Category Archives: boston

bumpwatch terror alert: week 27

this photo is actually a week old.

i have been pretty much incommunicado for a week & a half because of houseguests, baby showers, & traveling. but i did manage to carve out five minutes to snap a belly photo last weekend & make it look all goofy in photobucket.

my friend amanda, from philadelphia, visited last weekend for our kansas baby shower. jared took a temporary time-out from his research to fly home for it as well. it was a nice visit in some ways, & kind of depressing in others. jared seemed to be fighting off the flu & was really out of it all weekend. he didn’t want to get up in the morning because he was up half the night coughing. i actually got up & got him a glass of water one night at like 3am, even though i am in the third trimester now & getting to my feet is no easy task. it made me think about how easy it is to take care of someone when you really love them, & that made me feel hopeful that i won’t find taking care of the baby too onerous (although it will be much more demanding than just a boyfriend who is feeling under the weather).

it was great to see amanda. we hadn’t seen each other in over two years, since i spent the summer living in her south philly row home while jared was in new york city doing a hydrology fellowship. she talked a lot about how windy it was in kansas, & how it was exactly what she expected. it was indeed uncommonly windy on the first day of her visit, but i have lived here for over three years & a) it’s seriously almost never that windy here, & b) i have never heard this idea that kansas is an especially windy place. she also spent a lot of time answering texts, taking photos & sending them to her boyfriend, trying to connect to the internet to look up various things she wanted to tell us about, etc. it didn’t bother me too much at first, but by the end of the visit, i wanted to run her phone over with my car. i didn’t even check my e-mail the entire time she was here, because i didn’t want to waste friend time doing some dumb bullshit i can do any time. maybe i am a complete dinosaur, but i’m so sick of people fiddling with their phones when they are hanging out with me. are facebook & foursquare really more important than whoever you’re spending time with?

jared & i flew to boston together on sunday for our babymoon. in case you don’t know, a babymoon is kind of a couple’s last hurrah vacation thing before they have a baby. it’s kind of new-ish, trendy concept, & it’s a little silly, but i knew we couldn’t go back to boston for christmas this year because it’s too close to my due date, & i didn’t want my next trip to boston to be post-baby. jared had to go to the east coast to do dissertation research anyway, so we carved out a few days, booked a stay in a bed & breakfast, & decided to have a real vacation.

in a lot of ways, it was awesome. i got to do almost everything i wanted to do, which is to say i got to eat almost everywhere i wanted to eat. (the only thing i missed was ethiopian food, but jared surprised me one night by suggesting we go to trattoria di monica, the delicious italian restaurant he took me to for my birthday last year, so i was more than happy.) jared had access to a car, so we were able to drive around boston & window shop at all kinds of cute, expensive baby boutiques, the likes of which don’t really exist in lawrence, kansas. i only bought one thing: a stuffed calico cat toy. i’d been looking for one for months with no luck, so i was pleased to walk into an independent toy store & find one no problem. it’s a classic calico, not a tabico (tabby/calico mix), which is more charlotte’s coloring, but close enough. the baby won’t really be old enough to appreciate it for kind of a while, but that’s okay. it’s very soft & a dog outside the toy store thought it was real & went absolutely insane trying to attack it.

we did a lot of socializing in boston. we visited with jared’s brother & his girlfriend because we wanted to ask them to be the baby’s guardians if anything happens to jared & me. they also hosted a baby shower for us, & the following night, jared’s parents had us out to newton for dinner & to load us up with baby heirlooms. we looked at photo albums of jared & his brother when they were babies. jared seriously was such a cute baby, & it was so cool to see baby jared making the same faces adult jared makes. his mom gave us two little outfits jared wore when he was a baby, plus a stuffed bear & a bunch of blankets, & the peter rabbit-themed quilt a friend of hers made for baby jared. it’s really beautiful & we decided we’re going to hang it on the wall over the baby’s crib & maybe someday we’ll be able to pass it down to our first grandchild. she is also giving us jared’s garndfather’s silver cup from his babyhood exactly 100 years ago. our baby has family heirlooms! it’s so cool.

i kind of had a meltdown that night though. our friend bart was in town & wanted to hang out before he caught his plane to chicago. but it was 11pm & everything was closed except for bars. if there’s one thing that just doesn’t sound fun to a pregnant lady in the third trimester, it’s sitting around a bar with her boyfriend & his best friend, unable to drink while her feet are swelling & she has just had to justify to her baby’s grandparents why she isn’t marrying their son anytime soon. the three of us went back to the bed & breakfast & hung out in the lobby, but i really wasn’t having fun. i was wishing that jared & i had taken our babymoon in some city where we don’t know anyone, where we could just be alone together, because alone together couple time is going to be in short supply in about three months. i told jared, “i can’t wait until you come home again & everything goes back–” & then i burst into hysterical sobs because i was going to say, “goes back to normal,” but i realized that we’re having a baby & there is no normal anymore. we are changing our lives & it’s exciting, sure, but let’s face it. it’s also completely terrifying. & the days where i can just fall asleep on jared’s lap or hide out in his arms & shut out the rest of the world are about to come to a screeching halt. sorry if that sounds weird, i know i don’t usually write so bluntly about the more romantic/personal side of jared’s & my relationship. but we are about to become jointly beholden to a brand new little life & yeah, sometimes i worry about how that will affect “us”.

i must say, though, after my little crying jag, i slept the best sleep i have slept all pregnancy. i guess i just really needed to get that stuff out in the open.

i don’t want any town that would have me as a resident

i am trying to catch up on my mail. i was just wrapping up a response to a letter i received back in august (!!!) when i ran out of typewriter ribbon. i thought i had a few in reserve, but i guess not. or maybe they have been stashed somewhere & forgotten. & i’m sorry but i just can’t handwrite letters. i handwrite my journal & my daily log & that’s it. just doing that makes my arthritis flare up. so now i have to wait until i have new typewriter ribbon in hand, & of course there’s nowhere to buy it in lawrence. i asked at the little independent office supply store downtown & they were really uncomfortable. they were like, “um, no one really uses typewriters anymore…” well, i do! all the time! they said they could order ribbon for me, but i can order it for myself. the point of going to a store is to buy something that is already in stock.

this is just one more reason (of a gazillion billion) to be homesick for boston. i used to buy all my typewriter ribbon at bob slate stationers, an independent office supply store in harvard square. that’s also where i bought my notebooks (moleskines for journal, a five-year diary with a lock for my daily log, tiny little flip notebooks for to-do lists), envelopes, pens (black fine tip stylists), markers, stamp pads, colored pencils, scissors, rubber cement, staplers, staple removers, wite-out, etc etc etc. i stopped into that place on a near-daily basis. now i have to special order my pens & typewriter ribbon because i can’t find them in lawrence, & i pretty much just make do with what i already have for everything else. i buy envelopes at the kind of shitty/creepy indie office supply place here.

i started crying the other night & told jared that i hate living in lawrence. maybe i was just having a bad day, maybe i really do hate it here. there’s not really anything wrong with this town. it just doesn’t feel like home. i’ve lived here for two & a half years but i still don’t really feel like i live here. i know that doesn’t make much sense.

by the time i’d been in boston for two & a half years, here are some of the things that had happened:
* moved out of my first collective house & started a new one from scratch
* got divorced
* became an aunt
* attended the birth of my best friend’s first son
* started the boston skillshare
* started my zine distro
* got on disability
* dealt with my dad’s totally unexpected sudden death
* joined the boston radical cheerleaders
* tried (& failed) to start a feminist art collective
* joined a reproductive health collective

here’s some of the stuff that has happened since moving to lawrence:
* finally found a nice house after a series of craptacular apartments
* decided to start trying to get pregnant
* closed the zine distro
* had an epic falling out with someone that has impacted all of my other non-school-related relationships in the area
* got involved with the feminist book club
* observed while hollaback lawrence crashed & burned
* spent a summer living in philadelphia
* spent a summer completely alone
* started going to bingo & water aerobics

i mean, i guess it’s not all bad, but it just doesn’t feel as satisfying as my flawed memory remembers my time in boston feeling. i’m sure i was completely miserable in boston & i probably have the old journals to back this up. i’m sure i am romanticizing how great things were because i am nostalgic for being young & idealistic & relatively energetic. i know that a lot of this stuff fucking sucked. the girls in the reproductive health collective pulled some shenanigans that made me feel beyond shitty. the skillshare was always a huge bundle of stress, & my involvement with that project culminated in some seriously fucked up betrayal. my tight friendship with my friend who had the baby was over by the time that baby was a year old. the boston radical cheerleaders fizzled within a couple of months of my joining the squad, & had never been that active to begin with. & i did a ton of other stuff in boston over the next five years before i left (volunteering for the lucy parsons center & the zine library, learning to play the accordion, living in other collective houses, etc). sometimes those experiences were amazing, sometimes they fucking sucked. mostly, by the end, they fucking sucked & i was miserable, which is why i was so fucking stoked to move away when the opportunity arose.

it’s just hard to marshal the necessary energy & excitement to start over in a new place. especially after almost ten years making your mark someplace else. especially when you’re in your thirties & you just want to start relaxing & living life at a slower pace, with a lot less drama & bullshit. especially when you’re coming from a city, where you became accustomed to a certain degree of anonymity even if you’re walking around with hot pink hair & knuckle tattoos, & you’re moving to a small college town.

i still haven’t gotten used to the idea that i am not completely anonymous in lawrence. i went to the local coffeeshop last week to pick up a bag of coffee. while the barista was grinding it for me, i realized i’d left my pocketbook at home. i explained the situation & was going to offer to run home & grab it–i live just three blocks away. but he waved me off & said, “just take it. you’ll be back. you’re a regular. you come in every week for a pound of espresso. pay me next time.” i took the coffee (& returned the next day with cash in hand), but…i’m a regular? what if i don’t want to be a regular? i’d almost rather start buying tins of bustelo from the grocery store than be, you know, that lady. who comes in every week. with the yellow pocketbook & knuckle tattoos. & asks for a pound of espresso, ground for espresso. ugh.

a little something for the shoe fetishists

photo challenge day #6: a photo of your favorite shoes. i think this is a weird one. it’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around the idea of someone having favorite shoes. i mainly think of shoes as a tool to help me avoid contracting ringworm. if left to my own devices, i wear slippers as much as possible. slippers are like pajamas for your feet, & i think we all know how i feel about pajamas. (i love them.)

these shoes are looking hella busted, because i wore them pretty much every day for four or five months this past summer. they are glittery pink toms & they are so comfortable once you break them in to the point that the glitter stops scratching your feet & causing horrifying abrasions. they are like slippers, but socially acceptable for public venues.

about a month after i bought these shoes, the first toms i have ever purchased, the news broke that the founder of the company was speaking at a focus on the family event. the reports went even further, stating that toms & focus on the family were parterning up somehow in the area of charitable giving or something. crunchy hippie lefty liberals love toms because they give a pair of shoes to an “impoverished child,” mostly in developing nations, for every pair of shoes sold. who doesn’t love helping out impoverished children by doing nothing more than buying yourself a pair of shoes? personally, i think it’s nice, but gimmicky, & i could definitely live without all the photos all over the toms website of the founder dude, blake mycoskie, with his arms around little brown children. it has kind of a white man’s burden/colonial fantasies for the new millennium flavor, & plus blake has perfected this open-mouthed grin for photographs that i find really disturbing, like he’s about to unhinge his jaw & eat the children. & needless to say, anyone who knows anything about politics at all knows that “focus on the family” is pretty much synonymous with “homophobia”.

so, i was wicked bummed. ordinarily my modus operandi upon hearing such news would be to walk around town & notice all the hipsters & cool kids wearing toms & silently judge them for being so ignorant as to support the shoe company of someone who supports homophobia. god, people are so stupid, amirite? but now i myself was one of those cool kids. & i loved the shoes so i kept wearing them. (part of the reason they look so awful is because i wore them to the beach on my birthday. going to the beach is a great way to ruin any shoes.) it didn’t take toms long to release a statement saying that they had been unaware that focus on the family was linked to homophobia, & to make clear that they are not in any kind of partnership together, & that basically they hope queers will still buy their shoes. i am kind of wondering how the fuck you spend more than half an hour on this earth without realizing that focus on the family is kind of homophobic, so the statement rings a little disingenuous, & i probably won’t buy toms in the future. but i will wear these shoes when the weather is appropriate until they literally fall apart.

my sorels! it’s hard to tell in the photo, but these have pink accents (which have discolored into looking orange-ish due to salt exposure) & pale pink laces (NOT white–i’m not a white supremacist skinhead). i got them at an army/navy surplus store in downtown boston for like $12 or something. they have thermal waterproof liners & are amazing. they’re insanely heavy, at least five pounds each, but they keep my feet toasty & dry in the worst of weather. unfortunately, their weight makes me walk weird. jared calls them my “gallumphing boots,” because he says i gallumph rather than walk when i wear them. i think he means i shuffle (not in a LMFAO way, unfortunately, although i am teaching myself that dance). i haven’t had much reason to bust them out this winter. it’s february 13 & last night was our first significant snowfall. we have maybe two inches of accumulation, & it’s supposed to be over fifty degrees for the rest of the week, so it should melt in no time. but if there is ever a blizzard, i will have no reason to fear for my feet with these guys.

john fluevog operettas. i almost never wear these because…come on. i’m always wearing baggy jeans & a hoodie. i don’t think heels would add much to such an ensemble. the photo makes clear that i also do not take care of them. i could probably stand to polish them up a bit & do something to keep the toes from cracking. especially because they were kind of insanely expensive–easily the most expensive shoes i own. they were a birthday present to myself when i turned thirty. i guess i was thinking that turning thirty is a big deal, a threshold in adult living, & that i should have some adult shoes. not that fluevogs are particularly adult–they look like a footwear that dr. seuss might dream up while high on opium. but you know, being a grad school widow, sometimes i have to go to fancy events where i am expected to look nice, & i have exactly one nice dress, & it is long enough that it must be worn with heels or else i look stumpy. i always get tons of compliments on these shoes. my only regret is that i bought them in this red color. i never wear red. i don’t know what i was thinking.

i call it crazy refrigerator lady blush sauce

photo challenge day #3: take a photo of something you ate.

oh, girl. i can tell you about something i ate! okay, many years ago, before i was even dating jared, & i lived with this crusty punk couple. i had a surprisingly rocky relationship with them. sometimes we got along beautifully, drinking beers & chainsmoking, introducing each other to new music, gossiping about our fellow punks, annoying each other’s pets (they had three dogs), tearing it up at parties, etc. & sometimes we got along really badly, for reasons i never understood. i got along better (more consistently) with the dude half of the couple, which is funny, because i don’t tend to get along with dudes that well. i almost always connect better with ladies. but this particular lady ran really hot & cold with me. i think she sometimes didn’t like how well i got along with her boyfriend. things finally blew up one day when i came home after being out all weekend & found a note on the fridge that said, “ciara–you have until october to find a new place to live. good luck.” it was august 28. & the note was actually written ON the fridge with permanent marker. by the lady. i found a new place to live that very afternoon & stiffed ’em on september rent (we didn’t have a lease, so there wasn’t much they could do about it). i still have no idea what caused her to believe that she couldn’t stand to live with me for one more second. i guess i’d been agitating for more equity in the rent distribution. i paid $535 for my bedroom, which was small to average-sized. they paid $275 each for their room, which was fucking enormous, about one-third of the entire apartment. if you add their rents together, yes, their room cost more than mine did, but only by $15 & i didn’t think it was fair that they got such cheap rent just because they were a couple who shared a room. i still think it’s pretty unjust, although i’m somewhat more understanding now. the only reason a couple would ever split an apartment with other roommates would be to score some cheap-as-fuck rent. i don’t know. i just didn’t know about the way rent was divided up before i moved in. i thought everyone was paying around $500 for their room because that’s what passed for pretty cheap rent in a shared apartment in boston at the time.

anyway, this lady i lived with was definitely a little bit bananas, with the writing notes on the fridge & all that, but she made this incredible dish that she just called “blush sauce”. despite my all-consuming love affair with italian food, i was unfamiliar with the concept of blush sauce (probably because it traditionally involves vodka & i was hardcore anti-alcohol until i was 26 years old or so–i didn’t even eat it in food). she only made it once every couple of months, but when she did, it was an all-day affair involving the huge pasta pot, a million hours of simmering, god knows how many kinds of cheese, & then she’d boil up a pound of two or penne & simmer it directly in the sauce until it was imbued with all the gooey cheesy tomato-y amazingness. she always made more than enough for herself & her boyfriend, & our fourth roommate was a pretentious vegan, so more for me! i asked her for the recipe, but she was really flaky & never got it to me. & then she turned on me & you know…refrigerators were drafted into her holy war against ciara.

yesterday i was hanging around the house, wondering what the fuck to make for dinner. & suddenly i was like, “BLUSH SAUCE!” i never got a recipe from her, i’d never made this dish before, but i have learned a lot about cooking since i started dating jared & i figured i could probably cobble something together if i couldn’t find a decent recipe online. in the past few years, i have been trying to perfect my macaroni & cheese recipe, which involves a cream roux that is mixed with cheese, & i figured i could adopt the principles of the roux for a basic blush sauce (sans peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc–i wanted my sauce to be a conveyance for nothing but creamy cheese & tomato).

i didn’t take any photos of the actual meal because i think that shit is kind of weird. an acquaintance of mine went on a blind okcupid date once with someone. they went to a restaurant, as you do on first dates, & after their entrees were served, the date whipped out a camera & was like, “i hope this is okay. i just have to take a photo before i eat?” my acquaintance was weirded out, mostly because no explanation was offered. why do you have to take a photo of your entree? do you run a food blog? are you the phantom gourmet? are you on weight watchers? do you have some weird camera-themed eating disorder? did you lose a bet? are you just a pretentious hipster who thinks random people give two shits about what you ate for dinner?

so here are my photos:

leftover sauce.
dirty dishes aftermath.

i didn’t end up using a recipe. i just kind of made it up. here’s what i did (warning: this is not remotely vegan–but it is vegetarian!).

melt about three tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. mix in a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. saute about two cloves of chopped garlic in this mix. throw in a can of diced tomatoes (like one of the cans that is about the size of a soup can, not one of the huge guys). pour in some heavy cream. i don’t know how much i put in. maybe half a cup or so? mix that all up & start stirring in fresh grated parmesan. i don’t know how much of that i used either. i’ll estimate 3/4 cup, maybe a little more. & then i tossed in a little handful of flour (like a tablespoon-ish? maybe two?) to thicken it up a bit. i was going to include mozzarella, but when i tasted it with just this, it was so insanely delicious that i decided not to fuck with a good thing. i served it over penne & it was enough for two people to have two big plates with the leftover sauce you see here chillin’ in the (permanent marker-free…so far) fridge. this was the best thing i have ever cooked, aside from a couple of especially incredible lasagnas. despite not being italian even a little bit, i really think i might have been an old italian granny in a past life.

2011: crabigail looks back

1. what did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
stayed at a bed & breakfast.
passed my driver’s license test.
ate bok choy.
TRUCK POOL.
threw a snowball at a cat.
made soup from scratch.
lived in my very own (rental) house as an adult! no sharing walls/floors/ceilings with neighbors or roommates (besides jared)!
joined a book club that met more than three times.
allowed jared to cut my hair (big mistake).
saw a red sox game at fenway stadium.

2. did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
i always make ten new year’s resolutions. i have them all written down & tucked away in a secret hiding spot dating back to 2002. every year i get them out & review how i have done & how i have changed. all i will say about some of the older resolutions is that i have grown up A LOT in the last ten years.

last year i managed to keep a handful of my resolutions. i got my driver’s license & quit smoking. i stuck to my budget & i at least tried to get pregnant, even if i have not yet been successful.

among my resolutions for 2012: keep trying to make the baby thing happen. make the bed every day. be nicer to jared. (note that there is a difference between being nicer & actually being nice; i told him last night that i was just going to throw away the voodoo doll i made of him & call it a day. kidding! just kidding. i’m totally not getting rid of the voodoo doll.)

3. did anyone close to you give birth?
i am acquainted with a few people who gave birth, like one of my old roommates from boston who happened to go to high school with jared. but none of my super-tight buds had a baby this year.

4. did anyone close to you die?
apparently my uncle–one of my dad’s brothers–died a few days before christmas. but i hadn’t talked to him in almost ten years, so i won’t pretend we were close.

5. what countries did you visit?
i stayed put. maybe i should resolve to get a passport this year. jared thinks we should vacay in australia if this baby thing doesn’t pan out (hence devouring all of our money).

6. what would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
well. A BABY. my baby rabies is completely out of control. but i would also like to have jeans that fit & have not been patched beyond recognition, healthier & more functional friendships, less anxiety, & less chronic pain.

7. what dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
august 12 was the day of TRUCK POOL. i was going to go camping with some friends in missouri, but the weather turned really shitty. there were huge thunderstorms predicted for the area where we were intending to camp. i was bummin’ hard because it the last weekend of spinster summer & i really wanted some quality time with punks. i decided to go to kansas city instead, & after sitting around, doing nothing & chainsmoking for a few hours, we suddenly hit upon the idea of TRUCK POOL. one of the kids had a pick-up truck, & we lined the bed with a tarp & connected a hose to the upstairs bathtub & threaded it out the window. we filled that baby up with warm water & truck pooled for hours, even after it started raining. at one point, we turned it into a bubble pool with dish soap & drove it around kansas city.

fill 'er up. that's me in the baby blue tee next to the dude in the leather jacket.

we also made a chopack, which is a backpack filled with nachos. let’s go to the video:

8. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
learning how to drive, maybe? i tried to get my license when i was 16 years old & still living in ohio, but i failed the driver’s test three times. it really undermined my confidence & i thought i would just never learn how to drive. it wasn’t easy to learn & i don’t have a lot of incentives in my life to keep trying to do things at which i don’t naturally excel, so it was a pretty big deal for me to actually pass the test. & now i am learning how to be a responsible car owner, which is also a really intimidating responsibility.

i was also totally stoked to finish reading & recapping every single babysitters club book on goodreads.

& i’m very proud that i finally fulfilled my dream of dressing up as a sexy hamburglar for halloween (i think saying “a sexy hamburglar” is funnier than saying “sexy hamburglar,” because being “a” one among many implies that hamburglars may be a separate race of people).

sexy?

9. what was your biggest failure?
i wouldn’t call it a “failure” to still not be pregnant after six months of trying, but it was a little bit of a failure to have let the whole thing affect my emotions so much. after every disappointment, i would just completely lose it & spend entire days crying. i am handling my business a lot better now, but it’s still a challenge to not allow myself to get on the emotional rollercoaster over something i have so little control over.

10. did you suffer illness or injury?
the arthritis or fibromyalgia or evil confluence of the two is worse than ever. other than that, i’m good.

11. what was the best thing you bought?
i bought a fucking wood-paneling patterned bathing suit! i have been getting into water aerobics for the whole arthritis thing, & i figured, why not look as much like a rec room from 1974 as possible?

grainy photobooth cheesecake shot.

12. whose behavior merited celebration?
i dislike these questions. so i am going to give the prize to ellen for attempting to cheer me up by sending me weird pornographic art of dragons having sex with cars. it definitely distracted me from my troubles.

13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
SO MANY PEOPLE. but because i am trying to have healthier, more functional relationships with people, i am going to refrain from going into detail. i am just thinking of one person in particular who seems to find constructive criticism really difficult to handle, struggles with appropriate boundaries almost all the time, sucks at making her friends feel valued, & instead excels at making her friends feel like they are in competition with one another.

14. where did most of your money go?
moving, flying to boston to see jared while he was doing research, gas for driving to kansas city all summer, & the endless consumption of sandwiches.

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
well, truck pool. & bingo! i started playing bingo this year & i love it. it’s this awesome mix of pulse-pounding action without having to leave your seat, mega-depression as you look around at the all the oldsters pissing away their social security checks & youngsters wearing sweat pants & dentures, & nachos. plus i have won $210 to date (not bad for only five games of bingo).

& i got beyond pumped about my amazing new house!

isn't it beautiful?

16. what song will always remind you of 2011?
i’m sorry, i really only listen to music when i am in the car. which is a fairly infrequent occurence. i got pretty into this song for a while though:

17. compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? about the same, maybe?
b) thinner or fatter? fatter, for sure. having compromised mobility really impairs a person’s attempts at weight maintenance.
c) richer or poorer? richer. thanks, bingo!

18. what do you wish you’d done more of?
writing! i barely wrote at all this year. i also wish i would have read more adult books (& not just memoirs) & started going to bingo in the summer while jared was in boston.

19. what do you wish you’d done less of?
reading so many young adult books. of the 238 books i read in 2011, 140 of them were young adult books. that is crazy! i am so relieved to be done with the babysitters club recap project. i also wish i wouldn’t have spent all summer playing solitaire & watching “hoarders”. what the fuck?

20. how did you spend xmas?
jared & i went to boston to see his family. we stayed in bed & breakfast in cambridge. i ate an entire plate of cheese cubes every morning for breakfast. seriously. sometimes with sourbough toast slathered in goat cheese. in fact, i had one day where i ate nothing but food in cheese form (cheese cubes for breakfast, mozzarella sticks for lunch, four-cheese ravioli for dinner). that was a great day.

we drank a fair number of beers. bart came up from philadelphia to hang out with us. we had brunch on xmas eve at david’s house (jared’s brother) & this girl who once stole my bed & threatened to call the cops on me if i tried to steal it back was there. kind of awkward. we went to quaker meeting that night & jared’s mom asked me, “how are you feeling?” when i expressed an interest in sitting down during the hospitality cookie hour, she said, “yes! sit down!” it was super-awkward because she obviously thought i was pregnant. which i was not. but i did decide to throw that sweater away.

we spent xmas day in newton with jared’s family (including david & his girlfriend, alana). we had roast beef & mashed potatoes for dinner. i ate almost an entire tupperware contained full of rosemary shortbread. david & alana gave me the most amazing claudia kishi-themed novena candle:

evidence that you should be open about the dumb shit you're into because you might get awesome gifts out of it.

jared & i went to see “mission: impossible 4 ghost protocol” because jared is obsessed with simon pegg. there were no ghosts. we also started working on what we were calling “ciara & jared’s 2011 snoozeletter,” but i don’t know if we’ll ever finish it.

21. did you fall in love in 2011?
yeah, but i decided to stick thing out with jared anyway. kidding! we broke up. kidding again! i hate this question.

22. how many one-night stands?
zip.

23. what was your favorite TV program?
i am still watching “america’s next top model” & “project runway,” even though they have become torture. i am also still watching “dexter” even though the last season was unspeakably dreadful. i feel like i need to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of everyone who was subjected to it. over the summer, i got into “mad men”. it’s not bad. would watch again. jared & i also liked “portlandia,” although it sometimes made us uncomfortable because it can be difficult to tell if we’re laughing at what we’re supposed to be laughing at.

24. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
there are some peeps who make me feel very wary, but no hate.

25. what was the best book you read?
“poser” by claire dederer! it was so amazing! i also really liked “beauty queens” by libba bray. but, i mean, we could be here a while because i read A LOT. just follow my goodreads reviews & save us all some time.

26. what was your greatest musical discovery?
i have not started listening to music in the time since the last music question.

27. what did you want and get?
my driver’s license, a beautiful HOUSE as opposed to an apartment or duplex, financial self-control, a book club, & some other stuff i don’t want to talk about.

28. what did you want and not get?
a baby & a truly excellent pizza restaurant in lawrence. a hip replacement. also, an elephant sanctuary in my backyard.

29. what was your favorite film of this year?
i really don’t watch a lot of movies. nor do i keep track of the few i watch. i had fun seeing “harry potter & the deathly hallows, part two” in 3D with jared. i ate an enormous platter of nachos during the movie. i don’t know how i’ll answer this question in the future, now that the harry potter movies are over.

30. what did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
i turned 32 & i was in boston visiting jared. he, bart, & i went out for breakfast in the morning. bart enraged me by insisting on a trip to the laundromat as well. isn’t that where every girl wants to spend her birthday? after we dropped bart off at work, jared & i drove up to salisbury beach where we played skeeball until our arms fell off. we used our winning tickets to get a plastic shark, a plastic lizard, & a gaudy ring with a huge pink rhinestone. we drove back into the city & i communed with the seals in the enclosure outside the aquarium. then we met up with bart & ate the best italian food i’ve ever tasted at monica’s tattoria in the north end.

me with some seals.

31. what one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
not to be a broken record, but: baby. & maybe if jared had not been in boston all summer.

32. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
jeans or cut-offs or plain black cotton skirts topped by either a t-shirt or a thermal layered under a sweater. the shirts are generally unadorned & pink, blue, or purple. all summer, i wore glittery pink toms. the rest of the year was just sauconys (gray & blue). glasses. lipstick. that’s it. i wouldn’t call it a “concept”.

33. what kept you sane?
logic puzzles, coffee, to-do lists, tidying up the house, petting charlotte, jessika rae, & the library.

34. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
i am not into this question so i will say taylor swift’s kitten.

35. what political issue stirred you the most?
okay, it’s not that i don’t care about political issues anymore. i do. it’s just tough for me to feel the passion i may have felt ten years ago. though i always follow any stories about politicians wanting to privatize social security really closely. ditto this whole fucked up medicare voucher plan.

36. who did you miss?
i missed jared a lot when he was in boston. i have been missing jessika rae all year. i miss some other zine friends i seem to have fallen out of touch with since i closed the distro & have been making myself kind of scarce on the zine front. i also became very nostalgic this year for my younger self.

37. who was the best new person you met?
i met jaimie this year through book club & we had an awesome summer of bonding through feminism & water aerobics. she is also the person who took me to bingo for the first time.

38. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
the rudy at rudy’s pizza is pretty good if you order the thin crust. punks are rarely on time so don’t worry about being punctual. you can’t call bingo until the caller reads the number you have bingoed on. if you just put your head down & work on your most reviled tasks for twenty minutes at a time, they will be done in no time.

39. what did you devote most of your energy to?
trying to make the time pass faster, & then reminding myself not to wish away my life.

40. quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
she looks me over as if she really knows me
as if she thinks she knows what i’m thinking
if she would only ask the right questions
i’d tell her everything
but she only asks the things that she already knows
she can’t take this as a sign of change and moving on
a little plea of something to be remembered
when it’s gone

every secret longs to be disclosed
every love yearns to be betrayed
that’s a quote and so is
love is more difficult to escape than hate
its not true, but both take their sweet time to go away

ms. excitement

jared & i are flying to boston tomorrow to visit with his family for the holidays. so today i have to do laundry, pack, clean up the house so i am not embarrassed in front of my cat-sitters, etc etc. i am not saying that i definitely won’t be posting any more blog entries in 2011…but i’m not saying i will either.

i’m hoping to get back into the groove of writing for an audience in 2012. i have become very out of practice. i haven’t written a new zine in a year & a half, & i have definitely fallen down on the job of keeping this thing updated in the last few months. i have found it challenging to find my creative footing since i shut down the zine distro in early 2010. i know! that was almost two years ago! it was just a lot easier to keep up with my mail & feel like i had a legitimate platform when i was going to the post office everyday & maintaining a huge website (even if there wasn’t really any personal content on it).

the only “project” that i have really come up with to replace the zine distro is this whole trying to get pregnant business, which is turning out to be a lot more difficult than i anticipated. i wish it had been this hard to get knocked up when i DIDN’T want to have a baby. i had four dreams last night in which i did a pregnancy test & it was positive. in every dream, i was like, “no way. this is totally a dream, i’m going to wake up & not be pregnant. or is it real? maybe i’m pregnant!” but of course, i am not. i do have an appointment set for a fertility work-up after the holidays though. maybe my doctor will take pity on me, prescribe clomid, & at this time next year, i’ll be writing about how difficult it is to maintain a blog when i am caring for a newborn. or maybe i’ll just luck out & get pregnant without intervention. i can’t even work up any feelings about it anymore. the stress has been too exhausting.

i am a little bit anxious about boston because seeing people you haven’t seen in six months to a year always want to know, “what’s new? what’s going on?” & literally all i have to say is, “well, i’ve been trying to get pregnant & that’s not really going anywhere. but i know that you really wanted any information at all about my sex life, so let’s move on. i’ve gone to a bingo a few times & have won $210 altogether, which is pretty cool. that pays for like half of my share of the bed & breakfast we’re staying at. bingo is a little depressing because it’s a lot of oldsters blowing through their social security checks & a sprinkling of younger people in sweatpants looking like they probably make meth. but you know. i get social security too & would definitely just wear sweatpants if i didn’t think jared would break up with me because of it, so maybe i have found my people. i’m thinking about signing up for another water aerobics class in january because my arthritis has become increasingly crippling. i now struggle to button the snaps on my coat, & am sometimes in too much pain to drive or use utensils, keys, or my squeezy water bottle. i don’t know if this is a permanent aspect of the degenerative condition or if it’s just a temporary slump due to the cold, damp weather. & i’ve been reading a lot of library books. mostly children’s books. mostly the american girl historical books, truth be told. which i then recap over on goodreads in foul-mouthed, sarcastic, political reviews that are probably not suitable for children. how are you doing? what’s new with you?”

so. that will be fun.

but hopefully i will get with the program in 2012 & come up with some interesting things to say. same bat time, same bat channel.

friend appreciation month

one of my primary objectives for spinster summer was to shore up my relationships with people other than my boyfriend, & i think it’s been quite a success. i have never wanted to be one of those people who retreats into a romantic relationship. i have also never been a person who is really concerned with having a huge circle of friends. i am happy having a handful of people that i can really count on. so it’s kind of a balancing act for me to do what i have to do to keep my main partner relationship happy & healthy, & also do the emotional work of building & maintaining important friendships. it’s no secret that i have no relationship whatsoever with my mom, & once a person cuts their own mom out of their life, it gets that much easier to just bail on everyone else when the going gets tough. i do that a lot. i know people that still have good friends from high school, or even elementary school. that’s not me. i cycle through friends like other people cycle through underpants. i subconsciously put people through their paces before i let a friendship happen. it’s never a surprise to me when people say, “when i first met you, i thought you were really intimidating & stand-offish.” it’s not intentional…it’s just what i do. letting people into my life is hard for me.

wah wah wah, right? spinster summer has been a very mixed bag, but it’s made me have a newfound appreciation for the other people in my life. so i decided august will be my own personal friend appreciation month, in which i reach out to new friends & old friends alike & let them know why they are important to me & what i value about them.

let’s start with miss jessika rae disaster, my sister from another mother. i met jessika rae in the summer of 2003. she was 20, straight edge, vegan, & wicked fucking posi. i was 24, going through a divorce, & was hobbling around in a walking cast with the assistance of a cane thanks to an arthritis-related injury. i was getting divorced because my partner was finishing up his undergrad degree & talking about wanting to enter grad school, get a doctorate, & maybe become a professor. i was just not seeing myself as the long-term partner of an academic & a professor. i know, right? fast forward eight years & that’s exactly where i am. but in 2003, i had other goals. i wanted to travel & live in punk houses & organize anarchist conferences & go to basement shows. i wanted to make zines & get d.i.y. tattoos. the dynamics at play in that relationship made our plans seem like very divergent paths. i felt like i had to choose between doing what was expected & doing what i wanted. so i chose to do what i wanted.

amazing lady friend.

for the record, i still feel this weird push & pull sometimes. especially lately, looking at starting down the road of being a mom & not being able to predict how that’s going to change my life. i definitely feel like i am leaving my idealistic youth behind, which is sometimes a huge relief & sometimes a bummer. i also acknowledge that it’s probably a false dichotomy. there’s no law saying that having a kid means i can never get a tattoo or go to a show. i just know that it’s not going to be the same, & i have mixed feelings about that.

anyway, i was a mess the first time i met jessika rae. she had organized a zine fair in detroit & i was tabling my zine distro for the first time. but this was the weekend of the epic black-out that took out all the power in the eastern half of the united states for a couple of days. detroit is something of a post-apocalyptic hellscape on the best of days. this weekend was like something out of a sci-fi novel. no streetlights, no stoplights. the very few people milling around on the sidewalks were either setting off fireworks & shooting off guns. the zine fair was in the warehouse space behind trumbullplex, & it was lit with weird electric lanterns attached to generators & candles. everyone was riding bikes & playing spin the bottle & eating dumpstered snacks. i felt like i was a thousand years old with my cane. i cried a lot. jessika rae set me up in an empty room belonging to a traveling kid at trumbull. i went to bed at 8pm with a flashlight & read myself to sleep.

somehow, from this very questionable beginning, we forged a friendship. when i got home to boston, i wrote jessika rae a letter, apologizing for what a weepy, crabby mess i had been. she was totally unfazed. she wasn’t freaked out or put off at all, & we started exchanging lots of letters about feminism & mental health & bands & fucked up disappointing political shit & relationship issues. i went traveling the next summer & spent a week in detroit. i don’t remember much except for going to a soap-making workshop & thinking, “punks in the midwest wear overalls a lot. that would NEVER happen in boston.” i also remember sitting at the trumbullplex’s huge dining room table (used for collective meetings) by myself, listening to mischief brew & working on a zine based around “born to run” by bruce springsteen. then i played “stand by me” on the piano for like an hour. a few weeks later, i took a bus to bloomington for the first plan-it-x fest & jessika rae met me at the bus station & i just remember thinking, “yes. something about this moment is how i want my life to be.” i couldn’t even say exactly what it was. we spent a few scary minutes during which jessika rae couldn’t find the fest tickets for our little group of like ten weirdos, & i called her messika rae & she said, “i don’t like that.”

in the eight years since, jessika rae & i have never lived in the same town, or even the same state. but we write letters & call each other on the phone all the time. when i was in boston & she was living in maine, we visited a lot. i haven’t seen her in over three years at this point. but her presence in my life definitely helps keep me grounded. she’s gotten a lot less vegan, a lot less straight edge, & FAR less posi since we have known each other–all of which i appreciate very much. but she inspires the shit out of me & usually when i start feeling all fucked up about the choices i have made in life & getting consumed with crazy regrets, i think about jessika rae or i call her up & it makes me feel like, “yes. this is what i want my life to be.”

i encourage anyone reading this to make time to appreciate your friends. there are a million ways to let your friends know how you feel: call them up, write them postcards, sing them a song, go for a walk together. maybe your friendship has been plagued by drama & recriminations–it happens. put your shoulder into it & see what happens when you get to the other side. see if this is what you want your life to be & how your friends are showing you the way.