more articles like this
1+1= Why Are You Asking Me?
updated: Aug 18, 2012, 10:00 AM
By Nicole Buchanan Freire
I am not good at math. I know this is an unpopular thing to say these days. I should be saying that I
COULD be good at math. Perhaps if I just TRIED harder. If I just had the right TEACHER. If someone
could EXPLAIN it to me in just the right way, then I could UNDERSTAND math.
But me and math go a long way back. I should clarify that. Numbers and I go a long way back. Math just
doesn't happen for me. It has always been my stumbling block. All through school, teachers were
mystified by my lack of understanding. I went to elementary school in the land of long, long ago - the
People did not talk about learning disabilities or problems. Nuns (of course I went to Catholic school,
have you not figured that out yet?) would praise my reading and writing skills and punish me for my
blank stares during a math lesson. I did fairly well up until about 3rd grade. I was able to memorize
some very basic things, like multiplication. Times tables I could do.
Just don't ask me to recite them now. The 8's always trip me up. And the 9's. But hey, ask me about the
I never got held back due to my lack of understanding of math; my other grades were always high
enough to simply pass me on to the next teacher, the next grade.
And through junior high and high school teachers gave me D's if they were kind, F's if they were being
honest. The few C's I got were, quite frankly, just gifted to me by sympathetic teachers. I certainly didn't
earn them; I had lost the plot years ago, back in third grade. I think? I just remember not understanding
fractions. It goes without saying that standardized tests always came back scored crazily. 99% in
English, 1% in Math. I don't even remember my SAT scores, it was that bad. I can't even begin to count
the many discussions teachers would have with me about my "potential." Because according to my
scores, I was certainly smart somewhere.
This lack of basic math knowledge frustrates me to no end. Mostly because well-meaning people
continue to insist that I could be good at it. This always comes up in restaurants with friends. I look at
the bill, and helplessly hold it out to someone else. "Please just tell me how much I owe." I will pull out
my phone to calculate the tip (Thank you iPhone and your wonderful apps) and my friends will say, "Oh
no, just take the tax and add it and then divide it..........." and my eyes have rolled all the way back into
my head. I literally cannot hear what they are saying, so loud is the rushing of blood in my ears.
And of course, I cannot help my children with math homework. They passed multiplication a long time
ago, thus rendering my aid useless. So it sucks to have to shake my head and say "I can't help you with
that. You'll have to ask someone else."
But here's the weird thing. I do think about math. Well, not math, numbers. I think about numbers all
the time. Because sometime in my very early childhood I began thinking of numbers as people. And you
cannot add and divide people, especially when you are concerned about them and their stories, their
relationships, their allegiances.
1 is neutral.
2 is female.
3 is male.
4 is male.
5 is female.
6 is male.
7 is neutral, but can skew more female.
8 is male.
9 is male.
10 is male.
11 is neutral.
12 is female.
(Ugh, enough of that, let's stop at 12)
2 is smart and wise. 7 is flighty but has magical properties.
4 always knows what he's doing, as does 9, but 4 is younger than 9.
8 is stubborn and a little dim.
1 is a little stuck up. 5 is slightly overweight.
2 and 5 together are stronger than 9, but defer to 7.
3 gets lorded over all the time by 6 and 9, but 5 tries to look out for him.
2, 5, and 7 will sometimes try to band together but can become utterly undone by the arrival of 1.
10 is just a jerk. Even 9 and 4 don't like 10.
11 is mysterious. Don't know much about 11, never have.
And 12 is super powerful.
This sounds crazy, right? Is there a name for this? This thing I do with numbers?
This whacked out system extends into other parts of my life. I will make a wish if I happen to spot the
clock at 12:34. Because that's a totally powerful group of numbers. I don't do it if I spy 4:44, or 8:88. It
just doesn't work for any other group or repetition of numbers.
Noon and midnight are really important times for me because, duh, remember 12? 12 rules all, sort of a
Seven o'clock is one of my favorite times of day. 7 is full of magic and possibility. I don't like 10 o'clock
This sounds bananas. Just looking at what I've written reads like something you stumble across while
cleaning the room of a lunatic. Scribbled backwards on the back of drawings of scary clowns.
Oh man. If you know what this is called (besides "STUPID") let me know. Maybe I'll tell you about the
time I took a real Rorschach test when I was 17 and totally blew it.
Let's move on.
NOPE, STILL ON THE COUCH.
I have not yet started running again. I know, I know, I said I would! But I haven't. Sorry to disappoint
you. I have, however, enlisted the help of a friend who has promised to text me constantly on the days I
am supposed to run and won't stop texting unless I can prove I did my 30 minutes of staggering down
the street wearing my new running shoes.
I think I'll call them "Coach Hector" because, get it? They're hectoring me? Ah, I do love a good word
Ok everyone, I'll be back next week! Remember, wishes made at 12:34 totally come true.
13 comments on this article. Read/Add
# # # #