My Blog is Really Depressing This Year

Remember how I said I was having a rough year? Yeah… It just keeps continuing…

About two weeks ago, my Facebook feed exploded. Old friends and acquaintances from my high school days had posts one right after another just FILLING my screen. Let me tell you, that’s weird. We’re all current or past artists from LACHSA. That’s a level of meshing schedules that we didn’t have even when we were in school together! To make a long ramble a short burst of information, it turns out that one of our favorite math teachers passed away unexpectedly the night before.

Dallas Russell was an amazing man. Really, there aren’t words powerful enough to express how amazing. His teaching method was more like playing a game than learning math. Even the way he worked out problems! “This is where the fun starts!” Algebra, geometry, it was all fun. There were old school chalk boards in the Cal State LA music building at the time, so Mr. Russell’s hands were always covered in chalk. Not just white chalk, either, but blue and pink and any other color that was in the box. I think it was street chalk, because I remember the sticks being freaking huge!

He’d love to give hugs, too. The term “bear hug” was invented for this man. I’m not in any way a small person and I always had to ask him to ease up a bit because he’d just CRUSH me in his hugs. I could use one right now…

Anyhow, his memorial was tonight and I basically chickened out in going. I didn’t know anyone local going to bum a ride from; I knew that if I drove myself, I’d end up stranded with my car on Figuroa St. because I was crying too hard to drive myself home. So, instead, I let my housemates distract me and did a little more searching for other blogs or reports on Mr. Russell.

What I ended up finding was an write up from Ron Irwin. Maybe I’m just emotional right now, but Irwin’s report on Mr. Russell made me miss him all over again. I teared up a bit as Irwin talked about the personal tour of the campus that Mr. Russell gave him and his daughter. Mr. Russell was a very friendly and talkative man. Before and after classes he constantly had students hovering around his desk just wanting to chat a bit with him. A part of me wonders if Irwin knows that now, since his daughter was accepted into the school.

Next month is my 10-year reunion, but now that event seems a little less bright. I was planning on telling Mr. Russell that night, if he showed up, that it might have taken me 10 years, but I finally found my calling in college. I was going to tell him that I was working toward a Masters in Mathematics. If he wasn’t there, I was going to see if I could hunt down his “new” classroom in King Hall the following Monday.

I can’t now. I can’t playfully inform him that it’s his fault I’ve been unleashed on the poor, unsuspecting math department at whatever 4-year I end up attending. I can’t ask him where he would suggest I attend. I can’t ask him what other degrees besides just straight mathematics is there in the field.

He can’t be my mentor anymore and that makes me feel so very lost.