The Mickey Mouse Paper

I’m terrible at math, still. Not the accoutrements of math. I can get an Excel spreadsheet to work and I can usually figure out how to turn all my budgetary issues into elaborate story problems.

I just cannot work numbers. I still have to think for many seconds about what 7+4 equals. I have a hard time multiplying by 8. When I was in fifth grade, we had to memorize our multiplication tables and then we’d take these tests where we had a minute to answer thirty multiplication problems. If we didn’t a certain amount of them correctly, we had to stay in for recess. I could get them right if I had enough time.

I just always ran out of time.

See, the way I learned to memorize the multiplication tables was by singing a little song and committing it to memory. One times one is one. One times two is two… eight times eight is sixty-four, etc. So, if I wanted to answer, say, what 8×7 was, I had to sing the whole set of eights to myself.

I missed out on a lot of lunchtime recesses and so I began to hate math, both because I was failing to pass these quizzes and because I was missing prime socializing time.

So, finally, one day, my dad brought me into the living room and opened the second drawer on the desk, which, up until that point, we were forbidden from touching at all. And there, in a package, was some notebook paper with Mickey Mouse in the corner.

Now, it would be fun to do math! I could do my math assignments on the Mickey Mouse paper. I could write my math teacher elaborate stories in the margins of my homework, because there, in the margins already, was Mickey.

It’s stupid, but it worked. I looked forward to doing my homework so that I could use the Mickey Mouse paper. Doing my homework lead me to improving my math skills–not to genius levels, but to “get to finally go outside for recess levels.” And that was good enough for me.

7 thoughts on “The Mickey Mouse Paper

  1. Mrs Schwartz is EXTREMELY dyslexic. She didn’t even know until a few years ago, when we searched online for tests that would show it.

    It turns out that she developed ways to cheat at spelling and math.

    She was a star athlete and her father felt sports were more important than “book-lurnin”, so between him doing her homework for her (so she’d have more time for sports) and the teachers letting her slide by, she learned to read and write graphically, rather than phonetically.

    In other words, every word that she learned is not a group of letters to her, but a symbol, like a chinese character. When she sees DOG, she sees it as a single symbol, not D-O-G.

    She thinks she’s stupid for learning to read and write the “wrong way”. My attitude is “ARE YOU KIDDING? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW HARD IT IS TO MEMORIZE THOUSANDS OF INDIVIDUAL SYMBOLS?”

    It still boggles my mind. She went back to college a few years ago and had to relearn the way she learns, but she still falls back to the old way when she’s in a pinch.

    We went through her old report cards one year. All the signs are there. She just had shitty teachers and shitty parents, so she never knew any better.

  2. Shoot, observer, if you’re waiting for proper English around here, you’ll be waiting a long time.

    Ex, are you kidding?! Wow. That’s really amazing.

  3. It recently occurred to me, as I pointed out in one of my blogs, that I used to look at 48 and see the obvious 2×24 or 4×12, but now I see 3×16. Isn’t that odd? Then I wondered, at what point in my life did I automatically start dividing by three?

    Oh, the life and times of a math/philosophy double-major. I guess that’s why there aren’t many of us…

  4. Anonymous – I’ve never commented here but you are sick beyond belief, even if the proprietor of this website is acting in a public performance. You’re despicable (and feel free to also track down my IP and info if it makes you feel better).

    I hope your post is taken down asap before anything else.

    Unbelievable. I can’t imagine why you’d do what you’ve done and I have no skin in the game, as it were.

  5. Any other questions?

    1. Touched a nerve there, didn’t I?

    2. Do you really think that going to the cast list for The Vagina Monologues and picking the name that starts with “B” and googling it makes you clever?

    3. Does the implicit threat involved with “outing” someone make you feel powerful or is that dampened somewhat by the fact that, in order to lash out while you’re pissed off, you don’t get to try to terrorize me in person?

    Those are the questions that spring to mind immediately. I’ll let you know if I have more.

  6. Yeah, I have a question.

    What’s your address.

    B, track Comic Book Guy’s info and post it here.

    I’m sure many of your readers are web wizards.

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