Those of you who know me personally know that this year has been hard for many reasons, and that some of my very favorite days are zine fest days. Traveling for zine events, visiting zine friends and sharing my work, the work of our press, and the works included in our distro has become a lifeline.
In 2014, Mend My Dress Press has tabled at L.A. Zine Fest, Portland Zine Symposium, and the Anarchist Book Fair day of Shout Back Fest on unceded Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver BC Canada). Those days have been full of catching up with old friends, meeting new people and feelings of mutual respect and support. Some of my closest friends live hours, states away. A zine fest can often be an escape, a much needed vacation.
This spring, I was at a zine event when my former partner, an emotionally and sexually abusive man, showed up. The organizer of the event had him removed at my request. I was talking to my sister about it afterwards, and she said, “Well, he has just as much a right as you to be there. If you were upset, you could have just left.” And while that may be true at base, and while that is how most of the people in this country tend to think, I know that she was wrong. I like to think that I operate in a small slice of the world where survivors are given more space, where someone’s comfort and mental health outweigh someone’s “right” to be there. Sharing art can be a very vulnerable thing to do, and feeling safe emotionally and physically is paramount to this act. My sister came around and agreed with me, stating that she was proud of us for “giving a shit.”
I’ve been meaning to publicly thank all of you zine fest organizers for all of your hard work, and today seemed like just as good as any. I would like to send my special thanks to the people of Portland Zine Sympoisum (thank you for the best PZS ever) and to Shout Back Fest for having such thoughtful and meaningful Safer Spaces policies.
Mend My Dress Press will be tabling at Fierce Fest this October and the organizers are putting together a zine about issues around creating safer spaces. You can send submissions to email@example.com.
love and support,
my life is not lived here. it is in my mailbox and on the internet. my friends are at least a city away. i do have a few people that are friends near by, but we hardly see each other.
Neelybat Chestnut, from Mend My Dress #11
I relate to this way too much.
Joshua and Alexis are two of our favorite people. Please support them, and their project anyway you can.
Our promo video is finally up! THANK YOU SO MUCH TO SAMUEL AND ALL OUR FRIENDS THAT PUT IT TOGETHER!
<3 <3 see you at the festival!
SHOUT BACK FEST BEGINS TOMORROWsee you saturday!!!
Mend My Dress Press will be tabling the book fair on saturday, we hope to see you there! xoxoxox
Help fund an anti-capitalist, d.i.y, feminist punk festival + anarchist book fair by and for gay, trans*, queer, p.o.c, indigenous people, and women.
Lots more perks just added to the Shout Back Fest Indie gogo campain such as:
Queeraoke Tickets Women of the 90s: QUEERAOKE: ADVANCED TICKETS Thurs, July 31st 7pm —Heartwood community CAFE Shoutback is just ‘round the corner!!!! Its gonna be tops! but capitalism sucks and we still need money so let’s hang out and sing some songs and raise some funds! Alanis, Britney, Hole, The Spice Girls, TLC, Ani, Bikini Kill, Salt N Pepa, Portishead, and more!!!!!!!!
Radical Bookstore Gift A 30$ gift certificate for Spartacus Books! Spartacus (non profit/ all volunteer community bookshop) carries a diverse and up-to-date range of material including books and zines and more, in Gender, Queer studies, Feminism, Anarchy, Race and Society, First Nations, Prisons, DIY, Ecology and Radical History! Spartacus is the go-to resource for anti-capitalist, political books not found in big-box bookstores. Also included! Shout back! Full weekend Festival Pass! www.spartacusbooks.net
Tattoo This is the real thing. BRing sketch or idea for consultation and your idea will get turned into a tattoo! SIZE LIMIT: 3x3 inches. (this is not a stick’n’poke). PLUS A super official full weekend pass! Plus shoutback shirt, mixed tape, sticker and a patch! wow!
Music Lessons Three 60 minute sessions at the Mt. Pleasant Music Teacher Co op. The Co op offers lessons for guitar, bass, piano,saxophone and drums for students of all ages and all levels. Also comes with a Shout back! Festival pass and T-shirt. (approx value 130$) http://mtpleasantmusicteacherscoop.wordpress.com/
and if you dont live in or around Vancouver theres still lots of perks that can be sent to you, such as : mixed bag of tapes, tshirts, posters etc.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3rd-annual-shout-back-festival-anarchist-book-fairI am so excited to be tabling this event! friends in Canada, come see me/us!
recently i stumbled across a blog by somebody i used to know who’s in an MFA program now. this person mentioned offhandedly that, in finishing their thesis, they realized that their writing was “safe” and they weren’t taking any risks at all. they sounded blase about it, like that wasn’t a big deal, as much a problem as a few misplaced commas or a tense shift or something.
this person was a big influence on me when i was younger precisely because she was so unafraid to say what needed to be said, even if it made her seem completely crazy. and the idea that anyone would spend so much of their time writing a safe project, what the professors want to read, what might get published in a literary journal, what will get approving nods around the workshop table…that stunned me.
i have no plans to get an MFA, for many reasons besides the one listed above. but i do have a B.A. in creative writing. i went to a state college, which was fairly relaxed and middlebrow. maybe a little too relaxed, but even there, we were constantly encouraged to write in a way that would be acceptable to literary journals. the “successful” writing path that was pushed on to us went something like: literary journals-MFA-book contract-plush teaching/editing job. here is what i never asked, but maybe should have: why was it considered a perfectly acceptable use of my energy to submit my work to literary journals, but a total waste of my time to make zines? i’ve had a few pieces published in literary journals. i spent hours making sure that my poems were in the correct font and format, writing a cover letter, mailing them off; and then six months to over a year waiting to hear back from the editors. and then i’d either get rejected or i’d get accepted. if i got accepted, if i was lucky i’d get a free copy of the journal, and i’d skim it, occasionally reading a poem or story that caught my eye, but very rarely finding anything that moved me, inspired me, made me feel connected to something larger than myself. also, a lot of literary journals have very low circulations, and there’s very little audience feedback. did anyone actually read that poem or story that i agonized over? who knows. it could have disappeared into a landfill for all i know.
my zines have a fairly decent circulation, and occasionally i get emails or letters from total strangers saying that my zine helped them feel less alone, and that’s so amazing. one of the best parts, just feeling less alone. i often read things in zines that amaze, inspire, move me so much—words that get me out of bed in the morning; words that keep me going. but, in terms of the academy, getting a poem published in even the most obscure, low-circulation literary journal was considered a better use of my time & talents than making a zine. & why, exactly? i mean, i still feel stupid declaring “i am a writer!”, but let’s face it, i am. even if the rest of the world doesn’t want to give me any credit for it because it’s mostly been self-published, i still am. been doing it since i could hold a pen. people have told me that things that i wrote have made a difference in their lives, and that’s all i ever wanted to do. & right now it’s after midnight. i have to be back at my desk at work in about eight hours, but here i am. i don’t notice the tiredness or the lateness or (let’s be real here) the pointlessness; it’s what i’m fuckin’ here for.
and yet, when people ask that infamous What Do You Do question, i usually say, “i work at the welfare office,” or whatever i’m doing for money at the time. true, but not the whole truth. if i say what really gets my blood pumping i have to justify myself. in the land of “real,” “professional” writing, it’s all about publishing and credentials and conferences or else i am just some starry-eyed teenager in a late-20’s body, so stupid, so naive. don’t you know it doesn’t count if there’s not a paycheck, if there’s not an advance, if it’s un-resume’d? well, fuck that. i don’t need to pay $40,000/year to have fellow students & teachers misunderstand my work. i don’t need to be told that my writing is too obscene, too feminist, that i use too many f-bombs and too much italics—all real workshop comments i have gotten from people who i’m not writing for. i don’t give a fuck if straight white men like my work. i don’t give a fuck that it’s never going to see the submissions desk of the new yorker. i am writing for the ladies & the queers, the urban cyclists & petty thugs, the gender-policed and the girls whose hair just won’t stay combed. i am writing for me, and for the people i love, to give us something, to (borrowing a phrase from Michael Cunningham here) explain ourselves to ourselves.
also, a common reason for people to get MFA’s is to “buy some time” to work on a really lengthy body of work, which would be difficult, if not impossible to do while holding a full-time job. well, i wrote a book; i just moved to a hella-cheap city, got a $400 2-bedroom apartment, and worked for $ as little as i could, for as long as i could. just me and my clock radio, writing late into the night, and even though those times were broke & lonely they were some of the happiest times too.
and now i’ve got a bouncing baby novel and a whole garden full of zines. i’ve gotta hustle to get my baby published, but the zines, they take root on their own. i just throw little handfuls around the country, and they get me friends and letters and odd connections with strangers. they make me feel and they allow me to contribute something to the universe. they are my messages in bottles. been throwing them out into the world for years, and people are still reading them. you’re still reading them. thanks.
Ocean Capewell, “On Writing Safely (and the joys of writing outside the academy, hating on MFA’s, and some other things too)” (from High On Burning Photographs #6)
I don’t know if High On Burning Photographs #6 is available for purchase any longer, but you can visit Ocean’s blog here and find out more about her novel, The Most Beautiful Rot,here. Hey agingriotgrrrl - I hope it’s okay that I posted this whole piece! I just really relate to all of it. If you want me to take it down, let me know, and I will.
We have one left in the shop! http://mendmydresspress.bigcartel.com/product/high-on-burning-photographs
Summer Reading Party at Pop Hop!
Hosted by Mend My Dress Press, Razorcake, and Fair Dig
Mend My Dress Press, Razorcake & Fair Dig present a Summer Reading Party! Craven Rock, author of “Nights and Days in a Dark Carnival: Time Spent with Juggalos,” and the creator of “Eaves of Ass” zine, brings his book to The Pop-Hop on Wednesday, July 9. Writer and publisher Neely Bat Chestnut (neelytherese), Rachel from Hoax Zine (hoaxzine) and Brodie Foster Hubbard will also be reading. Todd Taylor (razorcake) is your host and emcee for the evening.
Look at this beautiful poster by halffiction!
I just ran into Todd a few days ago and I know he’s looking forward to his emcee duties. Craven, the guest of honor, is making his way through these United States on his tour, and I’m glad he’s landing here soon. I’m thrilled to meet Rachel after years of correspondence and enjoying her zine. And then there’s Neely, my collaborator in both life and in art, so of course I’m excited to see her. I am very grateful to Robey for giving us a space to all get together and share our writing with you.
This is only six days away!I’ve started packing, and have started counting the seconds rather than days! I am so so excited! If you are are L.A. pretty please come out and see me and my friends.
I have been wanting to write, but i can’t stop criticizing and editing myself. I know I work best when working from a prompt. It’s best when it’s a question i am trying to answer. I feel far less self-indulgent when i feel like someone, that moment cares about what i am working on. So, friends,…i’m going to reblog this fairly often for the next little while….
I don’t know how or if to is possible to “get into” feminism. Feminism is a set of politics and praxises. It’s something that I became interested in because I saw gender based violence in so…
come to philly feminist zine fest this weekend and say hi!
I’m excited to see Rachel from Hoax Zine in just a couple of weeks at the SUMMER READING PARTY at Pop-Hop!!! (presented by Mend My Dress, Razorcake, and Fair Dig). Here is a brief essay on her introduction to feminism through riot grrrl, and how that movement should be examined critically today.
I am so excited for this reading!!! -xo-neely
[The image is a black frame around the title “Boundaries: How to Set Them”.]
Boundaries are a complicated thing- especially for individuals who have been through trauma or come from families that had poor boundaries. We first learn boundaries in our family unit and then it is briefly talked about in schools, but most people just assume that boundaries are a thing ‘you know’. People who have gone through trauma may have had good boundaries before, but find them disrupted while trying to recover.
This is meant as a bare skeleton on how to rebuild boundaries:
Consciously make a decision about who can touch you, where and how. Lay out both things that are okay- and things that aren’t. Boundaries are going to vary from person to person- but you could say something like:
'I am okay with my friends hugging me but only if they do it from the front'
'I am not okay with anyone touching my neck'
'I am okay with people I've just met asking for hugs- but not with them touching me without asking first'
Boundaries are allowed to change too. Something you used to be okay with- might not be after trauma, or not on days that you’re triggered. If this happens, just talk to the individuals involved.
When someone violates a boundary- call them out. A simple ‘Hey, I really dislike being touched like that’ ‘I’m not a big fan of hugs’. Once you’ve laid out a boundary- you can just call someone’s attention to it with a simple ‘really?’ or ‘We’ve talked about this’ ‘You need to respect my decision on if I want to be touched.’
The best way to get someone to respect a boundary- is to say it in a calm but serious voice. Not angry but also not joking/nervously laughing. If you need to, physically take a step backwards to further reinforce the boundary.
Sometimes it can be hard to draw emotional boundaries because ‘they need us’, ‘they’re just acting out’, or ‘a good friend would’.
Understand that boundaries are necessarily for everyone involved, and just giving in every time someone asks you for something isn’t being a good friend- it is being a doormat. Having boundaries isn’t selfish- it allows everyone involved to grow.
Figure out what being a good friend really means for you- and understand that the best boundaries are flexible boundaries.
which means that you can set a boundary of ‘You cannot call me after 10 pm’ most of the time- and still be there should something come up that you feel it is appropriate to shift that boundary. Like, ‘Usually it isn’t okay to call me super late- but you’ve been through some rough stuff lately, so it is okay if you call me when you need me right now.’ Or ‘I usually wouldn’t handle you snapping at me- but I understand that x is going on. But I am going to make you aware that it isn’t going to continue. I’m happy to be here for you- but you are not going to use me as an emotional punching bag.’
You’re allowed to put boundaries on how much you can help too, ‘I’ll do what I can. but I can’t be there for you 24/7. It isn’t healthy for either of us for me to literally be your everything.’ and if you’re in that position- with a friend who is struggling, you can offer to help them find other means and other support- whether it be a hotline, a support group, or helping them make new friends… but you need to hold strong to the fact that you aren’t going to be ‘on call’ all the time. That you are a person too, and you have to take care of yourself as well. This does not make you selfish- I promise.
Material boundaries have to deal with our things. Such as whether or not you’re cool lending money to friends, or letting them stay at your house.
A big problem with material boundaries is that people often have a check list of ‘I can let so-and-so borrow stuff/stay over’ but they don’t set limits.
There is a big difference between someone spending a few nights on your coach because they’re only in the state that long, or they need a safe place to go too… and someone living in your house without paying rent for a couple of months.
and while there are some circumstances where you may permit that (helping a friend get out of an abusive relationship) there are others that you might not be.
And you are allowed to set those boundaries. It isn’t about how good of a friend you are. You aren’t failing someone when they need you most. You are setting boundaries that allow your relationships to survive.
It is also important to realize that if you have a friend that turns down things you offer- it is a boundary on their part. Sometimes people will try and convince someone to accept a gift or let them buy them dinner- and everyone needs to be aware that it isn’t cool to keep trying if someone is uncomfortable. A reason for this boundary may be ‘I can’t afford to pay you back- and I was taught to never be in debt to someone’ to ‘I am used to things like that coming with a price I can’t pay later on.’ and while on the first- you may be able to talk to them and be like, ‘hey, I’m in a better position financially right now… so let me get you dinner. you can pay me back with the pleasure of your company’ but understand when a no is a no.
Mental Boundaries come in two main forms- our absorption of other people’s ideas, and how much what they say affects us.
Mental boundaries can be telling that friend that is just a little too pushy about their politics, “Hey, I would prefer not to talk about politics at the dinner table.” or “You know what? I don’t have information about either side right now. So I’m going to read up later instead of making an opinion based only off what your can tell me.”
Mental boundaries are what allow us to come in contact with gross individuals and come away less hurt. It doesn’t mean that you’re never allowed to be effected by someone calling you a slur, or someone making comment on your worth- but they’re what allow us to say ‘They might think I’m fat/ugly but 1. their opinion does not matter to me and 2. I have all these reasons I know otherwise/ people that believe otherwise. I shouldn’t let this hurt me.’ Setting a mental boundary doesn’t mean not calling people out who spout cruel things, or that you have to sit around and listen to it though. Play it safe and take care of yourself.
The thing about boundaries is that usually, they are found through bumping into them. Most of our boundaries are things we’ll never speak aloud because usually we don’t need to. (Think of it this way- you probably don’t have to tell your friends that it isn’t okay to punch you. Because this is a generally understood boundary.) People don’t sit down when they meet and go ‘Hi- I am so-and-so and never touch me here here and here, and never bring up this and never ask to do so and so’ and it would probably be a little weird if we did that about everything.
But when something is a strong boundary- such as a trigger, it is perfectly okay to bring it up before the boundary is bumped. Just a ‘Hey, I know this might sound weird, and you’d probably never do it- but I have a really bad reaction to people touching me without my permission and I’d rather put that out here now’
And a verbal/written call out of boundaries is the best one. while we should try and be conscious of people’s body language/ unvoiced cues- sometimes they can be hard to read or people don’t notice them.
In celebration of PRIDE season BRZD will include “Queens, Hookers, and Hustlers”(some Pride History for yer ass!) for free in every order that comes in between now and June 30th. Also remember that all snail mail orders come with a free zine cuz I like mail better than the internet. If your…
Craven Rock is going on tour! dates and times are being added… Please come out when he is in your city!
Tonight at the IRPC in Portland!
A residency with Mend My Dress Press is a great way to learn about the publishing process and running a zine distro. It’s also a great way to sequester yourself away and work on your art and/or wri…