going to portland

i think i have mentioned that i’m attending the portland zine symposium this year. i get in bright & early the friday morning before the event, & am leaving the monday afternoon following. i opted against stretching out my visit to make it a whole vacation like i did last year, because a) my portland experience last year was so awful, i don’t want to risk re-creating it, & b) after spending two months in philly already this summer, i am kind of sick of being away from home.

i booked myself on to the same flight into portland that ericka (formerly of pander zine distro) will be on, so we can catch the light rail downtown together & check into our hotel. we’re staying at the marriott downtown. no icky punk houses with composting toilets for us! my only disappointment is that the marriott doesn’t have a pool.

i guess i can also make officially public the fact that i’ll have a new zine available at the symposium. i know, i know, i told people i was retired from zines after i quit running paper trail zine distro, but…things change. “love letters to monsters” #3 is about 75% finished. i expect it to be around 40 pages, quarter-sized, written in a long-form memoir style covering some of the highlights & lowlights in the last year of my life. this includes moving to kansas, physical disability, closing the distro, the hubris of proposing to “build community,” exactly why i have no relationship with my mom, etc.

hopefully, this zine will be a split with “alabama grrrl” #9. this was ailecia’s idea, & i hope she follows through on it. we keep making plans for zine-making days & then ailecia fails to follow through (so i have just been writing my half of the zine in my office, on my typewriter). we had booked last thursday as a zine-making day, & ailecia called in the early afternoon to cancel. then she called back an hour & a half later to invite jared & i swimming. i was like, oh, you can’t make a zine but you can go swimming? but i didn’t actually get mad because, dude! i wanted to go swimming! it was my first experience at the lawrence public pool. let me tell you, that pool makes up for every remotely bad thing about living in lawrence (no IKEA, no H&M, half-hour highway drive to the airport, spiders, 100-degree summers, no one shovels their walks in the winter, drunk students running around town every night for nine months out of the year…). it has SLIDES. at a public pool! the curly slide was closed for repairs, tragically, but i couldn’t get enough of the speed slide. i now regret every summer day i spent in lawrence when i didn’t go to the pool.

anyway, back to portland. the theme for this year’s symposium is arcades, apparently, & the organizers want to include games & puzzles in the programs. i’m pleased that they want to include one of my logic puzzles. maybe one of these days i will get around to making another logic puzzle zine. i still love solving them. i get a new book of theme very month, & i sit down every day & solve three. supposedly doing puzzles can help strengthen your brain so you don’t have as much memory loss as you get older. now that i’m 31, i guess i should think about that kind of shit. i’ve even started solving the table puzzles, which i always skipped before. i really prefer the grid puzzles…because they’re easier. i know, i’m awful. i would just read over some of the clues in the table puzzles in the past & wonder how anyone was ever supposed to solve them (especially because some of them are written in such a way that you can’t even write your own grid to solve them). but i got myself a dedicated puzzle-solving notebook & have been powering through. this is seriously dorky, but i am really enjoying the challenge.

i’m also going to be leading a discussion on “zine ethics” with alex wrekk at the symposium. so i expect that to be kind of fun & interesting. zine ethics is a topic that sometimes brings up some very heated debate. & some of my perspectives on thorny issues have shifted over the years. i used to be totally against people selling zines on ebay, but now…eh. i don’t really care. it’s really unusual to see zine auctions go for significant amounts of money. most people can’t unload a whole pile of zines on an auction site for over $10. i don’t subscribe to the perspective that a zine is exactly the same as, say, a used book, & that the buyer therefore has the right to re-sell. i just kind of see auctions as such a complete non-issue in terms of the financial gains that are generated, it’s barely even worth arguing about.

though i did find out recently that there is some weird used bookstore in portland that sells used zines. i guess they specialize in “artist books,” so zines vaguely fall into that category. & they are trying to sell one of my zines. that’s right, “you live for the fight when that’s all that you’ve got” can be yours for the low used price of $9! it blows my mind a little to try to imagine someone paying $9 for some old zine i’ve written. part of me is like, “if you think you can get $9 for it…more power to you.” & part of me is like, “those nine bucks should be mine, you scavengers!” & part of me is tempted to find that bookstore while i’m in town, walk in, find my zine, take it up to the counter & point out the “no re-selling” clause, & then walk out with it. i wonder what would happen? would they try to bust me for shoplifting a zine i wrote? i’m so curious!

i’m also idly trying to arrange a pander zine distro ex-pats reunion for anyone at the zine symposium that used to post on the pander messageboard back in the day. i am kind of aiming for saturday right after the zine fest. people can get together, talk about what they bought or traded for, gossip, socialize, drink some beers, & then head over to the zinester feud game in the evening. i definitely think there needs to be an all-pander ex-pat team playing in the feud. i joked with jared about trying to stack the survey deck to be ciara-centric. i said, “yeah, my question will be, ‘name a personal zine,’ & i’ll be all *ding* ‘love letters to monsters’! & they’ll be like, ‘&…yes, it’s on the board…with one vote.'” brutal.

so, that’s what i’m going to be getting up to in just a couple of weeks. if you are going to be at the symposium too, let’s hang out. i’m not tabling this year–one of the great things about not running a distro is that i can attend zine fairs in an unencumbered manner. but i’ll have a bag with a calico cat appliqued on it, & i will have zines available for sale & trade. & jared will be back home in kansas, cooking for himself rather than eating my #1 recipe (in my personal opinion, because it’s both delicious & easy to make): cheese-breaded chicken.

look away, vegetarians/vegans, & i’ll explain how to make it:
i use chicken breast tenderloins for myself & thigh cuts for jared (i like white meat, he prefers dark meat). i dip each cut of chicken in melted butter & then roll it in a mixture of bread crumbs & shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese. the chicken goes on to a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. any extra butter or cheese/bread crumb mixture can go over the top of everything. bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes (a little longer or a little shorter, depending on how thick your cuts are) & voila! yummy. i usually steam some broccoli to go with it. this is a good summer recipe because it’s not much work, & it’s good for kids, because hello, it’s chicken & cheese. that’s all i ever wanted to eat when i was a kid. well, that & spaghetti.

quick ps for anyone who reads “the new yorker”–was anyone else so second-hand embarrassed by that article on john lurie that they almost couldn’t stand themselves? it was a whole huge 10,000-word piece (or something–i didn’t actually count the words) on how john lurie isn’t friends with his best friend anymore, & all the mean things they said & did to each other as a result. & none of it is really any meaner than most of the falling-outs i have with people on facebook or whatever. & it was all mean stuff that happens through text messages, cell phones with someone listening in on the line, & social networking websites. john lurie, you are 58 years old. get a grip, dude! & john perry, his former best friend, i don’t know how old you are, but you also need to get a grip. these histrionics would embarrass 14-year-olds. how did this article get greenlighted?

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.

8 thoughts on “going to portland

  1. What issue of the New Yorker? I looked in the three issues I have lying around and couldn’t find the article.

    Also, $9 for a zine?! Are they fucking serious? I mean, your zine is awesome and all, but…

    1. it’s the most recent issue, with the car & leaves on the cover. jared subscribes & we just got it the other day.

      i know! $9 for a zine. they have a bunch of other used zines for sale too, some of which are even more expensive. i actually had a little moment of being somewhat offended they weren’t charging more. apparently $9 is their starting price for used zines. so ridiculous!

  2. I’ve lived in Portland for over a year now and haven’t heard of this bookstore you speak of. Do you know the name/address? I’d be interested in checking it out.

    Also, while I wasn’t an avid poster, I remember the Pander Zine Distro board. Good times.

    Looking forward to buying/trading for love letters to monsters #3 next weekend!

  3. This is off-topic and it’s probably a stupid question, so I apologize in advance, but: when reading about the stuff going on with Joe Biel, there was talk about an “accountability team” and I’ve been Googling to no avail to find out what exactly that is. I love zines, but I’m not in any kind of zine/DIY/radical community, and I know those communities have tried to find ways to deal with abuse without bringing in cops/etc., but I can’t seem to find out what those ways/processes actually *are*. Basically, I was just curious about it.

    1. turns out i was mistaken & it’s actually in new york city. i was confused because they are called division leap, & for some reason, i got the idea that they were on division st.

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