Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Zine Queens and Wannabes, or The Girl in the Cupboard: Part One

I suppose Hillary Carlip is all to blame.

Way back in the wee hours of the last century, I was a very different Rie than the one barely standing before you. Remember the Queen Bee-and-Wannabe scare of a few years back? I was a full-fledged Wannabe-with-Extra-Wanna, so afraid of having an opinion that I begged a friend to come clothes shopping with me so we’d buy exactly the same things.

Scary, isn’t it?

Locking my old biology-loving, dinosaur obssessed and endlessly crafty side in the closet and tossing the key, I devoured Clueless tie-in novels, Sweet Valley Twins and Sleepover Friends and Ellen Conford and Cherie Bennet. Vain hope to glean that elusive something that would make me the darling of the schoolyard set had me outlining, note taking, even writing I will be popular in my notebooks a hundred times over to show my intent. Enter Girl Power, by the lovely lady mentioned above. A thick book with an enticing name to those of us obsessed with the newly-famous Spice Girls, or those who pretended to be (namely me), I snatched up a copy, eager to learn something from the chapters about sorority girls and beauty queens. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t, I don’t remember much about it at all until the second time I took it out and somehow turned to the chapter on Riot Grrls, a subculture still young and kicky at the 1996 publication date.

That’s where I fell in love.

Not with any of the Grrls in particular, per se, but the movement. My worldview at the time was quite tiny. I went to school, I went home, every few months I’d have a social event. I listened to the music my friends approved of, watched their favorite movies and drew lots of pretty girls in marble composition books and watched my friends’ collections of Beanie Babies and Spice Girls stickers grow. Along came this chapter: girls fed up with the status quo and making their own media. Girls from sheltered backgrounds. Girls who were recovering from eating disorders. Girls, in short, like the one I’d stuffed in the cupboard and run away from a year before.

I was still a wee thing of twelve, and couldn’t do much about this new little hearth that The Girl in the Cupboard had lit for warmth. In the back of my head, I dreamed of writing a zine, speaking my mind, and wearing a 50s dress with combat boots, all things verboten by the playground dictatorship my friends and I were subject to. A year or so later, things had changed. I’d transferred to a new school, joined a tiny clique and played the wallflower. I was myself, I was happy after a fashion, but locked into a social group and lacking many essential social skills and, worst of all, I’d lost touch with my personality.

For my 8th Grade Graduation, my mother let me order a nice stack of books from the newly launched Barnes and Noble online bookstore. While gleefully pursuing books that had eluded me for years, ones that I knew only by their brief descriptions in the backs of other books or from monthly book club pamphlets, I came across a new book by Hillary Carlip, co-authored by a vaguely familiar author named Francesca Lia Block, on those enticing things called zines. Added at last minute to the shopping cart, I waited for my order, giddy with my impending graduation and the promise of a stack of brand new books.

What happened after they arrived? Well, that’s for part two.

1 comments:

hc said...

YO, RIE! THANKS SO MUCH for your shout-out! So glad to hear that my books have been a part of your life! Hope you'll also find some inspiration in my latest book, a memoir called Queen of the Oddballs: And Other True Stories from a Life Unaccording to Plan. I've just linked to your blog from my wesbite www.queenoftheoddballs.com. Thanks again, and WRITE ON!

XO Hillary Carlip

 
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