When I left for tour, the most precious item I brought with me was a blank journal. I filled these pages with stories, notes, details, plans, ideas; I glued in fliers, receipts, stickers, business cards, lists; and I pressed between the pages sprigs of sage and rosemary, a clover, magnolia petals, other plants whose names I am unfamiliar with, and a little white feather. I wrote on a total of four planes (with transfers), four buses (transfers again), and the car we road-tripped in; I wrote in bookstores, cafés, on the floors and in the homes of friends & strangers. I drew pictures of coffee and fancy soda bottles. Although bringing a fresh new notebook with me, baby’s first tour diary, gave me the awful sense of I-must-write-the-most-meaningful-&-profound-things-ever (I didn’t), the notebook, as usual, was what kept me feeling safe & okay.
After dealing with the hassle of canceled buses & flights due to snow, I finally arrived in Seattle, and Colleen picked me up and drove me to the first date of our tour. I squished through crowd and found Neelybat, hugged her and squeeled. Although I’d arrived too late to participate in the reading, I danced on not-enough-sleep & too-much-caffeine to her band, Ire Adrift, and made fun of boring cis dudes who were taking up too much space (as always).
[Click images to make them larger.] 1. Neelybat taking pictures with her seafoam green Diana camera. 2. Neelybat at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. 3. Me & Neelybat at the beach.
I spent the night sleeping in her Iceland-themed guest bedroom, and then we did readings in Olympia and Portland. At a record store, I picked up a used copy of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus, in which somebody had written on the inside cover in black ink, P.S.: Pass it on! (In an effort to destroy cis-centric language, I’ve been known to instead shout, CIS DUDES TO THE BACK!) I had good conversations with the Mend My Dress Press intern, Helen, about introversion & writing.
I celebrated 666 days sober in the backseat of the car, singing Hole & Green Day & Sleater-Kinney, with my tourmates, and taking blurry pictures through the window. We spent the day driving through the Pacific Northwest and into California. Osa read out loud from an interview with Bikini Kill in an old issue of Maxiumrocknroll. We discussed the possibility of having a slumber party with Courtney Love.
California was fucking beautiful. It was my first time. I’d never seen palm tress, birds of paradise, jade plants as tall as me, etc. We drove by miles of orange groves and miles of cherry blossoms, and again, I took blurry photos through the window. In Oakland, I stayed with Ocean; we watched a documentary on Aileen Wuornos and had good discussions about writing, creativity, living situations, home & travel, and so on. She read my Tarot cards in her backyard, and I got a sunburn.
1. “We want the freedom to determine the destiny of our community.” 2. A dreamy purple house in Oakland. 3. Magnolia tree.
And then, the Mend My Dress Press crew arrived in Los Angeles! I stayed with Meredith, and we were later joined by Alex Wrekk. So many zinester slumber parties! We filled our days & nights with zine gossip, zinester crushes, vegan pizza, fancy pop (lavender! dandelion & burdock! too many root beers to name!), coffee, walks in the sunshine, and, as always along this tour, good conversations.
L.A. Zinefest happened, and it was amazing. This was one of few zinefests where I didn’t have a panic attack! I talked to so many good people, got reunited with an old LiveJournal friend, found some good zines, giggled lots the Mend My Dress folks, participated in a workshop on anthologizing zines…
After the workshop, I came back to my table and ERIC ERLANDSON WAS LOOKING AT MY ZINES. Excuse the allcaps, but, Hole. The band who’ve had the most impact & influence & inspiration on my life & my art, whose lyrics were my first tattoo, blah blah. After listening to them for my most of my life and most of this road trip, it was strange to suddenly see the guitarist standing in front of me. I don’t want to be somebody who freaks out over celebrities, because come on, but Hole are a really big deal to me, and it felt like some kind of good sign. So I got up the courage to talk to him. I feel weird talking to famous people because I feel like there’s not much I can say to them that they haven’t heard before, but whatever, I talked to him a bit, and I gave him my book, and we took a photo together. He was very sweet & kind, and I not-so-secretly want him to read my book and become my pen pal.
1. Me & Eric Erlandson of Hole. 2. Neelybat drawing my name on her hand. 3. Petals in my diary.
1. Me & the first palm tree I’ve ever touched. 2. Reading Anaïs Nin’s journals by a lake. 3. A rose from a rest stop in the middle of nowhere.
It all ended too soon, and I was driven through the rain to the airport to fly home, listening to the Raveonettes. And so I’m home now, and it doesn’t really feel like home anymore, but I am making some changes to remedy my disconnect & sadness, but that’s another story.
1. Lavender soda. 2. Standing on a sidewalk in Los Angeles, just before me & Neelybat got our matching tattoos. 3. L.A. Zinefest flier and some flowers I picked by Sunset Boulevard.
More stories & photos from our tour are at MendMyDress.com; and if you missed us on tour, come hang out with me & Neelybat & Osa at Chicago Zinefest on March 8th and 9th. I’ll be participating in a panel, Writing about Health, Disability, and Accessibility in Zines: A Panel with Kerri Radley, Maranda Elizabeth, and Dave Roche at the Conaway Center, Columbia College, we’ll be doing another workshop on Anthologizing Your Zines, and POC Zine Project will be there as well. Yeah!
1. Holding hands. 2. Girls to the front. 3. Me at the Beat Museum in San Francisco.
P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!