I’m part of a pretty badass local creative community called Spiderweb Salon (started by the talented Courtney Marie and Conor Wallace). Every year they put on various creative showcases for local writers, performance artists, musicians, visual artists, etc. They also host zine-making workshops and various other meet-ups. I’ve loved being part of something that aims to create a community where people can come together without judgement and share what’s near and dear to them. That community has been particularly important to me in times of darkness.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been struggling with depression. There’s been a lot of change going on–some good, some not-so-good–and, like many, I don’t handle change well. I was feeling pent-up and frustrated when Spiderweb’s last zine-making party came along. I went because I needed to write something, needed to finish something, needed to be part of something that wasn’t me in my room fighting my cats for use of the computer.
Spiderweb’s zine-making parties take place in a living room strewn with typewriters and pieces of pre-cut paper. You go in, type up your poem or story or draw your artwork, then leave it alone. I like going in and working with a total of two drafts: one hand-written on paper to make sure it’ll fit onto the page, the other typed. There’s something therapeutic about not revising for days, not workshopping.
The theme of the last Spiderweb zine was The Spell Book. Here’s the piece I came up with: first the scan from the printed zine, then the cleaned-up version below.
how to be happy: a spell for the sorrow-ridden witch
i. eat a tbsp. of cayenne every morning. mix with triple-filtered water (to ensure the ghosts are gone).
ii. repeat your mantra in the shower. the water knows when you are telling the truth, when you believe your straining voice. if you lie, you will feel a surge of burn. let that burn remove the first layer of your lying skin. rinse the dermis. repeat.
iii. eat one eye of roach. pop as you would one of those pills your dr. gave you, the ones you never took. bonus: your apartment will be one roach cleaner.
iv. sneak into your old lovers’ bedrooms. place both your hands on their cheeks and suck any last affection they have for you from their chapped lips. this is how you will love yourself again. get it all, every last whisper.
v. keep your fear and anger inside until your arms are hot to the touch. empty that fever into a cast-iron soup pot. cook the mixture until it is thick as glue. feed it to the barista who sold you shitty coffee in Arkansas.
vi. leave your apartment. walk down sidewalks and step on every crack. when you reach the woods, venture off the path. walk until your thighs burn. but not the burn of water and not the burn of anger. you need to get out more. you need to be a better person. when was the last time you went to the dr.? too long ago or too recently. get lost in these thought, until they make you shake. these thoughts will call the troll to you. offer him your hands, to smell but not to eat. you know him. you recognize his lips. you recognize his gait. you recognize your favorite shoes and favorite dress, the one you wore the last time you were happy. you recognize your chewed-off fingernails. face him head-on. call him every name you have ever called him, every name you have ever called yourself. let him swallow you whole. he will keep you bottled until his troll hands and arms grow hot. then he will let you go.
(witchy disclaimer: these are all terrible ideas. do not engage in troll-summoning w/o the expertise of a professional. do not eat that much cayenne without the expertise of a culinary sorcerer. make sure roaches are free from pesticide. get old lovers’ consent before sneaking in: they may be happy to be rid of old feelings. get help when you need it.)