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24 Feb 98

Slight return

A Month of Neckties

My private fuse burnt out. Official preparation for adulthood begins, February, 1998. The last four months, in my tiny apartment, I had a million pounds of peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth. I lived on lousy food, in squalor. I drank and lamented and pushed the dirty clothes over to the empty half of the bed.

Maybe it's the season. Maybe I have complicated emotional reasons for my actions. But prior to contemplation, there's cleaning to do. The papers need filed. Back taxes must be paid. I will report punctually for employment, pleasantly dressed, clean and smiling. Every day, a necktie shall knot at my eighteen-inch throat. Coworkers laugh, as I've retired old shirts for silky, ironed ties. But they treat me more nicely, too.

Now, diet and exercise. I perform sit-ups. Kinesthetics. Physical culture. Flossing. Scrubbing. Ringing, positive thoughts. Abstinent eating: no sugar, no caffeine, no white flour. No alcohol. No marijuana. All substances must be evaluated with a boolean operation before I can ingest them. Tylenol? Yes, that's okay. Nyquil? Maybe. Turkey? Three slices. A great big submarine sandwich with salami, and a candy bar, and some goddamnded greasy Utz potato chips with a Coke? Fuck, no. Well, the Coke. Diet. Caffeine free.

With scrubbing, my bathroom floor shines. It's as white as a starlet's teeth. Even the grout is pleasant to behold. I have caulked the tub, and lo, I have lived to tell the tale. Painting. Stackable shelves. The rhythm of nails entering the walls, my books yanked from plastic milk cartons and hung from my knees to well above my head, forever out from under the bed. My tiny, newly shelved kitchen nook will glow in sunshine yellow. Wood, anchored into the wall, shall support the toaster and the one - cup - of - coffee - for - single - guys - who - only - need - to - make - one - cup - of - coffee - maker.

120 days of the diary, and thirty days of neckties. 5 days of careful, cautious, eating. Four days in a clean apartment. And now -- seven hours of sleep, and a day gets added to all the numbers right above.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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