Mathochism: Oh, the humanity

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

I had my third Algebra II test tonight.

It did not go well. I studied hard for it, I thought I had the various concepts — roots, dividing polynomials, imaginary numbers — down. But when the test was in front of me, I felt my brain turn to pudding. It wasn’t the delicious kind of pudding, either, but the kind that film-makers appear to have used in Steve McQueen’s debut film, “The Blob.”

The pudding interfered with my ability to see patterns, and seeing patterns is crucial for solving roots and for factoring. When I start seeing patterns, that’s when I know I’m in the math zone. I believe I edged into that zone a few times tonight, but not enough for me to feel good about my prospects.

Sigh. It’s enough to make me self-medicate with an entire bar of hazelnut chocolate. Well, I’ll just get back on the healthy eating wagon tomorrow!

This evening’s fiasco has reinforced my decision to skip the summer session and put off geometry until fall. It was a tough decision, because it derails my plans to get to calculus by next spring. But I really need a break.

There are other factors, of course. My college only offers day geometry classes, and only a six-week session. The first messes with my need to keep my days open for my other work, while the second ruins any plans my spouse and I had to take a longer vacation this summer. There’s also the fact that I really need to focus on my actual career, and lately, I’ve been using math as an excuse not to.

Therefore, I am putting Mathochism on hiatus for two months once this semester is over. One more test, then the final, and then I bid the Brofessor buh-bye. Parting will not be sweet sorrow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a slab o’ chocolate to attend to. I’m really not in the mood for pudding.

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


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