It’s Time For Fun-A-Day!

From “What is Fun-A-Day? The premise is simple: pick a project, do it every day in January, then show your work the following month in a big group show. Started in 2004 by a group of friends in Philadelphia, Fun-A-Day began as a way to stay creative and motivate each other to make things through the winter. Now in its ninth year, Fun-A-Day has grown from its Philadelphia roots–in 2010 there were 10 Fun-A-Day shows, organized by different art collectives and groups of friends across the country. If there’s not a Fun-A-Day show in your community, consider organizing one. It’s fun, easy and you’ll probably meet new friends!”

My friends Frankie, Morgan, and myself, are organizing a Fun-A-Day event here in Montréal (Facebook event here). The perfect way to fight boredom and keep on goin’ through the winter. I thought I’d write here about what I’m working on, and also include suggestions for others – after all, January is only two days a way!

I’m gonna call my project Food-A-Day. One of my winter goals has been to cook more often and be less anxious about being in kitchens (seriously, I swear I live off of toast and cereal most days), so I’ll be documenting some of my meals and writing daily journal entries on various food-y memories, pizza dates, riots-not-diets… Food is a pretty broad topic that can take me on all kindsa tangents and I’m looking forward to it. In the end, it’ll probably turn into a zine (as I’m sure you may have already guessed).

Christmas Eve breakfast: Tofu scramble with sriracha, toast with avocado and alfalfa sprouts, banana smoothie.

Christmas Eve breakfast: Tofu scramble with sriracha, toast with avocado and alfalfa sprouts, banana smoothie.

When I was hangin’ with Dave Cave in the fall, he gave me a jar with alfalfa seeds, and told me how to sprout ’em: put a couple tablespoons of seeds into a mason jar, seal it with cheesecloth, rinse it in the morning and at night et voilà – in a few days, you will have yourself some sprouts! So yummy, and fun to grow in the kitchen during the winter.

It may be too cold to grow things on the balcony, but it's never too cold to grow things in a jar!

It may be too cold to grow things on the balcony, but it’s not too cold to grow things in a jar!

Here are some ideas for things-to-do-a-day: Read a zine; create a self-portrait; make a comic; give something away; try a new tea; write a letter; call a friend; write a haiku; try a new recipe; say hello to a stranger; write down a secret; learn something new about yr neighbourhood; bake something and share it; mend an item of clothing; make a postcard; take a picture; draw something; write about a childhood memory; write a review; learn a new word in a second, third, fourth language; make a diorama; write a song; write down a fear, a hope, and a goal; tell your friends what you love about them; learn a dance move; play a game; pet a cat; make a poster; listen to an album you’ve never heard before… and document your daily efforts!

So, who else is participating in Fun-A-Day? And what are you gonna do?

Eat Well, Read Lots, Stay Cozy

It’s nearly four o’clock in the morning and I went to bed at midnight and just can’t seem to sleep. Blame it on the caffeine. So I’m gonna write about what’s on my mind and maybe if I pour everything outta my brain, my mind will stop racing and I’ll finally fall asleep. That, or I’ll pull an all-nighter and watch the sun come up.

Let’s talk about wintertime and fresh starts and the New Year. Every autumn, when the leaves turn gold and the nights get colder, I prepare my winter survival strategy: a to-do list to keep me goin’ through the months of snow, freezing temperatures, and early sunsets. This time around, I’ve been saying eat well, read lots, stay cozy, like it’s some kinda slogan. Simple goals. Over the past few months, I’ve been training myself to be a morning person and I’ve been doing pretty well at it. I figure if I can do that, I can train myself to be a winter person, too. Not like a let’s-hit-the-slopes winter person, more like a let’s-not-be-a-melancholic-hermit winter person. So far, so good! I’ve been keeping myself busy with a few writing projects as usual, and mostly just hanging out at the Tulip Farm, surrounded by papers and cats and bowls of rice and soup. I repainted and redecorated my bedroom, and made a comic for Zine Crush. I’ve even been going for walks in the snow just for fun, and that’s saying something – a few days ago, we had a record-breaking snowfall here in Montréal, levels that haven’t been seen since 1971. Lookit this charming video of it!

This is the first year ever that I didn’t visit my family for the holidaze. Really just because I saw them in November and I was tired of bus-ing it all over the place. I wrote letters instead, and my grandparents sent me a pair of slippers in the mail, which is super cute. It’s been very quiet around here, with my roommate gone, and my neighbour left for a few days, too. I’ve had a houseful of cats though – Sebastian, Thunder, and Marie – and it’s been so lovely. On Christmas Eve, I took the day to myself. I wrote lots, listened to tapes, went for a walk, picked up a copy of Putain by Nelly Arcan at a nearby used bookstore, worked on recording some audio zine-y stuff…

My silly face. In the background: A freshly-painted pink bedroom wall and a rainbow of zines.

My silly face. In the background: A freshly-painted pink bedroom wall and a rainbow of zines.

The best part about staying in Montréal for the holidaze: catsitting! This is Marie, my cousin's sweetheart of a cat.

The best part about staying in Montréal for the holidaze: catsitting! This is Marie, my cousin’s sweetheart of a cat.

Now there are only two days left in the year. For me, it’s a time of self-reflection. On Christmas night, I gathered around a kitchen table with friends (some I’d only met that night) and we talked about the things we’d learned over the past year. It was strange – I usually get shy and anxious in groups of people – but I felt so comfortable. The next day, I wrote a few pages in my journal about lessons learned: “I learned about the difference between loneliness and being alone. I learned about taking care of myself, even if I’m not always very good at it. I learned about the kinds of interactions I wanna have with people, and that it’s okay if I don’t wanna go to parties and do all the “fun” stuff. I learned more about communication and what I want/need from friendships and romantic relationships.” There is so much more, but nothing I wanna share online. It’ll stay in my journal, in letters, in conversations.

Fight Boredom with Fashion: Dyeing a denim vest in my kitchen sink.

Fight Boredom with Fashion: Dyeing a denim vest in my kitchen sink.

Looking back in an old notebook, my resolutions for 2012 were to learn how to approach people and be more sociable; to write reviews of every book I read; to stay sober; to travel lots; to make things happen. I feel like I’ve been successful and I can keep it up (except for the whole book review thing, but I’ll try again). In 2013, I’d like to learn how see the big picture – like, to able to work on bigger projects even if I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much, if anything, by the end of the day. I’d like to build up my self-confidence and I’d like to quit a couple of pesky habits. Oh, and start a savings account, and publish my damn book.

I also want to be more mindful of my sobriety. I’ve been sober for fourteen months now, by the way. Back in November, I picked up a copy of Each Day A New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women (I know I know, it sounds totally cheesy and unpunk, but hey, the book is stolen; I’m still cool, right?) and I’m looking forward to starting it on New Year’s Day. Each page features a quote from various women in history – Virginia Woolf, Billie Holiday, Carole King, George Sand… – with additional notes. It comes back to the Twelve Steps, but it doesn’t look too God-y. I tried to think about who I might replace God’s name with while reading, and fuck it, my inspirational people are Anaïs Nin and Kurt Cobain. They’ll have to be my version of God for now. (I am half-serious). (I just picked up the book to flip through it, and Anaïs Nin is actually quoted on the January 17th entry).

Writing a letter to Kate in NYC.

Writing a letter to Kate in NYC.

Aaaand now it’s five in the morning. I guess I’m in it for the long haul.

How is the winter treating you so far? Any plans for the New Year?

Thankful For My Sobriety On A Saturday Morning

Saturday morning, and I feel especially thankful for my sobriety on days like today. In spite of a late night, I was awake at nine o’clock this morning, feeling well-rested and content, snuggling with my cat. I got out of bed and put on the kettle, made a cup of green tea, tidied up my bedroom and sat down to read. I read the letters that I’d gotten in the mail yesterday, and then a zine – Spirits: Relationships With Alcohol & Drugs.

I was at a house show in Verdun last night, tabling with Fight Boredom Distro and doing a zine reading alongside a couple of bands (Critical Convictions from Ottawa and Facials from Montréal). I had been really nervous beforehand, the kind of nervous that makes my guts all queasy and I kept making jokes about vomiting on everyone and then, no, if I vomit anywhere it’ll be on the windows of the yuppie bar on Wellington! A friend had asked if there was anything they could do to help calm my nerves, and I thought about the past, how I would’ve asked for a beer (and then had another and another), and really there was nothing. All I can do now is push myself through it, experience it fully. We had pizza and soda instead. The house slowly filled up with people, many of them friends of mine, and I set up my distro on the kitchen table. Maxx read first, from a zine called The Reverse Cougar Years, a piece about being a sound technician in a field typically dominated by men, then Steve read a hilarious story from Broke Ass #4 documenting his adventures cleaning up and dressing nice and seeing what he could get away with when people were no longer paying attention to the weirdo punk. I read two pieces – an excerpt from The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes #1, and something that I’d started writing last summer called This Is A Punk Show, Not A War, which will surely make its way into one of my zines in the future. There is something scary about these things, about standing alone in front of a group of people, any group of people, but especially a crowd who came to drink and party and see a bunch of bands. But everyone sat on the floor quietly and listened to our stories, and of course my tummyache faded away, because I am always nervous for nothing. When the reading is over, suddenly I want more. I walked away from the stage (I use this term loosely, it was someone’s living room) thinking of all sorts of things I could’ve added. Well, next time.

It wasn’t until later in the night that an acquaintance approached me and asked if I’d like to trade zines. I said yes enthusiastically without even looking at it, and you can imagine how happy I then was to see that it was a compilation on relationships with alcohol and drugs. I read the first couple of pages of Spirits at the show, then finished it today. Numerous contributors had noted this new world of mornings, this time and place that doesn’t really exist when one has gotten wasted the night before. Sleeping in ’til noon and waking up with a hangover was the usual, but now it’s tea and writing and bike rides and sunshine, and it felt so good to be reading this as soon as I’d gotten out of bed, to be nodding along in agreement.

The dreamy Saturday continues, because as I’m writing this, Stefanie has just prepared fresh juice with the Champion juicer that now lives in our kitchen, and I’m about to make a nice breakfast of toast with avocado and hotsauce, and alfalfa sprouts that I grew myself in a mason jar (thanks for showin’ me the ropes, Dave Cave). Then I’ll put on my hoodie and my scarf and ride my bike up to the Mile-End to see a friend’s art installation, and back downhill to Verdun to hang with my bestie. It’s the first of December and we agreed to get together on this day to make plans for the season ahead, our winter survival to-do list.

Fight Boredom Distro News: I’ve just added Telegram #26, Everybody Moon Jump #8, Rot #4, Six Ans De Pouce: L’ordinaire & L’extraordinaire, XXV, SCAM #9, and the SCAM anthology of the first four issues to the catalogue. I’ve also got copies of Well Of Loneliness, a cassette tape by Providence, RI-based queercore crust band Groke, but get ’em while you can ‘coz I sold half of them at the show last night. I also added a Books section to this website, which will hopefully make it a little easier to find your favourite zine anthologies.

Wanna read more about people’s experiences and struggles with addiction and sobriety? Check out Alex #3-#4, Breakfast For Dinner #1, Filling The Void: Interviews About Quitting Drinking & Using, Sub Rosa #7, and The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes #1, all available via Fight Boredom Distro. And if you’ve written on the topic, please send a copy of your zine for distro consideration, I’d love to read it.

The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes #2 / Cheaptoys #10

The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes #2 / Cheaptoys #10 / $2.00

Giz and I made a split zine! In the second issue of The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes, I’ve written about hitchhiking from Montréal to Halifax and the three weeks that I spent on Canada’s East Coast during the summer. Almost entirely handwritten (I have really neat printing, I swear) with simple illustrations throughout. If you ever wondered what a zine residency looks like, this is it. I stayed in the shed at the Roberts Street Social Centre for two weeks, then spent a few days in Sackville, New Brunswick for Sappyfest. Read along as I work through my syndrome de la page blanche and punch a dude in the face. / I’d call Cheaptoys something of a punk-perzine, always full of tour stories and photos from various travels and shows. Giz begins by writing of his experiences in the suburbs of Monaco and Paris, and his desire to leave France for library school. Also documented are his adventures from presenting at an academic conference in Utrecht, Netherlands, to playing Plan-It-X Fest in Bloomington, Indiana (up the scholar punx!), plus an interview with an anonymous graffiti artist, and more. Il faut remarquer que ce split-zine est écrit en français-anglais, un mélange de langues comme on s’écrit dans nos lettres. (It should be noted that this zine is written in a mixture of French and English, just like we write to each other in letters).

It is currently available for $2.00 + postage via Fight Boredom Distro, and is in stock at Bus Stop Press (France), Portland Button Works (US), and Vampire Sushi (UK), and will soon be available at Stranger Danger (US). I accept Paypal and well-concealed cash (just click How To Order).

Fight Boredom Distro Updates: Other zines I’ve recently added to the catalogue include Hungry: A (Re)collection of Memorable Meals & Disordered Eating, Radio Antarctica #1, Skinned Heart #3 – #4, Pinch Kid #2 – #3, and the Shotgun Seamstress anthology – and yes, I’ve finally written descriptions! I’ve also just added Well Of Loneliness, a cassette tape by Providence, RI-based queercore crust band Groke. The tapes are baby pink for goodness’ sake!

If yr in Montréal, please come see me this Friday! I’ll be tabling with the distro and doing a zine reading at a house show in Verdun, featuring Critical Convictions, Facials, and Vile Intent. Facebook event here.

Fight Boredom & Stay Cozy

Family time with Maranda Elizabeth and Mommie Dearest.

Here I sit at my kitchen table, which is pretty much my favourite place to be. Just got home from a bike ride… a bike ride in the snow. It was the perfect snow, the kind where there are flurries in the air, but they’re not yet ready to stay on the ground. I brought some zines to a friend and he said, “You’re having your magical winter moment.” That I am. I like the first snow, I like the beginnings of a new season in general, but like I said to the postal clerk that I bought my stamps from this afternoon, « Après quelques semaines là je suis tannée de la neige. » Still, I am looking forward to this winter, oddly enough, and here is my game plan: eat well, read lots, stay cozy.

I just spent three weeks in my home province, more time than I’ve spent there since I moved to Québec nearly four years ago. I alternated between my mom’s home in Fenelon Falls, Dave Cave’s new house in Lindsay, and Maranda’s place in Guelph. I had literally zero obligations while I was there, and spent most of my time reading books, writing in my journal, and practicing making comics. There were good thrift scores to be found, tasty food to be eaten, and many conversations to be had. (I know what you’re thinking: But weren’t you supposed to be in England?! Well yes, but there was a slight change in plans and I’M GONNA MAKE A ZINE ABOUT IT OKAY).

Dave Cave took care of me while I was in Lindsay. He greeted me in the mornings with lemon water and vitamins, then we’d make a to-do list for the day. When he came home from work, I’d say, “How was your day, dear?” and we were basically a married couple for the week. His dining room became my favourite place in Lindsay, more of a writing nook than anything else.

I’m still riding on the posi vibes that I picked up while visiting friends and family in Ontario. I’m spending my time doing the things that I always do: reading zines, writing letters, riding my bike. I feel optimistic about the upcoming winter.

Fight Boredom Distro News: 1) I’ll be updating the distro with a whole bunch of new stock soon, including Skinned Heart #4, Pinch Kid #2 – #3, Rot #4, Live To Win, Everybody Moon Jump #8, Hungry, Radio Antarctica, SCAM #9, 6 Ans De Pouce: L’ordinaire & L’extraordinaire and a few books – Telegram: A Collection Of 27 Issues, a zine anthology by Maranda Elizabeth, the Shotgun Seamstress anthology, and the SCAM anthology of the first four issues.

2) Last month, I was interviewed by The Link about the Fight Boredom Zine Residency. Can’t wait to have new residents next spring!

3) I’m tabling with the distro at a house show in Verdun next weekend, please stop by! The Facials and Vile Intent are so fucking good. Facebook event here.

Reasons To Order Zines From Fight Boredom Distro – Right Now!

1. The website will be on hiatus from October 16th until the New Year – so this is your last chance!
2. Every order placed this week will come with a free copy of Teacups & Typewriters, the Tulip Farm newsletter.
3. I’ve just added a whole bunch of zines to the catalogue – check out the news here!
4. I’m about to go travelin’ and every little bit helps.
5. It’s my birthday and it’ll make me happy.