June 16, 2000

Downtown (Part II)

Continued from last entry.. visiting my alma mater, McGill University, earlier this week.

There weren't too many people on the campus that afternoon. It was after all the middle of June and while McGill has some summer classes I don't think it's a major undertaking. Most of the activity came from the construction in the southeast corner of the campus. I tried to ignore the noise and dust.

Even though there are a few new buildings the campus doesn't look very different than it did in the early 1970's. The "Three Bares" - a statue of three nudes which forms the base of a fountain - still sits in the middle of a grassy park. The beautiful old arts building still seamlessly adjoins the newer Leacock building and the even newer MacLennon Library. Old and new science and engineering buildings are similarly combined on the opposite side. The only thing that was missing were the hippies.

Arts Building, photo borrowed from the McGill website.
Arts Building. Newer sections are hidden behind the trees at left.

I felt a strong urge to go back to school. Not in any field I'd previously studied (science and commerce) but in arts. Specifically, English. My mother had envisioned a liberal arts education for me, with a view towards journalism. Now, I wish I'd given it serious thought, but remembering myself at 18 I can see I wasn't ready for it.

Then, math and science appealed to me. They had rules, measurable quantities, and (I thought) predictable results. There was right and wrong in math and science, and I was good at getting it right. The arts was much more hazy with no right or wrong, only discussion and symbolism and how was I at my age to interpret what some poet was thinking hundreds of years ago? The whole thing made me nervous.

It's not the first time I've had that idea recently. I could do it and probably will do it sooner or later in some form or other. I don't need any more formal degrees but I want something more than interest courses. Would this be in preparation for a job? Probably not.. if I ever do get paid for writing it's more likely to come about by fortunate circumstances.

Perhaps the urge is nothing more than a yearning to relive the (more youthful) past but I feel like it's a desire to point myself in the proper direction, at long last. I've always had a problem with regard to setting goals for myself, and tend to drift for long periods of time. If this idea gels and I make it real, it would be an unusual experience for me. Maybe I'm finally starting to grow up a little.


I am sorely tempted to get another pager and put it on my father! Now that he's getting around on his own he drives wherever he wants (not really far but farther than I gave him permission to go!) and often neglects to call me. He won't check his answering machine messages while he's out so all I can do is leave snarky ones to blow off steam. He finally called me at 2:45 PM today, two hours late:

ME: Where were you?

DAD: We went to the mall in the morning.

ME: I knew that. You were supposed to call after lunch.

DAD: We had to go to St. Mary's (local hospital where Stepmom's sister and her hubby are presently being housed).

ME: Why?

DAD: Her sister's social worker called.

ME: And?

DAD (pleasantly): Asked us to come.

ME (voice becoming more and more shrill): What did they want you to do there?

DAD: It was their 50th anniversary, they made a little party.

ME: And they had no phones?

DAD: No.. well maybe... I just didn't think of it, I'm sorry!

Then he did it again this evening.

I wouldn't keep my kids on this short a leash but considering the medical problems he's had the last year, it feels like anything can happen. In this case I don't see any positive side to my having to worry about him! I asked Younger Son's opinion (about the pager) but he didn't view the idea too favourably:

YS: He won't know what to do with it. Get him a cell phone instead.

ME: He won't know what to do with a cell phone. If the pager beeps he'll call me.

YS: No he won't.

ME: He better. I can give it to him for Father's Day.

YS: That's not a gift for him, it's a gift for you! It's like saying, "Happy Father's Day! Now I can bother you!"

Seems I can't win. If Dad keeps disappearing though I'm going to do it anyway!

Linque Du Jour: The Answering Machine

Speaking of pagers, the kids (probably YS) found this site with an abundance of amusing answering-machine or pager messages to download and record. The one he chose for his pager is called "Fat Fingers" which relates to a running joke between my father and me.

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