One day I decided I was going to find out THE TRUTH.

so, I got a pell grant and went to college to get a degree in physics. Because, surely, this is where THE TRUTH would be. Imagine my surprise when Professor Koelzer told me I’d have to get a math degree, too, because after all, physics was the science of math.

That’s how completely, totally ignorant I was.

Turns out, I was terrible at physics, but a natural at math. Here’s me, 30 years old, and newly discovering that I had a skill at something most people are terrified of/hate entirely. And I fucking loved math. Geometry, real analysis, fractals, it just came naturally. BUT it didn’t feel like THE TRUTH to me, math was a discovery/invention which worked on paper, but I’m a hands-on-kind-of-girl. I needed experiment. So I went to grad school for physics.

By that point, though, I’d realized that scientists didn’t have any better idea of THE TRUTH than philosophers or architects or businessmen. I learned that at the highest levels of math, there was a logical truth which said “there exist TRUE statements which cannot be proven true” (Godel). I learned about non-linear dynamics which said “we can predict within a scope.” I learned about Poincare, who showed that at some point, seemingly without mathematical reason, the entire solar system would go askew and destroy life as we knew it. He quit physics then, but I didn’t. I went on, determined that I CAPITAL I, could do what they could not.

What a laugh. The grad school called me remedial, which I was. They laughed at me, which I deserved. But everyone had this sort-of-awe about me too because I taught the freshman labs so well, because I saw solutions so quickly, because I could MATH my way into answers sans actual understanding.

That wasn’t good enough for me. It crippled me to not understand, and I failed. I got a C in classical mechanics and lost my teaching fellowship. That meant no more grad school for a poor girl from Wyandotte County who had no way to pay for school.

After laying on my couch for 6 months in a state of vapid depression (let’s just say I watched 17 seasons of Bad Girls Club and The Bachelor), after ending a horrifyingly abusive relationship who probably was happy I failed, I walked into a bookstore and started talking to an old friend, Baron Von Ryborg. Something in his charisma made me remember that I was an artist.

Actually, made me remember that I was always an artist, since I was 4 and realized the world was immense, since I was 9 and realized that with my imagination, I was completely free. Made me realize that maybe THE TRUTH was fluid and changing and didn’t have to be found logically, but could be found in color and perspective and maybe, just maybe, that even the dumbest of us could have some magic, could maybe inspire.

And now, some 6 years later. Here I am, having learned a new skill. That I, magically, have an ability to make people’s voices heard. Through the stage at the bar, through the page at the press, through the grace of people believing in me … and how much I believe in all of you.

I have come to this …. you are THE TRUTH. Our is-ness is THE TRUTH. What you and I and we do with our lives is THE TRUTH, and the math supports what the physics sees and the art tells the stories of, and I’m unbelievably thankful.

Thank you, artists. You make me believe.

You are the truth.

((jeanette powers))