Confessionals, boy-crazy and otherwise

First:  I did not fail the test.  Nope.  Not a failure.  Not today.  Voice of reason: Although I am happy to have passed, it was a genuine surprise.  So clearly I have no idea how to self-assess my abilities in this course.  File that away as something to think about post-celebration.


Hot X: Algebra Exposed!  By Winnie from Wonder Years.

Second: I made progress on my black-hole tendencies.  I asked two questions in class, and I bought a new book.  Yes, this book.  Yes, the cover pumps a personality quiz and “boy-crazy confessionals.”  But Winnie-from-Wonder-Years’s tone is so much more likeable than my $400 course textbook.  The blurb promises that she “shows you how to ace algebra and soar to the top of your class–in style!”  The pep-talk to us girls (tween or otherwise) about being able to do math is a bonus.

Third: We started graphing things this week.  MY OPTIMISM IS RENEWED.  I love graphing.  I love graph paper.  I love charts and tables.  And grids.  It’s the whole reason I became a girl-scout as a kid: selling cookies meant I had control over the most magnificent, color-coded spreadsheet that a 1980’s 10-year old could hope for.  And when we planted a garden, we went the square-foot gardening route because it required a grid.  And crossword puzzles: a favorite pass-time.  So many tiny little boxes.  I use graph paper all the time, but using graph paper for its intended purpose brings a special kind of joy.

Finally: I’m not funny.  I know it.  Last week, a stranger commented that this blog was interesting but not funny.  Being interesting can be hard, so I’ll take that as a win and continue to forge ahead.  Onward and upward, everyone, mechanical pencils at the ready.  It’s a whole new week.

The negative wind speed beneath my wings

We had our first test this week.  The last question was a word problem about the amount of pollution in the air based on the speed of the wind.  Somehow, I ended up with a negative wind speed.  Which I know is illogical and impossible (unless I completely misunderstood the LIGO announcement this week).  But the math that I had worked out to arrive at the negative wind speed looked pretty much right to me.  And so, knowing that my answer was absolutely wrong, I wrote it down anyway.  Something is always better than nothing.

It is only this week dawning on me that I might actually fail this course, which has put me into a very fast five-stages-of-grief tailspin.  At the peak of my frustration, I told a friend that I was doing everything I knew how to do, and it wasn’t enough.  She said:

  • “Did you visit your professor during office hours?” No.
  • “Did you seek out tutoring?” No.
  • “Did you find other books to explain the same problem differently?” No.

She pointed out that I was not, in fact, doing everything I knew how to do.  Fellow math students have also suggested that I sit in the tutoring center while doing homework and that I ask around for links to YouTube videos of people working through the steps for given problems.

Honestly?  I HATE THESE IDEAS.  I believed learning math wouldn’t require as much collaboration as learning to write seems to require.  And honestly, the idea of doing math in a vacuum appeals to me. I’m not sure why, when I know how powerful collaboration can be.  For some reason, I want to be inside a black hole with math, where nothing IS something.  Or something like that.  Maybe my answer to this test question was me trying to tell myself as much.  Except I don’t know enough math to have ever orchestrated the negative wind speed answer on purpose.

This week, I need to reassess my goals with this math business.  If this project is going to last longer than a semester, I suppose I need a better plan.  Working in a black hole, as much as I like the idea of it, isn’t going to get me very far.