200th Zine Review Celebration Awards: I Read a Zine, And I Liked It

Wonderful, beloved zine friends. I’m so happy to be creating this post.

It’s that time again – a time that probably isn’t familiar to a lot of you. When I reached my 100th review in May 2016, I felt inspired by the Golden Stapler Awards and celebrated by awarding zines with titles like ‘best binding’ and ‘funniest zine’.

(100th Zine Review Celebration Awards: All You Need is Zine Love)

I hit my 200th zine reviewed a few months ago, but with everything that was going on, I wasn’t able to get to things until now. I still wasn’t sure whether I would do this, but I do love sharing my zine enthusiasm and celebrating fun and cool zines.

Things to remember:

1. My apologies for any less than stellar photos.
2. This is only meant to be a bit of fun.
3. Zines often fit into more than one category. How they were sorted is all on me.
4. Keep in mind these are limited to the second lot of 100 zines I’ve reviewed – roughly from May 2016 to July 2017. You can find the whole list: Zine Review Index
5. Picking out the ‘best’ stinks. I love them all!

Let’s do this.

(I’m putting everything after a more tag because there are a lot of images.)

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Zine Review: Chronic Illhouse

Chronic Illhouse
Timothy Andrew, Ayla Brett, Lydia Mcilhone, Rose Mcilhone, Nik Ranger

Chronic Illhouse is a collection of stories, art, and poetry from young people dealing with chronic illnesss. It’s one of those zines that I knew I had to get a copy of as soon as I heard of it. I was so happy to grab a copy at the Melbourne Art Book Fair earlier this year.

I feel multiple levels of appreciation for this zine. First, because it includes both physical and mental chronic illnesses. I don’t know why I assumed that it would be only physical, but I love that it’s not. That small thing reminded me that, as open-minded as I want to be, I still have these inbuilt thoughts when phrases like ‘chronic illness’ come up.

Inside, you will find Timothy Andrew’s creations about Crohn’s Disease, Ayla Brett’s creations about Chronic Kidney Disease, Lydia Mcilhone’s creations about Endometriosis, Rose Mcilhone’s creations about Major Depressive Disorder, and Nik Ranger’s creations about chronic pain. I love that I need to write ‘creations’ instead of ‘stories’ because the people in this zine have expressed themselves not only in words but in images as well. Art therapy is important for a number of reasons, and it was good to see it included here.

I think a table of contents would have been a good addition for this zine if only for the sake of someone who didn’t read it but might have if they had seen their (or someone they loved) condition listed amongst the pages.

I also appreciate what this zine does and represents in a world where sharing your story is so important, and conversations are how we can remove stigmas surrounding so many things.

To be honest, I thought all of the work I found in this zine would be heartbreaking. That the entire experience of this zine would be difficult emotionally. Yet, it wasn’t. I mean no disrespect to those sharing their stories; these are harrowing conditions and the fact that they are a life sentence makes it all the more weighty to deal with. What I mean is that I feel like this zine hit its mark; I wasn’t feeling upset or pity for these people. All the pieces were like conversations in which I could get to know more about their experiences. It helped me to understand more from the safety and comfort of my home as well as helped me to feel like I could share my own stories in the future.

I do hope that their Facebook page, or any other spaces they create, is included in the next edition, because I can see this zine being a great space for people dealing with chronic illness now and in the future. I look forward to reading all the future editions.

Changing the Way I Look at Things

I didn’t intend to take off yesterday, but here we are, and there it is.

I’ll get to the TL;DR part first so anyone who wants to skip out the rest can. I have to adjust how I do things. I took of yesterday, and I’ll be taking off tomorrow to get myself on more solid ground. I’ll be back on Thursday and Friday with reviews… probably. I will definitely be back this weekend with calls for submissions, and next week will resume the normal way of things.

No biggie, yes?

I apologise if it seems like I’m getting into theatrics with this, but I honestly want to share this but don’t know how to go about it. I’m not looking for pity, and it only has a relation to zines rather than being about zines. In the end, though, I want this to be a conversation rather than a random spit out of information and reviews (as fun and lovely as that is). I want to tell you about the not-necessarily-zineish things that are going on in my life.

The past few weeks have been an assortment of tests and appointments with my doctor. After plenty of discussions, we were both all but convinced that I had lupus. That’s what everything pointed to, so we waited until I had a ‘flare’ of symptoms so we could do the relevant blood tests. Blood tests that came back negative. (With the exception of microcytic anemia, but that’s not an indicator of lupus.)

So we went over my history again and came to the conclusion that I need to start doing what I can do for fibromyalgia, ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis – commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but is so much more complicated than that), and restless legs syndrome.

Fibromyalgia and ME have come up as possibilities many times in the past ten years or so, but they are “diagnoses of exclusion” and I have never pursued the relevant testing. (I don’t always stick my head in the sand, but when I do…) Turns out that it took a mere ten years, and we’ve done all the testing to come around to the conclusion anyway.

What does all of this mean?

It means that, while these symptoms have been with me for many years, now they have a name. No I know it’s not just all in my head, that I’m not just lazy, and that I can’t keep operating as if it will all go away.

In many ways, this is a relief. I’ve never been good at taking care of myself, and having names for the faces, so to say, means that I feel less guilty about self-care. I’ve been going slower, going to bed earlier, sleeping in, puttering rather than mad rushing, and educating myself about the conditions. (And let me tell you, just keeping my feet and legs warm at all times has made a heap of difference.)

If I have my way, nothing will change here – other than I will endeavour to stop apologising for late posts or days when I don’t post. What will change is how I look at things, how I organise my time – especially my rest – and how I go about my days. Mostly things you won’t see or hear about.

Like I said, though, I want this space to be one in which we have conversations. Conversations that include what’s going on in my life even when it doesn’t focus on zines.

I wish you all the best for your week. I’ll be back with reviews on Thursday and Friday (99% sure that’s going to happen), calls for subs this weekend, and next week I will have a fresh happy mail post for you.

Until then…