## Mathochism: Building confidence

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 was a bit apprehensive about going to class on Tuesday.

For one thing, I still have some homework left to do. We have entered the world of inequalities, and I’ve never felt the love for those since I was reintroduced to them back in the days of the Dapper Professor. For another, I was afraid Uchitel would tell us the next test is Thursday.

That would once again mean crunch-time. I don’t mind making this class a priority, but I have other deadlines I need to meet this week and this month, so dropping everything for the test is not an attractive option.

## Mathochism: Woohoo!

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

Some things are worth the wait. Uchitel finally returned our tests today, and I didn’t scrape a B, as expected. I got an A! An A-, true, but it would have been a solid A had I not had a brain fart and written down the symbol for parallel when I meant perpendicular on one of the problems. My carelessness cost me two points, lowering my 95 to a 93.

Still, I was among the high scores in class, and Uchitel wrote “Good!” by my grade. As far as I’m concerned, that’s as satisfying as a gold star. And speaking of gold stars, I don’t remember my first and second grade teacher (I had the same teacher for both years in my Italian elementary school) giving them out. Rather, she would write “Bene” for average work, “Brava” for good work, and “Bravissima” for excellent work. Oh, how I longed for those “Bravissimas”!

## Mathochism: One part of the mystery solved

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

Another class, and still no test. But I’m not getting Brofessor flashbacks, at least not yet. Uchitel has promised we will get our tests Thursday, and if we’re really eager, he will e-mail us our scores beforehand.

I think I will wait until Thursday! He did say he was pleased with most of our results. I hope I am part of that group. Or, to put it in a geometric way: I hope I am in the circle of “good students” in that Venn diagram.

## Mathochism: Flex day

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 was tense all day, and tired. Part of this could be blamed on the time change (I want my hour back, dammit!), part on the horrible events in Japan, and part on the expectation that we would get our tests back today.

But we didn’t. Uchitel was apologetic, and I’m willing to give him a pass, since all the tests were handwritten, we have 45 people in the class, and he is teaching four other geometry classes besides mine. Oh, fine. It was kind of nice to get a reprieve. There’s only so much bad news you can hear a week, and there’s way too much crap going on in the world right now.

## Mathochism: Writing concerns

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

The test is over.

It wasn’t awful, or filled with surprises. Still, I’ll be happy if I scrape a B. There were three proofs on it, as promised. One indirect, two direct. I did my best with each, but messed up near the end of at least one, and skipped a step on the other. Uchitel promised he will give partial credit on those problems, so I’m hoping for the best.

But I have another concern. My handwriting is not great. Part of that, I confess, is a lack of application on my part as a child, but a bigger part is that my RA has made my fingers less than limber. Writing legibly is therefore always a challenge, but even more so when I have to do it quickly, or in a cramped space. (Why is it that test designers seldom give you enough space?) Proofs, particularly proofs in paragraph form, involve a lot of writing. This test involved A LOT of writing.

## Mathochism: Opposite day

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

A nasty surprise was waiting for me in geometry today.

Uchitel announced that, although we have not gotten through Chapter 2 yet, we are having our first test on Thursday. It will only cover Chapter 1 and one section of Chapter 2, which covers indirect proofs.

Gaaaahhh! I am in a bit of a panic now, because proofs turned on me over the weekend. What I thought was a relatively simple process of making statements, then providing reasons based on postulates and definitions, got complicated really fast. Though I understood why, for example, angle AOC plus angle COD became angle AOD, I couldn’t seem to prove it. Or at least, not in more than three steps.

## RA Diaries: Illness as punishment

Many years ago, I learned to fly an airplane.

It took me more than two years to get my license, partly because I kept running out of money, but mostly because I had to find the right instructor. As it turned out, it was the third one, and apart from the fact that she was a veteran CFI with an excellent record, she also had RA. Unlike me, she had gotten it in her 30s (she was in her 50s when she taught me). And unlike me, she’d taken the really strong stuff, including gold.

The gold (which I remember some doctors wanted to give me, but my grandfather, also a doctor, refused) turned her skin a permanent metallic orange. I know she was self-conscious about it, and that people, especially kids, had been unkind. But this woman was a fighter, and she was not afraid to flay miscreants with her very sharp tongue.

In spite of our shared health concerns, we didn’t talk a lot about RA. Rather, we focused on the business of flying. It came up at times, such as when she tried to give me a big bag of herbal supplements (after her bad gold experience, she had turned to holistic healing).

And then, there was the incident.

## Mathochism: Pass the popcorn

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

Things got exciting in geometry during the last session.

I wish I could say the main reason for that excitement was that I learned something new (though I did). But no — it was the kerfuffle that arose near the end of class due to a somewhat tricky theorem.

Back when I was studying Algebra with the Dour Professor, negative class dynamics made a big difference in the learning experience. In that case, it was a selection of various young men (belonging to that often infuriating subset called “bros”) who caused the problems. Said bros were often rude to the instructor and to their fellow classmates. Infuriating behavior included talking loudly during class, demanding special privileges and “translating” the professor, who spoke with a non-American accent.