I attended Carleton University from September 2002 until May 2006. I entered school undeclared, and by the time my first semester was over, I was majoring in English and minoring in Film.

I went back to school for a few reasons. I couldn’t find a job. I missed learning. I thought that I was smart enough to achieve a university degree. I didn’t know at the time that I was trying to find myself. Sitting in my 20th Century English Literature class in Southam Hall, that became a reason, too.

As a young man, it’s a humbling experience to realize that every theory you’ve ever had about anything has been thought about before and put into words so eloquent it takes the breath away and hurts the stomach. It’s an honour to have the opportunity to add to the history of thought in small ways, or large ones. Lines of poetry and fiction became life creeds. The study of film involved learning a new language. Every advanced hypothesis had the potential to change things forever. It suddenly seemed possible to wake people up with words and theory and arguments, to make them as passionate about things as I was.

The memories outnumber the specifics. Carleton often gets a bad rap, but I much preferred it to the University of Toronto. It was more insular, more welcoming, more of a community. I found my life, my soul there. Amongst the ongoing construction and cumulative hours spent waiting for the O-Train, in travelling the underground tunnels from MacOdrum to St. Patrick, listening to Buck 65’s “Synesthesia,” starting with “Skill Saw” and making it there in the middle of “I Die Every Night.”

Or “Coast to Coast” by Elliott Smith, on my way back to Dunton from the printing office.

It’s here that I wish I could pump the odor of those tunnels onto this site. Or the smell of the library stacks. Or of the screening hall in the Minto Centre. Regardless of how much it changes from year to year, the university still has the power to energize the olfactory, returning me to a specific time and place, where I existed entirely in my own head.

I don’t care about you tippy tappy typists
The happy hippies trying to say that you’re the hypest
Yeah, you can spell, but your souls are made of silicone
You got no skeleton, you’re talking on the telephone


About Joel Crary

Joel Crary is a 30'ish 21st century writer living in Vancouver, British Columbia. He enjoys films, mostly. View all posts by Joel Crary

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