Category Archives: turn over a new leaf

what we talk about when we talk about the bulk bins at the hippie grocery store

jared wanted to go to the hippie grocery store the other day to buy pumpkin seeds so he could make homemade granola. i know, right? i probably don’t need to explain that this is the same dude who won me over to cast-iron. i had been skeptical of anything that a) you can’t clean with soap, & b) is often used by people who live in collective houses & sew their own pants. so we went to the hippie grocery store & i guess jared figured that as long as we were there, he should stock up on pastry flour, lentils, i don’t even know what all he got. i was too busy wandering around in a stupor, saying things like, “bulk honey! what a great idea! wow, look at these cunning little glass jars with cork lids! can you imagine being the kind of morally superior person that would have a legitimate use for something like this? man, i wish i was the kind of person who cared enough about her health to actually eat stuff like steel cut oats drizzled with flax seed, blueberries, & goat’s milk yogurt!” i think some of the other shoppers thought i was making fun of them, but i was DEAD SERIOUS & totally having an aspirational hippie consumer experience.

before i got pregnant, it’s not like i was unaware that i don’t always make the healthiest or most responsible choices when it comes to what i eat or how i spend my leisure time or whatever. example: one of my friends was telling me recently about how her dad is kind of an intellectual practical joker. apparently he once convinced a child that he often sees that “down” means up & “up” means down, so the kid started asking to be “picked down”. he convinced another friend, recently emigrated from some country like turkey or something, that pizza is the ultimate american health food because it provides all the major food groups in a single recipe. the dude just started eating pizza for every meal, & as my friend (who is teeny tiny, i should add–i helped her pick out a graduation dress once & she had to request the dress off the mannequin because all the dresses on the floor were too big; this is not a problem i have EVER had) was explaining this part of the story to me, i was like, “yeah, of course, that’s pretty much how i live, pizza is the world’s most perfect food.” but i guess the conclusion to the story is that the pizza dude gained a bunch of weight & started developing high blood pressure & such forth from his purportedly “unhealthy” all-pizza all-the-time diet.

anyway, i had this idea that once i got pregnant, somehow a switch would be flipped & i would transform into a version of myself that does all the stuff that i imagine people better than myself do. like cook with cast-iron without being resentful that cast-iron has to be cleaned in a different way from all the other dishes. or eat steel-cut oats with flax seed, blueberries, & goat’s milk yogurt. or ride a bike to prenatal appointments (because the hospital isn’t really THAT far away…maybe like twenty blocks? maybe less). keep an introspective & insightful pregnancy journal. take weekly belly photos to enjoy the way my body changes. spend more time sitting on the back porch with a library book, soaking up the sunshine. getting out the sewing machine & making all my own cloth diaper wipes from old towels & soft flannel patterned with cheerful animals. realizing that keeping a stock of witch hazel could be a use for a cunning cork-top glass bottle that is also good for my health & healing. actually read the articles my friends send me about the dangers of vaccinations instead of just throwing them away & then distancing myself from the crackpot friend. i could go on.

i feel that i have spent a good chunk of my life feeling alienated from people that do things like go running around the pond just because they like to stay fit & active, or who join amateur marching bands as adults & learn how to play the french horn, or decide to invest $10,000 in buying a falling down old cabin & then renovate it completely relying only on their own skills & those of their friends. these are things i feel that i would NEVER do in a thousand million gazillion years, but i also have this nagging suspicion that the people who do do these things are probably happier, less judgmental, less cynical, & more well-liked than i am. & don’t i owe it to my baby to try to be happy, well-liked, non-judgmental, & non-cynical? i don’t want to be that mom that sees her baby walking for the second time & is like, “right. awesome. call me when you learn to stop shitting yourself.”

because jared & i can’t afford the hippie grocery store (seriously, some bulk grains, a new water bottle, & a three-pound chicken cost us almost $60, & we had to pack it into a reused cardboard box, which again, is one of those things that a person morally superior to myself probably wouldn’t resent at all), we go there very rarely & only to buy specialty items we can’t get at the regular cheapo grocery store. so every time i go, it’s a weird aspirational consumer experience where i imagine what life would be like if, you know, i was the kind of person that remembered to bring her own canvas bag to the grocery store & hand-bound her own journals & noted the passing of the seasons by pressing leaves & enjoyed eating new & unusual fruits, etc etc. i look around at everyone else in there & i’m like, “i bet you can do triangle pose without falling over, & i bet that guy over there totally knows how to make potato soup without a recipe, & that lady definitely knits her own socks.”

now that my pregnancy is like a third of the way over (-ish), i am coming to terms with the fact that becoming a mom is not in fact going to fundamentally change my personality. i’m still going to eat pizza. i’m still going to drag my feet on going to the pool for pregnant lady exercise. i’m still going to go into really long-winded explanations about how i cope with hot weather that result in me accidentally quoting avon barksdale from “the wire” (“you only do two days: the day you go in & the day you get out”). i’m still going to primarily interface with the world by making fun of the stuff that i think is stupid, which includes everything from musical theatre to people who stencil their baby’s name on the nursery wall to people who think being arrested by campus security is a really effective way to wage political protest. baby, you can’t change me.

watching people fall down is free!

it’s another beautiful day in lawrence, kansas! the tulips are in full bloom, jared is wearing seersucker, & the weather is perfect for kicking back on the porch with a handle of rum & “don’t fear the reaper” on repeat. all those suckers that haven’t visited us yet because they think we live in a grass hut with goats on the roof a la little house on the prairie are really missing out. there hasn’t been a plague of grasshoppers in days!

it’s so warm today that i decided it was time to bust out the capris. & then i immediately busted out of them. they served me faithfully for three long summers, but my fertility meds are making me bloat up like a corpse in the sun. i think it’s karmic retribution for all the hours i have spent stationed in front of the plate glass exhibition windows at fancy gyms, praying to jeebus that someone wipes out on the treadmill on my watch. my apologies to all who work at maintaining their fitness. (i still hope you fall down. while i’m watching. a leopard can’t change its spots, okay?)

this reminds me of a laurie notaro story. i am generally not a big fan of her humor essays, as they tend to belabor the joke & end up about as funny as a gilbert gottfried routine. but she had this one about the time she visited a friend in san francisco & they decided to spend a day at the japanese garden. laurie ducked into the bathroom to put on her favorite corduroy pants, which she had owned for many years & through many weight fluctuations. she loved them because she felt that they grew & shrank along with her body & always maintained a perfect fit. she put on her magic pants & then did a couple of lunges in order to marvel at their elasticity. & that’s when the pants exploded into a cloud of dust with an audible BOOM, finally pushed beyond their limits. her friend rushed into the bathroom to make sure no one was dead & discovered laurie standing dazed with nothing but a waistband remaining. every time i think about this story, i laugh. & it actually continues from there: laurie & her friend went to the garden, which features several winding riverways filled with koi, crisscrossed with elegant handrail-free wooden bridges. her friend managed to actually walk right off the edge of one of the bridges & land on a big pile of koi. & best of all, she had worn a long wool skirt, which became comically waterlogged & heavy. boy, do i ever love it when people fall down.

anyway, guess who’s still not pregnant!

yeah. me.

i took another pregnancy test on monday, twenty days post-ovulation, & once again, it was negative. i called my doctor & openly begged for a blood test. she finally consented & i rushed off to the lab at 10am. i was then on pins & needles for the rest of the day, awaiting the results. i tried to distract myself by curling up with a 600-page biography of catherine the great, inventively entitled catherine the great. finally the nurse called me at 4:30pm & asked, “has your period come yet?” i know what that means. negative.

so i stopped the progesterone (after i wrote my fierce manifesto about how it was just an exercise in throwing money away, i talked to jared & he prevailed upon me to continue it “just in case,” & i guess he has some say in this process too, so i stuck with it through the weekend) & now we move on to cycle nine.

i’m feeling okay about it. this is the first time i didn’t spend all day crying upon getting a negative result. i think i’m getting used to the disappointment. at this point, whenever i do finally manage to get pregnant, i’m going to immediately lose my mind & be all, “oh my god! what have i done? how can i have a baby? i still think it’s the apex of entertainment to sneak up on charlotte & push her over!”

to cheer myself up, i made a trying to conceive advent calendar. every day of this process, i’m going to do one fun/positive/supportive/relaxing thing for myself. yesterday i went out a bought myself a new hoodie (see above about how i’m turning into a big fat glowworm so none of my clothes fit properly anymore–thanks, artificial hormones!). today i think i’ll lay around & read harry potter & the sorceror’s stone again. for literally probably the 78th time. i have library books that are due back in a matter of days, but harry potter sounds a lot more appealing than some dumb french novel right now.

making this calendar has been a challenge because usually when i think of treating myself, it involves going out to dinner or buying a ridiculous new hat i’ll only wear like ten times a year or ordering a stack of new zines from a distro or something else that costs money. it’s not so easy to think up exciting treats that are free. especially because the other requirement is that they have to be things i can do by myself. i don’t want my daily treat to hinge on the reliability of another person, as other people tend to be pretty flaky. my one exception to this rule is that jared offered to make me breakfast in bed once a month. all i have to do is ask…presumably on a day when he has time to whip up some oatmeal & bacon.

but i’m pumped about this idea because the hands down worst part of trying for so long to get pregnant is the fact that i feel i have put my life on hold, waiting for a baby to finally make its triumphant debut. i’ve been reluctant to commit to stuff or put effort into projects & friendships because i keep thinking, “well, my life is going to be really different once i get pregnant/have a kid, & i really don’t want to make promises i can’t keep.” but that means that i’m just slogging through the days, pinning all my hopes on this big thing that could conceivably never happen. at the risk of sounding like a hippie, i really need to be nicer to myself because this constant waiting is not sustainable.

plan-it-xyerra fest

inspired by jared’s sterling example of internet restraint, i installed leechblock on my browser & blocked all the pregnancy/trying to conceive websites i like to look at. i just don’t have any self-control with them. i can spend hours scrolling through old posts, looking at people’s fertility charts, comparing them to my own & wondering if i might be pregnant this cycle. now i am only allowed to look at them for ten minutes every four hours. this is going to free up A LOT of time that i hope to use for writing, reading my way through the teetering stack of library books that is constantly replenishing itself like some kind of evil horcrux-concealing potion, & wandering around town getting lost.

yeah, so i still don’t know if i’m pregnant or not. but that should change within the next few days. i tested with a dollar tree test yesterday & saw two lines for sure, without a doubt. it’s just a question of whether that second line is for real, or if it’s an indent (where the test chemical leeches out of the strip, leaving a nearly-imperceptible divot behind–it can read as a shadow, which can read as a very faint positive test). i took a more expensive test this morning, & again, there was just the tiniest whisper of a line, which also could have been an indent. i’m just assuming that they are indents, & that i am either not pregnant or testing too early. i have a whole stockpile of tests in reserve & will just use one every day until i get an answer.

i am trying to prepare myself for the likelihood of once again not being pregnant. i know there are some women who don’t get positive results on their home pregnancy tests until they are like a week late for their periods. but there are so many places on the internet where ladies suffering the ravages of baby rabies congregate together to discuss how they got their positive pregnancy tests like a week BEFORE their periods were due that i am feeling kind of shitty. i’m not late yet. logically, i know i could be testing too early. emotionally, i am beginning the process of giving up for this cycle & trying to find a silver lining.

i have one more cycle left with just the 50mg of clomid before i have to regroup with my doctor & come up with an alternate approach. i had an appointment with her a few days ago & she said she would probably just double my dose of clomid. i don’t really understand how that would work. clearly, i am ovulating with 50mg. taking 100mg instead would only increase my risk of becoming pregnant with multiples or suffering ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, which could result in the loss of one or both ovaries (& hence, even more compromised or totally eliminated fertility). but i am trying not to worry about that for now.

if i don’t get pregnant this cycle or next, i am taking a break. i need some time off from all the drugs, & jared’s probably going to be presenting at a conference in western mass when i’m ovulating in april anyway. it’s weird to think that if i’m still not pregnant by then, i’m looking at a year-plus until i finally have a take-home baby…at the earliest.

anyway! today jared & i took a walk & went by the first house we lived in when we moved to lawrence. we had to move out almost immediately because there was an enormous hole in the roof above the window we intended to use as a bedroom. rain poured inside like a waterfall. that’s not an exaggeration at all. a person easily could have showered in there during a thunderstorm. we had the apartment condemned by the city in order to get out of our lease. that was two & a half years ago. there’s clearly someone living up there now, judging from the totally bitchin’ grateful dead tapestry tacked up over the window…but it’s obviously still not fixed. the entire window frame is rotting out. it’s amazing what slumlords in lawrence can get away with, just by rolling the dice & hoping that their next tenant is going to be too stoned to call the city & report them.

we cut through a church parking lot on the way home & i found a dollar bill flapping on the ground. i pocketed it & immediately said, “i wish it was a hundred-dollar bill.” i feel like this story sums up everything that is wrong with me as a person. i took money that i found in a church parking lot, & rather than being thankful, i immediately complained, out loud, that i hadn’t randomly found one hundred times more. i am seriously such an asshole. not that i am really all that interested in changing that aspect of myself.

but i am interested in no longer drinking (or eating, if i can help it) things that contain high fructose corn syrup. i’ve gotten way into ginger ale because it helps with the nausea i experience on my fertility meds. but the ginger ale from the regular grocery store all contains high-fructose corn syrup, which is basically just liquid type 2 diabetes germs. my dad & my paternal grandma are diabetic…well, my dad was before his diabetes killed him at the tender age of 48. i feel like i really need to watch it, especially because my blood pressure is looking a little high these days…so i guess jared & i are going to start making our own ginger ale with homemade ginger syrup & carbonated water. it’s all very folk-punk. don’t be surprised if you see me running a zine delivery service by bicycle & holding weekly bonfires where everyone just hangs out, sharing their tips for cutting a good stencil or cobbling shoes.

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.
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).


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?

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

unfuck your habitat changed my life

i have been incommunicado mostly because the colder weather is making my pain/mobility issues flare up. there are often times when i am literally in too much pain to sit in front of my computer & type anything. sometimes the only thing that helps is laying flat on the floor with my legs elevated on a footstool or the bed. i wonder how long it will be before i’m wandering around town with a walker or recovering from a double hip replacement. i’m not even employing hyperbole here.

i have also just been less interested in spending time on the internet. but when i am on the internet, i am obsessed with this tumblr. i know! i never thought i would actually sincerely like a tumblr either! & of course sometimes there is annoying shit on here, mostly from college students who write in to say, “i have four papers to write & my dorm room looks like the city dump, but i am too lazy to do anything but lay on the couch working on ‘glee’ fan fiction. halp?” luckily, the blog maintainer’s response to everything is, “just do it. NOW. stop being lazy!”

this tumblr (which i found after a friend linked it on facebook) is not the first time i have ever heard of 20/10s (where you work on something for twenty minutes & reward yourself with ten minutes of dicking around, lather, rinse, repeat until you’re done). they pop up all the time in articles, books, & magazines about how to get shit done (tedious shit, like housework or other tasks a person may be inclined to avoid). but it was not until i found this tumblr that i decided to actually give the 20/10 method a spin & see if it did anything for me.

i wasn’t expecting much because i am already a pretty tidy, organized person. i keep color-coded daily, weekly, monthly, & yearly to-do lists, okay? i have a spring & a fall cleaning routine. i write down every penny i spend & what i spent it on, & then i make spreadsheets detailing my expenses so as to better fine-tune my budget. i have actually lived the monopoly dream of catching bank errors in my favor because i so obsessively balance my checkbook down to the penny & compare my records against my statements.

but i was delighted to find that 20/10s actually boosted my productivity & simultaneously lowered my anxiety levels! this method is fucking amazing. in the first week that i started employing it, i cleaned out my entire bedroom closet, including a bunch of random unpacked boxes jared had asked me to store in there from the last time we moved. (we are seriously like “the odd couple”. jared has an organizational system that works for him, but it says a lot that it is called “the random teetering piles of crap on every surface” system. our living room is bisected by french doors. i consider the westerly half mine & the easterly half jared’s. my half generally appears ready to be shot for a home decor magazine, save for the end table next to the couch, which is piled with jared’s crap. there are no words to describe jared’s half. it’s like a history archive & a bike shop collided & exploded in there. but he says that he knows where everything is, which is all that really counts.) i unpacked the boxes, threw out what needed to be thrown out, put away what needed to be put away, re-organized the bibs & bobs that remained in order to store sheets with sheets, curtain with curtains, pieces of halloween costumes with pieces of halloween costumes, etc. everything that could be put into long-term storage was put into long-term storage.

i cleaned out my dresser as well, ruthlessly casting aside items of clothing that don’t fit, don’t get worn, or are beyond repair. items in good condition that didn’t fit or that i now consider ugly went into bags for donation to a thrift shop. everything else was tossed. that left me with two completely empty dresser drawers, into which went special occasion shoes & art supplies.

i cleaned out my dresser too, throwing out tons of paper recycling, organizing my pile of unanswered mail, corralling bits & pieces of electronic equipment (i didn’t even know i had a memory stick! weird!), & consolidating more frequently used art supplies. i was left with two empty desk drawers, & i loaded my considerable collection of old journals & half-used notebooks into them. which opened up an entire small bookcase, so i unpacked the crates that had contained DVDs & zines. the bottom shelf was piled with library books that has been stacked on my desk.

& the vast majority of this was accomplished in twenty-minute bursts, followed by ten minutes of doing something mindless, like looking up otherkin-themed tumblrs & laughing at them. (apparently there’s a dude who thinks he’s a rocketship? WTF?)

maybe reading play-by-plays of how someone cleaned their house is not that exciting to the average person, but i love it! the new year is right around the corner (i’m sure i have mentioned before that new year’s day is my favorite holiday, just because i love fresh starts) & this feels like the perfect time to clean, tidy, organize, & start 2012 out properly. i am hoping to really be on the ball in 2012. but those resolutions are for another post. in the meantime, please enjoy this adorable photo of christmas kittens posing in the window of doodlebugs, the baby/maternity consignment shop in downtown lawrence:

relationships actually are

i haven’t posted here in so long, i don’t know if i remember how. okay, it’s only been three weeks. but still.

spinster summer is all over now. jared got home last week. today he started school. having him back home has been good. but also very intense. saturday was literally the most intense day of my life. more intense than the day i found out my dad had died. not necessarily in a bad way. just in an intense way. we have been talking about so much stuff we have never talked about before, in a manner completely different from how we used to communicate. it’s a big change, but hopefully a good one.

in the last few weeks, i have gone to kansas city every weekend. kansas city is starting to become my escape for when i can’t deal with “adult living in lawrence” anymore & need a break. the last time i went, it was for a punk show. that was the same day that the west memphis three were released from jail. everyone was talking about it. “the west memphis three were released from jail today! they were these weirdo white trash metalheads that got framed for murdering three little boys. the cops thought they were satanists because they were into metallica. they were thrown in jail in…i dunno…1992? & now they’re free! happy day! metal is exonerated!” i am not going to be a hater about some wrongfully convicted dudes being released from jail, but i couldn’t help thinking about all the people of color still rotting in jail because their wrongful convictions hinged on racism, which has caused a more long-lasting criminal panic than the satanist terror of the 1980s & 1990s. oh, punks. you are just too cute. & sometimes very solipsistic.

i am also reminded of this time i was chilling in a graveyard when i was like 16 & i found the grave of a kid my age. apparently his parents had gone ahead & had his picture engraved on the tombstone. he is wearing a metallica t-shirt. i think that was the day i confronted both my mortality & the embarrassing nature of adolescence. i hope that if my image is ever engraved on anything, i am dressed in a halfways dignified manner. but i guess the best way to make that happen is to actually start dressing in a dignified manner, so i’m screwed.

after the punk show, we crewed up & went to some weird party at a firehouse. a huge storm blew in & i slid down the fire pole at least half a dozen times. party fouls ensued: i broke a black light that was laying on the floor (my fault). i kicked over someone’s drink on the dance floor (her fault–who the fuck leaves their drink next to them on the ground in the middle of a dimly-lit dance floor?). there was drunken vomiting (not me). there were promises of sober designated driving that were compromised by multiple mixed drinks (also not me). a kid was too drunk to handle the fire pole & wound up breaking his foot. there was far too much inappropriate public fucking (by my standards, any public fucking is too much, but there was A LOT). someone hit a friend’s car & drove away yelling.

& i totally fell down in the very basic girlfriend job of checking in about plans & safety status at a timely hour. i am realizing that i have been doing this girlfriend thing kind of all wrong for, i don’t know…ever? so i am kind of learning how to do it properly from scratch & there’s a definite learning curve. it is really difficult to balance healthy autonomy & healthy friendships & independence & respectful, intentional partnering, & don’t let anyone ever tell you any differently.

my friend leah is inappropriately obsessed with terrible social justice-themed tumblrs & she alerted me to one called relationships aren’t. i hate it so much. i think relationships actually are forever, in terms of how the continuation of the species hinges on human beings forming some kind of relationship with each other (& i’m not just talking about sex). you know what’s not forever? some dumb character in some dumb fandom that has only been around for like ten years. imaginary characters. actors that portray imaginary characters from fandom. all of that shit is fleeting & the people will die, but the concept of “relationships” is actually forever, or as long as humans exist, anyway (which is not forever). someday i want to write a really intense manifesto about how the internet ruined social justice activism, but i start crying blood when i think about it too much, so…

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.