Category Archives: on being an auntie

never will i ever: baby edition

my favorite google search since this pregnancy was confirmed has got to be, hands down, “useless baby gear”. but that’s probably a post for another day. what i really want to write about is my second favorite google search: “things i said i would never do before i became a mom” (& variations). so many people out there have written blogs or posted on messageboards, making fun of themselves for their naive beliefs about how they would parent. it’s like the old saying goes: “i was a really good mom…before i had kids.”

i feel that i have about as reasonable a set of expectations about what parenting will be like as i can, given that this is my first baby, i have almost no close friends with children, & i haven’t even touched an infant in like ten years. i’ve decided to tempt fate by compiling my own list of stuff i don’t think i will do, & then maybe i’ll revisit it in a year or two to see if i actually had my head screwed on straight or if i was as hopelessly naive as i sometimes feel.

i won’t let my baby play with my cell phone. cell phones are expensive! even though i just have a crappy $20 kin one & not an expensive iphone. i still don’t want to risk my baby breaking my phone or accidentally texting someone i don’t like but haven’t deleted from my contacts. i almost never use my phone anyway, so i’m hoping that my baby just won’t realize the phone exists. jared never uses his phone either, so we’re a good team in this respect.

i won’t let my baby bang on my computer & pretend it’s working with me. i DO have a very expensive computer, & i already managed to break the track pad & had to shell out $75 for a “magic track pad” (basically just an external track pad–a mouse would work just as well). i don’t want to take the chance of the baby doing even more damage. i have this fantasy that i will only use the computer when the baby is asleep or having daddy-only time, so maybe it won’t even realize i have a computer. but that is unlikely to work. i spend WAY more time on my computer than i do on my phone, & jared is the same way. we’ll just have to teach the baby that computers are for grown-ups or something.

i won’t let my baby have noisy electronic toys. this is more for my sake than the baby’s. i don’t care if my kid wants to bang pots & pans together, kick its feet on the floor, scream, whatever. i just don’t want all the electronic noise & lights in the house. i prefer my noise natural, & therefore beautiful. or at least not elmo-themed.

i won’t enroll my baby in any weird enrichment classes before it develops its own interests. no baby yoga, no baby karate, no baby soccer. if my kid starts to show some kind of burgeoning interest in the mandolin or french cooking or something, then we’ll see, but i’m not going to force my kid into the kiddie achievement rat race just to compete with other parents. if i am going stir-crazy & want the company of other moms, i’ll try going to the playground more often or something.

i am going to try really, really hard not let my kid have “screen time” before the age of two. meaning: no TV, no checking out movies from the library & letting them watch on my computer, no youtubing “the wiggles”, etc. we already don’t own a TV & i don’t want the kid messing with my computer, so hopefully this will just be a continuation of other policies. i know i won’t have control over what happens at other people’s houses though, & once the kid gets a taste of that sweet, sweet screen, all bets are off.

i won’t try to force or trick my kid into wearing gender-conforming clothes if it doesn’t want to. some people have said that i’ll feel differently someday & do anything to keep my kid from being picked on, but i feel that if my kid is picked on for being gender-non-conforming, it’s other kids & their jerk-ass parents who taught them shitty values that need to change, not my kid.

i will not intentionally introduce my child to disney…EVER. i know eventually the kid will find out on its own, from its friends or whatever, but i’m not going to be the one that brings that evil into my child’s life. what is it about disney? whenever someone tells me they love disney, i just know they vote republican & probably own a texas tuxedo.

i won’t go nuts about organic food & be that mom who won’t let her kid eat birthday cake at a party. i think this one will be pretty easy. i mean, pregnancy hasn’t stopped me from drinking coffee, eating sushi, & snarfing the occasional frozen pizza. i doubt i’ll flip the script where the kiddo is concerned. we eat pretty healthfully; i think we can just stay the course.

i will not post about poop on facebook. i recognize that no one wants to hear about my kid’s diaper incidents, not even other parents.

i won’t beat myself up if i fail to have a natural birth or breastfeed my child for as long as i would prefer (i’d like to do baby-led weaning). i also won’t act like a superior jackass if i do have a natural birth or do extended breastfeeding. my choices are my choices & they’re not for everyone. & if they don’t work out, they don’t work out. the kid will probably be okay either way, which is what matters.

i won’t get rid of my cat just because i have a baby. even if the cat scratches the baby…it’s a good lesson. animals aren’t toys. as my sister put it when my cat slashed her child in the face: “pain is the teacher.”

i’ll probably think of more stuff as time goes on. any experienced parents reading this–what do you think? do i seem to have reasonable expectations or am i utterly deluded?

i got 99 problems but the baby ain’t really one

when i had the nuchal translucency test done last week, the nurse told me they would have results in ten to fourteen days. but they called me back on tuesday morning–five days later, including a weekend–& told me that everything had come back 100% normal. my finger hadn’t even finished healing from the blood draw yet!

so now i’m officially in the second trimester & we know the baby is doing great. time to just sit back & let this thing cook, right? but this is ciara xyerra we’re talking about. i’m just not happy if i can’t be all angsty & anxious about something. so now i am anxious about when to go live with the baby registry we’ve put together. it’s all finished & ready to go…& really doesn’t have much on it, because we mostly intend to adopt attachment parenting practices, which requires very little gear. i just don’t know when it’s appropriate to put it out there into the world.

my confusion is complicated by the fact that most people make registries specifically for their baby showers. but it’s unclear to me whether or not i will have a baby shower. i assumed i wouldn’t, because jared & just aren’t that close to anyone in lawrence, & we know pretty much no one that is actually legitimately excited about this baby. (most of the people we know are childless graduate students who are dumbfounded that anyone would complicate the already-stressful process of graduate school by intentionally reproducing. one of jared’s colleagues took me aside at a barbecue & asked me, “so, how long before…you know. you can send it to, like, school for the whole day, & get your life back?” i explained that some preschools now accept infants, but i wasn’t intending to send my kid to school until kindergarten, at age five & a half. she seemed horrified.) the entire point of making an online registry was so that our friends & family members in other states–the people who ARE excited about the baby & most likely to want to help us out with gifts–would be able to do so from afar.

but then a friend in lawrence offered to throw us a shower after all. i still don’t have anyone to invite except for freaked out graduate students & grimy punks from kansas city, which will be an amusing mix of folks, but still. i didn’t think i’d get a “real” baby shower at all, so bring it on!

also complicating things is the fact that most women wait to make their registries public until after they get the second trimester anatomy scan, at which the baby’s sex can usually be predicted pretty accurately. that way they can register for gender-specific clothing, nursery decor, etc. but jared & i are planning to be surprised by the sex at birth. we’ll do the anatomy scan, because it checks for general birth defects & fetal health, but we intend to decline information about the baby’s sex.

adding to my anxiety is the fact that my sister gave birth to her daughter two months premature. my due date is still six months away, which seems like plenty of time to wait on the registry, wait on the shower, wait on doing any major shopping ourselves, & still have plenty of time to lay in all the necessary supplies well before the baby shows up. especially because, statistically, a lot of first-time babies come late. there’s no real reason why my baby would be premature just because my sister’s was–it’s not like it was some familial genetic complication. it was just the luck of the draw. but still. bad enough to have such a premature baby (my niece was in the NICU for her first month of life). to add to the stress by not even having an adequate supply of diapers on hand…i know this is my own neurosis, but i like to control for whatever factors i can reasonably control for. i don’t know if this baby will be early or late or right on time. i don’t know if it will be completely healthy or in need of emergency care. i don’t know how fast i will recover from giving birth or what my emotional state will be like during the first weeks of motherhood. but i can make sure i finish my baby shopping well in advance, damn it!

i did do some major shopping earlier this week…for myself. i dropped some major coin on maternity clothes. most frugal moms i talked to said maternity clothes were a scam & that i could totally get away with just wearing larger sizes of regular clothes while pregnant. my sister suggested that i stick with generously cut cotton dresses with some give in the belly area. one mom friend gave me all kinds of tips on how to make my own maternity jeans but cutting the waistband off some regular jeans & stitching on a stretchy elastic panel. i had been thinking about getting a maternity swimsuit, or at least a tankini, to replace my prepregnancy one-piece which is exploding off of me as i expand. my current suit has a little belt stitched to it, & a few weeks ago, the belt exploded off when confronted with my new girth. every morning, i feel a little bit more like a kielbasa while jared & i get ready to head to the pool. i started daydreaming about what it would be like to have clothes that really fit. t-shirts that were slightly too big for me two weeks ago no longer cover my belly. shorts that were baggy on me a month ago now have to be unbuttoned so i can lounge comfortably. i thought my pajama pants were holding up pretty well, but i noticed the other day that all of their waistbands now have tiny rips, which is how they are accommodating their larger load.

so i logged on to gap.com (not gonna lie, almost all my non-pregnancy clothes are from the gap–i like that their stuff is really plain & casual & easy to clean, & that they have about 9000 sales a week, so you NEVER have to buy anything at full-price…& i like that their larger sizes are actually large, which is not always the case at other stores; not very punk of me, i guess), navigated to the maternity sale section, & dropped $200 on a pretty extensive pregnancy wardrobe. jeans & skirts & dresses & tees & sweaters…i cannot WAIT to wear clothes that were actually cut for my weird new shape. jared was rubbing my belly the other day & he said, “man. you’re growing a whole new person in there. you big weirdo.” how sweet.

grief is a spiral

i realized the other day that spinster summer is more than halfway over. the first half went pretty smoothly. it seemed to fly by, really. maybe it was a mix of having the opportunity to see jared a lot (because i spent the first six days in boston with him, & then i only had about two weeks by myself in kansas before i flew back to boston to spend my birthday with him) & the novelty of having all the alone time i wanted. but now i am in the big stretch of not seeing him for a month, & some of the excitement of having the house to myself has dissipated. it’s getting more difficult.

i threw myself a little birthday party on saturday so i could spend some quality time with friends in kansas. i wasn’t anticipating a rager, because 32-year-olds, as a general rule, don’t really rage a whole lot. i also don’t know that many people in lawrence, & at least half of the people i do know are out of town for the summer. plus lawrence is a weird place. you actually have to be kind of popular to get people to schedule you into their busy weekends. maybe it’s a college town thing? or maybe it’s just a life thing. i was competing against a couple of going away parties & whatever it is more fun-loving people get up to on weekends, so it was pretty sedate.

jaimie offered to make me a birthday cake. although she is trying to maintain a gluten-free diet, she said that cakes are “how [she] best expresses [her] creativity.” she asked me for flavor & them suggestions. i offered chocolate, vanilla, hazelnuts, & cats.

this is what she came up with.

the cake part is shaped like a zine. half of it is chocolate & half is vanilla (though the chocolate got greedy & colonized the vanilla half a little bit). the creature is in fact a rice krispie treat molded into the vague shape of a cat & covered with fondant. it has fondant ears & tail & frosting features, including claws.

detail of the cat.

jaimie says, “i’m not a sculptor, okay?” she thinks it looks like a hairless pig rat. i think it kind of resembles jaimie’s dog, wallace tucker. he’s a terrier/chihuahua mix who grew up in a meth lab. after the meth lab exploded & his original owners were hauled off to prison, jaimie adopted him.

the cat is wearing an ice cream cone birthday hat with a sparkler in it. i refused to light the sparkler because i am still traumatized from setting my hand on fire lighting sparklers at kickball last summer. so jaimie lit it.

the cake with the sparkler lit.

i feel that i should mention that this cake is enormous. & literally only six people stopped by for my “party” (which is about five more than i really expected). only four of us ate cake. so i have tons of leftovers. they’re taking up an entire shelf in my refrigerator. thankfully, jaimie is hosting a barbecue/potluck this evening, so i’m going bring the leftover cake & also all the leftover beer that has been sitting in my fridge. i just don’t drink beer when left to my own devices. i don’t drink any alcohol. that’s definitely not a bad thing, but it does make me wonder sometimes why the hell i pay for recycling service.

people singing happy birthday to me.

the day of my party was in fact charlotte’s tenth birthday. if she were a person, she’d be getting ready to enter the fifth grade! she’d be able to write cursive! charlotte shares her birthday with my niece, malachite. she’s nine. halfway to adulthood! they really do grow up so fast. my sister may disagree, since she’s the person who has had to shepherd malachite along to turning nine, but i feel like she was just born last week.

malachite was in fact born exactly two weeks before my dad died. so the anniversary of his death is coming up on july 30. it blows my mind to think he’s been gone for nine years. i had just turned 23 when he died. now i’m 32. weirdly, jared’s father’s birthday is the same day my dad died. his mother’s birthday is the same as my ex-husband’s. people are sometimes surprised that i’m so good at remembering the birthdays of people i don’t even know that well, but it’s easy for me because there are weird clusters of significant dates in my life.

i guess nomy lamm is performing in lawrence on july 30. that’s where most people i know here are going to be on the anniversary of my dad’s death. i am still mulling whether or not that’s where i want to be. it could be good to be with friends, doing something potentially fun & definitely outside the confines of my usual routine. but it might be kind of stressful.

to be honest, i don’t really feel a lot of feelings on days that are associated with my dad–his birthday, father’s day, the anniversary of his death. i haven’t felt a lot of feelings about him in a long, long time, because i guess my philosophy is to just not have a lot of feelings about things i can’t help. but i do sometimes wake up in the morning or space out while reading a book & think, “i haven’t talked to dad in a while. i should call him.” then i remember. i wonder how long a person has to be dead before that fact finally sticks in your brain.

charlotte as a baby.
my dad, about two years before he died (the second to last time i saw him).

2000-2002, the crabigail review

a few folks have been recapping the decade from their personal perspective, now that we have collectively moved on to the teens. i like this idea, so i am stealing it. maybe it will help my mysterious readers (over one hundred hits on december 29? who are you people?) get to know me better.

2000
i lived in portland, oregon when the decade started, & worked at powell’s books. i was on the genre team, & my responsibilities included romance novels, books on tape, westerns, erotica, thrillers (think tom clancy), & my favorite, “nautical fiction” (a very sparse bookcase featuring the “jaws” books & a whole lot of horatio hornblower). i rang in the new year bundled up in the snow, standing on the hawthorne bridge, watching fireworks with my friend cypress, who also worked at powell’s, shelving sci-fi & mysteries.

i started writing & compiling my former zine, “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage,” this year, & published two issues. it was far more popular than i ever expected.

i started dating a pretty lame dude in february, who presented himself as interested in radical politics (“i got tear gassed at the WTO protests,” he claimed…which turned out to be true, but not because he gave two shits about globalization or anything) but actually shit all over anything i had to say that was remotely political. he seemed to be convinced that i couldn’t possibly have anything smart to say about politics due to the fact that i am a girl. why did i not break up with this guy a lot sooner? i have never been good at dumping people.

i lived for half the year in a sweet studio apartment in downtown portland which featured a murphy kitchen (a kitchen that folds into the wall–seriously) & a view of mount rainier on clear days, & spent the summer in the world’s shittiest collective house, living with all boys, working as an at-home phone psychic. i quickly moved into a crowded two-story four-bedroom apartment deep in northwest portland. at first, this last apartment was awesome, because i was way into collective living at the time & living with my social circle. some zine girls in portland for the summer had turned the lease over to me & warned me that their ex-roommate (who was staying) was a total drag. i did not like those zine girls, so i fully expected the ex-roommate to be awesome–& she was! that is how amanda colianni & i became friends. ❤ ❤ ❤

i visited my family in bowling green once this year & it was all right, though my dad thought i was throwing in the towel & moving back home. as if! he was bummed when he found out i planned to stay in portland.

i visited the bay area for the first time this year, to see my friend mimi. it was a truly spectacular trip, the first time i'd ever seen palm trees or the pacific ocean. we watched "reckless kelly" & attended a very questionable skillshare event at gilman st. & hung around in an alley outside a submission hold show, eating doughnuts.

i also facilitated a couple of workshops at ladyfest in the summer, which is shocking, because i was 21. what does a 21 have to teach anyone? people took me seriously though & maybe 75 people came to each workshop (the only one i remember was "combating activist burn-out"–as if a 21-year-old knows shit about activist burn-out. my friend sam learned how to make pierogies at mirah's house that week, a few ladies stopped me on the street to compliment my zines, i saw bratmobile play at the olympic theatre, & i saw the gossip play in a filthy basement. i slept in the back of a moving truck parked in a highway rest area all week with my friend james, & we listened to the backstreet boys every morning.

i quit my job at powell's in the midst of a customer-induced panic attack & got a gig doing "community organizing" for a group called oregon action. part of my responsibilities involved going to some weird camp in the mountains, where i got to know some former black panthers. weird, but kind of cool. but also really weird. then i shipped out to montana to organize the communities of bozeman & billings. wildfires raged in the forests & we had to wear wet bandanas over our mouths to breathe. i worked with a crew of folks: joe, megan, & clint. joe, megan, & i shared a shitty motel room for three weeks at the lewis & clark inn. we all hated our jobs & wanted to quit to become volunteer firefighters, but it didn't work out. joe & clint got me drunk for the first time one night, which was fun. i eventually lost that job due to "not having a positive attitude" & failing to follow what they called "the sunshine program".

i became obsessed with the movie "bring it on," an obsession which persists to this day.

2001
i could not find a job to save my life. for a while, i worked at a call center re-charging phone cards for AT&T, but i walked out on my lunch break one day & never came back. amanda managed to lose her job early in 2001 as well, & we spent our days becoming obsessed with “beverly hills 90210” & “friends”. eventually some woman who read my blog offered me a stipend so that i could just write & do political shit (i was in a feminist art collective & there was talk of organizing a portland zine event) without having to stress about finding work. i took it & many of my friends were enraged that i claimed to be interested in class issues but would accept some rich lady’s no-strings-attached money. that’s the true mark of someone who has never really had to worry about money–that they would look askance at free cash.

i saved my pennies (by shoplifting groceries & scamming portland’s public transportation system) & flew out to boston in march for a zine fair. it was a weird trip: i didn’t really click with the lady zinesters i’d flown out there to see, & instead met a dude & had a bit of a whirlwind romance. i made him a lasagna in his dorm kitchen (not my finest work). i sold a ton of zines, but didn’t really care for boston–too much concrete, too much advertising everywhere, frighteningly posh health food grocery stores, & you couldn’t swing a cat by its tail without hitting a college. but the dude i met went to school there & i decided i didn’t have much going on in portland, so i borrowed bus fare from a friend when i got back to portland & set off for boston again. amanda packed me a bus lunch consisting of blackened peanut butter toast & half a watermelon. because who doesn’t want to eat a watermelon on the ‘hound?

i spent three weeks living in the dude’s dorm room & it seemed like all my boston zine friends were horrified & distressed. we tried to join an affinity group & hit the FTAA protests in quebec city, but the kids we were with were a bunch of yahoos & we were turned away at the border. there was talk of crossing into canada through deep wilderness using only a compass pen & our wits, which would have been awesome, but instead we went to a truly shitty anti-fascism rally in new haven, which culminated in some morons getting arrested & the guy who was driving our van pulling up to the jail & blasting “fuck tha police” at top volume. *sigh*

after my boyfriend finished his semester, we flew together to portland & i packed up my shit. shipped half of it to my parents’ house in ohio & half to los angeles. in retrospect, the crippling depression i experienced (i seriously considered killing myself in a denny’s bathroom one night) may have been a clue that i was making a poor choice, but i didn’t heed it & moved to L.A. we lived for the summer in the dude’s mom’s condo & took a lot of breaks to travel. we drove all the way to ohio, where my family said unfortunate racially-tinged things (my boyfriend was chinese american) & then kicked us out of the house. we went to portland for the first zine symposium & it was kind of shitty. we went to alabama for the southern girls convention & i remember nothing aside from rumors that a rapist was hiding under cars in the parking lot & slashing ladies’ achilles tendons, & making some dude cry in a workshop about direct action.

while driving to ohio, we stopped in las vegas & got married. i suggested it because i thought it would be hilarious. it was not hilarious. it was kind of sad, actually. the bouquet was rented, i forgot to take off my sunglasses, & there was a portrait of cher on the wall of the chapel.

in august, we moved to boston. i was really, really depressed. i didn’t have a job & slept for seventeen hours a day most days. while i was awake, i played solitaire or watched “boy meets world”. i truly believed i had mono (but it turned out i was just really bored; okay, it turned out that i was clinically depressed). i adopted charlotte from an animal shelter the day before 9/11. i wound up having a huge argument with a friend in new york city about 9/11 because she felt that people who didn’t live in new york weren’t “doing enough” to…i don’t know. show solidarity with muslims that may be targets of racially motivated revenge crimes? shake signs outside their local city halls that say, “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind”? i am not sure what she wanted people to do, all things considered. this argument destroyed our friendship when she said i was “treating [her] as an object, rather than a subject” & my head exploded because of the pretentiousness.

i finally got into therapy & went on anti-depressants right before the year ended.

2002
i decided to enroll in midwifery school. i was suddenly obsessed with all things reproductive-related, from fertility awareness to abortion to childbirth. i signed up for a direct-entry midwifery program in western mass, taught by a lay midwife who had obviously changed her name as a protest against the patriarchy. i also came down with a raging case of baby fever, because what better time to have a baby than when you are 22, new in town, horrifically depressed, & not in the world’s most serious & healthy relationship? thankfully, i did not get pregnant.

but my sister did. & then she got married in march, at city hall, wearing a dress she rented from a store called “it’s not too late”. okay, not really. she just wore a regular dress. like a regular walking-down-the-street, looking-maybe-a-little-extra-fancy dress. i did not attend the wedding. i don’t even think i was invited. not that anyone but a former vegas showgirl named jade lynx was at my wedding (she was our paid witness–she signed our documents with a signature stamp).

i was psyched to become an aunt & decided to devote myself to having a better summer & try to kick this depression shit. i released one final issue of “a renegade’s handbook to love & sabotage,” which was fully illustrated (a first for me). i was way into my midwifery studies & doing things like sewing pillows shaped like placentas. i had a best friend who also wanted to have a baby & we were radical cheerleaders together & had a lot of quality time doing craft projects & talking about politics & generally being awesome. i was still dealing with a lot of depression, but feeling better.

then suddenly girls were knocking down my door to tell me that a big popular zine dude in boston was a serial rapist. no one knew what to do. girls wanted me to spread the word, which made me a lightning rod for the rapist dude & his asshole friends to threaten me & make my life miserable. i flew out to portland again for the zine symposium & had a good time with friends, but mr. rapist was there & a lot of his cronies gave me a lot of shit. i spent my birthday in portland, alone, eating a single-serving slice of cake from fred meyer. my dad called the day before i was to fly back to boston to tell me that my sister was in the hospital, giving birth three months prematurely. i panicked a little & asked if i should re-route my ticket to toledo. he said that i should just fly out once the baby was out of the hospital, since she’d be in the NICU for some weeks. i foolishly, stupidly listened to him, which is probably the biggest regret of my life.

two weeks later, my dad died. very suddenly. sitting on the couch, brushing his hair. if i’d flown out to ohio when my sister went into labor, i could have seen my dad one more time. he was only 48 years old.

i flew to ohio for all the dead dad shit that had to be done. there was no funeral, but my brother organized a rock show/party thing. people sent flowers & cards & my uncle brought a ham. my aunt wanted us to move everything to her fancypants house in some gated sub-division because apparently the place where my dad lived & died wasn’t good enough for her. i kicked her out of the house & never spoke to her again. my grandmother acted drunk & ridiculous, as usual, & forgot my brother’s name. my niece was released from the hospital & i had a great time holding her while she slept & admiring her perfect baby hairstyle. my sister kind of freaked out about being a mom & a half-orphan all the sudden & it was intense. i had my first vaso vagal incident & was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, given fluids, & released, because no one could figure out what was wrong with me. i came down with a sinus infection & flew back to boston, more depressed & stressed out than ever.

all of that was in august & i don’t remember the rest of the year. i think i tried to start a feminist art collective, which went nowhere. my husband tried to start a radical asian americans group, which resulted in a mutual friend trying to get into his pants, which was hilarious & awkward. mostly, i was depressed, i slept a lot, & i went to therapy. i was also diagnosed with arthritis & informed that i would be in a wheelchair by the time i was 30. i started physical therapy & decided to apply for disability.

this is long enough, so i’ll come back & do the rest of the decade as the week progresses. it has been a real trip remembering some of this shit.

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.