Things To Do Instead Of Math Homework | Teen Ink

# Things To Do Instead Of Math Homework

March 22, 2014

Eat more vegetables.
Actually follow through on my New Years Resolutions
(exercise more and lasso a squirrel).
Skype my friend who lives in
Delaware, Wisconsin, Alabama,
Detroit, Piedmont, Columbia, France, or Mexico.
Recover old flames, ignite new ones, or
bash my head against a wall until
all the fire in my eyes has been extinguished.

Maybe then I will be ready to do my math homework.

But not, of course, before I have
memorized every muscle and nerve in the human body;
I knew the names at one point but
we are rediscovering ourselves all the time,
and I was too preoccupied with other tasks to actually
finish my anatomy homework last year.
I need to know that information first so that when
I finally do sit down and try to
apply myself to binomial equations and graphing calculator errors,
I will be able to weed out the traitors beneath my skin. They
could be hiding in any ligament, any neuron,
just itching for a distraction.

And I’ll have to run some errands first as well.
I have to go on a quick road trip to California in a giant van
with all of my closest friends in the back seats;
we’ll take every detour on the way, of course, because hey,
we might learn something.
And when we get to California, there are a few things we’ll need to do
before we can sit down with a textbook.
We’ll have to fall in love with the orange sky against the mountains,
the chaos of the beach, and every stranger we see.
We’ll go to punk rock shows and give each other black eyes,
break into the basements in our bellies
and vandalize the s*** out of them.
After that, we’ll have to see what becomes of us;
some of us might get famous, others might die trying,
that giant van might be
a cramped box of bodies one day and
a hollow cave with too much space the next.
How am I supposed to concentrate on math when
there are other priorities?
I’ve got poems to write,
names to take,
strangers to be strange around and
a heart to be broken.
Once I cross those items off my list,
maybe then I’ll be ready to focus on these probability questions.

But I’ll have some chores to take care of;
they’re urgent and require immediate attention.
First, I have to figure my future out. I need to know
if I really can just float along on poetry or if
I’ll need to buck up and get a real job, maybe as a lawyer,
or I could sit at a desk grinding my face
with a cheese grater from 9 to 5. Regardless,
at some point, I need to go on a nationwide poetry tour,
I received but never listened to. I need to see the
wonders of the world in every audience, and
taste the next 60 years of my life in
the wind off the highway.

Secondly, I need to tell my family that I love them.
Before I know it, I’ll be 80 years old and it’ll be 3 in the morning,
and I’ll be wondering where they went and why
I can’t hear my mother’s footsteps in the hallway
or my brother jumping in circles on the living room floor
to see how many times he can spin in the air before
he dissolves into helicopter leaves.

Lastly-- and this is the most urgent, but it’ll take the longest--
I’ll need to learn how to love myself.
I’ll have to search the valleys in my fingerprints for motive.
For value. For a punchline I never understood.
I need to love myself, the original copy,
the only me I’ll ever have.
Let me take care of that first, and I promise I’ll show my work,
prove how I arrived to the conclusion that
I deserve self-love.

If you multiply my words tenfold,
add that number to the circumference of
my wrists minus the total weight of the scars resting on them,
will you be able to tell me how much I am worth?
My heart is a well, and there’s no way to calculate the depth,
so I won’t know where the bottom is until I reach it;
I won’t know I’ve been filled past my brim until
I drown. And I’ll have to practice drowning,
over and over and over again,
until I have made it an art,
a little like how you have made
solving equations and finding answers an art;

you know, I really admire “Math People”.
It must be great to be able to sit down and follow logical steps
to achieve a solution. I could never,
not once in a million years, do what you do; I always find myself missing a step,
forgetting a sign; there are so many ways to mess up
and I’ve discovered them all.
And maybe you have a problem like that
with poetry;
there is no logic, there are no solutions, only combinations
of syllables that can somehow have the potential to create problems.
You can’t take it step by step.
The answers are all around you, not at the back of the book.
There is no beginning, no end, just words.
Just words. That’s all.

Let me master my art before you try to teach me yours.
There are so many more useful things to learn from a human being
other than what a permutation is.
If class is still in session by the time I return, then great--
but if not, just let me know what I missed, and
I’ll get it back to you eventually.

I wrote this instead of doing math homework. That is all.