January 30, 2011

Warning: Your Advice May Cause Explosions and Death. (No Pressure)

Posted in Watermarks in Progress at 12:21 pm by Tamara

This is why I hate math.

I hear people say they love math because it’s concrete—it always equals one answer and only one answer.  But that means that, as you’re trying to get to the answer, if you do ONE TINY THING WRONG, you get the entire equation wrong.  It’s perfection or nothing.

Compare that to counseling (or anything else in life).  Let’s say I’m talking over a life problem with someone and I give them several pieces of advice.  Say one piece of advice isn’t exactly perfect, but they still follow the rest of the advice—they’re probably still going to be okay.  But if counseling was like math, if I ever gave someone any advice that was even slightly wrong, THEY’D INSTANTANIOUSLY DIE AN EXPLOSIVE GREUSOME HORRIBLE DEATH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Who could live with that pressure??  That’s how I feel doing math.  It’s perfection or nothing, and that pressure is about enough to explode me!

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a math class, and I’ve apparently forgotten a lot.  We don’t get partial credit, only our final answers are graded, and we have to do all the calculations for the statistics formulas by hand (with my 99 cent red plastic calculator– no nice calculator that does it all for you).  As I’m sautéing my brain trying to grasp the concepts behind these complicated formulas, I keep forgetting basic, stupid things.  Like, for example, I just spent 45 minutes on a problem that I just could not solve, no matter how many times I checked and rechecked my work by the formula and example.  I thought I understood the concept, but I just couldn’t get the right answer!  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and asked Adam for help.  I was about one step into showing him my work (that I’d entirely re-done four times) when he pointed out: “If you square a negative number it equals a positive.”

(Looooooooong pause as I stare at the paper)

Good, stupid, horrible, wretched, evil, disgusting grief—I’d been TORMENTING myself trying to figure out how I was misunderstanding the formula, when all along I understood the complex ridiculous mind-blowing statistics concept and apparently just DON’T KNOW HOW TO MULTIPLY!!!!

I hate math.

And I’m out of pink M&Ms.



  1. Dad said,

    It all begins with attitude…

  2. Dad said,

    I’m sorry for a couple of reasons. First because I had to laugh (probably because I identify with you.) And second, because I’m probably at least partly to blame for your mistake. After all, I was your first math teacher. :-/ What I hate about math is that you can look at something like a negative sign ten times and not see it. But also, having been your first math teacher, I know you can outsmart this class! You can do it! Rah! Rah!

    Wish I had some pink M&M’s for you.


  3. Tamara said,

    Aw, thanks, Mom. I’m pretty sure you taught me how to square negative numbers, though. I think I dumped all that stuff out of my brain as a way to repress the trauma. :P

    I can laugh about it a little now. Probably because (after spending half his afternoon helping me) Adam went out and bought me more pink M&Ms. :)

  4. Danielle said,

    Don’t feel too bad. When you wrote that squaring a negative would make it positive, I thought to myself (with the internal tone of eyes being opened) ‘hmm, that’s interesting.’. I may well have known that fact as well, but as you say, trauma should be repressed. David always walks me through his linguistic problems (kind soul :) while I smile, nod, and interject the occasional ‘mmhmm’ or ‘oh’ while I try to force my eyes from glazing over. Dear heart he is. I don’t care a whir about linguistics, but I DO care for him so I keep listening and keep trying to remain interested. The thing that blow my mind about linguists, though, is that there are rules like math, but they don’t always work and sometimes you are supposed to break them, but no one tells you that you can until you’ve pulled each strand of hair out individually. :). (I like being dramatic for David’s sake.)

  5. Danielle said,

    And by whir I mean whit. I fail.

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