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How I wrote/drew my way to (some) immortality....

 

I was depressed. Crack fiends had trashed my place in the rooming house, and Ideat Village (our local fringe festival) loomed ahead. I wanted to get back on the map, and my "Maker crafts made while I was Homeless" (including a beautiful scarf of yarn that apparently is now unobtainable) were all in a landfill (one of the fiends had a cleaning fetish). I was desolate, living in a shelter.

One of the things that kept me afloat was the local Barnes & Noble. Yes, yes, I  live in a university town in a blue state, and yes, I'm supposed to talk about how my life simply revolves around independent bookstores, what with their friendly staff and greater than Starbucks' coffee, but, to be quite honest, we have only two indie bookstores, both desperate for money, which precludes niceties like comfy chairs and smalltalk with nonbuying customers, as opposed to packing the place with actual stock and sucking up to hot foreign students with deeper pockets. So I hang out in Barnes & Noble, where the staff is middle-aged, the chairs pillowlike and there's a ready supply of funstuff with which I can play for long periods without (too) much interference.

Stuff like the Giant Microbes. If you're not acquainted, they're softball-sized models of various microscopic organisms with teddy bear eyes, for doctors to keep in their offices and to teach kids about disease. I grew fond of Black Death, which looks like a black hotdog with eyes a little darker than a Siamese cat, not least because I'm resistant to bubonic plague, which led to me using the doll as a puppet, trying to infect me, to which I'd respond with a lot of silly comebacks, like "I know, but I'm not in the mood for that kind of relationship."

Since I couldn't afford the doll, I found myself sketching it: bad memory and a little wishful thinking gave him a profile more like a Sea Mouse than a micro-organism, with a perky little noselike "head" end and a trailing "tail". The critter that ensued was named "Yersinia", for the scientific name of the bacillus.

Yes, he's cute. Life in the shelter had given me a yearning for soft: as a menopausal nullipara (admittedly) I wished for a child-substitute, a pet...heck, just being able to lie on a sofa dreaming of soft, cute things was a luxury. Brainstorming with myself, I gave him the precocity of one of E.B. White's animal characters: he's encyclopedic about his species, but gets concerned when someone's hurt in a cartoon.His mannerisms were partly from memories of Ollie the Dragon: he'd lie on his back to get what he wants, slap himself on a surface in frustration, and generally think well of himself. I didn't care about making him too sweet: as with cats, the fact that I'm putting cute characteristics on a remorseless killer I figure about balances him out. He likes dancing, flowers, humans and Campbell's tomato soup. He has no mouth, and eats, breathes and excretes (by sweating ammonia) through his skin, which is sensitive to all sorts of chemicals. He moves something like a large brushbot.His lifelong ambition is to be symbiote to a human, but can't figure out how.

His unnamed middle-aged spinster librarian counterpart is only called 'Hostess'.

I drew a variety of Y's, and wrote a short six-chapter novella where he and Hostess meet, talk, carry on philosophical discussions and party and he dies nobly. (I didn't want to be saddled with a series.)

He passed the test of the Dinner Crowd. Will, my friend at The Institute, was enthusiastic."This could be a series!" he thrilled. A friend drew a somewhat fanciful cartoon of Yersinia using a laptop, cutely working the touchpad with his tail. As time went by, I began to free-associate playlists of upbeat, psychedelic music, song lyrics, and suchlike. I'd make a huge display and wear a plague doctor's outfit. I had a

It was not altogether an easy time: I almost lost the drawings several times, had to learn to sew books, grossly underestimated how much printing/binding my own book would cost, and I had to get a 2 day pass to get to go to the opening.

Well, a lot of people looked at the drawings. I sold some books. A retarded woman (as in, D.D.) called him "heartbreakingly sweet". I got into a (polite) debate with a Deep Green who wanted to bring back the Black Plague to prune the human species, switched to a discussion of what was and wasn't human, and ended up with him shouting "Where can you find pure Nature?"

"Here." I said. "In this very room." I said, smiling like a Zen Master. Life's interesting when you think of the biome not in terms, not of photogenic megafauna and the unspoiled West but in terms of the Small Folk. "You have ten times more Small Ones living on and in your body than you have cells."

I would have gone to the Artists' Brunch at the end of the exhibition, but someone stole the rest of the money for the month out of my wallet, the doll, and my bike (jealous biotches).

Every so often someone wants another book. I'm happy to sew one. I've found the source for those eyes, and am trying to come up with a pattern for a Yersina that will look like my drawings....I hear Drew Oliver is a lawyer, and would not take kindly to unauthorized mashups. Under the guise of doing a Y fanfic, I'm doing 'alternate' episodes, At the Beach and Bless Ye the Lord (the reference is to the Benedicte). The original novel is going to be CC'd and Kindled through Amazon's free publishing program when I feel like it.

Onward....

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