I keep looking at interior decorating stuff.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

It’s moving that does it to me, I think. I am moving to what is effectively a blank canvas. I find myself staring at websites that have galleries, and not the good kind, but the kind that use words like “chintz” and “floral motifs” and discuss stencilling.

I’m not sure what chintz is, but I’m pretty sure I hate it.

The problem is that the very notion of interior decorating fills me with mild self-loathing, because it’s so! damn! girly! I am opposed to girly the way that I am opposed to testing cosmetics on bunnies. And it’s all so…y’know. Thing. Sort’ve…housewifeish. No one has yet dared to call me a housewife, despite my working at home, which has fortunately prevented me from having to rip anyone’s limbs off and club them to death with the bloody stumps while screaming “I AM A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST, ASSHOLE!” (Possbly people can sense this from some distance away, which is the reason it’s never come up.) But still, being a prickly sort, I am twitchy about any activities that might in any way imply any such thing.

But nevertheless, I find myself eyeing the sorts of magazines that advise carrying around paint chips and fabric swatches, with headlines that advise “Turn Your Kitchen Into a Mediterranean Shaker Country Modern Retreat in 471 Easy Steps!” with the mild guilt of someone eyeing porn. (Actually rather more guilt, since the internet has desensitized me but good.)

Maybe it’s art guilt. I have the Legitimate Artist’s contempt for art that matches the sofa. I have a mug that says “Good art won’t match your sofa,” in case I forget. This has spread, unfortunately, into a deep-seated belief that if the art doesn’t clash violently with the furniture, I am pandering to the establishment. (What establishment?) In fact, I think on some level I believe that if, for even one moment, I consider my home as an aesthetic whole and attempt to alter it–or god forbid, try to get something to match something else–I am swearing allegiance to the Martha-Stewart capitalist running-dog home decor-military-industrial complex and they’ll find me curled into fetal position with a copy of Better Homes & Gardens hanging out of my mouth.

The other problem, of course, is that I have about as much chance of decorating as an elephant shrew of learning the polka. I have visited endless websites that promise to tell me how to redesign my apartment on a shoestring budget. This has taught me that my definition of a shoestring budget is obviously a little different than these authors. My decorating budget is anything I find in the couch cushions, and I am, of neccessity, confined to a series of rental apartments. I look at these palatial mansions with glorious bay windows and cathedral ceilings and fireplaces roughly the size of my car and am filled with enthusiasm, only to face the fact that I live in a (larger than the last one!) shoebox with mandatory white walls and dark faux-wood cabinets. Repaint the place in blue-violet and copper? Love to, but the landlord would suffer apoplexy. Such is life. (On t’other hand, I also look at these hideous overstuffed floral-printed bright-yellow-and-pink bedrooms that make me want to run shrieking into the night, so I suppose it balances out.)

In the end, I always just shove the furniture against the walls, try to cram the art into the new place (always a challenge…) and call it good. Utilitarian R Us. And my vague dreams of an actual decor go by the wayside. And a few months go by, and I again find myself lurking in the home section of book stores, looking at books with the word “Style” and “Chic” in the title. They do not make any books entitled “Eclectic Disaster Style for Artists” designed for people who have more art than furniture, and who’s net possessions, by weight, are more than half books.

But hey, if I ever manage to get around to decorating, maybe I’ll write one. “Step One: If you must have art that matches the sofa, paint it yourself…”

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