You Know Better: Issue Seven

November 2013. This zine is about starting over. About taking it back to the beginning, trying out new things, and finding the magic again. The image on the cover is the same one I used twelve years ago on the front page of my very first zine, a 20-page 8.5x11” sheaf of poems entitled "the queen of gypsies". I photocopied it from a book. I don’t remember which one. Everything is at least a little enchanted, if you’ll only pay attention.

Read on for a taste of this issue. To get a copy, stop by Bluestockings or email isabel at isabelsparkle dot com.


The Cathedral of St John the Divine has always been one of my favorite places. It’s a church, so it’s sacred to a lot of people. But there’s something additionally special about it to me. Maybe because I’m not religious at all, maybe because my casually Episcopalian upbringing featured an annual trip to the city in order to visit this very building, maybe because I love beautiful places. I don’t really know. I don’t even believe in god, but a part of me finds a surprising comfort within its walls.

I’ve come here for many reasons over the years: to meditate, to read, to write, to study, to think, to just sit. I even came at midnight one Christmas Eve, for reasons I can’t entirely explain. It’s always out of my way, and there’s nothing for me this far uptown. But every once in awhile, I feel the pull to stop by, spend an hour or so with the particular grandness and solace it affords. I like to take a seat in one of the side rooms that are almost always empty, still myself for awhile and absorb the energy of the place. The archways, the sculptures, the stone and the glass, the chairs and the organ, the high majestic ceilings. The faraway noises echoing from distant chambers, the October wind blowing through the long corridors. The taste of humans ascribing meaning to things.

Today is one of those days. It’s a full moon, a lunar eclipse, when I had some time in between plans and it felt right. Some things have changed since the last time I was here – now there’s a placard at the entrance to the nave that reads “Thank you for your $10 donation”, no sign of the scaffolding I saw on my previous visit, and – inexplicably – a luridly-colored, dog-themed photography exhibit. There are a few people scattered around, one or two sitting quietly, the rest walking around, peaceful, reverent. I like humanity like this.

And then it’s six o’clock. And the guards begin their rounds of pulling shut the huge wooden doors and herding us one by one through the one exit they’ve left open. I haven’t paid attention to the cathedral’s closing hours, but the timing is perfect. For them, it’s routine; for me, another symbolic part of this magical place. I check the calendar of events posted on the wall on my way out, find there’s a tour a month from now that looks interesting and make a note to come back, knowing I probably won’t end up following through with the plan but loving the feeling of writing it down anyway.