Disconnect: pre-defense hiatus

I’m going on hiatus. Seriously. In 9 days (ok, more like 8.5 days) I’ll be defending my thesis, so from now until then, I plan on re-reading that sucker as many times as possible. Until I’m sick of it. Until I can’t stand to read my own words but can regurgitate them verbatim without looking at the page. I’m a bit nervous about defending (who wouldn’t be?), but since it’s straight Q&A, I’m not as much of a nervous wreck as I would be if I had to, say, prepare and deliver a 20-minute talk on my project on top of that Q&A. So until the defense is over and done with, I’m going to disappear into the depths of my apartment and avoid almost all human contact. And try to actually keep food in my stomach…

This post is my own writing. Which I really don’t share all that often (just ask the two friends who’ve been waiting 6 months for digital copies of my thesis), but thought I would now in honour of my impending defense. This is from my thesis, which, until recently, remained nameless. I thought it would end up being called “my, uh, thesis thing,” for lack of anything better. I occasionally refer to it as “my, uh, thesis thing, also known as brokenicity,” but that seems even more ridiculous. But since I’ve been spending most every waking hour (and a lot of hours when I should be sleeping) re-reading this monstrosity, it’s about the only thing occupying my brain at the moment. So, um, yeah. My, uh, thesis thing, now officially known as Disconnect, which is sort of about memory and selfhood, and appropriating other people’s memories. And there’s a lot of spine stuff. I mean like that physical line of bones that makes us stand upright. I have a thing for spines and vertebrae. Also, each section opens with a photo, so I’m posting 2 of them here.

These are all taken from the section called “skin toxicity”:

(the home place): your father used to fix things. had a workshop in the basement, old pickle jars full of nails & screws & bottle caps lining the shelves & the perimeter of his desk. used to be, he could fix anything. you brought him your broken toys & they came back fixed. brought him your broken radio, the portable record player, the chain from your bike. everything fixable, except

when you announce your leaving, six months before it happens, your father starts on a regimen of weekly panic attacks. your mother takes him to the hospital each time, afraid to tell you in case you change your plans. he never minded that your sister left. every summer for three years, he drove her to Ottawa. but Calgary so much farther. & cold. he tells you the coldness, then piles his old sweatshirts & long-sleeved t-shirts on your bed before the anxiety


it doesn’t matter which building, the symbolism is the same. smoke rising over the city & power lines coated in ice. fire fueled by paper in the party warehouse where you bought. next door the chemical depot & someone yells arson. no electricity for a three block radius, everyone reads by firelight

every week another fire until nothing. the city ash & debris


when you think about him now, it’s only the scar criss-crossing his chest. seven years removed. not the orange sweater you wore when you first met him or his eyes like your father’s or how he explained road layouts or his voice singing you across the city, in his car on the expressway that was named after the Chrysler president who died in 1973. in his bed in his apartment on Lauzon Road, your finger traced that scar. etched into his skin summer 1992. he said: her rape was his fault, his girlfriend, his responsibility to walk her home. both of you dismembered so many times, that scar now part of your skin’s memory


it’s the heat you want. record 125 degrees with humidity, July 1988. refold the map & label Alabama, California, prairies, east. bike the city four times over & avoid. the river invites swimming but don’t jump. position your fingers at the bridge & round up


river water looks warm under the surface. touch jagged ice & come away with drops of water clinging to pink skin. across the river another country. another language. inflection from straight line of speech, words curved at the beginning. downtown disconnected, every syllable means something else


And then these are from “crash,” which is a slightly more violent section, so I’m only going to post 2 pieces:

the left hand is the problem. placement of his left hand under the waistband of your jeans. right hand positioned at the bridge, you learn the difference between half & whole step finger placement. knees dirty from the cemetery & fingers invisible the strings. ambidexterity rare in humans except stringed musicians. guitar & cello made for right-handed use, but the left does the heavy lifting. count the vertebrae in your thoracic curve: place cello here & the bridge should be even


his tongue prying into your mouth, sandpaper skin, left hand unbuttoning. you: pushed flat against the shit-brown floor, chewed gum dirt candy wrapper used condom. say of course you wanted, but not him. say you had your eye on. you dreamed the scar on her left elbow, perfect match to your right hip. this story really begins downtown but every sidewalk reminds


And then I’ll leave you with a few pieces from “click,” which is more about my family and friends. Also each section (there are 5 in total) opens with a fictional diary entry from an actual woman, Susan, who died in Windsor in 1928. So I’ll give you one of those:

November 1927 – It snowed last night & I dreamt that I walked outside this house naked, stood in the snow. The wetness felt like summer between my toes, but really I was waiting for sleep. It’s easier to skate across a frozen river than to smuggle by ferry or truck, but all I want is an endless stream of sleep.


he said the giant chessboard & challenged you to a game. but you analyze everything except the board. look: his fingers moving plastic


half a word into your sentence & she said click. turn down the tv & watch buildings burn on mute, dial tone buzzing your ear drum. smash the cordless phone on kitchen tile & white plastic embedded in your left foot. travel the pieces when you leave

you never leave


3 thoughts on “Disconnect: pre-defense hiatus

  1. You should share more of your writing, it’s very interesting. Good luck with the thesis. Remember when you’re giving the presentation that you know more about the topic than anyone you’re talking to.

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