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New Faces in the New Year

The new year brings a new batch of friends around the office and shop. What kind of people volunteer at a publishing house? Well this season’s interns come from all over the country, with a love of books, writing, and stories that brought them, like so many of us, to this cozy green shop.


What do you like to be called? How would you describe yourself?

Neil (he/him): I’m pretty quiet, creative, and curious. I think of myself as an observant little rabbit. I’m very passionate about spreading kindness and learning self love. I spend most of my time drawing or knitting!

Kellie (she/her): Creative, quixotic, and adventurous.

Briana (she/her): Easy going, flexible, creative, fun, and adventurous.

Noah

Noah (they/them): I am a queer, trans, disabled whirlwind with a passion for books, writing, and medicine.

Chris (she/her): Quiet and friendly.
[Chris has been with us since the fall season, you may have seen her book review of This is Your Brain on Depression last month.]


What do you like to spend your time doing?

Neil: Knitting is my very favorite activity. It’s like a challenging puzzle where you can choose colorful materials to make something warm and cozy and once you’re done you feel super accomplished!

Chris’s dog, Cat

Kellie: Drawing, writing, reading, making other people happy

Briana: Either reading a good book or taking pictures around the city. Most of my photography has revolved around activism in Portland.

Noah: I love to write, read, and sometimes draw in my free time. I also dabble in photography and crocheting, although I haven’t done the latter in a while now.

Chris: Coloring! And spending time with my dog, Catawba.


Where are you from? What do you miss/not miss most?

Neil: I go to school in Vermont; I really miss my friends and living in the beautiful mountains, but I’m fine without the heaps of snow.

Kellie: California. I miss my family, the thriving entertainment industry, and the sun.

Briana: I’m from sunny Southern California. I miss my family, the beach, constant 70 degree weather, and my friends. I do not miss the smoggy air and LA traffic.

Chris

Noah: I grew up in Ohio, then went to UW in Seattle for four years before moving to Vancouver. I miss the extreme seasons in Ohio (and the decent air conditioning!).

Chris: I am from North Carolina. I miss my family the most.


What’s your favorite thing about where you live now?

Neil: My roommate brings home donuts every night and my other roommate has a very sweet and cuddly cat named Deidre.

Kellie: Being closer to my boyfriend and the beautiful environment.

Briana: Besides Portland’s blend of urban living with easy access to nature, I’ve always been drawn to the fact that it’s one of the most literary cities in the country. I’ve spent many hours perusing the shelves of Powell’s.

Noah: I live in Vancouver, which is nice because it’s near friends and my husband’s family. That and the parking isn’t as difficult as it is in Portland.


What brings you to Microcosm?

Neil: My goal is to create and publish my own comic books! I knew that Microcosm could teach me a lot about the industry and I was drawn to the topics/goals that Microcosm stands by!

Noah

Kellie: A thirst for knowledge in the area of publishing.

Briana: I was drawn to Microcosm after seeing their selection of books at Portland’s Book Festival. I was impressed by the array of zines and books that were geared towards empowering its readers through self care, activism, and building healthy relationships.

Noah: Books! More seriously, I wanted to test the waters of the publishing industry, and this seemed like a good place to do so while also having my identities respected and recognized.


What do you want to get out of your time here, now that you’ve seen the basics of what we do?

Neil: I’m hoping to strengthen my skills with group work, problem solving and time management! I’ve never had an office job before and I can see I have a lot to learn, which is exciting!

Kellie: Information about the back end of publishing. I wish for my own book to be published in the future and so am interested in the ins and outs of this business.

Briana: I’d like to learn more about editing, and the relationship between author and publisher.

Noah: I just want to learn as much as possible, really.


What’s your favorite or least favorite thing about Microcosm so far?

Neil: My favorite thing is how kind and welcoming everyone is! I felt right at home on my first day. My least favorite thing is that the office is sometimes cold, but I’ve learned to bundle up a bit.

Kellie: I really like the atmosphere and friendly employees.

Briana: Microcosm has so many empowering and informative books, it’s amazing to be part of a publishing company with strong integrity and hard workers.

Noah: I’m editing a zine on accessibility in queer spaces right now, and that is RIGHT up my alley, so I’m really enjoying that kind of work. I also really like the atmosphere of the open warehouse.


Curveball: What is your favorite thing to watch/read/enjoy in the world right now?

Neil: Bob’s Burgers.

Kellie: Animated films; uplifting and atmospheric music. I’ve been really into the movie Smallfoot, for some reason. Does that count?

Briana: Now that it’s winter, I’m spending a lot more time binge watching Netflix, I just finished “You,” a pretty terrifying show from the perspective of a stalker. I’m also reading “Borderlands,”  by Gloria Anzaldua.

Noah: The Adventure Zone, The Good Place… so many more.

Chris: The Good Place. (many of us in the office would like to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th this one)


Where can people find you online?

Neil: Instagram: @spicy_s0up

Briana: Instagram: @brianaybanez_

Noah: Twitter: @noahyouknow

Chris: Instagram! @alexandria.vale


For information about volunteering or interning at Microcosm, check out our FAQ.

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.



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.

A Day in the Life, last day edition

This piece was written by our wonderful intern Kedi on her last day at Microcosm. We asked what she’d enjoyed about her time at Microcosm, as well as what she didn’t. Her response is quite charming and passionate, like her. Find Kedi and follow her work on twitter.


Hanging out at PRIDE

My internship with Microcosm Publishing began on June 4th earlier this summer, and my final day, August 10th, has officially caught up with me. That’s 10 weeks for those of you who weren’t counting, or, in internship measurements, 249.07 hours. And yes, I am the type of person to measure hours in hundredths of a decimal.

There are a lot of things I’d say I’ve learned over the course of my internship, though I’m not sure I could exactly say what those things are. I think this might be the easiest to express: there is a difference between liking something and thinking it’s a fit. There are certainly lovely and well-written zines and books out there in the world waiting to be published that will never fit with Microcosm. There is a humor and an energy in Microcosm that is missing in a lot of things. I’ve also learned that there are times where someone can be slow and take their time to make sure a project is finished with the utmost care, but also times where smaller details must be let go in the wake of an oncoming due date.

I’ve learned that the people working at Microcosm enjoy working here, and that they each have a level of dedication that keeps them all pushing forward on their projects, whether they come to the office or not. Most days, of the fourteen people who work here, I’ve seen four or five. Sometimes there were as little as two people in the office, besides the interns. Following that, I’m certain I’ve learned almost nothing of any of them. I’m positive there’s at least three people who work here that I’ve never actually met. But even of the ones I have met, the only last names I know are Joe’s and Elly’s. That being said, I’ve learned that the people working at Microcosm are kind and patient and fun. No one has gotten frustrated with me for asking too many questions (or at least no one who showed it), no one has acted as though I am “just” an intern, and not only do they ask for my ideas and my opinions, they listen. They follow through and dig deeper to see what could work. They also work to keep me included. What I have learned of the people who worked here, I learned from the times they invited me to have lunch with them, or the from game night the company hosted. I think my favorite memory of Microcosm will be when my manager Sidnee and I left the office in the middle of the day to meet Cyn, the publicity director, at a snow cone truck on the next block.

And though that will be my favorite memory, it will not be my proudest. I am proud and honored by the trust placed in me by the team of Microcosm during my internship. That same urging which made me mark the last .07 of my hours here at Microcosm helped me make a name for myself within the office. In my midterm meeting, my manager likened me to a duck. On the surface I am often quite passive and serene, but under the water I work quite diligently, with great care for where I’m heading. She meant that I’m a bit of a slow worker, but I pore over each word, each mark of punctuation, each spacing and pattern in writing until every mark of ink on the page is exactly as it should be.

I have edited three books in these past 249.07 hours, and each opportunity was more difficult and more demanding than the last. The first, a book in Dr. Faith’s This Is Your Brain series, was a simple (simple for people like me who read about comma rules for fun—have I ever told you about the Oxford Comma?) typo search. The second was a read through of Joe Biel’s (the owner and founder of Microcosm) own book on publishing. It was my responsibility to make sure all titles, subtitles, headers and subheaders were appropriately capitalized, as well as looking for typos. The amount of time I spent researching capitalization rules to complete this task would make a math major cry, but it paid off. This research helped me to impress Joe and Elly, so that they trusted me with editing on the master document directly. I shared this with my mom (so she would be proud of me too, of course) and she was proud enough to share it with my grandmothers. The last project will stick with me even through the ending of my internship—literally, because I’m still working on it! For my last project they have trusted me with a developmental edit, and the work I have put in for the past three weeks has been frustrating, agonizingly slow, often bewildering, and completely satisfying. I enjoy the slogging through of information. I feel almost like an archeologist making a discovery with the ways I’m helping to pull a book out of the mess of ideas. (Is that too silly a comparison? Don’t tell anyone I said that.)

Kedi and the spring/summer ’18 intern crew.

 

There are things about this internship I won’t miss. I won’t miss the hour drive between the office and my home. I won’t miss the publicity projects I am absolutely terrible at (Sorry, Cyn). I won’t miss that the very nice woman working in the NICU still hasn’t called me back so we can finally give them their free books—and after we talked three times, no less!

But I will miss eating lunch out on the patio of the office. I will miss the friendly atmosphere. I will miss texting Sidnee to let me in, only for Ben to open the door. I will miss gif conversations with my manager, and I will miss the other interns, and the frustrating, bewildering, satisfying work I have done here. I think I’ll even miss the mailing.

Regards,

Kedi

 


Are you interested in volunteering or interning for credit at Microcosm? Let us know with this form and be a part of the punk rock publishing revolution!

A Day in the Life of… Intern Edition

Every few months a batch of brave young creatives joins our crew for a while to learn, explore, and help out around the office. Some volunteer for fun, experience, out of boredom, or for school credit, and every year we get more and more requests for “how can I help!” and “do you take interns?”.
So I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to what being a volunteer here is actually like, from the volunteers themselves. It’s been a while since I was one myself, so I asked a few others to talk about their average day.
Check out the juicy details below.

(more…)

Where We Work: The Story of Our Building

This post was researched and written with Microcosm intern Lydia Rogue.

microcosm's green storefront today
As Microcosm kicks off its 23rd year, we’re taking a look at our history, starting with the building we now occupy with our office and bookstore. When we purchased the building in late 2013, it had already been around for sixty years! We painted over its dull beige exterior with bright green and purple paint that only upset one neighbor enough to leave some alternative sample paint chips taped to our door.

The location was always zoned as a small office space, even when it was originally built in 1953. The original owners were H.C. Plummer & Co, a real estate agency who sold houses all over north Portland.

But it was in 1957 that the most famous occupant moved in – the NAACP moved their credit union here from the house of the organization’s leaders, Otto and Verdell Rutherford; by 1964, the NAACP also had their chapter headquarters here and was the place you went to register to vote.

three people holding up a calligraphed sign

The 14th Amendment graced the walls of the NAACP headquarters. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society

Portland has a long history of racism, and during the 1950s and 1960s, the Albina district (where we call home), was one of the few places Black people were allowed to live. Most banks would deny them home loans – and real estate organizations deemed it ‘unethical’ to sell them a home in a ‘white’ neighborhood.

The NAACP advocated strongly for the community and against school segregation and racist real estate practices. Under the Rutherford’s leadership in 1953, the historic Oregon Public Accommodations Act was passed, making housing discrimination illegal, among a wide range of other changes.

An undated photo taken at the NAACP headquarters – at the far right is Otto Rutherford, next to his daughter Charlotte. Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society.

While most of N Williams has been gentrified over the years, buildings torn down and turned into parking lots and trendy shops, this building remains, nestled between historical markers that proudly document African American history all up and down the road.

The NAACP remained in this building until 1983, when they moved to NE Portland.

This Oregonian news article that ran on August 2, 1983.

The credit union, however, remained for several more years, until the building changed hands yet again in 1990. This time, CH2A & Associates took up residency in the building – a consulting firm that specialized in affirmative action, labor relations, conflict resolution, personnel management, and counseling.

Harold C. Williams Sr. co-founded the firm and was its president at the time of his death in 2012. He had been a community leader and on the board of directors for Portland Community College. His son (Harold C. Williams Jr.), following in his father’s footsteps, currently has an active political career.

Now, we hold down the fort in this building, trying not to freeze in the winter or melt in the summer, and trying every day to live up to the activists who worked here before us.

Rad folks doing rad shit

We’ve recently started the kickstarter project for the next issue of Taking the Lane: True Trans Rebel, and it’s got us thinking about all the cool stuff Microcosmonauts are working on right now beyond the books. From quilting to writing, conscious coffee to queer romance, and more.

Here’s some of the cool things we’re doing right now…

 

Jeri Cain Rossi has made our sales numbers blossom in her time here. This spring, she has a collab art show at xoBruno, featuring her quilting formed into amazing Japanese style boro bags.
Check it out until the end of the month and learn more at www.xobruno.com/blog/first-friday-with-jeri-cain-rossi

 


Cyn Marts, our publicity director who hooks folx up with our books and runs our giveaways, just launched a feminist wellness subscription box aimed at cannabis-enthusiasts. With accessories, tools, munchies, and featuring Microcosm books The Stoner Babes Coloring Book and The Feminist Weed Farmer. Learn more and join the babes at manic-pixie-stoner-babes.cratejoy.com or follower her on instagram @manicpixiestonerbabe.


 

Writer Cat Caperello has contributed to several EBP titles with creative flair, including Pedal Zombies. This month’s they’re running a kickstarter to bring their dream business to life: coffee with a conscious.
Check out this rad caffeine biz, Woke Coffee, at www.kickstarter.com/projects/wokecoffee/bring-the-woke-coffee-espresso-cart-to-north-portl

 


 

Administrative Assistant Trista Vercher has a lot of passion projects in the pipeline. From queer romance to mental health, their art is as rad as they are. Check out these sketches!

Follow them on twitter @Vercher_Ink.

 


 

 

Continuing his autism advocacy work, Joe Biel is working to build up more zines, resources, and websites for folks on the spectrum and the people that love and care for them.
You can learn more about upcoming zines like Proud to Be Retarded and Your Neurodiverse Friend and their calls for submissions at .

 


 

Jamae Sabangan, current intern and all around awesome, is working on a couple urban fantasy novels called Shift and Rain, both set in PDX and each following a twenty-something protagonist who’s racing against the sands of time. She also runs a website that shares ways to find joy and personal success in creativity. The site’s most recent ongoing project features multi-passionates and how they integrate their multi-layered interests into daily living.

Details on these, along with her other creative work, including a poetry series and fairy tale retellings, can be found at HintofJam.com.

 


 

Lydia Rogue, currently interning and guest-editing True Trans Bike Rebel, spends their time focused on creative writing!
“My job? Writing. Internship? Writing. School? Writing. Volunteer work? Writing. Relaxation? Writing.”
They’ve been focusing on their poetry, queer fiction, and writing about writing, as well as reviews of resources and solid advice on how to get your write on even when you’re broke af. You can catch their fiction and writing advice on their Patreon.

 


Kelsey Williams, who just finished up with our intern program, spends her time working on her book, started back in 2013. It’s a young adult fantasy book that features tortured souls and a world teetering between life and death, and another she turns to when having writer’s block for the other, which is contemporary fiction with tidbits of poetry and a bittersweet romance. When not writing and editing books, she’s writing on her blog– anything from book and film reviews to veganism topics to travel adventures. You can find her blog at http://www.emourly.com

 


 

And did we mention True Trans Rebels? This latest issue of Taking the Lane (#15) is the passion project of Elly Blue, guest edited by current intern Lydia Rogue and featuring Trista Vercher’s rad art of River the genderfluid Kitty.
The project is live at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ellyblue/true-trans-bike-rebel-taking-the-lane-15 and you can check out the video below.


Are you doing something awesome? Let us know!

Say hello to our rides

We love Bike Month — another month-long chance to give books away and show off some of our favorite stuff. From Adonia Lugo’s amazing new book, Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, to the many bikes of Portland, to our beloved classics, Bikenomics, Everyday Bicycling, and SO MANY MORE.
And today, we want to share something a little different, so let us introduce… our bikes.


Trista: Purple Raine   purple bike

This is #2 in my Purple Raine series, and we are still in the puppy love stage of our relationship; we haven’t had any crashes yet. Raine #1 and I had quite intimate knowledge of the bushes on the side roads of Memphis, TN…


Cyn: Red Dwarf

This star and sticker-covered bike was gifted to the office by a friend, and I fell in love right away. It was a good 20 pounds lighter than my bulky steel thriftshop bike (simply called Red, who sleeps in our yard while waiting for a fix-up), had only a third of the problems (frame not bent! wheels that didn’t need truing! brakes that didn’t stick!), and it even featured my favorite shape (stars!).


Elly: My bike is a Kona Lava Dome mountain bike that I converted into a longtail Xtracycle almost a decade ago. It’s my pickup truck. I’ve carried friends, pets, boxes of books, groceries, plants, furniture, lumber, you name it. We have a six-foot bamboo trailer that I can hook up to it for even more capacity, like for hauling all the stuff we’re going to sell at an event.
My bike is my muse, it’s constantly reminding me of the real potential to do whatever I can dream.


Lydia: My bike was a gift from my grandmother. I’d originally bought it to train to commute to work on it, but by the time the weather was decent enough to ride (I was in Bellingham, WA at the time), I was about to move to Portland and far enough away from work it wouldn’t be feasible. After moving in with my mechanically-inclined girlfriend, she gave it a tune-up and I’ll definitely be riding it more once summer officially arrives. (I’m definitely a fair weather biker and I’m okay with that.)


Joe: Dainty

I used to work at the Bike Project in Bloomington, IN. A guy I know came in one day to build a touring bike. We found a brown frame with no parts on it that was completely rusted over. I put about ten hours into finding components that would fit and building it up. About the time that I finished building it, he stopped showing up. I was the same height as him. So I waited two more weeks and adopted it as my own. I had set it up just how I wanted with two road tires, a coaster brake, and a single speed. But into my mid 30s, my health was such that it was too hard to swing my leg over the saddle. I put upright bars on it and a basket for my service dog. I loved it. But it was cobbled out of literal garbage. One day Elly called me to say that my dream bike with a step-through frame and bright orange paint job was on clearance down the street. $300 later, I can tell you that riding a bike with matching parts is much smoother and functional – and I don’t mind having seven speeds either.

 


And don’t forget!

We’ve giving away bike books this month! Ten copies of Bikequity and a grand prize of Adonia Lugo’s upcoming book Bicycle/Race!

Check out the giveaway below, and enter soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 Years and Counting — Where Were You?

This month Microcosm celebrates its 22nd anniversary — can you believe we’ve been growing small worlds for over two decades??
Yeah, us either. 22 years is a long time, so out of curiosity, I asked some of our staff what they were up to when Microcosm was just beginning.
Some of us were young rebels or struggling punks; some were bookworm romantics; some were babies!
Check it out all the juicy personal details below, and tweet us @microcosmmm to tell us where you were 22 years ago.

Joe in Joshua Tree

Joe

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
At shows + parties in Cleveland. Young, drunk, angry, anxious rocker.
What was your life like? What were you up to?
It was chaotic and unpredictable. I was riding my bike with a gallon of homemade alcohol on the handlebars to the next adventure.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
I’m no longer angry, anxious, or drunk but I’m still young and I’ve achieved the specificity of my vision more than I ever dreamed possible and shared it with the world.

Elly

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
I was 17, a high school dropout with serious wanderlust and a lot of idealism.
I was making zines in my bedroom, reading books I found out about in the Whole Earth Catalog, working, and preparing to run away and hike the Appalachian Trail later that year.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
In the past decade, a lot of what’s motivated me is wanting to make the sort of books and resources that saved me when I was a teen. Young me had some pretty intense values and I’ll always try to live up to them.

Baby Kayla

Kayla

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
I was in a suburb east of Seattle, being a baby.
Eating, crying, pooping, laughing, etc.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
I would like to think I’ve become a much more capable, interesting person, but not nearly as many people tell me I’m cute. So, you know, you win some, you lose some.

Trista

Young Trista’s diary comics

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?

I was 5 and growing up in the south. I was mostly a ball of hair and daydreams.
What was your life like? What were you up to?

Young Trista’s diary comics

I think I was in kindergarten or first grade then so I had school which was really cool cuz the place I went to we sign language and french was part of the curriculum (sadly I didn’t retain much of it over the years). Other than school stuff though I was pretty much in my head all the time, drawing and reading. I didn’t really need supervision because I could occupy myself for hours with some pencil and paper. TV was pretty new for us, AC was more of a priority, so when we did have it I was watching the best of the 90s cartoons haha.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?

I’ve moved a lot, been through college, came out as trans, was homeless for a short period, met some wonderful people, struggled with mental health, and now I get to work around books all the time so life is pretty good at the moment.

Kristine

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
Literally: Oakland/San Francisco. I was a book-loving nerd, like I am now.
What was your life like? What were you up to?
Lots of art openings and poetry slams and substance abuse. Here’s a pretty good scene report. I didn’t have sex with Daphne Gottlieb, but I kissed Michelle Tea, and hung out with Bucky Sinister all the time.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
Better: I don’t do drugs anymore. We had a fun kid so I hang out with my family more often.
Same: The books are still terrific. I will read anything by Beth Lisick or Bucky (check out his new Black Hole novel) or Michelle, and I heartily recommend the Kapow! poetry/comics anthology that just came out.
Worse: I don’t get to see as much live music/art shows/poetry/performance art as I used to, but am working to improve that. It’s hard to bring a kid into a nightclub, so thank heavens for Gilman St.

Nathan

Young Nathan

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you/your life like?
 1996 was a turbulent time for me personally and a lot like Joe’s big decision to start his own company, I also made a huge decision which monumentally altered the course of the rest of my life. I had graduated from high school in 1994 and started college, but then dropped out to work full time and then after a year I quit after an argument with my boss. I was dealing with a lot of inner turmoil due to some childhood trauma between my father and I which manifested itself in lots of rudderless wanderings between work and school, and arguments at home were frequent, despite my trying to work things out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. It was also around this time my mother, who had previously been my ally, made a comment to me about not being able to get a job due to drug use. In a moment of desperation I went to my previous boss at my former job for advice and mentoring, she suggested joining the military. Based on that one recommendation and my mother’s concern, I went to a recruiter station in defiance to show her I could pass a drug test, but the strictest drug test of any employer. Unfortunately, even after I joined, they weren’t ready for me to start basic training, so I had to continue to live at home with my parents for an additional three months before leaving for basic training in September of 1996. Military life was rough because as a result of running away from an abusive father I was suddenly surrounded by what felt like a hundred abusive adult men all yelling and screaming at us privates to try harder and push ourselves further. It was the most micromanaged I’d ever been. It felt like I had traded one male adult over stepping their bounds and attempting to control every aspect of my life to a hundred adult males attempting to run me into the ground. It was a very important time for me as I attempted to reconcile with the hard truth that I had dropped out of school, quit my job and ran away from home because I had serious issues with authority figures as a result of that childhood trauma, and it was going to continue to follow me no matter where I went or what I was doing, so if I wanted to truly be free of my fear of those in authority I was going to need to find a way to surround myself by people who directly opposed authority in all its forms whether it be in government, the workplace or personal relationships I could finally see power and the abuse of that power to be the true source of all my pain and suffering.

As a result, and after several years of soul searching, I finally found Microcosm Publishing and a place where my pacifist, punk rock ideals could be encouraged. Every day I reminded of this by a poster I walk past each and every day that gives me hope in humanity and the role I can play in bringing it to a better place, “i will not rule and also ruled i will not be.”


Cyn

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
I was an 8 year old bookworm and an early Romantic, feeling quite displaced in North Carolina after moving from south Florida not long before.
I was obsessed with Sailor Moon, and magic, and fantasy books, horses and unicorns, and feminist pop/rock music like the Spice Girls and Alanis Morissette. I helped take care of my brother, a toddler at the time, and spent a lot of time at my family’s workplaces. I had a Sega Genesis and played Sonic and Ecco and played Doom on our cobbled-together PC. I spent lots of time imagining or in books, my mom reading the Wizard of Oz series to me, my dad, The Hobbit.
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
I’ve moved across the country — one coast to the other — which has changed virtually everything. I traveled a lot before now, which I actually blame on a wanderlust my mother instilled in me with sudden roadtrips and activities throughout my childhood. (Having driven across the country three times now, that wanderlust has mellowed out quite a bit.)
I didn’t know it at the time, but I grew up poor, and my parents spent years working to build a better, more stable life for us all, so by the time poverty was something I could understand, we weren’t dealing as much with it anymore. As an adult I’ve re-entered this cycle, but every year things get a little bit better financially, and mentally for that matter. Growing up I also had a lot of basic, unfixable health problems — anxiety, dismenorrea, insomnia, ulcers, etc — that I learned to put up with, and eventually learned to manage more functionally with cannabis, which (growing up in an opinionated Puerto Rican family that said NO to drugs) I never thought I’d do, and things continue to be on an up-swing. These days I feel fully independent and capable, and supported by my workplace, which I love. 22 years ago, this is not the life I would have expected, but I dig it 🙂

Sidnee

Looks like someone took away Little Sid’s book…

Where were you 22 years ago? What were you like?
I was hanging out in my teen mom’s womb, waiting to come disrupt her life in the best way.
What was your life like? What were you up to?
Life was chill, just developing limbs and organs!
How have things changed for the better and/or worst?
Things have just changed, period. I think I’m due for a rebirth soon. I’m really glad I was born, and I’m really glad Microcosm joined me in the endeavor of existence.

 


 

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A Whole New Year of Rampant Media Consumption

HEY!

What have YOU been reading/doing/watching/playing lately?

 

Here’s our traditional round-up of the media we’re rampantly consuming.

Cyn

Honestly, I spend a lot of time watching TV. More than I should. Mostly we’re rewatching cartoon favorites (Adventure Time, Bee & Puppycat, Rick & Morty, Gravity Falls) with my sister and catching up on FlashLegionBlack-ish, and One Day at a Time. I also try to catch up on Outlander and Black Mirror when I get the tv to myself.

In games, for a while everyone took turns playing CupHead and laughed at their endless frustration with it, but then my sister got sick and we just rewatched every episode of The Good Place for a week straight while she got better.

Listening a lot to Chromatics and Desire while working, plus a lot of soundtrack music (curse you, Clint Mansell, and your tone-setting movie music genius).

Finished a fantastically creepy YA audiobook called And The Trees Crept In, by Dawn Kurtagich, during my commute ride and immediately hunted down the author’s other audiobook, The Dead Housefrom the library. I am in love with it as well, and am thoroughly charmed by the author’s moody, atmospheric tales that keep me guessing.

Also been loving on Chin Music Press’s beautiful book on japanese cat mythology.

Kristine

A bed full of books

Kristine & Family’s December reading haul

 

I thought December was a pretty shit month of fires and stress, but our family actually read A LOT. Hooray!

Our movie list:
1. Lady Bird
2. My Friend Dahmer
3. Edward Scissorhands
4. Florida Project
5. Get Out
6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

We saw Lady Bird and Get Out twice, so there was definitely some meat for discussion on those bones. And I would add The Square. Lots of people in my cinema club HATED it, which made it even sweeter.

TV: Stranger Things 2, Better ThingsThe Dark (German series), Mindhunters, and we rewatched favorite cartoons Gravity Falls and Rick & Morty. I want to catch up on Black Mirror too, but the damn kid stays up too late. Or her parents go to bed too early….

Plus the art collective FriendsWithYou and their exhibit at the Oakland Museum was the best mind-altering experience of 2017 that did not involve drugs.

Wow, 2017 was way less sucky if I view it ONLY in terms of great movies and books!

 

Elly

Joe and I have been watching Parks & Rec after work every day and laughing SO much. So needed.

“GOODBYE, LITTLE SEBASTIAN!”
He does BEING A LITTLE HORSE better than ANYBODY!!!”

In media I plan to consume this month: OMSI is playing Studio Ghibli movies all month for 7 bucks.

Trista

I’ve been rereading The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward and havent been watching anything lately, but I’m really looking forward to bingeing The End Of The Fucking World on Netflix.

 

Kayla

I currently have no streaming services and just a DVD player, so I’ve been buying cheap TV box sets and am currently enjoying Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time. I’ve also recently discovered the joy of taking myself to the movies, so I’m more up to date on current films than usual: Lady Bird (loved it as much as every other millennial woman), The Disaster Artist (such great things can come out of badly made things), The Last Jedi (always game for Star Wars), and The Shape of Water (liked it but didn’t love it like I wanted too—a little too attached to Pan’s Labyrinth still, I guess).

 I almost always listen to my entire music collection on shuffle, and lately shuffle has given me extra Nine Inch Nails, Sia, and Kanye West.

I just finished reading The Mothers by Brit Bennett, a year behind everyone else because I’m the cheap kind of bookworm who waits for paperbacks, and I’m so glad I got to start 2018 with such a well-written, hook-in-the-gut book. About to move on to The Child in Time by Ian McEwan, which I expect to also love since I like the author so much I named my new cat after him (well, in all honestly, partially after him, partially after Ewan McGregor).

 

Troy

Music: I’ve been listening to Marvin Gaye, Elton John’s “Honky Chateau”, and a newer artist called Ariel Pink.

Books: I’m reading Oxford’s A Very Short Introduction to Black Holes and a biography of Antonin Artaud (the creator of Theatre of Cruelty) called Poet Without Words by Naomi Greene. I like to read a lot of different stuff at a time so I don’t get bogged down by one topic, so I’ve also been reading a collection of Langston Hughes’s poems.

Television: The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross and finally finishing Stranger Things.

Film: I haven’t had a chance to go to a movie theater recently, but I really want to see Loving Vincent. Every frame of the animation was painted in his style and the whole film required over 100 oil painters.

Theatre: I recently watched a production of Eugene Ionesco’s Victims of Duty at PSU and it blew my mind. The script encompassed absurd theatre so well and the cast and set refused to allow the incongruous language to strip away meaning and urgency. There’s so much unnecessary information available for consumption, it often feels like a chore gathering the necessary media. I wish I kept up more with politics and daily news, but it usually just makes me tired or upset and I lose motivation to dig further into the things I really want to know. Instead, I would rather sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the soothing rhythms of Langston Hughes.

“Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,”
~ From “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes

 

Ahi

My media consumption has been pretty wordy lately: I finally read forgotten fantasy masterpiece Lud in the Mist and totally loved it. This Census Taker by China Mieville is perfect autumn reading as well. I’ve also been reading more nonfiction, most notably stuff from Alan Watts and Slavoj Žižek.

I also started playing The Witcher 2 and it’s pretty great even if I’m seven years late to the party.

Musically, I can never get enough of Alt-J or Of Monsters and Men, and I keep listening to Foo Fighters: Live at Wembley and fervently wishing I had arranged my life better so I could have been at that concert.

 

 


Your turn!

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