Writing, Waiting, Zines, and Pei Wei

4 min readFeb 8, 2022


I ate Pei Wei for lunch. Spicy chicken noodles, large edamame, and two fortune cookies for $14. Good fortunes? Yes. Good taste? Yes. Good deal? Eh. But what more could I want? Commercialized Chinese food sounded good today. I heard once that the Pei Wei’s and Chipotle’s of the world were just the gentrifications of ‘world kitchens’ to appeal to American palettes and beliefs of what ethnic food should be. i.e) Less intimidating and strange smelling.

And while that’s not true because I just made it up, it sounds true-ish. Like it’s something you’d overhear at a house party from a college kid who goes to a liberal arts college in the pacific northwest. Or, maybe more likely, it’s something you skimmed in an online article while waiting to go see the dentist. I wrote ‘magazine’ first, but that doesn’t seem as relatable anymore. I mean honestly, when’s the last time someone you know bought a magazine as a form of real entertainment?

My mom used to buy People (the magazine) on our way out of the grocery store when I was a kid, but that seems like more of a ‘mom’ thing than anything else. And I haven’t seen her with one in years. At least not in the time I’ve been home. My grandma used to have a National Geographic magazine subscription that I loved to go through whenever I visited her in Minnesota. And I remember buying a Mad Magazine from a gas station around the same time period, but that was probably only because I liked the cover art. The truth is that magazines probably died with the generation above me. They were just one of those pop culture items that got squeezed out as something not cool enough/worth it to introduce your kids to as they hit their pre-teen and teen years. And they all went digital anyway so, I guess it didn’t matter one way or another.

Zines, on the other hand, seem to have enough of a niche that they’ll be around (ironically or not) for the years to come. I put Zines in the same mental category that I put bird-watching clubs in. Which is to say, yes I know it’s something people do, and I’ve seen it portrayed, but it exists at a level of ‘indie’ that rarely overlaps with the usual world I inhabit. I also didn’t know what they were until I took a trip to Chicago in the summer after my 20th birthday. And for that reason, I mostly associate them with the midwest. Which is where they seem to be the most prominent culturally compared to other regions of the states. But I could be wrong about that.

Zines as defined at Binderymke.com:

“The word zine has come to represent a range of small-batch, DIY, “magazine-like” publications in terms of form and content. For the purposes of Milwaukee Zine Festival, we like to think of zines in the following way:

ZINE (n): pronounced ‘zeen’

A zine is a self-published, non-commercial print-work that is typically produced in small, limited batches. Zines are created and bound in many DIY ways, but traditionally editions are easily reproduced — often by crafting an original “master flat,” and then photocopying, folding, and stapling the pages into simple pamphlets. Zines may also be sewn, taped, glued — or even exist in unbound and other non-folio formats. The main rule is that there are no rules!

People who create zines [“zinesters”] are likely to be more motivated by self-expression and artistic passion than they are by profit: zines are usually inexpensive and sometimes distributed for free or in trade for other zines, goods, and services. The history of zines is vast and fascinating: read more about it here. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/88911/brief-history-zines

Zines can touch on a variety of topics from music and art, to politics, sexuality, humor and personal memoir. Their content may be written, drawn, printed, collaged, or any other form of combining words and imagery — a zine’s structure may be narrative, journalistic, comic-like, or completely abstract.

Why Zines Matter:

Culturally and historically, zines have served as a powerful outlet for content considered to be too niche, risqué, or outside of the mainstream, in terms of more traditional/commercial forms of publication. A zine can be produced with the simplest of tools, and easily distributed low-to-the-ground, outside capitalistic or potentially oppressive systems: amongst friends; in local gathering places or homes; at fests designed to celebrate them!

Essentially, zines can be a little hard to define — but that’s what makes them great: they’re a glorious mash-up of art, letters, story and emotion; just like the brains, hands and hearts of those who produce them. Their small, simple format belies their unique ability to speak creatively [and loudly] for even the softest voices. (And ain’t that worth celebrating.)

​For everything you’ve ever wanted to know about zines check out ZineWiki.com, WeMakeZines.com, and certainly peruse Chicago Zine Fest’s international zinester directory!”

Some zines

Anyway, now that I’ve hit my zine/magazine writing quota for the next two years, thank you for reading to this point of my ‘waiting room’ week. Which means exactly what it sounds like. This week was the boring, monotonous, waiting for next week. Which’ll bring my birthday trip to Atlanta, my cousin’s wedding, and a final day of reshoots for Going Green.

I will try to post 2 or 3 times next week since I’ll have the entire week off, but no promises. Regardless, I’ll write to you all on Monday. And when I do, I’ll be 24.

Until Monday,


P.s.) I thought of a name for the blog.




Writer | Traveler | Studio Jali


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