2000-2002, the crabigail review

a few folks have been recapping the decade from their personal perspective, now that we have collectively moved on to the teens. i like this idea, so i am stealing it. maybe it will help my mysterious readers (over one hundred hits on december 29? who are you people?) get to know me better.

i lived in portland, oregon when the decade started, & worked at powell’s books. i was on the genre team, & my responsibilities included romance novels, books on tape, westerns, erotica, thrillers (think tom clancy), & my favorite, “nautical fiction” (a very sparse bookcase featuring the “jaws” books & a whole lot of horatio hornblower). i rang in the new year bundled up in the snow, standing on the hawthorne bridge, watching fireworks with my friend cypress, who also worked at powell’s, shelving sci-fi & mysteries.

i started writing & compiling my former zine, “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage,” this year, & published two issues. it was far more popular than i ever expected.

i started dating a pretty lame dude in february, who presented himself as interested in radical politics (“i got tear gassed at the WTO protests,” he claimed…which turned out to be true, but not because he gave two shits about globalization or anything) but actually shit all over anything i had to say that was remotely political. he seemed to be convinced that i couldn’t possibly have anything smart to say about politics due to the fact that i am a girl. why did i not break up with this guy a lot sooner? i have never been good at dumping people.

i lived for half the year in a sweet studio apartment in downtown portland which featured a murphy kitchen (a kitchen that folds into the wall–seriously) & a view of mount rainier on clear days, & spent the summer in the world’s shittiest collective house, living with all boys, working as an at-home phone psychic. i quickly moved into a crowded two-story four-bedroom apartment deep in northwest portland. at first, this last apartment was awesome, because i was way into collective living at the time & living with my social circle. some zine girls in portland for the summer had turned the lease over to me & warned me that their ex-roommate (who was staying) was a total drag. i did not like those zine girls, so i fully expected the ex-roommate to be awesome–& she was! that is how amanda colianni & i became friends. ❤ ❤ ❤

i visited my family in bowling green once this year & it was all right, though my dad thought i was throwing in the towel & moving back home. as if! he was bummed when he found out i planned to stay in portland.

i visited the bay area for the first time this year, to see my friend mimi. it was a truly spectacular trip, the first time i'd ever seen palm trees or the pacific ocean. we watched "reckless kelly" & attended a very questionable skillshare event at gilman st. & hung around in an alley outside a submission hold show, eating doughnuts.

i also facilitated a couple of workshops at ladyfest in the summer, which is shocking, because i was 21. what does a 21 have to teach anyone? people took me seriously though & maybe 75 people came to each workshop (the only one i remember was "combating activist burn-out"–as if a 21-year-old knows shit about activist burn-out. my friend sam learned how to make pierogies at mirah's house that week, a few ladies stopped me on the street to compliment my zines, i saw bratmobile play at the olympic theatre, & i saw the gossip play in a filthy basement. i slept in the back of a moving truck parked in a highway rest area all week with my friend james, & we listened to the backstreet boys every morning.

i quit my job at powell's in the midst of a customer-induced panic attack & got a gig doing "community organizing" for a group called oregon action. part of my responsibilities involved going to some weird camp in the mountains, where i got to know some former black panthers. weird, but kind of cool. but also really weird. then i shipped out to montana to organize the communities of bozeman & billings. wildfires raged in the forests & we had to wear wet bandanas over our mouths to breathe. i worked with a crew of folks: joe, megan, & clint. joe, megan, & i shared a shitty motel room for three weeks at the lewis & clark inn. we all hated our jobs & wanted to quit to become volunteer firefighters, but it didn't work out. joe & clint got me drunk for the first time one night, which was fun. i eventually lost that job due to "not having a positive attitude" & failing to follow what they called "the sunshine program".

i became obsessed with the movie "bring it on," an obsession which persists to this day.

i could not find a job to save my life. for a while, i worked at a call center re-charging phone cards for AT&T, but i walked out on my lunch break one day & never came back. amanda managed to lose her job early in 2001 as well, & we spent our days becoming obsessed with “beverly hills 90210” & “friends”. eventually some woman who read my blog offered me a stipend so that i could just write & do political shit (i was in a feminist art collective & there was talk of organizing a portland zine event) without having to stress about finding work. i took it & many of my friends were enraged that i claimed to be interested in class issues but would accept some rich lady’s no-strings-attached money. that’s the true mark of someone who has never really had to worry about money–that they would look askance at free cash.

i saved my pennies (by shoplifting groceries & scamming portland’s public transportation system) & flew out to boston in march for a zine fair. it was a weird trip: i didn’t really click with the lady zinesters i’d flown out there to see, & instead met a dude & had a bit of a whirlwind romance. i made him a lasagna in his dorm kitchen (not my finest work). i sold a ton of zines, but didn’t really care for boston–too much concrete, too much advertising everywhere, frighteningly posh health food grocery stores, & you couldn’t swing a cat by its tail without hitting a college. but the dude i met went to school there & i decided i didn’t have much going on in portland, so i borrowed bus fare from a friend when i got back to portland & set off for boston again. amanda packed me a bus lunch consisting of blackened peanut butter toast & half a watermelon. because who doesn’t want to eat a watermelon on the ‘hound?

i spent three weeks living in the dude’s dorm room & it seemed like all my boston zine friends were horrified & distressed. we tried to join an affinity group & hit the FTAA protests in quebec city, but the kids we were with were a bunch of yahoos & we were turned away at the border. there was talk of crossing into canada through deep wilderness using only a compass pen & our wits, which would have been awesome, but instead we went to a truly shitty anti-fascism rally in new haven, which culminated in some morons getting arrested & the guy who was driving our van pulling up to the jail & blasting “fuck tha police” at top volume. *sigh*

after my boyfriend finished his semester, we flew together to portland & i packed up my shit. shipped half of it to my parents’ house in ohio & half to los angeles. in retrospect, the crippling depression i experienced (i seriously considered killing myself in a denny’s bathroom one night) may have been a clue that i was making a poor choice, but i didn’t heed it & moved to L.A. we lived for the summer in the dude’s mom’s condo & took a lot of breaks to travel. we drove all the way to ohio, where my family said unfortunate racially-tinged things (my boyfriend was chinese american) & then kicked us out of the house. we went to portland for the first zine symposium & it was kind of shitty. we went to alabama for the southern girls convention & i remember nothing aside from rumors that a rapist was hiding under cars in the parking lot & slashing ladies’ achilles tendons, & making some dude cry in a workshop about direct action.

while driving to ohio, we stopped in las vegas & got married. i suggested it because i thought it would be hilarious. it was not hilarious. it was kind of sad, actually. the bouquet was rented, i forgot to take off my sunglasses, & there was a portrait of cher on the wall of the chapel.

in august, we moved to boston. i was really, really depressed. i didn’t have a job & slept for seventeen hours a day most days. while i was awake, i played solitaire or watched “boy meets world”. i truly believed i had mono (but it turned out i was just really bored; okay, it turned out that i was clinically depressed). i adopted charlotte from an animal shelter the day before 9/11. i wound up having a huge argument with a friend in new york city about 9/11 because she felt that people who didn’t live in new york weren’t “doing enough” to…i don’t know. show solidarity with muslims that may be targets of racially motivated revenge crimes? shake signs outside their local city halls that say, “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind”? i am not sure what she wanted people to do, all things considered. this argument destroyed our friendship when she said i was “treating [her] as an object, rather than a subject” & my head exploded because of the pretentiousness.

i finally got into therapy & went on anti-depressants right before the year ended.

i decided to enroll in midwifery school. i was suddenly obsessed with all things reproductive-related, from fertility awareness to abortion to childbirth. i signed up for a direct-entry midwifery program in western mass, taught by a lay midwife who had obviously changed her name as a protest against the patriarchy. i also came down with a raging case of baby fever, because what better time to have a baby than when you are 22, new in town, horrifically depressed, & not in the world’s most serious & healthy relationship? thankfully, i did not get pregnant.

but my sister did. & then she got married in march, at city hall, wearing a dress she rented from a store called “it’s not too late”. okay, not really. she just wore a regular dress. like a regular walking-down-the-street, looking-maybe-a-little-extra-fancy dress. i did not attend the wedding. i don’t even think i was invited. not that anyone but a former vegas showgirl named jade lynx was at my wedding (she was our paid witness–she signed our documents with a signature stamp).

i was psyched to become an aunt & decided to devote myself to having a better summer & try to kick this depression shit. i released one final issue of “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage,” which was fully illustrated (a first for me). i was way into my midwifery studies & doing things like sewing pillows shaped like placentas. i had a best friend who also wanted to have a baby & we were radical cheerleaders together & had a lot of quality time doing craft projects & talking about politics & generally being awesome. i was still dealing with a lot of depression, but feeling better.

then suddenly girls were knocking down my door to tell me that a big popular zine dude in boston was a serial rapist. no one knew what to do. girls wanted me to spread the word, which made me a lightning rod for the rapist dude & his asshole friends to threaten me & make my life miserable. i flew out to portland again for the zine symposium & had a good time with friends, but mr. rapist was there & a lot of his cronies gave me a lot of shit. i spent my birthday in portland, alone, eating a single-serving slice of cake from fred meyer. my dad called the day before i was to fly back to boston to tell me that my sister was in the hospital, giving birth three months prematurely. i panicked a little & asked if i should re-route my ticket to toledo. he said that i should just fly out once the baby was out of the hospital, since she’d be in the NICU for some weeks. i foolishly, stupidly listened to him, which is probably the biggest regret of my life.

two weeks later, my dad died. very suddenly. sitting on the couch, brushing his hair. if i’d flown out to ohio when my sister went into labor, i could have seen my dad one more time. he was only 48 years old.

i flew to ohio for all the dead dad shit that had to be done. there was no funeral, but my brother organized a rock show/party thing. people sent flowers & cards & my uncle brought a ham. my aunt wanted us to move everything to her fancypants house in some gated sub-division because apparently the place where my dad lived & died wasn’t good enough for her. i kicked her out of the house & never spoke to her again. my grandmother acted drunk & ridiculous, as usual, & forgot my brother’s name. my niece was released from the hospital & i had a great time holding her while she slept & admiring her perfect baby hairstyle. my sister kind of freaked out about being a mom & a half-orphan all the sudden & it was intense. i had my first vaso vagal incident & was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, given fluids, & released, because no one could figure out what was wrong with me. i came down with a sinus infection & flew back to boston, more depressed & stressed out than ever.

all of that was in august & i don’t remember the rest of the year. i think i tried to start a feminist art collective, which went nowhere. my husband tried to start a radical asian americans group, which resulted in a mutual friend trying to get into his pants, which was hilarious & awkward. mostly, i was depressed, i slept a lot, & i went to therapy. i was also diagnosed with arthritis & informed that i would be in a wheelchair by the time i was 30. i started physical therapy & decided to apply for disability.

this is long enough, so i’ll come back & do the rest of the decade as the week progresses. it has been a real trip remembering some of this shit.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

6 thoughts on “2000-2002, the crabigail review

  1. you almost certainly already know them. lame dude i dated in portland was in “a renegade’s handbook” #2, you know who i was married to, & the zine girls in boston with whom i failed to click are exactly who you think they are. mr. rapist is obvs rich mackin, best friend with baby fever is cory, 9/11 friendship feud is also a zinester you totally know (used to live in portland, moved to new york, see if that rings any bells), & i think that’s everyone.

  2. i’m gonna steal this decade-in-review thing. and i totally appreciated your veiled “wayne’s world” reference in your 2001 summation.

    1. yes, do it! don’t forget to write about visiting me in portland in 2000 & how much it sucked because i walk really fast & you walk really slow & it tore our lives apart. & kudos on getting the “wayne’s world” reference.

  3. I’m tripping out reading this. I already knew a bunch of this stuff – can’t believe I’ve been reading your zines and following your various writings for this long! – but I love seeing your retrospective take on everything.

    I am adding your blog to my RSS feeder. I haven’t been on LJ in, like, months, but I do read blogs.

    P.S. It just now hit me how young your dad was when he died. My husband is that age right now, and I know some would be all “Oh that is so old” but really, it’s not. I’m sorry. 😦

  4. What a moving and wonderful personal assessment; you obviously had some tough times, but you came out on the other side of it to leave us waiting for another 8 years worth of your life! I’ve been working on a month-long tribute to zinesters and underground female artists (this is how I found you), and I’m going to borrow your idea (via the news/blog/TV outlets as well) and put my own spin on my decade.

    Please keep it up; you intertwine the personal and political in a way I can really relate to.

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