My Life in Maths

Alas, I’ve finally decided to buckle down and finish my degree. I mean, the only thing between me and this practically useless piece of paper most people I encounter assume I have anyway is one little math class, so why not?

Why not, indeed.

If you know me you know that I get along with almost everyone, as long as they aren’t assholes, and even then I can fake it for a while. But math?

No. Math is not my friend.

Math is like an indecisive bipolar roommate who you never see until suddenly he’s there, crazy-eyed and holding a big, sharp-ass knife in one hand and five steaming baked potatoes in the other, and he’s like “I’m gonna show you how to cut these hot-as-fuck baked potatoes with this dangerous-as-fuck knife!” and you’re like “why?! Why do I need to know how to cut all of these hot potatoes when I can learn with a room-temperature potato and a normal knife? WHY ARE THERE SO MANY WAYS TO CUT A POTATO? AND WHY ARE THERE FIVE POTATOES?!” If that analogy made no sense, then you get it.

Why? Why are there so many ways to do the same thing? WHY??
Why? Why are there so many ways to say the same thing? WHY??

This is kind of my life right now. As you can possibly tell, I hate math. In fact, I’m supposed to be doing my math homework right now, but I got two questions in and am now instead writing about how much I hate math, so, you get the idea.

You might be thinking: it’s only one class, what’s the big deal? And I would say you shut your pretty mouth – it is a HUGE deal! See, to get to that one class, I first need to take at least four other classes, those which lead up to said one class. I’m in the second of those classes now, having taken the first online a couple of summers ago and also having apparently forgotten every single thing I sort-of learned. They won’t let me take it again because I ‘passed’, so therefore I am forced be in this spittoon of numbers and vile.

It’s difficult for me to admit to people how very terrible I am at math, because I like to maintain the assumption that people have about me, which is that I am a smart person. I’ve worked very hard to cultivate this deception, by doing such things as always wearing glasses, and nodding thoughtfully during conversation.

So for me to write about my struggles with math, I am essentially laying myself down at your feet, dear reader, and asking you not to judge me, but just to listen to me rant for a while. Feel free to also imagine my tears falling gently onto a page filled with scribbled-out numbers because my eraser was obliterated to shit ages ago.

My current math class, as all math classes everywhere, I’d imagine, kind of…sucks. I don’t blame the instructor per se because sure, when going over the ‘review’ portion of the class one would assume it’s just that: a review. As in, it was learned before, and remembered. So to go really fast should, in theory, make sense. I was hoping that the review portion of class would jog some sort of math-based memories for me but ho-hum, it has not. And so I sit there for an hour looking like I just got punched in the snatch while she keeps smiling like we’re all having a good time. Frankly it’s not all that bad because it’s reminding me of the carefree days of my youth, so….

Did we just do that…? Okaaaay….

After an hour of that our class travels en masse to the math lab, where we are tested on what we’ve just ‘learned’. Because my bladder is middle-aged and I nervous-drink water all through the lecture, I take this as an opportunity to use the bathroom, which then makes me late to the lab, every damn time. Does no one else have to use the bathroom? Why am I always the last to walk in?!

This means everyone looks up from the instructions to which they’re listening in order to observe me awkwardly pivoting my body from left to right and back again in an attempt to locate a vacant computer, but failing. Instead I am pointed into the little empty room off the main lab where the sad older-model computers are. It’s cold and lonely in there. I call it ‘The Crying Room’.

IMG_0221On my second day of class I got to the college ‘early’ and proceeded to drive around looking for parking for over an hour, therefore making myself 40 minutes late to class. Once done swearing and beating the steering wheel, I ran down the four flights of stairs of the parking garage, across the three parking lots to my building, up the three flights of stairs to my floor, then down the long hall to my class, where I stopped to compose myself before walking in (all heads turn, of course) and loudly plomping down in the nearest desk. I proceeded to breathe heavily and sweat profusely while I scrambled to pull out all of the books and notebooks and binders necessary to take one freaking math class, meanwhile trying to make sense of what language the professor was speaking and wishing I’d stopped on the way to pee.

My one ray of sunlight in this entire experience so far was the walk I recently took to the lab near a few of my classmates. Because I have basic social graces I loudly interrupted whatever they were talking about to ask if anyone else felt the instructor was going a bit fast, or if it was just me. They concurred that things were speeding by and it was confusing trying to keep up. From behind me a guy admitted to being totally lost. “I had to have a glass of wine right after class on Monday,” said an older woman to my left. One of the girls I’d interrupted said she’d cried the night before while doing homework. It was like that scene in the David Sedaris memoir, Me Talk Pretty One Day, but with math instead of French, thus making it way less charming.

FullSizeRender (3)Anyway; I digress, and needless to say, I was thrilled!  Clearly, these were my people. But I couldn’t bring them all home with me for a much-needed group commiseration, so I had to rely on the people I live with. To Paulie’s credit, he has offered to help me with my homework no less than a few times, but when I finally swallowed my pride and took him up on it, his technique for figuring out my fraction problem was so convoluted and wackadoodle I almost started crying again. So the 10th grader offered to help, and guess what? Same. It appears that every generation has a completely different gibberish technique for doing math, and most involve calculators. When I explained I wasn’t allowed to use one of these magical devices, my helpers were aghast and lamented for a while about how ‘stupid’ that was. Which is true. So I started to write out the problem again, and the 10th grader looking over my shoulder laughed and pointed and said “what’s that?” I told him it was long-division, duh, and he was like “what?! I’ve literally never seen that before, that’s stupid!”

You see what I’m dealing with here?

There it is again. Let's make it as confusing as possible
Notice they’re saying to do one thing, but with a million different symbols. Because Math.

As I write this, I’ve just finished Day 3 of math class. Thank you in advance for understanding that I will likely be a broken, bitter and angry woman for the next one-to-four years, depending on how long it takes me to finish my hopefully-not-completely-worthless degree.

The End.

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