## Mathochism: Stuck in the matrix

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

Gah. Gaah! Gaaaaaahhhh!!

My first Algebra II test was tonight, and I’m willing to bet I won’t get an A on this one.

Why? I got stuck in the matrix.

(Where’s Neo when I need him? Where??)

The last portion of chapter three introduced matrices, which, for the uninitiated are engines of Satan systems for solving equations without having to deal with pesky variables like x, y and z.

This is what a matrix looks like:

1 -3  1  10
0  2  4  7
2  5  3  1

You solve it by manipulating the rows so that you wind up with a 1 0 0, 0 1 0, 0 0 1 pattern, plus the constants for a solution.

The thing is, I’ve come to appreciate variables lately. We’ve become buds — maybe not the kind who bowl together, but definitely the kind who meet for coffee — and I hate to see them go. When we first went over matrices, the brofessor told us that you either love them or hate them.

Put me right in the hate category. Matrices take WAY. TOO. LONG. They are also extremely sensitive, since one tiny mistake throws everything off. Add a bunch of fractions, and it’s a hair-tearing, masochistic bad time.

After tonight’s test, I’m starting to hate the brofessor as well. The matrix he chose for the test was horrible. Mind-numbingly horrible, with ridiculous fractions like 114 sixths that had to be added to 74 fourths. I spent a good half hour on the damn thing, then just gave up, since I still had a ways to go and time was up.

Luckily, I zipped through the rest of the test, and think that I did okay.

The brofessor hate, however, has been building in me for a few weeks. The man refuses to see the forest for the trees, refuses to teach straightforward technique, and skips steps. Had I had him for pre-Algebra, I wouldn’t be here.

I have enough confidence in my math talents by now that I may be able to weather this guy, but I realize I’m going to have to be a lot firmer. I am not going to let him rush through concepts or skip steps. I am determined to do better on the next test.

I will not stay mired in the matrix.

(BTW Neo? Call me!)

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.