listen, everybody…especially you girls

i was going to write a big post about how to run a zine distro, but i got like 1800 words in (which is a lot), & i hadn’t even finished explaining how to get started. there’s just too much! i wanted to include all the different things i have learned, the good & the bad, & lots of examples, & it just got overwhelming. so i am shelving it for now. i don’t even know if that’s really something people would want to see. but if it…let me know.

this past week has been a tough one. my anxiety has been raging out of control, for reasons i don’t understand. i don’t really have anything to be anxious about. it’s just racing, repetitive thoughts about nothing in particular, insomnia, crying jags…i feel a little better today, but i’m definitely not at the top of my game.

“love letters to monsters” #3 is almost finished. the writing is completed, & the actual zine part of it has been laid out. i just have to draw a cover & write up an intro & an outro. ailecia is working on finishing her half, probably as i am typing this. it looks like the split is definitely going to happen! we might each write another short little piece once we read each other’s halves, but from the conversations we’ve had, it sounds like our zines will complement each other well, while still being really different. we are both writing about lawrence & the concept of “community”. ailecia is writing about leaving grad school & i am writing about being a grad school widow. with both halves, it will be over 80 pages, quarter-sized.

& the truly awesome news: folks in portland will be able to get copies from either one of us! ailecia made the snap decision last night to get a cheap ticket & come out to portland to see friends & stop by the symposium. we are both psyched about having someone in portland that we know really well & feel comfortable around, & we’re both excited to meet/hang out with other people, trade zines, & hang out. we’re both getting in on friday, but ailecia is staying a day longer than me.

it also looks like the pander reunion is going to come together. i might have a casual non-bar/non-restaurant venue lined up, where people can just chill & drink some beers & have fun. i’m just waiting for final confirmation from the potential hostess about what time works for her. it will of course be really cool to meet a bunch of lady zinester long-timers, but mostly i am just excited to do this for ericka. (who is reading this, i am sure. hi. i’m just going to be effusive for a minute.) ericka was super supportive of me & my zines when i was making “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage”. it was the most wildly popular zine i ever made, & i credit ericka with a big portion of its success. she got it out there to people, & that paved my post-“renegade’s handbook” path in the zine community in so many ways. she was also really supportive when i started paper trail distro, even though she was still running pander at the time. she helped me out a lot with advice & warnings. i can probably even credit ericka to some extent for this split, because ailecia & i only knew each other initially through getting each other’s zines from pander back in the day, & i never would have become friends with ailecia in lawrence if i hadn’t already known her through zines. i think most ladies that were making zines between 1995 & 2005 probably have similar stories.

in the zine scene these days, i feel like there is a weird, creepy emphasis on what’s happening RIGHT NOW. like, if you haven’t made a zine in the last six months, you might as well be dead. & not to be all sophia petrillo about it, but kids these days really do not want to seem to learn from those who came before them, or honor them in any way. that’s not the way things were when i was coming up. paper trail would have been a very different animal if i hadn’t respected ericka’s input & learned from my experiences being distoed by pander. ericka & i have definitely butted heads over the years, but at the end of the day, i have nothing but respect for everything she has contributed to the zine community & to my life, personally. & i’m hopeful that this pander reunion will be, you know, fun times & hang-outs, but also a way to honor everything that ericka has done for the ladies that will be there.

which means, drama llamas need not apply!

last night i went to the last kickball game of the season with jared, ailecia, & max. we drank some beers & smoked some cigarettes & watched some mighty fine kickball moves. when it was all over, jared produced sparklers from his bag, & since i had the lighter, i lit them. & when i lit mine, it threw sparks everywhere & i burnt the jeebus out of my thumb. i guess it’s a second-degree burn–it blistered up right away, but it didn’t split open or start oozing or turning black or anything. it REALLY FUCKING HURT. i managed not to cry, but it took some work, & mostly i just didn’t want to cry over being 31 years old & burning myself lighting a sparkler. i mean, how embarrassing. luckily, the punks were there with a couple of coolers full of beer & ice, so i could wrap a few handfuls of ice in my t-shirt & treat my thumb. but some dude thought i was trying to snag his beer & he almost body-checked me while screaming, “that’s MY beer!” get over it, dude, i just need some ice. also, it’s pabst. you paid like 45 cents a can.

today i cut my hair. i just trimmed the split ends off. i think it’s probably pretty uneven, but my hair is long enough (waist-length! like dawn schafer!) that i don’t think it’s that noticeable. it was really starting to look like doll hair on the ends. something needed to be done.

yesterday, i found a weird bristly blond hair on the bathroom sink. it wasn’t mine (too short, too yellow) & it wasn’t jared’s (too yellow, too thick & scary). i was like, “WTF?” i personally cleaned that bathroom the day after we moved in & got rid of all random gross hair that was lingering. i was like, “is this some other girl’s hair? is jared cheating on me with someone who has incredibly terrifying hair that seems like a bad wig?” when he got home, i said, “jared, are you cheating on me?” & he said, “what? of course not.” i said i found a weird hair & he said, “was it blond & bristly?” & i said, “…yes,” & he said, “did it look like it came from my shaving brush?” & i said, “um. yes.” mystery solved. all because jared shaves like it’s still 1942, with a brush & shaving cake & a vintage razor.

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.

18 thoughts on “listen, everybody…especially you girls

    1. thanks! i am really looking forward to it now that i have a new zine to trade & ailecia is going to be in town too (though it remains to be seen if we’ll really spend much time together). can’t wait to get out of town for a few days & pick up some new stuff to read!

  1. I would love to read your advice on running a distro. Even two years into Click Clack I still feel somewhat lost at times. I’m having anxiety over traveling via plane with the damn distro because i feel like a diva with the amount of luggage i am bringing. Okay… I guess a carryon suitcase for the distro, a duffle bag (being checked) with clothes, and a backpack with various items like my netbook & things to do on the plane/layover isn’t totally diva-like. Still, i feel like everyone will know my dirty secret that I cannot fit all my shit into one large backpack like some traveling kid.

    I’m also going to be in Portland from Thursday thru Monday morning. Then, I am driving up to the coast to a small town called Manzanita for two days of complete post-zine fest decompression rest & relaxation. Thus, more clothes is a must.

    And to get back on the distro topic, i was asked to speak on a panel at the symposium in regards to starting a distro. If you want to slide me any crutial bullet points please email.

    1. i feel like running a distro is such a contingency-by-contingency kind of project. i was really, really fortunate to have ericka as a kind of mentor, & there were times when i ran into problems & she let me bounce ideas off her. i found that really valuable, even if i didn’t always take her advice. if you ever have questions about stuff, feel free to hit me up. especially now that i no longer run a distro, i am happy to offer my ideas & input.

      don’t even sweat all the luggage. you’re going to be away for almost a week & you have a whole distro to pack! when i went to portland last year, i brought a big rolling suitcase that contained nothing but zines, & a big courier bag (jared’s from his bike messenger days) filled with clothes, my computer, journals, etc etc. if any crusty hobos wanted to judge me at the zine fest when i rolled in with my huge bag of zines–well, i guess they don’t need to buy zines from me! though i am super-relieved to be able to travel light this year. i’m not even planning to check a bag.

      man! i want to speak on a panel about starting a distro! i feel like i have SO MUCH to say on this topic. what if maybe you were on the panel, & i sat behind a curtain & just whispered things for you to say? or i could just send you what i started writing earlier today. it doesn’t cover everything (or even half) of what i think about starting a distro, but it covers a lot. or we could arrange to meet up in portland (maybe sometime friday?) & actually have a conversation about it.

      1. I think you should totally crash the panel discussion. I’d definitely welcome it. It’s being moderated by Jesse Reklaw. If you want me to shoot him an email to see if there is room for another person to speak let me know. You have extremely valuable information that people need to hear. Plus you are delightfully blunt. You would not be afraid to say aloud, “Really, don’t start this shit unless you are ready to WORK.” He said that the time slot is likely to be Saturday at 2:30. Or perhaps we can just go with your Cyrano De Bergerac plan.

        I’m also speaking on a panel about organizing a zine fest…. which just reminds me of reading about your Boston Skillshare dabacle.

  2. If I could afford to go, I’d like to go to PZS this year just for the Pander Ex-pats reunion. Although admittedly, I’d feel weird going to a zine-oriented thing when I no longer have anything to do with zines. If I go to the Richmond Zine Fest this year, I’ll just be picking up zines about cats.

    1. yeah, if this pander reunion actually happens (still waiting on location confirmation!), i think it will be really awesome & definitely something that will make me feel more positive about the zine medium. i wish everyone who used to post on pander/be carried by pander could be there…oh well.

      if you like zines about cats…there’s a story about charlotte in my new zine, & she’s going to be on the cover (the second of my zine covers that will feature her). but most of it really has nothing to do with cats, i admit.

  3. Co-sign on the Ericka awesomeness. She helped me tremendously when I made my first zine, and she has always been so supportive and awesome. I think she’s the bee’s knees.

    Also I am very excited about your new split zine!

    1. i’m psyched for the split too! we’re making copies on wednesday, & i probably won’t have time to mail you a copy before i leave for portland. but i’ll do it when i get back. consider it a trade for sending me your new zine. i will of course also be writing a letter.

  4. Ciara, I’ve been reading your blog since whenever you announced in on the papertrail mailing list, but never felt like I had anything significant enough to say in a comment. This post definitely made me want to “delurk” and say that I honestly have no idea where I’d be without Pander. I’m about 10 years too young to be a retired riot grrl, but I joined the pander boards in 2000 and was just graduating high school when it closed. I never would have been able to get through those years without zines & the message board and the amazing people I met there. Wish I was going to pdx for the meetup!

    And I’d definitely love to read your distro post if you decide to share it. ❤

    1. awww. i am sure ericka appreciates (& is a bit embarrassed by!) all the love. people speaking up about the impact pander had on their lives is in a weird way even more gratifying than hearing people say positive things about paper trail…maybe just because pander was such an important influence in my life. paper trail was huge for me too, but it was all my own making & it was sometimes a big pain in the ass. & i guess now that i am a former distro lady myself, i know that weird feeling, where you feel like you are fostering & growing this incredible community for so many years, but as soon as the distro closes, it all kind of goes poof. so i want ericka to know that pander is missed but definitely not forgotten.

  5. Maybe this is getting too nostalgic, but Pander and Paper trail were both really important to me. I live in Sydney, Australia, and discovered Pander in my late teens. Though I don’t think I managed to make more than one order before Pander closed, I remember following the message boards (too shy to participate, of course – this was actually one of my first encounters with the internet!), and wearing a Pander button (or badge, as we call them here) to my school formal. I still have a Pander sticker on the little suitcase I carry to zine fairs. Even though I was behind the times, knowing that something like Pander existed (if only in the past) was such a relief and inspiration to a discontented girl like me. Pander was also a huge influence on a Melbourne based distro called Smitten Kitten, which is where I went for my regular zine fix, and how I discovered your zines, Ciara. And of course, though I was usually too broke to make many orders with US based distros, I loved Paper trail, and really admired the deeply principled way that you ran it. So thanks!

  6. I’m excited about the meet up and I hope I can make it. I could probably get you on the distro panel if you would like. Let me know. We should also touch on distro in our ethics discussion.
    Paul uses an old school brush and soap for saving too. I think it is the ritual of it all that he likes.

    1. it would be awesome to get in on the distro workshop. while i have many things to say about distros & ethics, i also have many things to say just about the nuts & bolts & setting up & maintaining a distro.

      i don’t know why jared is so into the old-fashioned shaving. he doesn’t seem like a “ritual” kind of guy. but it does produce a lot less waste than disposable razors & cans of shaving cream, & is probably more economical too.

  7. why not make a one-shot mini about running a zine distro? a super-lengthy piece might make a tiring blog post, but it could be a super sweet zine! i am looking forward to yr split, and yes, a trade is in our future! my current zine is about three pages long thus far, but i have so much more to write about, just no time to do it. soon, soon.

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