Archive for November, 2011


I just learned that this exists and I am really upset about that because I am 100% certain that I have it. Here is a brief definition for you: 

 Dyscalculia is a specific learning disability involving innate difficulty in learning or comprehending simple arithmetic. It is akin to dyslexia and includes difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, learning maths facts, and a number of other related symptoms

Throughout my life I have always had extreme difficulty learning and understanding math. I was always way behind the rest of the class and it took me many years to get a handle on each lesson. Most of the time I did just well enough to get by. Despite this, I was put in the “advanced” math classes in junior high. I painfully struggled through one year, then the next year I did virtually nothing because there was a big group project, and even then barely squeaked by. I begged my parents to put me in the regular math class and they finally did. Even then, I had a very difficult time, and I am positive that the only reason I even passed my math classes in high school was due to daily tutoring by my sister.

 One of the hardest things about this is that I have yet to meet someone who understands what I mean when I say that I cannot do math. I do not mean “I did not do well in math classes”. I mean “I have difficulty with the most very basic math.” You know those methods used by really little kids just learning math like counting on the points of numbers like 2, 3, and 4? Yeah, that is how I count.

Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Difficulty with everyday tasks like reading analog clocks
    I can read analog clocks, but it took me many years to learn. I think it took me until high school to really get this down.
  • Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a checkbook
  • Difficulty with multiplication-tables, and subtraction-tables, addition tables, division tables, mental arithmetic, etc.
    Check. I cannot subtract or divide at all.
  • Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time. May be chronically late or early.
    I get around this with routines. ‘I know that it takes me x amount of time to get ready if I do this specific set of things.’
  • Particularly problems with differentiating between left and right
    I know my right from my left but only because I write with my right. I mostly have trouble with this if I am trying to give or receive directions.
  • Might do exceptionally well in a writing related field — many authors and journalists have this disorder[citation needed]
  • Difficulty navigating or mentally “turning” the map to face the current direction rather than the common North=Top usage.
  • Having particular difficulty mentally estimating the measurement of an object or distance (e.g., whether something is 10 or 20 feet (3 or 6 metres) away).
  • Often unable to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences
    Check. One of my teachers thought that I was trying to give her a hard time because I kept telling her that I didn’t understand.
  • Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks
    I’m not sure that this is supposed to mean so I am not checking it.
  • Low latent inhibition, i.e., over-sensitivity to noise, smell, light and the inability to tune out, filtering unwanted information or impressions. Might have a well-developed sense of imagination due to this (possibly as cognitive compensation to mathematical-numeric deficits)
    I am not sure about this one because I have the ability to tune out my environment to the point where I will not even realize that someone is talking. (Sorry, boyfriend)
  • Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name/face retrieval. May substitute names beginning with same letter
    I have done this, but not often. I know people who have repeatedly called me by the wrong name, even several times a day even though I correct them every time.

I think that there is something really wrong with the fact that we have come to know words like dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD, but not this one. I have been made to feel stupid for 24 years at school, at the workplace, even at home because of my inability to understand and execute math.

Why was this never addressed? Why was I not tested for this. Looking back, it is painfully clear to me that I have a learning disability when it comes to math, so why have I never even heard of this?


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Please, please, please be my Best Friend Forever. I know that I only have a Bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts Christian college. However, on the establishment of our friendship, I am sure that you would find my choice of career a useful compliment to your own. Both attempt to understand human behavior and mental processes. I believe that a friendship would provide a facinating subject for each of our respective fields as well as fulfilling societal obligations.

I anxiously await your response.

April Hoffman

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Living in Iowa for the past two years after growing up in Illinois has caused me to start missing some things from when I grew up, specifically grocery items and restaurants. When I lived in Illinois, I barely thought about these things and in fact rarely utilized them, but now that I cannot have access to these things on a daily basis I have been made aware of their absence. Now, every time I visit my family, these things are a Must. I miss these Illinois things:

I am drooling over the thought of a Steak n Shake burger and a plate of fries. I like to smother them in ketchup and eat them with a fork because that is how you eat Steak n Shake fries (also dipped in a chocolate shake, mmmm). I really need to take a trip home soon because: Caramel Apple Shake.

*Strictly speaking, I know that Steak n Shake is not just an Illinois thing, but I see them most in Illinois. I make Rob stop whenever we see one, and he is Okay with this because he had a really stellar first time Steak n Shake experience (in Missouri, not Illinois) which I briefly mentioned in my last post, but will continue not to elaborate on.*

Rob and I get the Rippled kind instead of these, but omg so delicious. They have a website where you can buy packs of 4-8 bags, or even a “Gift Box” with one of each of their products included. They also sell pork rinds in Original, BBQ and Spicy. Ugh. I will stick with the Rippled potato chips.

This is the only other kind of chips that I will eat anymore:

But those are a UK thing, not an Illinois thing.

Speaking of the U.K. When I went to the U.K. for three months in 2007, there were foods that I missed from the U.S. which I didn’t even eat before I left, but eat all the time now. These are those:

I know everyone likes ranch dressing, but I really didn’t until I got to the U.K. and the only available ranch that I could find was on Subway sandwiches.

I had not had a Milky Way in years before my mom brought me a big stack when she came to visit me. I am all about fun size Milky Ways.

I hated peanut butter all my life until I went to the U.K. and couldn’t really find it. I found a jar at a grocery store and started eating it out of the jar with a spoon for the rest of the trip. I still do this because Rob is not a peanut butter fan.

Am I the only one who does this? If you grew up in one place and later lived somewhere else, what restaurants and grocery items do you miss?

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At the moment I have a giant crush on Eddie Vedder that is inching closer and closer to teenage “OH MY GAWD, EDDIE IS SO HAWT” status and I am not even kidding.* This is entirely my boyfriend’s fault. I don’t even think he minds even a little bit, which to me seems like the weirdest part, but according to him, all the ladies love Eddie Vedder.

I should just say up front that I was not always an Eddie fan. Not to say that I disliked Pearl Jam or whatever, but that I was more or less unaware of their existence barring the very few songs that were occasionally played on the radio. When my boyfriend and I started dating two years ago, I quickly found out that he Loved Pearl Jam, to the extent that he gave me a giant stack of cds, almost all of which was Pearl Jam (including the soundtrack for Into the Wild, which Eddie wrote)

A few months after we started dating he took me to the only concert we have ever been to, which I will not go into here, but it was seriously one of the most romantic things we have ever done and involves Pearl Jam, no sleep for 32+ hours and Steak n’ Shake (one of the most delicious 2 am meals I have ever had). In preparation for said concert I listened to nothing but Pearl Jam for weeks. In consequence, I became a Pearl Jam Fan, but I was not yet an Eddie Vedder Fan.

Then Ukulele Songs came out, and oh man I love me some ukulele. That became our wake-up music for a while.

Then Cameron Crowe made this documentary and a massive coffee table book, both called Pearl Jam 20. Because I did not really start noticing Pearl Jam until just now, I had never encountered 1990s Eddie Vedder. I had never experienced the long, luxurious curly hair, or the shorts, or the abs, or the hanging off of rafters.

Also? One of the special features on the PJ20 DVD is a tour of Eddie’s house. I really want his house. Not because it’s Eddie Vedder’s house, but because it is the coolest freaking house. There is a fire pole and cozy little rooms and it just looks comfortable, if that makes any sense.


May I say that he has also aged really well?

Also, also? Can everyone agree that Jeff Ament looked like a total doofus in those hats, and that it was really distracting, and thank god he doesn’t wear those damn things anymore?



*I am kidding.

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