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Been busy. I guess we need to catch up.

I spent the holiday contemplating my own obscurity. If you're a terribly self-absorbed person with very little sense of perspective, this is an exercise I cannot recommend enough. It's the perfect way to spend a long weekend and, if you've already got some liquor handy, it doesn't cost a thing.

I started early, on Friday afternoon, by staring at a copy of Sarah Vowell's Take the Cannoli. I didn't crack the spine; I just stared with angry, jealous intent until my eyes grew weak and I blacked out. I don't know what happened during that period but when I came to, the room smelled of urine, and dried tears had crusted my eyes shut. I still haven't recovered my copy of that book but each morning I routinely inspect my stool, just in case.

On Saturday I sat down to make a list. Making a list is kind of like shorthand for having a nervous breakdown. My list was titled, "EVERY ROUTE POSSIBLE TO GETTING (SUBSTANTIALLY) PUBLISHED AND BUILDING AN AUDIENCE." I mapped the list out and annotated it, in an effort to find the most expedient, and most accessible routes. For example:

  • Befriend David Eggers (too embarrassing; plus, Neal Pollack sort of owns this one.)
  • Insinuate myself into Monday night "Eating It" series at Luna lounge in NYC (requires low self-esteem - check! - and a lot of blind self-promotion - ouch.)
  • Moth? An excellent reading series in NYC (great way to meet other disappointed writers but not really a great way to change my state of being a disappointed write.r)
  • Submit story/stories to This American Life (a.k.a. "The David Sedaris Trajectory." and i'm sure i'm the first person to have this idea.)
  • Submit story/stories to David Sedaris (i can get his phone number and address in Paris from a friend. however, i'm already afraid if he reads my submission he'll think i steal from him. i have developled this particular twitchy paranoia because Sedaris seems to be the writer that most people push on me once they've read my words. well, him and Syd Hoff- but i think Hoff is dead or, if not dead, sleeping. i would also like to state for the record that i didn't read Sedaris until i heard his name mentioned in reference to my writing quite a few times and, while i enjoy his stories, it's almost difficult to talk about him without feeling somewhat self-conscious. his writing feels so target audience-ready. declaring my affection for the humor and wit of Sedaris is like a 70 year-old man going on and on about the excellent prose style of Louis L'amour or the sweet taste of prune candy. it's so obvious it doesn't even need to be stated.)
  • Submit stories to the southern writer, Padgett Powell (he once paid my writing a nice compliment, which i still hold very dear, but i understand he's always drunk and short of memory. in the end, this route could be more damaging than anything else.)
  • Submit stories to Readers Digest's "campus crack-ups" (a bit too depressing.)
  • Soy bomb? (far too depressing. besides, i already tried that.)
  • Actually finish my book proposal and submit it to the literary agent who actually requested it a million months ago, and submit additional copies to the other agents I know (that means doing real work, though. forget it.)
  • Marry rich king and live my days in a gilded castle, occasionally self-publishing collections of my more droll correspondence (now we're talking!)

Creating the list leeched an enormous amount of energy from me, so I took another nap. When I awoke the next day, I was already angry. And hungry. I ate a box of fish sticks and, as I dipped them in ketchup, I decided that my site should be considered a "humor" site instead of a "web log" or "personal site" or even "zine", and this point of semantics is exactly what has been holding me back artistically. (my honesty no doubt reveals a special kind of insanity.) Then I read my site thoroughly, pausing thoughtfully at every single poop and pee joke, and concluded I had been mistaken all along, and that maybe should be considered a "cry for help." Unfortunately, despite all my research efforts, there are no award categories for that. Drat.

Finally, I started looking at other people's web sites and wondering why I wasn't linked to many of the sites I read. This actually happened, and I've no sense of pride about it. I catalogued sites, looked at the people they consider unconditionally funny or interesting - people like Radiohead and Wes Anderson and Dave Eggers and Mahir - and wondered, out loud, why I didn't make that list. Was I too angry? Too insipid? Too irregular? Not foxy enough? Not black enough? The stunning silence that followed my desperate query was the only answer I needed.

It was at this point I decided I hated the Web. I drank some lager from one of my shoes, fell off my chair on to the floor, and accidentally kicked the cord from my modem on my way down. And I've been down here ever since.


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