give me blog recommendations

i want to add some new blogs to my daily reading! i like to read blogs written by people i know (well or vaguely) through zines, which means, if you are reading this because you have read my zines, & you happen to have a blog you update occasionally, give me the address! i also like to read other kinds of blogs, like nostalgia blogs about the pop culture of my childhood & adolescence, & stuff relating to pop culture & feminism. & i like to read about cooking, crafts, sewing, etc. just tell me a few of your favorite blogs & i will go look at them.

man, i really hate the word “blog”.

i feel like i am still finding my sea legs in writing here, even though i’ve been doing it for a few months now. i am still struggling to find my focus, especially because i am constantly distracted by more private writing endeavors. such a strange mix of people read this thing, i never really understand “who i’m writing for,” you know? when i’m writing about kathleen hanna, for example, i don’t know how much context to provide. there are people reading who are probably thinking, “kathleen who?” even with a provided biography & there are others who are like, “dude, i know all about kathleen hanna, i don’t need all this tedious background!”

i guess i’ll just write what i want to write.

i can’t believe it’s march already. the weather is vaguely sunny & the temperature is supposed to hit 55 over the weekend! the farmer’s market opens again in six weeks, & i’ll be able to buy fresh basil by the handful, the most delicious bacon in the world, fresh flowers, chocolate zucchini bread baked by a nice farmer lady, herbal tinctures of dubious effectiveness, whole fresh chickens for roasting, chocolate cheesecake, & so forth. i have learned quite a bit about cooking, & especially about seasonal eating & vegetables (though i am still a total neophyte compared to most people–i think i ate maybe two servings of vegetables per year before i started dating jared), so i am more excited about the farmer’s market this year than i usually am.

i will also get to observe a whole new winter crop of babies & froth with jealousy because i don’t have a baby. even though i admit that right now i like the idea of having a baby a lot more than i’d probably like the reality of sleep deprivation & diaper laundering. i am slowly easing into baby fever with the hope that it will peak right around the time that jared is done with grad school & gets on board with the idea. thus far, the fever does not involve actually hanging out with kids. so really, i’m being extremely unrealistic.

on the off chance that anyone from lawrence is actually reading this & silently thinking, “this ciara person sounds interesting & i’d like to discuss books with her,” i am willing to set aside my pride & admit that i wish i was in a book club. i say “set aside my pride” not because book clubs aren’t awesome but because they conceptually have a whiff of bored housewife/complaining about one’s partner/suburbia to them. but i won’t let that stand in my way. i used to be in this anarcha-feminist book club in boston. it was a weird & somewhat terrible experience. there’s not a lot of explicitly anarcha-feminist literature out there in the published world, so we kind of had to reach to find things to read. we read against love, by laura kipnis, an excellent book, but not especially anarchist or even feminist in a direct & straightforward way. i had everyone read wise children, by angela carter, so we could talk about things like aging & beauty standards & bawdy old dames casting off one’s expectations of aging femininity. it’s like “the golden girls,” with an extra heaping helping of shakespearean intrigue, vaudeville, & consensual incest. but no one really got that except for me.

the things i didn’t like about the anarcha-feminist book club were that a) no one ever really had any insights or even opinions about the books we read, aside from, “i liked it,” or, “i didn’t like it.” when i would ask why people felt this or that way, they mostly looked blank or said something prosaic like, “it was hard to read about all the violence” (in reference to the bandit queen of india). not exactly the stuff thrilling conversation is made of. also, b) there was one woman in the group who was like an anarcha-feminist version of the kind of lady who goes to her book club meetings, gets soused, commandeers the conversation to complain about her partner & suburbia & being a bored college student (the urban 20-year-old version of the bored housewife), & cannot handle polite social cues. in her case, she talked a lot about non-monogamy & the struggles of balancing multiple boyfriends & how her boyfriends invisibilized her queer identity. that’s great, but also irrelevant, boring, & tedious, & somehow she managed to relate every book we read back to these themes. it was like every book club meeting was an outpost of a women’s studies 101 class where She Tells Everyone How It Is. & there is a reason i took precisely one women’s studies class in college.

what is it about being in your early twenties & thinking everything you have to say is utterly compelling, even though it’s actually banal & trite? i was at a social event not long ago where a little crowd of twentysomethings were discussing their middle names & how they are spelled. at another event, a twentysomething dude tried to keep the conversation afloat by asking everyone about jobs they used to have before they started doing what they do now. these glorified ice breakers are always just an entry point for someone to say, “my middle name is leigh! like lee, but spelled l-e-i-g-h! isn’t that weird?” (answer: no. also, shut up.) or, “i used to drive a forklift. i know, can you believe it? me, engaged in whatever genteel desk-bound pursuit i am currently engaged in, i drove a forklift one summer! my working-class credibility file is expanding as we speak!” (response: me too. who cares? shut up.)

i was discussing this phenomenon with someone ten years older than me, who wisely pointed out that sometimes people really are just banal & trite & they never grow out of it. she said that she’s been to parties full of forty-year-olds where someone will start talking about middle names or summer jobs they had in college, & she has the same reaction: shut up, who cares, oh my god. so maybe it’s not an age thing. but it feels so much more apparent to me now that i am a little older. i can’t sit here & pretend that i was never that eager-to-please early twentysomething who’d concoct a conversation starter out of something that might amuse a second grader for fifteen minutes, just because maybe i had a little story i wanted to share. i find that kind of behavior so gauche now, the person i used to be is pretty much completely unrecognizable. but hey. i’m writing about this on a blog, so in some ways, our basest pleas for attention all come full circle.

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.

12 thoughts on “give me blog recommendations

  1. OMG, i work in an office full of people ranging in age from 22-60 and every single person feels the need to share incredibly banal details of their life at every juncture! it blows my mind. i think people think i’m weird/antisocial/rude because i don’t tell them every detail of my morning commute or mundane conversation i had with my life partner, but i am really just trying to spare them from hearing the dull details of my life! this is far from an age thing. some people really, really like being banal. they were probably like that when they were 10, and they will probably be like that when they were 80.

    1. i think small talk is kind of an art. i used to be really against it because i had all these ideas about “real communication” & “getting to know people in a real way,” etc, but…all of that is fairly impractical in a world where people often have to interact with huge numbers of people they wouldn’t voluntarily choose to be around (like co-workers, or classmates, or even family sometimes). since moving to kansas, i have to spend a fair chunk of time around people jared goes to school with. they’re not terrible people, by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re not the kinds of folks i would have sought out as my bosom buddies when i was like 23 in deep into my whole “real communication” phase. i’m unlikely to feel suddenly moved to share deep biographical insights with them. but that doesn’t mean that we only have to skim the surface, talking about morning commutes & mundane personal reflections. there’s gotta be a way to engage that isn’t necessarily confessional. so that’s what i’m trying to perfect now: being polite & friendly & even engaging, without giving up pretty much any privacy at all.

      but who knows how many of them have stumbled across this blog, so i’m probably doing a terrible job!

  2. Blogs I read:

    And the other blogs I read are already in your blogroll.

    I was in a book club once, and it was horrible. We discussed the book for maybe two minutes, and bullshitted the rest of the time. Everyone there read stuff like Janet Evanovich and Jodi Picoult, so that’s all we read. My nurse is the one who invited me to join. I should have known better.

    1. after you posted this, suddenly a bunch of people clicked over to check out the zero at the bone blog. intense!

      book selection is the big thing that freaks me out about joining a book club. i really do not want to read janet evanovich or jodi picoult. nothing against them, they are certainly popular, but not especially to my personal taste. there’s a public mystery book club here in lawrence–i guess they meet once a month for lunch & talk about the latest book they read. it would be a fast & easy way to meet new people, but i don’t really care for mysteries. & i have such persnickety taste in books, i wonder if any book club could ever really satisfy me. sometimes i am even disappointed in my closest friends when they like certain books more than i did–& i am a harsh critic.

      maybe i’d have better luck in a book club if i consciously worked on having a more accepting attitude about the book club books. but so many of them seem so carefully designed for the most banal possible denominator…i don’t know.

  3. my blogroll at open a vein
    has lotsa good stuff… but of course
    *i* think so… including some
    underground press people mostly
    cartoonists. i myself post occasionally.
    sometimes it’s even substantial.
    mostly just links though.
    the “livingston review” link
    on the other sidebar leads to
    my latest zine-related stuff
    (sometimes the connection
    is quite vague).

    getting past the level of
    “we’re not going to notice
    anything about each other or
    anything about the situation
    we’re actually *in*, are we?”
    in conversations is mostly
    beyond me with young or old.
    young adults are indeed worst.

    among my biggest disappointments
    in my brief professional life was the
    difficulties i had with outreach…
    “finding my own kind”. efforts to get
    beyond polite banter were repulsed
    pretty effectively as a rule. i could still
    easily relate to students in those days
    though. a long time ago.

  4. I’m glad you asked for blogs because I’m always looking for new blogs to read & I bet you’ll get a of of recs I haven’t heard of.

    Blogs I read that I think you’d like: (“the intersection of pop culture and race,” way better than average blog writing & analysis) (Sociological images – they post a lot, but post great summaries once a month) (this is my Boston old roommate, zinester, lots of pop & general culture stuff related to being a transdude) (another zinester friend, the author of Ex Machina, looking to be a writer and exploring different forms of nonfiction)

    I also read a lot of blogs about coal and Appalachian activism, greenisthenewred, a few economists, and Feministing & Feministe (which I think I’ve heard you reference before so I didn’t link to them).

    1. thanks for the recommendations. i just have to say, though…feministing? i know a lot of people like it. A LOT of people. i have never once been able to look at it without walking away in a frothing rage. & that’s even without looking at the comments (where the real frothing rage comes from). for a while i tried to look at it more because i felt some weird responsibility to stay up to date on all the news & important issues & new books & such forth relating to contemporary feminism, but i gave up after like a week & a half. so much of the writing there just makes me angry because i find it really unsophisticated or fucked up somehow. & then i get angry with myself for having standards that are apparently too high, & then it starts this whole feedback loop of how unfair it is of me to expect so much from other people when i can’t say with great confidence that i necessarily live up to those standards myself 100% of the time, & why am i so critical, & no one can ever satisfy me with their political thought, etc etc.

      anyway! thanks for the suggestions.

      1. Just like I check CNN & NYTimes, etc., I check feministing… great for links (especially to commentary by other feminist bloggers) and news, and to see what the mainstream feminist movement is up to. Also not many other places I read are writing about healthcare and US politics. It’s good for what it is, I agree with you that it isn’t a place for deep thought and critical (or often intersectional) analysis.

    2. I’ll second Sociological Images. even when I don’t agree with their analysis, the material they post is pretty good food for thought

  5. By any other name, still the same, said Shakespeare in his own way.

    I love ‘blogs.’ I’m glued to them. They are like zines, but without the tactile sensation and the smell of photocopy ink. Those are the things I miss most and the fact that I am horrible at screen reading.. It’s torture to read at my computer.. but I’ll do it so I can enjoy a blog once and a while..

    I know this probably doesn’t coincide with anything.. but I’m kind of a low brow, poke the mud for bugs kind of girl. I’ll always wonder at the tiny things that make us up that we never notice.

  6. Everything Brenna writes is pure gold.

    I read a lot of weird blogs. No idea if you’ll like any of these, and they don’t exactly meet your criteria. But …

    Ecouterre is an “eco-fashion” blog. There’s usually some cool stuff here.

    Cartogrammar is a blog about maps and interactive mapping, and it’s super interesting.

    And of course, Nerd Boyfriend.

  7. I briefly mentioned some of the ideas that have popped up in your posts and comments about zines in a post I did recently. I don’t know if that means I’d recommend that you read it, but anyway, it’s there if you’re interested.

    Otherwise, I highly recommend Popular Demand , and all the blogs in her blog roll.

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