Six Floors Up

My corner in Alden Library.
My corner in Alden Library.
I sometimes watch people smoke in this courtyard during difficult study sessions.
I sometimes watch people smoke in this courtyard during difficult study sessions.

I’m in a predicament.

During my first semester at OU I begrudgingly enrolled in an economics course. It’s something you have to do to graduate with a journalism degree here. But with each passing lecture, I started to like the class more and more. By exam time, I had a crush on supply and demand models.

Then I enrolled in a second course. My relationship with the study of trade-offs became more serious — I began considering going steady with the dismal science. But after our first few dates it became clear that if I wanted our relationship to continue, I would need to learn to love numbers.

Here’s the problem: I’ve never gotten along well with math. Crunching numbers and manipulating equations has always made me feel anxious, stupid and tired. But I decided it was worth it, and so the above scene became mine and the numbers’ regular meeting place.

This desk (pictured) is on the sixth floor of Alden Library, hidden from the commotion of campus. It’s quiet. There is about a foot between the wall and my chair, so I know nothing is going on behind me — I think this appeals to some leftover primal instinct in me. I feel totally at ease.

In this state, I can settle into the slower, more rational way of thinking that allows me to digest unfamiliar concepts (psychologists and economists call this System 2). I can focus, totally and completely, without fear of interruption.

My relationship with economics depends on this corner of Alden Library, six floors up.