Wednesday, November 12, 2008

fake it til you make it

I had to take a math test this morning. And then I got a flu shot. BEST. DAY. EVER. There was also an aptitude test (not attitude, unfortunately) and that part was fine. "What letter comes next in this sequence?" they asked. "Q!" I shouted. The test administrator asked me not to shout during the testing process. Then during the math portion, he asked me to stop crying and throwing things.

I was in all the smart math classes in school, but I never really understood what I was doing. I have a good memory so I'd memorize how all the homework problems were done, and then I'd skate through the tests with my sweet memorization skills. But I had no idea WHY you multiplied the square root of your butt by X. It's sort of like when you teach a little kid to swear. Sure, they can pronounce the words correctly but they don't know what they're doing. And unless you show them how, they'll never know how to combine those swear words for maximum hilarity (see: poohead buttshits).

Last night, I missed watching James Bond (in Blu Ray, which is apparently better than HD, but I wouldn't know, wah wah) because I needed to go over the test math problems they'd provided. These are the text messages I sent as I tried to work the problems:

I can't do math and I'm getting frustrated! (this was to Joe, who edits math textbooks, and who came over to help me when I threatened to cry)


Math is a fuckstick.

And as I sat there with my head in my hands, trying to set the fake test on fire with my eyes, I was reminded of all those weeknights my dad would sit with me and help me with my math homework. I'd get frustrated then, too. I get frustrated with anything I can't do perfectly right away THEREFORE I get frustrated a lot. Here is how most of those evenings would go:

Dad: What's wrong?
Me: I can't do this problem!
Dad: Let me show you how to do it.
Me: I don't need help!
Dad: Jennie . . .
Me: Fine.
Dad: See, you do this and this and blah blah blah the answer is 6.
Dad: Yes, you will.
Me: Math sucks.
Dad: I know.
Me: Waaaaaaaaaah.
Dad: Try this one.
Me: OK.
Dad: There, see, you did it.

And then I'd try another one and start crying when I couldn't figure it out. I felt confident that I'd never, ever need algebra again and I would yell and yell about that instead of actually doing the problem, while my dad would explain that YES, YES I WOULD NEED ALGEBRA STOP BEING SUCH A WHINY BRAT. It turns out we were both right (about the math part, only my dad was right about the whiny brat part). I haven't really needed math since college. Until now, when I needed it this morning AND IT WASN'T THERE. Plus, they wouldn't let me use a calculator. What kind of fucked up shit is that?


heather! anne! said...

Fact: Math wants to kill us all.

S said...

How does one get a job editing math text books? I would like that job very much, I think. (OMG, I'm such a dork, and also clearly don't like my job very much right now. I can't believe I just asked that question in a public forum.)

kat! said...

joe edits math textbooks?


Joe G. said...

One stumbles into it ass-backwards. That's how I got my job, anyway. I was placed here by a temp agency, and they told me I would be doing filing and administrative work, and instead I edited and did math on my first day. And then the company liked me so much that they up and hired me. I didn't even have to interview or anything. It was pretty awesome.

Did I mention that I have a degree in English and no math background or teaching experience whatsoever? I should mention that. How I am still in this job, I have no idea.

mysterygirl! said...

May I ask why you have to take a math test? Because it sounds horrible and I need to take whatever steps necessary to avoid it.

You can call me, 'Sir' said...

For awhile I thought that I could escape most math by steering away from computer science and into biomedical blah blah, but it turns out that about half of biomedical blah blah requires math and it sort of sneaks up on you and hits you in the face with an imaginary book entitled, 'IT'S MATH, BITCHES!!! The Shameful Secret Behind Kinetics and Thermodynamics'.

So, yeah. Good talk.

Never That Easy said...

I, also, wound my way through math classes by being able to remember the examples while, at the same time, having no earthly clue what it was I was doing. And then I promptly forgot it all. Now my poor nephew will call and ask me for homework help and I'll say something like "Oh, sure, I know how to do that: let me call you back when I finish dinner" when in fact I hang up the phone and immediately google for how to do whatever it is he needs help with. So, basically, I suck at math and am good at copying.

Tam said...

I'm taking the GRE (Why? Because. Because I need to collect more letters after my name to match husband) so now I have to study math too. I DO NOT HEART MATH! What is the opposite of 'heart'? I think its 'hate on' so I officially HATE ON math.
What the shit is a prime number? Integer? X? I tell you I don't know. And and I found out they deleted the analytical portion of the GRE - the part I'm actually good at. Now Math and words no one EVER uses prevail. I HATE ON the GRE.

Jennie! said...

h!a! True story. That test murdered me.

S, sigh. You nerds slay me. Hee.

Kat!, also social studies.

Joe, maybe you shouldn't tell the entire internet that you're unqualified for your job. Hee.

mg! I can't say without possibly getting dooced.

Sir, yeah, I thought going into HR would be a safe bet. YEAH RIGHT. There's money everywhere.

NTE, my cousin called me for help with her algebra once. I pretended to be busy so she wouldn't know how stupid I am.

Tam, let's start an anti-math club. I think everyone here would join.

Ashley said...

Oh, my God, you're right! I don't know why I didn't see this before! Math IS a fuckstick. I feel so much better now.

Ha, wouldn't it be funny to put that on a tshirt?

mysterygirl! said...

Whoops, sorry. Wouldn't wanna dooce you.

Joe G. said...

I'm not saying I'm unqualified for my job. As demonstrated on numerous occasions, I'm quite proficient at math. I might even say that I'm good at it. I'm just saying that, if there were a list of people who were qualified to do my job, I would not be at the top of it. I'd be somewhere in the middle. Definitely in the top 70th percentile, I'm sure.

Also, I would not join an anti-math club. I like math in so much as it keeps me employed and I feel warm and happy whenever I can do it, especially when the problem is difficult. I like to do it when it's hard.

Jennie! said...

Ashley, I'd wear that shirt.

mg! meh.


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