Invisible Math

Today is Angela’s 22nd birthday. I know exactly what to write about my gentle giant. It has nothing to do with her colorful driving history.

I’d like to tell you about her superpower. Mathematics.

Angela is wicked good at math. Her grade school math teacher recognized this gift and began challenging her with difficult curriculum. She continued on that trajectory throughout high school, completing three years of collegiate math before she stepped onto campus. The last time I helped her with this subject was in 3rd grade. I held the flashcards.

My sister, who specializes in estate planning and property law, once asked Angela to make sense of a legal situation which involved complex calculations. Karen told me that Angela had figured out the problem before the pencils were sharpened and the coffee poured.

But this post would be boring if I continued in this way.

I’d like to report that our math superhero has encountered kryptonite this semester. It’s a class called Signals and Systems.

Just the other week, Angela reached out via text.

Angela: “Just took the worst test of my college career so far. So I’ll be dropping out now.”

Me: “Sounds reasonable.”

I’ll admit that my first reaction was glee. Pure glee. Finally, I thought. She made it to the 16th grade but she finally struggled with a math test. Which is something that most normal humans deal with by like the 3rd grade. But I hid my uncharitable thoughts and shifted into supportive parent stance.

Me: “That’s really rough. It’s the worst feeling when you don’t do well on a test.”

Angela: “Oh absolutely. My only hope is that she either grades super easy. Or that I did better than enough other people in the class to get a good curved grade.”

I must pause the story here to provide some background. Angela once told me about something called imaginary numbers. The simple definition of an imaginary number is “a number that when squared gives a negative result“.

Whatever that means.

Angela tells me that she uses these numbers on a daily basis. Even at her summer job. I find this baffling. I made the mistake of calling them invisible numbers once. Angela corrected me and told me that there is no such thing. We’ve had an ongoing argument regarding this nomenclature.

Honestly, I don’t get it. If a number is imaginary surely it can also be invisible. Like an imaginary friend. Which is also an invisible friend. But I guess that logic doesn’t hold with regards to mathematics.

Anyways, you’ll need to know that background to understand the rest of our conversation.

Angela: “I might get a consolation prize for making up new math though. Because I definitely did some things with equations that no one’s ever seen before.”

Me: “Invisible math. I’ve been telling you about it for years.”

Angela: “Oh there was plenty of invisible math. AKA the questions I left blank.”

She survived her first brush with academic failure and has decided to complete her college career. She’s got bigger things to conquer now. Like a broomball tournament with her brother.

Here’s to a happy 22nd birthday.

Full of real, visible joy.

8 thoughts on “Invisible Math

  1. Angela is my polar opposite in all things from 0 to 9 to the nth degree and them some😵‍💫 I just don’compute. But all I can say is Happy Birthday, Angela, and 1234567890 more! love, Aunt Cynthia❤️☘️


  2. Happiest 22nd to Angela! It looks like she is having the time of her life, and still enjoying complex numbers. One of the very select few! God Bless her!


    I remember you as the poised little flower girl in Miriam and Ryan’s wedding. Happy to hear of all of your talents ad achievements, Sugie


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