I finally got around to uploading issue 3 of my perzine, Unfair Maiden. The theme of Unfair Maiden #3 is Homecoming, and in it I talk a lot about places I want to live, feelings of home, the grief of moving, that sort of thing. If you want to read it, you can get a physical copy from my store or download a digital copy it from itch.io!
This is a section I wrote for it but ended up not including in the zine. I cut it because something about the mood didn’t feel right. It’s a weird mix of cheeky and tragic that felt sort of… distanced. The number one thing that matters to me in my zine writing is that it feels honest and genuine. And the way this section turned out, it felt like I was holding it at arm’s length. Maybe the content was too much for me to deal with, maybe I needed to devote more time and page space to really grappling with the topic, I dunno, but in the end I decided to just take it out.
I do think there’s something here, though. I really like the concept, and I think the content might resonate with some people. And to be honest, I just want to preserve this in some way, even if it didn’t end up in my zine. So without further ado, I present this deleted scene from Unfair Maiden #3:
Rating Every Room I’ve Ever Had
Room 1: Third floor of a Victorian building. Bay window, rocking chair, and presumably a crib somewhere. 10/10: I don’t remember it, but in pictures it looks awesome as hell.
Room 2: I know chronologically that we lived somewhere else before Room 3, but that’s all I know. 3/10: Forgettable.
Room 3: Chunky wooden bunk bed with my sibling on the bottom bunk. Yellow walls with a rainbow painted on one. Computer on which we played Freddi Fish, Blue’s Clues, and Sim City 2000 (no internet or anything). 7/10: Great unless my sibling left toys and clothes all over and I’d get flack for not cleaning “my” room.
Room 4: Graduated to my own bedroom when mom moved her office to the basement. Two walls were neon green, the other two navy blue. Corkboard tiles on the wall. Loft bed with a book light my dad attached to the wall. Cat loved it. Later I had a drawing table. 6/10: Not bad, but too close to mom and dad’s room so I could hear them argue.
Room 5: Slept in the basement living room for a summer. Comfy foam IKEA couch for a bed. 1/10: Discovered my mom had been keeping her stash of drugs under that couch while I was sleeping on it.
Room 6: Garage (we’d long stopped using it for cars). Dad moved my loft bed down here but I slept on an old futon underneath. Our TV/video game setup was down there too. 9/10: Cold, but I could cuddle with my dog and I was left alone. Slept with the TV on.
Room 7: An old spare room that was my dad’s office at one point until we found black mold. It was removed but dad never moved his stuff back, so I took it. It was 7’x9’ with popcorn ceilings I scraped off by hand. Painted it lavender, then realized I hate lavender and repainted it olive green. Brought in the IKEA couch to sleep on and a little TV. Also had built-in bookshelves all along one wall. 9/10: A cozy nook, generally quiet and I did what I wanted with it. Bookshelves were rad.
Room 8: Mom kicked me out when I was 16 and I lived with my aunt for a month. Big house with a decent little guest room. 4/10: No staying power. Last time I visited I had the biggest panic attack of my life in that room.
Room 9: Moved cross-country to live with my grandma for the summer. Slept in her closet under the stairs. It even had more built-in shelves Grandma cleared off for me to use. 7/10: Love cozy nooks like this, but not practical with my dog.
Room 10: Got a job and moved into a studio apartment. The setup was probably illegal; the place was a shed built for use as an AirBnb. It was small and uncomfortable but I loved being on my own. 7/10: Good, but too expensive and everything felt so fragile.
Room 11: Moved back into the parents’ garage. My mom gave my room to a creepy old man so I took the garage. Loft bed had been swapped for my sibling’s old bed. 1/10: All the magic of the garage was gone when mom forced me to pay rent (at age 17).
Room 12: Moved to an apartment in Denver with two other people. Bedroom was mediocre, just a white room with wood floors and mattresses. I slept on the bottom bunk of my roommate’s bed. Never put up any decor. 6/10: Apartment was fine, bedroom was meh.
Room 13: Got kicked out of the Denver place when my dad died because he was the cosigner. Moved to a pretty nice apartment on a busy street with my now-partner. We mostly slept in the living room because you could hear our neighbors arguing from our bedroom. 7/10: At least we had trees out our window.
Room 14: Moved in with Grandma again to start college. This time we blocked off her living room with a sheet over the doorway for “my room”. Slept on the pullout instead of the lumpy daybed. 6/10: Got uncomfortable for the month my partner joined us before he and I could move.
Room 15: Grandma’s house was a duplex, and when we were going to move she asked us to stay to help take care of her (not in those words, she was much too proud for that). The first bedroom since my teen years I truly got to decorate. 8/10: Building wasn’t perfect, but it was a good situation.
Room 16: My first bedroom in Massachusetts. Our bed was on the floor and it had all my books, desk, and art supplies. I put a ton of stuff on the walls and spent probably $200 on Command Strips. 2/10: Noise sucked, neighbors sucked, one inconvenient power outlet and bad lighting.
Room 17: My current bedroom. Kinda small so some books and art supplies are in the hall. Finally got a decent(ish) bedframe. We got a nice big shag rug at IKEA that looks like moss for under my desk. Even though it’s small I’m proud of how we arranged everything. Except that now all of my work and art needs to be done on 2 square feet. ?/10: I don’t know how to rate this one. I don’t think it’s possible for me to form attachments rooms anymore when I know I’m gonna move.
[Editor’s note: there’s a room 18 now! And it’s pretty fucking fantastic!]
Image from W. W. Denslow’s Illustrations for the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/w-w-denslow-illustrations-wonderful-wizard-of-oz-1900