**No, I didn’t invent the word!**
My favorite subject is History. To be honest, I would say history is number 1 and Anthropology is 1A. (“If History is your favorite subject, why are you writing about math?” I’ll tell you, ye who asks too many questions!) I am writing my automathography because math was always my favorite subject as a youth. I actually didn’t like History until I enrolled at Seton Hall University. What changed? The History taught in high school is sugarcoated; they leave out all of the great details. College History is the real deal—straight, no chaser! (“I thought this was a math piece!” Sorry, I tend to tangenterize! **No, that’s not a word!** ) Back to the math!
St. Patrick’s School in Roxbury, Massachusetts was the sight of my introduction to the wonderful world of math. I found the subject to be a very challenging and fun! (Yeah, math was fun! I love helping my nephew with his homework! I guess he enjoys the tutoring as much as I do, because when I mentioned my plan to move to LA in the New Year, he said, “You can’t go! Who is going to help me with my homework?” One of life’s wonderful moments! **I’ll give everyone a second to compose yourselves!**)
At St. Patrick’s, I excelled in math. Through the third grade, I was very quick to understand the lessons and finished the handout sheets effortlessly. In the fourth grade, Mr. Fallon noticed how easily I grasped the material, and after a few months of one on one lessons, he decided I was special. No, not the special you hear from your mom. “It’s ok Billy, the other kids don’t sit with you during lunch because you are special!” I wasn’t that kid! (It’s funny, Mr. Fallon thought I was special, but he was the one who was special. Mr. Fallon taught me that I was better than everyone else. Just kidding! His encouragement will remain with me forever! If you have an opportunity to influence a child, do so!!!)
While my classmates were learning math, Mr. Fallon arranged for me to have access to the computer lab, where I utilized the higher-level reading programs. During the fourth grade reading lesson, I walked upstairs to Mr. Devitt’s sixth grade math class. This was the arrangement for the remainder of the year. (Anyone lucky enough to have met Mr. Fallon will remember his ball trick! [NO, you fucking sick bastards, not that kind of ball trick. I know it was a Catholic school, but he wasn’t a priest! YOU KNEW THAT WAS EVENTUALLY MAKING AN APPEARANCE IN THE BLOG!] Mr. Fallon held a ball in his right hand as if he were handing it to you, then, when you reached for it, he would quickly throw the ball to his left hand and shake your hand with his right! I fell for it every time!) ** Did everyone figure out the fact that I am trying to win back some of the people who were repulsed by this week’s controversial posts!**
Everything changed the following school year. Sr. John Mary was disobliging. The very thought, of a student skipping her didactic fifth grade math lesson, filled her with rage. (I’m not kidding, she had anger management issues. While in the fourth grade, we often heard her yelling at an unlucky student, and Mr. Fallon would say, “Be careful! Sr. John Mary’s on the war path!”) She would not allow for me to continue with the seventh grade math teacher. The entire fifth grade was a complete joke. She was always angry because I finished her tests in less than ten minutes; she attempted to send me back to my desk so I could double check my answers because, “math is not a sprint!” I was never the type to comply so I defiantly left the test on her desk and returned to my seat. I knew she was savoring the day I would make a careless mistake, but it never happened; I always ended up with 100%.
The highlight of her year occurred during the fractions lesson. (These are the types of instances people never forget!) SR. John Mary was teaching the class how to read fractions. The final problem was the fraction ‘nine over two.’ She called on me and I confidently said, “nine twos.” OH HAPPY DAY!!! She made it well known that I was wrong. This was the blunder she had been praying for. The nun went on and on about the proper way to say the fraction, “nine halves.” It was classic. “Class, we never say nine twos! Everyone knows it’s halves. Where did you learn that? This is why people can’t go around skipping grades!” (Knowing her, she probably did say the grades thing, but I can’t be sure. I added it to help the story!!!) I allo0wed her enjoy her moment of glory but, during the next test, I was sure to finish in less than five minutes. You guessed it…100%.
I know it seems like I’m making Sr. John Mary out to be the antagonist but, other than math, we got along famously. St. Patrick’s holds a Christmas talent show each year, and every grade performs a song. The teachers usually allow their students to select the song, but not Sr. John Mary. There was no option; “MY CLASS SINGS ‘VIOLET IN THE SNOW’!” (I still know most of the words!) There was a boy named William in my class, and he was a member of the choir at his church. William wanted to sing something soulful so he could display his great singing voice. He pleaded with Sr. John Mary, but there was no way she would break her tradition. (She yelled at William every single day leading up to the show.) The one day I remember as if it happened yesterday, was the time William decided to add his twist to the song; it was his effort to spice things up. The incident happened during the chorus: (Sr. John Mary lost it. We laughed for weeks; super hilarious!)
“So many years ago, in Bethlehem, a baby came, like a violet in the snow.”
“So many years ago, (Uh huh! *clap*) in Bethlehem, (OK! *clap*) a baby came, (Oh yeah! *clap*) like a violet in the snow. *(Uh huh *clap*)”
The kid had ADD so he was incapable of self control. I know teacher and student butted heads on a daily basis, but it was too long ago for me to remember the stories. It was a great addition, I thought. The regular version never seemed the same after Williams rendition.
In the sixth grade, I passed the entrance exam for Boston Latin School and left St. Patrick’s. (The true Latin School!!!) The higher-level of math was challenging, but I continued to enjoy the subject; it was interesting and easy to understand. Somewhere along the line, I lost my love for math and focused more on sports. I graduated from BLS and attended SHU, in New Jersey. I was extremely unfocused, unless you are talking about partying, and sports. (I won the intramural championship in basketball!) I registered for the required amount of math courses, but I barely paid attention and didn’t apply myself. I attended just enough classes to pass the courses.
Statistics is probably not a challenging course, but wouldn’t know; I barely attended, and when I did, I couldn’t focus. I figured, I could take some notes, read the book, and teach myself the material. I must say, I did a pretty good job except for… The teacher spoke with the thickest accent. I could barely understand fifty percent of what he was saying. (This was the reason I didn’t pay attention.) My notes were far from copious, but I did write down anything which seemed important. “Valence” was the most important word in the semester. (I still have the notebook, Valence is on just about every page.) In class, I would glance through the book, but I could never find Valence. This should have been a red flag, but I wasn’t too concerned. “I’ll be ok for the exam!” I thought.
Fast forward to the day before the exam. (Procrastination plays a major role in my life!) I cracked open the book and proceeded to cram. I taught my self as much as I could but, for the life of me, I couldn’t find Valence. I couldn’t believe it! How was it possible to write a book about Statistics and not mention Valence at least once? I barely passed the exam, but I continued to be bothered by the book’s omission of Valence. A friend of mine was in the class so I asked him about Valence. “What the hell is that?” He questioned. Turns out, there is no Valence. The teacher was saying Variance the entire time. Un-fucking-believable! They should give me my money back for that course!
I decided it was a waste of money to continue paying the high tuition cost, and transferred to the University of Massachusetts at Boston. I changed my Major from Business to History and never thought I would take another math course. I decided to buy The Godfather by Mario Puzo during my sophomore year at Seton Hall and developed an affinity for writing. I read several more of Puzo’s novels and loved his style. (If you haven’t read The Godfather, DO SO! For those of you who are religious, Puzo’s The Family is a great way to learn about the private lives of the popes! For those of you who are not religious, Puzo’s The Family is a great way to learn about the fucked-up private lives of the popes!)
Philosophy always peaked my interest so I decided to take ‘Intro to Logic’ during my first semester at UMass. To my surprise, I discovered logic was basically a math course. I loved the challenge of solving the complicated proofs. (When I say, “I loved…proofs,” I mean I loved proofs! I often found myself searching through the text to find problems to solve during my free time. I also spent time creating my own proofs. I don’t know what it is about the subject, but logic is fun and exciting! I even re-solved problems by applying different rules.
“What do I mean?” Let me explain! If I solved a problem applying Modus Ponens (MP), Double Negation (DN), Distribution (DP), and Tautology (Taut), I would then attempt to solve the problem applying different rules. Maybe using Simplification (Simp), or DeMorgan’s Theorem (DeM) could be a possible alternative! See what I mean? FUN!!!) The class was difficult for most of the students, so the professor often graded on a curve. Usually adding a thirty-point bonus question to every test. I ended the semester with an average of 110%. (I have the tests in my room!) I thought logic would be my last class involving math, but I was shocked to learn about the UMB requirement for all freshman, ‘Quantitative Reasoning.’
Even though I was a senior, I had to complete the course. It was in this class where I was asked to write my automathography. (The first draft was less detailed than this one!) The professor read my story and said, “I think this course may be too easy for you, do you want to take the higher level?” Uh let me think, I have four other courses this semester; I don’t mind the mulligan. (It’s a golf term!) The course actually turned out to be quite interesting and I’m glad I didn’t make the change!
For me, math is a subject which must be practiced continually in order to become a master. Once a person stops practicing, he or she begins to forget how to solve simple problems. (I hated checking my work with a passion!) Which was my most challenging math course? Hands down, I’ll say the 9th grade at BLS; Ms. Roberson had a donkey! Concentration was not an option! There are a few rules which I will never forget. The Pythagorean Theorem (a squared plus b squared equals c squared. I can say that in my sleep!) Also, I will never forget the rules for the ‘order of operations.’ P.E.M.D.A.S. better known as, please excuse my dear aunt sally!
Am I a nerd? I guess!