A lot of people don’t know that I have a mathematical brain, so much so that my over-eager self was a math major in college for a bit. That is, until I was put in an advanced calculus class with a teacher that barely spoke a word of English, so trying to understand not only the math part but also his thick-as-molasses Chinese accent was enough for me to change my major all together and graduate with a BA in Sociology.
Today for the first time in (honestly) years, I put down the calculator to see if I could figure out a problem that would have come so naturally to me years ago when I was in school and had algebra fresh in my brain. Actually now that I think about it, formulas such as this stem back to probably sometime in junior high (um, 20 years ago, wtf?). Mkay, so here was my dilemma. I have $70 worth of Bed Bath and Beyond gift cards in my purse, along with a 20% coupon, so I wanted to figure out how much I could spend before taking 20% off, where I’d end up at $70 after the discount, pre-tax.
So I worked it out…
…and figured out the long way that X=$87.50 and seriously I think that gave me more satisfaction than anything I’ve done in a while. How sad is that? But I started wondering if back in 8th grade, coming up with and solving this formula would have taken me as long as it did today, or if I’ve just become so accustomed to the immediate gratification that a calculator provides which in turn makes me feel like my brain is mushy since it took me 5 whole minutes to figure out a formula and solve it. The world may never know.
I do know though that I still live my life with a mathematical brain even if I do pull out my phone to use the calculator when I get frustrated trying to figure out my gas mileage in my head on my way home from work. Wow, that just sounds nerdy, but it’s one shiny example for you of how my brain works. I like math because in math there is one answer and one answer only. There is no interpretation, or gray area, merely unknowns yet to be figured out (like the concept of a 4th dimension which totally fascinates me). I think that’s why I’d make a good doctor – if someone has a physical problem, there is a reason for it and it would be up to me to figure out what that reason is and fix it by doing A, B, and C. I also think it’s why I always hated subjects on literature where you had to interpret what someone else was thinking and your teacher could tell you if you were right or wrong based on his/her own interpretation. It’s all subjective. Just like art class was subjective. I loved the 45 minutes I was given to create, but the fact that someone was paid to grade my creation is just asinine. Or when someone makes a really good book into a movie – more times than not it’s disappointing because you are watching on the screen one person’s interpretation of the author’s thoughts when you’ve already come up with your own interpretation, and until the movie comes out, you never think to question if your version is the same as the author’s. Or if your paper mache monster is realistic enough. Or if the poem you just read was about love or sarcasm. I don’t do well with subjective, I don’t like grays or maybes, I like proof and fact and one possible answer.
I think this is where my disdain for unsolicited advice stems from. If I truly don’t know the answer to a problem and if I value your opinion, I will ask you how you would handle the situation. But if I already have my own solution or a certain way of doing something, leave me be because otherwise you are telling me that my way is wrong. It’s not my pride that gets hurt, it’s the fact that in your mind, your interpretation is better than mine and you can go suck an egg just like my 4th grade art teacher. But I digress.
I remember a frustrating lunchtime conversation with a friend where she just would. not. believe. me that if A=B and B=C, then A must=C. She came up with example after example trying to prove me and the mathematical laws of the universe wrong, examples that I proved wrong right back every time because that’s how it works, it’s fact through logic and that’s how I like it. She would say things like, “well, if a cow is a horse and a horse is a dog, how can you possibly tell me that a cow is the same thing as a dog??” But her downfall was that she was thinking in animals and DNA and her concept of what a cow and a dog are in real life. But in the mathematical sense foregoing all that we know about the physiological makeup of these animals, if in her world a cow is in fact a horse and, in that same world, a horse is in fact a dog, then a cow would absolutely be a dog. Plain, simple, fact.
I tried to explain using physical objects that weren’t thought of in any sense other than how she knows them: if her shoe (A) is Louboutin (B), and her Louboutin (B) is blue (C), then her shoe (A) is blue (C). Hey, the girl loves her shoes. I tried showing her that if you use true statements, you can see that simple formula in everything around you. I think she said something about “well it can’t always work,” and then she snorted, and then I heard crickets.
Don’t get me wrong, you put me head to head with her in a “Which Haute Couture Gown is Better” showdown and I’d be the one ducking as the questions were flying right over the top of my head.
Which brings me to the whole left brain vs. right brain and the theory that every person is one or the other.
There are definitely different types of brains and I, based on everything I’ve just rambled on about, would normally be considered left brained. Though the funny thing is that I always wondered how I had a creative side as well, because surely if I’m a logical thinker, then I can’t be artsy and imaginative as well, right? Humph, I say wrong. At least in my case. I very personally think the 2 different qualities can compliment each other and create a whole different category of thinker. I for sure have a creative side, but even when creating things, to me there is a right way and a wrong way (which I’m sure is why I wouldn’t allow myself to half-ass any do-it-yourself projects during wedding planning). Think of it as a ‘structured creativity’. It’s the reason I was able to teach myself how to play the piano, but get cross-eyed the second I pick up a guitar. Piano: 1 key=1 note. Guitar: 1 string=102939237487 different possibilities, too much interpretation, not enough A=C, does not compute. It’s the reason I can figure out what color to put on what head of hair to get a desired result – because this:
…means more to me than just rainbows…instead it makes green-based hair dye a not so scary thought. I definitely have a creative side, but my creativity has to follow the laws of logic.
So where does that leave those of us with a logical brain coupled with a whimsy imagination? The left side of my brain would say leave it be, there’s a left and a right and that’s how it is. But my right side is throwing off the whole equation and putting me smack dab in the middle. Who knew…I am gray in my black and white world.