I am hangry. I forgot to eat lunch, so that’s on me. I’m angry because of math. Before I launch into that, I want to look at the word “hangry” for a moment. It is a beautiful word. It so eloquently describes the irritability caused by hunger, but it also somehow denotes that one is only angry because one is hungry. That is, things making me angry right now might not usually make me angry. I’m sure this is obvious but I wanted to point out that people have a knack for creating words to fit every emotion. Each language has its own unique ones. Like “gigil” in Filipino means the irresistible desire to pinch or squeeze something adorable, like a baby’s cheeks. The French have “la doleur exquise,” the heartbreaking pain of wanting someone you can’t have. In Norwegian, “forelsket” is the overwhelming euphoric feeling you experience when you’re falling in love with someone. Conversely, “onsra” in Boro (a language of India), means loving for the last time; that bittersweet feeling you get when you know a love won’t last. In Hindi, “viraag” is the emotional pain of being separated from a loved one. And now because of the Internet, we English speakers have “hangry.” More and more of our lexicon is being derived from Internet slang, and that’s not always a bad thing. (The next morning…no longer hungry…) I am angry because my math teacher is away this week, like he was the week of our first exam. Our second exam is tomorrow. I had questions for him. Not only did our TAs not come to class last night, the person teaching it was NOT one of the TAs. He was literally just “a friend” of my teacher. I won’t use the word professor because he isn’t one. He’s just a PhD student who can’t teach. A friend! Ok so a friend who’s also working on a math PhD but…still. This seems wildly unfair to those of us who signed up and paid for a class. I feel really screwed over. Last night while I was hangry, I was of a mind to write to my Dean and academic advisor to express my concerns over this class. I don’t know who else to be in touch with. But I want to explain how unfair all of us feel this is and how poorly we’re all doing in the class as a result of the discrepancy of how he teaches and the information he expects us to know. I’m teaching myself, with the help of online resources, a tutor, and a study group. I shouldn’t have to do that.
I asked our substitute what we would be going over in class last night, would it be review for the exam? He said, it would be a little review and then a lecture that Qirui gave him. I opted to have faith for a moment. Maybe it would be useful. But then he launched into trig identities and angles of triangles and the formula for finding the area of a triangle, none of which are on the exam NOR are they on the NEXT TWO HOMEWORKS. I looked at the homework due on Tuesday and I have not yet encountered how to do those problems at all, and yet somehow it’s not being covered in class. I stayed for half of the class but when I realized that none of this was relevant to what I needed to know right now, I got angry and left. I am honestly tempted to take pre-calc again over the summer with someone I hear is a great teacher, just so I actually feel prepared for calculus in the fall. I am so frustrated.
This is a problem with big universities. The lowest levels of academia get thrown to the PhD students and their students are the ones who suffer the consequences. I know that at Skidmore, a smallish liberal arts college, my pre-calculus course would have been great because it would have been taught by a real professor. Part of me regrets not applying to a small school, but I know as I get into the higher levels of what I’m studying it will be worth it. And the name Columbia looks good on a resume. Sigh. What a weird trade off.
On the upside of all of this, we’re getting to the stuff that’s really interesting to me in psychology. Yesterday we talked about emotions and their neurobiological components. It would be interested to have my brain scanned. Studies have shown that people with depression or mood disorders or PTSD have small hippocampal regions than control groups, and increased activity in the amygdala. There is also an idea that the prefrontal cortex malfunctions in some way in mood disorders, likely through the ventromedial, ventrolateral, or dorsolateral PFC. Since I had ECT, it is possible that I have lesions on my brain that helped me overcome the severe depression that I was in a year and a half ago, or that it scrambled my PFC enough to help me regulate the emotions again. In conjunction with my meds, this treatment may have actually changed my brain for the better and for good. I hope that’s the case.
My therapist is out of town for a week. She goes on so many vacations. I am honestly glad to have a short break from therapy work. I will have to see my psychiatrist so I don’t get a total break, but it’s different with him so it’s nice enough.
It was so nice out yesterday that Columbia students littered the stairs in front of Low Library, sunning themselves and detoxing from the pent up stress of midterms and their various obligations. Their babble echoed throughout the quad, making for an almost musical sensation as I walked to class. People were happy and laughing, transforming an outdoor space into something very intimate. It was so populated that it was hard to climb the stairs to get where I was going. I didn’t mind because I just loved seeing so many people worshiping the sun. It’s an omen of spring, of good things to come, of warmth pervading our lives, days becoming longer, plants blooming and FINALS. I have math class at 6:10 twice a week. At the beginning of the semester it was always pitch black when I entered the classroom, and now there is light even when I leave at 8. It makes such a difference in how awake I can be in class. Even with all of our technology, we are still ruled by our circadian rhythms, dictated by the sun and our primal brains.