Friday, July 21, 2006

It's Just Like a Puzzle!

I’m not one to wax eloquent about my hatred of things mundane and neurotic – I’m looking at you, SRH – but recently one of my hatreds has been so in my face all day every day when I go to work, that I must tell of it and hope you won’t think less of me.

I’m not referring to my hatred of all things cheesy or my hatred of asymmetrical clothing - but good gracious does a shirt with just one spaghetti strap honk me off. No, every day for at least the last three weeks at work, I have had to deal with perhaps my most serious nemesis…numbers.

I hate numbers/math/data with my whole heart and soul. I don’t hate them in the stereotypical way that women are supposed to hate math, you know the "I can’t do numbers. I’m leaving it to the big, strong mens to figure out" kind of way. No I CAN do numbers. I just hate every single second of any time I spend doing a math or number-related activity.

When I decided that I didn’t want to be a therapist anymore, I went to see a career coach who had me take some a fabulous self-inventory which assessed my interests, style, blah, blah, blah. The instrument indicated that the very worst profession for me to be in was law enforcement – no surprise there, I am a bit of a softy. I cried when Sister Mary Robert finally found her “voice” in the Sister Act movie.

The other profession way down on the list for me – at only 1 point higher than being a cop – was being an accountant.

Interestingly enough, my mother is an accountant. The chick digs numbers. She actually said to me once when I was complaining about math homework in high school, Don’t you just feel so good when you find the right answer to a math problem? I mean, it’s like solving a puzzle. If you work at it, you’ll come up with the right answer.

Uh, yeah. She said that. I’m sure I scowled my best adolescent sneer and said something like, Well, golly gee, that’s a nice way to look at it, but you just have to turn around and do another stupid problem. When you’re done solving your “puzzle” Suzy Sunshine, there is always another one left to do.

Anyway, back to the current hatred-inducing situation. My office is responsible for putting out a type of status report on what’s happening for women at the university. It’s completely data driven, and since there are only 2.1 people employed in my office (I’d give you the math on how that’s possible, but, well, I hate math), I have to do a lot of the number-crunching and interpreting data needed to pull together my pieces of the report.

Yeeaahh. I totally suck at that. Not only do I suck at it, but it brings up quite uncomfortable feelings of insecurity and fear of failure, since I seem to be the only person who is aware of just how badly I stink at the whole numbers thing.

So every day for the past three weeks, I have been working with this number stuff and talking with a wonderfully generous man over in the office which gives me the raw data.

Me: So, what does the number 4 represent?

Him: It means you have four of one object, more than 3 and less than 5.

Me: So what does 5 mean, then?

Him: It means you have five of a certain object. Let me pull up the chart you’re looking at and we’ll go over it together so I can explain it to you better.

Me: You are a god among men.

It’s true. I was saved in this project by the kindness of one benevolent soul in IT who gets numbers and took pity on a poor, ill-equipped, math-illiterate social worker who somehow got a job which requires analyzing data and trends affecting women in higher education.

The good news is that it’s all over. I turned in my pieces of the report today, and I can say goodbye to looking at those data sets for another year. Yippee!

So imagine my surprise and chagrin when, at a meeting today, I heard these foul words leave my mouth, Well, I think we can’t go forward until we know what the data shows us. It seems to me that we need to do some analysis of the numbers and then we can credibly formulate an action plan.

Oh, sweet gerber baby, I have gone over to the dark side.

18 comments:

lsig said...

You describe my feelings toward math/numbers precisely. I was the only person in my 6th grade math class not to get a pencil (basically, the "thanks for playing" award) at the matholympics. I could explain that, but I'd prefer not to dwell on it.

So, yeah. English major. :)

Zany Mama said...

lsig-
Okay, the matholympics story made me snort out loud.

Zany Mama said...

...as opposed to the demure, delicate silent snorting I usually do.

lsig said...

Oh, yes, that ladylike snorting. Heh.

Mom said...

Numbers are great. For many years of my life they were the ONLY thing I could count on.

Get it???

Zany Mama said...

mom-
What I like about your comments is that is gives people a really good picture of what I grew up with - cornball humor and a mother who assaulted my self esteem at every turn.

Okay fine. That was actually a pretty good one, mom.

Dustin said...

Are we the same person? The mother who made math her career, the fear/ insecurity that rears it's ugly head whenever the words "equation" and "ratios" are used in the work place, the 3 yr. old child...

Okay, so maybe not the last one, but the other two for sure! Instead of running from it though I simply engaged myself to it. KJ was totally the math tutor in college. Opposites attract I guess.

P.S. Go liberal arts degree! (history)

Zany Mama said...

Dustin-
This is getting eerie. First the whole biracial thing, then the aversion to mathematics, and then you clenched it when you said that KJ was a math tutor.

Did you know, by chance, that SRH's undergraduate degree was in mathematics?

Not only are we the same person. We married/will marry the same person.

Geez.oh.man.

SRH said...

Why did I know this is where this entry would lead.

Zany Mama said...

SRH -
Because you are prescient, clairvoyant or otherwise psychic? Maybe you sense the future - but the big question buddy is: can you change it? Show me that, and I might be impressed.

Dustin said...

Does this mean that SRH and KJ are more or less the same person too? I'm having a hard time picturing that since I don't think KJ has ever seen, let alone eaten, a microwavable french bread pizza. Of course I could be wrong about that...

Zany Mama said...

Dustin -
I think we'll know that they're the same person if you can answer the following question with an affirmative:

Does KJ like cheesecake with a passion that borders on sinful?

Dustin said...

OMG!!!! THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON!!! KJ would step over the body of her own mother to get a piece of cheese cake (thats what she wants our wedding cake to be).

P.S. I'm headed to Juniors later this week, should I get pictures to taunt SRH?

SRH said...

I feel KJ and I need to team up against you 2, but, alas, no KJ

Dustin said...

Alas, this could be the dividing difference between SRH and KJ...she thinks that blogging is just "internet silliness" and totally beneath her now new and improved "I have a real job now so that makes me too cool for school" persona. Nevermind the fact that she's all facebook.com. I'm thinking she might need to do a guest post.

SRH said...

Dustin, be wary, Wifey started with a guest and now Zany mama exists. Hooked her, it did.

Alessandra said...

yeah i hate math and i guess math hates me back! my online boyfriend who's a math whiz is always trying to tutor me. we even use the videochats at webdate dot com for lectures! he's very patient with me though so im hoping i'll get over this math hatred thing soon.

Zany Mama said...

alessandra-
I'm not one to give pushy advice. Well, wait I guess I am. So here it goes: If you hate math and it hates you, then I say that you just give up on it. It's a dead end relationship.

What I'd recommend instead is doing what Dustin is about to do and what I did - marry someone who "gets" math. It's a much easier solution.