Category Archives: my mom's a punk

why would you enrage a pregnant woman?, part two

SPOILERS OVER. YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. this theme of not wanting to take responsibility for your own poor choices was perfect for spoiler girl though because not once did she apologize for posting what she did. a few weeks ago, i wrote a post about being victimized by accidental rudeness & i wrote about a facebook friend who said she wanted to redecorate my house after seeing photos i’d posted online. same lady. in that situation, she was all, “i’m sorry if i offended you, but i was seriously just talking about how you have the same bedside table as my mom & i think it’s really tacky.” see what i mean? even when she does apologize, she’s really just insulting you even more. i unfriended her because i barely knew her anyway & i was really sick of the “i should get to say anything i want & no one should ever take offense & i don’t need to be responsible for my words” attitude. i told jared that i really want to make sure that our kid knows there’s a time for humility, that it knows how to issue an apology that is sincere, that it can weigh a situation & make responsible choices, & take its lumps when it makes a bad choice. it’s something so BASIC, & it’s pretty much all that stands between the assholes of the world & the non-assholes. & yet, it’s amazing how uncommon it is.

so maybe on some level this is about more than a dumb TV show, or maybe pregnancy hormones are making me have a really intense reaction to a TV show…i really don’t know what the fuck is going on. maybe it’s a pregnancy protectiveness thing. i feel like, if i am really pregnant (as all the sonograms & pregnancy tests indicate), then i am growing a whole new fresh person here, & while that person is eventually going to enter the wider world & come into contact with jerky kids that steal its crayons, & asshole teachers that grade their opinion-based essays low because they disagree with the kid’s opinion, & mean moms who don’t want it socializing with those bad kids who drink alcohol & wear crushed velvet capes, such forth & so on, i want it to have a grace period of just getting to be innocent for a little while.

several people i am friends with (or have been good friends with in the past) have had, basically, nervous breakdowns lately. all the circumstances are different & people are handling their business in different ways, so i’m not going to go into detail or make generalizations about anyone’s behavior but my own. my own behavior has been to pull away. i don’t handle other people’s mental health crises well in the best of times, ie, when i am not growing a human. but now that i am, i just have no time for anyone’s drama or histrionics, even if it is all in the service of a very serious mental health issue. if i’ve said it once, i’ve said it a million times: i’m not a mental health professional, i’m not equipped to deal with that shit, & at this point, i have no qualms saying that i don’t WANT to deal with that shit. i hope everyone starts feeling better very soon, but i don’t really want to be around it. all i want to do is eat pizza, go to the pool, & nap. no muss, no fuss. i need this chill time.

i think acting like a jerk & refusing to actually apologize or take responsibility for it is just another behavior i don’t want to deal with. there’s some narcissism there, & i don’t know if being pregnant is bringing up feelings about my own terrible relationship with my crazypants narcissistic mother or what, but just…NO. i’m not having it. i pretty much cut her out of my life in 2006. once a person severs ties with her own mother, she is not going to give some other rando fifteen second chances, you know? get your shit together, think before you act, take responsibility for the unintended consequences of your decisions, or get out of my life. it’s pretty simple.

my history with the “allied media conference”, part one

i was talking with my friend jessika rae the other night on the phone. she lives in detroit, where the 2011 allied media conference recently happened. she told me about a few workshops she had attended, & how her role in the new zine library in detroit has been going. she mentioned a topic that gets brought up a lot when we talk about the allied media conference–the fact that i have been completely written out of its history.

back in the fall of 1998, i was attending college at bowling green state university. i had just ended a horrible, abusive relationship with someone who had hated the fact that i was into zines. she repeatedly encouraged me to throw out my zine collection, insisting that they were a fire hazard. when i told her i had decided to major in creative writing because i wanted to be a writer, she cried. once that relationship was over, i really wanted to do something to get involved in the zine community in a significant way again. i started sketching out ideas for the zine that would, a year & a half later, become “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage” #1, & i was reading bucketloads of zines ordered from friends & (the beloved, departed) pander zine distro, which i’d just recently discovered. a lot of the zines i was reading were still in the riot grrrl vein, even though riot grrrl was pretty much over by that point. pretty much all of my pen pals were women, & all the zines i was reading were by women.

i had never had the chance to attend any riot grrrl conventions back when they were happening (my parents said i was too young to travel to other states & stay with strangers–which is fair enough, because i was like 14 when they were happening). i knew conventions had happened in places like omaha, nebraska. i thought, “why not bowling green, ohio? & why not focus on girl zines?” i felt that girl zines were super-marginalized within the larger zine world, & a girl zine convention could give us a chance to get together & address some facets of that marginalization, network with each other, & also work on the issues that were coming up again & again in girl zines, like body image, abuse, & sexual assault.

i was mulling this idea over one day while walking across campus on my way to work. i bumped into jason. he had gone to BGSU for his undergrad & lived in a punk house a few houses down from where i lived with my parents when i was 15 or 16. back then, i was a high school drop-out & my main job was organizing local all-ages shows at the VFW hall every sunday evening. jason was in a punk band with his roommates & he ran a small distro for punk/anarchist zines. he & his friends were five years older than me–too old to be my friends, really, i thought. my mom considered herself a punk & helped with the shows (she’s the one who made a deal with the local pizzeria where she & my dad had met in 1973 so there was always free pizza on hand for the shows). she & jason became fast friends, & before long, they were best friends. they spent all their time together, to the point that it threatened my parents’ relationship. jason took my mom home for the xmas holidays several years in a row, rather than his girlfriend. they were a hot topic of gossip all over town as everyone speculated exactly what their friendship was all about.

then jason left to go to grad school in wyoming. he & my mom had fallen out of touch, but he called to say he was coming back to work on a PhD & to ask her to contact some of her real estate friends to help him find a house. but we hadn’t heard that he was actually back in town already, so it was cool to run into him. we chatted briefly, & i said, “i had this idea to maybe do a girl zine conference here. what do you think? do you think people would actually come to a zine thing in bowling green, ohio?” jason said, “yes! definitely! but why stop at girl zines? why not make it all zines?” i tried to explain my feeling that girl zines were marginalized within zine culture & this could be a forum to work on those issues a little bit, but he said, “i have to get to class. here’s my number. call me. i’ll help you!”

when jason & i met up to discuss the idea more a week or two later, he was totally on-board. he had big ideas for a regional zine conference–all zines. i kind of weakly protested that i was really into the girl zine idea, but the concept of having someone to help me plan the whole thing–someone older, someone from a different area of the zine community, someone who knew people i didn’t know, & especially someone who seemed so confident that we could pull this thing off–really appealed to me. so i said, “if you’ll help, we can make it for all zines.”

we got in touch with the american studies department (which was jason’s area of study) & arranged to make the conference organizing an independent study project for the spring semester. we both had to turn in a big writing project to get the credit. i have no idea what the details were for jason’s credits or his writing project, but i would get credit for one class in the american studies department & my writing project was a 150-page exchange of letters with my friend nicole solomon about the role of girl zines within zine culture, the political legacy of riot grrrl zines, & the connection between d.i.y. cultural production & feminism. i wish i still had that project, but i recycled it long ago.

in honor of mother’s day

the other night, i was thinking about these two cats my family had when i was a child. there was a black one named primo, & a fluffy black & white one named groucho. groucho was not at all grouchy. she had a black mark that resembled a bushy mustache right under her nose. you don’t want to know how old i was before i cottoned on to the groucho marx reference that gave her her name (hint: well into my 20s). the cats were sisters & my parents had adopted them as kittens shortly after they started dating. they died within months of each other, ostensibly of old age, when i was 7 or 8. my parents claimed that the cats were 17 or 18 years old when they died, & i clung to this advanced cat age for years (decades, really) as proof that maybe charlotte will live to be equally as old (she will turn ten this summer).

but the other night, i realized that my parents started dating five before i was born. if i was eight years old when they died, they were only about 13. that might not seem like such a far cry from 18, but five years is a big difference when you’re speculating about how old your beloved cat may live to be. why on earth did my parents claim that the cats were five years older than they were? were they just really bad at math? (that would certainly explain our constant familial money woes.) & why did it take me over twenty years to do the math myself & realize the inconsistencies?

this reminded me of a story about my mom & her gullibility when adults told her things that were patently untrue. one day when i was about 16, my mom walked into the living room, stopped dead in her tracks & said, “that’s not true at all!” my siblings & i were just hanging around doing nothing, & we asked her, “what’s not true?”

“um. nothing,” she said.

“what? what’s going on?” we asked.

“well…when i was five years old, my grandpa leimgruber told me that if you pick up a newborn calf on the day it’s born, & then pick it up again every single day after that, eventually you’ll be able to pick up a full-grown cow. but i just realized that obviously one day you just wouldn’t be able to pick it up anymore. it would be too heavy.”

my siblings & i laughed our asses off, because…duh! how could she possibly have believed this ridiculous tall tale about picking up full-grown cows for 35 years? i don’t think adding five years to a cat’s age is quite on the same level as the cow thing, but it does make a person think about how one of the great joys of hanging out with kids is getting to tell them all kinds of ridiculous shit & seeing what they will believe well into adulthood. i can’t wait to just make up a great big pack of lies about inconsequential nonsense & feed them to my own child. like darlene does to DJ in this episode of “roseanne”:

my mom’s birthday was back in january, & even though i hadn’t spoken to her in a year & a half, i sent her an ecard because i was going through one of my routine fits of nostalgia in which i imagine what my life might be like if i had a passably normal relationship with my family. you know, the kind of relationship where we acknowledge one another’s existences, maybe talk on the phone every now & again about topics unrelated to me putting my mom’s gas bill in my name (i declined to do this), perhaps have a working knowledge of what state we’re each living in these days…i wasn’t holding out for a mother-daughter spa vacation or anything. just something not completely dysfunctional.

my mom wrote me back with her latest news: she was supposed to be getting married in the coming week, to a very nice devoutly muslim iraqi gentleman named ibrahim. they had met on the internet, because my mom spends pretty much all her time on the internet brushing up on her knowledge of various arabic dialects, studying the koran, & agitating for arab self-determination in the middle east. when i was a child, she spent all her time making power crystal wands by affixing big chunks of quartz to copper pipes & wrapping the pipes in leather, & then proceeding to beat the shit out of windshields of people who took too long in front of her at the wendy’s drive-thru with said power wands before heading off to the mall to buy another denim minidress. we all contain multitudes, i guess.

tragically, my mom explained, ibrahim had died on thanksgiving in a roadside mine. in iraq. where he lived. it is worth mentioning that they had never met in person & i don’t know if they were planning to get married over the internet or what, because he had no plans to come to the states & she had no plans to leave the states. she did try to join an aid flotilla to gaza, but was turned away due to her poor physical health. i don’t doubt that she had big plans to somehow get to gaza & then desert & make her way to iraq somehow. anyway, the wedding was off because ibrahim had died. “so i’m single…& not looking. LOL!” she wrote. LOL indeed…i guess? what the fuck?

this bizarre e-mail exchange continued, but eventually i wrote that my siblings & i had some concerns about her propensity to become engaged to every dude in iraq with access to a webcam. my siblings were concerned that perhaps these dudes were hitting up for money & she was sending it to them–such as she has, considering that she has been squatting in my brother’s apartment for the last four years. she was outraged by this suggestion & wrote to me, “neither baraa nor ibrahim EVER asked me for a DIME. baraa once asked me to send him some blue jeans, which i could have done, because i have free access to men’s, women’s, & children’s blue jeans in all sizes, but i didn’t even do that so as to not set a precedent of sending gifts.” i wrote her back & said, “i’m not going to ask about your miraculous pipeline of free blue jeans for all occasions. i’m just telling you that we have been a little concerned about your decision-making.” but privately i was thinking…free men’s, women’s, & children’s blue jeans? is she running a counterfeit jeans ring out of my brother’s carhole or something? how does anton bugleboy feel about this?

a couple of weeks ago, i read an article about FBI criminal informants. it heavily profiled a crazy dude from michigan who fashioned himself as a wealthy austrian prince, wining & dining the glitterati of new york city. part of the way he financed his lavish faux-royal lifestyle was by running a counterfeit jeans ring back in michigan. i was like, “…mom?” & then i was like, “why is this my life?”

state of the ciara address, winter 2011

first of all, my apologies for the fact this blog seems to be turning into a repository for book reviews. not that anyone has been complaining. but i feel kind of guilty because i do not write the book reviews specifically for the blog. i post reviews here when i feel like i need some blog content but don’t have the time or energy to write something original.

why have i not had the time or energy to write anything original? part of it was the fact that i was busy hanging out with jared while he was on break. i love Vacation Jared. he’s a far cry from Dr. Tabler, the character that jared affects during the school year, mostly while grading papers. Vacation Jared seems to have nothing better to do than cater to my every whim. he drove me clear across town one day just to buy a box of brownie mix. he actually suggested one morning that we drive to kansas city to check out the american girl store at the oak park mall. that worked out well because the mall also features a hurricane simulator. for two bucks, you get to stand in a plastic tube while a machine blasts you with 78 mile-per-hour winds. only in kansas. i was actually a little offended on the behalf of all people who live in regions of the world that are routinely devastated by real hurricanes. but that doesn’t mean i didn’t take some video of Vacation Jared yukking it up in the hurricane simulator (real quote: “it’s really dusty in here”). we even drove all the way out to columbia, missouri one day to play mario kart for wii with our friend cait.

now jared is back in school & i have been busy alternately being sick, vaguely depressed, & busy fielding bullshit drama. the sick: i caught two colds in one month. what the fuck? why do i suddenly have the immune system of a newborn? the vaguely depressed: it’s winter, it’s cold, it’s snowy, & i have been bummin’ hard about the dearth of badass political ladies in my day-to-day life. naturally i can talk politics with jared (in all iterations from Dr. Tabler to Punk Rock Jared aka the Tabez [for his propensity to wear leather jackets & punch household appliances in order to get them working again] to stern, misanthropic Jared Knows Best) & that’s awesome, but it’s not the same as bonding with the ladies.

there’s this pop song that is really big right now, despite not being all that good, in which the singer says, “make me feel like i’m the only girl in the world.” the first time we heard it, jared said that it was an ode to excessively high expectations. he said that he was sorry, but he was probably not going to be able to make me feel like the only girl in the world, but he could make me feel like the only girl in the car…at least until we picked up his brother & his brother’s girlfriend to go bowling. i told him that i wouldn’t actually want to be the only girl in the world, because then who would i have feminist solidarity with? i am realizing that for me, regular contact with badass feminist ladies is crucial–just as much as water & oxygen. it’s not worth living without it.

& the drama. oh, the drama. it’s taken various forms, from people being shocked to learn that about 78% of the point of the internet is for people to talk smack on one another, to my latest headache, which is a series of increasingly ridiculous to & from my mom. regular readers may be aware that i am more or less estranged from my mom. i’ve seen her in person exactly once in the last four years, & i’ve talked to her about three times. this latest e-mail exchange is the first we’ve had in perhaps five years.

highlights: she was recently diagnosed with chronic emphysema. when i asked if she was going to quit smoking in an attempt to extend her life span, she replied that she had “tricked” the doctor into thinking she had lung obstructions & that she was in fact fit as a fiddle with no intentions to quit smoking. she also played it cool with regard to her political activism (she is super-mega-passionate about middle eastern liberation struggles & apparently converted to islam a few years ago) by telling me, “i know very dangerous people, ciara. the less you know…the better.” she hinted that some of the people she knows are in fact–prepare yourself, because this is some scary shit–HACKERS. i know. i clutched my pearls too. is there anything more terrifying than a hacker? i mean, maybe a kitten is a little bit worse. due to the fact that hackers are not remotely scary. but i think my mom must actually watch the movie “hackers” on a 24-hour loop, judging by the level of imminent danger she feels they present to the average middle american casual political blogger. my other favorite part was how she assured me that she is taking precautions to protect herself & her loved ones from said hackers & other political enemies by blogging under an assumed name. never mind that the assumed name is also her REAL NAME, first & last. she is protecting herself by TELLING people it’s an assumed name, so that makes it the very LAST name that anyone would ever associate with her. you be the judge: mind-bendingly brilliant, or the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?

i could go on, but i’ll hold some back in reserve for the next time i am running low on comedy gold.

yesterday was an especially bad day as far as mom drama goes, but luckily, i was informed of a new feminist book club forming in town mere hours before its first meeting. so i went to that & it was pretty fun. it was just a planning meeting to discuss what topics we might like to cover & get some volunteers to start thinking about books. next week we’re going to watch a film & then discuss–most people seemed interested in an especially cheesy teen movie. no one was moved by my suggestion of “bring it on,” the greatest teen movie of all time. i don’t know why; it has everything you might want, from class warfare to racial strife to gendered double standards to clash references. a fair little chunk of attendees specifically vocalized an interest in zines &/or riot grrrl, which was especially cool because i didn’t know any of those people. other ladies in lawrence who are into zines &/or riot grrrl! sweet! there was also a very strange moment during the moderated discussion on “biggest issues facing feminists today” & “what does feminism mean to you,” during which the facilitator specifically said, “we haven’t heard from any of the men in the room yet. do you want to speak up?” i felt like i’d fallen into a wormhole. really? a conversation about feminism in which the gauntlet was thrown to only the men? even though almost every woman that said anything was saying something about how men are just as negatively affected by patriarchy as women are…which i completely disagree with, actually? someone evn suggested that we have a special event on “feminism for men”.

i’m just gonna say it. i don’t care about dudes in my feminism, okay? dudes of the world, feel free to be feminist allies, read feminist books, educate yourself on feminist topics, & behave in feminist ways with the other people in your life. feel free to liberate yourself from the oppressive strictures of patriarchal masculinity. but do it on your own time, because this lady is not interested in hearing about it. cheers!

you can write a novel while you’re pissed

i love when the first day of a new month falls on a monday. i am one of those weirdos that loves mondays. they are my favorite day of the week. i love the idea of a fresh start, & i get one every monday. & when it’s also a new month–double bonus!

i think i might indulge in national novel writing month this year. which starts today. i have absolutely no idea what i’m going to write a novel about…& if i did, i wouldn’t share it here because i think it’s true that sharing story ideas before they are actually written is a creativity & motivation killer. i have been talking about writing a novel for months, & i have bits & scraps of stories littering my computer. maybe it’s time to actually sit down & put some ass into it. then when i am at some tedious grad school function with jared, & yet another random person asks me what i do, i can honestly say, “oh, i’m working on a novel.” i doubt it will be great literature if i churn it out in thirty days, but a draft is a draft, regardless of how shitty it is. that’s what editing is for.

i had been planning to get started on the self-care zine, in the hopes of releasing it in january when most people i know are struggling to make it through the winter with their mental health intact. but i have not felt motivated to start working on it, so maybe it needs to be shelved for the time being. i did just release a new zine in august (copies are still avaiable!). maybe it’s not realistic at this point in my life to think i am really going to make two zines within six months. especially when i have so many other writing projects on the table, about which i feel more passionate.

one reason i am not feeling the self-care zine right now is because i fear writing it now would result in a zine that mainly draws on my experiences with my most recent friend break-up. the friend i mentioned in my last blog post, the one who said the offensive things about my disability income…that situation continued to spiral out of control, culminating in a pretty horrible conversation last week. when someone tells you that it will be your fault if they commit suicide, it begins to be clear that the friendship isn’t really going to bounce back. clearly she’s going through a period where it’s not good for her mental health to be friends with me, & i certainly have zero interest in subjecting myself to the whims & wiles of someone who would say such blatantly manipulative, emotionally abusive things.

i have been struggling with the anger i feel over the situation. my anger is clouding every other emotion i might conceivably feels about the whole mess–sadness, disappointment, concern, fear. i just feel fucking pissed off that i trusted someone who turned around & took out all her baggage on me & then did her damnedest to manipulate me into letting her off the hook for it. i’ve been experiencing an uptick in my anxiety levels, & i feel a lot of very unproductive energy coursing around in my body. the kind of energy that makes it hard to sit still or concentrate. since mostly what i like to do with my time is read & write, this really sucks. i have been smoking a lot instead. which makes me feel shitty physically. for a while, i felt angry enough that i wanted to talk to this person & let her know exactly how fucked up she was being, & that her ploys to manipulate me were in no way working. but i also felt angry enough that i didn’t want to talk to her at all. the feelings are starting to dissipate & now i just feel like i don’t want to talk to her, which i feel is a more functional way to resolve the situation. hence, a friend break-up.

i am actually pretty okay with it. i think this development with be a really positive thing for my mental health & my time management. i’d much rather put my time & energy into writing projects & taking care of myself than into attempting to navigate a toxic relationship with someone who lacks all self-awareness or ability to engage is personal responsibility. she’s clearly going through a major rough patch right now in her personal life, & i feel for her in that respect, but that doesn’t mean i’m going to sit back & let her treat me like garbage. if i learned one thing from growing up with the mother i got saddled with, it’s that you can’t force someone into playing the relationship role you want them to play, & trying to force someone into being a good person is a recipe for disaster. back when i was struggling with the decision to cut my mom out of my life, i shared my woes with a friend, who said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over & expecting a different result.” it’s a trite aphorism, but there’s also an element of truth to it. i hoped that if i reached out to my mom, kept the lines of communication open, showed an interest in her life, listened to her problems, & showed empathy, she would respond in kind. but she was too selfish to do that. same with my now former friend. & i mean…i cut my own mother out of my life. that’s fucking hardcore. i no longer have any issue doing it with anyone else who treats me disrespectfully.

i definitely think this ex-friend could benefit from learning some fundamentals of self-care. so could a lot of people. but i definitely fear that if i write the zine now, when i am still feeling a pretty high degree of anger, the zine will turn into a condemnation of this friend, & it will contain a level of spitefulness that i don’t want to feel or share with anyone. so it’s being shifted to the back burner until i can come to the topic with the kind of patience & compassion i feel is required.

the particular panic of barbecue side dishes

i don’t really think it’s entirely acceptable that amanda’s garden neighbor is currently playing guns n’ roses’s cover of “live & let die” at volumes that shake glass loose from their panes. & that before it came on, he said to me, “hi, neighbor.” no. if you must play guns n’ roses this loud, can’t it at least be “paradise city” or something? he also started blasting the radio at around 8:15am this morning…which isn’t a huge problem. i was kind of awake. but i shouldn’t be able to hear lady gaga from across the garden over the high-speed sounds of an elderly box fan.

i’m pretty happy that it’s july, even though my allergies seem to have adjusted to the different climate & indigenous philadelphia plants in order to bring on a new round of allergies. i actually only care that it’s july because this is my birthday month. apparently there’s some kind of big deal lunar eclipse on my actual birthday. astrology websites across the internet are going nuts over the angles this makes to various planets & how people born within five days of july 11 (& those of us born ON july 11, like me, e.b. white, richie sambora, & john henson, former host of “talk soup”) are going to feel the effects especially strongly. too bad astrology is a hack discipline that didn’t even get the memo that pluto isn’t really a planet. i swear to god, every month for the last five years, my horoscope has been telling me that i was poised right on the precipice of getting engaged. i am not engaged. i don’t even know if i want to be engaged, in that i have some concerns that being married would undermine my financial independence (it’s complicated & related to the government). i told jared that if he proposed to me on the big screen at a baseball game, i would shake my head sadly & admit that i was dating the guy who shoots the hot dog cannon.

i have a lot of opinions about getting married though. for example: if you are going to register for sheets, i think it’s important to register for nice sheets. this means that you shouldn’t register for jersey sheets. jersey sheets are for eighteen-year-olds about to leave for their first semester at miami university, in miami, ohio. there’s a reason why it’s a little bit challenging to find jersey sheets in anything other than “long twin” size. i am also staggered by how many otherwise intelligent, politically-engaged people use the amazon.com gift registry or similar big box chain store registries. i don’t know for sure, because i’m not engaged & am not the editor-in-chief of a bridal magazine, but surely, surely, there is some kind of independent aggregate gift registry that enables you to consolidate all your registrations with independent businesses on to one handy website for far-afield friends & family to purchase gifts for you with ease & simplicity? right? & if not–someone get on that shit, because it’s an untapped market.

i also think mid-calf dresses look terrible on everyone & ought to be outlawed. it’s a one-way ticket to cankleland, & shaves about four inches off your perceived height. i am also astonished that in the year 2010, couples still go on honeymoons that involve things like cruises (which are unbelievably terrible for the environment) or tourist-y wildlife enclosures. then again, i have nothing against zoos, for the most part, which are also tourist-y wildlife enclosures. maybe i don’t know what i’m talking about. jared & i joke that if we ever get married, our honeymoon will be a train trip through scotland. warm, dry, we can read quietly, i can pretend i’m going to hogwarts, & jared can bask in the train environment. but not in a hobo way.

but what the fuck do i know about any of this? the one time i ever got married, i forgot to take off my sunglasses. clearly i have no idea what i’m doing.

a few nice philly folks have stepped up to the plate in the wake of my freak-out over not having a library card & offered to let me borrow their cards. so it looks like my last nineteen days in philadelphia will be better than i expected. there was an awkward moment this morning when amanda said, “the barbecue side dishes i suggested don’t sound like anything you want to eat, so i figured you would make some side dishes that you would like better,” & i was staggered because it never occurred to me to make any side dishes for our barbecue this afternoon. i don’t know if any of the people who are coming are vegans, vegetarians, have dairy allergies, whatever. at barbecues, i usually like to eat midwestern-style pasta salad, potato salad as long as it’s not augmented with too many weird vegetables, burgers, cheese plates, & deviled eggs. i’m a bit conflicted as to whether or not i’m an asshole for not thinking to prepare anything. we don’t have anything here to make any of those things. i could go out & stock up on ingredients, but why did this not occur to me (or to amanda to suggest it) yesterday when we were at the grocery store? i got a box of granola bars, some yogurt, a little dish of pasta salad for myself…

i have hinted before at how uncomfortable i am at food-based potluck-style events that are not under my complete control (ie, a dinner party where i am making the entree, which will almost certainly be a lasagna, my specialty). this is why. i don’t know what people like to eat, but i know most people are not impressed by my bland, midwestern palate. i am always really impressed when i’m at a party or something & someone has made goat cheese pastries with pear glaze, but it would never occur to me in a million years to make something like that myself. i’m staggered when i think to offer guests tap water. i think maybe this is a product of my childhood. my parents never had dinner parties or cocktail parties or anything similar. they occasionally had raging biker parties where guests brought their own cases of beer & maybe if it was someone’s birthday, my mom would bake a sheet cake with a harley-davidson logo on it. occasionally for family reunion-type events, someone would make a platter of deviled eggs or diabetes-friendly carob cookies (lots of diabetes in my family), but it was certainly never my responsibility to do anything more sophisticated than maybe ball a watermelon or something. i didn’t know what sangria was until sometime last year.

all right, enough fussin’ & feudin’. on with the day.

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.