Finite Groups and My Goddamned Tortured Soul)
In college, I took a class called “Ringing the Changes: An Introduction to Finite Groups.” I want to assure you that I didn’t typically take math theory classes. I was an English major. Which meant I mostly steered clear of the building called Robinson Hall except to take my required Calculus I and II, which I got out of the way the fall and winter terms of my freshman year at 8 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Incidentally, I didn’t need to take Calculus at 8 am, but I chose this time slot. I CHOSE IT. For a complicated set of psychological reasons that can generally be referred to as “masochism,” and a sense that it isn’t real work (or fun) unless it hurts. As we all know, college is not just where you learn about a variety of subjects and book things, it is also where you learn about yourself.
The other thing I learned about myself that year: I like bitter black coffee.
By the end of my freshman year, I thought my relationship with math was pretty much over. So I was surprised to find myself enrolled in this course about Finite Groups during the winter semester of my junior year. The reason I took it was because I had been invited to be a part of a group of students that were referred to as “University Scholars.” I’m hesitant to even tell you about this. I mean, I don’t want to come across as a fucking elitist. But look, the truth is, back then, I considered myself a Scholar with a capital S. Hit me up if you wanted to discuss literary theory or existential philosophy or the state of my smart professor beard and long hair.
And then afterwards maybe go back to my dorm room and smoke cigarettes and make out on my futon.