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⚡ June 25, 1999

A Steady Diet of Nits 🐌

A drawing of a locust.

1:41. Daytime. For a change. This isn’t exactly easy yet, but it’s a whole lot better than what I was doing before I decided to venture out into the light.

Because for the last few years I have devoted myself to trying to become an artist. A real artist. I mean, a real artist.

Now, since I’m the complete opposite of an artist in real life, the kind of person who worries about whether the floors are clean, or whether the buttons are organized, or the flowers watered or the calls returned and the bills paid or the cans and the newspapers are all tied up and flattened and recycled just so … plus, the spices should be in alphabetical order – you laugh, but if you’re grabbing for the gabba-gabba root and your hands are covered in breading, it’s nice to be able to look between the fennel and the ginger and just know where it is …

Where was I?

A drawing of a line of ants.

Oh, yes. The artist. Now you know what comes next: an artist doesn’t care about such trivia; an artist is never preoccupied by anything other than Art. Which is why I tried to edit my life of its bread-crumb trail of distractions, as the budget would allow, until each and every day I would have less and less to do until I had nothing left but Art.

The results have been less than I’d hoped.

True, I have literally many feet of bright-colored loose-leaf spines on the shelf and four entire and very long file boxes full of index cards, organized by topic, backed up on color-coded Zips, and cross-referenced to a fare-thee-well in HyperCard stacks. I even made my own blank dividers from the blue cardboard cleaner boxes from Igor’s shirts, because I don’t want to spend too much at Staples and of course there’s a lot of cardboard because he has to button one on almost every day, brave the extra starch, and work to support the Artist.

And yet, and yet … with no one to write to … the letters pile up unsent.

A drawing of a webbed folder.

Worse, I’ve convinced myself that I enjoy this isolation because it’s the only way I’ll ever sit down and write. I’m no different from the poor prisoner in solitary who’s learned to eat bugs because there’s no other food around – if you ask him, he’ll swear they’re crunchy and chewy and they taste just like chicken, but if you let him loose and look for him a few weeks later, he’ll be back at Pizza Hut halfway through a calzone, waving away the flies.

And so I have decided to open the cage door that was never locked to begin with and set a table here, in the storefront of the world. I’m going to stop trying to become an artist and just get on with the writing. Plus, I’ll keep on separating the whites from the colors and the glossy paper from the newsprint.

I’m going to stop waiting politely for the chance to show my stuff – I’m going to just put it out there day by day. I’m going to stop waiting for that written invitation and I’m going to swallow my pride. I can do it. Once you get used to it, it tastes just like chicken.

A drawing of a webbed folder.

Tomorrow … a grand scheme for discipline. 🐔