I need to reveal a secret to my writing friends. When I am most stressed and need to relax I don’t write. I do mathematical spatial or logical problems. I draw house plans or dive into mind puzzles. A jigsaw puzzle also fits the bill if it takes enough concentrations.
Having said that, please realize you would not want me to be on any math related competitive team. My brain freezes when trying to do any number operations under pressure. I can only perform the 6×6 to 9×9 in the multiplication table by using a finger method I learned. Numbers jumble around in my head like its a bag of scrabble tiles.
Don’t ask me to remember where your car is in a parking lot either. I have been known to spend half an hour looking for mine. I have to shut off my mind totally and let my feet do the walking to find it at all most of the time.
And giving directions while someone is driving? As long as I can look at the map and you understand what “This way” (finger pointed toward the passenger side window) and “that way” (finger pointed toward the driver side window) mean. If my mind has other thoughts broiling as well, don’t be surprised if we end up going the wrong direction at a turn either. And which directions does the sun rise?
I think the roots of my clandestine math enjoyment sprouted in grade 6. Moving to a new school mid-year, my class was just finishing a math unit we had finished in the last school. Being ahead on that unit must have made me look smart because I got stuck with the group of boys who were so ahead of the class that they were working through the book at their own speed. I say “stuck” because it soon became evident that they were sold on their all boys’ club and had no use for a girl. It also became evident that the “help each other figure it out” was interpreted as only applying to the original grouping so I was on my own.
Enter my stubborn cussedness about not getting put in to the regular stream. I liked working alone. The teacher didn’t get to figure out that my multiplication was more a factor of repeat addition and the division problems were being done by trial and error. In the end, when I checked my answers I was often right. If I wasn’t I could go back and figure out where I went wrong. Taking homework home meant the teacher never had to know that I felt like I was swimming the English Channel with only basic swimming lessons and no life vest or patrol boats.
Then add the cute math nerd boys in high school who related to me because I could actually talk about math. I still did my operations with my fingers or tick marks but I could put together a geometry proof like nobody’s business. “If ….. then” statements just made since and kept at least one part of my life in the straight and narrow. I could invent the most far out reasoning and make it sound feasible. calculus though. That was pushing things a bit too far.
I mainly used math to create sewing items and such for the next two decades. it was more from having an idea of how to use a ruler and make square corners then calculations. I never measured anything I could do by eye though. My math fetish faded to the background finding its fix in jigsaw puzzles and counting stitches.
There was one other math application that took root in those years. I started drawing house plans. I would draw them over and over trying to get just the right proportions for each room. My treat would be books of house plans that I could study to learn how to draw that one better plan that would someday be the dream home but was really more my home dream.
Enter a return to Education classes in my thirties and a need to push three years of classes into two. That meant, the elementary teacher math class I would have taken the second year wasn’t going to happen. If I wanted to be in student teaching the next year, I had to take my math credits in the summer.
Pre-engineering math 101. Uh, I haven’t done anything with math for 20 years and I didn’t get to pre-calculus let alone calculus. Take the grade 6 sinking problem and add lead weights and you can guess both my feelings about the class as well as my grade on the first test. Enter the tutor who at least pulled the lead weights off and knew how to talk proof talk and I had the means to survive that ordeal.
And Then the professor taught us about imaginary numbers! What? There was actually imagination in math? It wasn’t so cut and dried after all? I was hooked. And doing math problems that had twenty steps to get to one answer was satisfying to my meandering mind. Besides, the calculations themselves were done by the calculator, I only had to figure out what I needed to do with them. Since then I have been hooked on number related math puzzles.
So there you have it, I am a writer who does math for relaxation. If any of you were wondering about my writing sanity, I have truly been outed now. They say an alchoholic or junkie needs their fix in order to stay level. I squirm in my seat at the truth settling deep in my stomach. If I am ever going to get a hold of this I have to admit it. Yes, it is true. I am a math junkie.
Did I ever tell you my favourite TV crime solving show it Numbers?