Thursday, September 01, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Okay, so I should make myself do, oh, 12 hours of cleaning/organizing for every time I comment on people NOT making comments here. I should stop. I sound petty.

But damn, how much publicity have I gotten recently from Jason's blog--either via the mention of my blog in Jason's post that got excerpted on Bookslut, or his account of the Quimby's show, or his (thank you!) including me in something yesterday called "BlogDay" where bloggers list blogs they like/bloggers they know? Why doesn't any of that translate into comments? I did, last month, get a few comments from people I met in Portland, which is cool. Would anyone email if I put up my address? Comments are about the only way I have to know if anyone reads this.

I had my birthday Monday. It doesn't really stray from my tradition of mediocre adult birthdays...Actually, I had fun by myself during the day. Well,. I don't feel like posting on that now.

First my place gets broken into and I lose all my emergency savings, three days before my birthday.

Then on my birthday, the worst natural disaster to hit America in anyone's living memory happens. (And now I feel guilty saying anything about the break-in. It seems insignificant. But it terrified me.)

I shouldn't even post trivial things like...whether anyone's commenting or not. I've been keeping up with the news so I'll post on the hurricane next.

Take care. And thanks for reading, even if you don't say anything.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

minor corrections

[This was actually posted at 2:10 AM on the 28th, but I'll leave it where it is.]

Sigh. If I still can't write about the Quimby's show on Aug. 20 (and my cynical gin-inflected mood right now makes me wonder if I should bother; no one's posted here since it happened anyway) just yet, and besides, I have a horrible new story to tell (see below re: break-in), at least I can point you to Jason Pettus' very entertaining reports on it, posted Wed. Aug. 24:

I love that Jason posted such a detailed and illustrated account of the night (even though, oddly, on my computer, two of the photos that don't come up are the one of me and the one taken in my apartment!), and that he says he was looking forward to this as an audience member, as well as a performer.

But I'd like to gently correct a few details (in the order they occurred in his reports):

Okay, this time the name of my book-in-progress is correct (he's not the only one to get it wrong in the past). It's not so much about my ten years in Chicago as about mid-2003 to the present, but with plenty of flashbacks, so I won't quibble.

I should point out, though, that I didn't actually make a suicide attempt. Not to get too picky about uh, whether I've actually tried to kill myself or not, but for the sake of accuracy, people should know I haven't. It's definitely something they might think based on my doing a zine called Thinking about Suicide, so I'm not offended. I just hope no one I'm related to sees that. (Technically, a person could sue for libel over something like that. But not me, obviously.)

Moving on...Jonathan Messinger's show at the Hideout is Dollar Store, not Dollar Show; the link takes you to "," one of those blah little links pages that has nothing to do with any kind of show...

Shag's Little Thing, which ran at Phyllis' Musical inn for six years (and we hope, will start again in a new venue), was an open mic/variety show, not a "reading series." (But I'VE been invited to arrange/host a new reading series, and maybe Shag will be involved.)

Oh, and yes, though my apartment IS filled with vintage and kitschy and pop-culture and retro stuff, the cage my parakeet lives in (just one now; as many as 4 have lived in it at a time) definitely isn't antique; it was $20 or so, I think from one of those discount stores on a Latino section of Milwaukee Ave. (It does have an older style to it. But I believe--and it's been a long time since I've read any bird-care information--you're not supposed to actually use antique cages for live pets; at least, you should never use old wooden cages. Hidden dangers.)

Anyway, hope that helps. Again, I'm really grateful for the reports, especially since 1) people actually read Jason's blog, as opposed to this one [but there's no sign that anyone's read MINE because of him
linking to it] and 2) he knows how to put photos up, which I haven't bothered to figure out yet, despite taking nice ones every day.

Various nerdy endeavors

Here’s about a week’s worth of the dorky things I do because I don’t have a job and I’m done with school. I also saw my boyfriend several times. Oh, and got my apartment broken into. See the other 8/28 posts.

The first story doesn’t make me look good—but then, neither do the details in last Monday’s post (I have AOL dial-up AND DSL? My ex-roommate owes me a five-figure sum?).

My “poster” for the Aug. 20 Quimby’s show was an 11x17 color copy, the text overlaid over favorite Chicago photos I’ve taken and 3 very different Chicago maps. I needed to get one up quickly so I actually paid for a color copy at the Kinko’s a block from the store (I inexplicably put $30 or $40 on a copy card once, and it could take years to use it up). It was on the nice slick color copy paper. Later I made more color 11x17s somewhere else that cost me, um, less, but unfortunately aren’t on the slick paper.

Anyway, I forgot to take the poster down after the show and couldn’t get to the store Sunday, so I went by Monday afternoon before running my suburban trip. And it’d been thrown out because the employee thought it was “just a copy.” Okay, so it wasn’t screenprinted or cardstock or anything…but maybe it looks like something someone might want back. The employee found it in the trash, crumpled up of course, and I took it.

It always feels HORRIBLE to have someone get something out of the garbage for you—no matter how valuable or sentimental it is, this is a deeply humiliating occurrence. I don’t know if this’ll make sense to people, but I wanted it back not just for sentimental value (this was the one actually in the store window), but because this was a copy I paid for, and NOT because of the cost, but for the SYMBOLIC VALUE of being a color copy I paid for, when I usually don’t have to pay for them.

That little incident made it impossible to talk to the Quimby’s employees right then about how the Aug. 20 had actually been. And I'm not kidding when I say this cast a cloud over the next few hours.

At the Harlem Blue Line station, I’d just missed the 209 bus, so I had time to walk a few blocks around there, taking pictures of kitschy signs, adding to the long list of pancake house/family restaurant/snack shop establishments to “get to someday.” I almost got something at a burrito place but I’m glad I didn’t because right away in Des Plaines I saw that the little café under construction had recently opened—it’s Mexican, bright and new and “cheerful”, and had better prices and more vegetarian choices than the Chicago place I skipped. Veggie or potato tacos, $1.40! I had a huge burrito with avocado slices nicely inserted in the middle cut.

I returned books and browsed the new books at the library, checked out 5 more, and took 209 back to the midpoint of its route, Park Ridge’s Metra stop.

I stepped in what I thought quite possibly was the wrong direction (the literal other side of the tracks), but hey, I had a feeling—and almost instantly arrived at [My Last Name] Park! (Isn’t it worth the risk of giving up the entire semi-anonymous thing, just so I won’t have to invent such tortured locutions as [My Last Name] Park?) I didn’t know any people of renown in Chicagoland had [my last name]. I saw a plaque for the town’s time capsule, buried in 1973. And the city hall across the street, but no library.

In fact, I’d given up and headed to Panera, when I realized that big building across from the gorgeous old theater looked suspiciously library-like. And it was! I went in for about an hour. (Full report when I write my piece on “Libraries of the Suburbs” you’ve been clamoring for.) I picked out books to check out then realized the Chicago library was closed, so Park Ridge probably couldn’t call them to confirm my card and let me check out books…

So I walked out, through a highly restaurant- and coffeeshop-saturated (seriously, two Starbucks within a block? In a suburb?) area, and had bottomless coffee at Panera for a while, then got the 9:00 bus heading home.

Tuesday afternoon I was interviewed by Vanessa [oops, had to edit this later--sorry].... I met her at the Perpetual Motion Roadshow in Chicago Aug. 13; turns out she’d bought and read Noncompliant and written to my PO Box, but I hadn’t checked my mail since before the Portland trip.

She’s an anthropology student who got a grant from her college to come to Chicago this summer and interview people about zines. At the Quimby’s event, we set up a meeting at Earwax in Wicker Park.

I really enjoyed this, partly because I uh, like talking about myself (although her questions were more about how the interviewees perceive and fit into the zine community, and not much about what their specific project is), and partly because I’d been out of the zine scene for so long, I like hearing people’s ideas about where it’s at now.

My one minor complaint was that she didn’t have a prepared list of questions—not that I needed the discussion to be particularly efficient or whatever; it’s that I kept worrying I was spiraling off into all kinds of tangential topics (i.e. the history of Ajax Records). I explained everything all out of chronological order.

I thought of a really good question later—one that I’d love to hear other people across the zine world answer—do they regard their zines purely as an end in themselves, or as a stepping-stone to a so-called-“legitimate” (not self-published) writing career? For me, it’s both; I’d still love to do zines even if I was a published author, but I can’t imagine not wanting to take my writing to a wider audience and “only” doing zines. I wish I’d asked Portland people about this. Anyway, that’s a tricky topic I’ll expand on another time.

Tuesday evening I went to Andersonville, for the second in the Bookslut reading series, although by the time I got there I realized I wouldn’t stay, I’d be going to see Star Wars in Grant Park. But I told a couple people I’d be there—like Jason, who gave me back some stuff he’d borrowed, and Charles Blackstone, one of the readers. I bought his novel, The Week You Weren’t Here, from him at the Printers Row Book Fair. I like it a lot but didn’t get to see him read until Aug. 18 at Barbara’s Bookstore.

There’s this older man who goes to many readings and then asks lots of questions, often about how the author’s personal life relates to their work, and he asked Charles quite a few. I didn’t realize the extent he was a regular (when I see someone older at a book reading, I tend to think they’re a relative of the author, and it’s usually the case) until a Barbara’s employee said something. I definitely remember him badgering (but nicely) Elizabeth Crane. He showed up to the Hopleaf right as I was leaving.

Anyway, I had a couple things to ask Charles, and I did, and also said hi to Wendy McClure, who also read at the Quimby’s thing, and I didn’t say hi to Jessa Crispin, who I met last month, but at least this time I knew where the reading was, and found it early. (Referring to Jason’s story of the July reading, which got quoted in the Bookslut blog promo for August—about how attractive the audience was…)

The last outdoor movie in Grant Park this summer was Star Wars. We’d meant to go to another one but it never happened, so I thought we should see Star Wars. Also, because the early summer was spent watching Episodes I-III.

See, I said I’d go see the new one in theaters if he wanted, but I hadn’t seen Episodes I and II, and he said I needed to, so there was complicated process of borrowing a projector and setting up a decent, temporary home theater (also good for running through much of my Simpsons Season 5 DVD set) and renting I & II. Then finding a Chicago-area theater still showing III, and in certified THX sound, and so we saw it in Evanston on July 4, but the sound didn’t seem impressive enough (even I was underwhelmed)…Oh, it’s all a long epic tale of good and evil…

It’s been nearly 10 years since I (first!) saw the original Star Wars, and I honestly don’t remember much more of it than I would if I’ve never seen it (I mean, most people growing up in the U.S. absorb a fair amount of it without seeing it). I rushed downtown for the movie, starting a little after 8. I could tell people on my train car were going to it and once I got outside the flow of people with captain’s chairs and mats was obvious.

Since Shag and I hadn’t been to any of these outdoor movies, we didn’t set a meeting place, and we don’t have cell phones to find each other, so I decided it’d be better to try to see the movie than search for him. I sat on the grass for a little while, then a couple spots in the mostly empty bandshell area (not bad picture/sound for being so far away).

I realized we should have at least picked a meetup place for after the movie, but we didn’t, and I looked a while, and finally gave up and went home, but went to his place later that night, where he quizzed me on aspects of the movie and I realized how little I’d actually seen/absorbed. I missed a reading, and I end up missing both my boyfriend and much of the movie?! I still thought it was worth it, to see a movie outside in lovely weather and thousands of people and the Chicago skyline.

Wednesday afternoon may have been my first trip all the way to 95th on the Red Line. (My first outside glimpse of the station up close was during a southbound Greyhound trip—it’s a secondary Chicago stop.)
I had the foresight to head out during (the early side of) rush hour, so the train was too crowded for me to really see out. I took the West 95th bus to the Woodson regional library, at Halsted. Then to Hoyne, where I looked at the Beverly branch library (in a former church?!) and the very bustling Borders store. Then, at a new-ish shopping plaza (with the second time capsule plaque seen this week!), I went to Panera a while. All these were first-time visits. Waiting for the Western Ave. bus, after dark, I looked at Evergreen Plaza (kind of bleak) and one of those great and giant spaceship-resembling banks.

Saturday 8/27: my first visits to the Edgewater and Bezazian branch libraries, both far north. I got to Edgewater for the last hour of their big book sale, which I’ve heard of for several years but always miss. By then, it was $1 for all you could fit in a plastic bag, so after the first couple books, it’s like getting everything free!

I had decent luck--some fiction I wanted, “How to Publish a Fanzine” (Mike Gunderloy, 1988), 3 in the “Woman Alive” series of hardcover advice books (1974) (I’m slowly gathering the whole set from thrift stores; I actually had 2 of these 3 but took them all, because they were “free”), etc. That would have been worth the trip, but then I saw the cookbook section was full of recipe booklets, and I grabbed up everything I saw (plus a few spiral-bound organizational fund-raising cookbooks).

I LOVE these things (especially the mid-century ones)—put out by appliance manufacturers (Sunbeam Mixmaster Mixer “Portable Electric Cookery”) and gas companies (“Martha Holmes Holiday Recipes” from The Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company) and food industry organizations (“Frozen Foods the Automatic Way,” a 1940 booklet from the Evaporated Milk Association) and food companies (“You Can Count on Cereals,” which shows how “Grape-Nuts Wheat-Meal” is made), and newspapers (I have several “Mary Meade Recipes,” from Mary Meade, Home Economics Editor of the Chicago Tribune).

As with anything I like, I want to do a zine or zines about it someday, but for now I’ll just mention my favorites I got yesterday:

*The “Horseradish Recipe Book: New Cooking Magic with Horseradish” from the National Association of Horseradish Packers announces, “Horseradish…15 Million Pounds of It!”

*”Man-pleasing recipes,” from the Rice Council of America, 1971, starts, “No man likes the same thing every night!”

*”Cook with Vegetole, the All Purpose Shortening—It’s Texturated”

*”Enjoy Good Eating Every Day, the Easy Spry Way” with “Aunt Jenny,” 1949 (Spry was another vegetable shortening, “with cake improver”)

*”Bananas…how to serve them,” a wonderfully detailed and illustrated 1940 book from the Home Economics Department of the Fruit Dispatch Company. Mmm, “quick food energy”!

*I never thought about French’s Mustard being from the same company as French’s bird seed, but it is (and the R.T. French Company was on Mustard St.). On the back of “Mealtime Magic,” “Claudette Colbert enjoys her canary’s light-hearted song.” “Claudette Colbert, gay and sparkling, is one of Hollywood’s most glamorous and popular stars”

*Cheery Heering Liqueur’s 1964 booklet says “Entertain Differently in the Danish Manner” (with all sorts of cold meats, of course)

*”A Cook’s Tour with Minute Tapioca,” 1931!, contains “Superbly Effective Desserts for Formal and Informal Occasions” (who doesn’t prefer effective desserts?)

I took my unwieldy bag and got the Broadway bus and stopped at the Bezazian branch library. Bezazian (named after a soldier who died in WWII) inside looks incredibly like the Albany Park branch, almost like a mirror image of it. (Surely, this is my most obscure reference yet.)

And today I’m off to enjoy my last day as a 28-year old…

happy news or not

These are supposed to be happy times and all: I just planned/hosted my first event at Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago, I'm meeting all kinds of people who do cool stuff and maybe like what I'm doing, my birthday is this Monday, I've had my 10-year anniversary of living in Chicago, I just had the one-year anniversary of the first experience I'd label as "casual sex" (hmm, I don't think I'll be posting about that here--but look for details in City of Destiny, the book!), Thursday I got another cute haircut and after 10 years continuously dyeing my hair I'm growing the natural color back (what will it be?! we're all in such suspense!), I might be hosting a new reading series if I didn't have so many freaking computer problems preventing me from ever getting to my email to set the damn thing up, I'll be reading at Quimby's next week (9/3) as the "local guest" part of the Perpetual Motion Roadshow...

...and I can deal with minor, it-had-to-happen-eventually indignities like a guy I dated (years ago) apparently not recognizing me, last night at Quimby's (but then I realized earlier today, I'd also seen him at Fireside Bowl nearly 2 years ago and he didn't notice me then. This time I tried to get his attention, though, and shortly before he left did talk to him)...

...but 3 days before your birthday--that's just the WRONG TIME for the first (and it'd better be the last) time you've experienced someone breaking into your place and going through your stuff in a weird, invasive way, and...

well, I'll write more later.

Monday, August 22, 2005

the Quimby's event

...will be described shortly. I just needed to make some reference to it on the off chance that anyone reading Jason Pettus' site links to this one and only sees old/unrelated posts. He hasn't posted his report yet, but did tell a very interesting story I hadn't yet heard about a guy making furniture out of FedEx boxes, and getting in trouble with FedEx.

Anyway, for anyone who happened to read my months-ago post on my goals/dreams as a writer (that I now think of as "112 Easy Steps to Modest Literary Fame"), several developments since my Portland trip (which itself constititued a few of the steps):

1) the aforementioned Quimby's event (the first literary event I've assembled and hosted)

2) my first hostile response to my current literary endeavors (I mean, what I've started in the past couple years)--well, I only read a little of the email, but what jumped out seemed hostile, and you can bet I'll post a response here (the person seemed to misinterpret me politically, and I didn't feel personally hurt by it)

3) an invitation--and this was before the Quimby's thing (but as far as I know, hasn't been rescinded after it)--to curate/host a reading series at a fairly new, all-ages space...

More on all those later. I'm in a hurry now to go retrieve the poster I left in the Quimby's window, return library books to Des Plaines (which, if you know anything about me or my projects, is the "real" City of Destiny), and hopefully check out the Park Ridge library and Panera store for the first time (it's good to have ambitions in life).

back from Portland

uh,for about twoweeks now. In this entry: CTA, Portland Oregon, computer stuff.

Updating my previous couple posts: the CTA Tattler blog, because of stories like mine below (as I've inferred from a Chicago Tribune article about it, that referred to the particular CTA snafu I experienced and the resulted blog posts), has started some kind of live CTA delay/reroute/whatever news feed (with no official connection to the CTA, but it's something that CTA employees themselves will probably use--it's easy for upset passengers to forget that often the drivers/station workers don't know any more than we do about what's going on during delays)--which is a wonderful idea, although utterly useless to those of us whose only high-tech personal gadget we carry around is a digital camera, and who have the misfortune to be stuck with fellow passengers (see my story below) who are completely apathetic about finding out about the delay they're experiencing.

Christ, that was just one sentence.

I did get to check email once during my Portland trip, a couple hours after I arrived there, at a coffeeshop that gave 15 min. free Internet to customers, which I learned about from a cool guy I met on the Greyhound into town. I didn't think I had time to post to the blog then, and I very much wanted to go back during my short trip but the place was closed (Sun. early evening) when I tried. I've never posted to CoD except from my home computer. it's not just that I wanted to post from Portland, it's that I wanted to post from what's got to be the smallest coffeeshop I've EVER seen. There's seating for about 5 in front of the counter, and maybe 2 more outside. Trust me, the place is tiny. The owner was very friendly and the drinks relatively inexpensive. The store is called Wired on Burnside, as it's on Burnside, a few blocks west of downtown (21st or 22nd?).

Anyway. I'll post SOME things about the trip here, but I'm really planning to write a zine about it--all in one sitting at a coffeeshop, as I've done once before. (For a zine called, of course, Coffee-Fueled Cliche.) I would have done it by now but I also need photos and...(long boring explanation deleted) I can't download/print my photos at home right now.

I've been hit with numerous computer troubles. My PC's hard drive was nearly full before I left , and the first time I turned it on after I got back, it came on and then--poof!--shut off and couldn't be turned on again. Power supply trouble, I heard, and my wonderful boyfriend came over (shortly before an important deadline, I might add) and spent the day transferring the hard drive into the Mac. See, I had a PC and Mac (left behind by my former roommate, who owes me a five-figure amount for back rent/bills, by the way) side by side on my desk. I used the PC for all my data--word processing, photos--and for AOL dialup. And the Mac for DSL, which doesn't work on the PC, but the Mac isn't attached to my printer, so any Internet stuff I wanted to print had to be put on disk and transferred to the PC. It was an okay setup, but as of last Sunday, the Mac has both Mac and PC hard drives in it.

Anyway, since then, I've had at least a couple other problems that limited email access, so I've been even worse than usual about it. And I still don't have a way to download photos or print anything, and I hope I can get it all taken care of soon so I can several shorter zines I've been planning done.

Some of the computer problems were easily fixable, which gave my boyfriend excuses to make fun of how technologically inept I can be. I've resented this, of course. But then when he was here this past weekend, he helped with my CD player (a Hello Kitty boom box, sad but true) and I realized, I've been having serious trouble with it for weeks wasn't on a flat surface.

He was kind enough not to gloat about that.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

on a bus to Portland

(One of two new posts, see the long rambling story below this!)

In a couple hours--this means I guess I'm not even going to try to sleep--I'll be heading to the Greyhound station for a bus to Portland, Oregon. I won't arrive till Thursday morning. This is more than twice as long as the longest Greyhound trip I've ever taken (from Chicago to Bryan/College Station, Texas), and my first bus trip in over a year.

It's my 4th or 5th trip to Portland, and first to the Portland Zine Symposium, where I'll be tabling with my zines, stickers, etc. I didn't know of anyone else going from Chicago, so it was up to me to get there myself, and by the time I checked plane fares a month or so ago, I could barely find anything under $400. An advance, Go Anywhere bus fare was $178. It's an inexpensive trip, but more than half of it will be spent on the bus! Greyhound has some vague ad campaign about something they've changed--in all that time, I guess I'll find out what it is.

This is also my first bus trip going farther west than Iowa. I'll transfer in Omaha and Denver (never been, and I'm not really going to get to see it at 6:00 am, either.)

When I get back, I'll have just 10 days to get ready for the City of Destiny Chicago Writers' Night (dull name, I was in a hurry to come up with something) at Quimby's Bookstore. You can look at their web site to see what's going on August 20th.

Talk to you soon...

that damn CTA story

I never updated my blog to point out that my story, "Cooler," was the center panel story on for a couple weeks in July. And now it isn't anymore. But it's still on there, and you should check that site out regardless. The following story is too angry and rambling to turn into a polished anecdote for that site, I'm sure.

[I was frustrated, as you'll see, about not knowing why I was on an incredibly delayed CTA train, so I Googled for the story and found it on the CTA Tattler blog. The following is the post I wrote the morning after...a little agitated, still. Additional details in brackets, obviously.]

This is the first I've heard about what happened. I watched all 5 9/10 pm news broadcasts and saw nothing, although it seemed CBS-2 did a tease right before 10, but I didn't see the actual story. I can't believe how fast these stories disappear! This is probably the WORST delay I've faced in 10 years of almost-daily CTA travel.

I was around 35th St. [visiting 4 different branch libraries!] and thought it'd be faster to take the Red Line to North instead of the Halsted bus. (Of course it normally would be.) I got to the station at 4:52. A northbound train had just passed. They made an announcement about the subway being closed and the Red Line running on the el tracks. No explanation why. I boarded the next train around 4:55.

I got off at Fullerton at 6:25. In that hour and a half...The train went onto the elevated tracks and stopped at Roosevelt--same announcement on the platform, but NOT the train. I figured it'd be stopping at any corresponding Red/Brown Line stops--i.e. , Roosevelt, Van Buren, Chicago--and of course, wouldn't be able to stop at Harrison or Division. (Were Red Line passengers there told anything?)

And that's what happened through downtown. It stopped at the Brown Line stations, we heard the announcement again, but we weren't told anything. Of course people on the platform looked confused. I wondered if people were being redirected from the subway stations to the Brown Line. (Apparently they weren't?) [Nope. And if there really was a security threat, why have people stand around in the stations?!]

Everything was very slow--I saw a clock downtown reading 5:27. We got past Chicago, past Division...and stopped.

There was NEVER one of those canned messages about sitting on the tracks, train ahead, whatever. And still no announcement to passengers!

I don't know when we stopped just before North, but I checked my watch and it was 6:15. So, we were easily there 20 minutes or more.

The part that REALLY amazed me, is that aside from a few quiet murmurs on cell phones, NO ONE said anything! No one pressed the service button (I didn't want to give up my seat to find it, and I was too angry to formulate a polite question anyway). No one seemed to even care they were having to stand in a packed train for a half hour for no stated reason! [I wrote this after I'd cooled down considerably. It was the angriest I'd been, probably, in 10 years of taking the CTA.]

At the risk of stereotyping, I know there are neighborhoods and/or times of day when a motionless, unexplained half-hour CTA delay would pretty much incite rioting. And in this case, I would have preferred it to the bizarre apathy! I hadn't come from work, I wasn't starving, I didn't have kids to get home to, I wasn't in a hurry to get to an event--but a lot of those people must have been. [Nor did I have a transfer card or pass about to run out.] And they didn't do anything!

So we spent about a half-hour stalled less than a block from my stop (North/Sedgwick). I seriously considered asking if the windows opened so I could crawl out.

When the train started again, I eagerly leapt up--and the train DIDN'T STOP AT NORTH! (See above about corresponding Red/Brown Line stops.) [It's a good thing I didn't yell out what I really thought of my fellow passengers...only to get stuck with them for another 10 minutes.]

Again, we never got any announcement about 1) what happened with the subway tracks, 2) why everything was so slow, 3) what stops we'd stop at.. Of course it didn't stop at Armitage either.

So we finally got to Fullerton. And after a 90-min ride that should have been 25 minutes, I had to take an extra bus. I was too angry about everything to want to ask CTA employees what happened.

Ironically, the only way this fiasco really inconvenienced me was that I missed the afternoon news...which would have reported what it was we were going through! And then, as if the inept/arrogrant CTA and meek/apathetic passengers weren't bad enough, the news media doesn't care enough to report it.

Okay, I know that was long. But I'm just so glad to finally learn what happened! [Actually, CTA Tattler reported it was a suspicious package left in a station, and there was plenty of anger at whoever left it. Theoretically, I knew I should be mad at them, but all my anger was already aimed at the non-communicating CTA, and apathetic riders and news media. I honestly felt nothing towards anyone for leaving a package. I should also add, someone said that the media doesn't report these much because they don't want copycat security scares. Which is also the logic for not reporting much about suicide attempts on the tracks. But it seems like we heard plenty about bomb threats that were called in here just after the fatal London bombing. And that's what I later heard this was, in the newspaper--a bomb threat, NOT a package.] How do I make a formal complaint about this? [Yeah, right, like I do stuff like that.]

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

oh, the pressure!

I was about to post something new anyway (sure, sure) but now I HAVE TO because I think today's the first time I've been mentioned in someone else's (Go read his story of how we both finally met Jessa Crispin!) So I'm just putting this here to let you know neither the blog (nor I) are dead. Also, I got a book signed today and the author wrote "good luck with your blog" in it (I told her about it last month).

I was at the events Jason wrote about in his 7/26 and 7/27 entries and will contribute some comments of my own. Uh, later.

I was sure I knew my password, but Blogger just kept refreshing the "sign in" screen--do passwords expire after a certain point? Anyway, I changed it, so here I am...

I've got to rush to Quimby's to drop off flyers for the Aug. 20 event Jason mentioned, and see if I can put up one of those cute little upcoming events displays.

I promise to post my hideous trapped-on-the-CTA story later tonight. But I'd like to enjoy some sunny-yet-not-95 degrees weather right now.

Friday, June 17, 2005

off to AMC

I apologize for the infrequency and boringness of this blog. But, on the bright side, I promise to not make any more remarks about people not leaving comments. (Unless this was a popular blog and lots of people left comments, then suddenly, hardly anyone did. Then I'd say something.)

After 5 years, I'm finally getting to go to the Allied Media Conference in Bowling Green, Ohio. (It used to be called the Underground Publishing [or Press?] Conference.) I've very much wanted to go, but never seemed to be in touch with anyone going, or couldn't make it for whatever reason. And there's always lots of Chicagoans going; there are always Chicagoans doing workshops, so theoretically, I've always had a chance at a ride. One year some people I knew promised to take a big box of flyers and a sign-up sheet I had (related to my previous political work) and I packaged it all beautifully and then they forgot to come by and pick it up. That was 2 or 3 years ago, and I don't think I ever said anything.

The people who've said they've seen this blog are probably going to the conference anyway, so it's not like I need to post this urgently.

So I'll be missing: an art auction/party-type thing someone I knew from school is having; events at Quimby's Fri. and Sat. (a book on Chicago dive bars--get it, it's entertaining!; a tribute to mix tapes); a chance to be a movie extra; the Puerto Rican parade in Humboldt Park (and the downtown one); the Finger open mike at Early to Bed (always great). But I'll finally be at AMC, and with my own little table for my zines and stickers.

What I want to write about: a sad story involving a former firefighter and author of books on Chicago fires, who's been accused of arson; the sudden closing (Mon. 6/20) of maybe my favorite Chicago coffeeshop, Cafe Boost; controversy over the artist who did a photo shoot jumping off the Museum of Contemporary Art; books I've read and will be reading...
And there's the other 10 or so blog entries I've been planning for weeks now... (I never even wrote Version Fest Part II!)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Corrections and announcements

I'm off to the Printers Row Book Fair for all day today and tomorrow. Last year, it was a week after my graduation, and the first place I was presenting my new zine and other writing/artwork outside of school, and I was a lot more nervous than I should have been, and a lot dorkier than I should have been...Hopefully all the success, such as it is, in the intervening year should make this year a little better.

Should I use a cliche and blame all the following on the heat? I've NEVER seen this many calendar mistakes in one week of local reading:

Chicago Journal (weekly South Loop paper) put the date on their cover as "Thursday, June 8."

Announcements from the Buddy space (I'll be at the robot party tonight!) said Thurs. 10, Fri. 11, Sat. 12.

A bookstore event was listed in the Reader as Sun. 11, while in the same section the store's ad said Sat. 11.

Time Out, in a little feature on the World Naked Bike Ride (I went last year and it was one of the most fun things I've EVER done in Chicago. But this year I 1) need the tube fixed on my bike 2) would feel too self-conscious even wearing a slip like I did last year; I want to lose 20 pounds. Which goes against the whole body-acceptance theme of the ride, I know. 3) am paranoid about getting arrested and missing the last day of the book fair.), listed it twice as Fri. 11, then listed it in Sports as Sat. 11.

But the best mistake of the week, in a little sidebar in New City about "What I'm Reading This Summer":

Nick Hornby : "I'm reading a book called 'A Short History of Tractors' [in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka]--it's a novel. It's a real title, I swear!"

Okay, it would have worked better if New City got the title right. It's "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian." See, he's not READING it in Ukrainian...

Well, I'm easily amused.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Minor fame part II

(Warning: even more self-absorbed than usual.)

One of my admittedly easy goals on the “minor fame” post from weeks ago was to get my name in Time Out Chicago, and this week I did, though I’m not sure if it counts: it’s a listing for an event I’m reading at, and I did the publicity for the event. (Which includes listings in Time Out, the Reader, Gapers Block, and flyers a few places.)

It’s a zine reading this Sat., June 4, at MoJoe’s Café Lounge at Roscoe and Oakley, 7:30 p.m. I should be finishing up writing the piece I’m reading there (something new, not more disturbing zine excerpts), but I felt like adding a few things I forgot when I wrote that “minor fame” post:

(Of COURSE writing and publishing [and self-publishing] aren’t supposed to be about fame [or minor fame] or therapy or self-esteem or making friends, but about creating art that speaks to people, tells the truth, makes people think, etc., and I want to do all that, but I can’t deny that I’m also trying to compensate for a lot of bleak lonely years in my life, and getting my writing out there has helped things be a little less bleak and lonely.)

*I’d like to be mentioned in other peoples’ blogs, either for my blog or for my other writing
*I’d love for a writer (or musician or artist, etc.) to name me as someone they’re “reading right now” or “someone to watch” or whatever
*I really want to be a cover story in New City and/or the Reader someday. For what, I’m not quite sure. (I got nearly a whole page in Section One of the Reader in Nov. 2000, but that wasn’t for my writing or art.)
*I’d love to turn up as a character, however minor, in someone’s else’s writing
*And, of course, let’s not forget the ultimate dream, inclusion in the someday inevitable “Girls of Self-Publishing” feature in Playboy.

(You know I’m kidding there, I hope. I mean, I’d have to lose a lot of weight first…)

I forgot to include, in my plans, the idea of writing for Web sites (other than this blog and the other sites I’m planning)--getting pieces on Web magazines, literary sites. So I’ll add that to the very long list of goals…

And since I wrote that first list, I’ve been hit with the urge I thought I’d never have…to write fiction. Maybe for now fiction that’s the thinnest of thinly veiled nonfiction ever, but still. It’s a startling new feeling.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Questions for today

1. How much of a dork am I if I fashion some sort of cloth patch/bumper-sticker-looking thing that says “” and attach it to the bag I carry around everywhere, as a simple way of promoting my blog, in the hopes that people will see me on the bus or train or at the store or coffee place or wherever, think “She looks interesting, interesting enough that I want to find out more” and then look up the blog? (Not as a way to get dates, mind you, I’ve got a boyfriend. Which doesn’t rule out the prospect of dates, I just point that out to indicate I’m not desperate or anything.)

2. How much of a jerk am I if I label the people I frequently encounter on my most-used bus route and write about them in this blog? They are:

a. Crazy Walkman Guy (an enigma)

b. Homely Female Security Guard (who always chats endlessly with someone or other and can always be heard no matter where you are on the bus and how crowded it is)

c. LOUD GUY (the above section in parentheses also applies to him)

d. Hipster Young Female Borders Employee (who, in fact, gets off at my stop, and has boarded there with me as well, meaning she lives within 2 blocks of me; and she has the exact same Target-bought winter scarf I had before I lost it, which isn’t too remarkable because I’ve seen lots of Chicagoans with that scarf/hat/gloves; who I feel I should get to known because she lives near me AND I go to that Borders a lot, but the one time I was close to her on the bus and she was talking on her cell phone, the conversation was sufficiently loud and inane to those around her [something about tattoos? something about a wedding?] that anyone decent would glare at her hatefully; but I won’t hold that against her)

3. How absurd would it be if the implementation of (1.) leads to the people in (2.) discovering this?

Anyway, Wednesday I was waiting for a bus near my boyfriend’s place—NOT the above-mentioned-but-unnamed bus--alone in the shelter, when LOUD GUY showed up and sat next to me, and I couldn’t avoid talking to him for the first time. Standard waiting-for-bus chatter, and an offer to help me with my milkcrate (declined since it was filled with very lightweight items). I sat near the back door and he took his usual place near the front—then moved to casually sit across from me. I had a book, which I didn’t open on the bus since I was only going 4 blocks, and he said he liked to read a lot. “James Patterson, Danielle Steel.” (A man saying he reads Danielle Steel?!) But this Friday he’s going to go buy some “spiritual books.” Okay. And now he knows my first name and I know his, but I didn’t have to make conversation (as I said, only 4 blocks).

So now I’ve talked to one of the regulars. We’ll see about the others.

Bonus anecdote: the guy who stands in the Wicker Park (Damen/Milwaukee/North) intersection and howls—if you’ve been there much, you know who I mean--has boarded at my bus stop a couple times. He did a few nights ago; I didn’t realize it was him till I got to the back of the bus as he got on, and a man pointed out to his companion, “That’s the guy who howls.” Ah, a local celebrity.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Versionfest wrapup part I

I worked on my blog at a coffee place yesterday. This would qualify for Most Boring Statement Possible, if not for the addendum that I wasn’t writing this blog entry on a laptop, or some computer-like device, but on pieces of scrap paper I dug up (“Neill & Company Fax Form”—where the hell did I get those?). I wrote it on paper and typed it in. Maybe that’s common, maybe there are other low-tech bloggers around, but I felt I was a couple steps removed from chiseling it on stone tablets.

Anyway, I’m desperately trying to get in the habit of actual writing (though maybe I shouldn’t be wasting time on a blog no one comments on…what does it take? Bribes? I’m seriously considering it!). Since the mid-April entry, I’ve produced another entire zine, so I CAN write a lot if I try. Upcoming here: CTA stories, zine promotion, a book-signing spree, an art show dealing with suicide, horror at the new food pyramid, etc. “Soon.”

But right now, a bit about Version 05. (Non-Chicagoans can look it up at I’ve gone to Version in some capacity the past few years. I went to it when it was held at the MCA (Museum for Contemporary Art); I was there during the infamous performance when the cops were called in for some reason. Last year I only made it to a concert held at the Bottom Lounge (I mostly remember getting a compliment from a woman on my new fuchsia with black-and-white appliqué linen skirt [“Only $17 at Marshall’s!”]). And the all-night closing party at the Buddy space on May 1. One of my finest moments ever—I sat in an armchair for 5 straight hours. That requires explaining, but not right now.

This year, I paid $25 for a festival pass, and I’m getting to most of the events. Friday night was the big opening party at Buddy/Highschool/Heaven in Wicker Park.

The lousy weather meant no hanging outside on the roof beyond the time to get beer from the keg (and another round of “Why the Hell Do They Put the Keg Outside?!”). My boyfriend and I, together or apart, wandered between the art show at Heaven, the keg on the Buddy roof, the artsy stuff upstairs at Highschool, and the music, and eventually dancing, at Buddy. (I especially liked Environmental Encroachment’s lively performance there—someone I know, who now has a thriving massage therapy practice, played with them.)

My favorite of everything there was the row of piñatas against the wall at Highschool, with enormous wall text explaining that these were George W. Bush piñatas made and sold in Mexico. But to be shipped across the border without getting stopped at customs, the faces were left blank and they were designated “lawyer piñatas.” So all these little vague papier-mache versions of GWB stood in a tough-guy stance. I expected the display was either to be left untouched, or there’d be a mass demolition at some point, but around midnight, people just started taking them as souvenirs. I really wanted one, but didn’t know if it’d be okay with the artist, and by the time I could deal with this possibly misplaced guilt, they’d all been taken. People carried the piñatas around as if they were cuddly Cabbage Patch dolls, not representations of a widely hated ruler. Or drew faces on them, or ripped them apart, so a stray head or leg would appear on the dance floor.

Before, Highschool had a performance that didn’t impress either my boyfriend or I, so we watched it from the stairwell to make snarky comments. Him: “It’s like a parody of performance art from a Woody Allen movie 20 years ago.” Me: “Art involving naked people is never by the people you want to see naked.” (Not 100% true, but I couldn’t resist.) So we walked through the space to the other side, by the piñatas, to observe from a distance. But the naked guys, one carrying the other, now wrapped in tape or plastic, moved from the stage area to right in front of me (alone and pressed against the wall), making expressions at me, and I tried to stay serious and not crack up, and the two guys collapsed to the floor a few feet away, and it ended. I wonder if this gets in “Chicago Antisocial”--everything involving public nudity seems to.

So my boyfriend (S.) and I went back to Buddy, now much more packed, just after midnight. People seemed to be very drunk and annoying much earlier than usual for a party there, and I spent the next hour or so trying to stay out of the way of all those chemical and fashion casualties. I danced some, but mostly I sat on a sofa, S. coming by occasionally. I was actually happy to be both there with someone, AND to get to go off into one of the sitting-down-and-drifting-off semi-trances I seem to have at almost every Buddy party. By then I’d had a fair amount to drink, so my profound thoughts were:

“Why doesn’t anyone say anything about my green tights? Aren’t they nice?”

“This is the first time I’ve worn high heels here! I did pretty well!”
(I’d bought them at Payless that afternoon. It’s been years since I got anything there, but I bought 4 pairs at 2 different Payless stores Friday. You know, the buy-one-get-one-half-off sale—BOGO. Thanks for coining a stupid new word, Payless.)

“The next time I’m at a party here, I want to be coked up!’
(Despite extremely limited experience with said substance. This is not to suggest anyone is ever under the influence of drugs, or anything other than alcohol [and only if they’re 21+], at any parties I attend. And it’s not to suggest anyone in the scenes I’ve known, like the open mike/spoken word scene, or art school scene, ever consumes anything illegal. And it’s most emphatically not to suggest that there’s a permanently-stained-the-second-time-I-wore-it pink hoodie in my closet that shows why it’s a bad idea to be at a house party where people are doing crystal meth and waving paintbrushes around at 4 a.m.)

So maybe I fell asleep, because I noticed S. was dancing with the now-small crowd on Buddy’s disturbingly uneven and shaky floor (well, when there’s a large crowd, it is), and we got our stuff and left, and he was maybe the drunkest/goofiest I’ve ever seen him, and it was almost 4 a.m.

Saturday evening I went to Version’s “Urban Gardening” event at Open End Gallery, an enormous space a couple blocks from the United Center. I guess I didn’t read the program closely enough to get that this was a show about street art, and that’s what was on the walls, and what an artist from Germany gave a presentation about. I grabbed whatever free stickers and such I could, scarfed down a lot of the delicious pasta (very addictive, garlicky pesto), enjoyed the first band that played, then had to leave to go to something else.

Sunday afternoon I saw a bit of the Terry Plumming event in McKinley Park (at 37th and Damen), but going to Bridgeport was mostly an excuse for a visit to Huck Finn at Damen and Archer to eat and drink coffee and buy a giant chocolate-glazed donut. There may have been a Version “show and tell” event at the Spare Room (just down the street from me) that night, but I didn’t feel like going.

Monday night I met S. at Buddy/Highschool/Heaven for a night of short films in all 3 spaces. It’s amazing how many short films still seem 2 or 3 times longer than they need to be. By which I mean, I didn’t enjoy this as much as other film programs I’ve seen there. The Digital Disobedients program was pretty strong, though. (But it’s not necessary to have someone give a spoken introduction before each film. I’m just sayin’…)

S. and I left around midnight and after a long time decided to stop at Rodan, a nearby bar/restaurant that always looked way too hip for me. But a lot of Version people were there, and the local artist Cat Chow, who I’m acquainted with, was DJing, so I relented. The menu looks creative, Latin American and Asian influences, so I hope to come back when I’ve got money. S. was amazed they had PBR for $2 in such a fancy-looking place; he gave a big tip, afraid they’ll discontinue cheaper drinks because of low tips.

I liked the décor, and told S., “It’s not too…overdone.”
“Well, it’s supposed to be minimalist.”
“I know, but it’s not too…”
“Too minimalist?”
I just couldn’t explain.

I also told him the ladies’ room had something I’ve never seen in a bar bathroom before, and he should see if the men’s room had it too. Thinking this too vague, I added, “It’s what they have instead of a mirror.”
“What, a video camera with a screen projecting your picture?,” he guessed.
“Yes,” I said, simultaneously impressed and crestfallen.
When he did check, the one in the men’s room was broken.

I once again blew my chance to be involved with Version. I’ve got talent, but I just don’t know if what I do fits its high-tech/cutting-edge focus. I mean, I paint, and put out zines, on paper, and give readings. It all seems so old-fashioned, Ye Olde Zine Writer. At the Printer’s Ball (a hotshot event for the Chicago publishing world) in March, I told Edmar (one of the main Version organizers) I hadn’t proposed a project because I couldn’t think of anything, “but maybe something involving cooking?” He said maybe I could be on the “cooking team” and maybe could be an artist for the show and tell event “20x20x20” (I’ve really wanted to do that), and I was very excited about both, but never followed up. Since then, I’ve published a zine I’m very happy with, but I don’t know how to relate it to anything at Version.

So I go to these, like I go to any Lumpen/Buddy/Version/Heaven events, wanting to be more than a spectator. And always feeling a bit—in high school terms—like these are the popular kids I don’t know how to be friends with, you know? Not the kind of popular kids who are snobs, who go out of their way to be rude and condescending to the less popular, or the kind who are at best fake-friendly, but the popular kids who seem genuinely nice to others and try to make them feel welcome, but they seem harried and you’re a bit wary of trying to take up their time because they’re, you know, popular, and they’ve already got plenty of friends.

Oh well. Maybe later I’ll have something better to report.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pathetically candid desires for modest fame

If this blog’s main theme is my rather-self-absorbed-but-maybe-interesting-to-others quest to become a Published Author, I might as well be explicit about what I’m hoping for. See, I’m not trying to be Sarah Vowell- or Dave Eggers- or whoever-level-famous (i.e., unmanageable numbers, i.e. “legions” of fans). But I don’t want to name the people who do have the amount of success that sounds just right; that’d be too embarrassing.

I should say, I got a respectable minor amount of attention/pseudo-fame for the personal/music zine (Spiffy) I did 11-12 years ago, and for the activist stuff I did from 2000-2003. But I didn’t read my work in public, nor did I really try to get published, or consider myself a “real” writer or artist. Now that’s changed, and here’s the cold hard truth about my wishes and goals. I’m guessing that if I look at this list in one year, no matter where I’m at, I’ll die of shame.

Let’s see. Topics I’ve covered in my writing (but with a “light touch” when possible, mind you) include: crippling shyness/insecurity/loneliness, sexual activity or lack thereof, eating problems, drug use, suicide, self-injury, and failure. Yet I’m thinking the following is TEN TIMES MORE HUMILIATING than all that put together.



Short-term: Read by and commented on by my friends. People I don’t know seeing my promo stickers and checking it out. Linked to by local bloggers, zine web sites, etc.

Long-term: An actual “following.” Mentioned in local/alternative media. And I don’t want to say “blogger with a book deal,” but…

Currently: Uh, see for yourself. I haven’t even told all that many people I know about it yet, even some who are bloggers!


Short-term: Getting my work in locally produced publications (examples could include Lumpen, The 2nd Hand [although they’re fiction and I’m not], Venus, Ladyfriend, Banana King, Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago). Zines and blogs asking me to contribute work or reprint my stuff. Inclusion in the Zine Yearbook. Tower selling my zine. (Risk of my family finding out what I’m up to.)

Long-term: More of the above, plus getting work in non-Chicago-based national media like Bitch, Clamor, Bust, etc. Publications approaching ME for articles/essays/artwork. Inclusion in collections of personal stories/essays (like something from Seal Press).

Currently: In my present incarnation as a writer of personal nonfiction (as opposed to my previous work of political articles/flyers, or going way back, music reviews), none. That would require effort. I need to start sending my stuff out, not passively wait to be “invited” (that hardly ever happens, right?).

*****Readings/speaking opportunities*****

Short-term: More appearances at open mikes and reading series like the events put on by Diatribe Media. Inclusion in group readings, perhaps something at Quimby’s, the Hideout, Beat Kitchen, etc.

Long-term: Being a feature at an open mike. Getting invited to perform at local events like Dollar Store and Funny Ha-Ha (although I don’t write fiction, or pieces strictly intended as comedy; more like pieces that are incidentally funny, and even the piece I’ve done that got the biggest laughs [“An open letter to Mary-Kate Olsen”] has a fairly [ugh] “poignant” ending). Getting to be a panelist at writers’ conferences. Reading/speaking at my former school as a “successful” alumna. My own reading/signing appearance at a bookstore (or at least one with one or two other writers).

Currently: I sometimes present work at the Finger open mike; other ones I did are kind of on hiatus. Recently became, to my great delight, one of the readers at Diatribe Media’s events (at Mojoe’s coffeeshop, the WLUW Record Fair, hopefully at the Allied Media Conference in Ohio). I’m still very much at the point where getting asked to read somewhere feels like a big favor to ME (I mean, I sure don’t think anyone’s like, “Wow, we got [my name] to perform!”).


Short-term: Self-publish City of Destiny, even if by self-publish I mean photocopy and assemble a 300-page book myself. (There’s a zine/book I’ve seen at Quimby’s called So Midwest that did just that.) Get blurbs from published authors. Book gets coverage in alternative media, at least locally.

Long-term: Someone wants to reprint and distribute City of Destiny, and/or my (not started yet) indie-rock-teen memoir My Mom Made Dinner for Pavement, and/or compile my zines into book form. Book gets reviewed in national alternative or maybe even mainstream media. National distribution. Local bookstore appearances.

Currently: I’ve got an absolute mess of computer files and scribbled pieces of paper I’m determined to turn into City of Destiny, The Book, before I’m 30. (That’s 16 months.) And people have expressed polite interest in it.


Short-term: Getting something broadcast on WBEZ (Chicago’s NPR affiliate).

Long-term: Getting pieces on “This American Life”. Interviewed on “848” (local news/arts/culture show).

Currently: Well, my former neighbor used to be a producer on NPR's “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” and now works for WBEZ, but that’s neither here nor there.

*****Media coverage*****

Short-term: Getting the occasional review of my work in the periodicals listed under “Publication.” Mentions in local media.

Long-term: Most/all of my publications/projects automatically getting reviewed in those periodicals. Featured/interviewed in local or even national media. Also see “Blog,” “Radio,” and “Books.”

Currently: Again, would require effort. But so far, my 2004 zine’s been reviewed in Zine World (it got two reviews in the same issue! That’s rare!), Best Zine Ever, and Slug & Lettuce--none of whom I sent it to. And it got an erroneous mention in New City, and nice listings in the Quimby’s and Loop Distro catalogs.


Short-term: Getting a grant.

Long-term: Getting a grant.

Currently: Tried, didn’t get a grant. (Depriving me of my plan to suddenly get all independent/anarchist-y and decline it; it was a city arts grant and I realized I don’t want government-funded grants.)

*****Fans (in person and online)*****

Short-term: A manageable number (for me to correspond with). People buying my stuff, or trading. My former college instructors mentioning me to students and faculty.

Long-term: A slightly unmanageable number. People buying my stuff, or trading. And also bringing me silly gifts. People that I’m fans of mentioning ME as a favorite, or someone to watch, or whatever.

Currently: I’ve got a decent number of people who knew me first, then knew and liked my work (including my former college instructors), and a much smaller number (but every case of this is REALLY cool) of people who approached me after hearing me read, or got a copy of my zine and wrote me. Some people buy my stuff or make good trades, but often I give my work away to people I’m fans of. No gifts yet.


Short-term: Uh, preferably none.

Long-term: Maybe a bit of jealousy. (“How’d SHE get a grant/book deal/TV interview?”)

Currently: This is a bit off-topic, but in past years I wrote and distributed activist essays/articles, including at Ladyfest Bay Area (2002), and someone picked them up there and she and her friends had a few vicious entries on their Livejournal page misrepresenting and attacking me. (I didn’t find it until 2004.)

Truly embarrassing and true: I want to see how long it takes to get my name in the Reader’s “Chicago Antisocial” column, and in Time Out Chicago. (Plenty of events I’ve been to, and lots of people I know, have been written about there.)

Both my parents have had books published. (One book each, but a total of six editions.) And my brother (and parents) were the main interviewees in an AP feature article that ran a few years ago.
Make of this what you will.

Friday, April 15, 2005

More from the endless introduction

This blog exists because the Web site promoting my book-in-progress, City of Destiny, is frozen until I find the information I used to (get someone else to) set it up, and I learn how to add to the site myself. So I wanted something out there while I figure out what to do with that site and the book, get in the habit of more frequent writing, and maybe even build up some sort of following. (Not that I expect to be another blogger who gets a book deal…)

I suppose I don’t need a theme or a niche for this blog, but it looks like it’s mostly about being a struggling writer in Chicago, trying to establish myself in the literary and art world. This probably won’t be a general political blog or general personal blog (I’d rather not write about my boyfriend or family here, at least not much).

At times in the past I’ve been very into going to indie rock shows, indie/foreign/classic films, protests and political meetings, galleries and museums. I haven’t kept up as much with those interests; my biggest thing the past year or so is reading and writing, especially getting involved in the local alternative/self-published literary scene. Open mikes, blogs, readings (at Quimby’s, the Hideout, Mojoe’s), local zines and magazines like Venus, Punk Planet, etc.

So I’ll record—in admittedly sometimes excruciating and/or embarrassing detail—how it’s going. How I’m promoting my work; readings and lectures I see, writers I talk to.

Next post: I just published a 72-page zine. I’ll say a bit about it, and a terrifying CTA bus mishap.
Coming up: A recap of something like 12 readings and lectures I’ve attended in 2 weeks. (“Chicago Antisocial” in the Reader already beat me to the punch on one, discussing the Banana King #2 release party. I thought that was her...)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Welcome to my semi-anonymous blog

Okay, so here’s the rules (for now). I’m not ever putting my real name on here. I’ll promote the writing and art projects I do, with their titles, obviously; link to other sites that mention me or other things I’ve written; and publicize events I’ll be reading at (or cooking for, or performing at).

And when I know how I’ll put pictures up, including some of me. And in person I’ll tell people I have a blog, City of Destiny.

So it will be absurdly easy to figure out my true identity—fine. My only concern is that neither my first nor last name appear anywhere on the site. I’ll just keep using the initials “k.a.h.” (which I’ve used on some projects).

It’s too much trouble to try to be genderless here. If I say “boyfriend,” you’ll assume I’m a hetero female or gay male (or bi); but if I go on about dresses and hair dye and whatnot (hopefully I won’t), it’ll seem more likely I’m female. So I’ll just say it: I’m a woman. (K.H., Girl Blogger! [shudder])

My other semi-anonymous project, which I’ve now turned into a simple means to publicize THIS, is a sticker I’ve put around the city that says “Chicago is for loners.” (If you see it, it looks just like the “Virginia is for lovers” t-shirt slogan). Long story, won’t tell it now. It’s so gratifying to run into people who’ve seen the stickers and say, “Oh, you do that?”

See, I don’t know if I could ever do a completely anonymous project; my craving for recognition is just too intense.

All this is moot while I still don’t get ANY COMMENTS...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A night of minor indignities

So I'm warming up to work on my zine, or delaying it again...

I spent a few hours Wednesday evening in Oak Park/River Forest. I love taking the Green Line all the way to Harlem, then having lots of places for books, coffee, etc. all within a couple blocks. (I live in Chicago but get excited to visit the suburbs!)

This was my third visit in as many weeks, and I started off at Panera yet again. (I somehow missed it on many earlier trips, though it's right there in the shopping plaza.) I wrote for a bit, then headed to Barbara's for the Elizabeth Crane reading.

I knew I wanted to see her first Chicago-area appearance for her new book (All This Heavenly Glory). I also wanted to have my zine done to have an excuse to talk to her, and I wanted to buy the new book. Neither were a possibility tonight, but I figured I'd at least go hear her.

I met Crane in early 2004 and talked to her a couple times about how much I liked When the Messenger is Hot, and about my book project, City of Destiny. There's more to it I won't get into now. (Cookies were involved.)

I try to meet lots of writers, but I tend to be bizarrely nervous when doing so. So I'm afraid Crane is on the list of Chicago Authors Who Might Think I'm a Bit Crazy (see also: Brian Costello, Joe Meno). The goal is to get her to the list of Chicago Authors Who I Don't Seem as Crazy To As Before (see: Al Burian).

So tonight I just sat in the back and listened. I didn't expect her to recognize me; in fact, I kind of hoped she wouldn't.

She read an amusing story, then (because she clearly had friends in the audience), asked, "Do any people I know want to ask me questions?" then, indicating the people she didn't know, "Except for the back row?" Where I was. (Next to, oddly, someone I kind of know, who'd shown up late).

Well, I didn't expect to be recognized; I just didn't expect to be explicitly NOT recognized.

I'll have my excuse to talk to Crane soon, but I don't think I'll mention this story, even if it has had me chuckling all night...

So after that, I found out that just since my last visit, apparently, the Oak Park Borders put those fucking locks-that-need-tokens on their restroom doors. Why?

I finished the trip at Whole Foods, to get soymilk and tonic water (no, I don't drink them together). In the soymilk aisle, a thirtyish man and woman spoke in a Slavic language as they filled their cart with quarts of Soy Dream. I mean, filled--they must have had SIXTY QUARTS in there, including at least a dozen of chocolate. It's always at least mildly intriguing to see someone buy so much of something, but this just made me...baffled...and angry. I don't dislike Soy Dream, but who likes or needs it THAT much? I like almost every other brand there more. And it wasn't on sale--Vitasoy, on sale right now (and one of the best brands), cost a dollar less per quart. Every time I saw them as I continued shopping, I got more upset.

I pick very, very weird battles sometimes.

Anyway, back to work; I've got a self-publishing fair Saturday to get ready for...

Thursday, March 31, 2005

More for the March archives

I thought about starting this in April, but thought it'd be more fun to start at the end of March and have archives for one or two posts.

Brief (or not) history: I've read blogs here and there over the years, but not that many. I still had this impression of blogs being online personal diaries, and obviously many are, but then the "blogosphere" (that word makes me cringe) became a BIG DEAL politically...

City of Destiny will definitely have political content, but it's mostly a way to get in the habit of writing frequently, an easy way to keep in touch with people, a way to have an online presence while I figure out how to get my other Web sites going. I'm not sure how long I can maintain anonymity, or a facade of genderlessness.

Last weekend was my first real exposure to political blogs. Of course I read a lot about Terry Schiavo. I guess I'll wait to say anything about that. It was far more complicated than a "red state"/"blue state" divide. Disability perspectives were often left out, and Schiavo's eating disorder was mostly ignored.

Anyway...that's it for a little while; I'm trying to finish a zine (to be printed, on paper!) and this is mostly a distraction. A lot of the zine is about eating disorders--that was my excuse for spending so much time online last week.

Oh, referring to the silly debut post of mine: the significant other (that term makes me cringe, too, but I have to use it because of the aforementioned "genderlessness") did call me back--after 4 a.m.! That's okay; I stayed up till six.

I am testing this...

...because I'm completely new to blogging and I need to see this for it to feel "real."

***Random information***

***Book I've been reading today:
Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons (Lynn Peril)
***Listening to:
Le Jardin de Heavenly (Heavenly)
and, my parakeet's chirping
Thrift-store (Hammond, Indiana!) black sweatpants with orange flannel "33" numbers; orange shirt
***Last food consumed:
Walgreen's Caramel Nut Clusters
***Last blog read:
Bitch PhD
***Waiting for:
Significant other to return call (which will temporarily knock out my so-so DSL connection [uh, one of the points of having DSL is being able to be on the phone and online at the same time, right?])
***Obscure word I like (and will post in hopes of being one of only a few hundred sites to use this word; I Googled it recently):

that's all for now.