old at heart

so, my absolute favorite form of exercise is going to the pool. i did it all through my pregnancy, until the last month when i started feeling really sluggish, probably because i gained like twenty pounds of water weight overnight. & as soon as i got the all-clear to immerse my c-section scar in water once again, i was back at the pool. yes, in january. it’s obviously more fun to go to the outdoor public pool downtown during the summertime, but the indoor pool is okay too.

occasionally terrible things happen at the pool, like the locker room floor being littered in enormous gobs of hair, or my swimsuit self-destructing in front of a whole crowd of teenagers competing in a swim meet. (one of the top three most embarrassing moments of my life, for sure.) but mostly i just do laps for 45 minutes or so & allow my mind to wander where it likes.

often during these surprisingly relaxing interludes, i think about how i haven’t made a new zine in like two & a half years & i start wondering if i will ever make another zine again. my last one was kind of a bummer. i was rushing to get it done in time for the portland zine symposium in 2010, & so i wrote & laid the whole thing out in five days. there was no editing & it got kind of dark & cranky. like, even more than usual for me. i’m not wild about it. partly because, the whole time i was working on it, i was thinking, “why am i doing this? i don’t really have anything to put in a zine. i’m kind of over zines. i’m just going through the motions here.” i tried to explain that thought process a little bit in the zine itself, but i don’t know how well i captured it. not well, i assume.

thinking about it at the pool, i realized that zines (for me, anyway) are kind of an exercise in documented self-discovery. i probably feel that way because i was so young when i got into them–only twelve years old. & i stuck with them for the next twenty years, which are kind of the prime years for a person’s journey through self-discovery. i’m not saying that i’m all done learning new things about myself now that i’m 33, but i have definitely come to accept that there are certain things about myself that are unlikely to change too much, there are certain parameters to my life that are going to limit the sorts of adventures i have, & in general, i am far less interested in having my major epiphanies documented for random strangers to peruse in an infoshop.

having a baby is an interesting adventure (to me, anyway), & i have spent a fair amount of time thinking about what kind of zine i might make now that i’m a mom. finding the time to put a zine together is another story though. having a baby has taught me a lot about priorities. if i want to go to the pool three times a week, & write in my journal everyday, & read stories to ramona, & keep up with the laundry…well, some other stuff that i might like to do is going to have to go undone. & i just don’t know if i am interested in enough in zine-making to bump something else off the to-do list to make room to work on it. it’s not outside the realm of possibility, but it’s definitely more of a decision now that i have this kiddo to look after.

strange how things have changed. i no longer believe that i have anything particularly groundbreaking to say about anything–not in a self-loathing, low self-esteem way. just in a respecting other people’s contributions/accepting my own limitations way. or perhaps i should say, accepting my own interests. this is weird & unexpected, but as i get older, i am less & less interested in the kind of political stuff that was so important to me when i was younger. i’m still a feminist, & i am undoubtedly more informed about current events than i have ever been before in my life. i just never want to have another conversation about whether or not consent is, as the kids say, sexy, or how expecting women to shave their legs is totally sexist, or whether or not breaking windows at the evil corporate shops is a valid form of direct action.

i was thinking the other day about the summer i lived in minneapolis & how there was a conference that happened right after i moved there called sexy spring. all the workshops were about stuff like consent & reproductive health. i hated the name “sexy spring” even at the time, but thinking about it almost eight years later really made my skin crawl. & really? an entire weekend-long radical conference where grimy punks who had just trainhopped in from, like, philly sat around & talked about whether or not garlic effectively kills yeast infections & debated the merits of the antioch consent policy? that used to be my life? how did i not throw myself into the mississippi?

this is the kind of stuff that is pretty awesome to a 23-year-old, for whom these are relatively new concepts. but i am not being hyperbolic when i say that i am more thrilled by the idea of sitting at home, clipping my toenails. this change of heart (or simple growing up process) makes me question what kind of zine i could reasonably make. & who would read it. & why.

while i ponder these questions, i must prepare some snacks for jared & i to enjoy while we watch the state of the union address tonight. because somehow i have become the kind of person for whom the state of the union is appointment TV.

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.

7 thoughts on “old at heart

  1. Maybe it’s the “momming it up” – I’m having similar issues with some old (and faraway) friends. I’m stoked on their life choices – living in squats, multiple partners, riding trains, etc. etc. but sometimes I feel my mind wandering when we’re having an awkward phone convo – and wind up thinking about how I’m almost out of shampoo, and wondering what brand is likely to be on sale this week, or trying to remember what day of the week the next episode of *bad tv drama* comes out, so I can make sure to steal it immediately. It’s not that I don’t love my old friends. I’m just over a lot of the stuff I used to be into when I was 20. In the decade since, I’ve done a lot of changing, growing, contemplating, etc. I’m satisfied with where I am now, and the choices that have led me to this place. No apologies to anyone about that.
    And here embodies the annoyance I feel: I have a friend who does not have FB, lives in a squat, does not work, and is mostly busy with her own projects (not judging, just illustrating that she has the ability to make time, if she desires). A couple weeks after my C-section in January, I was all “Oh shit! I should email her and let her know that the baby was born!” – and admittedly, I was feeling pretty generous about the whole thing, as I had just made a general announcement on FB, and only emailed a few family members who are 75 yrs + and do not use FB. I mean, I have a full time boob-vacuum, haven’t slept in weeks and am so full of hormones I’m crying during the opening sequences of comedy shows. The response I get “Oh yah, I saw on my gf’s FB. Wah wah wahhhh.” Implying what, exactly? I took it to mean “too little, too late” as if I should have been sending personalised emails from my hospital bed? No congrats. If this had been my friend who had the baby, and I found out, no matter how, I would have taken it upon myself to email THEM. Then she droned on for like 4 paragraphs about riding trains to beat the winter and mumblemumblemumble other-self-absorbed-shit. I was fucking livid. And then I ranted for like 20 minutes about how I hate punks. (And apparently, I’m not done yet.). I still hold a lot of my old values to be true-ish, but yo, things have totally fucking changed down here in Mom-ville.

    Love reading your blog. Sorry to write an epic story in your comments. I’m over caffeinated and your words felt oh-so-true…

    1. no need to apologize. i totally hear you. i haven’t had a crappy experience like that, but i can imagine your frustration. obviously after ramona was born, i was all over FB posting about it, but no way did i have it together to send e-mails to people not on FB (i barely even had the energy to keep in touch with those people before i had a baby) or make phone calls or whatever. i had one friend who somehow figured out how to call directly to my room phone in the hospital. she called me several times to check in, see how i was doing, see how ramona was doing, etc. sounds nice, right? except that i’d just had major surgery & was on all these drugs & had a premature baby in the NICU & was still being woken up every three or four hours for blood draws & blood pressure checks & medication & i just did not have the energy to talk on the phone. i still don’t. a few people were like, “call us if you get bored & we’ll come to the hospital & we can play board games!” i mean, are you shitting me? BORED? bored was the least of my problems! i didn’t even have it together to comb my own hair (i had jared do it), let alone play a board game!

      even now that ramona is eleven weeks old, i have a hard time socializing. i was talking to a mom friend the other day about how it really is harder to hang out with non-parent friends once you have a kid. if they say they’re coming over at noon but don’t show up until like 1:30pm, you’re just in a rage, you know? you have these tiny chunks of time where your baby is sleeping & you’re rushing around trying to bathe, wash dishes, do laundry, maintain some kind of relationship with your partner, sleep, pay bills, whatever. the last thing you need is some asshole cutting into that time by not doing what they say they’ll do. if i agree to some kind of socializing, i have usually busted my hump to make sure that i’ve pumped, combed my hair, & gotten dressed, & that ramona is freshly-diapered & fed in time for that to happen. i do not have TIME for some childless jerk to be all, “sorry i’m late, i forgot about the construction on 6th st.,” or, “i stayed out way too late last night & overslept,” or whatever. if i can be on time with a baby, they can be on time without one.

      people also keep saying, “let me know when i can come over & see the baby!” i mean, that’s nice & stuff, but i do not have time to organize these people’s social schedules. i have tried to stress that they should come to us with a suggestion, because i am working flat-out just to make sure ramona & i both take a vitamin everyday. i do not have the energy to schedule a coffee date, you know?

      top that off with people who don’t know jackshit about babies, so they make all kinds of dumb comments, or people who are just really not interested in babies & would prefer to discuss their tangled love lives or their most recent internet drama or whatever, & it makes for some awkward times. we had one friend who wanted to know why babies don’t wipe their mouths after they eat. “doesn’t it bother them to be messy?” she said. an innocuous comment, but i just wanted to scream.

  2. “strange how things have changed. i no longer believe that i have anything particularly groundbreaking to say about anything–not in a self-loathing, low self-esteem way. just in a respecting other people’s contributions/accepting my own limitations way.”

    This… 100%. I did put together the Get Fit for the Pit compilation which was more successful than any of my perzines, and I felt was somewhat original but I think that will be my last hurrah. Although my politics really haven’t changed, I think about them in a different way. I read these blogs/books by folks insanely more experienced and qualified and I just feel I don’t have any place to restate these concepts in my own words in a zine. It may suck that blogs may have replaced some of my interest in zines, but it’s the truth. I read a ton of the blogs on the Freethought Blogs network and many of them satiate my need to communicate with people about mental health, LGBTQ rights, feminism, race, etc. Not to mention I have taken a liking to more science/skeptic based things and I have NO place writing about those topics. Though I do crave to communicate with people about it, zines just aren’t the medium best suited for that.

    I still plan on reading certain zines, and I am helping Alex with the Portland Button Works stock, but I am far more particular about what I want to read and why.

    1. i think i read even fewer blogs than i do zines, actually. i have a handful of blogs on my blogroll, but i mostly only read blogs that recap babysitters club books. seriously. i don’t follow any political blogs. because they always just turn into stupid fights. i hate how many explicitly feminist blogs just spend all their time calling out other feminist blogs for classism or racism or transphobia or whatever. not that feminists being oppressive is okay, but…i don’t know. i don’t have the energy for all the internet fighting. “someone left a fucked up comment on my blog!” i mean, that sucks or whatever, but get over it. just a week or two ago, someone left a comment on my blog disagreeing with me over some political issue, & said, “you’re a terrible mother & a despicable excuse for a human being.” nice thing to say to someone with a recently-sprung NICU baby, right? i could get all upset about it, or i could accept the fact that the world is full of assholes & they feel even more comfortable flying their asshole flags when they can be anonymous on the internet. every time someone is all, “this person on the internet said this fucked up thing & then i said this & then we had this fight,” i am like, oh my god, get a hobby.

      my politics haven’t really changed at all; i’m just not so fascinated with myself anymore, you know? you know when you’re like 23 or whatever & you get involved with a collective project for the first time & you just want to tell everyone all about everything you are learning & the super-cool project you’re doing, etc etc? yeah. eventually the novelty fades & you integrate your politics into your life & you just don’t need to talk about them so much. like the shaving example i used. the last time i shaved my legs, i was like 17 years old. i’ll be 34 this year. i haven’t shaved in nearly half my life. it would be INSANE for me to proselytize about something that isn’t even really on my radar anymore. if i get weird looks for my hairy legs (which i probably do), i have completely tuned them out by this point. but for someone who just recently made this major decision to stop shaving & is scanning everyone’s faces all the time to see how it’s going over, it’s a way bigger deal. that’s fine for them; i just wish there was a non-condescending way for me to explain that it’s a super-boring topic of conversation for me, & it will be boring for them someday too if they stick with it.

  3. I need to get to the Y to swim more! It was my only form of exercise towards the end of my pregnancy. I even put on a swim cap and joined the older ladies for water aerobics.

    I like to make grand sweeping plans for my future while I swim laps. :p

    1. my friend jaimie & i took a water aerobics class summer before last. i fully expected to be among the youngest people there, but i was in fact one of the oldest! it was mostly a ton of twentysomething women trying to get in shape for their weddings. but it was an evening class. we also signed up for an early morning class, which was all old ladies who had apparently been taking water aerobics together since mckinley’s assassination & had no time for us young’uns.

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