Monthly Archives: June 2008

“Ester saw the Hulk at U of T”

“That’s such an ambiguous sentence! I mean, it probably just meant that Ester was at U of T when she saw the movie ‘The Hulk.’ But from the way it’s written it could mean that she actually saw a green moster walking around U of T, which is quite unlikely — one could even say ‘incredible.’ Unless of course the movie was being shot in Toronto, and she saw when that happened ”

“Well, maybe this sentence isn’t ambiguous — maybe it is actually polysemic.”

“What do you mean?”

“For it to be ambiguous, then it would have been intended to have one or the other meaning you mentioned (or someother meaning) , but not all of them. But maybe all those meanings were intended — which makes it much cooler to call it with a word such as “polysemic” rather than just plain “ambiguous.”

“You mean to say that not only was Ester at U of T when she saw the movie ‘The Hulk,’ but that she actually saw the Hulk walking around U of T?”

“Well, she could have been at the Varsity Theatre — which is across the street from U of T, which is U of T enough. And the movie *was* shot in Toronto last summer, so she could have been here for that. And even if she was not, she could probably tell that some of the scenes that are supposed to be in Virginia and New York are actually across the street from where she lives.”

“I still find that incredible.”

“Well, incredible maybe, but not altogether impossible… One never knows…”


“Sudden Changes” or “Perpetual Adolescence”

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with my friend Danilo — I hadn’t talked to him since I visited him in Montreal in back in February. Having nothing but good intentions, he asked me what anyone would think was a perfectly harmless question: “So, what’s new?” 

I sighed. And from the inner depths of my soul I found mustered the energy to whisper, almost guiltily: “Nothing.”

“What do you mean by ‘nothing’? Three months have come and gone, you’ve been to Brazil and back, and you tell me nothing’s happened?”

 “Exactly… [sigh] I mean, my thesis continues to be at the same point, my uncertainties and worries and agonies still the same. The computer I bought when you last saw me still hasn’t been setup to work properly. And even my toe, which I hurt that day we went iceskating together is still bruised.”


“Seriously. Seasons have changed, but everything else is the same. Actually not even the season seems to have changed that much, given that it’s freezing, and it’s late May already.”

“I know, it is super cold. But listen, is it really true your toe hasn’t healed yet?”

“It hasn’t. The nail on the big toe on my right foot fell late April — a couple of days before I came back to Canada. The one on the left foot has 50% of its surfaced tinged in some type of bluish-purple — and I’m not talking nail-polish here. As a matter of fact, before the other nail fell, I was keeping them both (and the other eight) covered with dark nail polish, which makes them not only look nice, but it makes me forget that they’re hurt. Were it not for that, I’d be limping to this day, just from the sight of them.” 

“How about you computer?”

“Ah, that’s another soap opera in and of itself. That Windows Vista is absolutely horrible. Completely dysfunctional. And Microsoft Office 2007… I mean, if I wanted to completely re-learn everything I know about using a computer, I’d rather have bought a Mac. But I don’t have time for this right now, I have a thesis to finish. Anyways, my original copies of XP and Office 2003 are in a storage box in Oshawa, and I still haven’t managed to go get them — and they’re not that easy to find for purchase either (nor are they that cheap when found).  

“On top of this, as soon as I got to Toronto the computer decided to crash completely — a day before I start working — a job for which I need a functional computer! In the middle of the emergency, a friend of mine lent me her installation cds, and it was a team effort to get the hard disk reformatted and then collecting all the drivers to make the computer work… And all of this just as a quick band-aid fix: the code I had didn’t match her disks, which means I had 30 days to go get my own copies and then restart the whole reformatting procedure again. “29 days left for activation… 28… 27… 13..12…11.. 5..4…3… 2…1…0…0…0…”


In the week following this conversation, several sudden changes started to severally suddenly happen, which makes me believe that things do not always develop linearly, but in discreet (and sometime not very discreet) jumps:

1) It all began with the big tree in front of where I live and work. One day it was there: big, leafy, emblematic. Then two hours later, there’s only a stump — a diametrically significant stump, but still just a stump — all rotten inside too.  

2) Then a guest who had repeatedly confirmed his stay with us ended up not showing up. Motive: heart attack. Which made me think that no plan is so rigid that cannot be changed last minute. Also reinforces the whole carpe diem thing.  (For those who are worried: the ex-future-guest is recovering well, and is already back home from the hospital).

3) The weather changed literally overnight: one day it was 12 degrees, the next was 36. That’s right: 12 to 36 (and now we’re back to 12, which proves that sudden changes are not necessarily irreversible).

4) My computer did crash as expected, except for it being three days after the expected (Monday morning, and not Friday night… just to keep me on my toes). But then it so happened that my other friend had brought my boxes from Oshawa, including the one with my computer disks. In two hours, I managed to reinstall the operational system, and all the drivers and everything, all by myself this time (the experience of how to do it was still fresh in my memory, and the drivers all ready to go on my USB). The good news was that this time around the product key I had was the right one — which meant that after three months wondering why I had bought a new computer when the old obsolete one I had worked so much better, I finally finally felt the satisfaction I expected to feel from purchasing a brand new computer.

And so we lived happily ever after. Or sort of. I’m still struggling with the new WordPress (what with all the computer difficulties I just had a perfect excuse not to blog, and now that I’m back, it all looks so different!) and Windows Player 11 also requires some adjusting (it’s like, all white! No psychedelic patterns going round and round! So strange!”) But I’m so happy to have a new computer that finally works!

5) My supervisor went from “skeptical that my proposed changes to my dissertation were either necessary, desirable or feasible” to “very excited about the new direction my dissertation is going” Yeay! Given the insight gained in 3) above, I’ll carpe that whenever it comes by (which is not as often as I’d wish).

6) Three months after stopping taking my anti-acne medication (I’d stopped taking it when I was in Toronto back in February because of the extreme cold, thus interrupting a six-month treatment half-way through), my acne is now coming back, like flowers in the spring. Graduate school will do that to you: prolong your adolescence beyond what’s reasonable. Oh the joys.

7) And the most recent sudden change in the last couple of weeks (and final item on the list): the nail on the big toe on my left foot has fallen. All by itself. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t even see when it happened. I was wearing sandals. It was night. It was raining. I got home. I took off the wet sandals and started drying my feet. And then I notice that half a toenail had gone MIA. It hadn’t even hurt. When morning came, I didn’t think twice before going getting a pedicure. Hide it beneath bright pink nail polish, I say. It is, after all, summertime: time when you can actually go outside without every inch of your body needing to be covered. I’m carpe diem-ing that, missing toenails and returning acne notwithstanding.

Moral of the story: ok, so somethings have changed. Good. If only all the booboos in the world could be fixed with a touch of bright pink nail polish… And it’s the realization that they can’t that drives home the point that maybe I’ve given the adolescent in me too much of a free reign.