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Liz Marsh
Liz Marsh

In my 20s and 30s, I have devoted an enormous amount of time and energy to caring for my body, mostly because my body requires more care than it used to. It’s harder to lose weight. It’s harder to stay in shape. Injuries and setbacks are more common than ever. So I work at it. I go to the gym, I run and I sign up for athletic events to help keep me motivated. But there is one part of myself that I have been severely neglecting — my obese brain.

This whole time while I’ve been concerned with fitting into my jeans, my brain has been stuffing itself with junk. It’s been complacent in its daily tasks. It has turned lazy, gluttonous and flabby. Or so I assume. The only metric I have to assess the fitness of my brain is the recent practices tests I have been taking in preparation for the GRE.

I haven’t taken a standardized test in 15 years, and in that time, it would seem that I’ve lost all the knowledge I learned in school. All of it. And what did I replace it with? Completely useless crap.

Sure, I know all the words to “Hamilton.” But I apparently don’t know the definition of the word “prodigal” (Hint, you don’t know it either, unless “reckless spender” was the first thing that popped into your head).

I know all about the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar. But fucked if I know what to do with this.

So I’ve been consistently scoring slightly below the guessing range, especially on the math portion. The only question I answered with confidence had to do with buying cans of juice at the supermarket. In case you’re wondering, Sally can buy 13 cans of juice with $48.


Because that’s adult math right there. I go to the supermarket with money all the time. I know exactly the amount of math I need to know to tip waiters, buy pizza for a group of people, and figure out how many days of dog food I have left. What I don’t do is spend much time wondering the percentage of the outer ring of a circle if the inner radius equals x squared.

If we’re being honest? My “Hamilton” skills are a much better indication of my graduate school success than my ability to figure out a standardized test. I worked hard at that shit. I listened to it for months figuring out the characters and the story and memorizing the super fast raps.

Some day, when I’m in charge of Things, I’m going to change that. I am going to make sure that it’s standard practice to accept a musical number in place of the math portion of the GRE.

Until then, I might just have to hope Lin-Manuel Miranda decides to put differential equations to song.

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