“Things, Words, Meaning”

A couple of years ago my son texted me the title of this entry so I’d have his new cell phone number. You know some boys, they don’t really have much to say until they do. I hung on to it because I think it’s hilarious. Another message I think is hilarious I blogged about in Sooey’s passim. It’s this: “I’ll believe in string theory when I see some bosoms”.

His cell phone auto-corrected bosons, which in particle physics are particles that are governed by Bose–Einstein statistics.

I goggled that.

The hilarity came about because I had emailed him an article about string theory, then texted him to see if he’d read it. It was a very confusing text message for me to receive, as you can imagine, but it was cleared up when, for some random reason (the universe is so random, isn’t it?) he double-checked his sent message folder. Then he quickly texted “Bosons – this thing auto-corrects”.


Last night, my beau and I were lying on the couch, he was reading, I was re-arranging our pictures for a possible house showing in a few years (I plan to move to Toronto to live if it ever elects a good mayor and finishes that construction between the train station and the subway station, so probably never) and I asked him, “What’s an app?”

And he said, “It’s a program, an application.”

So I said, “What’s a program?”

Then I said, “What’s an application? What’s a computer? How do computers work?”

So he said, “Little tiny angels flit around sending messages to each other.”

I thought it was odd he would say “angels” because he’s very secular humanist. Even I would have said elves, and I’m really quite religious, in my own way. Or, at least, I’ve been blessed with an optimistic nature. I think that’s why I have such a hard time when someone else is experiencing depression. I really don’t know what to do to help, especially if it’s one of those angry depressions and the person seems mad at me.

I lived through that once with my ex, but I don’t think he was mad at me, he was just depressed. And I was just there to be depressed at.

I only just realized typing that sentence that it’s true.

So today I’m going to go and get some of that expert advice that might help me at least not make someone’s depression all about me.

Wish me the universe’s random luck, please, and I’ll be more likely to get it.

That’s how my mind works, unfortunately. Fortunately?

Years ago, one of my favourite people in the universe, now dead, Dr. Robert Buckman, said on TVO, which I will be watching more of now that I’ve canceled cable (cancel cable, just do it, send a message to the random universe that you will no longer tolerate corporate robbery) that it was absurd to think you could visualize away cancer. His point was that people don’t think it through, that to advise a person that she can visualize away cancer implies that she must have visualized getting cancer in the first place.

I loved him for that because whenever I’m hungover I can’t help but visualize my kidneys as looking like the heads of those crabapple dolls, the real ones, the ones people made out of shrivelled up crabapples because they were poor and had to give their expectant kids something for Christmas or then they’d know that Santa Claus hates poor kids.

I can’t stand suffering, in anyone. I am so not religious in that way. When I was in Toronto, I saw an old woman outside the Eaton Center (or whatever the hell it’s called now) hobbled over a cart she was gamely pushing along Dundas. She was so crippled up it seemed impossible that could be out and about at all.

Later, when I told my beau about it, I said, “I feel so guilty all the time. I didn’t do anything to help. I just crossed the street to catch the streetcar and head back to “One Cent’s” apartment” (where I was staying).

(That’s even a lie. I crossed the street and walked all the way to Bathurst and then up to College so I could go to the beer store and pick up a six-pack to have with our meat pies for dinner. Stop buying beer at the beer store and wine at the liquor store, everybody. Send a message to the random universe that you will no longer tolerate government programs being funded with liquor and gambling revenue.)

He said, “Yabbut, what if you’d offered to help and then she made you push her cart all over Toronto”.

Of course I laughed, but I’ll feel guilty until I’m dead that I didn’t do anything to help her.

Okay, that’s a lie. I won’t feel guilty because I’ve already made up a story in my mind that she’s a reasonably wealthy person (she was wearing a nice long leather coat?) who lives in a condo on… Bay Street? And likes to get a bit of exercise by doing a bit of shopping at the Eaton Centre and then pushing her cart of goodies home.


I read an article a few years ago about one of the McGarrigle sisters, the mother of Rufus. The interviewer wanted to know how she handled finding gay porn in her 14-year-old son’s bedroom, or somesuch, and she gave a sort of Mary Poppins (“I never explain anything”) answer. I wish I could remember exactly what it was, but it was more or less an acceptance that he’s one person, she’s another, and it’s really not her business, is it.

It wasn’t about his homosexuality, it was about his actively dangerous behaviour (for a 14-year-old boy) in seeking out sexual encounters with grown men.

I love mothers like that, the ones that accept their kids as people wholly separate from themselves, for whom they can take no more responsibility than a crippled old lady pushing a cart down Dundas Street, but for whom they still have all the love in the world.

They reassure me in this random universe that it’s not up to me whether I think it is or not, or whether other people tell me it is or not, that the only person I am responsible for is me.



  1. mmm .. very very nice perspectives …
    You should have a mainstream media column
    as well as your delightful blogsite

  2. Thanks, the salamander. That would be pretty cool, I must say.

  3. I was outside a restaurant in Montreal a few years ago waiting for some friends and this small woman, older than me walked by carrying two obviously heavy duffel bags. Like hockey bags, you know? I watched her come up the street toward us and she put them down to rest twice, so I went over and asked if I could carry one for her. She gave me rather a withering look and said no, and carried on, stopping to rest from time to time. I console myself by telling myself she was packing bodies away to hide them.

    When my kid was 16 she showed me a blown-glass hash pipe. It was really a lovely piece of art. I said to her, “you know, there are moms you can’t show that kind of stuff to,” to which she replied, “yeah, but you’re not one of them.”

    Hurry up and get your book done. I want a copy.

  4. Ooh, a buyer-in-waiting! But I get that reaction occasionally from older ladies when I off them my seat on the bus, too. A withering look, “NO THANK YOU! I’LL STAND!”