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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024


Dear Math,

It’s me, Rachel. I know it’s been a while since we last talked. I blame you. Seriously, Math, you’ve been a really big jerk to me throughout most of our relationship. I don’t know why it had to be like that, especially since our first years together were so good.

We used to understand each other. Counting. Addition. Subtraction. Multiplication. You used to make so much sense. But then you had to get all long division up on me. Since fourth grade, I never knew what you wanted. I don’t know how I got through those rough times, but I managed to pass Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II (I didn’t understand why Algebra needed a part two), and Pre-Calculus. It was four years of hell. After that, I couldn’t even stand looking at you anymore.

After high school, I started avoiding you. I knew it was the best thing for me to do. All my friends said so. I realized that once I got to college I didn’t have to see you ever again. I didn’t have to take any math classes to fulfill any of my GEs. I took science classes instead. Anthropology. Geology. It was glorious. And I can’t even describe how elated I was that I didn’t have to see you. Because, as you know, Math, I hated you. You were an evil, lying bastard and I hoped you would rot in hell.

It’s just that you weren’t anything like English. English treated me right. English understood me and I understood English. Adverbs: total sense. Area of a parallelogram: hell if I know.

So I almost ran into you a couple times, Math, but I found ways to cleverly evade you. When I went to restaurants and I needed to figure out the tip, I used the EZ tip calculator on my phone. Or all those times I was at work and I needed to give customers the correct amount of change, all I had to do was look at the cash register. The cash register, not my brain, told how much to give back.

I was getting on with my life. Things were going really well for me. Then I found out something terrible.

I have to take the GRE.

You see, Math, I want to do this thing called grad school. Even though I want to study something that is very un-math related, the grad school of my choice wants me to take that stupid standardized test to torture me. I guess grad school is just as sick and sadistic as you.

So guess what, Math… no, I don’t want to admit it. I’ve lived so long without you. I really don’t want to go back to those terrible times, but… I guess I have to.

I need you back.

Everything depends on you, Math.

I know I’ve talked a lot behind your back. You probably guessed that I was the one who started that rumor about how linear equations give you herpes. But let’s forget all that. I know I need to show you that I’m a changed person. I’ll even add you to my Facebook friends.

Now that we’re on civil terms again, let’s get down to business. I was looking through my GRE practice book and I don’t remember anything about you. At all. It has been years and years since I took a math class, after all.

So let’s make a deal. Is there some sort of magic we can use to make me remember all of that pointless math I was forced to learn? I really don’t feel like studying that much. And I shouldn’t have to. Seriously, you owe me, Math. Give me a break.


The only thing RACHEL SKYTT learned in a math class was how to solve a Rubik’s cube. She knows it’s a pretty awesome skill to have. If you want to brag about your cubing skills, send your e-mails to raskytt@ucdavis.edu.


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