After my daughter was born, I decided I would conquer my "math block." I resolved, at age 41, to complete a calculus course before I turned 50.
One obstacle lay in my path: my last math instruction, trigonometry, had taken place when I was 17. Truth was, I could no longer factor an equation.
Finally I had a reason to be thankful for the sad state of public education. I enrolled in the easiest developmental math course at the university where I worked. While on maternity leave, I factored and solved while my baby slept. I loved it. Putting numbers in neat columns and arriving at finite, correct answer was the perfect counterbalance to the chaos of first-time motherhood.
I breezed through the three "pre-credit" courses once I got my number legs back; the hardest part was using that newfangled graphing calculator. In the old days, such wonders didn't exist and the dinosaur versions were so expensive - even though TI was a 20 minute drive from our school - that we had one per classroom and had to take turns. Yes, Virginia, we used slide rules. Google the term.
My return to work coincided with my entry into "College Algebra." I was doing fine, but the combination of math, child care, sorting out the adminstrivia of six months' absence, and finding time to sleep was not working and I put numeracy aside. And I never resumed, even after I resigned and returned to Texas.
So 50 came and went last month with nary a bit of calculus. No big.
But I have decided that something else absolutely must come to pass this year. I owe it to myself and to one amazing teacher in my past and colleague and friend in the present, Carol Daeley.
I've never read a novel by Charles Dickens.
It's a long story, but over the years it's become a point of perverse pride, a literary party-fact: "Why, yes, I'm an aborted-doctor-of literature and you know what? I've never read Dickens. Take THAT."
But in my sixth decade, it's time to shit or get off the pot. My education is incomplete.
I have chosen Bleak House, and just clicked the checkout button on amazon. The die is cast.