Don't Say Uh-Oh
Selections: "Nice Dad Things"
(page 84); "Passenger Seat" (page 157)
Recent review (from Zine World): "Little
stories and lists from Maria's life that give you a nice warm
Sample: $1 plus two 32-cent stamps from
2431 Woodward Avenue SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?
I first saw an issue of Factsheet
Five at a bookstore in the spring of 1994. I had never heard
of zines before. The concept charmed me. Was it legal? Could
just anyone do it? I sent off for a few. Some were brilliant,
some were boring, some were perverted, some were so personal
they made me sigh. Most of all, everyone seemed so friendly and
obviously loved to write and connect with other people. I'd been
living at home since graduating from college the year before
and felt lonely and missed all the purpose and sense of audience
I'd had writing at school. Inspired, I wrote some things and
drew some things and glued some things down. Then I made seven
copiesfive for the zine people I'd met, one of my family
and one for a spare. It took about six months before I had my
own Factsheet Five review and beloved zine friends. Now I'm making
200 copies per issue.
Don't Say Uh-Oh has become
known as a "zine of lists" and it's true that I like
categorizing my essays and get inspired by a topic that makes
me remember all kinds of related things I never realized I was
writing so many lists, actually, until that phrase was applied
to me. Sometimes people misinterpret it and send me things like
their top ten favorite songs and want me to print itjust
this 10-title list with no personal information or reasons behind
the selections. How could anyone else care about that? Whenever
something is at least a little bit personal, it can be applied
almost universally. Someone's bound to identify with something.
Where did you get the name?
We were on a car ride with
my dad as kids and we were messin' around. He's a nervous driver,
so he would turn around and remind us, "Don't say 'Uh-oh,'
" because it might mean something was wrong. So we started
saying it all the time, of course. He still hates driving. Every
time he hits the door lock he has a panic attack.
Why publish a zine?
For vanitycheck it out,
I did that! To impress my family and friends, or to expose them
and feel like a Famous Hated Outcast Writer when they read the
article they're in. To make friendsfind people who like
how I write and what I write about and whose writing and personality
I like in return. I've made some great pen pals and long-lasting
friends through my zine. I've met a few personally. It's how
I met my boyfriendthat was probably a hidden motive of
the zine as well, if I'm painfully honest about it. To amuse
myselfwrite little essays about things I think are funny,
or about people I know or rememberI write lots of childhood
stories in my zine. When I look back at past issues I can see
what kinds of things I cared about or thought were hilarious
or amazingly genius at the time.
Do you do any other zines?
I just started a new zine
What can you tell us about the selection you provided for
"The Book of Zines"?
I wrote "Passenger Seat"
after I got mad at someone I had to ride around with a lot. I
decided there are certain people you ride with certain people
not to ride with. I never write anything for anyone else to identify
witheverything is purely personalbut almost every
time, someone will tell me about how much they connected to an
essay or list. "Passenger Seat" is one of the simplest
kinds of listsbrief descriptions under the headings "Good
People to Ride With" and "Bad." You can agree
or disagree, or be inspired to give it some thought yourself.
Perhaps in this manner air conditioning will be abolished. "Good
Dad Things" is more personal. I was writhing with embarrassment
with my dad read it. I didn't want him to , but he got ahold
of a copy and found that page. I guess that's a "tribute"
kind of list, but it also describes the sort of miserable summer
I was having at the time.
There is no research involved
in either of these. The second I have work on writing a zine
article, I lose all interest and enthusiasm. They're rarely premeditated,
either. I have a folder full of titles like, "If My Dad
Ran a Restaurant," but usually I'll have no idea where this
will lead until I sit down and write seven articles in one weekend.
Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Don't be afraid. It's not
against the law. You can really do it. You'll surprise yourself.
Also, don't worry about being too anythingtoo personal,
too angry, too depressingdon't limit yourself in any way.
An audience will come to you. Don't try to please it. Before
I printed my first really personal essay, I thought, no one will
like this. They just want me to be funny. I'll feel embarrassed.
But somehow, I didn't. I felt relieved and kind of heady. And
people loved it. I got way more response from that article than
from anything else I've written. No one is tying you to a theme
except yourself, and if that's how you're comfortable, that's
find too. Just write what you want and there will be people who
like it. It may take awhile, but it'll work. And you'll find
stuff you never thought you'd read, either, or that takes your
breath away. I'm evil and only like about 3 percent of the zines
people send me to trade, but the good ones are very very worth
What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
1) I love writing for my
zine and being completely absorbed and having a blast. Maybe
chuckling at a newly uncovered memory or something someone said.
And reading it afterwards, so proud because it turned out better
than I thought it would. This is extremely rare but it's so worth
it when it happens. Weeks later I may wonder why I thought it
was so great, but at the time I'm swept away.
2) Reading something by a
bona fide genius and better yet, the genius likes my zine too
and we become good friends and write long brilliant letters to
3) The satisfaction of having
another issue all done, finally.
In my other life, I'm an:Fan
Employee at a privately owned
science and technology library. Is that the other life you meant?
I don't have any dazzling secrets.
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