The Diary of a Zinester in Residence

AUGUST 31 2008 — Holy Fuck. It is 1AM & in a few hours my anxious ass will be up in the sky flying to Canada. This is so surreal. How the hell do I get to go away for two weeks, live in a shed and do nothing but write a zine and record a Spoken Word CD? I’m dying to see the place. There is only one small picture on the website; so mysterious. Wait, if I’m living in a shed what’s the bathroom situation gonna be? Crap. I didn’t think to ask that. All I know is a lot of work is going to be created, even if I have to wipe my ass with a leaf. My brain is full of word vomit that will no doubt need to come out before I can get to the heart of the final piece I will create. This will be an incredibly wonderful and important experience in my life assuming the plane doesn’t crash into the ocean and I die in a horrible fiery death.

LATER…10 AM — I’m on the plane. It’s one of those tiny ones where you have to actually go outside and walk up steps to get onto. No fancy hallways that help you forget you’re entering a vehicle that will defy laws of gravity. My heart pumps and I know that there is no way I will make it to Halifax alive. A zinester residency is far too good to be true anyway, it would only make sense for me to die this afternoon: On my way to utopia.

LATER….11:20PM — I arrived! I am not a bunch of body parts in the ocean. When I got to the airport a girl was holding a sign with my name on it.

I have spent the entire day in the zine library. On the floor pulling things off shelves like a two-year-old and getting all up in the business of this place. Trying to see what tools are at my disposal: typewriters, drawers full of scissors, glue sticks, tape, clipart, anything my zine heart could desire. (And, whoa, back issues of Sassy!) Everyone I have met seems completely wonderful and totally open to letting me interview them at some point for a future episode of ZINECORE RADIO. The vibe is chill and Capp cooked up burritos for dinner. I slept upstairs in the “Crows Nest” (performance/ event space) with the plan to move into the Shed tomorrow morning. I’m really glad Capp is still here, she is the previous resident and part of this regular crew at the Roberts St. Social Centre. It’s kinda nice not to be completely alone my first night. The vast directions I could go creatively are exciting but completely overwhelming. I have a feeling I may not be sticking to my original plan.

SEPTEMBER 10 2008 — I was so nervous. I’d run zine workshops in the past but always 101workshops, showing people the basics of what a zine is and how it can be anything; as unique as its maker. I thought this time around I’d challenge myself, do a workshop for the Skill Share Series on something new to me. I chose to do “onepage zine making.” Considering I had never made a one-page zine I was kinda curious how this would all turn out.

I began by showing a few different methods of folding paper (while learning some tips myself from participants). The second half of the workshop I asked people to pick their favourite one-page method and work on a zine.

The night before I had been crying on the phone to my friend Andrew back in the States. Telling him how all the writing I was doing here really brought up some things I wasn’t expecting; one story in particular from my childhood. As I sat there in the workshop I realized that the one page zine format would be a great way to explore that memory. However I found myself unable to really get in the zone and work on that zine in the workshop setting. Making zines is so intimate. I needed to spread my shit out and take up a lot of space. We all chatted, looked through magazines, commenting on the images and the racist outdated textbooks that were amongst the scrap magazines. I loved hearing people say “I’m looking for an image of a computer if you find one lemme know.” This sort of teamwork made me giddy. When the workshop ended I was just gearing up to make my own mini zine.

One of the participants was this awesome chick named Skye. She is really involved with Ink Storm, the screen-printing studio here. She had this stellar idea for a micro mini and I saw her working on it diligently.

“Hey, Skye, I’m gonna go hangout in the zine library now and start/finish my zine. You wanna hangout and finish yours.” She sat at the desk while I sat on the couch, a typewriter propped up on a crate, pounding ink onto small squares of paper; telling my childhood memory of torment called PIG GIRL. I knew right away that this zine would be stapled into the center of Toxic Shock Girldom (the zine I am making in the shed as my residency project).

I loved working in the same room as another person who was just as hardcore focused on what they were doing as I was. It wasn’t like the kind of thing where you and a friend say your gonna study but you really chat the whole time. Truly engaged, we typed, cut and pasted and made a comment every 30minutes or so only to fall right back into our creations.

SEPTEMBER 14 2008 — It’s 6:30in the fucking morning right now and at 7pm tonight I will have my brand new zine launch/reading event. Funny to think how that is mere hours away and I still haven’t written the final piece on “Punk, Porn, and Feminism.” Let alone make the actual copies and do all the assembling. It feels like I’m going to vomit from anxiety. It’s settling in now that I chose to write a zine about hardcore sex and now, for the first time, will have to actually read my erotic work in front of people. I can’t believe how much time here has been spent pumping out words that needed to be flushed like gunk in order to get to this glitter.

LATER…11 AM — I puked. Right outside the shed!

LATER…4PM — Wow. I was just over at the People’s Photocopier with Capp who helped me figure out the copy machine. I watched the words and collages of the past two weeks seal together on fresh paper as the Xerox machine spit it out. Holding that first copy in my hands was one of the most accomplished, wonderful feelings I have ever had about any creative project. Just knowing I’d put all my soul into this zine and the thought of getting to share that with others tonight is both beautiful and terrifying. What if people react badly to the hardcore sex stuff? What if someone brings a kid?

LATER…1 AM — Making a mini DIY assembly line, Capp and Skye helped me take all the pages and assort them into individual zines. I’d never had people willing to make it a communal effort to staple my thoughts together with me. It felt really special. That’s the only way to put it. Fucking special.

I drank half a bottle of wine and headed upstairs to set up for the launch. I told people there would be an open mic following my reading. Shaking, heart pounding, I see two males enter the house for my event. For some bizarre reason it didn’t occur to me that guys might be showing up to this; I’ve had so much interaction with women here that the thought of reading about sex in front of them is something I can handle, however throw strangers with a penis in the mix and I’m anxious and caught off guard. I channel Lydia Lunch, my inspiration for so much of my current writing, and remember how hardcore and intense she looked when I saw her read in NYC. She walked in front of the audience with a death stare and spit her gum across the floor mid-sentence. I thought of that intensity, channeled it, and tried to pretend I could be that way too.

The light was dim and everyone (about 13people) sat in a circle. I sat near the lamp and everyone was waiting for me to start. I drew out the process, saying I wanted to wait a little longer for Capp who was running late.

I knew it was now or never and began.

The words fell out of my mouth like lube–sliding beautifully in and out as I breathed and spoke my stories deep from the bowels of my gut. When I finished the last piece I looked around the room and everyone was silent, then clapped. The air felt full of questions and people thanked me for opening up and talking about the taboo in such a confrontational way. Nobody appeared offended, more enthralled and caught off guard by the BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism & masochism) I didn’t shy away from sharing. It felt like I had truly accomplished something relatable and unique. I excused myself to get some fresh air and spark up a fat joint I’d been saving for just this moment. The fact that my ADD scatterbrain was able to come to Halifax and not only start but also finish a project reduced me to tears. With the release of crying the tension began to melt and mix with the adrenaline. I felt powerful, seeing a glimpse of myself and what I’m capable of when I really set my mind to something. How truly lucky I am to have had this incredible experience: the space, the community. This would have been nothing without the amazing women who surrounded me during these two weeks. The love that is tattooed throughout the Roberts Street Social Centre is like nothing I will ever experience again. Especially if the plane crashes on the way home, which I know is just bound to happen.

Hannah D. Foreman is a zine creator who took part in the Roberts Street Social Centre’s two-week long residencies. Her plane did not crash.

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