Category Archives: physical deterioration

2005-2007, the crabigail review

i threw my back out the other day & writing has been a challenge since then. i can’t use my right arm much without excruciating pain. i’m seeing a new orthopedic specialist tomorrow to try to work out a more consistent treatment plan for my arthritis, so…good timing, i guess. this might also get in the way of shipping distro orders. i can’t really haul a courier bag full of distro orders to the post office when i can hardly even raise myself into a sitting position. it’s probably the courier bag full of distro orders that fucked up my back in the first place. one more reason to be relieved that the distro is almost over.

on with the ghosts of history!

the winter of 2005 was pretty brutal. very cold & very snowy. i decided i was totally over boston & that i wanted to move away. i considered the bay area, but figured it was too expensive. i considered philly, but was put off by what i knew of the already tight-knit social/activist scene there. i don’t get along well with people & didn’t feel like living somewhere where i’d have to struggle to make social in-roads. i considered new orleans, but i knew that shy former roommate might want to move with me (because i apparently forgot that living with her was a nightmare in several ways) & i knew she didn’t want to live in the south (too hot). i settled on minneapolis. am i brilliant or what? escaping the snow & ice of new england by moving to even snowier, icier minnesota. but i wasn’t moving until the springtime (after the 2005 skillshare conference was over) & i was intrigued by the minneapolis public transit system & its proximity to the mississippi river & the fact that there were a lot of punk houses & activist-y projects going on there, without a seemingly impenetrable social scene. i pitched it to shy former roommate & she was on board. we wrote up an ad & posted it on the minneapolis craig’s list & lucked into two bedrooms in a seven-room punk house for about $200 a month each. we started packing.

i broke the news to the ladies in the reproductive health collective & was met by near-total indifference. i don’t know what happened with that group. maybe it was ideological differences? some of them were pretty tight-lipped about the fact that we were studying menstrual extraction–a procedure that is not illegal. since we weren’t doing anything illegal, i didn’t see the point in acting like we were. it seemed self-aggrandizing. what’s the point in learning a simple & effective d.i.y. abortion method that can do the most good for low-income women who can’t afford abortion clinics if you’re just going to share it with your relatively privileged friends who CAN afford abortion clinics? luckily, it didn’t matter anymore, because i was moving, & i was busy with the skillshare until the move happened.

i seem to recall that the reproductive health collective did a workshop on, well…reproductive health, at that skillshare, & when someone asked about menstrual extraction, one of the women went out in the hallway. she was that distraught at the idea of talking about menstrual extraction in public.

i also tabled the distro at the skillshare (i intended to move it with me to minneapolis & had enlisted my friend ericka to secure a post office box for me) & met a dude. i figured we could have a little romance before i left town, but the dude ended up being a little more intense than i expected. i have a bad track record of just kind of going with it when a dude decides to be serious & intense in a relationship, regardless of my own personal feelings or if i am splitting town or what. i didn’t consider staying in boston for him, but i did foolishly think that having a long-distance relationship might be “fun”. even though long-distance relationships are never fun.

to top it off, the new dude i was seeing was somehow connected to shy former roommate in a complex manner i won’t get into, & she AGAIN blew her top when i told her i was dating him. even though we’d both put down security deposits on the house in minneapolis, rented a moving truck, & were supposed to leave in like two weeks, she backed out & vowed never to speak to me again. mostly i felt relieved that she was never going to talk to me again, but i don’t know how to drive & didn’t know how i was going to get my stuff to minneapolis. & her backing out on the room made me look bad, because now the minneapolis folks would have to scramble to fill her spot. uncool.

i sold or gave away most of my furniture, including my bed. i gave my bed to my roommate kristie, with the directive that it would be returned to me in the event that the whole minneapolis thing didn’t pan out & i moved back to boston within three months. she agreed. i flew to minneapolis with my cat in a sherpa bag under the seat in front of me. i had to take her out of the bag & carry her through security. thank god she didn’t leap out of my arms & run away to hide in the bowels of logan airport.

minneapolis wasn’t bad. my roommates were okay. i liked some more than others, but that’s to be expected. some of them had read my zines before & that was cool. i met other folks out there & found interesting projects to involve myself in. i attended a radical cheerleading meeting or two. i tabled with ericka at the twin cities zine fest (just her distro, not mine). i went to the library almost everyday. i borrowed a tiny children’s bike & wobbled around town on it. but it had never been my intention to move to minneapolis alone & i didn’t feel entirely comfortable there. in boston, i had completely free health care. in minneapolis, i had to go off my meds because i couldn’t afford them. i couldn’t afford therapy. i certainly couldn’t afford physical therapy. i tried to take care of myself, but i didn’t really have an infrastructure in place to do that. it’s one thing to treat your own UTI. it’s another thing to monitor & treat your own debilitating bone degeneration, you know? & i was in a weird place in my life where not being able to just be tough & take care of myself made me feel shitty, like i was less of a good punk or a good anarchist than the perfectly healthy people around me that didn’t have to deal with the problems i had.

i threw in the towel & moved back to boston after two months.

& i didn’t get my bed back! the day before i decided to move back to boston, kristie had given my bed to her roommate jen, letting her know about the three-month condition. but jen ignored it & refused to give me my bed back when i came back to boston. i still had a key to her house & said i’d just come & take it while she was at work, so she stationed her boyfriend on the corner to look for me & tried to get the landlady to change the locks. what a little drama queen. i found a bed in the basement of my new house, so i just took that one instead & called it a day, but i never forgot about jen, the bed-stealing pseudo-artist. record bowls are not art, sorry. nor are hideous plasticized dragonfly wind chimes or whatever the fuck else she was getting up to in art school.

so i was living in a new place, pretty close to inman square. it was a pretty stellar location. i started a new journal & rode my bike to 1369 (a coffeeshop) everyday, rain or shine, to write. oh, & the long-distance romance dude & i broke up literally about two weeks after i moved back to boston. so i had that going on. i re-kindled a friendship with shy former roommate after the break-up because i just don’t know when to say when, apparently. she was living in the bay area by that point, so at least we didn’t have to try to socialize in person.

moving back to boston was a weird adjustment. i was living with a woman i’d already lived with for more than a year at my old collective house, but we weren’t getting along. maybe it was because she was doing a lot of coke? i have never been good at dealing with people when they are on drugs. she would sneak into my room & use my computer when i wasn’t home, which really bothered me. i am really big on privacy & personal space (another way that i have often been made to feel that i am a bad anarchist). i told her a million times: ask first. i’d probably say yes. just ask first. but she wouldn’t. i finally couldn’t take it anymore & started looking for a new place to live. i was also back in therapy & attending a day program to try to figure out how to take care of myself & structure my days. i was having a very bad mental & physical health spell. i started working hard on writing a new zine & i got an accordion. i started taking accordion lessons from this crazy anarcho-punk dude. we’d meet somewhere & he’d try to teach me music theory for an hour, & then we’d spend an hour talking about depression. he even convinced me to go to a weird jam night once, which is so not what i am about. i mean, there was a dog there. & a woman with bells on her skirt. & later a strange woman invited me for tea in her attic & when her roommate came home, she tucked herself into the closet to go to sleep. it was like a weird russian fairy tale.

i found a new house in brighton, with a bunch of kids who seemed okay, even if they weren’t punks or especially political. but you know, i wasn’t having the best luck with punks or political types & mostly just wanted a room that would be private. mission accomplished. i painted it cotton candy pink with hot pink trim, moved in an enormous steel desk (big enough to sleep on), started training to volunteer at the lucy parsons center (anarchist infoshop) & started volunteering at the papercut zine library in cambridge. i spent the winter doing volunteer sessions, going to therapy, reading a lot of books, & working on expanding the distro.

remember the bed i found in the basement? well, it started making me sick. i guess maybe it had mold in it, but i didn’t know that at the time. i came down with whooping cough, but i didn’t realize it was whooping cough. i tried to power through–my friend from memphis had just moved to boston & we were spending a lot of time together. we’d meet up at her house, pre-game it with some whiskey & MTV on demand, & then go out to an 80s dance night, or a queer dance night, or a queer karaoke night, or a party, or something. i started drinking on a regular basis for the first time ever–not a lot. maybe once or twice a week. it was fun. i felt relaxed for pretty much the first time ever. i was learning how to make small talk & be casually social. sometimes i felt sad that i wasn’t really forging any connections with anyone–hard to do when you’ve had five shots in the last two hours & everyone is dancing to “toxic” by britney spears. but it was something new & different in my life & i was happy to explore it.

when the first bout of whooping cough went away, i started smoking–something else i’d never done. i had friends that were smokers & smoking always seemed to calm them down when there was some kind of drama afoot. & it seemed like there was ALWAYS drama afoot in my life. my house in brighton backed out on to a beautiful park with a pond in it. a flock of swans lived in the pond. when the weather was okay, i’d sit on the back fire escape & chain smoke & look at the pond. it was very peaceful. it did help me calm my anxiety.

the friend from memphis & i had a falling out when i suggested we spend time together doing things that didn’t involve going out & partying–maybe some craft nights or something. the drinking & dancing was fun for a while, but i didn’t like being hung over & i wanted to spend more time doing creative things. she thought i was implying that she had an alcohol problem, &…that was that. i occasionally saw her around for the next few years & tried to say hello a few times, but she was always very gifted at holding a grudge, whether it was warranted or not. we’d been friends for about ten years, so losing that friendship wasn’t easy for me.

i started picking up more & more shifts at papercut & the lucy parsons center. even though sitting in an infoshop or library all day isn’t the most exciting, social thing you can do with your time, it made me feel like i was connected to something bigger than myself. i especially enjoyed the zine library, because i got to talk about zines with everyone who came in. what i did not like about the zine library was two other women who volunteered there. one night at a collective meeting, one of the woman observed that i was being uncharacteristically quiet. i said i was just a little hungry, & i got out a candy bar i’d bought & started eating it. she said i was probably depressed because of all the sugar i ate. that’s a little rude, don’t you think? that was probably the first time i’d ever eaten anything in front of her, & in my experience, few things get people as defensive as questioning their food choices.

these women decided that the library needed to be wheelchair accessible, which…fair enough, but we didn’t own the building we were in & were not the people who made decisions about construction. they decided they’d just build a ramp themselves, building owners be damned. there were some arguments, but after a few weeks, the rest of the collective talked them out of it (it probably would have gotten us kicked out of our space). another time, one of them came in to check on the phones. she asked how i was & i said fine. she flew off the handle at me for not asking how she was. she said i obviously hadn’t been “raised properly”. i offered to get my mom on the phone so this woman could tell her that directly. they just brought a lot of drama, all in the guise of wanting us all to “communicate in loving & respectful ways”. i would not describe myself as a “loving” person–i am a straightforward & direct person, which seemed to often conflict with their ideas about what it meant to be “loving”. i didn’t appreciate having people take issue constantly with the WAY i said things, instead what i was actually saying. i did make an effort to never be unnecessarily rude or bullying & i felt that should be plenty.

anyway, it all came to a head when the collective decided to have a chat with me about how sometimes i am “intimidating”. *yawn* tell me something i’ve never heard before. what does it mean to be intimidating? it doesn’t mean that i am mean or cruel or bossy. it means that other people find me intimidating. i can take certain steps to avoid intimidating others–making a conscious effort to fully listen to & consider their ideas, not raising my voice, not making unnecessarily sarcastic or snarky comments, etc. but in my experience, people are always going to be intimidated by confident women with strong opinions, & there is nothing i can do about that unless i change myself in ways that don’t make me comfortable.

i quit the collective. i was bummed about it, but i felt there were some personal attacks flying around & i didn’t have the patience for it.

i was also invited to move into a new collective house in may, & i accepted. i’d met my new roommate at the most recent skillshare & it seemed like we had a lot in common & would get along pretty well. what i DIDN’T know until months later is that i was paying about $150 more in rent than anyone else in the house–i was basically brought in to subsidize cheap rent for everyone else. my roommates were the skillshare kid & a crusty punk couple who shared a large room with their three dogs. the couple paid something crazy like $575 a month–less than $300 a month. that is LUDICROUSLY cheap for boston. i was paying over $500. when i found out, i agitated for us to even out rents so we all paid more or less the same amount, as had been the case in every other collective house i’d ever lived in (except for one, where there were very appreciable differences between the rooms). everyone refused. they all seemed to think i should pay more because i was on disability, even though my disability payments were about the same as what they made at their jobs. they all seemed to think i was somehow scamming the government by being on disability & should pay more rent as a result. i wish i would have moved out right then…but i didn’t.

the thing was, i liked my roommates. they were fun. we went out dancing & drinking together. we could sit around & shoot the shit. the crusties with the dogs were unbelievably responsible about housework. i wanted to keep living with them, but i wanted things to be fair financially. it was a tricky situation. we finally worked something out so my rent went down by $30 or something–still not enough to be entirely fair, but i thought maybe i could work on getting it lowered more down the line, & i could appreciate the company of my roommates in the meantime.

the distro was going really well. i launched a series of interviews with zinesters, i had a few romantic intrigues, i finished my first new zine in four years. the skillshare was also going well. a few new people had gotten involved & their contributions intrigued me. the event was more popular & well-attended than ever. it felt like it was becoming a boston institution & i had started it. i was pretty proud of myself. i also started drinking coffee in 2006. a former roommate got me hooked on iced lattes. so much of my year was spent sipping an iced latte, chainsmoking, & staring into space. my new house had a pool & there were a few nice nights laying in floating chairs in the pool, gossiping with my roommate. how, how i loved (& still love) to gossip.

i remember very little of new year’s eve 2007. there was a party, they played “i feel love” by donna summer, there was an over-sized bottle of champagne, & the next thing i knew, it was 2am & i was being dumped on the couch back at my own house. crusty dude roommate asked my friend angela if she wanted to go back to the party with him (she was at my house for some reason) & i said, “nooooo! angela! don’t do it! don’t ruin 2007! don’t be like me!” i had the worst hangover in the world the next day–i didn’t get out of bed (a loft bed, by the way–i’d finally gotten rid of my moldy bed after coming down whooping cough FOUR TIMES in 2006) until 5pm. the house was full of people & one of them was nice enough to run out & get me an iced latte.

so, 2007–not off to the best start. but it can only go up from there, right? i was in this anarcha-feminist reading group, but things were kind of tough. i read a lot–a lot more than the average person. i read maybe four or five books a week. so it was difficult for the reading group to suggest a book i hadn’t already read, & a lot of times, they just kicked back & waited for me to suggest a book. i was okay with re-reading books, but sometimes i felt really disappointed with our discussions. mostly it all boiled down to one woman in the collective that i just could not handle. all she ever did was yammer away about being polyamorous & the beauty myth & all this trite, boring bullshit that was probably pretty exciting to me when i was 19, but i turned 28 in 2007. i finally bowed out of the reading group because i worried that my feelings about it were too informed by unconstructive criticism & impatience & the other people in the group didn’t need that. i encouraged them to continue without me, but i heard the group fell apart not long after.

as always, the first half of the year was devoted to pulling the skillshare together. collective meetings, advertising, soliciting for workshops. i was feeling good about it this year–i was into the house where i was living, i liked my neighborhood, i was still volunteering at the lucy parsons center, i was making some new friends. the boston zine fair rolled around in march & i was psyched to tell people about the skillshare, hand out flyers, get some workshop submissions, & of course, sell zines.

my friend david came to visit with me at my table for a while, & his brother, jared, showed up soon after. jared had been living in boston for only a few months, after spending several years living in philadelphia & finishing college. i’d met him before in passing, but we spent a lot of time together at the zine fair, talking about people we knew in common, zines, politics, etc. i mentioned i’d never been to philly before & he said he was going down in the next week or two with his friend bart & they could give me a ride i was interested. i was interested, so i went.

jared’s plans for philly fell through–friends unexpectedly out of town or out of touch. so he stayed where i stayed & since the folks i was staying with were busy all weekend at the trans health conference, jared & i had nothing to do but hang out together. kind of awkward, since we barely knew each other. it involved getting an early start on our drinking. but we wound up having a lot of fun–all G-rated. i came back to boston feeling like i had made a really awesome new friend. & a few days later, when we started kissing, i was not displeased. we decided to give dating a whirl, even though jared had applied to law school & might be leaving town precipitously, if he was accepted somewhere. but i felt okay about having a spring romance, even if it didn’t go anywhere.

of course, nothing can ever be that easy. there are a lot of social inter-connections in our collective past–a whole lot of people who felt entitled to an opinion about our relationship. this includes shy former roommate out in the bay area. i called her & broke the news to her & her reaction was truly epic–crying, screaming, all the classic hallmarks of our dysfunctional dynamic. she finally hung up on me & that was the last i ever heard of her, THANK GOD. i probably should have ended the friendship a lot sooner & spared her that last little bit of pain, but…shit happens. other people expressed their feelings by attempting to throw punches & other inadvisable activities. i really don’t enjoy drama. sometimes it just happens.

but jared & i were really happy with each other & eventually everyone calmed the hell down. the skillshare happened & it was a rousing success–maybe 300 attendees, some sixty workshops. jared did not get into law school & was pretty bummed for a while, but it gave him a chance to think more about what he wanted to do & he started getting ready to apply to history graduate programs. he was working as a bike courier at the time, so we pretty much only hung out on weekends. (the thing about dating a bike courier is that they invest huge amounts of physical labor in their jobs all day, in all weather. they come home & all they want to do is eat about 5000 calories & maybe read or play a video game, depending on their literacy engagement level. [jared was more the reading type, thank god.] then they go to bed at like 10pm, because they have to be back at work & in good physical & mental condition the next day at 9am. it’s not the most glamorous.) that gave me plenty of time during the week to focus on myself, the distro, writing, etc. i think this is the key to the success of our relationship. not spending all of our time together let us attend to the health of our other friendships, & it gave us something to talk about when we did hang out.

in june, i took a bus up to halifax to do the anchor archive zinester residency program for three weeks or so. all i did while i was up there was work. i had decided to do a logic puzzle zine & i was teaching myself how to write the puzzles–not as easy as it seems. all my puzzles were punk/anarchist/zine-themed, which made it a lot more fun, but each puzzle still took about twelve hours to write, & i wanted to write 25. i met some very cool, interesting people in halifax, & was really inspired by the anchor archive project, & the silkscreening studio, & the community photocopier, etc etc, but everyone in halifax was blown away by how much i worked on my damn puzzles. i finally finished, made copies, & we had a bonfire to celebrate.

over the summer, i became very dissatisfied with my housing situation. the roommate i’d met at the 2006 skillshare had stopped talking to me. i think she said something about thinking i was self-involved. how could anyone who is spilling approximately 20,000 recounting the last ten years of her life be self-involved? oh wait. yeah, anyone who has ever tried to live with someone with whom they are not speaking knows it’s no picnic. plus she was getting ever more into puppetry & vegan food politics & the trappings of anarcho-punk that i find the most horrifying & distressing. god, i hate puppets with every fiber of my being. & goddamn, i loathe veganism. i still had the other roommates, but the lady half of the crusty couple was running pretty hot & cold with me as well. i never got a satisfactory answer out of her as to why sometimes she’d want to be my buddy & other times, she’d stalk around acting like i’d run over her best friend. i started looking for a new apartment.

it all came to a head when i got a new utility bill (by this point, all the utilities were in my name–somehow our electric had been cut off & no one else would put it in their name; i didn’t want to live like it was 1523, so i put it in my name) & posted the amounts that everyone owed me on the fridge, as usual. my roommates were notoriously bad at paying me for the utilities in a timely manner. i usually had to track them down & demand checks five days after the bills were due, which was increasingly difficult because of the occasional not-speaking thing. so i made a note that said i’d be charging an extra ten cents for every day past the due date that i was not paid. i left & spent the weekend at jared’s house. when i came home, there was a note on the fridge kicking me out (we didn’t have a lease). & i don’t mean that there was a note on the fridge, maybe held up with a magnet or something. i mean that the lady crusty had actually written ON THE FRIDGE with permanent marker. something like, “dear ciara, you have until october 1 to find a new place to live. have a nice life.” or something. this was perhaps august 29.

i took a little walk & got really mad. then i found a new place to live. my move-in date was september 1–two days away. i packed everything up, jared borrowed bart’s car, & i moved. my former roommates were VERY displeased. they actually asked me, “are you still going to pay rent for september?” “why would i when i don’t live here anymore?” i asked. i don’t know what they wound up doing. the last time i ever spoke to any of them was a few weeks later when the dude crusty asked if i’d taken his pyrex baking pan when i moved out. i said (truthfully) that i hadn’t. he said i was lying & that he was going to turn me in for diability fraud. he was still hung up on his belief that somehow my whole disability thing was some huge scam. that was when i decided to stop speaking openly with people in my personal life about my disability issues & where my money comes from (though i am obviously trying to break that habit now). i led my new roommates to believe that the distro was my primary source of income. they were a pretty gullible bunch, so they bought it.

my new room was TINY…maybe six feet by eight feet. & it was stuffed full of a loft bed, all my distro zines, a desk, an armchair, a bookcase & all the books i owned, a dresser…it was intense. i kept everything i owned in my room. i didn’t have a closet. the other rooms in house were FAR bigger. one of them was probably five times bigger. my new roommates were not the greatest–a mix of art students & weird shady drug dudes. there was a pool table upstairs & it was often used until 5am. there was also a whole series of video game consoles up there–i HATE video games. there was a video game chair patterned with playboy bunnies. but my rent was dirt cheap (because of the tiny room), there was a sweet back balcony where i could chainsmoke & read books, & there was a coffeeshop just down the street for when i needed to escape. jared HATED that apartment. he refused to ever visit me there, so i spent a fair chunk of time at his house (about five blocks away).

i launched the paypal shopping cart system on the distro, with a postage-paid pricing system, & orders tripled overnight.

one of my roommates found a used hypodermic needle in the bathroom &, knowing that our most horrible roommate had a history of serious drug problems, we assumed he was back on the H. i lost my temper, packed all of my belongings, & moved into the house next door. it took about two hours. i didn’t even tell jared about it until a few days later. very dramatic. my rent was more expensive, but my room was bigger, i stacked the other bedrooms with a more tolerable, more interesting, cleaner, friendlier, & smarter cast of characters, & got busy launching the distro subscription program. i spent my weeks silkscreening, making one-off zines, & reading young adult fiction recaps on the internet, & my weekends drinking beers with jared & shooting the shit. it wasn’t a terrible life, but i knew it wasn’t sustainable. i never felt entirely calm. i hated having roommates, after all the shit i’d been through in the previous several years.

plus, even though things were okay with jared, they weren’t great. for most of the fall, i felt like we were on unsteady footing, & i think we both considered breaking up a lot. we even talked about it a time or two. we’d talk about breaking up & then we’d have a great time the next time we hung out. i felt like i didn’t know what to expect from any avenue in my life & it was very unsettling.

new year’s eve was a fucking disaster involving a friend threatening suicide & screaming at jared & i. it snowed a lot & i lost my cell phone.

2003-2004, the crabigail review

all right, let’s try to finish this “decade in review” thing before 2010 is over. it’s taking me a long time because the distro is still sucking up all my time. all the zines i had were sold, but packaging them up & lugging them down to the post office (in more than a foot of ice & snow, with no car) is not fun. i packed up 37 pounds of zines yesterday, which was only ten orders, & it barely made a dent in everything that has sold. i packed everything into jared’s courier bag (he used to be a bike messenger in boston) & slogged off to the post office & thought i might die en route. i was actually talking out loud to myself, trying to encourage myself to keep walking & resist the temptation to lie down in a snow drift & die. i know, 37 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot…or it does, but it’s not like i’m, you know, a brick layer or someone who actually has to deal with physical strenuousness on a regular basis. but for a lady with severe arthritis in every joint, who is missing some vertebrae & has some paralysis on the right side of her body…i was suffering. thank god i have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on monday. maybe we can talk about some physical therapy or something.

moving on!

the best friend i mentioned from the last post, the radical cheerleader who shared her baby fever with me, managed to go ahead & get pregnant this year. her due date was some time at the end of july. (so she got pregnant last year). that was exciting. i was trying to stay connected to birth work, even though i’d quit the midwifery program i’d enrolled in, not really having the strength to go back after my dad died. i’d taken a doula course & was trying to figure out how to go about attending the births i needed to become certified, so my pregnant friend “hired me” (unofficially, no pay or anything) to be her doula. during the pregnancy, i am not so sure i was good at it. i am not the best at being relentlessly positive & encouraging. i am more of a “worst case scenario/be prepared” kind of person, which can be helpful sometimes, but isn’t necessarily the greatest attitude for a pregnant woman to be around. it can be kind of stressful.

at the beginning of the year, we managed to pull together a small collective of folks (me, my pregnant lady friend, a mutual friend of ours from zine things, & two other kids that the mutual friend had bailed out of jail after they’d been arrested protesting george w. bush at tufts university–what an embarrassing thing to get arrested for) to organize the first boston skillshare. it was an idea i had hatched after attending the kind of shitty skillshare event in berkeley in 2000. i now knew what a poorly-organized skillshare event would look like, so i wanted to use that knowledge to organize a good event. we got space at mass art (public art school in boston) & started trawling for workshop ideas. i signed up to teach a workshop on survival skills for people with mental health issues & something else…maybe something about writing? i don’t remember. my pregnant friend taught a workshop on “getting pregnant without a guy” (ie, the physical & legal hurdles of insemination). my husband wanted to teach a workshop on anti-racism, but a couple of folks from western mass who regularly taught seriously pricy anti-racism workshops came along & offered to do a truncated version of their course for free instead, & include my husband in the workshop somehow. neither he nor i was psyched about it (i am really skeptical of white people dropping hundreds of dollars to learn how to not be racist from other white people), but…everyone else was psyched so we went with it. other folks signed up to teach workshops on things like making new clothes out of old clothes, vegan baking, making your own musical instruments out of stuff around the house, silkscreening, etc.

the skillshare took place on a very rainy weekend in april. we convened upon mass art & people actually attended! that first event had maybe one hundred attendees. we were really pleased. no one came to my mental health workshop, but i didn’t mind. it ave me a chance to unwind & write in my journal.

the anti-racism workshop was an embarrassment though. the workshop the western mass folks did is usually just for white people, it’s on unlearning racism. nothing like unlearning racism by excluding people of color, right? not that most people of color are that excited about the idea of sitting in a room with a bunch of white people expressing their white guilt & seeking absolution for their racist sins. the skillshare i’d attended in berkeley had had a very similar workshop. the program had not specifically said, “white people only,” but when i showed up late with a few women of color, everyone already seated in their little kumbaya circle froze & got visibly uncomfortable. how were they supposed to express their guilty failings as white people with real live people of color there to silently judge them? *puke* the ladies i was with finally cleared out for ice cream & left me behind “as a spy”. someone remarked upon how it was a “problem” that all the people of color had left, that maybe it was a failing on the part of the workshop facilitator that people or color hadn’t felt “welcome” in the workshop. way to absolve yourself of responsibility, dude. i pointed out that maybe the women who left didn’t want to sit there being tokens that, by their very presence, proved how down all the white people in the workshop were with people of color. everyone was quiet & looked at their feet. so, you know, these white people-only anti-racism workshops are generally a disaster.

this one was no exception. the western mass facilitators pretty much ignored my husband & any of his contributions. then they broke into two groups–the white people went with the western mass people to have a white guilt study session or whatever, & the people of color were supposed to go with my husband to talk about being people of color. except that there were no people of color there except for my husband. so he came & found me & talked about how awful & insulting it was, & how he felt like he was being treated like an object all day, like a faberge egg or something. & we found out later that a person of color had tried to go to the workshop late, after my husband had already left, & had tried to join the white people group to see what was going on, & was told he couldn’t be there because it was only for white people. NICE. actually, FUCKED UP. of course the dude was pissed & offended & left the skillshare altogether. wouldn’t you? i was REALLY angry that this had happened. when those folks offered to teach their workshop again the next year, i said no fucking way.

aside from this extremely horrible incident, the skillshare turned out really well, we got a huge indian fest to eat after & go over our comment cards & decompress & brainstorm ideas for next year.

my husband & i also moved out of the house we were sharing with the elderly socialist couple & started our own collective house, upstairs from my pregnant friend & her girlfriend. i was psyched to live with people close to my own age. our old house had been really nice & big & clean all the time & the whole shared dinners/shared groceries thing was really functional, but i wasn’t really in a place in my life where i felt entirely comfortable living with 63-year-olds. but i quickly found out that living with 23-year-olds is no picnic either.

once the skillshare was over, i was at loose ends & needed a new project. so i decided to start a zine distro. i started writing to people & trying to pick up zines in may, & things went well, but i still felt really dissatisfied & fucked up. my husband & i flew out to los angeles in june so he could see family & i decided we needed to split up. it wasn’t an easy decision. he never treated me badly or did anything wrong at all, basically, & he put up with a lot of my weird quirks & obnoxious habits. i was worried that i was ditching the only person who would ever be able to deal with me. but when i proposed divorce, it felt like the right thing, & he agreed, even though he was obviously sad. we needed to go our separate ways though. he needed to focus on finishing school & figuring out what he wanted to do next. i couldn’t deal with having a partner in school. i wanted to be free to travel & pursue this whole punk rock thing i was into. i felt like i had to put on a show around his classmates, teachers, family, etc–they all seemed to expect more professionalism & less scruffiness. i felt like i embarrassed him & i felt like i was being weighed down by him. we stuck it out to the end of our lease & then he moved out & i re-organized the distribution of rooms in our collective house & brought in some new roommates.

toward the end of summer, i went back to the midwest to see my own family & attend the first midwest zine fest in detroit. i’d decided to try to spend more time in ohio visiting my family after my dad died. i was really freaked out by the possibility that someone else in my life would die suddenly & leave me feeling regretful that i hadn’t put more effort into seeing them & spending time with them. but you know…visiting my family is not the easiest. i have a hard time getting along with my mom & i don’t feel like i have much in common with my siblings. & i feel resentful a lot when i make an effort to visit them but they have never visited me in boston. & i hate being back in bowling green. i did not have the happiest childhood/adolescence. all i wanted to do was get the fuck out of ohio, & that sense of choking claustrophobia sets in again every time i am back there. it makes me feel like i’m going backwards, like i’m a failure. i don’t know. i hate it.

& on this trip, the great black-out of 2003 happened. you know, where pretty much the entire eastern half of the united states & canada lost power. i remember i was napping on my mom’s couch & the power went out. i was pissed because it was hotter than hell & the air conditioning didn’t work. & then the electric didn’t come back on for like three days. i went to detroit anyway & tabled what i had collected for the distro by the light of some generators & an open door. i’d fucked up my ankle back in boston & was hobbling around on a cane. i was still having a hard time with the divorce. i was also emotionally fucked up because it was the anniversary of my dad’s death. so i was a mess. i didn’t know anyone in detroit, but jessika rae, one of the fest organizers, found me a room to stay in where i could be alone, & she let me borrow her phone so i could call people & freak out, & that is how she & i became friends. i am embarrassed of the way i acted that weekend, crying in front of strangers & stuff, but jessika rae didn’t bat an eyelash & was supportive without making me feel like a total fuck-up.

also at that event, a zine dude who shared a post office box with someone whose zine i was distributing introduced himself to me & i said, “oh! you’re the guy who gets [dude whose zine i distribute]’s mail!” he got really huffy & was all, “you know, i do a zine too. i don’t just pick up my friend’s mail for him.” bit of a faux pas on my part, but he could have handled it more gracefully, don’t you think?

my pregnant friend was overdue & sick of being pregnant, & i was bummed because it was the anniversary of my dad’s death. so we went to chuck e. cheese & played skeeball until our arms almost fell off. it was awesome, & after we got home, she went into labor. she was in labor for a long, long time. we sat in the garden for a while at the beginning & talked. she wrote in her journal a little. i went back upstairs & waited to be called down for the serious labor times. that happened in the evening on july 31 & i helped keep the birth pool full of warm water, changed CDs, brought pregnant friend & her girlfriend & the midwife refreshments, etc. not being an actual birth professional, nor the person giving birth, nor the partner of the person giving birth, i spent a lot of time not knowing what to do with myself & feeling awkward. the baby was born, healthy & hollering, shortly after 3am, at home. the same home in which pregnant friend had been born, in fact!

the rest of the year was spent working on the distro, trying to get a brand-new little reproductive health collective off the ground, & settling into my new life & house as a single lady. dealing with my new roommates without the buffer of a live-in partner was an experience. one of them was really quiet & just snuck around all the time without talking to any of us. we couldn’t tell if she was just shy, or if she hated us. we found her to be a real cipher. i teased her about having an unopened 40oz. on the kitchen table on her birthday (we were a dry house, save for the privacy of people’s bedrooms) & she actually thought i was reprimanding her. awkward.

still running the distro, still living in the collective house. around the new year, i managed to crack the cipher roommate. turned out, she was just really shy. i brought her & one of her friends to perhaps the world’s shittiest new year’s party. we didn’t drink at all, & even though i knew people, they didn’t, & they were really awkward, so i felt like i couldn’t leave them alone. everyone else at the party was making out & playing “pin the bandana on the zapatista” (a game that i knew they’d find offensive & trivializing if anyone but them had invented it–gotta love smug radicals…except not at all). i worked on soliciting skillshare 2.0 workshops from a few people & we left right after midnight. not exactly a party animal situation.

in february, my house organized a party of its own–an anti-valentine’s day party. we made cookies shaped like hearts broken in half, with black frosting. we did homemade fortune cookies with awful fortunes inside (“your best friend will make out with your partner,” “you will get dumped on your birthday,” & my personal favorite, “nick has a crush on you”–nick was our roommate, who was awesome, but had a tendency to get a crush on every guy he met, but to treat them all with disdain & then insist that they had crushes on him, regardless of any & all evidence that said dude was probably straight; his unstoppable mystery crushes are the stuff of legend). we hung a curtain over a closet in the upstairs hallway & called it “the make-out closet of doom,” & informed people, “all ye who make out in here will split up before the night is over”. no one was allowed to bring a date, our parlor games included “pin the signature on the annulment,” & i made a baking soda-&-vingear volcano with cayenne pepper (“for color”) that turned into tear gas by accident & cleared the kitchen. the invitations featured a screenprint of ian curtis from joy division & the words, “o, to be an inhuman monster”.

a few weeks later, my divorce was finalized & i became eligible for disabled adult child of deceased parent benefits. up to that point, i’d been living on $514 a month…& my rent was $400 (utilities not included). the new benefit program saved me from a life of shoplifting groceries & being too poor to take the bus. i still had my food stamps & low-income health insurance, but i could afford a bus pass with the new benefits system. & i could afford a greyhound ticket to montreal! i was psyched, & then my shy roommate & her friend from the new year’s party wanted to come with. apparently forgetting what had happened at the new year’s party, i had no issue with this & thought it would be fun. shy roommate cried silently all the way to montreal. i should have known then that no fun would be in the offing, but i can sometimes be optimistic to the point of delusion. shy roommate continued intermittent sobbing, interspersed with outbursts that involved actually disappearing for several hours & her friend & i seriously thinking that she may have committed suicide or something, for the next day & a half, before she finally changed her ticket home & left. we asked if she wanted us to come with–we were supposed to be in montreal for several more days. she said no. which we didn’t realize meant, “yes, you have to come home too.” so we stayed & her resentments festered.

it was a fun enough trip. going to montreal in the dead of winter probably isn’t the smartest idea i ever had, but it was okay. shy friend & i decided to maybe try dating. when we got back to boston, shy roommate hulked the fuck out on us. there was more crying, bizarre recriminations–i seriously wouldn’t write about any of this if it hadn’t been perhaps the most epic drama i have been exposed to in my entire life. & it dragged on for the next four months or so. shy friend & i did not last long–who could, under the weight of that kind of third-party drama? but that didn’t matter to shy roommate. apparently our personal lives were her business & she was not one to forgive & forget so soon. she wore earplugs around the house, so i tried to request utility money from her via a note, which led to screaming & throwing things. her friends seemed to think i should apologize. (“for what?” i asked. “for making her uncomfortable,” they said. “by having a private life?” i asked. “i guess,” they said. “no way,” i said.) i don’t know why i didn’t just stick it out to the end of the lease & then boot her out & tell her to never darken my doorstep again, but i was still on my whole “people die & you don’t want to have regrets” kick, so i tried to meet her halfway & work things out with her.

the second skillshare happened. it went pretty well. jessika rae hitchhiked to boston with a crew of detroit kids, & they all stayed at my house & we had an awesome time together. gorgeous weather, an even better turn-out. the after-skillshare indian feast was social awkwardness at its finest, but let’s not dwell on that. the distro was going well. the reproductive health collective was going well. we decided to learn menstrual extraction (a basic d.i.y. procedure that can induce an early abortion) & started laying the groundwork for that. i spent a lot of time taking walks, listening to music, & writing in my journal down by the river.

in june, i decided to get the fuck out of boston for a while & bought an ameripass. i spent a few days in new york city, where i went to the site of the 1970 weather underground townhouse explosion. the house was obviously re-built a long time ago & is now inhabited by someone who has filled the front window with teddy bears wearing rain slickers beneath spotlights. nice. i went to bowling green, where my mom shared with us the legend of the “undulating shadow” that lives in the city park, killing everything it falls upon. my brother went outside & reached through the window at the end of her story & my mom used me as a human shield. i went to indianapolis to see my good friend nicole. i went to bloomington to meet up with jessika rae & attend the first plan-it-x fest, which was exhausting but fun. i slept in the woods, in a tent, that got covered in spiders in the night. that was not fun. we “hitchhiked” & got picked up by the band japanther. apparently one of them had not wanted to pick us up & that annoyed me (unfairly?). i don’t even remember everywhere i went. it was great to get out of town though.

i turned 25 that year & rosa (a folk-punk band from houston) stayed at my house that night & played a show in the backyard. i drank alcohol for the first time & smoked a cigarette for the first time. neither made me feel great…though i have to admit, it was fun. i had a hard time winding down that night after everyone left, so i took a walk. it was about 3am, & maybe five blocks from my house, some huge dude attacked me. he “hugged” me, but he was really trying to assault me. he was well over six feet, maybe 250 pounds of muscle. he said he’d been a marine. somehow, i managed to talk him into letting me go. i booked it back to my house, punched a street sign, thought i’d broken my hand, & went to the ER. i’d just bruised the shit of my hand bones, but…damn. not a fun night.

shy roommates & i worked things out toward the end of the summer, but when the lease ended, i told her i thought she should move. i said we’d still be friends, but i didn’t think we should live together anymore. there were tears (on her part) & relief (on my part). she moved out & i helped her. i rode in the back of the truck, & you know how they say not to do that? seriously, don’t do it. carbon monoxide was getting pumped into the back of the truck & i almost died. okay, that’s an exaggeration, but i did pass out. don’t do it!

a few days later, pregnant friend (now mama friend) severed our friendship. i’d been dealing with a whole mess of my own personal shit, what with the divorce & all this housemate drama, traveling, money stuff, mental health stuff, etc. i didn’t know how to be a good friend to a new mama & her baby. i was going through a rebellious phase (ten years late) where i just wanted to stay out late, leave town at the drop of a hat, etc. we were on very different life paths & our friendship was diverging. i don’t think either one of us was fully prepared for how our friendship would have to evolve once the baby was born. plus, she had gotten married in may (pretty much as soon as gay marriage was legalized in massachusetts), & having just been divorced, it was hard for me to be supportive of that. i even went out & got the word “spinster” tattooed on my knuckles, as a statement against marriage.

the rest of the year was fairly mellow. i wasn’t nuts about some of the housemates we’d brought in to replace the ones that had left, but…eh. you can’t win ’em all. the reproductive health collective was making a lot of inroads in learning about menstrual extraction, but things were getting difficult because of the fact that i wasn’t friends with mama friend anymore. we didn’t hate each other, but it was awkward to be around each other. & i felt like i wasn’t connecting with the other women in the group (despite my best efforts). i felt that familiar feeling that happens in collectives, where it seems like other people’s contributions are perceived as more valuable than your own. example: one of the other members left to go to argentina for six months. she told us to feel free to have meetings in her absence, but no one else wanted to do it because they thought “everyone” should be present for all of our meetings. but they held two meetings while i was traveling for the month of june. it’s hard not to take that kind of thing personally.

the rest of the decade is forthcoming. this is just SO LONG.

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.

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.

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.

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.