April 17, 2013 § 62 Comments
The first time I said, “Fuck math,” I was in 8th grade. I haven’t stopped saying it since.
(For the record: It was algebra’s fault. What the hell are X and Y doing in the middle of a math problem? Math is supposed to be about numbers, not letters. Letters are my thing. Leave the letters alone and keep walking, math, you greedy sonofabitch.)
Don’t get me wrong. I see the value in numbers. I like balance and evidence and science. And I totally know that math education is important, so please, teachers, don’t get all over me for this one. Just let me make my case.
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Fuck Math: Exhibit A
Gather ’round, ye fellow nerds. I need to shed a dorky little tear. A few weeks ago, I went into a big chain bookstore and tried to find a new novel that had just been glowingly reviewed in the New York Times Book Review. This place is the only bookseller anywhere near my part of town, so it was my only choice if I wanted the book in my hands that day. (We used to have a great independent bookstore, but it went out of business.)
They didn’t have the book in stock. They did, however, have 16 shelves of calendars (3 shelves just for the ones about cats) and a wide selection of coffee mugs, bookmarks, and chocolates. The sales associate explained it to me as such: “Well, it’s just, like, that’s kind of a weird book, so, like, if we don’t know how it’ll sell, we don’t order very many copies. It’s just, you know, math.”
Outwardly, I said: “Thank you.”
Inwardly, I said: FUCK MATH.
That’s not the first time I’ve had that book shopping experience. And look, I’m not going to get all You’ve Got Mail about it. I understand that superstores with the benefit of massive purchasing power can sell things for less than the cool little bookstores that actually curate a good inventory. That’s why the little places go under and the big places survive. Then, when the big places are the only ones left, they can sell or not sell whatever they want. I get that. I took economics. But still: FUCK MATH.
Oh hell, never mind. I AM going to get all You’ve Got Mail about it. In Nashville, where I don’t live but maybe should, there’s a glorious little bookshop called Parnassus Books. It’s co-owned by the novelist Ann Patchett. (Perhaps you’ve read about it.) It’s fantastic – a glorious selection of books, not to mention a delightful shopping experience. The well-read staff love what they do and can help you find what you want. I enjoyed it so much the first time I visited that now I call and order books from there sometimes, just because — even though I like Amazon and dig how I can have any book in the world on my doorstep the next day — I like to support a bookstore that puts some thought into what it sells. Maybe I pay a buck or two more, but you know what? FUCK MATH.
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Fuck Math: Exhibit B
Recently, I went down to my favorite getaway spot – a little island off the Carolina coast where I’ve been spending summers and random weekends for 25 years. It’s home to me. Over the past dozen years or so, I’ve increasingly had to put my hands up like blinders as I crossed the bridge to the island, because where once there were unobstructed views of the water, there are now a CVS, a Chili’s, and a Bed, Bath & BeFuckingYond. Where once there was a sandy playground, there’s now a parking deck and a conference center. What once was a small, quirky, friendly community is now a “resort destination.” I understand that the economy is rough these days and that a place has to do what it has to do to keep cash rolling in. Money is important. But also: FUCK MATH.
One of my favorite things to do upon arrival on the island is to stop in at the Red & White, the only grocery store on the island itself. Sure, I could drive back over the bridge to a major chain store, but shopping at the tiny, bizarrely stocked, locally staffed Red & White is an experience. I have known my way around that store since I was a kid, and I could maneuver its aisles blindfolded, starting with the bin of colorfully worded drink can koozies.
So when I was out there this month, I headed straight over to the Red & White to get a magazine and a jug of wine (oh, I said jug, yes, I did) and maybe a box of waffles. But oh-sweet-humanity-save-my-soul, the place was closed. FOREVER.
I tried to explain my horror to someone else, and they said, “Well, yeah. That place had moldy produce and sticky floors and magazines that cost $7. There’s no way they could have stayed open in this economy.” So you know what I said, of course: FUCK MATH.
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Anyway. I know I’m a big dummy to get all sad and enraged over things like this. The world turns on math, when it comes right down to it. And math is just doing what it does. It’s about numbers. (Except when it’s about letters.)
Some things cannot be quantified. Not properly anyway. So FUCK MATH.
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PS: I’ve decided to add Fuck Math onto other catchphrases, thereby forming new, compound catchphrases which put forth helpful messages while also relaying a disdain for math-based living. Like so:
Save The Whales. Fuck Math.
Rock The Vote. Fuck Math.
It Takes a Village. Fuck Math.
Live and Let Live. Fuck Math.
Don’t Eat Yellow Snow. Fuck Math.
Give Blood. Fuck Math.
You get the idea.
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PPS: The lovely folks over at YeahWrite invited me to share this post over there this week. (Thank you, YeahWrite.) They’re doing neat things. If you haven’t yet, you should check out YeahWrite, for several reasons:
1. If you like reading good blogs, you’ll enjoy clicking through their great weekly collection of posts. Good stuff.
2. If you’re a blogging writer, you might like sharing your own post there with their readers.
3. Just for fun, you can also vote on your favorite post of the week (voting is open on Thursday and Friday), and the bloggers there (that would include me, this week) can win prizes. I didn’t totally read through the contest details, but I’m pretty sure it’s like a pot of gold and a live unicorn and maybe the winner also gets to make out with one of the editors there? Something like that. So I’m in.
August 13, 2012 § 8 Comments
I’m supposed to tell a fact or story about myself. It’s part of a game. I’ll explain later, but first, here’s the fact/story:
One time, when I was 2, I sneaked up behind a secret service agent on a plane and rubbed banana pudding into his hair. Another time, when I was 16, I plowed a car into a bus in broad daylight for no reason other than that I had (have?) bad spatial awareness. I was not arrested or ticketed either time.
I’m pretty sure the reason I got off the hook when I was 16 is that I made the cops laugh (all six of them, who were required to show up because the bus was a city vehicle) by asking if they were going to cuff me. I really wanted to know; but I think they thought I was flirting. And if they did think I was flirting, then they definitely thought I was an idiot. So, forgoing the ticket was probably a pity thing.
When I was 2, the agent didn’t take me into custody, I suppose, because then he’d have to explain that he’d been taken by surprise by a toddler. I don’t remember anything about this incident; all I know is how the story has been told to me. So, just a guess, but I think we must have made some sort of a silent agreement with our eyes like this:
Agent: I’m going to wipe off this pudding, laugh like I think it’s cute, then turn around. When I turn back around, you’ll be gone, and we’ll never speak of it again.
2-Year-Old Me: I’ll kick your seat, and you’ll like it, Sugar.
Or maybe he didn’t arrest me because he just knew better than to mess with a 2-year-old with pudding hands. I can’t really say.
* * *
So here’s why I just told that little story: Some readers have been sweet enough to tag the Blink with a few “awards,” and one of the conditions of accepting such niceness is that in saying thanks, you also tell something about yourself. (It’s supposed to be a list of facts or answers to a bunch of questions, but I’m hoping a story counts.) So now you know something about me: I am wily and can escape the law.
Many thanks to these folks. I don’t know them, but I have poked around their websites. They lead very interesting lives.
Stacey at More Than Words advocates on behalf of her non-verbal child with great strength and patience and reaches out to parents of similarly challenged children. Wow.
Joy of One Joyous Heart seems to be a genuinely thoughtful person who enjoys writing down wise things and sharing them with others.
Anyway. I’m flattered and grateful. Thanks so much for reading. To keep the love going, check out the links on the sidebar for a few sites that make me chuckle —> Some of those are written by friends of mine. They’re funny people. I would give any of them a humor award.
UPDATE 9/14/12 — More sweetness from the Internet. I have to say thanks:
Loved this post by Unabashed Apparel and totally agree with them that humor is something to be treasured in all forms. Thank you!
July 31, 2012 § 15 Comments
Every time I faint, I take a few minutes of that quality time on the ground to reminisce over past fainting episodes. We’ve had some special times, the floor and me.
I will never forget the first one. Kindergarten. Morning singalong. I started feeling spacey during the Pledge of Allegiance. By the time we wrapped up liberty and justice for all and moved on to our first song of the day, my face and hands and feet were feeling oddly cold. The sound of my classmates’ voices was muffled by the buzzing in my dizzy head. Strange things were afoot at circle time.
I fought it. I tried to stay standing.
(You see, I had a mad crush on Chris M., who had been chosen as the “farmer” for that morning’s rendition of The Farmer in the Dell and who was way cuter than Chris R. and never ate crayons like Chris T. Problem was, another girl had been eyeing my man. Her name was Missy, and she had a jean jacket and many different colors of pom-pom socks. Yes, Missy had EVERYTHING, but she never said ANYTHING interesting. She just smiled at the space in front of her. All the time. But she’d been giving away the Play-Doh for free, if you know what I’m saying [which is that she was literally giving away free Play-Doh]; and Chris M. liked Play-Doh. If I didn’t manage to stay in the game, there’d be nothing to stop him from tagging her during the “farmer takes a wife” verse. I just had… to stay… upright…)
Thud. You can’t stop it once it starts.
I took that lesson with me for next time. Some other tips I can share from experience:
- If you’re near fire or water when things start to blur, get away from it. (Lesson learned when I fainted while serving as an acolyte at church. FYI, if you don’t go to a church that uses this term: an acolyte is a person who lights candles. With fire.)
- Put down any sharp objects immediately. (When the buzz crept in during our pig dissection in senior biology, I set down my tools and stepped away from the lab desk. I still hit the ground, but at least I wasn’t holding a scalpel. Or a dead pig.)
- If you fall face-first onto a newspaper, you will get headlines on your face. (Whether or not you have headlines on your face all day depends on whether anyone tells you they’re there, which depends on whether or not your friends are dicks.)
This type of fainting – “syncope” if you like fancy medical words, “swooning” if you live in 1870 and wear a corset – is pretty common. My blood isn’t pulsing through my veins so much as it’s just sort of pooling there, relaxing. Sometimes the oxygenated blood just doesn’t make its way up to my brain, so BOOM. Down I go.
If I could control it, this fainting talent would make a great party trick. But alas, I can’t. Oh, well. The only thing it has really cost me is any hope of a career as a surgeon. Or a stripper.
Once I had children, I worried about what might happen if I fainted while alone with them at home. Would they freak out? Fear my demise? Call 911? No. They’d get out a stepstool, extract the jumbo box of Cheerios from the pantry, and gorge themselves until I woke up. Thanks for your concern, kids.
So anyway. It happened again recently. My husband and I went to see Moonrise Kingdom and I slid floorward during the previews. Luckily, after a brief moment of denial on his part (“Get up! Getupgetupgetup! Are you getting up? No? You’re really down? OK.”), he rolled with it, propping me up on a bench in the lobby and sitting next to me as though he always took a zoned-out wax doll to the movies. He delightedly pointed out afterward that everyone at the movie thought I was drunk and had just passed out.
Hey, I do what I can to keep things entertaining. Good thing I didn’t end up with Chris M. He might not have handled it so well.
(PS: Go see Moonrise Kingdom. Stay conscious for the whole thing. It is divine. Divine, I tell you.)
April 23, 2012 § 2 Comments
I told my mom that I was running out of age-appropriate books for my 9-year-old, a voracious reader, and she said, “Just let him read anything he can get his hands on. That’s what I did with you.”
Me: But I ended up reading Stephen King and Sidney Sheldon when I was 9.
Me: [looking on bright side] Then again, I turned out like this.
Mom: You would have turned out like this anyway. There was nothing we could have done.
And that is how “like this” can mean two different things.
Also, that’s the awkward segue into expressing my gratitude to those who have liked this column and shared it with friends. (I swear I’m not going to make a habit out of blogging about blogging. Because if there’s one thing that’s a waste of internet space,* it’s this: “Today I blogged. Here’s how I feel about blogging this blog. It’s like, I’m blogging, and here’s the blog, and now I’m going to step away and not blog, but then I’m back! Blogging again! Blog! Blogging like a mofo!” )
Whether you’re one of my 7 friends in real life or you stumbled upon it when we had that brief moment with the porn or the earrings a couple weeks back or you’re one of those Irish people who somehow found it at the very beginning, thank you for all the times you’ve taken a moment to “like” this.
It gives me a rash to come out and ask for anyone to share the Blink or follow it on Facebook or Twitter. If anyone “likes” a post, I want it to be because you actually like it. So it tickles me to pieces that so many folks are re-posting and sharing this stuff voluntarily. You’re all hired as promotional agents. (But it’s an internship, so it doesn’t pay.)
As the Blink’s agents, you should know that you’re doing a great job. I keep getting emails forwarded from friends-of-friends with stories about how someone had a horrible day or week or year, but then they read something here and it perked them up. I’m not going to quote them verbatim, because some of them are really specific – and some of these people, I’m telling you, if I was going through the shit they’re going through, I don’t think I could laugh at all. So, there. You’re making people happy when you share this stuff. I hope you’re proud of yourselves, young ladies and gentlemen.
Anyway. Just wanted to say thanks. Carry on.
(* PS: If there’s something that’s not a waste of internet space, it’s when Marcel says she desperately wants a nickname but can’t ask for it, about 1:35 into this. I really get that.)