2008-2009: the decade in review

let’s see if i can wrap this up before jared gets home from class & i have to start making dinner. (my nefarious plot: if i make dinner, perhaps jared will be more willing to bend to my will & watch “lost” instead of “the wire”. “the wire” is a fine TV show & everything, but i am not getting as absorbed in it as i am in “lost”. yeah, i become wrapped up in TV shows years after their cultural relevance achieved an apex. what of it?)

i awoke on new year’s day & discovered that my cell phone was missing. apparently i’d dropped it into a snowdrift the night before, revelers discovered it, & they took it to the brookline police department for safekeeping. the cop working the window there was bored & used it to call people in my address book to figure out who the phone belonged to, & one of them sent me a myspace message to let me know where it was. convoluted, eh?

i launched the paper trail distro subscription program & scrambled to get the first round of subscriptions in the mail as soon as the post office opened the next day. i even made a little one-shot zine for it. that was possibly the only time that i was timely about getting the subscriptions in the mail without wanting to jump off a bridge in the process of preparing everything. i kept the subscriptions going for the next two years (until i shut the distro down), but the joy they were supposed to bring me never really coalesced. they were supposed to give me a creative outlet, since running a zine distro can become a very repetitive, soul-sucking process of packing envelopes, dealing with paperwork, & standing in line at the post office. but i realized that the reason i wasn’t doing much creatively was because the distro didn’t leave time for creative pursuits, & the subscriptions didn’t change that. the subscriptions magnified the problem, if anything.

after some bumpy times in the latter half of 2007, my relationship with jared suddenly started humming along, like us being together was just the obvious & easy thing to do. i got a little freaked out when he said that the mountain goats song “no children” made him think of me (seriously, google the lyrics if you must), but after an incident in northampton involving imported beer with a high alcohol content, a serenade, & strangers not taking us out to the woods to kill us, i got over it.

i was also becoming obsessed with the idea of finding an apartment of my own & living without roommates. a studio or one-bedroom apartment in boston is a wildly expensive thing. the cheapest place i found was $825, utilities included, for a cute, private studio with big windows, hardwood floors, a private washer/dryer…but i was rejected because i didn’t have a credit score (due to never having had a credit card). i swooped in upon a one-bedroom second floor apartment with a small office, hardwood floors, windowsills wide enough to sit on, a bathtub, etc…$950 a month, utilities NOT included. but i was at the point where i was going to kill (or at least punch) someone if i had to keep living with roommates (even though the roommates i had at that point really weren’t too bad, save for an obsession with that fergie song that samples “the girl can’t help it”–if i never hear it again, it will be too soon). so i sacrificed literally 80% of my monthly income to rent & got my own place. i had to sell my loft bed, my accordion, & almost everything else i owned to finance it, & then i had to adhere to a strict $5/day food-&-amusement budget (i ate a lot of spaghetti & tomato soup, & became very well-acquainted with the local library as a result), but i lived alone!

i loved living alone. i could stay up as late as i wanted, get up whenever i wanted, walk around with no pants on, smoke inside the apartment without bothering anyone, drag my bed out into the living room for 3am viewings of “roseanne” in syndication, sprawl all over the couch & read all day…i painted the apartment green, yellow, blue, pink, & purple. it looked like a my little pony factory had exploded all over the walls. i could clean it as much or as little as i wanted. i had no money & was constantly stressed out about affording things like electricity & bus fare, but not being to afford material possessions has always been a good cure for WANTING material possessions (for me). when i decided i wanted a new purse, i sewed myself one out of some extraneous straps from my backpack & a pair of pink corduroy toddler pants i got from the thirft store for 75 cents. i couldn’t afford wireless internet service, so i kept up with that season of “project runway” by waiting until 2am & then creeping over to the coffeeshop that offered free wireless & setting myself up on a milk crate in their loading dock. even though they were closed, their signal was strong enough for me to watch videos loaded on to youtube. what a life! plus, jared & i started talking about moving in together in september, so i knew my bachelorette/frugal single living lifestyle had an expiration date.

& then i got pregnant. i’d managed to sock away a little over $500 in savings to put toward a security deposit on the new apartment, & i had to spend a huge chunk of it on an abortion. plus, i had to deal with people being all, “oh no, how awful! this must be such a difficult decision,” when i told them about it. difficult decision? let’s see, i’ve been with my boyfriend for no more than a year & i’m living on generic tomato soup because i can’t afford groceries. not becoming a mother was NOT a difficult decision. the only difficult thing about it was the $500+ price tag on an abortion (still way cheaper than having a baby), wanting to sleep all the time because a bundle of multiplying cells colonized my uterus & started sucking out my life force, & dealing with jackasses trying to lay their sympathy on me like this was some difficult chapter in my life. it was also difficult dealing with the incompetent ultrasound technician at the clinic, who failed to locate the embryo on the first attempt & referred to the emergency room as a possible ectopic. the ultrasound guy at the ER found the embryo with no problem & seemed to think i was some kind of dumbass for wasting his time. it wasn’t me, dude! the ultrasound tech at the clinic even had the nerve to ask me if i’d taken a pregnancy test, & if it was positive, like i just go around scheduling abortions for my own amusement.

also during this summer, jared’s roommate & best friend, bart, broke his arm at an iron maiden concert & got flesh-eating bacteria on his leg. that really had nothing to do with me, except that i spent a lot of time laughing at him. he was really crabby about all of it, so we cheered him up by making jared a life-sized bat costume, hiding him in a box, & setting him loose on bart:

& then i found us an apartment! two bedrooms right in sullivan square, hardwood floors, twelve-foot ceilings, everything we wanted, for only $1000 a month! that is a STEAL for boston–it’s almost criminally inexpensive. we snatched it up, spent a week or so painting it, & moved in, right in the middle of the august heat. & suddenly i had a roommate again…& it was a boy. i started getting up every morning when jared got up for work, which was pretty awesome. we’d eat breakfast together, listen to NPR, & then i’d have the whole day to work on distro stuff or zines or whatever while jared was at work. i put together a second issue of my logic puzzle zine about zinesters, punks, & anarchists, “up the logic punks!”. i got into wearing hats & bought my first pair of heels. i started following current events pretty fervently. after the presidential & vice-presidential debates, i got pretty psyched to vote for obama. have i mentioned before that there’s another crabigail adams blog on the internet? it’s the same user name, but at blogspot. the woman who writes it seems like one of those crazy tea party conservatives who probably still think that barack obama is a muslim kenyan educated in an indonesian boarding school or something. we are total opposites, politically. i find it weird & hilarious that we gravitated to the same user name, undoubtedly for very different reasons.

co-habitation taught me that jared is the world’s best cook. he can roast a chicken like nobody’s business (at least, until he taught me how & now i’m awesome at it too). he introduced me to foods i had never eaten before, such as artichokes, asparagus, pork chops, pork tenderloin, polenta, pasta carbonara, etc. occasionally i’d contribute by making a lasagna or some meatballs or something.

in november, i received the packet that no one on disability ever wants to receive: the review packet. plus i had a new therapist: her life’s mission was to try to convince me that i didn’t need to be on disability. she seemed to think i was clinging to my social security-sanctioned disability status out of, like, low self-esteem. seriously. she was always saying shit like, “plenty of people with the same kinds of problems as you continue to work.” & i would say, “that’s great for them, but i’m not going to suffer if i don’t have to.” i mean, maybe those people have never thought to apply for disability, or their pride prevents them from pursuing it or something. but i did think of it, & my pride had no issues with it, so where’s the harm? she scoffed away my arthritis-related limitations on the grounds that even people with rheumatoid arthritis (i was only diagnosed with osetoarthritis at that point–“arthritis lite” in her opinion, i suppose) sometimes held down jobs. it was a dark & frustrating time.

jared applied to graduate schools in january, & heard back from KU only a few weeks later, with a tacit acceptance & invitation to fly out to kansas to visit the school & meet the faculty. suddenly the whole grad school idea, which had seemed like a nebulous apparition far off on the horizon (to me, anyway), was real & jared’s desk was littered with pamphlets featuring a hideous cartoon jayhawk logo.

the clock was ticking: we only had six months left in boston. so we tried to spend a lot of quality time with bart (whose wrist was all healed, & who no longer had flesh-eating bacteria, though he did run off & get married without telling us, & then spilled the beans on jared’s birthday while i was making the birthday cake–way to upstage the birthday boy, dude). & we did a bit of traveling: a weekend in philly at the beginning of february, the trip to lawrence in march, followed with a visit to nicole in bloomington, back to lawrence in mid-june to find an apartment, new york city at the end of june for the new york zine fest, & then i flew out to portland by myself at the end of july for the portland zine symposium.

in philly, our friends all chorused, “you’re moving to kansas? are you going to get a goat & start a homestead?” as much as i wasn’t psyched about moving to kansas, the whole “i grew up on the east coast & am going to make fun of a place where i have never been” thing started to get really old, really fast. as if boston is really anything to write home about. & when we visited lawrence in march, it was gorgeous. we walked around, saw cute houses, met interesting people, the weather could not have been more beautiful…yes, it was small, & there was little to eat besides sandwiches, & the university was on top of an enormous hill, but so what? i liked it & started feeling excited to move there.

we flew back to boston after a quick visit in bloomington (where i was introduced to the concept of creme brulee french toast, the most delicious food in the world), & discovered that our apartment had been broken into. probably less than an hour before we got home, because the cat was still cowering, puffy-tailed, at the bottom of the back stairwell. they’d jimmied the door open with a crowbar & absconded with jared’s computer, which was one of those weird, small, boxy mac desktops. talk about your shitty timing: we were spending all of our money to re-locate to kansas, & now jared had to buy a new computer. the one that had been stolen was less than a year old. he handled it pretty well though. he’s not one for railing against the unfairness of the hand he is dealt. that’s my territory.

in june, a tooth i had cracked in new orleans a few years before finally decided that it was done with our partnership. despite my pathological fear of dentists (i have only been to the dentist maybe four or five times in my entire life, all as an adult), i went to the dental school/low-income dental clinic downtown, where a student numbed me up & proceeded to break my already-broken tooth in half at the gum line. a dental professor had to saw down into my gum & yank it the rest of the way out with pliers, while muttering, “jesus fucking christ, this is my lunch break, what the fuck did you do, how do you break someone’s tooth in half right before lunch,” while i writhed in horror. the anesthesia was starting to wear off by the time they were done, so the student gave me some prescription-strength painkillers so i could handle the subway ride home. & good thing she did, because i stopped by the bathroom for water to wash them down & discovered that she’d sent me on my merry way with blood & gore smeared across my face. fantastic! i went home & spent the next three days watching “australia’s next top model” on youtube. (check out season three!)

i turned thirty in july, about three weeks before moving day. jared took me whale-watching. we saw several humpback whales & they did really cool things like swim right under the boat (but thankfully did not lift the boat out of the water like this):

talk about your party fouls.

& leap completely out of the water & roll over & wave their fins in the air. jared actually waved goodbye at one whale that appeared to be waving, which was the highlight of my life up to that point. it was great out on the open ocean because it was the middle of july & wicked hot in the city, but it was so cold on the ocean that i was shivering even in a hooddie & jared’s jacket. back at the house, jared baked me a flourless chocolate cake & bart ate almost all of it single-handedly, got all strung out on sugar, & then crashed like a five-year-old. & in the middle of the night, our window fan caught on fire, & then charlotte captured a live mouse & chased it around the living room until jared snatched it away from her. eventful!

i flew out to portland with the distro at the end of july, ostensibly to attend the portland zine symposium, but also to visit the city where i had once lived. the trip was an unmitigated disaster. the house i was staying it had a “guest room,” but no one told me it was in a basement, down a flight of stairs. i’m not real big on stairs, what with my arthritis & all (though i do what i must). plus, the woman who had set me up with it wasn’t around to give me directions to her house or anything. i had to call a friend across the country, get her to look up the address of the infoshop i knew was nearby, & then use that address to figure out which bus to take & where to get off said bus. this would have been a much more difficult operation if i hadn’t lived in portland & wasn’t somewhat familiar with their public transportation system, but even so, the house was in north portland, a neighborhood that was a bit of a cipher to me because i had actively resisted being part of the punk rock gentrifying force in north portland when i’d lived there ten years before, plus it’s the only part of the city that isn’t on a grid. now there’s a motherfucking $12-a-plate vegan breakfast place, a yoga studio every two blocks, about ten different coffeehouses, & you can’t swing a cat by its tail without hitting an infoshop. very weird.

also, there was a decomposing bird in the guest room. apparently some filthy crust punks had picked it up to do a little d.i.y. taxidermy, & it had fallen out of their packs when they stashed their packs in the guest room closet. it gave the whole room a distinctive aroma of death & putrescence, & it took me a couple of days to track down the smell. there was also a graywater toilet system. seriously, that is really something you should warn potential houseguests about, because i honestly thought i was going to vomit every time i came anywhere near the bathroom. i have actually been in other punk houses with graywater toilet systems that worked pretty well & didn’t smell like a broken septic system had been left to rot in the sun for fifteen years, but this wasn’t one of them. at one point, i came down with heatstroke, & more than i worried about possibly having to go to the ER for emergency hydration, i worried about having to throw up in the graywater toilet. it inspired quite a few panic attacks before someone took pity on me & hooked me up with a new place to stay.

worst. vacation. ever. & we were leaving to move to kansas five days after i got home again.

so we packed, we fretted, we invited folks over to say their goodbyes, & we packed a little bit more. we got a parking permit for the truck & stocked up on supplies for the road. we bought a hot pink harness for charlotte, thinking that we could keep her on a leash & let her be free in the cab of the truck, & use the leash to let her out at rest stops. we had people over to help us load up the truck, & a torrential rainstorm hit right in the middle of our efforts. i chainsmoked (even though i’d quit the year before when i got pregnant) & chugged water. we ordered pizzas. jared went on a beer run. the rain stopped, we finished loading the truck, & eventually, our friends went home. jared & i got up the next morning at 7am, loaded the mattress & box springs into the truck, did some last-minute cleaning, & got on the road.

for the first day, charlotte mostly slept in my arms & quietly allowed us to put her back in her carrier at rest stops & such forth. but toward the end of the day, she decided to sleep on the floor. & when we stopped for the night at a motel just outside cleveland, she climbed under my seat & wouldn’t come out. she wiggled out of her harness. every time i tried to pull her out, she hissed & attacked. i saw no solution, & being over-tired, i started crying. jared was saying, “i need you to calm down. you need to calm down,” which is like fuel for the fire when someone is having a panic attack. it’s not a rational thing. finally, somehow, between the two of us, we held her carrier open, pulled her out from under the seat, thrust her into the carrier, & zipped it shut. in order to zip it, my hands had to get pretty close to her thrashing, hissing, demonic head, & i saw her attack like it was a slow motion replay. she sank her teeth into my right hand & twisted her head around. my hand was covered in blood–my own. i got the carrier zipped, but i still sport gnarly scars from her bloodthirsty brutality.

the next morning, jared & i went to the pancake house next door for breakfast. wehn i came back to the motel room to pack up, charlotte was gone! even though the door had been locked the whole time we were away. i tore that room apart looking for her–under everything, behind everything. i searched for a good half hour, in a state of increasing panic. finally i glanced at the TV…& there was charlotte, wedged between the TV & the wall of the entertainment unit. luckily, it wasn’t hard to get her out, & we got back on the road.

we stopped in bowling green & visited with my siblings & niece at a coffeeshop downtown. we went to my brother’s apartment to visit with my mom a little. she scared jared a little by saying that he was “very cute”. we shot the shit for a while, & she talked a lot about my dad, which was kind of nice. jared & i bought a pizza & started driving again, trying to make it bloomington so we could have dinner with nicole.

anyway…we got to kansas. we discovered a hole in our celing the first night we slept in our new apartment. two days later the air conditioning broke…it was over 100 degrees that weekend. the management company failed to address either problem. a week later, my computer broke. i dropped a horrifying amount of money on a new laptop. we struggled for the next month to get the management company to fix the hole in our roof, which rendered half the apartment uninhabitable. finally we threw in the towel, had it condemned by the city of lawrence, & subletted a place next door to my friend ailecia. it was far smaller, but also far cheaper, & with a functioning celing. jared started school. i worked on distro crap. we sometimes hung out with people he met at school, & sometimes with ailecia & her cronies. i found a decent therapist. my arthritis got a million times worse, practically overnight. there were (are) entire days when i couldn’t use my hands at all. we went to the farmer’s market every weekend. i grew increasingly resentful of the distro, both because of maybe feeling like i wasn’t getting as much out of the zine community anymore, & because the arthritis made distro work difficult to accomplish. we made a traditional thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us. we flew to boston for xmas & i got the flu.

&…that was like 5000 words & took three hours to write & i bet no one will read the whole thing.

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.

13 thoughts on “2008-2009: the decade in review

    1. well, it wasn’t that hard to remember stuff because i was only writing about the last two years of my life. the entries from the beginning of the decade are a lot less detailed.

  1. I’ve been reading the whole “series”, and even though I remember a good deal of it from the 9 years (!) I’ve been reading your LJ, I was still impressed. I’d read something you wrote, even if it was a rewrite of something you’d written 8 times before, cause the way you tell a story is awesome.


    ps-I’ve been enjoying the whole new blog!

    1. aw, thanks. that’s sweet. i have realized, though, that i managed to leave a lot of stuff out of my “decade in review” recaps, even though they are all ludicrously long. oh well.

  2. I’m the same way about TV shows. I’m currently borrowing the Angel box set from a friend (I only have s1 myself), then I’m going to watch Australia’s Next Top Model. Thanks for that one!

    1. to be clear, the awesome thing about season three of “australia’s next top model” is that they actually choose a winner that went on to work as internationally successful model. the only good thing about the rest of the series is the aussie slang & the fact that the judges are really mean. & NO TYRA.

  3. That is a pretty wild Mountain Goats song to make you think of the person you’re dating – it is also one of my Favorite Songs of All Time!

    I second the person that said they want to read things you write even if they contain similar content to something I’ve read of your before. I LOVE YOUR WRITING DUDE.

    1. i know. i was pretty freaked out when jared told me that song made him think of me. i wondered if he was obliquely trying to admit he had a drinking problem or something. but he eventually explained that he just thought it was a very romantic love song. i’m not sure where he gets that, but…let’s go with it.

      & thanks!

    1. well, like i told kate, i was just recounting the last two years of my life…years that were not all that eventful, really. & i don’t smoke pot or have early-onset alzheimer’s, so there’s nothing interfering with the memory banks. plus, once you start reflecting on the major life events you’ve experienced, they start coming back to you with more clarity & detail. & the biggest cheat of all: i keep a daily log of everything i do. i could probably make a list of every meal i’ve had for dinner in the last year & a half.

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