it’s the first day of spring!

my bicycle is enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

what the hell is going on? lawrence was hammered last night by a mondo late season blizzard, & the snow is in fact still falling. yesterday was gorgeous. i wore my ruffle-collar swing coat downtown & had to remove it for the walk home because i was too warm in just a thermal & thin puff-sleeved cardigan. then i went over to ailecia’s to catch up on “project runway,” & spent some quality time on the enclosed porch afterward, smoking bummed menthol cigarettes & making plans for a zine on emotional & physical health sustainability in radical communities (ie, it’s okay to work out & take care of your body in the name of fitness & health; there are more responsible & respectful ways to ask for emotional support than to think you are magically entitled to it from whoever is around; etc), & when i stepped outside to retrieve my recycling crates & head back to my place to make homemade pizza for lunch, there was a frosty nip in the air. jared had soccer practice a few hours later (he joined an intra-mural grad student team) & bundled up in knee socks, a raincoat, etc. when he returned home a few hours later, it was raining, which turned to sleet while i made pasta carbonara for dinner. by the time we went to bed, snow had smothered the neighborhood.

so i am pretending that spring is here by wearing an aggressively flowered headband.

please note the snow in my hair. please also note the wrinkle between my eyebrows that is due to thirty years of furrowing grouchily at the world around me. this weather is making me frowth!

i still have big plans for spring though. i really want to get to work on a new issue of “love letters to monsters” (hilariously referred to as “hate letters to monsters” by a disgruntled reader with poor comprehension skills on goodreads–that has got to be the worst zing ever) & finally put together “up the logic punks!” #3. all the puzzles have been written & done since late july. that was nine months ago! i just have not had the will to drag my typewriter down from its shelf & get to work.

i guess i have been enjoying a vacation from responsibility since i quit the distro back in january. i have whiled away the winter watching all five-&-a-half-to-date seasons of “lost” & reading huge stacks of library books. i haven’t been remotely interested in reading zines, making zines, reading about zines, talking about zines, etc. the entire subject makes me feel tired, prickly, frowthy, & aged before my time.

but jared & i went to chicago over the weekend for his spring break, &…i think i turned the corner. we happened to be in chicago for the first-ever chicago zine fest, which wasn’t really intentional, but also not unwelcome. my good buddy LB (from “truckface” & “susie is a robot” zines & stranger danger distro) gave us houseroom, & she had booked herself a table at the zine fest, so…on saturday morning, she loaded up her messenger bag with distro offerings & we piled into the rental car:

spring break 2010! woo hoo!

yes, that’s a bright red ford mustang. & that is LB struggling to extricate herself from the backseat. she suggested that the back seat is miniaturized because no one is ever supposed to do anything but lie down back there, if you catch my meaning. jared had requested a sub-compact, & they “upgraded” him to this little number. every time we stopped to get gas or snacks, i felt like everyone watched eagerly while i clambered out of the passenger seat, & then shrugged & thought, “i thought whoever was riding in that car would be a lot hotter.” it’s a miracle that we didn’t get any tickets, & that no one broke the windows or smashed the tail lights. a car like this attracts attention. in fact, it even has a safety feature in the event that you attract the absolute wrong kind of attention:

as the diagram helpfully illustrates, you can pull this tag, pop the trunk, & free yourself in the event of an abduction.

anyway, jared & i really didn’t have too much patience for the zine fair. it was awesome to be at a zine event without a table or any zine-selling responsibilities (i realized later that i should have left a stack of my zines on LB’s table & make a little money, but…i’m an idiot so that didn’t happen). without a zine to put to my face, i liked to think that no one recognized me. even people i consider friends, with whom i have hung out several times before in person, failed to recognize me. i blame my hair. it’s ludicrously long now, almost to my waist. i don’t think people expect ciara xyerra, ferocious zine beast behind such publications as the much-reviled “hate letters to monsters,” to have long breck girl hair. but it’s cool. my hair is both my sexy blanket & my groucho marx disguise kit. i thought about assuming a secret identity & baiting people into saying mean things about me, but instead, jared & i just went for a really long walk, culminating in me destroying my carefully curated savings account at H&M.

the most important thing to know about chicago is that there is a little diner pretty much right under the california el stop. it’s called the cozy corner diner. & it serves french toast stuffed with cheesecake. this wonder concoction is typically topped with strawberries & whipped cream, but the second (of three) days in a row that i ordered it, the kitchen was out of fresh strawberries & substituted bananas, which are even better, as far as i’m concerned.

this is the before shot.
this is after i ravenously fell upon the plate.

i thought nothing could top the creme brulee french toast i always get in bloomington. i was so wrong. so deliciously wrong.

the point regarding zines though: okay, neither jared nor i bought anything at the zine fest. jared aptly described the awkwardness of these kinds of events when he said, “i feel like i don’t want to touch anything or look at anyone’s table too closely or i’ll have to buy something that i don’t really want.” there was undoubtedly some great stuff there, but i just was not feeling the uncomfortable small talk vibe. so i waited until monday, when jared & i made a sojourn to quimby’s (you can buy my zines there now if you are in chicago) & i picked up a few items. we sat in a coffeeshop down the street & read for a few hours. nothing i got was mind-blowing on the level of, say, “doris” the first time i ever read it. but i really enjoyed sitting there & reading the zines. & even though there was a little whisper in the back of my mind trying to work me up into the froth of frustration i used to feel when i was reading zines for distro consideration back in the day (three months ago)–you know, the whole, “who cares? get over yourself! no one cares about your facile observations! & could your layout be any uglier?” etc etc–i was able to ignore the voice quite easily & just enjoy the zines for what they were, on their own merits. it was great!

i left the coffeeshop feeling footloose & fancy-free, until i saw a “punk” who’d set his ridiculous mohawk with an entire bottle of elmer’s glue. i turned to jared & said, “that guy looks like a motherfucking asshole,” & then i laughed & laughed because it was obvious that i will NEVER be posi, EVER, not in a million years. in certain ways, i am finding new stores of patience that had been thoroughly depleted by seven years of living & breathing in thankless dedication to zine distribution, but i’m always going to be a judgmental hater & i wouldn’t want it any other way!

possibly the most awesome part of the trip transpired when we got back to lawrence. okay, back story: i grew up in northwest ohio (toledo & its environs). as a child, i was a big fan of a hot farina cereal called cocowheats. it’s like a cocoa version of cream of wheat. i wasn’t necessarily obsessed with it, but i liked it a lot. the day after i turned twenty, i moved away to portland & began my young adult life of drinking a tall glass of chocolate milk & wolfing down a banana nut muffin or two for breakfast everyday, & i pretty much forgot about cocowheats. then i moved around, to montana, los angeles, minneapolis, & settled down in boston. little by little, my memories of cocowheats resurfaced. every now & again, all i wanted was cocoa-flavored hot farina cereal, but apparently any shelf space that may have been allotted to it in new england grocery stores was given over to moxie & brown bread in a can (WTF). i concluded, after over a decade of casual searching, that cocowheats had been discontinued, just like regular-sized krackle candy bars (in high school, my best friend ava & i drove to four different states one night, looking for a regular-sized krackle).

finally, last week, it occurred to me to search the internet. i found the cocowheats manufacturer website & discovered that cocowheats are still in production! you can order them online, but they are also sold in lawrence! only at the super-wal-mart out at 31st & iowa, which is far enough away to necessitate a car or bus. i told jared the happy news & he offered to drive me there when we got home from chicago. i hadn’t been in a wal-mart in over ten years, but i walked in, located the hot cereal aisle, & bought myself two boxes of cocowheats for less than six bucks. verdict: not as awesome as i remembered, but still at least a little bit awesome. yay!

we also hit target, where i purchased two new pillows, a new sheet set, & a new comforter. this is the first time in my entire life that i have purchased my own pillows & blanket. i generally rely on people to give them to me, or i find them in weird circumstances. i haven’t consciously avoided this threshold in adult living, but…life is now totally awesome because i’ve got my zine mojo back, i can eat cocowheats for breakfast everyday, i have a big flowery headband, i have a crew of ladies to hit the gym with if i so desire, it’s spring (even if the entire city is buried beneath a half-foot of snow), LB turned me on to a website that has “dexter” season four available for free viewing, the concept of cheesecake-stuffed french toast has entered my life, i embrace my hatertude, & this is now my wonderful, inviting, bed:

jared is napping in it right this second.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. nicole says:

    Ok, I guess your life is not springy. Should keep up with blogs more. But my real point is to say: I love Cozy Corner! and also: I love cocowheats! No one ever knows what they are. Is it an Ohio thing?

    1. ciara says:

      well, it’s really spring-y now. two days ago, we had half a foot of snow on everything. today it’s seventy degrees, the trees are covered in budding leaves, & all the snow is gone. just got home from a walk downtown & am actually too warm in jeans & a t-shirt.

      i think cocowheats are a regional phenomenon–not just ohio, but they seem limited to the upper midwest. possibly i could have found them when i lived in minneapolis for two months, but it was summer & it didn’t occur to me to seek out possibly discontinued hot farina cereal. what do you put in your cocowheats? they seem to require more sugar than i remember, but maybe i just didn’t pay attention to how much sugar i used as a kid.

  2. K. says:

    Cocowheats! I’m not a huge fan, but my boyfriend is. We always have to have them in the pantry.

    I think Jared definitely nailed the zine fest vibe with the comment about not wanting to touch anything or look at a table too closely lest you end up feeling obligated to buy something you don’t really want. I feel like I always end up buying things I don’t want or accepting trades I’m really not interested in when I go to zine fests because I just don’t have the will to say no.

    I tabled at the Chicago Zine Fest & it was tremendously uncomfortable. It was the first time I had tabled anywhere in about 5 years and, honestly, I feel like I would have rather been almost anywhere else. I’m just not good at sitting around hawking my wares, I guess. Lesson learned! From now on, I’ll be attending zine fests strictly as a consumer/observer. At least the awkwardness feels slightly more manageable in that capacity.

    1. ciara says:

      oh god, trades are the worst! i mean, sometimes they’re awesome, but it’s so awkward when someone is all, “hey, want to trade?” & you have to be like, “sure, sounds great,” because it seems so heartless to look at someone’s zine & tell them that you’re not interested when they are expressing interest in your zine. awkward! there’s no easy answer. you just kind of have to make your peace with either missing out on a lot of good stuff because you say no to practically everyone, or going home with a lot of mediocre stuff because you couldn’t say no at all.

      it’s a shame i didn’t know you were at the zine fest. i was there too (obvs) & it would have been nice to say hi in person. oh well.

  3. Erica S. says:

    Coco Wheats are the shit. I ate them every day for breakfast recently when I was unemployed. And of course, I have many fond childhood memories of them. I am disappointed to hear that they’re a regional thing, I hope they have them in Baltimore. Although mailorder Coco Wheats is a million dollar idea.

    I second the zinefest awkwardness. It’s almost like I don’t want to even approach someone’s table unless I am pretty sure I want to buy their zine. It’s even worse at SPX, where I might feel guilted into paying $4 for a mediocre minicomic.

    1. ciara says:

      you can look cocowheats up on the internet, enter you state & city, & they will let you know if cocowheats are available in your town, & if so, where. pretty handy! & you can always mail order them if things don’t work out.

      i also do the whole “not approaching the table unless i want to buy a zine” thing, but you can sometimes miss some really good things that way. sometimes a gem of a zine is buried under what looks like a table full of crap. i am pretty good about not doing guilt buying, but it’s not easy & i always feel like a jerk.

  4. andrea says:

    such a shame we missed you when you were in chicago! i used to live one block from the cozy corner; now i live four blocks but am going to be moving back to one block away, in a month. lordy how i love me the cozy corner. i go for pecan waffles, personally. and CORNED BEEF HASH.

    also, cocowheats are pretty much at every grocery store in chicago. i grew up on them, too, and also have those strange pangs at times for a box. yummy stuff. extra sugar on top, please.

    1. ciara says:

      god, i always put so much sugar in my cocowheats, i feel like i can’t even pretend they are breakfast.

      yeah, it’s a shame we didn’t manage to cross paths in chicago! had i known you were so close to the cozy corner, i would have suggested breakfast or something. especially because we have been writing to each other for…what? 17 years or something? intense.

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