by a premier scientist.” Eve nodded to Jane who had finally placed her pizza down back into the box and had finished wiping her greasy hands upon her field notebook.
“Wait, hold on,” Jane interrupted Eve suddenly, “I’m sorry, Eve, but I was called here to work? I thought this was a dinner party! And you expect me to work. Classic.” She gestured to me. “Can’t ever seem to get a moment’s break. Always working, working, working – I just wanted one evening to let loose and have some fun.” Jane glared at me with arms crossed. “Unbelievable.”
I glanced down at my clock. Only 5 more minutes and then this terrible dinner party could fade into memory – into the realm of half-remembered dreams.
“Hush now, Jane,” Eve said stoically. “I want the three of you to hear something incredibly important – some lesson that I think you, Jane, are already uniquely familiar with.”
Jane nodded and put her soiled notebook in her pocket theatrically before giving her attention back to Eve.
“Thank you. Now, as you three know, sadly it’s hard out there for women. It has been since my time, to Wooly Huts, to Jane’s, and to yours – our host. But I need you all to listen. This bickering between us, this pushing of one down for the other – That isn’t going to get any of us anywhere. We must nurture one another. The world has become a harsh place for women. Perhaps it always was. But the bitterness, the anger in between, must be stopped. Love one another as sisters despite this difference. Listen to one another as sisters, not in spite of but because of your differences. Understand one another, and understand that you will never fully understand each of your lived experiences – but create a space to listen. I am an old woman, yes? I don’t understand the time of Wooly Hut, I don’t understand the time of Jane Goodall, and I don’t understand the time of the host. But I understand that the time for supporting one another up is now. ”
With a pop, all three were gone and I was sitting alone in the dining room filled with half-eaten pizza. I opened my laptop and began the journey to understand others through difference.
Given the success of this year’s scholarship, we’re pleased to announce that we’ll be continuing it for 2020 and beyond!
For more information on our next scholarship period which will be for Fall 2020, please see our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Madeline! May all your dreams come true.