long time, no talk

i haven’t updated in forever! well, almost two weeks. i don’t have any good excuses, but i guess i’ll try to do better. i’m not quite ready to fade away into obscurity. a fantastic five list of what’s been going on:

1) the main thing that has been distracting me from writing or doing much of anything productive has been “lost”. my curiosity was piqued when everyone started flipping out about the last season premiere some weeks back. it’s been many years since i owned a TV, & i have only recently discovered that you can watch TV on the internet (& not just when people upload copyrighted material to youtube), so i’d never seen “lost” before. we decided to watch the pilot & see what all the fuss was about, &…well…i don’t run a zine distro anymore, i have nothing to do but sit around & pop ibuprofen, so i decided to watch the whole thing. like, the whole series. i just started season six. i should be all caught up by tomorrow, maybe.

although it has certainly held my attention, it’s not exactly the best TV show ever. there are so many loose ends, i’m not sure how the writers can realistically wrap them all up in just one more season, but…we’ll see. one of the recappers at televisionwithoutpity.com said that they were happy to suspend their disbelief when it comes to the big stuff (smoke monsters, magical islands that cure terminal cancer & paralysis caused by crushed spines, electromagnetic anomalies that can cause plane crashes, etc), but the show needs to not treat us like we’re stupid on the little things. like the whole entire episode early in season one where jack & sayid torture sawyer to get him to give up the refills of shannon’s asthma inhaler because she’s in the caves fighting for her life. the fact that the island cured john locke’s paralysis was established in the FIRST EPISODE, but i guess the island’s magical healing properties doesn’t extend to asthma?…sure.

i could probably write a full 5000 words about this, but…i’ll save it. for now.

2) i have been taking lots of ibuprofen to deal with some sort of really bad arthritis flare-up. i saw a rheumatologist last month, who ran a bunch of tests related to determining if i have rheumatoid arthritis. all the tests came back negative/inconclusive, but i have every symptom. turns out, rheumatoid arthritis isn’t just a more severe version of osteoarthritis, as i had always believed (for some dumb reason). it’s actually a completely separate disease, with a whole different diagnostic criteria, fairly radically different symptoms, different treatment methods, etc. some people don’t think it should be called rheumatoid arthritis at all, because it’s actually an immune disease that may be caused by a virus (that cannot be killed in any way that science is aware of) & doesn’t actually affect joints in the traditional arthritis way at all. & those are the symptoms i have, & they are the symptoms i have always had, since i was like 17. but who knows, because the labs didn’t back me up.

but the rheumatologist has apparently still decided to treat me as a low-budget rheumatoid patient. she wants me to enroll in a water aerobics class. i don’t know if i will actually do that. she also wants me to take two iburpofens, three times a day, every day, indefinitely. that is a lot of fucking ibuprofen! & over time, ibuprofen can make your digestive tract bleed. hope you’re not reading this over breakfast (when i read my blog roll). so i’m just kind of ignoring her & taking ibuprofen when i have a lot of pain & just doing my own thing. but it’s been pretty tough. my hands & feet have gotten really bad in the last six months. my zine correspondents will recall that i am somewhat well-known for having very small, precise handwriting. that’s pretty much gone to shit. my handwriting is still a million times nicer than jared’s, but it pains me to see how it has changed. it is often difficult to button my coat, hold utensils when i’m eating, turn keys in locks, hold on to a book or magazine when i’m reading, etc. & with my feet, sometimes it’s even hard to walk.

at some point, i am going to have to think more about disability & what all of this means, but…i can’t really be bothered at the moment. i’m just trying to get from one day to the next with as little pain & as much mobility as i can muster.

3) i have felt disinclined to write here much because i am going through another spell of wanting to be very private…partially because i don’t kid myself that i am leading an action-packed life of adventure in the first place. but partially because sometimes i feel very private. i think my default mode for pretty much everything comes from a place of critical thinking & asking hard questions, &…well, it’s not easy to be that kind of person. people tend to not like you very much. good thing i have never really cared about being liked. (my social philosophy, ever since i was a little kid, was that you really only need one or two close friends who have your back, & you need to be able to look yourself in the mirror every morning, & if you have that, everyone else can go fuck themselves. it’s not as nihilistic as it seems, i swear.)

i have been thinking about a lot of stuff, like, for example, the question of support & what that really means in a realistic world where we’re being honest about terms like “community”. i have been thinking about it a bit in terms of my own personal disability issues & the fact that i am obviously not at the point where i require any kind of outside care, in the form of a hired aide or anything, but there are still a lot of everyday things that are really difficult for me, & with which i could use assistance. & i’ve been thinking about what this means for me emotionally, as a person who has always been incredibly independent (like, to a fault, maybe), & personally, as someone who really doesn’t have too many close friends in her town of residence. & i’ve been thinking about my relationships with close out of town friends & how/if i emotionally support them. & i’ve been thinking about political support, in light of the fact that so much political activism i hear about these days (in the anarchist scene, anyway) seems like so much pissing into the wind, but maybe i’m an asshole for saying that when i’m not doing much besides popping painkillers & watching “lost”.

so i’ve been feeling private, because i am thinking about a lot & not coming up with too many happy shiny conclusions. & so much of what i am thinking about is directly related to how i want to relate to other people, what i expect from other people, & what i feel i can offer other people. somewhat confusing, eh?

4) i have occasionally considered trying to get some of these thoughts down on paper, spin them into something halfways coherent, & put together a new zine. i guess that would be “love letter to monsters” #3. sometimes i feel motivated & energized by the idea, but more often, i feel frustrated & shitty. i have really been trying not to say this, because it has always sounded like bullshit to me when other people have said it, but…the zine scene has really changed. for the worse, in a lot of ways. one of my zine distro friends was complaining recently about having to remind people that she does not accept PDFs for distro consideration. she said that this is a relatively recent problem & never used to happen a few years ago. part of the reason i shut down paper trail was because i felt like people wanted to get their zines into distros less for the distribution aspect & more for the weird ego gratification/accomplishment aspect. it’s not actually something that i can necessarily put into words, but it makes me uncomfortable.

i ordered a little pile of zines from another friend’s zine distro a few weeks ago, & i really enjoyed reading them. i definitely still like zines & there are plenty of zines out there that i still like a lot (& not just ones written by people i already know). but i think running the distro kind of soured me on the medium in certain ways, because i had to pay so much attention to the business side of things, & see people at their worst (dealing with money/a commodity market). i became detached from the magic of zines, the creative side of actually making zines, & the excitement of reading great zines & becoming friends with the people who make them, without thinking about writing down their contact info so you know where to send the checks.

eventually, i will probably make another zine. & i’ll send it around for distro consideration. but i’ll probably also just send copies & letters to people who write zines i like, without worrying about all the politics & drama & bullshit of the “scene”.

some of this relates to a “bad” (i guess) review i got last month. it was a pretty harsh review, but almost comical in the sense of how far the person who write it missed the mark. last semester, jared wrote a paper for school on wild turkey conservation efforts in missouri during the twentieth century. i told him that the review i got was akin to someone reading his 25-page paper & concluding, “this paper sucks because jared wants to kill turkeys.” i don’t mind people critiquing or disagreeing with my ideas, or offering editorial feedback, or whatever. i am willing to listen. that’s what “dialectical learning” (which is something i wrote about in my last zine) is all about, & it’s something that still interests me a great deal. but there’s not much i can learn from someone who willfully misrepresents & obfuscates what i have actually written! while it is perhaps a lesson in making my points more plain next time (i’ll make an effort), i don’t really think i have a reputation for being especially subtle or inscrutable in my opinions. i refuse to make myself so plain that it’s as if i am writing for dullards, because i like to think that most people who read my zines are not dullards.

5) this is so stupid & embarrassing to admit, but…i always feel like my life will be a little better if i move. not necessarily to a new town, but i feel like i am always looking for my dream home, the apartment that i will love to be in, where suddenly my hands won’t hurt & i’ll write all day & i’ll always keep it clean & dinner will always be perfect & i’ll get eight hours of sleep every single night & i will never argue with anyone. i really have no issue with the apartment i am in right now. it’s on the small side, to be sure, but we realized we don’t need that much space. sometimes i feel like it’s too dark, but i could remedy that by leaving the shutters open more often. it would be nice to have a kitchen with room for a table, & a bathtub, but we get by without those things & it’s not really a problem. & there are things i like a lot about this apartment–fairly high ceilings, tons of storage space, cheap rent, cheap utilities, surprisingly quiet for the neighborhood…so why am i always perusing apartment listings, looking for something “better”? i don’t even know what “better” would really mean.

i’m kind of hoping that we can move into the apartment upstairs in the fall. it’s the whole floor, so we won’t have to share a wall with a dude who seems to have some weird phlegm/vomiting issue, & who SCREAMS at his TV during KU basketball games. & it has space for a kitchen table, & a bathtub, & windows on all four walls, i think. it’s more expensive, & i don’t know what the storage options are like, but…do i really need an entire steamer trunk full of craft supplies i haven’t touched in at least five years anyway?

charlotte looks out the window while jared studies.

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.

9 thoughts on “long time, no talk

  1. OK, I finally don’t have anything nice to say, so I’ll emerge from the shadows. I believe you’re talking about the same review of your zine that I also read, and my unsolicited advice is to consider the source and forget about it. Her little self-righteous graphic designer self is now whining that Katie Haegle used Times New Roman font in “La-La Theory #6.” It’s ridiculous.

    She’s young, Ciara. And one of these days she’ll learn that she doesn’t know everything.

    All the best to you as you sort out your life.

    1. well, thanks fo r the vote of confidence. i checked & yes, we are talking about the same reviewer. i’m not sure how i came across in this post, but i wasn’t especially offended…just a little frustrated that someone would so egregiously misunderstand my zine & then base a review on their errors of judgment. but that’s life…or, that’s writing, & putting said writing into a public forum. you can’t please everyone.

  2. I really enjoy reading your blog and I have to say you acutely described how I am always feeling about finding new places to live and how when you move things will be “better” there. I am always on Craigslist trolling, and even when my lease isn’t up and I can’t leave I somehow feel like that perfect apartment is out there without me, and if I could somehow get there I would be much happier. It’s crazy. I’m glad to read of someone else feeling the same way.

    I’m also obsessed with LOST and yes, there are always these little stupid things that don’t add up but on some episodes I don’t care because I’m too excited! I hope that the final episode is fantastic, I really feel like that will be the time when we can decide whether it was worth it or not.

    1. you’re so not alone when it comes to the whole fantasy apartment thing! i feel like it’s especially ridiculous for me, because i have lived in like thirty different houses/apartments (probably more), & obviously none of them was the perfect place where everything is lemonade & rainbows. & the common denominator is me.

      i found out yesterday that the woman upstairs is probably staying put, so jared & i will probably keep our current apartment. it’s an excellent price, so it will be easy to stay here & save money & think about someday buying my dream home somewhere. because i probably won’t shake this fantasy completely. i’ll just defer it.

      this last season better get its act together, because right now, i’m feeling like it’s just more of the same & not too many answers have been forthcoming. even if i have a better idea now of what the smoke monster is, i don’t understand why its does what it does. & this show has put us through a lot of shit, like the episode where jack banged bai ling & then forced her to give him a culturally appropriative tattoo. or the episode where nikki & paulo get bitten by spiders & buried alive. like, who cares? & i seriously could give two shits about kate’s love triangle with jack & sawyer. i was over it from the third episode.

  3. Yeah, the zine scene has changed a lot in the few years between running distros. I was kind of surpised. I think my biggest pet peeve now is people not really getting what a zine is, you know? I swear, if someone asks me one more time if I distribute PDF zines, I will set my computer on fire with my rage. But I still get a lot out of it, mostly because without the distro, I would be bored as fuck. And the zinesters I do distribute are pretty rad.

    1. i am kind of surprised too. i have always insisted that zines are a cyclical thing, that people’s interest in them waxes & wanes, & that as soon as your favorite zinester stops publishing or your favorite distro shuts down, someone will come along & do something new that reinvigorates the medium. & it’s not like i no longer think that that’s true…it just seems like you have to sort through a lot more shit to get to the good stuff. maybe it has something to do with internet culture & how it’s so much easier now to plug “zine” into a search engine & jump in with both feet, sometimes never having even seen a zine before. it seems like the community is more fractious, because it’s so much easier now to dip a toe in & dabble. i hesitate to say it’s a completely terrible thing, because inevitably some of those newbies & dabblers will turn out some very interesting things. but it increases the volume of shittiness, to be sure, &…i don’t know. it’s just weird.

      i think maybe there are more little “scenes” now that don’t really overlap with each other, which isn’t a bad thing. that’s how it was when i started making zines, & as a result, i lived in my own little world of riot grrrl-derived perzines for many years, not really knowing or caring that there were other kinds of zines being made. i guess maybe the issue is that i have changed & i’m less tolerant of the shit now. undoubtedly some of the zines i loved in 1994 would not pass muster with me today.

      the main thing i actually miss about the distro is that it kept me connected to the folks i distributed. i think it’s going to be hard to hold on to some of those friendships now that i don’t have a specific reason for getting in touch every couple of months.

  4. I hear you on the distro/zine scene concerns, girl. The zine scene definitely ain’t what it used to be, but I don’t regret starting my distro at all. And strangely, it’s enabled me to get more involved in the art and small press scenes in Los Angeles. But I still have my frustrations with a lot of things. I’m just happy that I’ve been able to build up a catalogue of some really great stuff. It certainly has taken more digging around than it used to to find the gems, but, what can you do. Nothing lasts forever!

    And yes, like all the others have said, that review was ridic. Obviously that girl doesn’t know what a force you are! I don’t agree with everything you write (in zines, on your blog, whatever), but I keep coming back for more because you’re a well-written, thought-provoking person that presents interesting and often times challenging ideas. And that’s rare these days.

    And duh, PLEASE write issue #3!

  5. I linked through to your website via the STICKY Institute e-newsletter and I’m so glad that I did. I’m looking forward to trawling through your thoughts on zines and everything that goes with them. I’ve been reading and collecting zines here in Australia for about fifteen years or so, which isn’t very long compared to some I suppose but I have noticed the ebbs and flows of interest in zines.
    You’re so right about the newbies and dabblers and I can’t help but feel a connection to your conflictedness about writing (LLTM#3). I have a million ideas for zines but have a hard time seeing any of them through to completion because I strange so many of them in the crib. sometimes because I don’t think they’ve got the legs to put the energy into but also because I’m not sure there’s a space for them to go into if they were finished. I’m sure Stradivarius made crap violins before he made good ones and I’m sure that he put everything he knew and learned into each one he made, however it turned out. If only ten zines get made, and ten percent are good, that’s one good zine. If a hundred get made and ten percent are good, then ten get made. Sure there’s ninety crap zines but there’s ten good ones. Argh…
    Please forgive me, I’m preaching to the choir I suppose. Thanks for inspiring me tonight – I just may shoot for that ten percent this weekend!

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