Sunday, February 19, 2012

the mathematician and me...

So I'm in the library. It's the afternoon. I've just finished ballet technique, and I have a few hours before my choreography workshop.  Pink tights peek out from loose black sweatpants, paired with an old t-shirt I got on tour in Canada. In case you're having a difficult time painting a picture- go ahead and trust me when I say that I do not look cute. I'm fumbling over granola and yogurt, trying to get the crumbles into my mouth and not on the floor. Feeling very uncoordinated. Plus- not cute. (Did I mention that?)

I'm hungry. Tired. Grouchy. As I'm looking up european post modern choreography on youtube, (on mute) I hear an irritated voice say, "is that homework"? I become aware of the studious looking girl sitting next to me.

Her hair sleekly falls to her shoulders. She's wearing a button up 3/4 sleeve shirt, a pencil skirt, and glasses that suggest there's nothing wrong with her vision and she has impeccable style. I'm startled. I'd been in my own world; feeling sorry for myself for being tired and unable to eat granola gracefully. "Is that homework?" she repeats again, sounding a little less irritated and a little more patronizing. She continues, "Because if it's not, you're really not supposed to be using this section of the library's computers."

Half amused and half perplexed, I answer (my mouth half full of granola) "actually it is homework." She doesn't believe me. Slowly, she says, "what are you studying?"

Now I'm annoyed. Who does this girl think she is? The library police?

Determined to keep my cool, I tell her I'm pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in the Department of Modern Dance. "That oughta shut her up", I think to myself. There's a pause. She has nothing to say. (Good.)

 I return to the youtube search. She responds, "I used to dance".  My eyes flicker to her computer. She's working on some sort of equations. I'm thinking statistics or calculus. Goodness, how I hated those classes. I immediately feel sorry for this girl and regret being irritated by her.  Maybe I can make some polite conversation. I ask her what her major is. She answers: Math.

Then she continues (with a hint of smugness), "so I can get a real job someday."

Another awkward pause. 

I'm trying to figure out if she's trying to be funny, or suggesting that I will never get a job. Either way, this girl seems to lack some very basic social skills, and I'm more concerned for her than offended by her comments. I shrug, and cheerfully say something along the lines of "good for you for being so smart", and mention something about how I've always hated math because I'm so terrible at it. She rolls her eyes, and says perhaps the most depressing thing I've heard all semester:

"who says I don't hate math?" 

Third awkward pause. 

I'm beginning to think that there's no recovery from this conversation. I'd gone from being annoyed, to sympathetic, to trying to compliment a girl for being exceptional at solving equations to apparently offending her for assuming she enjoyed her major. She glares at me, says, "at least I don't have to starve myself by only eating yogurt and granola for lunch." Then she logs off her computer, gathers her books and backpack, and storms off. I'd just filled my mouth with another bite, so there was a fourth awkward moment (with the exception of me crunching my granola).

I go back to my youtube clips.

Not quite sure what to think about all of this, friends. I don't want to read too much into it. Most likely it was just an odd girl having an odd day (during an odd time of the month). I'm not suggesting that she's depressed because she's a mathematician rather than an artist. It was actually quite an interesting pop in my grouchy and tired afternoon. I do wish her the best. (Even though she really needs to see a therapist if that's how she behaves to every stranger she meets.) 
I wonder if she looks up dance on youtube during her free time. 

Probably not.

I will say this: I'm very glad I'm not studying math. 
Even if it means I don't dress cute all the time.

ps- for another awkward dance-y story that this reminds me of:


  1. Bawh! Okay, maybe this is wrong but this post made me laugh! Poor girl- she was having a horrid day and spouted her horrid-ness onto you. You handled it great...considering you were grouchy and tired and probably had granola stuck in your teeth :-) Alyssa, you are a gem!

  2. Haha! I majored in math and I am hoping I was slightly less awkward and patronizing than this girl. I like math. and I like yogurt and granola.

  3. wow! It looks like you need to move to Canada or something! I hear the people are really nice up there and miss their besties!

  4. This reminds me of all the people who ask me what in the world I am going to do with a degree in dance. We're lucky enough to be able to fill our life, every single day, with beauty and meaning...sigh if only everyone were as fortunate as us :)

  5. You are a lucky woman for being so artistic - and I'm certain you looked lovely. I would be flattered that she thinks you're starving yourself C: just sayin


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