Tuesday, June 5, 2012
What I did on my Summer vacation:
Yesterday was one of those days where my professor talked and I listened...and for as much as I understood, he might as well have been speaking in Portuguese. Ok, maybe it wasn't quite THAT bad. But it wasn't that good, either. And then he assigned the homework, which looked a little like this:
Chapter 5.8, page 398
Chapter 6.2, page 420
And then, for good measure, a worksheet.
Oh! And don't forget to study for the quiz. You know...the QUIZ...the one we start every blessed class with. His favorite phrase is "...I'll take a point off for every time you make that mistake." I'm convinced it's entirely possible to get a negative score on his tests.
Anyway, yesterday. Holy cow. By the time 11:00 rolled around last night, I was done. And by "done" I don't mean "finished my homework." Rather, I mean, I was done trying. I was throwing in the towel. I woke up this morning with a lump in my stomach. This is the day that it all unravels. This is the day that the gig is up. You're not smart enough. You're not strong enough. You're not dedicated enough. You're a sham. Just like before.
What a crappy way to start the day.
Plus, I hadn't even studied for the quiz. Most of the time, in a math class, a quiz is "do these three problems." With Mr. I-Will-Whip-Your-Sorry-Ass-Into-Shape-and-You-Will-EARN-Whatever-Grade-You-Receive it means memorization of definitions, theorems, and formulas. It's a page worth of regurgitation. Math? Not (generally) a problem. Regurgitation? Sort of an problem.
My big issue yesterday is that we were doing something based on something I learned in 11th grade. For those who don't know me personally, 11th grade was 1984. Holy SHITBALLS. (excuse my language, but I deserve credit for holding that in until now) Normally when a teacher is working on something relatively obscure, like, say, hyperbolic trig functions, a teacher might elect to do a brief ten minute refresher. No. Not Mr. Damn-The-Calculus-Torpedoes-Full-Speed-Ahead.
Despite the self-loathing mantras I started the day with, I am smart enough to "plug-and-chug." A mathematical term meaning "just plug the damn numbers into the formula and get the friggen answer already." It's common practice for people who don't actually know (or want to know) the theories and concepts behind the math. So I was able to - painstakingly - get through about 70% of the homework.
But 70% isn't really good enough in a class that meets for an hour and 45 minutes Monday through Thursday. I suppose it would be fully acceptable on Thursday, but if you pull that 70% crap on Monday you are seriously putting yourself behind the eight ball for the rest of the week. This guy moves fast and if you don't get what we talked about yesterday, you might be building your flimsy house of cards on a sandy beach in a windstorm, if you get my drift. Which is partially why I woke up with nothing kind to say to myself this morning. "You're fucked" was kind of as nice as I could muster.
But the heavens smiled on me today. He hadn't even taught the whole chapter yesterday. And during our break I mentioned that I hadn't been in a trig class since 1984 (which, by the way, is a critical error when surrounded by a bunch of 19 year olds. There was a faint ripple of "1984??"s heard in the room after I said it. What an ego booster. Because I'm taking that as they all had no clue that I was ...well...as old as I am. Guess that cat's out of the bag now, eh?) Anyway, I mentioned the 1984 thing and that I couldn't really remember what it all meant and the professor didn't really say anything. But then after he covered one or two things, he offered us an impromptu extra credit assignment. In the course of telling us what he wanted us to do, he fully unfolded the concepts that I hadn't understood. He drew and labeled graphs, reminded us what things meant, worked some parallel problems.
Gratitude is one of those things that has been ingrained in me from a million years ago. I don't know if it's from years of "Say 'thank you.'" or the format of the way I pray, but good doesn't go unnoticed. I am so grateful for the way he dropped back and punted. That he changed up his lesson to quietly accommodate the old lady and did in a way that wouldn't bore the other students, and would even throw a life raft to some other students. Despite my panic today, I'm doing well in the class. I don't "need" extra credit, per se. However, doing the exercise will reinforce what I had long ago forgotten. That he didn't throw me under the bus for the other students to see or ignore my issues, for that I am extremely grateful.
Oh, and that homework up there^^^? For the first time ever, he reposted it and told us to finish it up.
And so I came home with a HUGE weight off my shoulders. Today would not be the day it all unraveled. Or the day the gig was up. I might revisit the sham thing, but I can let go of it today.
And then I allowed myself to work on some design team stuff. Oh how wonderful it is to "have" to scrapbook. To be able to switch gears, switch from left brain to right brain is such a relief sometimes. And how grateful am I to have this opportunity to have this balancing agent in my life? ETERNALLY.
And the Instagram shot at the top of the post? That's the sneak peek. But you knew that already. ;)