I turned into an octopus one morning when I was six to avoid going to school. The kind that screams.

Will I ever finally get rid of the first-grader who was convinced she couldn’t do math?  (I’m referring to the one in my head, not, like, a neighbor kid or anything.  That would be cruel.  And possibly illegal, depending on how I got rid of her.) I used to fake stomach-aches so I could skip that part of the day.  Obviously I got past a lot of that; I love math.  I like to do it and I’m fairly good at it, but last night I read the first chapter of my differential equations book and SO much of it went over my head.  I had the same oh-no-I don’t-understand-this-is-hard-what-if-I-can’t-do-it? feeling I used to get.  The biggest difference between me-then and me-now (in terms of math, I should say – there are other – way bigger – differences, like I’m no longer four feet tall and I have a job) is that I’m not afraid to ask my professor for help.  I’m able to work through the examples, but I don’t understand why.  (Why is that equation a solution of the other?  What’s the relationship exactly?  What makes that one linear and that one non-linear, and what does the order have to do with anything?)  I’m fairly certain my questions have short answers (I could be wrong), so I just need to send an email, but this is one of those times the online format is not an advantage.  I wouldn’t still have this question if I’d gone over that chapter in a classroom.  On the other hand, I can request an e-meeting and get one-0n-one time that’s almost face to face, and then I can ask questions ’til the cows come home (which is CRAZY late – cows are party animals).  One way or the other, I’ll ask the questions and hopefully understand the material.  Then I’ll go hang out with the cows.  We go way back.


  1. Zannah

    I liked it all through school, once I got past those first panicky weeks (days? months? I really have no idea how long that lasted). But I wouldn’t say it never made my brain hurt. 🙂

  2. Brian

    I loved absolutely everything about math right up until DiffEq. DiffEq is the devil. This is coming from an engineer turned helicopter pilot. DiffEq was created by Satan.

  3. momma betty

    I remember the octopus. But I’m not sure everyone will understand the octopus reference. I know that it means you had somehow grown extra limbs and wrapped all of them around me. Horrible memory: the principal prying all eight appendages loose and taking you to class anyway. Who was crying harder?

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