Friday, May 14, 2010


I learned this word the other day and I've fallen in love with it. Sometimes words can create in your mind a perfect reflection of how a feeling feels or perfectly reflects the thing as it should be. It's as if the mental image, the verbal sound and the abstract concept marry. There are only a few words that I can think of that do this for me.

There's the use of the word elegance or elegant as a mathematical or scientific construct, the simplest and most perfect path... But I especially like to think of it in terms of things that are specifically not mathematical or scientific. I've worked with my son's school to create the most elegant behavior plan, for example. Not meaning that it in anyway LOOKS good or is witty and urbane, but that it is logical, sequential and concise.

I love the use of the word masturbatory as a synonym for self-congratulatory. As in, the Oscars are a masturbatory exercise.

Mastication. Why chew when you can masticate?

Supine. Oh, the lovely concept of being supine. Especially when one might consider being supine beneath a dirty, hot James "Sawyer" Ford. Ha ha.

Stochasticity. This word has blown my mind all week. It is a really fancy (and probably inelegant) way of expressing the concept of randomness. It's not just the way that the word sounds, or that it's a big word, but the concept it decodes is what blows me away the most. Randomness. But not just randomness, it's also expressing an idea of likelihood of something existing in an ever random, or stochastic, universe.

In college, I backpacked around Europe with my boyfriend for two weeks. Our third or fourth day out we arrived in Paris. We were dirt poor and on a very tight budget, so we walked miles and miles and miles and miles every day, saving money that would otherwise go to taxis or metro passes. Walking the city, like any city, we'd be directed to certain sides of the street or through temporary tunnels aside buildings undergoing renovations, and signs directing us where to go would say "PIETONS" with an arrow pointing the direction we were to follow. My boyfriend and I had been good little French class kids in high school and had learned the song, Chevaliers sur la Table Ronde, and for whatever reason, the song was massively stuck in our heads on our travels throughout France. Coupled with the PIETONS signs, the words to the Chevaliers song "Gouton voir, OUI OUI OUI; Gouton voir, NON NON NON" quickly became PIETONS OUI OUI OUI, PIETONS NON NON NON! and the whole song played out as a inside joke for the course of a day.

Of course, that was nearing 15 years ago in my life. But when I go for a walk, and I hit a certain clip in my stride, PIETONS, OUI OUI OUI! PIETONS, NON NON NON! flashes to my mind... and this happens ALL THE TIME. This particular boyfriend was my high school sweetheart and college boyfriend for over three years. We spent our waking hours together for most of those years, and what is the enduring thing that makes him pop in my head? Of all of our conversations, experiences together, sweet nothings? Pietons. Oui.

Stochasticity. What of probability and randomness in our lives? What about my life today? How much of my life can I personally account for and how much of it is just random? My son was the lucky recipient of a diagnosis that is given to 1:110 children these days. If I had effectively "mated" with his father an hour later than we actually did, would he have autism? I, who have never won more than $20 in a slot machine, who has brown hair and love for odd words and this certain color of green, I who am the sum of my thoughts and atoms and freckles and bad habits... I, who make choices that constantly change the sum of possibilities that lay before me... how is it that this is where I am?

And all of this lovely musing is in this fabulous word, this concept that I can barely grasp, stochasticity.


  1. I love your writing style! Look forward to reading more!

  2. It's wild how once you are the statistic, you no longer take stochasticity seriously but, rather, see is inevitability. Is there such a thing as the inevitability of stochasticity?
    I love this post -- fantastic.