Saturday, June 02, 2007


I'm pretty typical for an English major with regards to math: not really good at it, sort of scared by it, and terribly jealous of those who are good at it (who often make a lot more money than us loser humanities majors, but then we have the satisfaction of being prettier and more cultured, so there!). I got a 790 verbal on my SATs (and tried several times to get an 800), but never higher than about 560 on the math portion. I'm often bemused, and a little scared, then, by the fact that my math skills are still above average for society at large: I understand percentages, can do all basic computations, and know enough about statistics to be leery of them.

Still, I'm really not a math person. For all my years of honors math classes, which were always my least-favorite and lowest-grading classes, I know very little about geometric proofs, derivatives, quadratic equations, etc. Whatever I once knew, I've long since purged from my memory banks in an effort to suppress the trauma of those classes (some of them were really bad).

But, ironically, I'm a very numerological person. I'm obsessed by certain numbers and having certain numbers of things. I'll actually buy something I'm on the fence about because the price comes out to, say, an even number or something. My favorite numbers are 0, 2, 8, and numbers comprised thereof, but I also have a thing for 3s and 5s as well. I often looking for patterns in groups of numbers and attach superstitious import to certain numbers for certain occasions. For instance, at the height of my OCD (before I started taking pills), I would "knock wood" in groups of threes. I also enjoy reading about the history of math; Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife is one of my favorite books.

All of this goes to show that, if you're a crazy bundle of contradictions like me anyway, one can be both math-phobic and math-obsessed!

1 comment:

Hubbard said...

Nice paradox, that one. It's almost like the gay men who would never sleep with a woman but spend their lives designing female clothing.