Pioneers Press re-releases Quitter: Good Luck Not Dying

Quitter: Good Luck Not Dying is experiencing a re-birth through the publisher and distributor Pioneers Press. Pioneers will also publish my first full length book next year, which I am very excited about.

Pioneers Press’ next published title is up for pre-sale! This book ships October 1st. Pioneers Press is proud to announce our next published title, Quitter: Good Luck Not Dying, a pocket-size book collection of Trace Ramsey’s excellent Quitter zine. What do you do when you realize the whole system is chock full of faulty wiring and institutionalized myths? Do you stay behind that desk (whether metaphorical or literal) and burrow into the security of “living in the first world” or do you throw yourself into the wilds? Sometimes it’s not so black and white, and sometimes “cutting ties” requires a privilege and skill-set we don’t have.

In this anthology of Quitter issues 1-6, we see Ramsey battling fear and freedom, history and an uncertain future. There are no hard and fast answers; nothing set in stone besides the guarantee of chaos and troubled waters ahead. Over the course of 64 pages, Trace struggles through life, winning and failing, looking for a better path but not always finding it.

A deeply honest narrative on struggling to break the binds that hold us down, Quitter: Good Luck Not Dying is a devastating, thrilling read; a beautifully written examination of the frustrations and pitfalls of life in the current age.

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Pioneers Press Distro

I’m really excited to say that Pioneers Press now distributes Quitter #7. They wrote a short review that makes me blush a bit every time I read it:

Quitter #7 is a hard and devastating piece of personal American history. Through abuse and poverty, blood and snow, we see Quitter author Trace Ramsey giving us something true and painful and beautifully-told. A Pioneers Press favorite, we look forward to future work from Ramsey, a great and powerful new voice in American writing. We can’t vouch enough for this. Buy this zine. It’s well worth your time. One of the best zines of the year, hands down.

Pioneers Press is also getting ready to re-release my book Good Luck Not Dying! Please support this amazing distro.

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To the owls

It is unbelievable how I can choose to ignore certain tasks, how I can become so forgetful of the things I used to take so much time to develop. I don’t offer any sort of excuse for not posting to Cricket Bread. I have just been busy with other things. Watching Tennessee become “more” – developing language, durability, expressions of gratitude and the beginnings of an understanding of context – is an amazing process that I document daily.

This kid is FUN:

bronto!

Ten and Momma

owl cape

Owly!

*******

A short review of Quitter #7 on Xerography Debt. You should buy a copy!

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Commerce! Or the release of Quitter #7

I finally finished a new Quitter zine, the first one I have written in Durham. It would be awesome if you wanted a copy – $2.50 plus shipping. Quarter page as always, 40 pages total.

Quitter #7

 





 

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Ten and the pigs

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5th Annual Crop Mob at Piedmont Biofarm

Octobers are coming and going, and I am starting to think that my brain really does seem to calculate time differently as I age (as some research suggests). Crop Mob is not that old, but as crop mob does not have its own mind or body there is no way that the phenomenon itself can have any interest in time or how fast or slowly it moves. That is all theoretical anyway. Folks keep coming together to do work. That is pretty much all we should be concerned about at this point:

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the weight of the future

Tennessee will be six months old next week. That fact is just unbelievably hard to believe, and I say that not in astonishment about time moving quickly or anything like that but rather in astonishment that we are all still alive six months later.

There have been times when I wanted to chuck Ten off the nearest cliff, leave her on the front stoop for the birds to eat or send her off to live with strangers in a strange place. But those thoughts are just momentary, caused by the unraveling of the knots of sanity in the dark hours of night or the squinting light of some dawn we weren’t looking forward to seeing.

Being a parent to an infant is by far the most challenging thing you will ever see me write about. Breaking up with circle acres? Lame and tame in comparison.

There are no short days anymore, no time to relax or even read a book. If I’m not working I’m with Ten or helping with Ten or doing the things that support Ten and support Kristin. If there is a spare minute I’m taking a few pictures or getting around to fermenting some green beans or fetching a ham out of the freezer or rubbing Kristin’s shoulders.

I can see the relationship between myself and Ten starting to take shape, imaging what we will be doing together when she is nine months old, a year old, five years old. I can see her personality foaming and melting and scattering from little fragments of her parents’ own strong wills, desires and work ethic.

Ten has no choice but to become whatever she wants to be, outside of all the cultural baggage and white privilege that she also had no choice about. We can explain to Ten the uselessness of Santa, gender norms and authority while instilling the usefulness of respect, community and DIY. But it will be a constant battle with other parents and society to explain to them that Tennessee is not theirs to mold and shape into a consumer of mediocrity like the rest of us.

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Where have you been?

Oh, the opportunities to write or load/develop photographs or garden or any of the things you come here to read about are few and far between. But as Tennessee gets older there are times when I can sit and think about this blog and how I have certainly neglected it.

Tennessee adds a new twist to everything on Cricket Bread, as the potential for new experiences in old places is elevated. Last Sunday we went back to rural Chatham County for the first time since we left last August. We went to visit our friend Bobby at Okfuskee Farm and Lynn at Full Circle. We “peaked” the trip at Saxapahaw General Store for brunch with Nicole from Transplanting Traditions Community Farm Our friends Maryah and Collier from Homegrown City Farms came along for the ride.

Tenners is not quite into looking at and appreciating other life forms, but we figured it had been a little while since the grown ups had scratched a pig belly.

Lynn’s perennial garden was in full bloom!

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The Farmer Veteran Project

Up until the time Tennessee was born I was working on a project for Vittles Films about farmer Doug Jones. After Tennessee I have not had the time or energy to focus on much besides baby and my job. At some point I will be able to get back to the film, but for now what I can do is help get another Vittles project finished.

The Farmer Veteran Project (working title) is an in-progress documentary film about a combat veteran seeking a new way to serve his country after multiple years fighting in America’s longest wars.

Alex Sutton is a combat veteran with six tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2008 an IED explosion ended his military service and destroyed his legs. Back home in North Carolina, medically discharged and standing on new titanium legs, Alex still possesses a strong desire to serve his country. He believes that he can do this best through farming.

After many years of witnessing death in war zones, Alex now finds himself surrounded by life. He devotes most of his agrarian aspirations to raising heritage birds, a variety of egg-laying breeds facing extinction. Watching chicks hatch calms him, but his mind and body are still deeply damaged.He suffers excruciating physical pain and must take a heavy regimen of medications to abate severe PTSD. With the steadfast care of his wife, Jessie, Alex fights for a life of purpose. Their story is about finding possibility in the face of pain and what happens when soldiers return home.

Please consider supporting the Kickstarter campaign and getting this important and ambitious film made.

 

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Back from the dead – Quitter update

I had planned on doing several things with Quitter this year – get #7 and #8 written, sell 100 books and get #1 through #6 formatted for iTunes. Not much of that has happened. For one thing, it is hard to get myself into the “Quitter voice”, what with aqll its unstructured sentences and heavy reliance on very distant memories. I have plenty of memories stockpiled and noted, but applying them to the voice is more difficult than you might think especially when you consider that we are only talking about a twelve page 1/4 page zine.

Without any further explanation, an excerpt from Quitter #7:

Rain

It is hard for me to describe the smell or sounds of rain. It is one of those scents that leads my brain in all sorts of leaps and skips and stops – cold mornings on the cusp of April, a light rain working to break up soil for new seeds; the quick shuffle of a city street, legs and car horns and black umbrellas singing as a mass under a stinging summer downpour; a tin roof under the pounce of a quick midnight thunderstorm, pinging and ringing and whistling, directionless, soothing. Hitting an asphalt shingle, rain has the swish and dribble of water circling a drain. On a metal garbage can lid, thick droplets are like a tire iron tapping a light post, singing up and down my ear canals, membranes vibrating like a plucked guitar string.

To me, the rain scent has it all: fallen leaves and dog hair, crushed acorns and root beer soda, unadorned armpits and fresh cut mint. There are only certain other smells with this sort of ambiguity to them – the air in a deflating bicycle tire, the blood of newly pulled tooth – and those smells contain their own piece of genetic code within us, the ability to unzip a thought at the cellular level and make our reactions seem innate. If it were not for the ability of these smells to grab us and throw us into memories, we might not stand apart from the others as conscious beings. Stuck with nothing but this exact present and the slowly unfurling future, no past at all to lean on or learn from, we would be burdened with these ten fingers and ten toes, wondering why they are able to do the things that they do.

To the ear, rain is just as complex. A rolling thunderstorm sometimes hurries me back to when I was five or six years old, barely tall enough for most everything, fingers tightening on a window sash, knuckles whitening trying to pull my eyes up to the glass. Fast outlines of trees vibrated against my retinas promptly followed by low rumbles shaking the panes, always mildly enough to leave them intact – both eyes and glass – but ambitious enough to produce a reaction among all the bones of the window. Thunder and lighting were always something I would wake up for and watch until completion, the drifting storm dissolving the time between dreams into a short series of intermissions and transmissions.

Among the other senses, I unfortunately do not frequently get involved in the memories of sight. I indulge them fully when I can, but vision can too easily betray a person. Heat waves floating from a sun baked highway are really nothing tangible, as real as wind but nothing to hold onto or brace against. But those tingling apparitions bring me back to summers working in fields of cabbage, the heat rising from between the open rows, reflecting the misery of the heat of an August mid-day. The fields are open as far as you can see, fence rows barely tucking in the edges of peripheral vision. The stretches of green, watery calories – bound for harvest, for trucks, for bags, for shelves, for plates, for bellies – sit in perfect rows, silent and still except for an occasional drop of hot summer rain running down into the outer wrapper leaves.

Tonight’s rain is one of those hot rains, the type that does nothing to lower the humidity or remove the stickiness from arms and foreheads. “A warm front”, the radio whispers as the wind picks up, a warm front moving into an already miserably warm climate. I currently live in a place where the first showers of a mid-summer front evaporate lazily from dark back roads, rising only occasionally as a vehicle parts the sick misty clouds. The next shower brings more of the same, saturating the air to the point of choking. If you have spent time in the South you know about this air. It is the kind of air that curls the covers of paperback books and makes envelopes stick together.

In this weather there is no choice but to sit six inches from a box fan, crank it to the fastest and highest settings, sit still and wait it out. There is no relief, no counter to this air thick with the grease and the swamp and the drench of another day in the Piedmont. Sweat – condensing on eyebrows, lip tops and knee pits – is not optional; it is a prerequisite for this course in human temperament. How you handle this details how you handle other personal tortures like hemorrhoids, ingrown nails and expired license plates. Our bodies are constant chain reactions of glop, responding to stimuli and adjusting internal temperature to fit the demands of any current surroundings. Cold? Get a blanket. Hot? Take off your pants.

The senses you own are your broken and rusty weapons in the war on distorted memories; how powerful or sharp or loaded with ammunition can they be if the past becomes so hazy that you forget how you wielded them or don’t even care? Everything you see or taste or smell is a trick on your future memory. It will never come back in its full context, its undiluted reason. Was I really there? Did I really say that? It sounds familiar, but…

We are at the mercy of our imperfect biological and chemical functions. We do not know, truly, where we stand in the past. It is somehow vacant and arbitrary and misaligned. It is a distortion no matter how much you think it is the truth. It is only the truth now, really, in this present when all the correct gases fill the lungs, all the correct fluids irrigate the eyes. This is it; the truth as it is in the now, the next, the now, the markings on the rain gauge.

We are not like dogs, relying on all of our senses for identification. We humans need clocks and compasses, measuring tapes and thermometers, bi-focal glasses and star charts. Our instincts and innate habits are no longer there for us to lean on in a pinch. They have been bred out of us by too much time in moving vehicles, too much time spent in inebriated states, too much time contemplating broken hearts.

The heart, it breaks. We feel it, but we know, scientifically, every emotion is simply an expression of the chemical mills of the brain and the guts. But we also know that any out of the ordinary input into those brains and guts can and will be processed into some staggering physical troubles. You get sick, you don’t eat, you don’t sleep, you dwell on the possibilities and wish you could rewind every moment in order to find out what it was that made the error get as far as your current reality. You stumble in from the rain, crumpling clothing here and there between the walls, soaked from the eyelids to the toenails, defeated from it.

Your heart, it breaks.

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