(WARNING: contains explicit language)
Last week I purchased membership at a nice little place called the Independent Publishing Resource Center on SE 9th and Division. I found the website and–assuming on a whim that it would be useful and a worthwhile cause–I got the $5/month “Burrito membership.” (IMPORTANT: you do not receive a burrito with your membership, they just call it that because it’s comparably priced…huge disappointment.) They instantaneously mailed me this welcome package, which includes an “audiozine” of Portland’s most notable zine publishers reading their work. Quite a treat when I didn’t even expect to receive anything. I’m telling you, Christmas everyday in Portland. 🙂
I went up there Monday to check out what they have and a very sweet and mellow volunteer with blue hair named Morgan gave me a quick tour. The space includes a screenprinting area, a letter press area, paper cutters, bookbinders, craft supplies, printers, copiers, free GIANT-screened Mac computers, and a huge zine library. So I spent a lot of time just checking the place out. Then I opened up my half-finished poetry collection, fussed around with fonts and tried to print on some fancy paper I had purchased. Unfortunately, I don’t really know how to use Macs, and nobody working or volunteering there had any idea how to use Microsoft Word because apparently all the cool kids use Adobe InDesign (note to self: learn to be like the cool kids…). So even though I wanted to print two pages to a piece of paper, so that my book wouldn’t be gynormous, I had no success. I also had no success trying to load my fancy paper into the printer and convince it to take from that particular tray (“C’mon baby, just make it pretty for mama!”). I am not tech savvy. FMPL (f*** my poetry life)
At one point a decently amicable (though painfully zinester) person made a kind of weak attempt to help me get things going and eventually, amid all my frustration, she casually asked “What are you trying to do anyway?” Involuntarily, my eyes welled up with tears and I looked into hers, lip quivering, and said “I’m just trying to make something.” It was at THAT moment I realized that if this thing is really going to get made, I’m going to have to expose how much it means to me and be vulnerable. I need help. In fact, I need all the help I can get. I have no idea what I’m doing. I like poetry, and I care about mine. Disclaimer: I don’t fucking know how to make a bloody mother-fucking BOOK! When people read my sweet poetry jams, I just want it to be a THING. A TANGIBLE, durable, moderately sodding professional, and beautiful looking THING (I get British when I curse). Something that at least ONE person will take home and put in a special place and feel warm inside about it. Something someone will want to sit with under a quilt on a rainy day with the window open and a pot of tea on the stove. And then they’ll just curl up on the couch and think about it for a minute and feel all lovely.
I must have conveyed that pretty clearly because she started apologizing uncomfortably and saying she wished she could help. It’s ok zinester with the unhygenic smell cloud around you. I will get all the help I need and I couldn’t even stand close enough to get help from you anyway. Plus, it was a learning experience to unreservedly express my creative desire to a stranger. It was pretty dramatic. I like caring about something so much. I just ended up printing on regular paper in regular size (stupid ugly 8 1/2 by 11!). Then I went to use the bookbinding machine which sweet, mildly naive Morgan demonstrated for me. When I tried to use it, someone in charge stopped me in my tracks and informed me that you had to be trained to use it and Morgan just didn’t know that. But it just so happened that there was a bookbinding class happening two days later. It was fifty bucks, so I signed up.
And that is what I did tonight after work. It was incredibly fun. I made all these tiny little notebooks with covers made out of old National Geographic magazine pages I tore out. The machine is big and old and funky. It heats up glue and spreads it on the edges of the pages and then presses them into the cover and pinches them tight. Quite the toy for me. The paper cutters are also giant and old. I think one of them was actually an antique. I should have taken a picture.
Anyhow, now I know how to bind and I have the authority. So that’s something. If I could just get trained for InDesign (“It’s basically what everybody uses.”) and figure out the bloody printer/copier, I might actually be able to make an actual book… soon…