chalice of the hopeless: new zines & cripple-goth feelings

Being alive today feels like living in an alternate reality. I am astounded to still be on this planet, to still be breathing, to still be writing. I’ve been having my tough times as the colder weather inevitably interferes with the (semi-)remission I was experiencing this Summer, but I have done a lot of work to love my cripple-goth life, and I am hanging on. Yesterday, I had another almost-fall as I stepped out of the WheelTrans van at another appointment, but instead of freaking out, I spent some time in the waiting room resting in a comfy chair and writing about accessibility.

I recently left an 8-week group therapy program for c-(p)tsd after another one of the clients, more than once, refused to adhere to the scent-free policy, and I became too ill to stay in the space (one of those unfortunately beige boardrooms with no windows). I’m pretty disappointed by this, of course – disappointed, but unsurprised. So, there’s another crip-grief thing happening, and I also had to give up my free tickets to go to the opera – the opera! the first place I was gonna go with a dress code since my juvenile detention centre days! – due to being too sick. I’d really been looking forward to it, and I hope I’ll have another chance.

[image description: Maranda Elizabeth taking their photo is a hospital bathroom. Their body is reflected in a mirror above a sink. There is a dispenser of fragrance-free hand soap affixed to the wall. They’re wearing a black Placebo t-shirt that says, Someone call the ambulance / there’s gonna be an accident, which they got at a concert nearly a decade ago. They’re also wearing a very tight knee-length skirt with black & grey horizontal stripes, a purple leopard-print cardigan, a grey pinstripe blazer, an amethyst necklace, and a purple backpack. They’re leaning on their lavender cane.]

Meanwhile, I’ve been writing. Obviously! I just finished making two zines this week, Telegram #’s 41 and 42. You can buy them online, or send cash via snail mail, or come hang out with me at the Toronto Queer Zine Fair this Saturday. At the zine fair, all my work will be pay-what-you-can with suggested donations of $2 – $5 for my zines, and $15 – $25 for my books. I will probably be crying because I haven’t talked to anybody without crying for a long time, but it’s okay, I like crying. Maybe you’ll be crying, too.

[image description: Lily, a pale ginger tabby cat, rests upon a stack of books and looks at the camera with a funny little mix of seriousness, confidence and discernment. The books are: Anne Sexton: A Biography By Diane Wood Middlebrook, Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton by Linda Gray Sexton, Women and Madness by Phyllis Chesler, and Minor Characters: The Romantic Odyssey of a Woman in the Beat Generation by Joyce Johnson.]

The next day will be my 31st birthday! I’ll be outliving Sylvia Plath. Too strange. I made a coupon code on my Etsy and you can use it to celebrate my birthday with me (I’ll be in bed! My favourite thing to do on my birthday is write in my diary, read my Tarot, do my usual weirdo loner things, etc…). You can type ‘beyondsylvia’ at checkout to save 16% on zines, books, and Tarot readings throughout October. Yay!

[image description: A Starbucks coffee cup with deep violet (actually this shade is called ‘under my spell’) lipstick on the lid, and the name Edith written on the label – this is the name Maranda uses because they don’t like to see their own name spelled wrong. Their left hand is holding onto the cup and their lavender cane is visible in the background. They call these cups Chalice of the Hopeless, a reference to The Buddha & the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, & Online Dating by Kiera Van Gelder.]

Also, I’d like to note that I worry about appearing rude or uninterested when I don’t stroll around zine fairs, pick things up & flip through them & buy them, talk to everybody, linger at my pals’ tables, etc., but the ordinary truth is that my body is in far too much pain to do so. When I’m having trouble standing and walking, and I’m balancing my weight on my cane, hand holding onto to this sword/wand/broomstick, I can’t get through crowds, I can’t hold onto a zine/book, I can’t do these basic things. So, if you wanna talk to me, or read my work, or trade zines, or whatever, please come to my table and please don’t be miffed if I don’t come to yours. This is crip-zinester-life.

[image description: Maranda’s left hand, with absurdly long fingernails painted various shades of purple, holding onto two zines of which the covers are visible. The cover of Telegram #41 is a photocopy cut & paste of the ‘Baby Doll House’ art installation by Tyree Guyton in Detroit in the late-80’s, and the cover of Telegram #42 is a dark, scribbly drawing of a bunch of eyes that Maranda made.]

Telegram #41 is about revelations, expectations, support and artivism, living through my fears, filling out forms, Mercury Retrograde, reminders, resistance, waitlists, crip-feelings, and a green candle.

More specifically, this zine is a text-heavy exploration of what happened with my body & psyche when my disability benefits came up for review and were threatened with being cut off, how it felt to be forced to crowdfund rent & food, casting spells to cope, applying for access to alternative transit for disabled folks when I could no longer use public transit, trying to make myself at least semi-comprehensible to social workers, hysteria, sickness, & haunting spaces while I’m still living.

Telegram #42 is about city magic, befriending loneliness, borderline feelings, crip-days & crip-grief & crip-love, crying, un/dereducated writers & crazy people, connecting my high school dropout lineage to creativity & survival, ableism & loss, discussing chronic suicidality, asking whose stories are valued & why, imagining freaking out as leading to (re-)invitations rather than isolation & shame & gossip, politicizing recovery, &&&…

[image description: Maranda Elizabeth at the Toronto Reference Library, sitting at a table and typin’ away on their magenta netbook with a full moon sticker visible on it. Their cane is resting beside them and a tall coffee cup is near their hands. They’re wearing dark lipstick and have a cute haircut inspired by Anaïs Nin and Louise Brooks. They’re wearing purple glasses, a black glitter hoodie, and a black Kurt Cobain t-shirt.]

Also! These are probably gonna be my last zines for a while! I’ve been working on my next novel for a few years, and I’m feeling determined to finish the fucking thing this Winter, and then make it exist somehow. I’ve got 82,000 words so far, I workshopped it in an incredible online class with Francesca Lia Block last year, and holy hell, I just wanna focus on it every damn day and make it the best book it can be. My zines will still be available, but I’ll be kinda hibernatin’ again to write this thing.

With another zine fair approaching, you might wish to read and share these two pieces of mine: Making Spaces Accessible and Scent-Free to Create Opportunities for Friendship, Connection, and Support, and Self-Care for Zinesters (an oldie but a goodie).

Ziningly Yours,

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!

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