I always knew this would be my Appomattox. For twenty-plus years, I’ve put it off, and the day of reckoning has come. I’m in my first algebra class in more than two decades. This class is why I didn’t finish my AA so many years ago, and why I was always afraid to go back to school. I’ve been telling myself I can do this- untold numbers of people have passed this class to graduate from college, and I have to as well.

It doesn’t matter than it has no practical application in my life or in my field. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard for me, or if I don’t want to do it- the fact is, it’s what stands between me and my degree. I keep telling myself I can do it.

This week, I finally sat myself down and started to work. The part for me that is still confounding is my inability to associate the work with anything relatable. I remember things by applying it to meaningful areas of my life- but this these crazy quadratic equations and square roots of fractions and factoring polynomials, even when I grasp it long enough to do a problem, it’s gone again when I go to do the next one a day later.

I spent two hours tonight on nine problems. They were harder than anything I remember from my high school algebra- cube roots of fractions, synthetic division, things that simply finally made me close the book and shut the window, because even with the prompts, it was making no sense.

This terrifies me, because if I don’t pass this class, I don’t get my degree, and I could lose my spot at George Washington in the fall. Failure is simply not an option. It doesn’t matter one damn iota if this is hard. I have to do it, and I have to pass.

I have a midterm in my lab science today- and it’s feels like a breath of cool calm air after putting away the algebra book to pick up my lab notes on orthoclases, plagioclases and silica tetrahedrons. My lab science was too old (had to be within the last three years) so the University is making me take another one. I actually enjoy it- other than the cost and time. I got a 90% on my CIS midterm last week, so that’s one down.

If anyone has any brilliant ideas for getting this algebra to finally stick in my head and give me the boost I need to finally slay this dragon, I’m all ears. I know, one way or another, I will find a way. I just would like it to be with as little blood and tears as possible. It’s not like I have anything else going on…

Because I’m packing my house, planning a 2500 mile move, family is coming for my graduation, I’m looking for work, and I have three kids. Alone. Live, without a net, folks. Prayers, advice and magic math-wands are welcome. I’m here all night.

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