Dear Diary / Dear Stranger / Dear Void

Remember those “Dear America” books in middle school? They were fictional diaries from the point of view of young characters living through historical events. Those books cycled through the school library like nobody’s business, and I was certainly one of the girls who pawed through them many times, further fraying the ribbon bookmark that came glued into the spine. 

Then came blogs. I was still pretty young during the heyday of blogging– probably still in 7th grade or so. So many of my internet peers had blogs which I would check almost daily, and then of course I made my own. I started it in January of 2009 and posted there consistently until the end of 2013, and sporadically for a while after that. I had a lot of blogs that I read and followed in those years, both the longer-form kind and (of course) a bunch on Tumblr. 

I guess stuff started switching to less talk, more image. Or maybe I just dropped out of the zeitgeist for a while. (Not sure I’ve ever dropped back in… I still feel like I’m out of the loop on the internet in general.) I was, however, OBSESSED with the app YikYak, which was basically an anonymous message board of posts/comments from people within your area. In YikYak’s glory days, everything on there reminded me of accidentally finding someone’s to-do list on the ground: mundane, random, ephemeral. Just a couple of sentences tossed into the void. I was always on YikYak, mostly reading, although I posted a few times. I liked the sense of connection it gave me to the strangers in a however-many-miles-radius around me. Like we were all talking to each other through cans on strings or walkie-talkies or bathroom graffiti. 

What I’m trying to say is that I love people. I love when people share their lives, in whatever fragments they feel like sharing. I love seeing others’ art and writing, especially when it’s curated in the way of a scrapbook or journal, rather than an instagram page. 

Which is why I love perzines. They’re kind of a mix of everything above (and more), while carving out a category all their own. I like stand-alone perzines a lot, but I especially love perzine series (for example, a couple of my favorites are No Gods No Mattress, Reckless Chants, and Motor City Kitty ).

So of course, I wanted to make my own.

This summer, I started my own perzine series, Meadow Machine. I’ve made stand-alone, one-topic perzines before, but making Meadow Machine has been quite a different process and experience– one that I really enjoy. I write fragments that become paragraphs that become pages. I cut and collage, glue and paint, draw and stamp, print and photocopy. I hand-configure layouts and re-arrange until I’m satisfied. Meadow Machine #1 was made on the floor of the room Patrick and I share as an office, and Meadow Machine #2 was assembled in a chaotic nest that sprawled across our entire dining room table and chairs.

behold the glorious paper ephemera/art supply explosion in the background

I decided on the name “Meadow Machine” because I liked the combination of nature and industry. It reminded me of the urban/suburban nature that is my daily reality. I also liked, though, that it implied that there was a machine that made meadows. I imagine an enormous, strange-looking plow cutting across concrete, wildflowers exploding in its wake.

There’s a lot of nature to be found within the pages of Meadow Machine, because duh, I’m a nature hoe. But it’s also fun to be able to write about whatever else is on my mind, and to create pages of my collage-y art.

Basically, I’m just really proud of how they turned out. And excited to have started an ongoing series!

And now… Dear strangers, dear void: read it if you will. ❤

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