Sunday, November 20, 2005

Math Whiz

That's me.

I've been doing math almost every day this week. Up until this week, the only math I've done since my freshman year of college (calculus - blecch, and chemistry - blecch blecch) has been for the purpose of budgeting money, or calculating grades. Addition, subraction, multiplication, division, percentages. These are the forms of math with which I'm comfortable, and since I'm not at all confident in my ability to do math in my head, my calculator - the one my mom bought me for $9.99 when I registered for pre-algebra in seventh grade - is my friend. But my friend cannot accompany me into the GRE testing room. This makes me very anxious.

So I've been practicing like crazy. I worked through the math review on the software the GRE test makers sent me: arithmetic, algebra (The only form of math I ever had any love for; it's such a mystery, like, "Damn, what is x?"), geometry, and data analysis. I've spent about 12 hours doing math problems this week, and now I remember why I've been so careful to avoid math over the past five years. It makes me hostile. I have little patience for calculations to begin with, and when I go through several steps of calculations only to discover that my solution to the problem is incorrect, a frustration rises within me that I have never felt in any non-math situation. My muscles tense, my face gets hot, my leg jiggles, and I understand why someone might break a pencil in half.

In the textbook that I use to teach my class, the author suggested that someone might write an essay defining math anxiety. At the time, I laughed a little, and found it hard to believe that math anxiety might be a real thing. Now I remember.

But I'm done with math for tonight. Whew. More tomorrow. Small doses. For now, I'm going to do yoga and read Kathy Acker. Who, by the way, is a strange author to be reading for a class. A lot of her writing is pretty much pure pornography. Should be an interesting class discussion.


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