Category Archives: ramblin' lady

bumpwatch terror alert: week 27

this photo is actually a week old.

i have been pretty much incommunicado for a week & a half because of houseguests, baby showers, & traveling. but i did manage to carve out five minutes to snap a belly photo last weekend & make it look all goofy in photobucket.

my friend amanda, from philadelphia, visited last weekend for our kansas baby shower. jared took a temporary time-out from his research to fly home for it as well. it was a nice visit in some ways, & kind of depressing in others. jared seemed to be fighting off the flu & was really out of it all weekend. he didn’t want to get up in the morning because he was up half the night coughing. i actually got up & got him a glass of water one night at like 3am, even though i am in the third trimester now & getting to my feet is no easy task. it made me think about how easy it is to take care of someone when you really love them, & that made me feel hopeful that i won’t find taking care of the baby too onerous (although it will be much more demanding than just a boyfriend who is feeling under the weather).

it was great to see amanda. we hadn’t seen each other in over two years, since i spent the summer living in her south philly row home while jared was in new york city doing a hydrology fellowship. she talked a lot about how windy it was in kansas, & how it was exactly what she expected. it was indeed uncommonly windy on the first day of her visit, but i have lived here for over three years & a) it’s seriously almost never that windy here, & b) i have never heard this idea that kansas is an especially windy place. she also spent a lot of time answering texts, taking photos & sending them to her boyfriend, trying to connect to the internet to look up various things she wanted to tell us about, etc. it didn’t bother me too much at first, but by the end of the visit, i wanted to run her phone over with my car. i didn’t even check my e-mail the entire time she was here, because i didn’t want to waste friend time doing some dumb bullshit i can do any time. maybe i am a complete dinosaur, but i’m so sick of people fiddling with their phones when they are hanging out with me. are facebook & foursquare really more important than whoever you’re spending time with?

jared & i flew to boston together on sunday for our babymoon. in case you don’t know, a babymoon is kind of a couple’s last hurrah vacation thing before they have a baby. it’s kind of new-ish, trendy concept, & it’s a little silly, but i knew we couldn’t go back to boston for christmas this year because it’s too close to my due date, & i didn’t want my next trip to boston to be post-baby. jared had to go to the east coast to do dissertation research anyway, so we carved out a few days, booked a stay in a bed & breakfast, & decided to have a real vacation.

in a lot of ways, it was awesome. i got to do almost everything i wanted to do, which is to say i got to eat almost everywhere i wanted to eat. (the only thing i missed was ethiopian food, but jared surprised me one night by suggesting we go to trattoria di monica, the delicious italian restaurant he took me to for my birthday last year, so i was more than happy.) jared had access to a car, so we were able to drive around boston & window shop at all kinds of cute, expensive baby boutiques, the likes of which don’t really exist in lawrence, kansas. i only bought one thing: a stuffed calico cat toy. i’d been looking for one for months with no luck, so i was pleased to walk into an independent toy store & find one no problem. it’s a classic calico, not a tabico (tabby/calico mix), which is more charlotte’s coloring, but close enough. the baby won’t really be old enough to appreciate it for kind of a while, but that’s okay. it’s very soft & a dog outside the toy store thought it was real & went absolutely insane trying to attack it.

we did a lot of socializing in boston. we visited with jared’s brother & his girlfriend because we wanted to ask them to be the baby’s guardians if anything happens to jared & me. they also hosted a baby shower for us, & the following night, jared’s parents had us out to newton for dinner & to load us up with baby heirlooms. we looked at photo albums of jared & his brother when they were babies. jared seriously was such a cute baby, & it was so cool to see baby jared making the same faces adult jared makes. his mom gave us two little outfits jared wore when he was a baby, plus a stuffed bear & a bunch of blankets, & the peter rabbit-themed quilt a friend of hers made for baby jared. it’s really beautiful & we decided we’re going to hang it on the wall over the baby’s crib & maybe someday we’ll be able to pass it down to our first grandchild. she is also giving us jared’s garndfather’s silver cup from his babyhood exactly 100 years ago. our baby has family heirlooms! it’s so cool.

i kind of had a meltdown that night though. our friend bart was in town & wanted to hang out before he caught his plane to chicago. but it was 11pm & everything was closed except for bars. if there’s one thing that just doesn’t sound fun to a pregnant lady in the third trimester, it’s sitting around a bar with her boyfriend & his best friend, unable to drink while her feet are swelling & she has just had to justify to her baby’s grandparents why she isn’t marrying their son anytime soon. the three of us went back to the bed & breakfast & hung out in the lobby, but i really wasn’t having fun. i was wishing that jared & i had taken our babymoon in some city where we don’t know anyone, where we could just be alone together, because alone together couple time is going to be in short supply in about three months. i told jared, “i can’t wait until you come home again & everything goes back–” & then i burst into hysterical sobs because i was going to say, “goes back to normal,” but i realized that we’re having a baby & there is no normal anymore. we are changing our lives & it’s exciting, sure, but let’s face it. it’s also completely terrifying. & the days where i can just fall asleep on jared’s lap or hide out in his arms & shut out the rest of the world are about to come to a screeching halt. sorry if that sounds weird, i know i don’t usually write so bluntly about the more romantic/personal side of jared’s & my relationship. but we are about to become jointly beholden to a brand new little life & yeah, sometimes i worry about how that will affect “us”.

i must say, though, after my little crying jag, i slept the best sleep i have slept all pregnancy. i guess i just really needed to get that stuff out in the open.

can a cat be a friend?

photo challenge day #4: a picture of you & your best friend.

seeing as i am 32 & not twelve, i don’t really have a best friend. but i have some tights bros.

me (with the pink hair) & jessika rae disaster.

jessika rae is the person who convinced me to start going to NCOR (national conference on organized resistance). i went for two or three years. i don’t know if it’s still being organized. if it is, i don’t think it’s happening at american university anymore. but this is jessika rae & i in washington d.c. over NCOR weekend in 2005 (i think). i’m pretty sure that was the year that an unofficial meeting of women that are in reproductive health groups took place. i was in a small reproductive health group in boston. we did things like teach workshops on fertility awareness, sell d.i.y. self-exam kits, & learn about menstrual extraction. jessika rae was going to midwifery school in maine at the time. the meeting was in the basement of a collective house & all us ladies were all sprawled out, shooting the shit about vaginas & abortions. suddenly brian crimethinc & his 90 pounds of dreadlocks appared in the doorway. we all stopped talking immediately.

“hi,” he said.

“hi,” we said. an awkward silence filled the basement.

“oh,” he said. “um…is this…like…a private meeting?”

“yeah,” we said.

he stood there for one more long awkward minute & then said, “sorry,” & went upstairs. jessika rae & i decided that it will live on forever as “that time that brian crimethinc totally tried to crash the secret reproductive health meeting.” i mean, that’s just bad security culture, you know?

this photo was taken in the back of one of the ladies’ trucks on our way to the meeting. it was all very cloak & dagger, getting directions in a parking garage & such forth. all because we were going to be talking about menstrual extraction. like it’s a federal crime or something. (it’s not.) if there’s one thing i never liked & don’t miss about hardcore anarchist organizing, it’s that whole obnoxious “what we’re doing is a super big deal & we gotta really keep our heads down because we’re so revolutionary” thing. i always thought it was embarrassingly self-aggrandizing & kind of isolating & exclusionary.

me & jared.
charlotte & i napping, late 2001

i really don’t have that many photos of myself & my friends in the same shot.

2011: crabigail looks back

1. what did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
stayed at a bed & breakfast.
passed my driver’s license test.
ate bok choy.
TRUCK POOL.
threw a snowball at a cat.
made soup from scratch.
lived in my very own (rental) house as an adult! no sharing walls/floors/ceilings with neighbors or roommates (besides jared)!
joined a book club that met more than three times.
allowed jared to cut my hair (big mistake).
saw a red sox game at fenway stadium.

2. did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
i always make ten new year’s resolutions. i have them all written down & tucked away in a secret hiding spot dating back to 2002. every year i get them out & review how i have done & how i have changed. all i will say about some of the older resolutions is that i have grown up A LOT in the last ten years.

last year i managed to keep a handful of my resolutions. i got my driver’s license & quit smoking. i stuck to my budget & i at least tried to get pregnant, even if i have not yet been successful.

among my resolutions for 2012: keep trying to make the baby thing happen. make the bed every day. be nicer to jared. (note that there is a difference between being nicer & actually being nice; i told him last night that i was just going to throw away the voodoo doll i made of him & call it a day. kidding! just kidding. i’m totally not getting rid of the voodoo doll.)

3. did anyone close to you give birth?
i am acquainted with a few people who gave birth, like one of my old roommates from boston who happened to go to high school with jared. but none of my super-tight buds had a baby this year.

4. did anyone close to you die?
apparently my uncle–one of my dad’s brothers–died a few days before christmas. but i hadn’t talked to him in almost ten years, so i won’t pretend we were close.

5. what countries did you visit?
i stayed put. maybe i should resolve to get a passport this year. jared thinks we should vacay in australia if this baby thing doesn’t pan out (hence devouring all of our money).

6. what would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
well. A BABY. my baby rabies is completely out of control. but i would also like to have jeans that fit & have not been patched beyond recognition, healthier & more functional friendships, less anxiety, & less chronic pain.

7. what dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
august 12 was the day of TRUCK POOL. i was going to go camping with some friends in missouri, but the weather turned really shitty. there were huge thunderstorms predicted for the area where we were intending to camp. i was bummin’ hard because it the last weekend of spinster summer & i really wanted some quality time with punks. i decided to go to kansas city instead, & after sitting around, doing nothing & chainsmoking for a few hours, we suddenly hit upon the idea of TRUCK POOL. one of the kids had a pick-up truck, & we lined the bed with a tarp & connected a hose to the upstairs bathtub & threaded it out the window. we filled that baby up with warm water & truck pooled for hours, even after it started raining. at one point, we turned it into a bubble pool with dish soap & drove it around kansas city.

fill 'er up. that's me in the baby blue tee next to the dude in the leather jacket.

we also made a chopack, which is a backpack filled with nachos. let’s go to the video:

8. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
learning how to drive, maybe? i tried to get my license when i was 16 years old & still living in ohio, but i failed the driver’s test three times. it really undermined my confidence & i thought i would just never learn how to drive. it wasn’t easy to learn & i don’t have a lot of incentives in my life to keep trying to do things at which i don’t naturally excel, so it was a pretty big deal for me to actually pass the test. & now i am learning how to be a responsible car owner, which is also a really intimidating responsibility.

i was also totally stoked to finish reading & recapping every single babysitters club book on goodreads.

& i’m very proud that i finally fulfilled my dream of dressing up as a sexy hamburglar for halloween (i think saying “a sexy hamburglar” is funnier than saying “sexy hamburglar,” because being “a” one among many implies that hamburglars may be a separate race of people).

sexy?

9. what was your biggest failure?
i wouldn’t call it a “failure” to still not be pregnant after six months of trying, but it was a little bit of a failure to have let the whole thing affect my emotions so much. after every disappointment, i would just completely lose it & spend entire days crying. i am handling my business a lot better now, but it’s still a challenge to not allow myself to get on the emotional rollercoaster over something i have so little control over.

10. did you suffer illness or injury?
the arthritis or fibromyalgia or evil confluence of the two is worse than ever. other than that, i’m good.

11. what was the best thing you bought?
i bought a fucking wood-paneling patterned bathing suit! i have been getting into water aerobics for the whole arthritis thing, & i figured, why not look as much like a rec room from 1974 as possible?

grainy photobooth cheesecake shot.

12. whose behavior merited celebration?
i dislike these questions. so i am going to give the prize to ellen for attempting to cheer me up by sending me weird pornographic art of dragons having sex with cars. it definitely distracted me from my troubles.

13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
SO MANY PEOPLE. but because i am trying to have healthier, more functional relationships with people, i am going to refrain from going into detail. i am just thinking of one person in particular who seems to find constructive criticism really difficult to handle, struggles with appropriate boundaries almost all the time, sucks at making her friends feel valued, & instead excels at making her friends feel like they are in competition with one another.

14. where did most of your money go?
moving, flying to boston to see jared while he was doing research, gas for driving to kansas city all summer, & the endless consumption of sandwiches.

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
well, truck pool. & bingo! i started playing bingo this year & i love it. it’s this awesome mix of pulse-pounding action without having to leave your seat, mega-depression as you look around at the all the oldsters pissing away their social security checks & youngsters wearing sweat pants & dentures, & nachos. plus i have won $210 to date (not bad for only five games of bingo).

& i got beyond pumped about my amazing new house!

isn't it beautiful?

16. what song will always remind you of 2011?
i’m sorry, i really only listen to music when i am in the car. which is a fairly infrequent occurence. i got pretty into this song for a while though:

17. compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? about the same, maybe?
b) thinner or fatter? fatter, for sure. having compromised mobility really impairs a person’s attempts at weight maintenance.
c) richer or poorer? richer. thanks, bingo!

18. what do you wish you’d done more of?
writing! i barely wrote at all this year. i also wish i would have read more adult books (& not just memoirs) & started going to bingo in the summer while jared was in boston.

19. what do you wish you’d done less of?
reading so many young adult books. of the 238 books i read in 2011, 140 of them were young adult books. that is crazy! i am so relieved to be done with the babysitters club recap project. i also wish i wouldn’t have spent all summer playing solitaire & watching “hoarders”. what the fuck?

20. how did you spend xmas?
jared & i went to boston to see his family. we stayed in bed & breakfast in cambridge. i ate an entire plate of cheese cubes every morning for breakfast. seriously. sometimes with sourbough toast slathered in goat cheese. in fact, i had one day where i ate nothing but food in cheese form (cheese cubes for breakfast, mozzarella sticks for lunch, four-cheese ravioli for dinner). that was a great day.

we drank a fair number of beers. bart came up from philadelphia to hang out with us. we had brunch on xmas eve at david’s house (jared’s brother) & this girl who once stole my bed & threatened to call the cops on me if i tried to steal it back was there. kind of awkward. we went to quaker meeting that night & jared’s mom asked me, “how are you feeling?” when i expressed an interest in sitting down during the hospitality cookie hour, she said, “yes! sit down!” it was super-awkward because she obviously thought i was pregnant. which i was not. but i did decide to throw that sweater away.

we spent xmas day in newton with jared’s family (including david & his girlfriend, alana). we had roast beef & mashed potatoes for dinner. i ate almost an entire tupperware contained full of rosemary shortbread. david & alana gave me the most amazing claudia kishi-themed novena candle:

evidence that you should be open about the dumb shit you're into because you might get awesome gifts out of it.

jared & i went to see “mission: impossible 4 ghost protocol” because jared is obsessed with simon pegg. there were no ghosts. we also started working on what we were calling “ciara & jared’s 2011 snoozeletter,” but i don’t know if we’ll ever finish it.

21. did you fall in love in 2011?
yeah, but i decided to stick thing out with jared anyway. kidding! we broke up. kidding again! i hate this question.

22. how many one-night stands?
zip.

23. what was your favorite TV program?
i am still watching “america’s next top model” & “project runway,” even though they have become torture. i am also still watching “dexter” even though the last season was unspeakably dreadful. i feel like i need to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of everyone who was subjected to it. over the summer, i got into “mad men”. it’s not bad. would watch again. jared & i also liked “portlandia,” although it sometimes made us uncomfortable because it can be difficult to tell if we’re laughing at what we’re supposed to be laughing at.

24. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
there are some peeps who make me feel very wary, but no hate.

25. what was the best book you read?
“poser” by claire dederer! it was so amazing! i also really liked “beauty queens” by libba bray. but, i mean, we could be here a while because i read A LOT. just follow my goodreads reviews & save us all some time.

26. what was your greatest musical discovery?
i have not started listening to music in the time since the last music question.

27. what did you want and get?
my driver’s license, a beautiful HOUSE as opposed to an apartment or duplex, financial self-control, a book club, & some other stuff i don’t want to talk about.

28. what did you want and not get?
a baby & a truly excellent pizza restaurant in lawrence. a hip replacement. also, an elephant sanctuary in my backyard.

29. what was your favorite film of this year?
i really don’t watch a lot of movies. nor do i keep track of the few i watch. i had fun seeing “harry potter & the deathly hallows, part two” in 3D with jared. i ate an enormous platter of nachos during the movie. i don’t know how i’ll answer this question in the future, now that the harry potter movies are over.

30. what did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
i turned 32 & i was in boston visiting jared. he, bart, & i went out for breakfast in the morning. bart enraged me by insisting on a trip to the laundromat as well. isn’t that where every girl wants to spend her birthday? after we dropped bart off at work, jared & i drove up to salisbury beach where we played skeeball until our arms fell off. we used our winning tickets to get a plastic shark, a plastic lizard, & a gaudy ring with a huge pink rhinestone. we drove back into the city & i communed with the seals in the enclosure outside the aquarium. then we met up with bart & ate the best italian food i’ve ever tasted at monica’s tattoria in the north end.

me with some seals.

31. what one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
not to be a broken record, but: baby. & maybe if jared had not been in boston all summer.

32. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
jeans or cut-offs or plain black cotton skirts topped by either a t-shirt or a thermal layered under a sweater. the shirts are generally unadorned & pink, blue, or purple. all summer, i wore glittery pink toms. the rest of the year was just sauconys (gray & blue). glasses. lipstick. that’s it. i wouldn’t call it a “concept”.

33. what kept you sane?
logic puzzles, coffee, to-do lists, tidying up the house, petting charlotte, jessika rae, & the library.

34. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
i am not into this question so i will say taylor swift’s kitten.

35. what political issue stirred you the most?
okay, it’s not that i don’t care about political issues anymore. i do. it’s just tough for me to feel the passion i may have felt ten years ago. though i always follow any stories about politicians wanting to privatize social security really closely. ditto this whole fucked up medicare voucher plan.

36. who did you miss?
i missed jared a lot when he was in boston. i have been missing jessika rae all year. i miss some other zine friends i seem to have fallen out of touch with since i closed the distro & have been making myself kind of scarce on the zine front. i also became very nostalgic this year for my younger self.

37. who was the best new person you met?
i met jaimie this year through book club & we had an awesome summer of bonding through feminism & water aerobics. she is also the person who took me to bingo for the first time.

38. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
the rudy at rudy’s pizza is pretty good if you order the thin crust. punks are rarely on time so don’t worry about being punctual. you can’t call bingo until the caller reads the number you have bingoed on. if you just put your head down & work on your most reviled tasks for twenty minutes at a time, they will be done in no time.

39. what did you devote most of your energy to?
trying to make the time pass faster, & then reminding myself not to wish away my life.

40. quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
she looks me over as if she really knows me
as if she thinks she knows what i’m thinking
if she would only ask the right questions
i’d tell her everything
but she only asks the things that she already knows
she can’t take this as a sign of change and moving on
a little plea of something to be remembered
when it’s gone

every secret longs to be disclosed
every love yearns to be betrayed
that’s a quote and so is
love is more difficult to escape than hate
its not true, but both take their sweet time to go away

ms. excitement

jared & i are flying to boston tomorrow to visit with his family for the holidays. so today i have to do laundry, pack, clean up the house so i am not embarrassed in front of my cat-sitters, etc etc. i am not saying that i definitely won’t be posting any more blog entries in 2011…but i’m not saying i will either.

i’m hoping to get back into the groove of writing for an audience in 2012. i have become very out of practice. i haven’t written a new zine in a year & a half, & i have definitely fallen down on the job of keeping this thing updated in the last few months. i have found it challenging to find my creative footing since i shut down the zine distro in early 2010. i know! that was almost two years ago! it was just a lot easier to keep up with my mail & feel like i had a legitimate platform when i was going to the post office everyday & maintaining a huge website (even if there wasn’t really any personal content on it).

the only “project” that i have really come up with to replace the zine distro is this whole trying to get pregnant business, which is turning out to be a lot more difficult than i anticipated. i wish it had been this hard to get knocked up when i DIDN’T want to have a baby. i had four dreams last night in which i did a pregnancy test & it was positive. in every dream, i was like, “no way. this is totally a dream, i’m going to wake up & not be pregnant. or is it real? maybe i’m pregnant!” but of course, i am not. i do have an appointment set for a fertility work-up after the holidays though. maybe my doctor will take pity on me, prescribe clomid, & at this time next year, i’ll be writing about how difficult it is to maintain a blog when i am caring for a newborn. or maybe i’ll just luck out & get pregnant without intervention. i can’t even work up any feelings about it anymore. the stress has been too exhausting.

i am a little bit anxious about boston because seeing people you haven’t seen in six months to a year always want to know, “what’s new? what’s going on?” & literally all i have to say is, “well, i’ve been trying to get pregnant & that’s not really going anywhere. but i know that you really wanted any information at all about my sex life, so let’s move on. i’ve gone to a bingo a few times & have won $210 altogether, which is pretty cool. that pays for like half of my share of the bed & breakfast we’re staying at. bingo is a little depressing because it’s a lot of oldsters blowing through their social security checks & a sprinkling of younger people in sweatpants looking like they probably make meth. but you know. i get social security too & would definitely just wear sweatpants if i didn’t think jared would break up with me because of it, so maybe i have found my people. i’m thinking about signing up for another water aerobics class in january because my arthritis has become increasingly crippling. i now struggle to button the snaps on my coat, & am sometimes in too much pain to drive or use utensils, keys, or my squeezy water bottle. i don’t know if this is a permanent aspect of the degenerative condition or if it’s just a temporary slump due to the cold, damp weather. & i’ve been reading a lot of library books. mostly children’s books. mostly the american girl historical books, truth be told. which i then recap over on goodreads in foul-mouthed, sarcastic, political reviews that are probably not suitable for children. how are you doing? what’s new with you?”

so. that will be fun.

but hopefully i will get with the program in 2012 & come up with some interesting things to say. same bat time, same bat channel.

friend appreciation month

one of my primary objectives for spinster summer was to shore up my relationships with people other than my boyfriend, & i think it’s been quite a success. i have never wanted to be one of those people who retreats into a romantic relationship. i have also never been a person who is really concerned with having a huge circle of friends. i am happy having a handful of people that i can really count on. so it’s kind of a balancing act for me to do what i have to do to keep my main partner relationship happy & healthy, & also do the emotional work of building & maintaining important friendships. it’s no secret that i have no relationship whatsoever with my mom, & once a person cuts their own mom out of their life, it gets that much easier to just bail on everyone else when the going gets tough. i do that a lot. i know people that still have good friends from high school, or even elementary school. that’s not me. i cycle through friends like other people cycle through underpants. i subconsciously put people through their paces before i let a friendship happen. it’s never a surprise to me when people say, “when i first met you, i thought you were really intimidating & stand-offish.” it’s not intentional…it’s just what i do. letting people into my life is hard for me.

wah wah wah, right? spinster summer has been a very mixed bag, but it’s made me have a newfound appreciation for the other people in my life. so i decided august will be my own personal friend appreciation month, in which i reach out to new friends & old friends alike & let them know why they are important to me & what i value about them.

let’s start with miss jessika rae disaster, my sister from another mother. i met jessika rae in the summer of 2003. she was 20, straight edge, vegan, & wicked fucking posi. i was 24, going through a divorce, & was hobbling around in a walking cast with the assistance of a cane thanks to an arthritis-related injury. i was getting divorced because my partner was finishing up his undergrad degree & talking about wanting to enter grad school, get a doctorate, & maybe become a professor. i was just not seeing myself as the long-term partner of an academic & a professor. i know, right? fast forward eight years & that’s exactly where i am. but in 2003, i had other goals. i wanted to travel & live in punk houses & organize anarchist conferences & go to basement shows. i wanted to make zines & get d.i.y. tattoos. the dynamics at play in that relationship made our plans seem like very divergent paths. i felt like i had to choose between doing what was expected & doing what i wanted. so i chose to do what i wanted.

amazing lady friend.

for the record, i still feel this weird push & pull sometimes. especially lately, looking at starting down the road of being a mom & not being able to predict how that’s going to change my life. i definitely feel like i am leaving my idealistic youth behind, which is sometimes a huge relief & sometimes a bummer. i also acknowledge that it’s probably a false dichotomy. there’s no law saying that having a kid means i can never get a tattoo or go to a show. i just know that it’s not going to be the same, & i have mixed feelings about that.

anyway, i was a mess the first time i met jessika rae. she had organized a zine fair in detroit & i was tabling my zine distro for the first time. but this was the weekend of the epic black-out that took out all the power in the eastern half of the united states for a couple of days. detroit is something of a post-apocalyptic hellscape on the best of days. this weekend was like something out of a sci-fi novel. no streetlights, no stoplights. the very few people milling around on the sidewalks were either setting off fireworks & shooting off guns. the zine fair was in the warehouse space behind trumbullplex, & it was lit with weird electric lanterns attached to generators & candles. everyone was riding bikes & playing spin the bottle & eating dumpstered snacks. i felt like i was a thousand years old with my cane. i cried a lot. jessika rae set me up in an empty room belonging to a traveling kid at trumbull. i went to bed at 8pm with a flashlight & read myself to sleep.

somehow, from this very questionable beginning, we forged a friendship. when i got home to boston, i wrote jessika rae a letter, apologizing for what a weepy, crabby mess i had been. she was totally unfazed. she wasn’t freaked out or put off at all, & we started exchanging lots of letters about feminism & mental health & bands & fucked up disappointing political shit & relationship issues. i went traveling the next summer & spent a week in detroit. i don’t remember much except for going to a soap-making workshop & thinking, “punks in the midwest wear overalls a lot. that would NEVER happen in boston.” i also remember sitting at the trumbullplex’s huge dining room table (used for collective meetings) by myself, listening to mischief brew & working on a zine based around “born to run” by bruce springsteen. then i played “stand by me” on the piano for like an hour. a few weeks later, i took a bus to bloomington for the first plan-it-x fest & jessika rae met me at the bus station & i just remember thinking, “yes. something about this moment is how i want my life to be.” i couldn’t even say exactly what it was. we spent a few scary minutes during which jessika rae couldn’t find the fest tickets for our little group of like ten weirdos, & i called her messika rae & she said, “i don’t like that.”

in the eight years since, jessika rae & i have never lived in the same town, or even the same state. but we write letters & call each other on the phone all the time. when i was in boston & she was living in maine, we visited a lot. i haven’t seen her in over three years at this point. but her presence in my life definitely helps keep me grounded. she’s gotten a lot less vegan, a lot less straight edge, & FAR less posi since we have known each other–all of which i appreciate very much. but she inspires the shit out of me & usually when i start feeling all fucked up about the choices i have made in life & getting consumed with crazy regrets, i think about jessika rae or i call her up & it makes me feel like, “yes. this is what i want my life to be.”

i encourage anyone reading this to make time to appreciate your friends. there are a million ways to let your friends know how you feel: call them up, write them postcards, sing them a song, go for a walk together. maybe your friendship has been plagued by drama & recriminations–it happens. put your shoulder into it & see what happens when you get to the other side. see if this is what you want your life to be & how your friends are showing you the way.

so i turned 32 the other day

i received a really strange e-mail yesterday from some dude who works for a hydrotherapy equipment company. he said he had stumbled across some entry i wrote about taking a water aerobics class, & after ensuring me that water aerobics is 100% punk, he asked to write a guest entry on “the public perception of water aerobics”. he said he would be sure to maintain “the high quality writing standards that [my] readers have come to expect.” i have not taken him up on the offer. it has never occurred to me to bring in guest posters, & if i was going to do that, i probably wouldn’t start with a hydrotherapy equipment salesperson who wants to discuss the public perceptions of water aerobics.

so, i’m 32 now! i went to boston this past weekend to spend my birthday with jared. probably the weirdest thing that happened is that the ticketing agent at the kansas city airport didn’t ask to see my ID when i got my boarding pass. when i asked if she needed to see it, she said, “not if you’re under 18.” i told her i was 31. she said, “oh! then i do need to see your ID! & you look great for your age!” um, i really don’t. i think maybe i could pass for 27 or 28, but anyone who is standing right in front of me & thinking that i am seventeen years old needs to see an optometrist.

on another flight, a fellow passenger overheard me say something about wanting to smoke a cigarette after the plane landed. she started lecturing me about how terrible this is & was like, “you really shouldn’t smoke! you’ll regret it when you’re older!” i conceded that i probably would–hell, i regret it now! she said, “you’re in college, right? what are you, twenty?” my jaw dropped. i told her i was 31. she did a double take & said, “oh. well. i guess you’re an adult. i was going to say that smoking could hurt your job prospects down the road.” i told her my job prospects were not really a big concern, without elaborating that i am disabled. she said, “& smoking can prematurely age you. but i guess you’re okay.” i guess. it turned out that she was 38. she looked about 72, so she was speaking from experience.

my visit to boston was kind of awesome, & kind of annoying. it was really fantastic to see jared & get to spend some quality time with him. spinster summer is going swimmingly, but i do miss jared. he arranged to take me to salisbury beach for my birthday, where we stood around in the surf & played a gazillion games of skeeball. we accrued enough tickets to get a rubbery hot pink toy lizard, an awesome plastic shark, & an over-sized glittery pink ring.

me standing next to the world's most amazing hamburger sign, at salisbury beach.
jared at the soda shop, at salisbury beach.
me & the ocean! (clearly i am not a teenager.)

when we got back to the city, we went to see the outdoor seal exhibit at the new england aquarium.

me bonding with a seal lying on its back.
OMG so cute

& then we went out for dinner at trattoria di monica in the north end. jared & i ordered the bruschetta special appetizer, which was topped with mozzarella, plum tomatoes, figs, basil, & i don’t know what else. fucking. delicious. as an entree, i ordered the four cheese ravioli. i nearly lost my mind because it was so amazing. after i finished devouring it, i said, “i just want to do something to memorialize how unbelievably delicious this meal was.” but i couldn’t actually think of anything to do–maybe get a plate of ravioli tattooed on me?–so i did nothing. allow me to state for the record that not all italian food is created equal, & if you have a large selection of italian restaurants to choose from, doing a little research is a really good idea. i picked trattoria di monica because it featured a very simple, traditional menu, but had excellent reviews. i guess this advice works for pretty much anything, but there are few things i care about as much as i care about italian food, so. yes.

the annoying part is that, in the days leading up to my birthday, bart kept saying that he needed to do laundry. bart was letting us stay with him, & he was letting us use his car pretty much as needed, which was really generous of him, so i’m reluctant to complain too much about small inconveniences or whatever. but the point is that he did not follow through & do laundry until the morning of my birthday. & of course he needed his car in order to do laundry–the same car that we had been openly planning to drive to salisbury beach in order to celebrate my birthday. had we known about this crimp in the plans, we could have arranged to rent a car of our own or something, but we didn’t know, so we had to wait until he was finished with his laundry, & then we had to drive him to work before we could get on the road.

me outside the laundromat, just barely holding it together & not going on a killing spree.
jared, & bart in the background, slowly ruining my birthday one load of wash at a time.

i make a big deal about my birthdays. & i make a big deal about other people’s birthdays. a person’s birthday should be the one day a year when no one does anything to inconvenience them. i really did feel a little bit bad about being even a little bit upset, because hello. i was turning 32, not five. i acknowledge that it’s possibly a little bit childish for me to want my birthday to seriously be all about me & not at all about one of my friends washing his laundry. but still! i took the photo & warned him that i was going to post it on the internet with a bunch of complaining about how he ruined my birthday, so here it is.

don’t sleep

i accidentally stayed up all night on the fourth of july. jaimie came by at 8pm & we went out to get some dinner. then we drove out to the country, where we attended a huge, weird party with bands & hours upon hours of professional-grade fireworks, which are not illegal in kansas. away from the light pollution of town, i could really appreciate how bright the stars were. & the crescent moon looked orange because it was obscured by smoke from the fireworks.

when i was a very little child & my sister was just barely a toddler, our parents took us to fireworks hosted by the little town we lived in. a chunk of spent firework, about the size of a ping pong ball, fell into the crowd & hit my sister in the eye. she was okay, aside from being a baby with a shiner. that is one of my earliest memories & as a result, fireworks have always freaked me out a little bit. i think they are nice from afar, like last summer in philadelphia, when jared, amanda, & i went to the park & could barely even see the fireworks because there were so many thousands of people that had arrived before us, or the years before that, when jared & i watched the boston fireworks over the charles river. but these amateur fireworks in the country were just being set off by random punk kids with very questionable dread mullets, like ten feet away. they were exploding right over our heads. as far as i know, nothing caught on fire & no one was maimed by debris. but it was really over-stimulating, especially because the fireworks were almost the only source of light at the party–which was huge & spread out all across a big country estate/farm. someone had lit tiki torches along pathways, right next to little trees. i really thought the tiki torches were going to catch the trees on fire too.

jaimie was all, “pretty much everyone in lawrence who is cool is going to be at this party. you’re going to get there & be amazed by how many people you know.” but out of hundreds of people, we probably only knew five folks. which was fine. i don’t really feel like i know that many people in lawrence anyway.

we were among the last few people to straggle out, which i regretted when it came time to drive back to lawrence. jaimie was just trying to reverse the directions she’d written down, & we had gotten lost on our way out, so i was all turned around. i wished we would have left when some of our friends had left so we could follow them back. but eventually we figured out where we were going (thank god that even country roads in kansas are on a grid system) & made it back by 12:30am.

jaimie came in & we just sat around & talked until around 3am. after she went home, i decided to polish off a little writing project i’d been working on earlier in the day, but when i looked out the window after i finished, the sun was starting to rise. i knew that if i went to bed then, i’d just sleep until 2pm & hate myself. so instead i made coffee & got started on a new day. i napped for an hour or two in the late morning, but i’m going back to boston to see jared for my birthday this weekend, & he’s on a pretty normal schedule because he’s spending all day everyday at the historical archives. so i decided to just stay awake until a decent hour & then go to bed & wake up at 8am today.

despite being so tired when i went to bed last night, i slept really badly. it was one of my worst nights of sleep ever. i kept hearing weird noises that i couldn’t totally identify over the sound of the air conditioning, & because i now live in my own little one-story house, i kept thinking it was someone trying to break in. not that lawrence, kansas is really a hotspot for criminal activity, but shit happens everywhere. when i did finally drift off, charlotte woke me up by parading through the house, meowing at the top of her lungs. she’s usually such a quiet, independent cat. she hardly ever meows about anything. but she seems to have a gift for recognizing the times when i really need my sleep, & then she’s as noisy as possible.

i did manage to turn my schedule back around & got up at a totally respectable hour–like 8:30am. but i immediately started thinking about how i’m leaving for boston tomorrow, which means i have to drive myself to the airport, on the highway. i have had to get a lot more comfortable with driving in the last few weeks, because i no longer have jared around to do the driving i’d prefer not to do. i have definitely noticed that i feel a lot more confident & a lot less anxious behind the wheel, & i am getting progressively better at driving things i used to struggle with, like parking. but driving on the highway still makes me anxious. especially when it’s followed up with getting on an airplane. i am not terrified of flying, but it’s a little nervewracking.

i turn 32 on monday & am getting started on making my list of 32 things to do before i am 33 years old. i made a list of 31 things to do before i am 32 last summer, but i lost it when my computer hard drive died in san francisco. i thought i had copied into my journal, but…i guess i didn’t. i wish i had it for reference, because i know there was a lot on there that i didn’t get to, & i am struggling to come up with items for this year’s list. any suggestions? i am stalled at ten items. they are pretty big & exciting items, but at least one of them is so big & life-changing that i am having trouble imagining what my life will be like once it happens & what goals may be reasonable to set.