I don't write much about my students, and when I do, I try to make it as anonymous as possible. One post last summer about women showing too much cleavage in class stewed in my brain for weeks before I wrote it.
I don't write much about my former students, because teaching in a community college, the standard relationship I have with a student goes like this:
1) Student enrolls
2) Student passes class
3) I never see student again, except maybe on campus or at a supermarket
Not so with Georgia Schreiber. She took statistics from me last spring. There were times when I thought she didn't like me very much, because she when she didn't understand something, the questions Georgia asked had an undertone of "This is way too hard and it's your fault." The one time I felt like she might actually like me a little bit was when she asked a question and I answered it by asking her questions. Georgia quickly understood the point and commented "That was very Talmudic of you." I shrugged and said, "Geez. I was going for Socratic." She laughed at the joke.
After the class, Georgia sent me an e-mail thanking me for the class, which is a not uncommon occurrence, and usually the last thing I hear from students. But Georgia sent me another e-mail in January inviting me to a Valentine's Day party she throws annually. Not much for parties usually, I decided to accept, largely out of surprise at being invited.
Georgia Schreiber throws a fantastic party. Lots and lots of people show up. I was introduced as the person who got her through math, which allowed her to continue her studies in the health field. She's at San Francisco State now earning her master's degree. Several people I talked to said this was the seventh or tenth time they had been to one of her Valentine's Day bashes. It was held at the home of one of her friends in the Oakland hills, with a beautiful view of Oakland, the bay and the Peninsula. A few eucalyptus obstructed the view of San Francisco. Georgia cooked, making some great spanokopita and empanadas. There was plenty to drink, a musician who played a Turkish zither for a while, and then the dj started.
Damn, he was good!
The dj had two turntables and some music on computer. He was playing an amazing array of stuff, Arabic music, Bollywood musical numbers, salsa, mambo, hip-hop, James Brown, you name it. I went up to him when he was playing some Latin music and asked for Pérez Prado. "Oh yeah, I love Pérez Prado." he said, and soon after had the Pérez Prado orchestra mixed in with some big beats from another turntable.
When I was out on the porch, some other partygoers, maybe a few years younger than I am, also expressed admiration for the dj, though some felt the hip-hop might be too loud on occasion. No one felt that way about the great hip-hop song with the catch phrase "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo", performed by A Tribe Called Quest. Late in the evening, the dj did the mental math and figured out how old the crowd was, and filled the dance floor by playing songs from the 80s. Cyndi Lauper, Prince, Bon Jovi and Depeche Mode (before they became way too damn depressing) got the crowd jumping. It was a terrific bash.
I wish I could give you the name of the dj, but it's on my invitation which is in the bag I brought, along with one of my countless sweatshirts. (UPDATE: His name is Ryan Drury, and his regular gig is in the Mission district of San Francisco at The Makeout Room. Thanks to hostess Georgia for supplying this info.)
I didn't leave my wallet in El Segundo. I left my Trader Joe's bag in the Oakland hills.
This blog is still alive, just in semi-hibernation.
When I want to write something longer than a tweet about something other than math or sci-fi, here is where I'll write it.