Category Archives: how squares have fun

make this the summer of the walk-in bear cave

first of all, sorry i didn’t recap last week’s episode of “top model”. i can’t believe a week has passed since my beloved simone got the boot & a new episode is on tonight! time flies. i wish i had better excuses for why i didn’t get around to it, besides just, “i read a stack of library books, & i spent a lot of time hanging around next door bumming smokes off people & shooting the shit. plus there were a lot of dishes to wash.” i mean, i wish i had been doing some big creative time-consuming project (like a zine!) instead. now there are recaps up at fourfour (recommended for excellent gifs & screen caps, but just a touch heavy on the gay-man-is-endlessly-amused-by-vaginas trope for me to recommend without reservation–though the multiple cat videos make up for it almost 100%) & television without pity (no images, but still hilarious) & i feel like i don’t really have anything to add. kind of a bummer, because OMGWTFBBQ, posing as vampires? are you shitting me? i laughed all episode long.

i think it’s safe to say that spring has come to lawrence, kansas. it’s been sunny & hot, with thunderstorms in the early mornings & some evenings. i’ve been riding my bike a bit, wearing cut-off shorts, keeping a jar of tulips under the window, & getting sunburnt. i am still wrapping my head around the facts that a) i will be more or less living in philly in two months, & b) two weeks after we come back to kansas, we’ll be moving into a really sweet, larger apartment (that is still not absolutely set in stone, so i hope i’m not jinxing it).

last week, cait came to town to hang out for spring break. she baked a batch of carrot cupcakes for jared’s birthday (he turned thirty on sunday). the cupcakes were delicious & she even included some candles shaped like baseball gloves, but more importantly, she told us that when she was driving through town, she saw a sign outside a liquor store & thought it said “walk-in bear cave”. without really thinking this through, she immediately turned off the road to see what this walk-in bear cave situation was all about. she was disappointed to discover that it was, in fact, a sign advertising a walk-in BEER cave. but the sign could certainly be changed pretty easily by someone with enough stealth & motivation. i won’t get into details, but some phone calls inquiring about the advertised walk-in bear cave may have followed. i want to rent a bear costume with some folks & have us all excitedly walk into the liquor store & head straight for the beer cave, only to walk away dejectedly upon discovering that it’s full of beer & not bears. this could also work well for bears of the queer variety.

i am also working on overcoming my obsessive attachment to my to-do lists. to further this end, i bought a new journal yesterday. my relationship with my old journal was kind of dysfunctional. i’m hoping that things with my new journal will be a little more lighthearted & well-intentioned, & that this doesn’t start me back up the rollercoaster of acquisition, euphoria, crushing regret, & despondence that defined my obsession with blank notebooks some five or six years ago. i finally broke the cycle by limiting myself to one blank notebook per year–always the same kind, though i alternated sizes & colors sometimes. i have an incredibly addictive personality, which is why i have never allowed myself to do drugs. i know i’d be a junkie in about a week if i ever tried to dabble. i can never do anything halfway. so intead, my addictive issues manifest in fucked up obsessions with things like blank notebooks & to-do lists that spiral out of control to the point that they require their own blank notebooks in order to be corralled. i’m also this way about TV, phone calls, my hair, pretty much everything.

as far as writing projects go, i am feeling like i really want to write a new personal zine. i ordered some zines from a couple of different zine distros last night & gazed longingly at a few zines i am desperate to get my mitts on, but are seemingly only available through microcosm. i haven’t ordered anything from microcosm since maybe 2001 or 2002. i stopped ordering from them initially because i had some really bad experiences having my zines sold through microcosm. i ended my distribution relationship with them & heard from other zinesters that they’d had similar troubles (not getting paid, finding that their prices were being jacked up without permission, etc), so i decided i wouldn’t order anymore from distros that fuck over zinesters. & then i found out about joe biel’s history of abusive, manipulative relationships (both romantic & not), & i felt that i couldn’t in good conscience support microcosm because it seemed to be looking the other way when it comes to joe’s fucked up ways. that’s also part of the reason that i started my own distro in 2003, to try to create another alternative to microcosm. so how much does it totally suck that a) microcosm occasionally publishes shit i am going to want to read (like the second “doris” anthology, comprised of the encyclopedia series) & b) some zines i really, really want to read seem to be available exclusively from microcosm? if anyone can tell me how else i might get my hands on “chainbreaker” #5, “xtra tuf” #6, & “show & tell” #5, i am ALL EARS. take note, distro operators: these zines are out there & i want to buy them from you, so long as you pay your zinesters responsibly & don’t use your high profile in the subcultural world to get out of taking responsibility for abusing people in your life!

& another tip for folks who run distros: i like an alphabetized catalogue, & i especially like an alphabetized online catalogue that divides the available wares into categories, like “A-F,” “G-L,” etc. i also think it’s helpful to have links to the other pages of the catalogue AT THE BOTTOM of each page. this is an incredibly minor grievance, but i hate having to scroll back up to the top of the page to move on to the next page of the catalogue. it’s also helpful to make note of new additions with some kind of eye-catching graphic in the body of the catalogue, for regular browsers. &, sad but true, i probably won’t order anything if you don’t have a paypal shopping cart feature. i don’t even mind adding up my own postage, so long as i can pay automatically when the spirit moves me.

probably the worst thing about not running a distro anymore is that i don’t get free zines anymore. i never realized how much i enjoyed it until that gravy train stopped. i discovered recently that a few folks i might consider “friends” (like, i have their phone numbers, they’ve stayed at my house, etc) have new zines out that are in distros & i didn’t even know they were working on anything! i guess we’re either not as chummy as i thought, or i am even further out of the loop than i thought. it also blew my mind a little realizing how few distros carry my zines at this point. back when i was doing “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage,” i could hardly keep up with the distro demand. i actually had to put a cap on how many different distros carried my zine because i just got confused & overwhelmed otherwise. i started my own distro maybe a year after i quit doing “a renegade’s handbook,” & a lot of the distros i used to work with shut down while i was running paper trail. it was a bummer, but i didn’t notice that much because i was still selling tons of my zines through paper trail, & i knew there were still a few other distros that were carrying it as well. but then i shut down paper trail…i’ve sold two copies of “love letters to monsters” #2 in the last three months. granted, it’s a year old at this point & i haven’t done any promotion whatsoever. & there’s nowhere to get it online (from me) with just the click of a button–no etsy store or shop attached to this blog or anything. but still!

actually, vampire sushi distro in england wants ten copies, sticky shop in australia wants fifty, i sold five to quimby’s when i was in chicago…but still. does anyone reading this want a zine? only $2!

the other big writing project i am thinking about is: novel in a month. like nanowrimo, but not in november. just, you know, whenever i sit down to get started. maybe tomorrow? ailecia & i are trying to start a little two-person writing group to be accountable to one another & be more serious about writing. we were supposed to start yesterday but things didn’t work out. so we’re hoping to start tomorrow instead. i want to write about a woman who is more or less thirty years old & is starting to come to terms with the various ways that punk rock feminism has & has not let her down in life. yes, it will more or less be torn from the headlines of my own life. but i hope that writing in a voice i am unaccustomed to (that of fiction) will jumpstart my creativity & that i’ll be able to create a character that isn’t just me with a different name. & that she will have adventures that are nothing i have ever done. i’ll probably have to start by making her something other than a writer–maybe a person who is really into sewing? that could be fun. i’ll probably also make her more queer than i am. ailecia made the brilliant suggestion that this should be the start of a serial–like “the babysitters club” or “sweet valley high,” but for people our age (i am 30, ailecia is 33) & about people our age & everyone is a punky feminist weirdo like us. & basically, the series would just fictionalize all the shit that we’ve done in the last fifteen or twenty years. we’ll trade off books but use the same pseudonym, like francine pascal. & this will be a way for ailecia to put everything she has studied about grrrl culture for her doctorate down on paper, but in a really fun, weird way.

don’t steal this idea, guys! i mean, i don’t know if it will really happen, but…i’m going to try! when i was in college, i was a fiction specialist in the creative writing department. i have never been really great at narrative tension, but…i can do this thing!

a few other things i want to document:

* i hope “lost” hurries up & starts giving us some answers about some shit.
* last week, i went to the replay in the afternoon to play a card game with some folks. i had never been there before & discovered that they offer free sodas! is there anything more awesome than sitting on a sunny patio where you can smoke in the middle of the afternoon, playing cards & drinking free soda?
* i made jared a chocolate sour cream cake for his birthday, with chocolate buttercream frosting. but the fat in the butter, like, melted & separated from the butter & congealed on top of the frosting on top of the cake. i have no clue what i did wrong. i used to make buttercream frosting all the time a few years ago & that never happened then. (still tastes good though.)
* as far as gifts go, i gave him a really cute set of bird/nest/egg-themed magnets (& some of them have old-fashioned postal meters & stuff on them too), a box of chocolates with an image of five kittens in a row on the box (he hates kitten, so it was something of a gag gift), a nice wooden knife block, a set of four fancypants knives (because he likes to cook), & a taxidermied bat behind glass.
* the other day, i discovered a HUGE spider in the bathroom (larger than a teacup, possibly) & i was home alone. i ran out into the yard in my pajamas & ran across the street where there were some shirtless KU undergrad bro-dudes playing this weird game that people in lawrence are obsessed with, where you throw a hackysack-looking thing into a hole. i was all, “there’s a really big spider, & my boyfriend’s not home…” totally playing the girl card. but i seriously could not go back into the house without someone who would kill the spider for me. i can’t handle big spiders or spiders way high up on the wall where they could fall/jump on me. so the bro-dudes came over & killed the spider & they didn’t even make fun of me. i gave them a cupcake as a thank you.
* flowers are blooming, trees are growing leaves…god, i’m so glad that whatever seasonal allergies i have are really minor so that i can just enjoy this part of year! & spring in the midwest is a gazillion times better than spring in boston (sorry, boston, but all you do is rain & stay cold until june!).
* writing projects currently on the table: on-going five-year daily journal, on-going attempt at regular journal, this blog nonsense, new “love letters to monsters”-style personal zine, weirdo punk grrrl fiction thing, logic puzzles. each kind of writing is really different from the next in a way that is baffling but also kind of cool.
* i don’t remember where to buy embroidery floss in lawrence. & i am too busy writing to embroider anyway.
* i am trying to order a reload civilian bag (hopefully pink, purple, & blue) with a picture of charlotte appliqued on the flap. this is my summer dream. except i need it by late may so i can bring it to philly.
* i am thinking about getting another set of knuckle tattoos, which will say “homebody”. so my tattoos will say “spinster homebody”. yay/nay?
* i am reading an alternate translation of the first pippi longstocking book (i re-read the three main novels every april) & it’s really weird. like, pippi’s name is different in this translation. one of her middle names is “curlymint” instead of “mackrelmint”. bring back mackarelmint! i have been secretly planning on giving my daughter the middle names “windowshade mackrelmint,” assuming i ever have a daughter (& assuming i am successful in somehow drugging jared immediately after i give birth so that i can handle birth certificate issues without his interference, because no way is he going to go for that).

odds & ends…not very inspired

1. there has been something wrong with my back for several weeks now. there is always something wrong with it, because i am missing vertebrae & i have scoliosis & i am riddled with arthritis & several of my vertebrae are disintegrating. but this is a new wrong. there’s some kind of weird bump mid-spine that hurts in a new & horrible way that has nothing to do with the usual muscle aches & sclerotic agonies to which i have grown accustomed. poking around on internet diagnostic websites (not a great idea), i discovered that it could be symptomatic of a weird benign tumor often found in rheumatoid arthritis patients, which tallies with all my other RA symptoms (save for actual diagnostic lab work). it could also possibly be a slipped desk or stress fracture. who the fuck knows? i am seeing a chiropractor tomorrow (recommended by my therapist–sometimes she has weird boundary issues, as in, she has none) in the hopes that a dude who looks at backs all day will be able to tell me if i need to rush off & see a doctor. & who knows? maybe he can just do some adjustments & fix the issue.

2. i went running yesterday for the first time ever. i definitely understand why people like it. i hated it for the first five minutes, but then i got into the zone. only for ten more minutes because, hey, i’ve never done this before & sometimes just walking is a challenge. but it was pretty awesome. & no knee pain!

3. this bodes well for my plan to run up & down the steps of the philadelphia art museum every day that i live there while amanda waits on the sidewalk playing the “rocky” song on a boombox.

4. i really want to take charlotte with me to philadelphia. the more i think about it, the less comfortable i am leaving her in the care of cat sitters for six weeks. i hope i can find a good solution to this problem, so that charlotte, amanda, jared, & myself are all happy & not vomiting from anxiety & loneliness.

5. has anyone but me heard of this bookswim thing? it’s like netflix for books, minus the instant viewing feature (not that i’d want to read a book on a computer). i can’t decide if it’s a good idea or not. the marketing materials emphasize its utility for folks who “don’t have time” to go to the library, which begs the question, who the fuck doesn’t have time to go to the library? maybe people who live in the suburbs & have really long commutes? but what about weekends? i am confused. i live a ten-minute walk from the local library & go there all the time, so you wouldn’t think i’d even consider paying $24 a month to rent books from these bookswim people. but they do have a few books my library doesn’t have. & my library has MANY books that bookswim doesn’t have (because they are new & seem to mostly be focusing on bestsellers). i am intrigued, but conflicted. does a service like this compete with libraries? the prevalence of netflix spelled doom for the health of actual video rental stores. i doubt bookswim will ever achieve the success of netflix, because i don’t think most people really read that much, but i don’t feel great about undercutting the library. thoughts?

6. lots of books these days on how to be happy & whether or not you can actually try to be happy. the happiness project is another stunt journalism book in which a woman spends one year of her life following all kinds of different advice on achieving happiness & sees where it gets her. it’s next on my to-read list, because i tend to read most things that pique my curiosity a little bit. i also put ariel gore’s new book on “happiness & women” on hold at the library. what’s up with all this happiness literature? maybe it’s always been a popular topic & i am just now noticing it, for whatever personal reasons?

7. didn’t catch “top model” tonight because ailecia wasn’t home to aid & abet me with her tivo. i’ll get to it soon & try to do a recap. i can’t wait until they unload some of the chaff–i realized i mised up tatianna & anslee in my last post. anslee takes surprisingly good photographs, but she seems to have the same relationship with me that cycle six mollie sue back in the day had with tyra: mollie who? or, remember that time that tyra forgot to give cycle three nicole feedback at panel? good times. (ps–ailecia, if you stumble across this, i am not just using you for your TV. there is also the fact that you often have free cigarettes lying around…jay kay!)

8. last week, jared & i were talking about the TV show “dexter” & he said, “do you think he ever wonders about why he kills people that kill people to show that killing people is wrong?” it made me laugh. i finished watching season four the other day (after being alerted to its presence in various free forums online). i don’t see how he is going to make it through another season without finally being found out, & how the fuck is that going to go down? (speculation that is three months late: sorry.)

9. i have a cat-sitting gig for the upstairs neighbor. her cat is extremely friendly. not as cute as charlotte, but who is? apparently, the neighbor has decided to give up her apartment when her lease expires due to expense & such forth. sad for her, but awesome for me. i got to check it out a little when i went up there to check on the cat & his food situation (why do i always sit for cats whose names i don’t know? jared said it’s because only we are crazy enough to refer to charlotte by her name constantly, as if she is a person, but i don’t know), & dude. i want this apartment. the bathroom doesn’t have a door (it has a curtain instead), but it is otherwise completely adorable. & far more appropriate for putting up the occasional houseguest. my current apartment is fine & the price is excellent, but i’m always looking for an upgrade when it comes to living situations. this is why i have managed to move 32 times in only thirty years of living.

10. please enjoy this very sweet, touching video about a lion being reunited with humans who looked after it when it was a cub (warning: if you have a heart, you will cry…also, mute the sound unless you love aerosmith):

now dry your eyes & prepare to laugh at this hilarious video of an urban wildlife news report out of cleveland (ohio embarrasses me once again):

long time, no talk

i haven’t updated in forever! well, almost two weeks. i don’t have any good excuses, but i guess i’ll try to do better. i’m not quite ready to fade away into obscurity. a fantastic five list of what’s been going on:

1) the main thing that has been distracting me from writing or doing much of anything productive has been “lost”. my curiosity was piqued when everyone started flipping out about the last season premiere some weeks back. it’s been many years since i owned a TV, & i have only recently discovered that you can watch TV on the internet (& not just when people upload copyrighted material to youtube), so i’d never seen “lost” before. we decided to watch the pilot & see what all the fuss was about, &…well…i don’t run a zine distro anymore, i have nothing to do but sit around & pop ibuprofen, so i decided to watch the whole thing. like, the whole series. i just started season six. i should be all caught up by tomorrow, maybe.

although it has certainly held my attention, it’s not exactly the best TV show ever. there are so many loose ends, i’m not sure how the writers can realistically wrap them all up in just one more season, but…we’ll see. one of the recappers at televisionwithoutpity.com said that they were happy to suspend their disbelief when it comes to the big stuff (smoke monsters, magical islands that cure terminal cancer & paralysis caused by crushed spines, electromagnetic anomalies that can cause plane crashes, etc), but the show needs to not treat us like we’re stupid on the little things. like the whole entire episode early in season one where jack & sayid torture sawyer to get him to give up the refills of shannon’s asthma inhaler because she’s in the caves fighting for her life. the fact that the island cured john locke’s paralysis was established in the FIRST EPISODE, but i guess the island’s magical healing properties doesn’t extend to asthma?…sure.

i could probably write a full 5000 words about this, but…i’ll save it. for now.

2) i have been taking lots of ibuprofen to deal with some sort of really bad arthritis flare-up. i saw a rheumatologist last month, who ran a bunch of tests related to determining if i have rheumatoid arthritis. all the tests came back negative/inconclusive, but i have every symptom. turns out, rheumatoid arthritis isn’t just a more severe version of osteoarthritis, as i had always believed (for some dumb reason). it’s actually a completely separate disease, with a whole different diagnostic criteria, fairly radically different symptoms, different treatment methods, etc. some people don’t think it should be called rheumatoid arthritis at all, because it’s actually an immune disease that may be caused by a virus (that cannot be killed in any way that science is aware of) & doesn’t actually affect joints in the traditional arthritis way at all. & those are the symptoms i have, & they are the symptoms i have always had, since i was like 17. but who knows, because the labs didn’t back me up.

but the rheumatologist has apparently still decided to treat me as a low-budget rheumatoid patient. she wants me to enroll in a water aerobics class. i don’t know if i will actually do that. she also wants me to take two iburpofens, three times a day, every day, indefinitely. that is a lot of fucking ibuprofen! & over time, ibuprofen can make your digestive tract bleed. hope you’re not reading this over breakfast (when i read my blog roll). so i’m just kind of ignoring her & taking ibuprofen when i have a lot of pain & just doing my own thing. but it’s been pretty tough. my hands & feet have gotten really bad in the last six months. my zine correspondents will recall that i am somewhat well-known for having very small, precise handwriting. that’s pretty much gone to shit. my handwriting is still a million times nicer than jared’s, but it pains me to see how it has changed. it is often difficult to button my coat, hold utensils when i’m eating, turn keys in locks, hold on to a book or magazine when i’m reading, etc. & with my feet, sometimes it’s even hard to walk.

at some point, i am going to have to think more about disability & what all of this means, but…i can’t really be bothered at the moment. i’m just trying to get from one day to the next with as little pain & as much mobility as i can muster.

3) i have felt disinclined to write here much because i am going through another spell of wanting to be very private…partially because i don’t kid myself that i am leading an action-packed life of adventure in the first place. but partially because sometimes i feel very private. i think my default mode for pretty much everything comes from a place of critical thinking & asking hard questions, &…well, it’s not easy to be that kind of person. people tend to not like you very much. good thing i have never really cared about being liked. (my social philosophy, ever since i was a little kid, was that you really only need one or two close friends who have your back, & you need to be able to look yourself in the mirror every morning, & if you have that, everyone else can go fuck themselves. it’s not as nihilistic as it seems, i swear.)

i have been thinking about a lot of stuff, like, for example, the question of support & what that really means in a realistic world where we’re being honest about terms like “community”. i have been thinking about it a bit in terms of my own personal disability issues & the fact that i am obviously not at the point where i require any kind of outside care, in the form of a hired aide or anything, but there are still a lot of everyday things that are really difficult for me, & with which i could use assistance. & i’ve been thinking about what this means for me emotionally, as a person who has always been incredibly independent (like, to a fault, maybe), & personally, as someone who really doesn’t have too many close friends in her town of residence. & i’ve been thinking about my relationships with close out of town friends & how/if i emotionally support them. & i’ve been thinking about political support, in light of the fact that so much political activism i hear about these days (in the anarchist scene, anyway) seems like so much pissing into the wind, but maybe i’m an asshole for saying that when i’m not doing much besides popping painkillers & watching “lost”.

so i’ve been feeling private, because i am thinking about a lot & not coming up with too many happy shiny conclusions. & so much of what i am thinking about is directly related to how i want to relate to other people, what i expect from other people, & what i feel i can offer other people. somewhat confusing, eh?

4) i have occasionally considered trying to get some of these thoughts down on paper, spin them into something halfways coherent, & put together a new zine. i guess that would be “love letter to monsters” #3. sometimes i feel motivated & energized by the idea, but more often, i feel frustrated & shitty. i have really been trying not to say this, because it has always sounded like bullshit to me when other people have said it, but…the zine scene has really changed. for the worse, in a lot of ways. one of my zine distro friends was complaining recently about having to remind people that she does not accept PDFs for distro consideration. she said that this is a relatively recent problem & never used to happen a few years ago. part of the reason i shut down paper trail was because i felt like people wanted to get their zines into distros less for the distribution aspect & more for the weird ego gratification/accomplishment aspect. it’s not actually something that i can necessarily put into words, but it makes me uncomfortable.

i ordered a little pile of zines from another friend’s zine distro a few weeks ago, & i really enjoyed reading them. i definitely still like zines & there are plenty of zines out there that i still like a lot (& not just ones written by people i already know). but i think running the distro kind of soured me on the medium in certain ways, because i had to pay so much attention to the business side of things, & see people at their worst (dealing with money/a commodity market). i became detached from the magic of zines, the creative side of actually making zines, & the excitement of reading great zines & becoming friends with the people who make them, without thinking about writing down their contact info so you know where to send the checks.

eventually, i will probably make another zine. & i’ll send it around for distro consideration. but i’ll probably also just send copies & letters to people who write zines i like, without worrying about all the politics & drama & bullshit of the “scene”.

some of this relates to a “bad” (i guess) review i got last month. it was a pretty harsh review, but almost comical in the sense of how far the person who write it missed the mark. last semester, jared wrote a paper for school on wild turkey conservation efforts in missouri during the twentieth century. i told him that the review i got was akin to someone reading his 25-page paper & concluding, “this paper sucks because jared wants to kill turkeys.” i don’t mind people critiquing or disagreeing with my ideas, or offering editorial feedback, or whatever. i am willing to listen. that’s what “dialectical learning” (which is something i wrote about in my last zine) is all about, & it’s something that still interests me a great deal. but there’s not much i can learn from someone who willfully misrepresents & obfuscates what i have actually written! while it is perhaps a lesson in making my points more plain next time (i’ll make an effort), i don’t really think i have a reputation for being especially subtle or inscrutable in my opinions. i refuse to make myself so plain that it’s as if i am writing for dullards, because i like to think that most people who read my zines are not dullards.

5) this is so stupid & embarrassing to admit, but…i always feel like my life will be a little better if i move. not necessarily to a new town, but i feel like i am always looking for my dream home, the apartment that i will love to be in, where suddenly my hands won’t hurt & i’ll write all day & i’ll always keep it clean & dinner will always be perfect & i’ll get eight hours of sleep every single night & i will never argue with anyone. i really have no issue with the apartment i am in right now. it’s on the small side, to be sure, but we realized we don’t need that much space. sometimes i feel like it’s too dark, but i could remedy that by leaving the shutters open more often. it would be nice to have a kitchen with room for a table, & a bathtub, but we get by without those things & it’s not really a problem. & there are things i like a lot about this apartment–fairly high ceilings, tons of storage space, cheap rent, cheap utilities, surprisingly quiet for the neighborhood…so why am i always perusing apartment listings, looking for something “better”? i don’t even know what “better” would really mean.

i’m kind of hoping that we can move into the apartment upstairs in the fall. it’s the whole floor, so we won’t have to share a wall with a dude who seems to have some weird phlegm/vomiting issue, & who SCREAMS at his TV during KU basketball games. & it has space for a kitchen table, & a bathtub, & windows on all four walls, i think. it’s more expensive, & i don’t know what the storage options are like, but…do i really need an entire steamer trunk full of craft supplies i haven’t touched in at least five years anyway?

charlotte looks out the window while jared studies.

2009: year in review

i have been filling out this survey at the end of the every year for damn near ten years. that makes me feel very old.

1. what did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
lived in kansas.
went whale-watching.
owned a pair of high heels.
had a lipstick shade (l’oreal’s “make me blush”).
made a pie from scratch.
ate roasted tomatoes.
took hormone-based birth control.
bought fresh flowers.
used an ipod.
read a copy of “the new yorker” cover-to-cover.

2. did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
every year, i make ten “resolutions” (they are more like goals, priorities, or guidelines, maybe). every year, they are a very mixed bag of both goofy & serious ideas, some of which are easy to implement, & some of which are immediately going to be rejected as impractical. 2009 was no different. i did manage to write a new personal zine before i turned 30 (“love letters to monsters” #2), i saved a shit ton of money (more than i resolved to, even) & traveled a whole lot, but i totally dropped the ball on things like “take a lot of photos” (i didn’t own a digital camera until three weeks ago) & “learn how to relax”.

i definitely intend to make another batch of ten resolutions for 2010, including 1) only do five distro things a day, everyday, because running a distro is a thankless, pitiless profession & i am going to lose my fucking mind if i work as hard this year as i worked last year, 2) read all the “babysitters club” books in chronological order (again–i already did this in 2002 or so), & 3) give it a rest with the “recreational” smoking. (that’s not code for smoking pot. it means that i want to stop smoking cigarettes on vacation & at parties.) & some others. i expect to utterly fail at a few.

3. did anyone close to you give birth?
cory had a baby on halloween, but we are sadly not as close as we were when she had her first son in 2003.

4. did anyone close to you die?
not that i can recall. how shitty will i feel if i’m just forgetting someone?

5. what countries did you visit?
i spent all damn year in the states, but i traveled a lot within the country. i hit like fifteen different states this year!

6. what would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
downtime for which i do not feel guilty, quality hang-out time & good conversation with jared, a friend with whom i can go for coffee on occasion, fewer “bad self-esteem days”.

7. what dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
august 3, the day we arrived in kansas with the moving truck. it had taken us almost two hours to cross the mississippi river because there was road construction & the bridge was down to one lane. it was 10pm when we got to the house, totally dark, probably over 90 degrees, we didn’t have a key to the apartment, & there was a huge spider hanging over the doorway, so i was too scared to unlock the door once we did have a key. we’d been driving for three days with an angry, homicidal cat, we were tired & hungry & dehydrated, & we had to at least move our bed into the new apartment before calling it quits for the night. once we finally got to bed, a thunderstorm rolled in & we discovered that the bed was directly underneath an enormous hole in the wall/ceiling. i woke up literally soaked to the skin–like i’d fallen into a river or something. & i was too exhausted to care & just went back to sleep.

8. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
i moved to kansas with jared & didn’t flip the fuck out, really. i am not the best at change, big or small, & i have historically not been too excited about dating people who are full-time students, but this transition has been extraordinarily smooth. i think this means that a) jared & i have a really solid relationship, & b) i am not as much of a basketcase as i used to be.

9. what was your biggest failure?
it’s weird to consider this a “failure,” because i don’t think it’s something i can help, but my arthritis has gotten a lot worse in the last year. it’s hard now to do things like hold utensils when i am eating, pull a suitcase or granny cart for more than a couple of minutes, carry a handbag (as opposed to a shoulder bag). it freaks me out because i’m only 30.

10. did you suffer illness or injury?
i think jared & i both had some early version of swine flu in january & i had a tooth (not a molar, even) pulled in june, but other than that, it was a pretty healthy year. well, aside from the debilitating bone deterioration mentioned above.

11. what was the best thing you bought?
a lot of really good zines at the portland zine symposium, my cherry-colored john fluevogs, a little otsu day planner, a new computer, & a cat bed for charlotte.

12. whose behavior merited celebration?
i have always hated the way this question is phrased. “merited celebration”? what the fuck? “behavior”? are we dogs? i’m just not going to dignify this with an answer.

13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
see above.

14. where did most of your money go?
plane tickets (twice to kansas & back, once to portland, once to boston), moving expenses, a macbook pro, savings, & pretty much an entirely new wardrobe over the course of the year.

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
i’m not sure i am spry enough to get “really, really excited” about anything, but i always feel pretty psyched when jared makes pork loin in wine sauce with mashed potatoes & steamed broccoli for dinner–my favorite meal. i was also excited to go back to boston for the xmas break, & i was very pleased when nicole won on “america’s next top model”.

16. what song will always remind you of 2009?
anything by lady gaga.

17. compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? maybe a touch happier.
b) thinner or fatter? a smidgen fatter. i blame the fact that there is nowhere worth going in kansas, so i sit around all day eating jared’s amazing cooking.
c) richer or poorer? richer. or at least increasingly responsible with money & good at saving.

18. what do you wish you’d done more of?
writing. taking walks. staying in touch with friends. spending quality time with jared. cooking.

19. what do you wish you’d done less of?
dicking around on the internet. doubting myself. moving houses. giving a fuck what assholes think.

20. how did you spend xmas?
sick in bed in the house we were sitting in boston, alone, eating crackers & drinking orange juice & watching “dexter” season one on netflix instant viewing. nothing says “happy birthday, jesus” like vomiting & serial murder.

21. did you fall in love in 2009?
stayed in love.

22. how many one-night stands?
look, i’m not a math major.

23. what was your favorite TV program?
“project runway” (even though season six was a motherfucking yawn), “america’s next top model” (nicole makes up for the miscarriage of respect for vision that was teyona), “friends”, “the simpsons”, & i am getting pretty into “dexter,” though i think it is too soon to add it to the favorites list. i go through these little TV obsessions & then i forget.

24. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
actually, yes.

25. what was the best book you read?
i greatly enjoyed water for elephants by sara gruen, the liar’s club by mary karr (probably the best book i read this year, though obviously not new), operating instructions by anne lamott, the essential dykes to watch out for by alison bechdel, it sucked & then i cried by heather armstrong, into thin air by jon krakauer, girl zines by alison piepmeier, & the harry potter books (read for the millionth time). it’s a little hard to choose–i read right around one hundred books this year.

26. what was your greatest musical discovery?
please. i don’t “discover” new music. i spent the year alternating between a mix CD that nicole made for me when i moved into my last apartment in boston, & a mix CD that lauren martin sent me as a trade for “love letters to monsters” #2.

27. what did you want and get?
to get the fuck out of boston, a credit card, the fluevogs, an ipod, a really nice digital camera, & to add a boatload (almost fifty) awesome new zines to the distro.

28. what did you want and not get?
more time for myself, to find my pace as a writer, more communication with friends, to have really & completely quit smoking, for kansas restaurants to be better.

29. what was your favorite film of this year?
i barely went to any movies this year, so i will just say “harry potter & the half-blood prince” (saw it three times) even though that scene where bellatrix & greyback burn down the burrow was fucking ridonkulous.

30. what did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
i was 30 this year! awesome! jared took me for breakfast at sorella’s & carissa met up with us there. then he gave me some downtime for writing, before we packed a bag full of extra layers & headed to the harbor to catch our whale-watching boat. we saw a whole bunch of humpback whales, including a mother & baby. we had dinner at some fancy italian restaurant in the north end. i’ll admit it: i ate veal lasagna & it was fucking delicious. sorry, vegetarians. you only turn 30 once (& yeah, i know, those veal never will). then we went back to the house with some beers & jared made me an extremely delicious flourless chocolate cake & bart & david came over & bart pretty much ate my entire birthday cake single-handedly, went all nuts on a sugar high, & then crashed like a four-year-old. after we went to the bed, our fan shorted out & there was a tiny fire & i screamed & jared yelled at me, which made me sad at the time, but the next day, it all seemed pretty hilarious (& he apologized). & charlotte captured a mouse in the middle of the night & jared threw it out the window. all in all, not the greatest day for animals. or bart. but an awesome day for me!

31. what one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if every single day was sunny & about 74 degrees. & if i could somehow train jared to make me coffee every morning, but i know that will never happen in a million years.

32. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
winter: jeans, chunky sweaters, & sorels, with my hair in a french twist pretty much every single day. wool handbag.
spring: skirts & dresses, all knee-length A-lines, & mary janes. enormously over-sized sunglasses. tote bags. t-shirts & hoodies. cloche hats.
summer: wore my hair in bun every single day. lipstick. scoop-neck tees & unflattering shorts because it’s too fucking hot to give a shit. hot pink sauconys with no socks.
fall: corduroys of every cut & color. turtlenecks & ruffled sweaters. sweater tights. a lot more purple & green.
in sum: i tried to do casual american classics with an urban/european sophistication, but am convinced that i can’t pull off anything too fancy since i weigh more than 110 pounds & am covered in tattoos & pretty much never wear make-up & i use rubber bands from newspapers to put up my hair.

33. what kept you sane?
as much as i hate to admit it…sudoku & the occasional pack of anxiety cigarettes. also, to-do lists, “top model,” harry potter, & therapy.

34. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
no one. i only for eyes for jared. & that is the truth, as much as it weirds me out to say it.

35. what political issue stirred you the most?
abortion abortion abortion. george tiller’s murder. the stupak amendment. WTF with all the wingnut anti-choice/anti-woman assholes? this especially resonated with me because dr. tiller was murdered two months before i moved to kansas. now there is exactly one abortion clinic in the state, should i ever require another abortion. & it is in kansas city. & there is a 24-hour mandatory waiting period, & mandatory anti-choice counseling. & it makes me so fucking angry.

36. who did you miss?
amanda colianni, nicole, & jrae: the triumvirate of my favorite ladies. bart. carissa. LB. my dad. luckily only one of those people is dead.

37. who was the best new person you met?
i am pleased to have re-connected with ailecia after all these years, & to now be her next-door neighbor. i was excited to meet stephanie, even though trying to be friends with a grad student is no picnic. best new zine i read in 2009: “when language runs dry”.

38. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
when jared wears a comically over-sized hat emblazoned with a sports team logo, he totally looks like a teenager trying to sell flomax he filched from his grandpa’s medicine cabinet. & cookbooks are really not joking when they tell you not to work pie dough excessively. i also learned that if i don’t get my morning coffee, i seriously freak the fuck out.

39. what did you devote most of your energy to?
the goddamn motherfucking zine distro. no more of this madness! i’ll shut the thing down before i have another year like 2009. i feel like i barely even had time to breathe with all the work i was doing.

40. quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“but he don’t understand the power of the claw/
the claw, the claw, the claw.”
–“claw” by motorhead

laura ingalls wilder is my therapist

i have been stressing out the last couple of days. i’ll be honest, jared & i had a bit of an argument on wednesday night. it might have involved a lot of crying on my part, & then possibly i went out & bought a pack of cigarettes because cigarettes are my last-ditch anxiety mediator. even though they are so disgusting & make me feel like shit.

& they make me look high, apparently.

i got up the next day & didn’t feel like doing anything but drudge work. i stamped through the ice & snow to therapy, & even though it was bitterly cold outside, it felt good to be out there, muddling along, being in the elements, alone with my thoughts. so i loaded up the wheeled wire cart jared & i use when we need to transport things like groceries or laundry (we are trying to get through at least our first year in lawrence without a car…especially because i never really learned how to drive [at least not well enough to pass a driver’s test, even though i tried three times when i was sixteen]) with all the recycling we have accumulated in the last month & dragged it to the recycling depot. lawrence doesn’t offer free curbside recycling service. you can get it, but you have to pay for it. if you don’t want to pay for it, you have to bring your recycling to a recycling depot yourself. it’s like living in 1989. & dealing with the recycling is just one of many errands that would be a lot less onerous if we had a car. sometimes it’s ironic to me that jared is studying environmental history in a place that seems designed specifically to force us to compromise our environmental standards in one way or another.

after the recycling was taken care of, i trooped off to the grocery store. our cupboards had been bare for several days, forcing us to go so far as to order pizza for delivery one night when jared came home from the library. we are not really “food delivery” people. why order pizza when you can make a pizza of better quality for way less money? but you can’t make a pizza without cheese (at least not one i’d want to eat), & we didn’t have any. so jared collaborated with me on a grocery list & i went to the grocery store alone. this is the kind of errand that we usually do together. jared is a better cook than i am, & he seems to enjoy cooking more than i do. he knows a lot more about vegetables than i do (although i have learned a lot from him in the year & a half we have been living together). we usually go to the grocery store together once a week & stock up on everything we need to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, & snacks for two people for the week. we lug everything home in our wheeled cart & we’re good to go. but it’s the tail end of the semester & jared is swamped with final revisions for all of his papers, he’s been spending nine hours a day at the library, so i went alone this time.

jared is making us some delicious dinner!

while i was there, i stopped by the pharmacy to see if my questionable new doctor had called in my birth control prescription. i don’t have prescription drug coverage anymore (long story), & my old prescription was, shall we say, a financial hardship (ie, ludicrously, criminally expensive). i found a new doctor in kansas specifically to get a new prescription for something cheaper. she also recommended something with less hormone, which suited me fine. but when i stopped in to pick it up a few weeks ago, the pharmacy said it had never been called in. i had to call the doctor’s office & get them to call it in for real & it was a pain in the ass. when i went to pick it up this time, they informed me that i owed them $120 (for a 90-day supply), which 50% MORE EXPENSIVE than my previous prescription! the one that was prohibitively expensive! & the doctor had called in a prescription for a pill that makes you only have a period every three months. i find that shit really terrifying. if i wanted a “seasonal cycle,” as they euphemistically phrase it, i would just get a depo shot. but i DO NOT want that, & i have never said anything to any doctor i have ever had that would indicate that i want that, & this doctor was specifically asked to prescribe me something a) inexpensive, & b) lower in hormones. i think she must be getting kick-backs from the pharmaceutical industry or something.

anyway, i called her office, hulked out a little bit, named a specific birth control pill i wanted that was inexpensive &, you know, normal, & hopefully they will get their shit together & call it in for me.

i toted my groceries home, stripped the bedding, & loaded it into the cart to hit the laundromat. jared has weird allergies & was worried that maybe he was allergic to dust in the bedding. we have a washer/dryer in the basement, but the dryer doesn’t actually get anything dry, & it’s too cold to hang stuff on the clothesline. hence the laundromat. which was so much further away than i thought. i started to feel like i would just keep walking & walking, with my sad cart full of sheets & a copy of the “new yorker” stashed in my purse, until i got to the rocky mountains or something. & then the laundromat didn’t have any heat. everyone else there was huddling over the dryers like hobos around an oil drum fire. i burrowed into my coat & ridiculous pink crocheted hood & read what the “new yorker” has to say about obama’s recent policy decisions regarding afghanistan (pretty right on, i felt) & atul gawande’s dire misstep in comparing useful health care reform today to agricultural reform of the early 20th century. i hear what he’s saying–there are no easy answers, reform needs to be flexible & reflect policies that can be proven to work as opposed to partisan rhetoric, but…holding up agricultural reform as a shining beacon to which health care reform should aspire? really? oh, atul.

& then i rolled my freshly washed bedding home, made the bed, swept the apartment, washed the dishes, wiped down the sinks & countertops, changed into pajamas, & was just sitting down to drink some milk, eat some ludicrously rich milk chocolate, & watch some “friends” (embarrassing confession: “friends” is hands-down my favorite TV show of all time, even more so than “america’s next top model” & “project runway”; i have even thought about starting a blog dedicated to recapping every episode…because i have them all, all ten, on DVD) when jared came home. he hates “friends” (can this relationship be saved?), so i had to retire to the bedroom to watch & leave him in peace.

sometimes i have days when cleaning & running errands makes me feel like laura ingalls wilder working on the farm, churning butter, darning pa’s plowing pants, making a little doll for her sister, etc. sometimes i enjoy the mindless (yet necessary) toil of cleaning & acquiring provisions & tidying. this is also why i love to balance my checkbook & pay bills. it requires pretty much no creative energy, it’s just about efficiency & completion. my creative energy is often at a premium. i have been neglecting the shit out of my paper journal in the last few weeks.

my journal, on my desk, with the pink crocheted hood, oversized sunglasses, & enormous headphones.

but apparently a lot of people read this thing, or at least give it a once-over before navigating away to pithier pastures, so i want to try to make it something worth reading. in the meantime, allow me to obsess over my cat a little bit more. so, when i started dating jared, charlotte just fell in love with him. he even borrowed her & had her live at his house for a few weeks once, because he had a bit of a mouse situation going on. charlotte usually hates everyone except for me, but not only did she take to jared, she actually allowed him to teach her tricks. her most enduring is “hopping up to get pets”. you hold your hand just above her head, & she stands up on her hind legs & allows herself to be petted. i have taken dozens of photos in the past week, trying to capture this phenomenon on (digital) film. here are a few of my favorites:

possibly i enticed her to hop by dangling a catnip mouse over her head...but it's all the same thing.
look at her standing there, like a little rory calhoun.
the trademark hop position involves keeping her front legs pointing down.

in which charlotte attacks & my mom is a crusty punk

the next-door neighbors, ailecia & alyssa, threw a housewarming party last night to christen their new house name: the cockpit. (don’t think about it too hard.) jared got his pre-game on in his typically classy fashion:

yes, that's a martini in a jam jar

look closely, you can see the olives.

ailecia’s parties tend to be events. jared & i are not really big on events. we’re big on kicking back in our armchairs & reading books. but you know, they’re our neighbors & our buddies, so we swung by to say hello. we secured a nice fellow with a naive appreciation for the feline species to cat-sit our feral she-beast while we’re in boston for the xmas holiday break. he has no idea what he’s in for:

abandon hope, all ye who enter my personal space!

when jared & i were driving out from boston to kansas in our moving truck in august, we swung by bowling green, ohio, where my entire immediate family lives. or…lived, before my mom convinced me to give her $600 “for rent,” & then used it to pay for a one-way greyhound bus ticket to new orleans because she “heard there were jobs down there”. you know where else there are jobs? cranberry harvest. seriously, has my mom become a crusty traveling punk at the tender age of 54? is she going to come back to bowling green in a boxcar, sporting dreadlocks & an aus rotten ass flap? i can only hope! maybe i’ll see her spare changing outside jimmy john’s gourmet sandwich shop in downtown lawrence once summer rolls around again. she will doubtlessly be flying a sign that solicits funds for both herself & whatever mangy dog she adopts, sure to be wearing leash made from a frayed length of rope & its own saddlebags made out of an old pair of charharts.

but i digress. i had coffee with my siblings at grounds for thought in bowling green, where i often whiled away my teenage hours sipping hazelnut hot cocoas & perusing “factsheet 5”. my sister, dani, brought along her seven-year-old daughter, malachite. i am always psyched to see malachite because she’s my only niece (neither my brother nor jared’s brother have any kids) & i am her only aunt related by blood (dani’s husband only has brothers–about ninety of ’em). i really want to remind her that she has an aunt, & i harbor a little fantasy that she thinks of me as a “cool aunt,” with tattoos, who travels wherever the wind takes her, hashing out homegrown feminist theory & sowing dissent across the land. this is just a fantasy though, because she’ll be old enough to seek out blogs like this one in a couple of years, & when she reads that, she definitely will not think i’m cool.

she was excited about the cat though. charlotte was in her fancy sherpa carrier (approved by airlines) with its mesh sides & handy shoulder strap. we didn’t dare let her out, because…she’s pure evil. i mean, come on:

wanna lose twenty pounds? come any closer & i'll rip off your arm! problem solved!

but malachite was all, “i wanna see the kitty! take the kitty out of the bag! i want to pet the kitty!” she stuck her face right up against the mesh window of the carrier to get a better look. “uh, you might want to back off a little…” said jared, but too late. *scratch* right through the mesh, charlotte lashed out & scratched my seven-year-old niece right in the face. & all of us, me, jared, clark (my brother), & dani busted up laughing. malachite considered for a moment & then screamed, “she’s a goblin!” which only made us laugh harder. oh, the laughter at children…wait, that’s not how the saying goes?

anyway, we did not stay long at the party. everyone was dancing & gettin’ down, drinking beers & having a great time. jared & i decided to clear out & have a great time our own way.

don't all reformed anarcho-punks spend their saturday nights playing boggle?

jared is fantastic at boggle. if this whole grad school thing doesn’t work out, he could be a professional boggle player. i also think he’d excel at writing sitcom dialogue. but i was truly the star of the night. in a typical boggle round, jared easily scores at least twenty points & i’m lucky to scrape five. he finds words like “detests” & i don’t even see obvious gimmes like “sad”. but i scored the boggle equivalent of a scrabble bingo–the much ballyhooed, heretofore thought to be mythical eight-letter word: “listless”. that’s eleven points! & this is where i find excitement, living in kansas. i wonder why my long-distance friends aren’t lining up to come visit?

i also had to deal with my distro website committing hari kari yesterday. the front page had been cannibalized by the first page of the catalogue & the skeleton frame, which contains all the navigational links, had disappeared into the ether. i didn’t build my own website & it has taken me six years to get a handle on the basics, like writing link code & changing background colors. i don’t know how to build a new skeleton frame or re-create an image map from scratch. i spent hours trying to fix it & making the problem worse. i finally got it sorted out, only to wake up this morning & discover that the page for collections & subscriptions had erased itself & the links page had gotten re-named somehow, so it wouldn’t load. this is what i get for using free, open source web maintenance software! technology, why doth thou forsake me?

two other zine-related things–
1) i want to recommend the newest zine i have added to the paper trail catalogue: “doctrinal expletives” #5. there’s a piece on the fictive kinship bonds that folks try to build with each other in collective/punk houses (somewhere in new orleans, my mom is getting frustrated by her roommates scarfing up all of her vegan dumpster stew & drawing mustaches on her crimethinc “boy/girl” poster, so she knows what i’m saying [in my imagination]) & how it’s kind of bogus & obnoxious. it is something about which i want to think/write/read more.
2) i don’t know if it’s too late now to contribute to this anthology being compiled about “zine girls of the 90s” now that they are all grown up, but i am still thinking of cobbling something together & at least posting it here, even if i dragged my feet on getting into the book. it’s not my fault though! i was distracted by the unspeakable awful-ness of the call for submissions. i will probably write more about that too.