Category Archives: golden girls reference

my life would probably be a better sitcom than “according to jim”

i feel a little better about the whole “prenatal depression” thing. i sat jared down & explained that i’m not feeling great emotionally & part of it is guilt about not keeping up with what i usually contribute in terms of housework & dinner. if it was just me living alone, i’d let the place get grimy & i’d order dinner in every night, but it’s different when you live with someone. there’s a built-in expectation of accountability. it’s the part of living with a partner that i probably hate the most. i am more tolerant of jared’s occasional messes than i am of my own shortcomings & the guilt that accompanies them.

anyway, jared said he was perfectly willing to take on more of the housework & to make dinner for us every night, provided that i don’t start making special requests all the time. i told him maybe i could still make dinner like once a week. my one dinner this week was stuffed shells, which were fucking delicious. jared always makes yummy food too, but we have different wheelhouses. he’s good at 1001 ways to prepare braised chicken or pork loin; i’m good at various noodles with sauces.

i also feel a bit more cheerful because the public pool like three blocks from our house opens this weekend. they have morning hours everyday for people who want to swim laps without interruption…& i found out they allow water walkers then too! for people that are not 87 years old, water walking is like jogging, but in a pool. it’s popular in water aerobics classes. i really like it. i have been wondering for a while if it’s appropriate to commandeer a lane at the pool just for water walking. the city is selling cheapo early bird summer passes–$60 for all the pool visits you can cram in between memorial day & labor day. jared & i are each going to get one. water walking is going to be my summer pregnancy exercise & jared’s going to keep me company by swimming laps. because he is a legitimately halfways athletic person who engages in real exercise, & i’m sophia petrillo.

mostly i think the whole prenatal depression thing is a manifestation of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. i seriously just feel shitty because i can’t keep up with my to-do lists. it’s like they’re having one last hurrah before they get thrown out the window in the face of a newborn baby. i’ve been in therapy for this shit for twelve years & it all basically boils down to two ideas: “be mindful” & “be kind to yourself”. i suck at both of those things. but i think they are both pretty important goals for a pregnant lady-soon-to-be-new mom. at the risk of sounding like a giant hippie, of course. i swear i’m still not planning to give birth on a tie-dyed futon mattress while listening to bob marley.

so, i mentioned in a previous post that i had my first sonogram last week.

i think it has my…blob-like qualities!

for anyone reading this who is not familiar with how sonograms work: they ask you to come to the appointment with a full bladder because the expanded bladder functions as a kind of window through which sound waves are shot that help create an accurate image of the uterus, & the little creature living inside the uterus during pregnancy. so you go in having to pee really bad, & then the tech smears some burning hot goo on your lower abdomen, & then whips out this device that looks like a, shall we say, electronic back massager (wink!), & grinds it into your abdomen. you know. right over your bladder. when you really have to pee.

i had the foresight (& doctor office-related experience) to schedule my sonogram for 9am. pro tip: always try to schedule doctor appointments, airplane flights, etc for as early as you can stand, because there’s a smaller chance of delays that way. i really did not want my appointment to be delayed when it hinged on how desperately i needed to pee. i wanted to get this shit over with.

starting at 8am, i began chugging water. at 8:45am, i told jared we should get on the road. jared took this as his cue to wander into the kitchen, slice himself about nine pounds of cornbread, & eat it really slowly. it was probably only one slice, cut in half, but to me–no lie–it looked like he’d hung a horse trough overflowing with cornbread around his neck & proceeded to peck at it like a chicken. i was like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” & he said, “having some cornbread. it’s my breakfast. i can’t go to a sonogram on an empty stomach.” i told him, “my appointment is in ten minutes,” & he said, “so? we can’t be a little late?” so i was forced to explain the way sonograms work & the fact that i was on the verge of exploding with urine & no we could not be late because if he was the cause of even thirty extra seconds getting between this pregnant lady right here & the sweet relief of finally being allowed to pee, i would put a poisonous serpent in his sock drawer. & he was like, “OH! i didn’t know! okay, let’s go!”

then i had this vision of myself nine months pregnant, timing my contractions & being like, “okay, they’re a minute long & four minutes apart, i think it’s time to go have this baby,” & jared putting on a lobster bib & settling down at the kitchen table, saying, “okay, let me just polish off this nineteen-pound roast turkey. it should only take me like six hours.” like, DUDE. save your burgeoning career as a competitive eater for some time when i don’t actually need your help.

also hilarious: when i invited jared to go to the sonogram with me, he said, “cool. we’ll get to hear the ‘whoosh-whoosh-whoosh.'” i told him, “i’m only like five weeks pregnant, it might be too early to pick up a heartbeat,” & he said, “that’s the heartbeat? i thought it was just the sound the machine made.” his go-to was to be excited about the sound the machine made! the heartbeat didn’t even occur to him! it’s seriously like i am living in my own shitty sitcom pilot sometimes.

the best/worst babysitters club mystery EVER?

stacey & the mystery at the mall is TERRIBLE. but it’s so terrible that it became amazing. that seems to be the case with a lot of the mystery books.

picture it, lawrence, kansas, 2011: i have a cold, i feel like crap, i’m laying in bed & reading this book to pass the time while a blizzard rages outside. i’m muddling my way through the basic plot: it’s another short takes class. this one is called “project work”. all the students at stoneybrook middle school are going to be spending three days a week at after-school jobs. this is a flagrant violation of child labor laws, as no student at stoneybrook middle school is over the age if 14. but maybe this is irrelevant because the students will be laboring without pay. which also seems illegal. it also raises a lot of questions about unemployment levels in the stoneybrook area. it seems that the local businesses have a LOT of openings for unpaid barely-teenage part-time employees.

kristy acknowledges that the project work thing is going to take a bite out of the time that club members have for babysitting. which brings up another question: is it legal for a school to require its students to commit to a project that involves this much after-school time? then again, this is the same school that hosts a mandatory ski weekend in vermont. i think stoneybrook may be a law unto itself.

anyway, kristy suggests that all the sitters take jobs at the washington mall so their schedules will coordinate. doesn’t this plan seem like it would make the “time to babysit” issue even worse? if they had staggered schedules, they could take more afternoon jobs, right? but then we wouldn’t have a handy plot contrivance that allows every member of the babysitters club to be at the mall everyday. so let’s move on.

mary anne takes a job at critters, which sells pet toys & such forth. logan decides to work at casa grande, a mexican place in the food court. mallory gets a job at bookcentre…a bookstore. jessi is an usher at the movie theatre. claudia is working at the art supply store. kristy, hilariously, has signed up to work on mall security. & stacey signed up to work at toy town, a toy store. zingy’s, the cool boutique where dawn bought her famous crinoline skirt that went over so badly with logan’s cousin lewis, was her first choice, but they aren’t participating in the project work program. so she goes with toy town because she buys stuff for her kid-kit there a lot.

her boss is a nice woman named april, who often bring her two-year-old son, sandy, to work with her. which again seems like a violation of some kind of law. as an aside, i rent from a company that owns a few different historic residences in lawrence, & my landlord employs a secretary to handle calls during business hours. she brings her kid to work with her. so when you go in to sign a lease or something, there’s a toddler running around, ripping up leases & smearing mcnugget grease all over people’s rent checks. i know affordable child care is just a pipe dream for a lot of people, but there comes a point when having a kid underfoot is not safe for customers, kids, or business priorities.

stacey’s first order of business is to basically babysit sandy for free & therefore learn nothing about how to run a business, which is ostensibly the point of the project work class. she does learn that there has been more shoplifting than usual going on at the mall. she gets REALLY, REALLY concerned about this. she panics constantly over what might happen if she catches a shoplifter who then ends up being armed. because i know that when i’m packing heat, my first stop is always the toy store so i can shoplift a superball & a barbie outfit. she also freaks out constantly over what might happen if a shoplifter–armed to the teeth, as all shoplifters are–developed some sort of beef with little sandy. april is pretty much oblivious to all of this. she’s just like, “try to keep an eye out for shoplifters, & here’s how to discreetly call for security if you see something suspicious.” meanwhile, stacey is having nightmares about getting riddled with bullets after seeing someone pocket a mr. potato head.

but a week or two into the job, mall security arranges a “sting operation” & manages to arrest a gang of teenagers that had been doing most of the shoplifting. mary anne is all like, “gang? do they have guns?” yes, & they’re drinking their juice in the hood in washington mall. kristy clarifies that they are not a gang-gang. they’re a gang, as in a group, & now the shoplifting should be less of an issue. & it is. but some weird stuff is going missing–toothpaste from the drugstore. towels & children’s size jeans from the department store. & some big things are disappearing too, at night. things like TVs & treadmills.

when mallory arranges a story hour at the bookstore, she notices a few grubby-looking blond kids. she mentions them to the other sitters for no real reason other than that she saw one of the kids sneak some cookies from another story hour attendee & wolf them down. for this reason, she thinks the kids might be stealing. & somehow this motivates jessi to announce that it looks like someone has been sleeping in the movie theatre overnight. can i just say that i have worked at several retail establishments in my day & if it ever looked like anyone was sleeping in them overnight, it would have warranted a lot more than a, “by the way, feel free to disregard, but maybe someone’s been sleeping in here. carry on!” somehow the babysitters decide that the three grubby blond kids are living in the mall.

now, when i got to this part, i literally jumped up & thought to myself, “YES! THIS IS AWESOME! THIS IS THAT BATSHIT CRAZY BOOK WHERE THE KIDS ARE LIVING IN THE MALL!” i had kind of forgotten that that was ever a plot in a babysitters club book. & then i noted that the very next line was, “but what about the thefts–TVs, treadmills? that was serious. far more serious than some kids living in the mall.”

hold the phone. WHAT COULD BE MORE SERIOUS THAN KIDS LIVING IN THE MOTHERFUCKING MALL? well-adjusted, healthy kids with stable, happy home lives do not just go live at the mall. where are the kids’ parents? why aren’t they going to school? THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SOME DUMB TREADMILL.

but first, we need a dumb babysitting subplot. i guess stacey has tired of her role as part-time unpaid sandy-sitter, & she suggests that the mall get a day care center–both for the mall employees, & for mall patrons that have heretofore just been dumping their kids off at the toy store or story hour & letting them hang out unsupervised while they shop. the sitters pitch the idea to the mall manager, mr. morton, & he goes for it. he lets them have an empty storefront for half-price, & a bunch of other store owners pitch in to contribute funds & supplies. okay, boring, let’s move on.

one day at work, stacey goes into the back room to look for a doll & finds a man wearing a ski mask back there. he runs away, but stacey is freaked. & convinced he is involved somehow with the missing electronics & whatnot.

another day everyone is at work & the fire alarm goes off. everyone has to vacate the mall. afterward, kristy notices that she never sees the three blond kids on the security tapes anymore. she becomes very concerned about them. this somehow causes stacey to have her deus ex machina moment: the blond kids are living at the mall. which means they are there when the big ticket items are being stolen. they find out who is behind it. in fact, they find out that mr. morton is behind it. stacey deduces this from the fact that mall is struggling financially but mr. morton is so nice & wants to say yes to everyone–to the day care, to benefit concerts, to discount programs. his generosity destroyed the mall’s bottom line & now he has to steal treadmills & sell them on the black market to keep the mall afloat. the kids know about it, so he threatened them to keep them quiet. they pulled the fire alarm to buy time to find better hidey-holes at the mall.

the sitters decide to go to the mall & look for the kids. they find them taking a nap in the yet-to-be-opened day care center. the kids confirm stacey’s theory & explain that their mom got really sick & had to go to the hospital. their aunt was supposed to come take care of them, but she never showed. they ran out of money, the utilities were shut off, & the landlord was going to evict them. so they moved into the mall. they just recently moved to the area, so they haven’t been enrolled in school yet. every now & again, they would take coins from the fountain to pay for bus fare to visit their mom in the hospital. they never told her what happened because they didn’t want to worry her.

THIS MAKES NO SENSE. i wish i had a bigger caps lock because, guys, THIS MAKES NO SENSE! why didn’t the aunt show up? why didn’t the mom know that the aunt hadn’t shown up? didn’t the kids have another relative or adult friend to call upon? don’t you have to get several months behind on your utility bills before they are turned off? isn’t eviction a complicated, drawn out process involving numerous court dates? if the mom was actually in the hospital for this long–for months–how were the kids feeding themselves while they were still living in the apartment? i could go on, but seriously. when i think about everything i know as an adult that makes this scenario so incredibly unlikely, my brain starts to melt. but i guess it’s a nice fantasy for little kids.

kristy decides they have to call the police. which they do. mr. morton is arrested for the big thefts, & the police learn that the grubby kids’ mom is almost better & ready to be discharged from the hospital. they will receive some help from social service agencies to get a new apartment & get back on their feet. apparently no one is going to be prosecuted for child neglect or endangerment. “it’s a happy ending for everyone,” the babysitters chortle, “except mr. morton!” who was just stealing because he was nice! not that i see how a few benefit concerts & a child care are going to break the bank of a healthy retail establishment, or how the sale of a few black market microwaves is going to fill the gap. not that it matters because this book is so wacktacular. it’s the standard against which all other wack must be measured.

all i need is a lanai & a caftan

i decided to take a chance on looking for a new doctor here in lawrence. i got myself a doctor shortly after i moved here so that i could get a prescription for birth control pills & a referral to a rheumatologist (because i was beginning to suspect that my osteoarthritis may have been misdiagnosed). that doctor didn’t work out so well. i got my rheumatologist referral, but the specialist was almost comically unhelpful. she sent me in for bloodwork, specifically to test my “RF” levels. i asked what she was looking for & she refused to tell me because she said she “didn’t want to scare” me. because, you know, being sent for mysterious bloodwork that your doctor thinks would terrify you if you knew what it was is not scary at all.

luckily i didn’t just fall of the turnip truck yesterday & i knew that “RF” meant “rheumatoid factor” & that she was looking for blood diagnostic proof of rheumatoid disease. when my tests came back inconclusive, she had her nurse call me to prescribe thrice daily dosing with over-the-counter painkillers. forever. i declined to follow this advice, because that kind of over-the-counter painkiller intake has been conclusively linked to organ failure. thanks, though! for being so unbelievably unhelpful. i mean, seriously? they couldn’t prescribe a generic non-organ-killing painkiller?

not that i blame my primary care doctor for the failings of the specialist. but i do blame her for failing to call my birth control refills in to my pharmacy without fail every single time i called her for a refill. not once did she manage to call in my refills until i’d gone to pick up my pills on at least three separate occasions only to find they’d never been called in. i finally just gave up & went off the pill. back to fertility awareness for me. i want to have a baby anyway, so i feel okay taking the gamble.

anyway! i decided to get a new doctor, in part because i want to have a baby & i should probably have a relationship with a medical provider in town before becoming pregnant. perhaps this seems odd–not in keeping with everything i once espoused about natural childbirth & midwives. i am still all for natural childbirth & midwives for people who wish to go that route–especially people who don’t have tons of pre-existing medical conditions. but my personal circumstance is different.

i’ve decided to look into the possibility that i may be a good candidate for a hip replacement. i probably have less than 50% rotation in my right hip, & it is continuing to decline. & my pain issues are becoming more complex. my hips used to give me trouble if i remained too sedentary. then i would spend a few days taking walks & the pain would lessen. it was like they had a stiffness that needed to be worked out. but now they hurt when i become too sedentary, but they hurt just as bad when i walk & stand. there have been a few times when i have considered calling jared for a ride because it was hurting so much to walk home from the library or whatever (bear in mind that i live about five blocks away from the library). it’s like the joint locks into place & the bones are grinding together in order to support my weight or swing back & forth in the rotation necessary for walking.

hip replacements are a last resort for when other therapies, like prescription painkillers & physical therapy, don’t work. so maybe i’ll see a doctor & be able to get into a physical therapy program. that would be fine with me. i am not attached to the idea of having a hip replacement in my early 30s. but it is getting really difficult to live with this pain.

i’d also like to find a way to deal with the pain without surgery for a at least a few years, because surgery & recovery will take a while & i don’t want to wait that long to have a child. so i think, child first, then surgery if it is necessary. but i also don’t think it’s a brilliant idea to have a hip replacement & a newborn at the same time…it feels weird to me to even have to consider these chronologies. someone recently was getting up in my grill a little bit about how there are so many unwanted babies & it is so selfish of me to think about becoming pregnant & that jared & i should adopt if we really want to be parents at some point. this person doesn’t know about my whole disability thing, so i was trying to be like, “yeah, i hear you, but i really don’t think anyone would let me adopt,” without actually having to share the whole story. i was also thinking about my limited income (& jared’s limited income as a TA) & wondering how the fuck we could afford to adopt at this point. i guess this was my first little taste of the constant, unceasing, self-satisfied judgments that rain down on parents from all sides at all times over every little decision you can possibly make.

so, my funny story about looking for a new doctor: i have medicare for health insurance, because of my disability, so of course i was looking for a doctor that is taking new patients & accepts medicare. i found one on the interwebz & called the number. the receptionist was like, “yeah, we have four doctors accepting new patients,” & started taking my info. when she got to insurance, i said, “medicare,” & she said, “ohhhhh. yeah. we don’t accept medicare at this clinic. but we have some internists at our sister clinic that are taking new patients & accept medicare.” “that would be great,” i said, thinking that she’d transfer me over or give me the number. but instead…*click* she hung up on me!

i tried to find the contact info for the “sister clinic” she referenced online, but she provided me with pretty much no info to make that happen. so i called back & was like, “yeah, hi, i just called, looking for a new doctor?” & she was all, “oh yeah, you’re the one with the medicare? we don’t take that here,” & i was like, “yeah, i got that, but i was wondering if you could transfer me to the clinic that does, or at least give me the phone number & not hang up on me?” she was like, “um, uh, i can’t do that, it’s not our clinic, so we don’t have internal transfer…” & I was like, “right. awesome story. could i get the phone number, please?” & she finally gave it to me.

most boring post i’ve ever written? maybe. i feel like few things are more tedious than hearing about someone else’s health problems…unless you are a doctor. but even then, i bet it gets kind of old after a while.

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.

greetings from shady pines: TV & fashion

i haven’t written in a while. & i did not recap the “top model” finale. once again, my apologies. but once the season is over, it’s really hard for me to muster up the energy to give a fuck, you know? krista won, i knew she would, raina was a finalist, i knew she would be…the whole thing was pretty anti-climactic. neither of them even had hilariously ridiculous sob stories like overcoming psoriasis or struggling to walk a runway guided by only a strobe light when one is epileptic. both krista & raina felt unattractive as adolescents. has there ever been an adolescent that didn’t feel ugly? what a yawn. i do think it’s weird that CW chose to air the cycle clip show last night–after everything was already over. once we know who wins, why the fuck would we want to sit & watch a clip show full of manufactured drama we’ve already seen? i mean, i’ll probably watch it anyway, because it’s been really rainy & sometimes when it’s rainy, i like to sit around & watch mindless TV. but it does seem like a programming faux pas.

speaking of programming faux paseseses, how awful was last week’s episode of “lost”? i watched it & it was like something inside of me broke & suddenly i was overwhelmed with what an incredibly terrible television show “lost” actually is. thank god i didn’t devote the last six years of my life to it–only the last two months. i can write off two months. we all make mistakes. take it from someone who saw every episode of the american version of “farmer wants a wife” (spoiler: he chooses brooke). “farmer wants a wife” might actually be better than “lost”. i will watch the finale, & i admit that this week’s episode was a small step up in quality, but i’ve officially hit my wall.

mostly i have been reading a lot. & watching “the wire” with jared. now that jared is done with his first year of grad school (go jared!), he has had some time to sit around to do nothing. he already watched “the wire” once with his brother, but now he has gotten me into it. every time something terrible happens to one my favorite characters, i have to imagine the camera pulling back to reveal all the TV equipment & microphones & such forth everywhere, & the actor getting up & asking for a towel to rid themselves of the red corn syrup in which they are covered.

i started reading just kids by patti smith yesterday. i am reserving judgment until i am finished, but…i’m having a bit of trouble feeling invested. she used the word “vexed” twice in the first chapter. “vexed”? seriously? is she louisa may alcott?

kansas had had a lot of thunderstorms recently. thunderstorms in the midwest are different from thunderstorms on the east coast. i feel that there is a lot more thunder in the midwest. jared tried to disgree with me about this, & i’m not saying that thunder never happens on the east coast, but there are more thunderstorms in the midwest & more powerful thunder-free rainstorms on the east coast. this matters because charlotte is an east coast cat, so thunder is not a concept with which she is intimately familiar. probably no cat really likes thunder, but the cats i had when i was growing up in ohio handled it better than charlotte does. charlotte seems to think that the thunder is gonna get her, but only if it can see her face. so when it gets especially loud, she skulks into the kitchen & hides her head under the curtain under the sink. she’ll just sit there for huge stretches of time with her head under the curtain, waiting for the thunder to stop.

also lately, i have been feeling strangely old. when i was in high school, i used to be amused but also disturbed by old photos of my parents wearing fashions from the 70s. my mom had huge glasses & parted her hair down the middle & apparently made some effort to straighten it (not that it really worked). she wore bell bottom jeans with big square pockets on the front & lynyrd skynyrd t-shirts & such forth. my dad also had really long hair parted down the middle, but since he looked pretty much exactly the same for his entire adult life, i was more freaked out by pictures of him trying to look “nice” in perma-press olive-colored slacks & geometric print cosby sweatshirts & whatnot. also, he wore a white top hat to his own wedding. not cool.

then i would look in the mirror at what i was wearing. this is when i was 14 or so, which means i dressed like a “sassy” photo spread as much as possible. we’re talking sunflower-print baby doll dresses, engineer boots, enormously over-sized flannels, paisley polyester button-downs teamed with brown old man slacks, braided topknots, face glitter, etc. & i would wonder, is this look going to seem as dated in twenty years as my parents’ photos from 1973 look now? i found it difficult to imagine that i would ever want to wear anything EXCEPT ironic funky winkerbean ringer tees & silver airwalks. i mean, how could such a look ever go out of style? just one more example of the general short-sightedness of the average teenager.

i still think about this kind of thing a lot though. now that i am thirty, when i put my hair up in a bun & put on some nice straight-leg corduroys & sauconys & thick-framed glasses & a scoop-neck tee & a hoodie (my daily uniform…on those rare occasion when my daily uniform is not just pajamas), i wonder if i will look back at photos in twenty years & think i look like a jackass. or if my kids will look back at photos of me from now & laugh. there are little sartorial signposts that seem totally innocuous in the moment, & look totally dated & embarrassing just a few years later. like, remember when everyone was shaping their brows so have a really thin tail back in 2002-2005 or so? seriously, watch any movie or TV show from then, or look at any issue of “harper’s bazaar” or “elle” or whatever, & every celebrity (& hence, average american woman who follows mainstream beuaty trends) has the same eyebrow shape. & no one has that shape anymore. it just screams 2004.

sometimes i think about this kind of thing & feel unaccountably bummed out. it’s a reminder that time really does pass & the past is the past, never to be lived again. i spend a lot of time in my head (as opposed to hanging out with other people), so sometimes i forget that.

give me blog recommendations

i want to add some new blogs to my daily reading! i like to read blogs written by people i know (well or vaguely) through zines, which means, if you are reading this because you have read my zines, & you happen to have a blog you update occasionally, give me the address! i also like to read other kinds of blogs, like nostalgia blogs about the pop culture of my childhood & adolescence, & stuff relating to pop culture & feminism. & i like to read about cooking, crafts, sewing, etc. just tell me a few of your favorite blogs & i will go look at them.

man, i really hate the word “blog”.

i feel like i am still finding my sea legs in writing here, even though i’ve been doing it for a few months now. i am still struggling to find my focus, especially because i am constantly distracted by more private writing endeavors. such a strange mix of people read this thing, i never really understand “who i’m writing for,” you know? when i’m writing about kathleen hanna, for example, i don’t know how much context to provide. there are people reading who are probably thinking, “kathleen who?” even with a provided biography & there are others who are like, “dude, i know all about kathleen hanna, i don’t need all this tedious background!”

i guess i’ll just write what i want to write.

i can’t believe it’s march already. the weather is vaguely sunny & the temperature is supposed to hit 55 over the weekend! the farmer’s market opens again in six weeks, & i’ll be able to buy fresh basil by the handful, the most delicious bacon in the world, fresh flowers, chocolate zucchini bread baked by a nice farmer lady, herbal tinctures of dubious effectiveness, whole fresh chickens for roasting, chocolate cheesecake, & so forth. i have learned quite a bit about cooking, & especially about seasonal eating & vegetables (though i am still a total neophyte compared to most people–i think i ate maybe two servings of vegetables per year before i started dating jared), so i am more excited about the farmer’s market this year than i usually am.

i will also get to observe a whole new winter crop of babies & froth with jealousy because i don’t have a baby. even though i admit that right now i like the idea of having a baby a lot more than i’d probably like the reality of sleep deprivation & diaper laundering. i am slowly easing into baby fever with the hope that it will peak right around the time that jared is done with grad school & gets on board with the idea. thus far, the fever does not involve actually hanging out with kids. so really, i’m being extremely unrealistic.

on the off chance that anyone from lawrence is actually reading this & silently thinking, “this ciara person sounds interesting & i’d like to discuss books with her,” i am willing to set aside my pride & admit that i wish i was in a book club. i say “set aside my pride” not because book clubs aren’t awesome but because they conceptually have a whiff of bored housewife/complaining about one’s partner/suburbia to them. but i won’t let that stand in my way. i used to be in this anarcha-feminist book club in boston. it was a weird & somewhat terrible experience. there’s not a lot of explicitly anarcha-feminist literature out there in the published world, so we kind of had to reach to find things to read. we read against love, by laura kipnis, an excellent book, but not especially anarchist or even feminist in a direct & straightforward way. i had everyone read wise children, by angela carter, so we could talk about things like aging & beauty standards & bawdy old dames casting off one’s expectations of aging femininity. it’s like “the golden girls,” with an extra heaping helping of shakespearean intrigue, vaudeville, & consensual incest. but no one really got that except for me.

the things i didn’t like about the anarcha-feminist book club were that a) no one ever really had any insights or even opinions about the books we read, aside from, “i liked it,” or, “i didn’t like it.” when i would ask why people felt this or that way, they mostly looked blank or said something prosaic like, “it was hard to read about all the violence” (in reference to the bandit queen of india). not exactly the stuff thrilling conversation is made of. also, b) there was one woman in the group who was like an anarcha-feminist version of the kind of lady who goes to her book club meetings, gets soused, commandeers the conversation to complain about her partner & suburbia & being a bored college student (the urban 20-year-old version of the bored housewife), & cannot handle polite social cues. in her case, she talked a lot about non-monogamy & the struggles of balancing multiple boyfriends & how her boyfriends invisibilized her queer identity. that’s great, but also irrelevant, boring, & tedious, & somehow she managed to relate every book we read back to these themes. it was like every book club meeting was an outpost of a women’s studies 101 class where She Tells Everyone How It Is. & there is a reason i took precisely one women’s studies class in college.

what is it about being in your early twenties & thinking everything you have to say is utterly compelling, even though it’s actually banal & trite? i was at a social event not long ago where a little crowd of twentysomethings were discussing their middle names & how they are spelled. at another event, a twentysomething dude tried to keep the conversation afloat by asking everyone about jobs they used to have before they started doing what they do now. these glorified ice breakers are always just an entry point for someone to say, “my middle name is leigh! like lee, but spelled l-e-i-g-h! isn’t that weird?” (answer: no. also, shut up.) or, “i used to drive a forklift. i know, can you believe it? me, engaged in whatever genteel desk-bound pursuit i am currently engaged in, i drove a forklift one summer! my working-class credibility file is expanding as we speak!” (response: me too. who cares? shut up.)

i was discussing this phenomenon with someone ten years older than me, who wisely pointed out that sometimes people really are just banal & trite & they never grow out of it. she said that she’s been to parties full of forty-year-olds where someone will start talking about middle names or summer jobs they had in college, & she has the same reaction: shut up, who cares, oh my god. so maybe it’s not an age thing. but it feels so much more apparent to me now that i am a little older. i can’t sit here & pretend that i was never that eager-to-please early twentysomething who’d concoct a conversation starter out of something that might amuse a second grader for fifteen minutes, just because maybe i had a little story i wanted to share. i find that kind of behavior so gauche now, the person i used to be is pretty much completely unrecognizable. but hey. i’m writing about this on a blog, so in some ways, our basest pleas for attention all come full circle.

on relating to kathleen hanna

i watched this interview yesterday.

it’s an interview with kathleen hanna, known to kids of today thanks to her band le tigre, & known to me as a teenager from her riot grrrl band bikini kill. i loved bikini kill a lot when i was younger, & when kathleen’s solo record under the name julie ruin came out, i was psyched. i had secretly been into very un-punk disco/dance/pop music for years & it was gratifying that a musician from the same punk/feminist background as me was taking that sensibility into a musical direction that i could finally admit liking (because suddenly it was hip…this was clearly before i stopped giving a fuck about what was cool). & then le tigre came along, & at first i was excited, & i bought the record & i saw the band when they played the meow meow in portland, oregon sometime in 2000 or so. they performed “bang! bang!” from their EP, which is a song about amadou diallo being shot 42 times by cops in new york city. there’s a “breakdown” where kathleen leads the crowd in counting to 42. i was at the show with a friend, who happens to be a woman of color born & raised in a new york city borough. she became increasingly uncomfortable as the song progressed & eventually had to leave. i took a walk with her & she explained that it felt sickening to her to be in a room full of white people (because portland is mostly white, & let’s face facts: bikini kill/le tigre/kathleen hanna fans in general are mostly white) counting down how many times an unarmed black immigrant was shot by white cops. the song is supposed to be about police brutality & raising awareness of that issue among white kids, but…it did feel weird. the counting got louder & louder & became almost anthemic, like the kids were celebrating. it was creepy & i always skipped that song when i listened to the EP.

& then, of course, le tigre signed on to play the michigan womyn’s music festival, an extremely long-running woman-only music festival. the fest was started in the late 70s by some young lesbians who were sick of having to drive all the way to new york to see the lesbian singer-songwriters they liked so much. the fest has expanded its focus, musically, over the years, but still maintain a “woman-born-woman” policy, which means that you can oonly attend if you have a vagina, apparently. trans men are allowed, so long as they still have vaginas & don’t identify themselves at the event as men. trans women are not allowed, because supposedly they are men playacting as women. basically, the policy is patently transphobic & fucked up. it’s fucked up even for the trans men that are allowed on the land, because it invisibilizes their male identities by reducing their genders to their body parts. it’s like saying, “well, maybe you think you’re a man, but you can hang out here because you’re really a woman.” & it tells trans women that they are straight up not women.

people have been protesting MWMF & their policy for years & years, to no avail. supporters of the policy insist that they should be allowed to have the occasional event that is a woman-only space, & that some women with histories that involve abuse & assault at the hands of men would not be comfortable at the festival if men were there–that the presence of men could be triggering. the policy extends to children as well–i think the cut-off age for male children permitted at the event is twelve years. apparently there’s a lot of strutting around nude that happens at the festival, & many women who support the policy say they want to protect themselves from the male gaze. none of this changes the fact that, you know, trans women are women & not men! so what the hell!

anyway, people who have been protesting the policy (& hence, the event itself) extended their protests to also protesting bands/artists that pley the festival. & when le tigre & labelmates the butchies signed on to play the fest in 2001, those of us who had grown up with bikini kill & team dresch & all these formative feminist/queer-posi bands felt like we’d been slapped in the face. i was pretty involved in the protesting, i wrote about my experiences for my old zine, “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage” #5, & i couldn’t bring myself to listen to my le tigre CDs anymore. i’ve barely even listened to bikini kill in the last ten years. the bands & the folks who ran their label, mr. lady, were so completely unapologetic about the MWMF policy. & every time i’d try to cut them some slack & think, “well, it’s not like THEY made up the policy, they’re just playing the fest, maybe it’s not the end of the world,” they’d do something fucked up like comparing trans activists to terrorists (seriously!) or something. they just made it impossible for me be at all sympathetic to their perspective, because their perspective was so deeply entrenched in completely unchecked transphobia, even while they trotted out le tigre member J.D. samson (a trans dude) as proof of their credentials.

all of this is just kind of background on why i have not really paid any attention to kathleen hanna in the last ten years, & why i am incredibly reluctant to be into much of anything she has to say. but she’s been in the punky underground news a bit recently, thanks to donating her papers (including zines, correspondence, flats, etc) to NYU. i watched this interview with her yesterday & was kind of blown away by some of the ways i related to what she was saying. i cannot relate to the hideous glasses or the valley girl intonations of her speaking voice, which really grate after fifteen minutes, but that’s beside the point. the point:

#1: the thing about getting caught up in “horizontal oppression” stuff in her twenties & wasting too much energy arguing over “personal issues that have been politicized.” i can’t remember exactly how she phrased it, something like focusing too much on “nitpicking instead of action”. this is something i would LOVE to talk to someone about more, because i can totally relate in some ways, & have huge reservations in other ways. i think it’s just a hallmark of any young activist-oriented person to get overly wrapped up in minutiae, at the expense of real work. pretty much every activist type i have known has grown through a huge identity politics period where everything they read, think, say, or do relates directly to them & their positionality in terms of race, gender, sexuality, class, etc. not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not always relevant or helpful. it leads to people sometimes drawing lines in the sand & fractiousness which does a lot more harm than good. HOWEVER, where to draw the line? while i sometimes think that certain things are “nitpicking” or “irrelevant,” that is exactly the same criticism that people in positions of privilege & power use to discount things like feminism, anti-racist activism, anti-oppression issues in general. i mean, so much of the critique that MWMF policy protesters faced was that fighting for the inclusion of trans women was “nitpicking,” & that trans activists were “hurting” the feminist/lesbian legacy of the MWMF event by casting the marginalized (in mainstream society) as oppressors (of trans women).

i eventually realized that the whole MWMF issue was a question of basic values & principles. either you accept that trans women are women & the policy marginalizes their self-identification & dignity as human beings, or you feel that trans women are some “third gender” or something & that their rights & demands need to take a week-long backseat to the primacy of cissexual women enjoying a music fest. i happen to think that people of the latter opinion are short-sighted assholes, but i don’t kid myself that thinking that, or even saying it, is going to change their minds. & the fact remains that on a whole host of other specific issues, like abortion rights, queer liberation, anti-racism, et al, i probably have more in common with le tigre & the ladies at MWMF than i do with the guy ringing up my groceries or my mailman or whatever. so where does that leave us?

#2: kathleen talks about getting older (“being a grown-up”) & realizing that she doesn’t necessarily need to scrap in every argument or every little thing. WORD, kathleen. people who have known me for a long time know that i am fierce in a debate. but lately, it seems like a waste of energy. it doesn’t feel constructive. sometimes i feel hopeless (which isn’t constructive either), because i feel like nothing i can say will ever change anyone’s mind. the best i can hope for is managing to say something that coalesces some scrambled thoughts that someone who vaguely agrees with me is already thinking, you know? like they’d say, “wow, i’d never really thought of it this way before, but ciara really put this into words that make sense to me.” that’s nice, but kind of anti-climactic.

in the interview, kathleen also mentions coming to the realization that your voice is not necessarily helping matters. i could really relate to that too. kathleen & i are both polarizing forces in some ways (to different degrees & in different ways), & sometimes i feel that me throwing my hat into the ring is going to do more harm than good, because…

#3: the part where the interviewer mentions “being a woman whose reputation precedes her”? man, that resonated with me. i have often been described that way. it’s a blessing & a curse. there are some people who will always consider what i have to say respectfully & with interest, because they like me & are willing to hear me out, just because of who i am & what i’ve done in the past. & there are other people who will never listen to anything i have to say, no matter how well it may dovetail with their own perspectives, because of who i am & what i have done in the past. they just hate me.

#4: i liked what kathleen had to say about zines as an ephemeral medium, & how they were created to be historical, in a way. she talked about giving NYU her zine flats so people in the future can look at them & understand that not everything came from the internet; people used to cut & paste. i almost felt a little stirring of inspiration regarding the zine medium again. it made me remember being 17 & making zines after getting home from work at 4am, listening to bikini kill & sleater-kinney, cutting & pasting & tapping away at the typewriter.

#5: i also liked what kathleen had to say about leadership, & how some people just have a knack for being spokespeople, but they are sometimes cut down & silenced because people in our punky little anarchist-y scene look at spokespersonship as some kind of fucked up replication of leadership & hierarchy from mainstream society. this is something that has long bothered me, & i have trotted out the opinion that some people have gifts that can be useful & ought to be nurtured, & that we can’t all be “equals” in terms of interest & ability. as far back as 1999, i did a huge independent research project on zines & issues of hierarchy & came to the conclusion that, yeah, our scene replicates some fucked up superstar tendencies, but also, sometimes there’s a reason for it. people whine about distros all carrying the same zines, & they offer examples like “doris” & “brainscan” (& my zines have been mentioned a few times too). there are tons of zines that are just as good or maybe even a little better than those zines, but ultimately, people love “doris” because it’s full of great writing, it comes out regularly, & cindy seems like a very kind person. people like “brainscan” because it has an iconic zine look (often imitated), the writing is friendly & approachable, & alex is great at getting the word out about her projects. people liked my old zine, “a renegade’s handbook,” because it was monstrously enormous compared to most other zines out there, & the writing was slightly more polished & sophisticated than most of what you find in zines. & some people hate on all these zines for the same reasons.

there’s just no pleasing all of the people all of the time, & in a scene where bikini kill erupted from a record label called kill rock stars, people are going to build their idols up only to tear them back down again. you’re never allowed to feel too comfortable with your achievements or too proud of a job well done. it helps keep people humble & pushing themselves to do their best, but it also crushes people, because hard work is quickly minimized & scuttled, raw talent is dismissed & ignored, & the tallest stalk is first to meet with the scythe.

food for thought, i guess. i hope people comment on this, because this is the kind of shit i am talking about when i say i want to engage in “dialectical learning”. i certainly do not have all the answers about things like hierarchy & horizontal oppression. every statement i come up with seems to generate ten new internal questions. i am trying to be cool with that, because i kind of think that broad statements that say, “this is how it is & how it should be” are for confident kids that haven’t yet fully grappled with the complexities of the world. like i have said before, as i get older, the only thing i am sure about is that i am not sure of anything. (except the deliciousness of cheesecake on the lanai.)