A Book that Changed My Life - 9 muses photo
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Since I was three years old, I have been creating alternate worlds or drawing from my own bleak youthful existence, drawing images or writing words on paper, stapling them together, and creating books. I was inspired by so many books growing up, and longed to create their worlds in my own my entire life.

However, it was when I discovered the pages of Aaron Elliot’s long running zine, Cometbus, that I first found a voice that sounded so much like my own; it was a bit frightening. It was like finally accepting a part of myself that even I myself was desperately trying to understand. Growing up in punk, I have always struggled to be understood and connected to my peers, even those involved in this subculture. I am often a floater, open-minded when it comes to music or politics, which makes it hard for people to truly understand me; I cannot fit in some sort of box created by society. I also feel like I have always had a free spirit inside of me, defining my freedom by inability to sit still, to travel either physically or in my thoughts. To know people is to truly listen and ask questions, to love someone with all the fibers of my being. I am a true Aquarius. Cometbus created a home for me to truly connect to, unjudged for the first time in my life. It improved my writing because I stopped trying to write the great American novel and just got back to basics. My words are my own voice in life and, because of that, my writing has become more raw, sometimes darkly funny, and real.

As I have grown into an adult still involved in punk, there were two years I strongly related to this one darkly depressing issue of Cometbus entitled, ‘The Spirit of St. Louis.” I think a lot of people go through the motions involved in this subculture where you want to truly focus on growing up and you reject the idea of any community that may hold you back from that. It was truly dumb and I was not being honest with myself. But, it was an important step I had to take because, now, in my 30’s, punk is even more important to me than it was at 15. I started trying to give back and created my own zine full of stories from people all over the world, uniting us all together in our own uniqueness.

The other rare and interesting thing for me about Cometbus is that Aaron always seems to find small ways of mentioning both his parents and of his religion being Jewish. There are so many little words or little bits of dark Jewish humor, picked up while growing up with much older Jewish parents, which are foreign to my peers. Growing up, I was the only Jewish kid in my entire class and was teased relentlessly for my upbringing. I always longed to be in a place, especially in punk, where I had another Jewish best friend who got all the little idiosyncrasies that comes from being raised by two Jewish parents of that generation. He talked about how Judaism was really important to him because it was the one thing that brought his family together. I don’t consider myself a deeply religious person, but Judaism has always been extremely important to me as one of the last links I have to my parents. Like Aaron, my parents are now deceased. Reading his anecdotes about his parents really bring back to life my parents, now long gone. Aaron has a way of making people feel like they are reading a journal created by their best friend. I have fantasies of just getting coffee one day and running into him and having the conversation of my lifetime.