one of those heartfelt emails

So… at the time of writing this I’ve been drinking. For some, way too much. For me, 1/3 of a bottle of whiskey. I’m sure there is a name for that somewhere but I’m too goddamn bothered to think of it. There are units for everything.

“Let your units be your guide!”

There was a pretty good (good enough to be sued) picture of Jiminy Cricket from the 1940 Disney film “Pinnochio” posted to one of the whiteboards on the southern end of the room. One of those movies you saw as a kid but never really remember a whole lot other than the major plot points. It said on the side of the cartoon character,

“Let your units be your guide!”

This was 10th grade honors chemistry in August 2004. If you’ve taken a chemistry course ever, you know the majority of the first half of the course is basically not losing track of your units. If you can call high school chemistry anything, it is a unit conversion discipline. You learn a few cute physical and chemical laws, but ultimately you are there to convert things.

This damn cricket and the man who taught the class have literally led my life since the day I was exposed to them. And, tonight, in one of those “times” I tend to have I sent him an email that I am just going to paste here. It’s a little personal, yeah, but so is most of this when I get around to it. It sort of has something to do with another post I am thinking of writing but haven’t had the courage to.

I’ll just say, I didn’t get a lot of attention at home and this man was really one of those people who encouraged me to be curious and seek more from life.

Thanks, Mr. Iucker.

Hi Ivan,

“Mr. Anderson” as you would say in a drawling voice, because the Matrix was only like 4 years old at the time of my long haired ass being your student. I remember giving a shitty answer to your question as to why we worked in groups of four on large boards; something about “encouraging teamwork”. You immediately said that was bullshit (not your exact words, this being Utah and 2004 of course) and went on to someone with a real answer.

And for some reason I went on to being in your class for the next two years despite not being what most would refer to as a good student. Sure I did fine on tests but the rest of my work ethic was lousy as best. Hell, senior year I failed AP Physics twice, mainly because I didn’t feel much need to pass as I didn’t need to. 

Something stuck with me though, a fair number of years later. I joined a party of those one year my junior in drinking with you, and you said something that confuses me to this day, “I need more students like Anderson.”

Why? I wondered. You’d probably lose your job or as close as one who works for the state can lose their job if you had a bunch of witty underperforming students like me. But, I have to say to you now… Thank you Ivan. You really gave this shitty little Magna kid, a descendent of San Diego meth dealers a view into his future. You really had a huge part on how I view myself now, especially since I now know as much as I do about my family and how they were.

One thing I remember: Ember Storrs once asked our class, “what keeps us wanting to excel as students?” I never really thought about it before, and as a solid ‘B’ student at the time I was not sure if I could say I was excelling. 

My answer was “myself”. This was a huge difference from all the Mormon kids I the class, whose answer was predictably “my family” or something similar. I was seriously the odd one out in all this. And even then, that really stood out to me and hurt. Why the hell was I any different?

I’m the second youngest of two marriages, and six children. I’m also the only one of my mother’s children to ever graduate high school, let alone get by with a degree from a university. There was something dearly wrong with the woman’s genes, and maybe that’s why I’m writing this email at 10pm on a Wednesday night after 1/3 a bottle of whiskey? 

But you spring to my mind as one of the most important people I had, and one of the most influential people I have to thank for who I am today. Which, maybe isn’t saying much compared to some others, but at the very least I live a fairly comfortable, easy life alone which some other of my peers might not be able to say. Hell, looking at the Cyprus High faculty list surprises me with how many people I went to school with. That said, I’m not in prison or living with my insane father like so many other of my siblings.

And I really do have you and Melissa to thank, Ivan. You two really had SO MUCH to do with who I am today. And I have such a tremendous place in my heart for you two and the memories I have from your classes. Far more so than I ever had in University. 

I mean is that a real Eyring that is at Cyprus? I had Ted Eyring when he was like 90 and he shouldn’t have been teaching at the time. I remember saying something about that on Facebook and people were so rude to you of all people. I felt so bad. Ted Eyring made me feel bad for making fun of him, despite the fact he really should not have been teaching at the time, but I really didn’t want to make anything about attacking you at all. 

This was all before the last time we met though. Even if what you said when we were having beers together with Burga and Oates was facetious… thank you. 

I know I’m sending this from my official email but I don’t care. I hope we can keep in touch and get a beer sometime because you’re truly one of the biggest people in my life and I really want to thank you for that Mr. Iucker.

Christopher “Mr.” Anderson

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