even my attempts at being posi are bitter & hateful

ever since i moved to lawrence two years ago, people have been trying to drop science on me about how lawrence is SO DIFFERENT from everywhere else in the world. i don’t think i really need to explain that almost no one who has a whole lot of opinions about how uniquely disappointing lawrence is has ever lived anywhere else (growing up in kansas city doesn’t count). according to these people:

the anarchist scene in community has a storied history of intense fractiousness that is radically different from every other anarchist scene throughout time & space. apparently some people in the lawrence anarchist community struggle to get along with each other, & a lot of the men engage in casual misogyny (like wanting to run security at events & leaving the women to cook lunch). sometimes people screw each other over in big ways, like by stealing money or trying to make their fellow anarchists seem flaky & uncommitted. sometimes some anarchists do dumb things like bring drugs into a situation that is likely to have a police presence, thereby endangering all the other anarchists around. & it goes without say that the anarchist community used to be so much better, so much more of a community of friends in solidarity, but now there is a lot of personal acrimony that makes people sad.

it’s difficult to parent in lawrence because the parents here are really judgmental of each other. they compete all the time over who is better at attachment parenting. they look down their noses at parents who use strollers instead of slings. they snub women who choose to bottle-feed rather than breastfeed. everyone teaches their babies baby signs & god help you if your kid is slow to pick it up.

lawrence used to be a cute artsy hippie town but then the university destroyed everything. now it’s just KU students puking on street corners as far as the eye can see & if you happen to be downtown picking up stamps or something when a big game lets out, your friends & family are just going to leave you for dead. the entire city council is in league with those devil college administrators to suck the artsy liberal lifeblood out of lawrence & pave it over with parking lots for spoiled white kids from prairie village moving here to bumble their way through college.

i could go on, but hopefully this is enough to get the gist. the bottom line seems to be, “ciara, you have no idea how terrible lawrence is, especially compared to its salad days of unstoppable amazingness, which you have of course missed. (these salad days vary depending on the age of the person i’m talking to & how long they have lived in lawrence. older folks who have been here ten years look back with misty nostalgia at 2002, while younger kids who have only been here for like four years tend to yearn for 2008 or so.) it’s really not worth trying to make friends or start interesting projects or really have any hope at all because lawrence is a cesspool, the likes of which you have never seen.”

listen, people. i am 32 years old & i have lived in ohio, portland, los angeles, montana, boston, minneapolis, & now lawrence. & i have traveled extensively all over the country. lawrence is no different from anyplace else as far as disappointing assholes go. because disappointing assholes make up about 99.5% of the human population. it’s the rare individual who really believes that anything happening now is actually better than their rose-tinted perception of adventures gone by (because you tend to forget the tedium of the day to day & only remember that awesome punk show where some idiot stage dived off a balcony or the incredible conversation you had with the trainhopping ladies who stayed at your house & made jam for everyone one week six years ago). EVERY anarchist &/or punk scene is full of personal disputes that explode into full-fledged “west side story”-style battles, misogynist dudes who’d rather crack heads down at the neo-nazi protest than actually examine their own privileges, & general sectarian fractiousness. EVERY parents gets judged up one side & down the other by some percentage of parents around them, because that kind of judgment is a function of insecurity & what could be more scary & fear-inducing than being responsible for shepherding a fellow human from infancy into adulthood? & every college town suffers from a horror of the townie/student divide wherein townies are portrayed as authentic, pure, working-class heroes & the students are whiny entitled brats who don’t care about anything except beer, sports, & whether or not their professors are grading on a curve.

lawrence is no different than anywhere else in a lot of ways. & i am including in this the fact that most people here with the most complaints are people who have lived here all/most of their lives & seem to be suffering from some bizarre delusion that if they just lived somewhere else (like portland!), they will finally be living that magical fairy tale life where everyone gets along & is supportive & encouraging & their favorite band is playing in the basement every night & every morning there is time to make fresh waffles & everyone is hot & rides a bike. that life doesn’t exist (not even in portland!). you just have to make the most of whatever situation you’re in, & a good way to start is to stop blaming the town you’re in & the people who live there (including your friends) for being real & flawed & incapable of living up to your fantasies. no matter where you go, YOU’RE still there, & if what you hate about your life is what you’re actually bringing into it (negativity, constant judgments, the persistent belief that everyone else everywhere else is surely having more fun, better sex, & cheaper rent), you’re going to be miserable no matter where you are.

but what do i know? clearly i’m just some idiot trying to take a little personal responsibility to make the most of my life, when the better way to roll is obviously to just keep complaining until someone hands you your dream life on a silver platter engraved with kittens & satanic incantations. duh.

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.

2 thoughts on “even my attempts at being posi are bitter & hateful

  1. To a large extent you’re right, but… sometimes it really IS the location. Based on my own experiences, I can safely say that no matter how much positive energy you bring to some places, no matter how much you try to make the best of things, it will never work. I’m thinking specifically of my own experiences living in small towns/suburbia here. No amount of positive thinking would have made Uniontown, PA a positive place for me to live. Likewise, my life has improved by like 50% since moving from suburban Baltimore to the city itself last month. Maybe my experiences are just flukes, and I definitely think the “everything’s better in Portland!” line is bullshit, but I can’t get on board with “you just have to make the most of whatever situation you’re in, & a good way to start is to stop blaming the town you’re in & the people who live there.” Although I sort of suspect that this message is meant for Lawrencians only, so if it is, ignore everything I just said.

    Also, LOL forever at someone thinking people are less judgmental of parents in Portland, like the West Coast isn’t the epicenter of judgmental hippie parents. Tell them to move to Baltimore, people bottle feed here with impunity. Maybe because everyone in Baltimore smokes. I’m really starting to love this town.

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