make this the summer of the walk-in bear cave

first of all, sorry i didn’t recap last week’s episode of “top model”. i can’t believe a week has passed since my beloved simone got the boot & a new episode is on tonight! time flies. i wish i had better excuses for why i didn’t get around to it, besides just, “i read a stack of library books, & i spent a lot of time hanging around next door bumming smokes off people & shooting the shit. plus there were a lot of dishes to wash.” i mean, i wish i had been doing some big creative time-consuming project (like a zine!) instead. now there are recaps up at fourfour (recommended for excellent gifs & screen caps, but just a touch heavy on the gay-man-is-endlessly-amused-by-vaginas trope for me to recommend without reservation–though the multiple cat videos make up for it almost 100%) & television without pity (no images, but still hilarious) & i feel like i don’t really have anything to add. kind of a bummer, because OMGWTFBBQ, posing as vampires? are you shitting me? i laughed all episode long.

i think it’s safe to say that spring has come to lawrence, kansas. it’s been sunny & hot, with thunderstorms in the early mornings & some evenings. i’ve been riding my bike a bit, wearing cut-off shorts, keeping a jar of tulips under the window, & getting sunburnt. i am still wrapping my head around the facts that a) i will be more or less living in philly in two months, & b) two weeks after we come back to kansas, we’ll be moving into a really sweet, larger apartment (that is still not absolutely set in stone, so i hope i’m not jinxing it).

last week, cait came to town to hang out for spring break. she baked a batch of carrot cupcakes for jared’s birthday (he turned thirty on sunday). the cupcakes were delicious & she even included some candles shaped like baseball gloves, but more importantly, she told us that when she was driving through town, she saw a sign outside a liquor store & thought it said “walk-in bear cave”. without really thinking this through, she immediately turned off the road to see what this walk-in bear cave situation was all about. she was disappointed to discover that it was, in fact, a sign advertising a walk-in BEER cave. but the sign could certainly be changed pretty easily by someone with enough stealth & motivation. i won’t get into details, but some phone calls inquiring about the advertised walk-in bear cave may have followed. i want to rent a bear costume with some folks & have us all excitedly walk into the liquor store & head straight for the beer cave, only to walk away dejectedly upon discovering that it’s full of beer & not bears. this could also work well for bears of the queer variety.

i am also working on overcoming my obsessive attachment to my to-do lists. to further this end, i bought a new journal yesterday. my relationship with my old journal was kind of dysfunctional. i’m hoping that things with my new journal will be a little more lighthearted & well-intentioned, & that this doesn’t start me back up the rollercoaster of acquisition, euphoria, crushing regret, & despondence that defined my obsession with blank notebooks some five or six years ago. i finally broke the cycle by limiting myself to one blank notebook per year–always the same kind, though i alternated sizes & colors sometimes. i have an incredibly addictive personality, which is why i have never allowed myself to do drugs. i know i’d be a junkie in about a week if i ever tried to dabble. i can never do anything halfway. so intead, my addictive issues manifest in fucked up obsessions with things like blank notebooks & to-do lists that spiral out of control to the point that they require their own blank notebooks in order to be corralled. i’m also this way about TV, phone calls, my hair, pretty much everything.

as far as writing projects go, i am feeling like i really want to write a new personal zine. i ordered some zines from a couple of different zine distros last night & gazed longingly at a few zines i am desperate to get my mitts on, but are seemingly only available through microcosm. i haven’t ordered anything from microcosm since maybe 2001 or 2002. i stopped ordering from them initially because i had some really bad experiences having my zines sold through microcosm. i ended my distribution relationship with them & heard from other zinesters that they’d had similar troubles (not getting paid, finding that their prices were being jacked up without permission, etc), so i decided i wouldn’t order anymore from distros that fuck over zinesters. & then i found out about joe biel’s history of abusive, manipulative relationships (both romantic & not), & i felt that i couldn’t in good conscience support microcosm because it seemed to be looking the other way when it comes to joe’s fucked up ways. that’s also part of the reason that i started my own distro in 2003, to try to create another alternative to microcosm. so how much does it totally suck that a) microcosm occasionally publishes shit i am going to want to read (like the second “doris” anthology, comprised of the encyclopedia series) & b) some zines i really, really want to read seem to be available exclusively from microcosm? if anyone can tell me how else i might get my hands on “chainbreaker” #5, “xtra tuf” #6, & “show & tell” #5, i am ALL EARS. take note, distro operators: these zines are out there & i want to buy them from you, so long as you pay your zinesters responsibly & don’t use your high profile in the subcultural world to get out of taking responsibility for abusing people in your life!

& another tip for folks who run distros: i like an alphabetized catalogue, & i especially like an alphabetized online catalogue that divides the available wares into categories, like “A-F,” “G-L,” etc. i also think it’s helpful to have links to the other pages of the catalogue AT THE BOTTOM of each page. this is an incredibly minor grievance, but i hate having to scroll back up to the top of the page to move on to the next page of the catalogue. it’s also helpful to make note of new additions with some kind of eye-catching graphic in the body of the catalogue, for regular browsers. &, sad but true, i probably won’t order anything if you don’t have a paypal shopping cart feature. i don’t even mind adding up my own postage, so long as i can pay automatically when the spirit moves me.

probably the worst thing about not running a distro anymore is that i don’t get free zines anymore. i never realized how much i enjoyed it until that gravy train stopped. i discovered recently that a few folks i might consider “friends” (like, i have their phone numbers, they’ve stayed at my house, etc) have new zines out that are in distros & i didn’t even know they were working on anything! i guess we’re either not as chummy as i thought, or i am even further out of the loop than i thought. it also blew my mind a little realizing how few distros carry my zines at this point. back when i was doing “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage,” i could hardly keep up with the distro demand. i actually had to put a cap on how many different distros carried my zine because i just got confused & overwhelmed otherwise. i started my own distro maybe a year after i quit doing “a renegade’s handbook,” & a lot of the distros i used to work with shut down while i was running paper trail. it was a bummer, but i didn’t notice that much because i was still selling tons of my zines through paper trail, & i knew there were still a few other distros that were carrying it as well. but then i shut down paper trail…i’ve sold two copies of “love letters to monsters” #2 in the last three months. granted, it’s a year old at this point & i haven’t done any promotion whatsoever. & there’s nowhere to get it online (from me) with just the click of a button–no etsy store or shop attached to this blog or anything. but still!

actually, vampire sushi distro in england wants ten copies, sticky shop in australia wants fifty, i sold five to quimby’s when i was in chicago…but still. does anyone reading this want a zine? only $2!

the other big writing project i am thinking about is: novel in a month. like nanowrimo, but not in november. just, you know, whenever i sit down to get started. maybe tomorrow? ailecia & i are trying to start a little two-person writing group to be accountable to one another & be more serious about writing. we were supposed to start yesterday but things didn’t work out. so we’re hoping to start tomorrow instead. i want to write about a woman who is more or less thirty years old & is starting to come to terms with the various ways that punk rock feminism has & has not let her down in life. yes, it will more or less be torn from the headlines of my own life. but i hope that writing in a voice i am unaccustomed to (that of fiction) will jumpstart my creativity & that i’ll be able to create a character that isn’t just me with a different name. & that she will have adventures that are nothing i have ever done. i’ll probably have to start by making her something other than a writer–maybe a person who is really into sewing? that could be fun. i’ll probably also make her more queer than i am. ailecia made the brilliant suggestion that this should be the start of a serial–like “the babysitters club” or “sweet valley high,” but for people our age (i am 30, ailecia is 33) & about people our age & everyone is a punky feminist weirdo like us. & basically, the series would just fictionalize all the shit that we’ve done in the last fifteen or twenty years. we’ll trade off books but use the same pseudonym, like francine pascal. & this will be a way for ailecia to put everything she has studied about grrrl culture for her doctorate down on paper, but in a really fun, weird way.

don’t steal this idea, guys! i mean, i don’t know if it will really happen, but…i’m going to try! when i was in college, i was a fiction specialist in the creative writing department. i have never been really great at narrative tension, but…i can do this thing!

a few other things i want to document:

* i hope “lost” hurries up & starts giving us some answers about some shit.
* last week, i went to the replay in the afternoon to play a card game with some folks. i had never been there before & discovered that they offer free sodas! is there anything more awesome than sitting on a sunny patio where you can smoke in the middle of the afternoon, playing cards & drinking free soda?
* i made jared a chocolate sour cream cake for his birthday, with chocolate buttercream frosting. but the fat in the butter, like, melted & separated from the butter & congealed on top of the frosting on top of the cake. i have no clue what i did wrong. i used to make buttercream frosting all the time a few years ago & that never happened then. (still tastes good though.)
* as far as gifts go, i gave him a really cute set of bird/nest/egg-themed magnets (& some of them have old-fashioned postal meters & stuff on them too), a box of chocolates with an image of five kittens in a row on the box (he hates kitten, so it was something of a gag gift), a nice wooden knife block, a set of four fancypants knives (because he likes to cook), & a taxidermied bat behind glass.
* the other day, i discovered a HUGE spider in the bathroom (larger than a teacup, possibly) & i was home alone. i ran out into the yard in my pajamas & ran across the street where there were some shirtless KU undergrad bro-dudes playing this weird game that people in lawrence are obsessed with, where you throw a hackysack-looking thing into a hole. i was all, “there’s a really big spider, & my boyfriend’s not home…” totally playing the girl card. but i seriously could not go back into the house without someone who would kill the spider for me. i can’t handle big spiders or spiders way high up on the wall where they could fall/jump on me. so the bro-dudes came over & killed the spider & they didn’t even make fun of me. i gave them a cupcake as a thank you.
* flowers are blooming, trees are growing leaves…god, i’m so glad that whatever seasonal allergies i have are really minor so that i can just enjoy this part of year! & spring in the midwest is a gazillion times better than spring in boston (sorry, boston, but all you do is rain & stay cold until june!).
* writing projects currently on the table: on-going five-year daily journal, on-going attempt at regular journal, this blog nonsense, new “love letters to monsters”-style personal zine, weirdo punk grrrl fiction thing, logic puzzles. each kind of writing is really different from the next in a way that is baffling but also kind of cool.
* i don’t remember where to buy embroidery floss in lawrence. & i am too busy writing to embroider anyway.
* i am trying to order a reload civilian bag (hopefully pink, purple, & blue) with a picture of charlotte appliqued on the flap. this is my summer dream. except i need it by late may so i can bring it to philly.
* i am thinking about getting another set of knuckle tattoos, which will say “homebody”. so my tattoos will say “spinster homebody”. yay/nay?
* i am reading an alternate translation of the first pippi longstocking book (i re-read the three main novels every april) & it’s really weird. like, pippi’s name is different in this translation. one of her middle names is “curlymint” instead of “mackrelmint”. bring back mackarelmint! i have been secretly planning on giving my daughter the middle names “windowshade mackrelmint,” assuming i ever have a daughter (& assuming i am successful in somehow drugging jared immediately after i give birth so that i can handle birth certificate issues without his interference, because no way is he going to go for that).

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.

14 thoughts on “make this the summer of the walk-in bear cave

  1. Dudes here play the “throw the beanbag/hackysack into the ramp with a hole” game too. I have no idea what it’s about. Seems like a more taking up space game than just horseshoes. It’s very hard to pass by on the sidewalk with that game going on.

    1. someone told us that the game is called “freeball,” & jared was aghast & was all, “no. NO. that cannot be true,” because that’s the term he uses for dudes not wearing underpants: freeballin’. i don’t know if this is the game’s official name or if people here just call it that because kansas is “the free state,” all sparring with missouri in the 1860s over slavery issues & such forth. nor do i know if “freeballin'” is the universally recognized term for dudes not wearing underpants.

      1. Yeah, I’m familiar with “freeball” in its common usage like Jared and e.

        This game, however, I just don’t know. “Freeball” can’t be it. Maybe I’ll ask the next time I come across some dudes playing it.

  2. It’s kind of hard to read about your feelings surrounding the closure of Paper Trail because it’s always exactly how I felt after closing Pander. While it’s nice to commiserate it sucks being reminded of all that loss I still experience. I MISS THE FREE ZINES! From people I actually know in real life whom I never speak to anymore because I’m out of the zine game! Not to mention all the people I never got a chance to meet whose zines I miss because we’re not really friends. It’s unfortunate & I’m hoping I make it to PZS this summer so I can feel at least a little bit connected again. Albeit briefly, I’m sure.

    1. ericka, i actually wanted to talk to you about the PZS. i know you are hoping to get the money together to stay in a motel. i was wondering if you wanted to go in on that together, possibly? after my horrifying dead bird experience last year, i am feeling like maybe sleeping on couches is something i need to leave in the past. & i know we both have social anxiety issues, so maybe we’ll be cool about giving each other space & privacy to just chill & be quiet sometimes. i don’t know. feel free to say no if you are really invested in the privacy aspect, or if you were hoping to travel out with brian or whatever. just though i’d throw it out there.

      i am really just toying with the idea of going to the symposium, because there were a lot of awesome zines last time around & i think i would have had a better time socially if i’d planned in advance a little more & made plans with other people that were attending. but i felt like i didn’t have time because of the distro. i certainly don’t miss all the work of keeping the distro running smoothly, but i miss the sense of connection. after running myself ragged for seven years, busting my hump to get support the zines i loved…it kind of blew my mind to realize how absolutely expendable i actually am as a person in the larger zine community. it’s weird. like, i’m sure if i suddenly launched a new distro tomorrow, people would be psyched, i’d start getting zines again, my old customers would all come back. but in the absence of a distro & a ludicrously popular zine like “a renegade’s handbook”…well, i guess i’m yesterday’s news. it’s weird. i guess you can undoubtedly relate to some degree. i know i always made an effort to send you my zines when i finished them, as a thanks for all of pander’s support back in the day, & i don’t plan on stopping that. i still have a few pen pals, & some of them send me zines, & i’m not discounting anyone yet, because i’ve only been closed for a few months. but it’s amazing how suddenly everything fell off.

  3. WHAT. like five years ago, i was on the phone with my mom, who’s very weird and random, and she jokingly suggested that i write a series of books about my life. “it could be like ‘the babysitters club’, except you can call it ‘the punk house club’!” i laughed, and then a few weeks later i started writing a kind of playful story about some queer lady housemates with an out-of-control compost pile. and, four years later, it’s my still-incomplete novel.
    anyway. that’s a totally weird coincidence. & that’s rad that you & ailecia are doing that together. i bet you two could come up with hella interesting stuff & i for one would be thrilled to read it whenever it’s ready to be unleashed on the world.
    i was initially all sorts of bummed when i heard about that book “the creamsickle” because it’s about a queer punk house and the misadventures of its residents, and my book’s about a queer punk house and the misadventures of its residents, but then i got the book & it’s so different from mine i couldn’t really be upset anymore. i think the more people documenting their unconventional lives, the better.

    1. perhaps what we should do is start an online writing group & share our weird quasi-memoir fiction with each other. i actually do kind of want to start an online writing group, because the stuff i write is not easily understood by the average writing class & so their feedback is not always that helpful for me. like, what if i need feedback that is really specific to the experience of being tear gassed or something?

      i haven’t heard of “the creamsickle”. i will have to track it down. ailecia & i both recently read “bottle rocket hearts,” which is a canadian novel about a 20-year-old girl in montreal trying to hang with the queers, moving into a collective living situation, splitting up with her girlfriend, & then one of her roommates is killed. so maybe there is going to be an uptick in this kind of book as the writers of our sub-culture come of age & start writing. i am into it. lord knows i don’t have the last word on this shit.

  4. it’s called cornhole. popular with fratboy-types across the midwest, it seems. people play it out on the sidewalk here in chicago in the summer.

    1. thanks for the heads up! that is a terrible name though. i think freeball is actually less objectionable. & thank god everyone in lawrence has a yard, so no one’s blocking the sidewalk with their shirtless frat dude shenanigans!

    2. oops, guess you beat me. 🙂 funny thing is, I never heard of or saw this game until I came to Indiana … I don’t think they know about it at Ohio State. Which is weird.

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