Moroccan Stew for Einstein

10 Oct

So I’m taking a math class. And by that I mean I sold my soul to the devil of statistics at a garage sale. But, I’m working on getting it back because I realized it might actually be worth something someday, and I can probably get a better price on eBay!

I know that everyone complains about math at one time or another. I’m sure even Einstein was all, “ew, math sucks” before he started being brilliant and what not. But heck, I’d love math too if it helped me win a Nobel Prize…

But do I HAVE a Nobel Prize? No. So, I am completely entitled to hate math.

It’s kind of sad, actually. Last week – before my Statistics exam – you couldn’t get me to shut up about how much I “really like stats! It’s so applicable, you know? It just makes sense. I feel like I’ve finally found a type of math that I can do! I want to skip through a field of daisies!”

*Random person sitting next to me on a bench gets up and walks away.*

Well, everything I felt about stats pre-exam – every warm feeling, every kind thought, and every fond memory of our romantic nights in the silent cubicles at the library – has since disappeared. I’m basically back to Square One.

What is “Square One,” you ask? Square One is the square in which you stand when your fifth grade math teacher asks you to write the answer to “three times ten” on the board and you can’t believe she called on you to get you to stop picking your nose and you can’t believe she caught you picking your nose and your hand is shaking and you’re not really sure if 30 is the answer because 510 is sounding familiar and you think that everyone can see your butt crack because you forgot to pull your pants up before walking to the front of the class.

That’s right, the other day I was picking my nose and…

Just kidding, people. But the sentiment remains: I am in the butt crack stage of math.

No, the exam did not go as planned. I mean, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t amazing either. (My expectations lie on a scale of extremes, apparently.) I’m not really sure what went wrong. I even used my lucky pencil!

“Lucky” because I thought I’d forgotten a working pencil and then I found that little guy in the crevice of my backpack. Turns out, it’s about as lucky as a piece of toilet paper attached to your shoe, on your way out of the bathroom.

As you can imagine, when I got to lecture the other day I was not having it.

And then, when it seemed like nothing else could make me more upset with math, we began the PROBABILITY unit.

Or should I say the “probab-lity” unit. Yes, my professor speaks with an extremely heavy accent. Fitting, right? On most days, it’s really endearing and not too distracting.

But that’s on a good day. On a day when you feel like there’s toilet paper on your shoe, your professor will say the word “common” (as in, “what do stats and walking your goldfish have in ‘common,’”) and you WILL hear the word “cumin.” And, at first, you’ll be all, “YUM I could go for some cumin right now. A little bit of chicken, some cooked carrots and shallots, delish!” And you’ll start Googling “Moroccan chicken recipes” and you’ll be super excited about it.

(A statistics class and “goldfish walking” are similar in that when you force me to do a five-page statistics assignment on a Thursday night, I start to sputter and can’t breathe and I fall to the ground and flap around in agony…like a goldfish on a leash.)

Soon, you’ll realize that while you were looking up shit you’ll never be able to cook and imagining riding a camel in the deserts of Morocco, your stats professor covered nearly an ENTIRE lecture on probability and “common samples.” And you’ll be totally confused and also incredibly hungry.

Then, your professor will ask, “is true, or no?”

You will have no idea what he’s talking about. Is he asking if it’s true that you like cumin? Because you thought you made that pretty clear…

All of your classmates will nod obligingly like the good students they are. But you’ll still be wondering how much a plane ticket to Morocco costs and if you really could sport those “babouche” slipper shoes they wear there, because your calves tend to look weird when you wear flat, brightly-colored shoes…

And then you’ll remember that your grandparents actually brought you some babouches when they came back from a trip to Morocco, and you’ll feel reassured because at least you can practice wearing them and coordinating them for a while before you leave for your trip!


Okay, light blue. I can work with that.

But then things will take a turn and your excitement will turn to regret when your professor says, excitedly, “you are good class!” Because you, in fact, do not comprise this “good class” of which he speaks. You and all of your Moroccan infatuation should probably just bow your heads and leave the room because the “probab-lity” of you and statistics meshing is about the same as the “probab-lity” of your goldfish— the one you tried to leash and walk around the block — staying alive.

As I’ve clearly demonstrated, my problems with statistics are not at all math-related! Rather, my word association skills are to blame. They are just SO strong that I hear math terms and think of food and travel. Can I really be penalized for having an overactive imagination, a curiosity for the unknown, and a stomach that doesn’t know when enough is enough?

(Note to future stats students: do not attempt to explain these things to your teaching fellow. She will not understand and will probably lower your grade and tell you that “94” was a “49” the entire time. She will also tell you she has no idea how “crazy bitch” appeared in red ink on your exam…)

I guess all I can do is forge ahead – foreign accents, probability problems and Moroccan palette in tow.

The probab-lity that I still hate math? 3/4.

The probab-lity that I still want Moroccan stew? 1.

Let’s just hope that the probab-lity of my professor reading this is 0.

Have any good math stories you’d like to share? Comment below!


6 Responses to “Moroccan Stew for Einstein”

  1. Mike G. October 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    That’s some sweet writing. You have a high level of abstraction and a seriously delicious case of ADHD.

    Good luck getting the stew made, getting to Morocco (which my family almost did this summer but we ended up in Croatia–long story), and doing better on your next stats exam. Probably should eat before you go to class. Not too much cuz you don’t want to go into a food coma.

    I had a psych prof from Italy and a sociology prof from India back in college (think late 1970s). Their accents delighted me but occasionally hindered my note taking. Not as bad as a geometry teacher from Beihing my kids suffered thru a few years back, but still a challenge.

    • sophpearl October 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      Thank you so much, Mike! I’m glad you enjoyed the post! And I agree, food before class is a must. Which foods reduce the symptoms of ADHD? I’ll have to research that in stats tomorrow 🙂

      Also, I’ve always wanted to go to Croatia – looks like such a beautiful place.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Leslie October 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    Thanks for this Sophie! Like a great Seinfeld episode you’ve taken two completely unrelated, seemingly random topics and connected them hilariously. I love it! PS – I also love math, so go figure on that one…

    • sophpearl October 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      Thank you, Leslie! I’m so glad you liked it. And a Seinfeld comparison? Made my day! Also, I remember very vividly asking Maddie for help in seventh grade math because I knew her parents were architects and were probably “math people.” 🙂 A strategic approach!

  3. lornalikiza October 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    ok so i don’t exactly have good math stories to share cz actually i struggled through math all my school life barely making it. I slept about 3/4 of all my high school math lessons. and when i chose a bachelor of arts in campus thinking i would avoid math, i came across it in statistics. The lecturer who took us through probability was a bore and my stomach was rumbling(it was nearly lunch time and he went through the whole probability in one lecture of over three hrs).i wasnt really thinking bout morocco the whole time but was actually thinking when he would finish so that i could sunbathe and have lunch coz the lecture room was oh soooo cold.

    • sophpearl October 10, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading! Statistics seems to follow everyone. I totally know what you mean about being hungry in a math class on a nice day – sunbathing and eating lunch sound like much better options!

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