Earlier this spring I was heavily involved, both academically and in the streets, in the Quebec-wide student strike. Several of us at the Mobile Media Lab at Concordia decided to put out a special “open” issue of wi: journal of mobile media. This resulted in two issues, which I co-edited with Owen Chapman, Alison Reiko Loader, Ben Spencer and Kim Sawchuk.
Earlier this summer, my supervisor Kim Sawchuk, Owen Chapman, Alison Loader, Ben Spencer and I, created a special issue of wi: journal of mobile media, called open wi, as a response to the student strike movement in Quebec. I also contributed some writing and photography. It’s a good time to let the rest of the world know that the day before the fall semester starts (attempts to start?), elections are happening in Quebec on September 4. Don’t let politics take advantage of you.
I am part of a long-term project focused on re-articulating/reviving the old river systems of Montréal. Today I started the walk to acquaint myself with the area of where the Provost used to be (and is now underground), or rather the first small part of where it splits off from the River St-Martin. I will try to document and map as much as possible before the snow fall.
I am living in Montréal now, in the St-Henri neighbourhood in a beautiful pre-war rowhouse. The woman living below me was one of the women that influenced Gabrielle Roy’s Tin Flute. There’s only two of them left and everyone else is dead. My doctoral studies have commenced and I’m not sure what to make of it yet, other than the superficial, oh wow, it’s great, my supervisor is too-good-t0-be-true, the food is great & I’ve made fast friends with people in the Film Studies Department and not my own. I’ve been obsessively updating my Instagram and focusing on color and perception and immediacy.
I bike a lot everywhere and eat cheese and speak broken French in a terrible Anglophone accent.
Lately, I’ve started really missing my brother. A LOT. I wish he hadn’t been so stubborn. He wishes he hadn’t been so stubborn and applied to Concordia for Studio Art instead of just being focused on Illustration at OCAD. He’s 18 now and we listen to the same music and like the same things and generally have a similar outlook on life, although his is filtered through the angsty suburban teenage gaze and mine through a gone-through-too-much-school-too-fast ‘am I an adult or a kid still?’ PhD gaze. I fantasize about us going to shows together, and me showing him off to my friends and him fitting in here much more, and being able to live, because everything is so cheap in Montréal, and Concordia has so many initiatives that you can take advantage of if you’re willing. I have access to a free delicious vegan, and often wheat-free lunch when I’m at SWF campus.
I remember my first year in university. I was on sex and drugs, so self-absorbed that only bass moved me. No future. I need my hair done. I’ll feel better. Next week I’m coming back to Toronto for my Masters Convocation. I’m disproportionately excited for this institutionalized spectacle.
A collection from my iPhone from my first month here.
ps. several of you asked me when I would update this! OK! I’ve not had much to say, words, taking up space, when I am writing and talking, it’s about issues of perception and symbolism and #occupywallstreet & everything else that subsumes me. Maybe more like drowning in the ineffable. Is it possible to have a relationship with the ineffable? Activate a correspondence with it? With a yet-t0-become/yet-t0-be-signified? – the activating of the molecular level of radical empiricism.
pps. I am working on a large several-year project reviving the lost rivers of Montréal.
When John Maus played this at Il Motore last week, tears came down all over me and then I started screaming until I lost my voice and was full of cramps from thrashing my body – the abject becoming the sublime.
Sometimes I so desperately wish I could be (exist as) an island.
I also wish that hypocrisy would not exist: in others and in me and in each other collectively.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT? Like, I am a hypocrite all the time, and the more I think I am not, the more I am. The more I try not to be, the more I see it and it’s gross. Ok, sometimes I am respectful and open to a situation and gentle with my own feelings and issues and those around me…and it’s amazing and I want to hold onto it, but then something else happens. Maybe I am not such a hypocrite, maybe it’s more about having undetected blind spots. I can’t stand it, I want this utopian ideal of self-reflexivity and self-awareness, but with that comes self-obsession smothering itself over everything. And with that comes my own judgmental weakness – watching people race past their blind spots. Slavoj Žižek, who appeared at this incredible talk with Julian Assange moderated by Amy Goodman a couple of days ago in London (which I watched twice over since), has this to say: “We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.”
New rule: Do not speak unless spoken to.
Some mundane thoughts right now: I privatized about 99% of my Flickr account. My mother says my energy is more calming than ever before. One of my roommates refuses to compromise & in turn is compromising my cats safety, making me anxious to be away from my flat. I listen to John Maus and Dmitri Shostakovich incessantly. I can’t stop masturbating. The sun has burned my skin straight through. Nothing makes sense: Why do I type with my fingers? How come clipping your nails in public is so offensive? Why don’t people admit they love their own weird body smells? I am an animal. I smell my crotch and it is intoxicating. I remember the slow progression of starting to have an “odour” to my pussy, becoming pronounced after I became sexually active. I love that every guy I have been with desires to keep my underwear. Don’t you love the coalescing of smells when you have sex a lot and you aren’t sure who smells like who anymore and you wage a war on who is taking over, “I totally smell like you!” “No, I smell like you.” I am going to become a Master in August, or more like I have no choice but finish this documentary or else I will fail and then die. I am moving to Montreal to have “Dr” next to my name. I wish I could not speak to anyone. I wish no one would speak to me. People mistake my 18 year old brother and I for a couple everywhere we go every time. Less than two months to go.
also: “You give into distraction as if it is a murderer. You lay there, waiting to be killed. Today: fight for your life.” — Miranda July
A day after I received my first PhD acceptance in the mail, I was working late in the library with my two colleagues Claudia and Dave, when an email from Concordia showed up. I didn’t even hesitate, clicking and seeing that THEY MOTHERFUKING ACCEPTED ME !!!! for their Joint Doctorate in Communication and I received an entrance Fellowship (even tho I applied after the funding deadline!) and a job offer on an amazing locative media/mobile cinema project. I hugged Dave and Claudia for about two minutes and had tears in my eyes.
All the people in my life know how I spent all my energy day and night working on these applications, but especially this one, because it was the most exhaustive and demanding, and my first choice. Not to sound like some cheezy awards speech but I had an incredible support network that helped me in so many ways, and I really couldn’t have done this without them. J cooking me meals and taking care of my day-to-day, my parents bringing me meals from the ‘burbs, my friends (esp J.O, Tobias, Danielle and Dave, but there are so many of you! shit! i’m the luckiest!) keeping me in check making sure I don’t have a panic attack and blow it while giving me informal tips about the application and my area of study and understanding why I can’t hang out with them, Jovana Jankovic (my editor who stuck by my manias), Jason Nolan (my supervisor, who at one point said, “I’ve never had such a demanding grad student”), Jason Hockman (who gave me the tip to discuss my PhD plans as if I was talking to 50 Cent), Claudia Sicondolfo (the emotional and intellectual support goddess), Mitsu Hadeishi, Sara Udow, Andrew Bieler, Janine Marchessault and Kim Sawchuk who all helped edit and revise my statements over and over again. So much thanks to my letters of recommendation writers: Deborah Barndt, Janine Marchessault, Barry Wellman and Jason Nolan.
I feel so lucky, and an infinite amount of gratitude towards these people because if you’ve ever had to engage in the sort of linguistic acrobatics that a PhD Application (and a SSHRC Scholarship Application worth 35K a year two months prior) entails you will know how taxing it is on you but also on those around you. I’m quite aware that I’ve learned to be demanding in the last few years because I want things… I want life! I am so hungry! There’s no time to pussyfoot around! If you want things ask, what’s the worst that can happen? Someone says no? I think people get way too wrapped up in ego insecurity and rejection to be assertive. I admit I have a tendency to be aggressive at times, but I’d rather be aware of my agression and work through it than to be docile and uncertain how to get what I want/need.
Yesterday my ex, Jordan, came to have lunch with me in the Lab and as we were finishing I said, “Hey, tell your mom I got into the Concordia PhD and tell her I accepted.”
“Yeah, I will, I’m always telling my mom how proud of you I am,” he starts welling up.
“Yeah, I brag about you all the time. You’re so driven and motivated. It’s great.”
“Wow! Are you gonna cry?” I go over and give him a big bear hug with a huge grin on my face because as intense as our relationship was and as much as we love each other, this type of genuine sincerity wasn’t always on the top of our interactions.
HOLLA AT ME MONTREAL!
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