It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly three weeks since Bri returned home to Cleveland, Ohio. She was the first-ever Fight Boredom zine resident and I kinda just want her to come live with me forever. The first day of the residency was basically a dream date – we shared cupcakes, drank sodas by the canal, went on a trip to the post office, dyed our hair together, and indulged in some girl-talk late into the night. The kind of friendship we have, I can’t even explain it. She was one of the first people that I became close to when I started making zines, and we’ve been pen pals for something like eight years now. Even though it’s extremely rare that we see each other in person, we’re still the kinda pals that can finish each other’s sentences. So you can just imagine what it’s like when we get together – the huggin’ and gigglin’ and silliness. And we’re not afraid to cry together, either.
It took us a few days to really get going on things. All we wanted to do was hangout hangout hangout forever. Together, we tidied up the Tulip Farm and picked up an old desk from Claire, which now sits in the living room (aka the residency bedroom) with a typewriter on top. We talked about zines and capitalism and riot grrrl and misandry and punk shows and relationships and Tumblr and all that important stuff. We hung out at the canal a lot (you can seriously find me there most days) and were just really happy to be together. Then we’d realize it’s the end of the day and oh shit we better work on our zines.
This is the first-ever zine to be created as part of the Fight Boredom Zine Residency. Bri spent two weeks with me in Montréal, where she wrote on the themes of family, grief, and loss. This issue begins with a piece on taking a not-so-guilty pleasure in listening to My Chemical Romance (more specifically, the concept album The Black Parade, whose songs are centered on themes of death and afterlife), which leads into more heavy musings on the death of her father. I’m not gonna lie, I got a little misty-eyed the first time I read it. Bri writes on losing her father at thirteen years old, and the realization that from here on out, she will have lived more of her life without him than with him. She writes of childhood weekends spent in Detroit, where her father’s drug addiction was hidden from her only until she’d threatened to move away from her mother in Cleveland. Typewritten family histories accompanied by photographs, and a closing piece on bein’ a lady at a certain punk venue in the city, which I also wrote about here. This is everything that I want out of a perzine, and I’m not just saying that because Bri is my bestie.
On June 21st, we held a launch party for Bri’s new zine – the Summer Bummer Twee Picnic & Reading. We’d been writing about nothing but total downers and decided to make something cute and fun out of it. It was definitely the most hectic day of the residency – we were still folding and stapling zines five minutes before the event was meant to start! And it was the hottest day ever and we’d been baking cookies and cupcakes for hours and it was just totally silly. The Tulip Farm was basically an oven. But we got our things together, packed a picnic and headed down the street to the park. There were already a few people gathered on benches and lounging in the grass. We chose a nice spot under a tree and everyone joined us and sat in a circle.
I agreed to read first, but I was really nervous and kept putting it off. I hadn’t yet decided what to read. In keeping with the theme, I was gonna read about a total bummer of a breakup (see Culture Slut #25), but upon re-reading, I realized there was no way I could say any of that aloud. I would cry for sure. Instead, I read about med studies, and then I read a piece en français, which actually wasn’t written by me but for me. A rejection letter, which I’d previously written about here. I will one day include it in a zine. I’ve been thinking about crushes and vulnerability and feminist oversharing and that kinda junk and it was kinda fun to put myself in such a weird position. Vulnerability on so many levels. I was essentially reading a letter outlining the reasons someone had rejected me as a partner, and I was doing it in a second language that I am not (yet) perfect at. It was awkward and adventurous.
Claire read next, from Unicornzine (which I will totally distro the moment it gets photocopied again). I was already in love with the zine, but hearing those words out loud was so much more powerful. Anxious queers forever.
Finally, it was Bri’s turn. I’d already read the rough draft of Motor City Kitty and let’s be honest, it made me cry a tiny bit. I wondered how she’d react to reading it aloud. I knew it would be difficult. I tried to send encouraging vibes her way and was probably just smiling like a total dork. She read, and we listened intently. More and more people showed up throughout the reading. The circle got bigger. By the time she looked up, there were nearly fifty people gathered in the park. We stuck around for an hour or two, talkin’ to friends and strangers, givin’ away zines, and encouraging everyone to come dance with us at Squalor later on.
The next day, we borrowed my cousin’s van, filled it up with punks, and headed to Toronto for the anarchist bookfair. There were a few minor disasters, but I’ve chosen to remember the free coffee, tasty food, and awesome hangs. And check out our sweet ride below!
Bri took the Greyhound home from Toronto and since then we pretty much send each other messages every day to say, “I miss you!” and “Why don’t we live in the same city?” We have a theme song now. She is an absolute doll and I love her.