Posts By: Cynthia Marts

A Review of Unf*ck Your Intimacy

by Rachel Dutton

Way back when I was first figuring out my own queerness, I had this wide-eyed idea that once I was out, relationships would just magically get a lot easier. “If I’m dating a woman, I’ll never have trouble telling her how I feel!”

Needless to say, that is not quite true. As I quickly figured out, talking to anyone I was interested in could be really difficult. It took my best friend practically shaking me to realize that the nice girl who talked to me in the pop-tart isle of the grocery store, who even gave me her number, was definitely hitting on me.

UnF*ck Your Intimacy book

To be fair, relationships did get a lot easier in some respects. I can’t even begin to say how incredible it is to date women and be free from gendered roles and expectations in a relationship.

All the while, I am still far from perfect in the dating department. For instance, last year, I dated a girl for much longer than I should have because we were both too busy being polite to break up.

Now, all of this is kind of embarrassing. It’s easy to get trapped in my own head and think that I’m the only one in the world with these kinds of problems. Because everyone else’s relationships look so effortless, right?

That’s why I leapt at the opportunity to review Dr. Faith’s new book Unfuck Your Intimacy. If you’ve read any of her previous work—and chances are if you’re here reading this, you have—you know that Dr. Faith is like a best friend who wants nothing but the best for you, but isn’t afraid to call you on your bullshit. I can’t tell you the amount of times I had to stop reading for a minute to laugh and think, “wow, that is absolutely me.”

Dr. Faith’s humor takes a topic as, well, intimate as sex and relationships and makes it accessible and approachable, even if history hasn’t been the kindest to you.

My favorite chapter was definitely “How to Date Like a Grown-Up” and Dr Faith’s advice on “when to terminate” a relationship that’s not working. It was so helpful to reorient myself on when it’s okay to break up.

It sounds so simple, but I feel like I can finally give myself permission to leave a relationship that isn’t working for me, just because it isn’t working or we aren’t a great fit.

This book was also written with queer people specifically in mind and has advice for you no matter where you are in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

But don’t let me fool you into thinking this is a book just on dating. It is definitely also a book to help you get the sex you want to be having (or not having, depending on who you are).

Both Unf*ck Your Intimacy and its workbook
It even has a workbook!

It’s filled with ways to explore your sexuality, reconnect with your body, and unlearn the toxic messages society is constantly feeding us about our bodies and our sexuality.

Reclaim your body! Reclaim your intimacy! If I can do it, you can too!


You can check out Unfuck Your Intimacy here, or check out more of Dr. Faiths books and zines here.

Her next book, Unf*ck Your Anger, is now live on kickstarter. Check it out!

Getting Books to the People

My Microcosm Adventure

by Briana Ybanez
intern, Spring 2019

I grew up in a quiet suburb in Southern California, and as someone who is a biracial, Mexican American I didn’t feel like I’d ever have access to literary spaces.

When I was twenty-two I changed my major from business to English. A year later I made an even bigger life change and moved to Portland, which in many aspects is considered a literary mecca. It seems like everyone here reads- encouraged by an endless downpour of rain nine months out of the year. Being in such close proximity to best selling authors and aspiring writers trying to make it in the industry helped lift a creative roadblock that I was experiencing in California. Doubt and fear, all those general symptoms that come with pursuing your dreams, melted away. I began exploring avenues of opportunity available to writers that I wasn’t aware of before.

Part of lifting that mental roadblock that was getting in the way of my success was re-thinking my own relationship with books and reading; rethinking what I was told to regard as a great work of literature and what I actually felt was great. Up until college I was told that the best pieces of literature were written by white men or white women. Period. That was it. But then I was exposed to books that were equally as powerful, if not more so, and were written by Chicana writers, like Lorna D. Cervantes, or Chilean-American Isabel Allende. It’s tragic that this revelation didn’t happen sooner. It took nearly twenty years for me discover these authors, but when I did I finally began to recognize pieces of myself in literature, and that was key to piecing together my own identity — I was finally proud of my roots, not ashamed.

St Johns Bridge photographed by Briana Y
St. John’s Bridge, as photographed by Briana

I can say with confidence that I ended up at Microcosm because a seed had been planted during this time period, a desire to figure out how to succeed in spaces that weren’t originally designed for someone like me. I was a big fan of their books and zines after discovering them at Portland’s Book Festival. I thought they were cool and edgy but also geared towards empowering audiences that you typically don’t see represented in publishing: LGBTQ, people of color, activists, people with mental disabilities, and even those who struggle with mental health.

During my interview for the internship position, I was asked why I wanted to join a publishing company. “What are you looking for?” they asked. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I only knew that reading and writing had been a lifelong passion of mine. I was always the weird kid with my nose in a book, looking for the answers to my curiosities, or waiting until the moment when I could run home from school and find out what happened to whatever character I was currently reading about. Did I actually know anything about how those books that I loved so much were published? Definitely not.

When I learned that I got the internship, I was ecstatic. Reading their titles alone was a breath of fresh air and it is what ultimately brought me to Microcosm, because I knew that inclusivity for anyone that isn’t middle class, or white, is a huge problem in book publishing.

An infamous survey by Lee and Low Books, The Diversity Baseline Survey, indicates that the industry is 79% white, and only 4% identify as Mexican, Hispanic, or Latino. A 2016 Publisher’s Weekly article highlights that the homogeneity of the industry is not entirely due to publishing companies’ hiring practices. Although the industry giants have made claims to diversify their workforce, census data shows that the lack of diversity in publishing is also a symptom of a lack of access to higher education for people of color. Recent census data shows that 73% of Americans with college degrees are white. So a lack of authors, editors, and publishers that aren’t white can be traced to a much larger issue rooted outside of the industry itself.

Why does this matter and what does this have to do with Microcosm? It matters when you consider the immense power that the book publishing industry holds. Its impact on civilization is so far reaching, it’s scope is beyond measure. It’s an industry that is responsible for cultural production and intellectual movements, a vehicle of influence for individual minds and entire societies. Clearly, it’s time that the industry take notice of a wider audience, one that would like to see itself reflected in what they read. Microcosm intends to do just that and it shows in their business practices. They recently broke most of their ties with Amazon because their monopoly on the industry has been harmful for authors and publishers. And they not only offer their books and zines for underrepresented groups, but they offer them on a sliding scale price, to reach people that are disenfranchised by a lack of money.

After struggling with the idea that this industry may not accept me, you can imagine my excitement after taking this position.  I knew this was where I wanted to be and where I could explore my place in the industry. But I was still worried that the environment would be cut throat and I’d crumble under the pressure. Now, nearly two months into my internship, I haven’t crumbled and the environment isn’t cut throat — quite the opposite in fact. Interns are encouraged to ask questions and grow from our time spent here. Once, the interns were invited in on a meeting where they reviewed the company’s past year performance. I was surprised by how business-focused the whole meeting was, and it was also eye opening because as an avid reader, it’s easy to forget that the book you’re holding in your hands didn’t end up there because of the author alone.

Microcosm has taught me that behind every book is an entire community of people. In this environment, it’s hard to ignore the work that goes in to getting books to the people. On a daily basis there’s constant contact with customers, from mailing catalogs, to making phone calls, to talking face to face with people who stop into the store.

This little community at Microcosm has revealed to me the importance of the day-to-day efforts required to publish and sell books in an ethical way. A small, independent company that stands on a firm foundation of integrity, its ultimate goal is to use their resources and means to carry a message that empowers their audience, to preserve and transmit knowledge, one book (or zine) at a time.

Adventures in Bike-sitting

It’s our year of adventure, and we’re thinking about how everyday activities are really adventures in disguise.
Which activity do we forget about the most?
Bicycling.

We probably forget about it because we’ve written about it a lot.
Like, a lot, a lot.
But most of us here have gone through the excited, nervous fear of finding a bike, the thrill of taking it out onto the streets for a ride, the spidey-sense tingle when something threatens to go bad, and eventually, having to fix it when it’s broken.

On the way home from work recently, a car parked directly underneath a “no parking” sign in front of a bus stop. A tow truck was sent to retrieve it…during rush hour. The parked car blocking the bus lane meant that the bus had to use one of the lanes for cars getting off the freeway. The street was one way so the tow truck was in the middle of an intersection, blocking the light rail. As the traffic light changed, no traffic could move. Even on a “good” day cars in this intersection move at a miserable crawl and run the lights to prevent ten more minutes of compounding traffic delays.
I imagined how infuriating it would to be trapped inside one of those cars sitting in traffic as the actions of one inconsiderate person inconvenienced hundreds of commuters.
With wide eyes, I took a mental picture of everything that was happening in front of me, picked up my bike onto the sidewalk and proceeded through the intersection as dozens of cars sat unable to move. It felt like the one perfect moment that made my entire life make sense.

— Joe

When you have a bicycle, it’s kind of like pet sitting.
Sure, you can just leave it in a corner and ignore its needs, but it’s not going to do you any favors. You can turn the adventure intensity up to ten and ride it till the tires are bald, the chain is covered in gunk, and the brakes squeal, the ride getting a little tougher every time something goes further un-repaired.
It gets harder to pedal, to change gears, to stop, to keep control. Who knows when you’ll have to carry it home- mystery can be adventurous too.
You can do just the basics, sure: pump up the tires when you can tell they’re low, change the brakes when they’re bare…

But if you’re not actually taking care of it, it won’t stay healthy. Eventually, you’re going to lose that bike to the unaddressed damage.

What do you do instead? Get shit done! Like any responsibility, having a bike requires some work and upkeep.
What has many a microcosmonaut done when approached with this issue?

Enter…

THE CHAINBREAKER BIKE BOOK


An Illustrated Manual of Radical Bicycle Maintenance, Culture, & History
by Shelley Lynn Jackson and Ethan Clark

Photo of a hand holding the new edition of Chainbreaker Bike Book with bookshelves in the background

This updated and expanded edition is fresh off the presses, and did I mention it’s shiny? I’m kind of obsessed with that part, especially when contrasted with the very simple, kind of dark original.

Picture of me drenched and smiling

My all time favorite biking adventure happened in Chicago. June humidity suffocated me as I was riding home on the Chicago Lakefront Trail. I was anticipating my boyfriend’s (now fiance) parents would be there waiting. It was a nervous summer already but that day was particularly nerve-wracking. I was biking at break neck speed to slay a dragon (sorry future mother in law) and all of sudden the sky opened up and I was drenched in super sunshine showers. Truly soaked through- not even a hoodie to block me from the rain, I just had to revel in it. I showed up to the family affair sopping but washed clean of nerves- biked my way right to where I needed to be I guess.

— Sidnee

I was just in Boulder, visiting an old pal. Judy is a bike-lover (we both have the same folding Dahon for urban commuting) and her partner is too. She’s got a new street cruiser, a gorgeous mountain bike, six bikes total, and Boulder has trails, trails, trails. We were only there 3 days and we ended up never getting out to ride. Dammit! Story of my life.

— Kristine

The last time I rode a bike purely for the fun of it I was in middle school. Me and a handful of friends would bike through the woods into neighboring towns and explore empty trailers or creek tunnels. It was a great way to escape for a while.

Trista

COOL HELPFUL THINGS IN THIS BOOK INCLUDE:

  • Types of bikes. It’s easy to mistake a cruiser for a fixie, a dirt bike for a street bike. And most of the time, the differences only matter when you’re looking to ride it. Then it’s a good idea to know what kind of bike you have, and how it works.
  • Changing brakes. One of the most seemingly simple tasks, that requires just a bit more paying attention to than we often expect.

I can not describe to you how useful these [Chainbreaker] pages were when my partner’s cheap Target bike’s brakes just straight up did not work, and neither of us had any kind of clue how to replace them. And the internet was not the best at clarifying the different types of brakes and the different parts involved. This book, on the other hand, actually did the trick.

— Cyn
  • The differences in tire tubes and how to replace them. Changing tires or wheels in any way has been one of the most obnoxious basic tasks I’ve ever had to do with a bike (ugh especially in the back). Most of the particularly obnoxious bike tasks are the more complex ones, or the long tedious ones like truing (also helpfully included!)), but many a finger has suffered the pains involved with taking a wheel off it’s axle, fighting with to get the rubber wheel off to get to the tubing inside, then figuring out how to get it out, the new one in, and put it all back together again  — aagh!

For the second half of last year while we were planning our bookstore expansion, every bike commute or errand, no matter how mundane, was actually a foraging adventure. Eyes sharp for discarded furniture or boards, I’d stop and assess anything by the side of the road to see what it was made of and what dimensions it had. If it was what we needed, I’d figure out how to strap it onto my bike, or come back with a trailer, load it up (sometimes with the help of bemused bystanders), and haul it slowly and shakily home for Joe to disassemble and turn into custom shelving for our open warehouse. Every time I walk past these shelves I grin.

Elly
  • Adding shit to your bike. Do you want to haul heavy loads, or attach buckets to your bike for easy grocery shopping? Want custom handlebars or DIY accessories? Between the hardware information throughout Chainbreaker and the zine reprints in the back with even more info on add-ons, attachments, and DIY instructions, it’s got you covered.
  • SO MUCH MORE, like…
    • Dealing with shops, inclusivity, and safety
    • Converting to or from one-speeds
    • Bearing systems
    • Locking your bike up
    • Safety checks
    • and beyond.

Have you used Chainbreaker to fix something frustrating on your bicycle?
What bike adventures are you looking forward to this year?

A St. John’s Adventure with Portland Stair Walks

Exploring the Best of St. John’s: Laura O. Foster’s Stair Walk in Pictures
by Briana Ybanez

Laura O. Foster’s “Portland Stair Walks” begins with a trip to St. John’s, one of Portland’s most famous and photographed bridges, and for good reason, it’s one of the most scenic places in all of Portland. I decided to try this stair walk tour after a long, stressful day, and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable, calming days I’ve had all winter.

It was freezing cold when I walked down to the boat ramp at Cathedral Park, located right along the water of the Willamette river, under St. John’s Bridge. I was not prepared, only a light sweater to protect myself from Portland’s unusually cold March weather. I stood on the floating dock beneath the bridge, as instructed by Foster, and wondered to myself why I hadn’t made my way out here before, it was a serene moment, realizing that I was the only one standing out there so close to river’s small waves. Initially the sky was grey and cloudy overhead, “Ok, this isn’t too bad,” I thought, “If only it wasn’t so damn cold.” I started to walk back to the shore, wondering how I’d finish the walk under these conditions. But suddenly the cold didn’t seem to matter anymore, as I stood on the shore of the river, I watched as the mute, greyness that surrounded me dissipated, and a soft, warm light began to slowly wash over the bridges concrete anchorages. As soon as I began to wonder if I’d have the chance to witness one of Portland’s rare, yet spectacular, winter sunsets, it happened. The sky opened up to a bright pink, purple, and deep blue. The light posts that line the edge of the bridge in succession lit up as well. Here was the result:

I was so blown away by the sunset on the shore of St. Johns, I had to go back the next day to complete the tour. This was one of my favorite parts of the tour, walking up the famous “wedding stairs” and admiring the symmetry of the arches underneath the bridge.

The highlight of this tour is walking across the bridge, a .7 mile walk with Forest Park as a beautiful backdrop. I could feel the enormity of the structure, in contrast to the more unpolished and worn down neighborhood it stands in. Although it was cold and my shoes were damp from the rain, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for such a beautiful piece of architecture. As Laura O. Foster writes, “This 3-mile, one-way stair walk rates high on covering intriguing ground, with a few unpleasant bits that make the good stuff all the sweeter.” Although this city was designed to get you outside, depending on the season, and how busy you are,  it can be rare to have the opportunity to contemplate the nooks and crannies that Portland has to offer. “Portland Stair Walks” takes you away from the four walls of your home or work place, and into the unexpected: quirky wall murals and hidden graffiti, the boats resting on the Willamette river, or the white, snow capped treeline against the famous pale green beams of the St. John’s bridge.


This post was written (and amazingly photographed) by Briana Ybanez. Follow her work online, and learn more about the bookPortland Stair Walks on our website.

We Review Things… Walking with Ramona

This spring we got the lovely 2nd edition of Laura O. Foster’s charming Portland guide, Walking with Ramona: Exploring Beverly Cleary’s Portland. This is one of our favorites, and if you’ve been curious about the book but haven’t gotten around to checking it out, spring intern Kellie is here with a review.

~ Walking with Ramona Review ~
By Kellie Robinson

There’s nothing quite like stepping into the shoes of your favorite author, and Portland guide Laura O. Foster helps her readers do just that in Walking with Ramona.

Back in the good ol’ days, when I was a wee lass, there was one author whose books I always returned to time and time again: Beverly Cleary. You may know her well as the vivid personality behind the Ramona Quimby series, but I knew her as the author of my favorite book, The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
Strangely, although I perused that little title so many times I could practically quote it word-for-word, I never even touched the “Ramona” chronicles….

A white book cover with rain drops and a child jumping over a puddle.

Enter, many years later, Walking with Ramona: Exploring Beverly Cleary’s Portland by Laura O. Foster, an insightful look into Ms. Cleary’s childhood days living in Portland, Oregon.

It proffers a playful hand, inviting you to explore where Cleary (and her fictional alter ego, Ramona) spent her youthful days: elm-lined streets that make tunnels with their long branches; seasoned brick-and-mortar schools of days gone by; a local library or two, one of Cleary’s favorite stops; and Grant Park, where the yells and laughter of neighborhood children can still be heard.

Short though this book may be, dull it is not. Foster leads you behind-the-curtain of Ms. Cleary’s life, one which had its fair share of hardships and adventures, encouraging readers to traverse the historic landscape of Portland and its many hidden gems.

It’s a tour book, taking you step-by-step throughout the city and its old neighborhoods, walking where Ramona and friends walked, resting where Cleary rested, and even welcoming you to stop by one or two of Beverly’s childhood homes.

Provided you’re ever in Portland and want to take the tour, it’s recommended that you set aside a whole day for it: you’re gonna need (and want) it!

This book has not only inspired me to want to check out the Ramona Quimby series, but it also motivated me to write a very belated fan letter to Ms. Cleary (at age 102, I hope the letter gets to her!).

Whether you’ve grown up with rascally Ramona, or are just now getting into Beverly Cleary’s books, I’d encourage you to pick up this charming title.


This post was written by Spring intern Kellie Robinson. Check back later this month for all the details on Kellie’s full tour of NE Portland using the book.
Follow Kellie’s work online, check out the book here, and learn more about interning at Microcosm in the FAQ.

A New Microcosmonaut Enters…

Say Hello to Lydia Rogue!

Lydia Rogue was an intern back in Spring 2018 and, a year later, recently accepted a position as Marketing Associate, helping us keep all these books safe and managed!
You might recognize Lydia as the guest editor of Taking the Lane #15: True Trans Bike Rebel, and the upcoming Bikes in Space #6: The Great Trans-Galactic Bike Ride.
A few weeks in now, I asked Lydia a few questions about what it’s been like to return.

A black and white rat sniffs a small book with a blue van and punk cat on a bicycle on a pink background
Lydia’s pet, Queek, sniffs out True Trans Bike Rebel

How are you enjoying your first week as staff in the office? How does it feel?

It feels great! I’m so thrilled to be back in the office. I’ve been working a variety of jobs since my internship – not necessarily bad or even unfulfilling jobs, just ones that I didn’t necessarily care about. Now I’m doing something I love and something that I’ve been wanting to do for many years. 

Has anything changed since you left?

So much!
When I was an intern, we were all crammed up in the upstairs office, with room for just a couple more people downstairs. Now that the back area is open to us, we’ve got room to grow – and not everyone is trying to fit into a tiny room.
(Also, we have a microwave now. I’m so stoked!)

What do you wish more people knew about… you? Microcosm? publishing?

I’m completely obsessed with RWBY – and yes, I’m that Lydia Rogue, if you were wondering. I also love table top RPG and video games and drink more tea than is probably healthy. 

One thing about Microcosm that’s taken some re-adjusting to is remembering that a company that publishes books like Unfuck Your Brain doesn’t really care if you’re blasting the explicit version of a song on your work computer!

Last day at Lydia’s last job — on to new adventures!

As far as publishing goes, it’s that, No, I can’t help you get your manuscript published. No joke, had 3 of my coworkers ask within about 24 hours of announcing my departure from my last job!

What are some of your hopes and goals for your time and work here?

I’m hoping to expand my skills and knowledge of the publishing industry, as well as get back into my writing groove. Right now, I’m coming off a long run of jobs that just weren’t working for me – not necessarily bad jobs, just ones that weren’t for me – and so being back doing the thing I love most is completing one of my biggest goals right off. 

I’m hoping in the long term to help people find their voices and help promote them, particularly people who often don’t have a voice in the publishing world, or are only allowed to write in a specific niche. 

marketing associate Lydia Rogue with their pet rat, Queek
Lydia & Queek

Tell us about what inspires you these days.

Is it cheesy to say my girlfriend? 

Real talk, though, right now I’m mostly inspired by the people around me. I love doing collaborative storytelling and being able to bounce ideas off of other people. I’ve also been reading a lot of poetry collections lately, which has been wonderful.

What was the last book that brought on some serious feels?

Oh, jeez. I’ve been reading so much nonfiction lately, I can’t really remember the last fiction book I read…
Probably American War which… I’m processing. As a queer white person from the south, it elicited a strong reaction from me, but I’m still not sure what that reaction was, or how I feel about it in the end. It’s a good book, just elicits complicated emotions. 

the princess saves herself in this one and the witch doesn’t burn in this one also were very powerful and gave me some serious feels.

Where can people find you online?

On Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Last, what does your bookshelf look like?

A wooden bookshelf covered in books and home items, with a small rat on one shelf
Lydia’s bookshelf at home, with bonus rat!

The Year of Adventures

Instead of New Year’s resolutions (ugh), at Microcosm we like to have loose themes to organize our year’s goals and activities around. And we’ve decided that 2019 is our year of adventure!

For us, it’s our first year of being independently distributed. This has already proven to be a serious adventure — not so much a leap into the unknown as a voyage back to our homeland, which has changed considerably since we last visited.
There’s a lot to remember and a lot of new skills to learn. And like on any good adventure, the way we can navigate it safely and have fun is to work together, believe in ourselves, and stay flexible.

But What Is Adventure

Here’s a little from some of our staff about what adventure means to us (in general and in terms of this transition)…

Elly: When Joe and I met 10 years ago, he asked me what my needs in a relationship are, and top of my list was “adventure.” 

Elly rides a bike through Portland with a trailer full of book boxes and event stuff.

He reminds me of this every time I’m pedaling a cargo bike overloaded with books in the rain, or setting off in a cab to pick up event supplies that didn’t make it to our destination, or pulling late nights to make sure our database transition goes smoothly.

And while I don’t require the constant adrenaline to get through my day that I did at 30, I do love that this work is full of unexpected revelations, surprising new areas of growth, and always a problem to solve and a challenge to learn from.


Sidnee: “Adventure” is the word I use when I’m afraid of what’s gonna happen next; but being afraid isn’t going to help me. To me it’s a prettier word for “holy fuck, here we go!” But I’m starting to believe that adventure is in our DNA. Like growing teeth or developing chronic aches. A will for the pursuit of adventure will appear in each of us at some point, programmed to persist and emerge.

cartoon character jumps over an explosion and a vampire dragon
visual representation of Sid’s feels about 2019

The thing about adventure is that uncertainty is a necessary ingredient. I’m ripe with uncertainty. The other thing about adventure is that it forces you to grow. After ten short months, I’m bursting at the seams with growth too.

Joining the Microcosm team is my first post-school adventure. It’s like going from Chutes and Ladders to cross country parkour some days. Other days it’s like going from only ever wading in a swampy pond to sailing on a calm ocean during a brilliant sunset.

What adventures do you look forward to in 2019?

Continuing to survive adult life.


Trista: For me “adventure” means to seek change either from one state of being to another, or in the pursuit of something more meaningful like a change to one’s character. Often this will take the form of a journey, literally or metaphorically, where in the end a person will have experienced something new or experienced something old in a new way.
In my own life the adventures I’ve enjoyed the most are the ones that have altered the way I view the world, the people in it, or the way I view myself.

What adventures do you look forward to in 2019?
Something more gentle, like camping. Or getting to see more of my favorite bands. I got to do a little bit of both earlier in 2018 and I think I should do it more often.


Cyn: Adventure can feel like a loaded word. A big red X on a theoretical treasure map we never get to see. Some expensive, aspirational vision quest into new territory. Ugh. In my reality, my social anxiety makes it so my partner has to push me out of the door to get me to go to any social event, even when I know the people attending or it’s with a close friend. Why isn’t that ordeal considered adventure?

I guess I’d say that adventure is anything that pushes you outside of your boundaries in a way that is unexpected, daring, and propels you forward in some way. For me it has meant everything from the most daring trips to the simplest new get-togethers, to anxiety-ridden standard experiences or exciting, bizarre new friends. The experiences that push at our boundaries and fears and expectations are the ones that give us the space to grow, but those don’t have to be big, giant experiences of exploration, success, or conquest.

I don’t know about you, but just getting outside and meeting someone new is just as much of an adventure as traveling to a new place — and really, aren’t you doing that anyway, emotionally, by putting yourself out there, both literally and psychologically?
With that in mind, I’d like to think that “adventure” for our (and the future) generation will be less about conquest, personal excitement and glory, and more about exciting changes, growth, and building new experiences and communities for each other.

What adventures do you look forward to in 2019?
I’ve started “bullet journaling” and am working on making both productivity and self care balanced priorities in my life. I suppose I look forward to figuring that shit out and clearing out the mess that is my life right now for my future.
Am I adult now?


Joe: Ten years ago, Elly told me she wanted adventure. I don’t think she realized what I was capable of providing in this department. Cars caught on fire unintentionally and it feels like we spent many years fixing the Millennium Falcon during combat.

What adventures do you look forward to in 2019?
Getting WorkingLit [our secret work project] into a form that other publishers can use it, trips to new regional book trade shows, and continuing to grow as an independent publisher. It seems like we ship more boxes every single day around here.



Gifts for Rebels

This week our staff recommends their favorites for the holiday gift-giving season. Some things overlap, because sometimes we’re just all really fucking excited about a project or book, and it’s on everyone’s minds and shopping lists. So here are our picks this year, for spreading rebellion, and fun, because it’s our new favorite activity. Stay strong, keep reading, keep resisting.
-The Microcosmonauts

(more…)

End of Watch — Hanna’s Last Day

Each month we share a little bit about our selves, our staff, and our volunteers. Earlier this Fall, on her last day, intern Hanna B. wrote on her last day about her time here for this month’s issue. What she learned, loved, and hated.
A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to be accepted as a summer intern at Microcosm Publishing. I’m from California, which meant that I would be spending the summer moving to a brand new city completely separate from my family, friends, and basically everything I know. I won’t say that this wasn’t a little scary; it was. But the opportunity was far too great to pass up. So I moved up the coast and settled myself into the City of Roses.
Moving away from California was hard, it meant being on my own for the first time in my life. But Microcosm gave me a home. The experience has been one I am incredibly thankful for; I learned more than I could ever have imagined. Microcosm truly attempts to make the world a better place.

They want to bring books that diversify people’s understanding of the world, that help people’s voices be heard, that improve communities, to their readers. They are always looking for new experiences, new voices, new books, things that hadn’t been done before. I don’t have much experience within the corporate world, but it was touching to see how this company truly focused on things that mattered. I felt this in every single aspect of the company, from the books I saw being edited and published, to their outreach with the community, to every single detail.

And the company cares; about its readers, about its employees, even about the lowly interns. They wanted my experience to be positive; they wanted me to feel that my contribution was valid, that I wasn’t just doing busy work that no one else could be bothered to do. There was a purpose for everything I worked on. I got a hands-on learning experience that I would never have expected normally. I was able to work on and help edit actual books, and do tasks that I would never have dreamed of with normal intern duties.

I want to thank all of my bosses and co-workers for making me feel so safe and welcome – when I struggled or was confused they were there to support and teach me. I was able to learn with some great teachers, and I truly feel that I have grown and learned a lot over this summer. I know I am incredibly lucky in this aspect, many people simply do internships for the small line on their resume, they send meaningless emails for a couple of months, and then leave with no true impact being made. I hope that I have been able to leave my footprint in this company, and cannot express my thanks and gratitude enough to everyone working here for their support, the work they helped me accomplish, and the world-view they allowed me to see.

This internship, most importantly, succeeded in doing what all internships aim to do: showing me what it was truly like working in this industry, and showing me that it truly was what I wanted to do.

 


 

If you want to know more about volunteering or internships at microcosm, check out the FAQ and send us a message.

Please Let Me Help, Out Today!

Last month Jordan took on the giggle-filled task of reading and reviewing our latest hilarious book, available in a bookstore near you this month, Please Let Me Help. This unique book of letters may be too wild to be explained, but Jordan did a pretty good job. 

Book cover showing a leaking pipe fixed with band-aids

Starting my internship here only two weeks ago, I immediately started hearing perplexing comments on our new book Please Let Me Help. One coworker enthusiastically encouraging me to read it, referencing a multitude of tiny, hand-drawn vampires. From another, an elusive comment of, “It’s weird…” And a lot of conversations about who the heck our target market is.

So I committed a couple hours to sitting down and reading through it.

I’m not sure where to start.

But I’m a feelings person, and  Please Let Me Help: “Helpful” Letters to The World’s Most Wonderful Brands. makes me feel snarky, slightly rebellious, and like I’m “in” on inside joke with Zach Sternwalker at the companies’ expense.

Reading Please Let Me Help put me in that beautifully drifting and nonsensical mindset one has when musing on something absolutely ridiculous that also makes an element of sense. Like a modern epistolary Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where Port-O-Potties all have flowers and Christian Slater stars as Princess Diana. A place where the brief and formal rejections of Zach’s ludicrous suggestions become that which is laughable. Go fuck yourself, Taco Bell legal department. You obviously don’t get humor.

A strange and humorous letter to Michael Jordan

And that is the real value in the book, I think. Perhaps it was because I read it straight-through in one sitting, but Zach Sternwalker sucks you into this realm of nonsense, until you stand there with him looking across at the rest of the world with altered eyes. And we see its prude stuffiness. Please Let Me Help defamiliarizes us from our world’s business and consumer norms, showing its puffed-up silliness in an ironic, counter-silly way.

But the book doesn’t have to be all this. It stands on its own as just a gosh-darned funny read. It has that unadulterated silliness that reminds me of being deliriously tired, laughing over ridiculous ideas with an equally loopy friend. Who cares if none of it is realistic? For a moment, that which is realistic means nothing. And scheming up Dunkin’ Donuts’ marketing plan for toast is the most logical thing one can do. Like a much-needed breath of fresh air.

So I’d recommend Please Let Me Help to anyone who could use a break from the no-nonsense, logical professional environment we’ve become so accustomed to. Because you know what’s more fun than that? A teeny vampire in a pear suit. Or imagining how to pitch a post-workout human refrigerator to General Electric.

 


Thank you to Jordan Ellis, our Fall intern, for writing up this review. Get a copy of the book for yourself at Microcosm.Pub