you might think i’m kidding…

…when you read my little profile caption over there to the right. Until I tell you that I tried to take some sample questions online from the Quantitative Section of the GRE today.

Waves of nausea? check. Cold sweats? check. Watery eyes? check. Crumpled pieces of paper thrown across the room? Triple check.

I don’t know when it started, really. I was always a bright student and I did well in all of my classes. I usually scored lower on the math portions of the state aptitude tests, but I was always in the above average portion on the scoring sheet.

In high school, I did well in algebra – about a B. I think that, somewhere in my 10th grade year, it happened. I enjoyed geometry, really I did. But I was also a little jerk. My teacher endured relentless pestering from me that year. I didn’t think she was very bright because of the way she spoke, so I harassed her all year. When she said, “patterin” instead of “pattern,” I raised my hand and asked, “could you tell me, and the rest of the class, as it’s not even a WORD, what a patterin is?” I didn’t say I was proud of it – I said that I did it.

In addition to torturing Mrs. Sweet and performing Amy’s Math Mockery Revue whenever her back was turned, I also had a crush on the guy who sat behind me. He was tall and lanky and had long hair and played guitar in a band …and he used to pass me notes and pictures about llamas and led zeppelin. Really? You can’t expect me to learn anything in that kind of environment.

So, although I passed geometry, I was somehow missing knowledge when I got to Trig. I had the best possibe math teacher. she was amazing. Nobody could fail her class. Well – except me, with a 63. When I took Course III over again in summer school, I thought I understood. Keep building on a shaky foundation. Give me pre-calc.

No nice words about pre-calc. I did not like my teacher, I did not do my homework, I did not have a graphing calculator. I failed with a 54. Somehow, when I guessed my way through the assessment for community college, I was placed in the advanced pre-calc class. I begged my adisor to drop me into a lower math so that I could re-learn.

My nonexistent graphing calculator and I obeyed my advisor and got a D in precalc together. That was in 1995, and I have not taken a math class since.

Ten years later, I am ready to apply to grad school, facing the task of taking the GRE. Out of 7 attempted questions, I got 2 right. 2. I think I’ve forgotten even the most basic math principles in an effort to wipe all math trauma from my heart and mind. Alas. I can’t run from it forever, and it’s an obstacle I must now overcome.


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