missives from a misanthrope in south philly

i have been in philly for two weeks now. i haven’t written much because my internet connection here is not the most reliable. it goes in & out, sometimes for entire days at a stretch. but it seems pretty strong at the moment, so i’ll give this whole blog-writing thing a whirl. i’m sure all two of my faithful readers have been slavering for an update.

philly has been okay. amanda has a whole guest room set up for me, decorated with a nautical theme. there are paintings of boats on the walls & a striped chair. it hasn’t been difficult to more or less make myself at home, though the dynamic of having a roommate that isn’t jared has been a surprisingly difficult adjustment for me. i am making my peace with the fact that i am just not very laid-back. i’ve been living with jared for almost two years now, & i’ve gotten used to the way we handle things like cooking, alone time, bedtime, etc. it’s a very calm life. i literally go for an entire weeks at a stretch in lawrence without talking to anyone but him, just sitting on the couch, reading or writing. i don’t pretend that it’s an exciting life, but it appeals to me. i like quiet & privacy. i have found myself replicating that to a certain extent in philadelphia, spending entire days only leaving the house to pick up a slice of pizza for lunch or a gallon of milk, & spending the rest of the day immersed in books or my journal or something. & then i feel guilty for not making more of an effort to explore the city or hang out with people. i need to strike more of a balance.

the heat broke the other day, so i took a long walk to the big shopping part of the city to visit some of the shops we lack in kansas. i bought a ludicrously adorable dress. it features a bicycle print. penny farthings are involved. just what i need–more clothes. but it’s great to have a really comfortable, cute summer dress, & it will transition well to colder weather with heavy tights & a cardigan. possibly the best dress i have ever purchased?

amanda & i took another long walk in the rain yesterday so i could pick up my custom bag from reload. their warehouse is in an old converted warehouse in the chinatown part of the city, just beyond a creepy overpass. i kind of felt like i was marching to my death, but instead, i was marching to my hilarious new bag, featuring a representation of charlotte superimposed within a heart. the colors are somewhat more garish than i expected. my friend carissa, in boston, who dyes her hair bright yellow & isn’t happy unless she’s wearing neon-colored graphic print leggings, would look right at home with this bag slung on her back. my color palette is generally more subdued, so it’s a bit of a shock on me. i love it though. i thought i saw some folks admiring it when i stopped for a chocolate malt at reading terminal market.

jared is in the adirondacks & doesn’t transfer down to new york city until next weekend, at which point i can take the bus up & see him. i have mostly been good at distracting myself & not worrying too much about missing him, but every now & again, i get pretty bummed out. i miss charlotte a lot too. there is no lack of cats to admire in philadelphia, the city of feral felines who roam the streets in packs, but it’s not the same as having my own cat that i can pet & coerce into doing tricks in exchange for treats. leola says that charlotte spends a fair amount of time hissing at her, but she gives charlotte space & has thus far avoided a scratching.

i turn 31 in 31 days! last year, inspired by a zine that celia perez wrote, i made a list of thirty things to do while i am thirty. i haven’t consulted the list in a while, but it’s fair to say that it didn’t really pan out. i know there are things on the list that i didn’t do at all. nonetheless, i plan to make another list of 31 things to do while i am 31. it’s a little bit weird to be turning 31. turning thirty was like, “whoop di doo, i am thirty.” it’s a milestone, i guess, but its milestone qualities prevent it from really seeming like a significant life transition. turning 31…now there’s no denying that i am totally in my thirties. it’s kind of awesome, because i have also been pretty into being “old” in terms of being out of touch with mainstream pop culture & generally crabby. i am thinking that being thirty was pretty much all about indulging & embracing my crabbiness without apology. being 31 will be about staying true to that but also finding avenues to be a better friend.

i think part of living with amanda has been an eye-opener in that sometimes i’m not a great friend. i’m impatient, critical, & unnecessarily sarcastic. these are qualities that jared generally seems to find endearing & amusing, maybe mostly because they are so rarely turned against him. he’s on my wavelength so he seems to indulge them & encourage me to greater heights of misanthropy. which is GREAT–no sense pretending to be someone i’m not, especially with the person with whom i share my life. but these are qualities that sometimes negatively impact other friendships, when friends make choices i may not make, or care about things i am not invested in. usually it’s not a huge issue, because i’m not living with one of my friends & i take a lot of breaks from intense socializing. but i want to make more of a conscious effort to be supportive of my friends & take an interest in the things they care about.

on a somewhat related note, i have found myself almost avoiding too much hanging out with people in philly because i no longer know what to talk to people about. for the last ten years, i have been all about politics & zines, politics & zines, & accordingly, most of my friends have been people that i know through politics or zines, so we have never faltered for conversational topics. since shutting down the distro, i have pretty much zero interest in zines. i still like to read them, when they’re good, but i no longer have the patience to sort through the incredible quantities of utter shit out there to find the gems that lurk in the shadows. unsurprisingly, i am not impressed by some of the more readily-available/popular zines making the rounds at the moment. i have a little list in my head of zines that i know are out there, that i want to read, that i haven’t been able to track down. i’m hoping that hitting the portland zine symposium at the end of august will give me a nice big stack of satisfying reading material & a little boost of faith in the zine medium. but i feel like the likelihood of my writing another zine at any point is fairly low. i have too many other personal writing projects going on, which make me happier & more excited than the idea of churning out another zine. in the past, when i have felt this way, i have just thought about “doris” & the fact that it’s so long-running, & has taken so many subtly different forms, & cindy is older than me but still sticking with the medium, & manages to tell personal stories in a way that don’t seem unnecessarily personal or ripe for exploitation by readers. some of this may not be accurate according to cindy’s interpretation of things. but…even though i still love to read “doris,” it’s still hands down my all-time favorite zine, cindy is a very different kind of writer than i am & maybe the medium suits her better than it does me. never say never, but i’m not sure there are any zines in my future.

i’m also totally sick of radical politics. i stopped by the wooden shoe the other day & i was like, “all these books, about all these different elements of radicalism…& i don’t want to read any of them.” how did i used to put so much time & energy into this? i guess that’s the thing–to really keep up with what’s going on with anarchism, or with zines, you have to keep your ear to the ground. you need to keep up with the changing trends & different waves of critical discourse. & i straight up don’t want to do that anymore. more power to the people who do, but…i guess i just feel like i have a whole different life to live & doing that work would be an unwelcome obligation. which isn’t to say i don’t care about issues of oppression, or feminism, or critical thought, or intersectionality. i definitely do. i just don’t want to talk about it to the exclusion of everything else.

there are a few blogs i read every now & again that get really up in arms about other blog posts people have written. people critique these other blog posts from political perspectives & pick apart the arguments & there is this patina of “OMG this is the most important way i could be spending my time”. & whether i agree or disagree with the critiques, i can’t help but think, “it’s the internet. you’re putting all this energy & emotion into criticizing a blog post. & maybe this person said something very problematic, but it’s the internet. the internet is essentially a conveyance for people to say very problematic things. well, that & porn.” it bums me out. i guess a critic of my perspective could say that i am minimizing, that critique is critique, whether it’s directed at a book or a piece of legislation or a blog post, that the goal of it all is still the same: to root out injustice & make a better world. which is all a very nice idea. yes, i am minimizing. i can’t help it. there are bigger fish to fry than what some idiot on the internet has to say. i kind of feel like my entire political platform right now is: “i love to minimize & invalidate people’s emotions.” because i do love to invalidate people’s emotions, considering that i am not their mom, or their therapist, & if people can’t get a grip & validate their own emotions, they have bigger problems in life than me rolling my eyes at them.

anyway. amanda is hosting karaoke tonight at the handlebar in fishtown, so i might head out to that & see if they have “mother” by danzig. i have been smoking so much in philly, combined with lingering allergies to kansas (pollen is all over my clothes from drying them on the clothesline) that i think i’ll really be able to nail it. amanda’s going up to new york this weekend, so i’ll have the house to myself–the better to kick back & try to get some work done on my novel. i’ve plotted out the entire story, & now the writing aspect feels anti-climactic. now that i know how it’s going to end & everything. but i guess the great thing about writing fiction is that you never really know where it’s going to go. you make up these characters & drop them into scenarios & sometimes they surprise you by making choices you didn’t foresee. this is why i love writing fiction–creating a little self-contained universe & endless surprises.

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.

3 thoughts on “missives from a misanthrope in south philly

  1. A dress with penny farthings on it! Say you’ll post a picture. I need to see this.

    Also, what zines do you recommend? Have you read any recently that you really liked? I’m dipping my toes back into the zine water after a long-ass time and I am not really interested in wasting my time on boring/poorly written/offensive zines, but I really have no clue where to look any more, especially as you and Ericka were my go-to distros…

    1. i’ll post a picture soon, but if you can’t wait, i got it from anthropologie, & it’s on their website. look under dresses. it’s the navy blue one with the bicycles.

      zines i like…i’m a little out of the loop at this point. i am still into the zines i used to distribute, especially “doris,” “truckface,” “show & tell”…i hear there are new issues of “chainbreaker” & “xtra tuf,” but i haven’t seen them in any distros but microcosm so far, so i haven’t read them yet. i don’t know! if you find some good ones, let me know!

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