Tuesday, March 31, 2009

no country for old men

I watched that movie the other night and only one thing stuck with me, the scene where he is laying there in bed and he can't sleep, so he gets up in the middle of the night and leaves, and his wife is asking "Where you going, Lou Alan?" And he just says, "Oh, I'm fixin' to do something dumber than hell, but I'm going to do it anyway." And sure enough, it is dumb as hell, and he does do it anyway, and it leads to even more dumb shit, and even more dumb shit, and instead of anonymously smoking away $2 million with his thumb up his ass, he ends up bloody and dead in some crappy motel far away from home.

Somehow, that is how I feel today. Like, I look back and I try to pinpoint the exact moment where I made that statement, the exact moment where I got out of bed, where I was lying there in that comfort zone and I got out of it and plunged myself into this confounding reality.

How did I get here?

Yesterday I ate about 4 pounds of sugar. Everything started to vibrate. It was pretty intense. I felt funny all day. There was a cocaine-addled mirror on my table taunting me. I held it in my hands for about ten minutes and then threw it away. It's strange to throw away something that is in perfectly good condition. It made me feel like I was insane. I felt hungover, even though all I did was smoke cigarettes and eat every fucking thing in sight. Oh yes, and then I did something very odd, which was to spontaneously crack out on spending the next 24 hours applying for a Soros Foundation fellowship. When I finally got to school today I realized I'd slept more in the past three days than I had in the last three weeks, probably. It made me feel really weird, almost woozy.

As I was leaving the house I checked my mail, and got a sweet little postcard from Joe. He told me he missed me. It made me hate him with all of my heart, because I am feeling lonely and spiteful.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


On Thursday, Keetens passed along some words of wisdom by Cary Tennis to a girl lamenting the new, boring persona of her recently sober friend. I've never read him before, but I really have to give Keets a million trillion thanks for this link, which also resonated with me as someone who has spent many an hour entertaining a small, select few at Murio's Trophy Room on Haight Street, but more importantly as an aspiring journalist who is pathetically intimidated by the threat of hard work and defeat. I love it when people can say, without a hint of immodesty, that "We get sober and become boring because our brilliance deserves to live." It's something that I could never bring myself to say. Chinese people just aren't like that. I think the closest thing we could say we be something along the lines of, "Maybe the brilliance of the Emperor could shine through if we could only sober up long enough."

On the other hand, I understand the feeling of not wanting to hang out with someone who appears to be the shadow of whom she once was because of a major life decision. Sometimes you just think that you've grown apart. Life is long, and people change. Especially when you come into contact with as many people as we do in our lives, you can't hold onto everyone (although some of us try). I was empathizing with the writer of the letter until she made the remark that the newly sober friend's art was now "local-gallery good, not Artforum good." I mean, was this her agent, or her friend? I guess we all want to see our friends performing their best, and the remark stung a little because of course I fear that all these attempts at emotional well-being are just like little cyanide pills for all of my creative projects that mean anything to me.

I'm hoping this fear is wrong, though. I looked around me last night. I feel good about the photo work I've done in the past few months--partially because it's become a new outlet to keep my mind off other things, and partially because I know that I couldn't have done it on the booze train. And this was a visual sign to me last night that even when I am standing, struck silent and dumb and thinking "I know what's happening but I don't really and maybe I should go but why is this such a big fucken deal it's just booze/coke/pot/ you dealt with this last night it's the same thing these are your friends everything is okay they're not out to get you; be calm; be still; say something; wait; no; don't say anything; you don't have to say anything; were they talking to you? If they were talking to you, then you have to say something..."

I cannot wait for the day when I'm secure enough in my own skin to not constantly feel the need to perform. In Tennis's piece, that's what he says The Booze is largely about, performing for free, at least in the context of others. But The Booze isn't just about the act of performing, it's also about attendance, and I think that partaking makes you part of an audience to a spectacle, and that lately I just feel left out a lot of the time. I honestly can't tell if it's because I'm not drinking or if it's just that I'm naturally on a different mental plane from lack of television and consistent Internet facetime. I have to admit, when the conversation turns uber-drunk, or uber pop-culture, I retreat to a special place in the corner of my brain...

When I went sober in November, I made the arbitrary goal of lasting through to my birthday. I had the intention of powering through the next four-odd months with my regular determination and then enjoying a typical balls-out meltdown to congratulate myself on my willpower and resolve. It wasn't until I was talking it through with Detox Doc that I realized what a stupid "plan" that was, and the idea of throwing all these months of hard work out the window in front of all the people who have supported me through it pretty much undermined the whole concept of respect and trust among friends. Color me humbled.

My friends, a juice toast to you, at the commence of my 30th year of life. (I am 29 years old, so this is the start of my 30th year, yeah?) This is to all y'all. Life is busy, and it's not easy to stay in touch with everyone. I'm not on Facebook or MySpace a lot. I don't call or write as much as I should, and I've retreated into this sober corner of my brain where the world exists in pictues of deserts and mountains and not so much people and words lately. Thank you to you all for being a part of my life, for creating a context of normalcy when things are erratic and for providing inspiration when things are drab. Thanks for keeping me in check. Thanks for your love. Thanks for keeping it real.

I love you more than you know.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Monday morning I landed at 10 a.m. and was back at $chool within two hours. I spent the next two evenings with The Ex and two other surprise visitors from San Francisco that night and the next, making it a very exciting but stressful re-entry to civilization. I actually forgot to go to a class Thursday, and it just might screw me, seeing as I've missed the first two classes now.

My last few nights in the desert were so tranquil and amazing, and I keep looking back at my photos to try and return to that mental place where I felt so calm and in control of my destiny, but it is hard. When I returned to my apartment in New York it was bathed in a blue glow and the next morning The Ex was snoring on my futon and there were workers drilling on the fire escape and I was in the midst of midterm hell and running on an average of 4 hours of sleep per night for the past few weeks.

In San Francisco, when insomnia got really bad, I could feel it as soon as I got on my motorcycle. I knew it was bad, because it felt dangerous. I thought to myself, "I could die," and I would force myself into hiding, usually with booze and a retreat into the Bat Cave, my windowless bedroom. I would take sick days. In New York, things are different. Things don't seem to stop. The city seems to encourage insomnia. You don't have to drive here. You can get on the subways and ride for hours, always find people who are awake, people who are just as damned if not more than you, people running on even less, and it makes you feel like a pussy. So you don't stop, you just keep going. And then, inevitably, your friend Ti asks you if you have a black eye, and you just say, "No, this the way I look."

I am tired. I drift in and out. I hear my voice and it sounds strange.

I lie awake, but I rest. It is getting better. Last night I slept for 6 hours. It was startling unconsciousness, and then I was awake, so different than the past few weeks.

I think of the desert. I think of my desert love affair. I think of The Ex, and the brief time he flitted in and out of New York, and how I was barely present, how it was to be with someone I still love so much. I wonder what I've been doing lately, what I've been thinking, and I don't really know.

It is my 29th birthday tomorrow. I'm having a birthday party. I'm excited. New Crush is coming, or so he says. I haven't seen him all semester, and then I ran into him on Tuesday and invited him, and he said he would come! This makes me very happy indeed.

When you feel so close to death, it is so important to celebrate life.

There is so much I want to write about, but I just can't at the moment. I want to wait for the moment when I can do it justice. I want to write about my desert love affair so badly, actually I want to write to my desert love affair so badly, but at the moment I think I am finally ready to crash and to sleep for several hours, then to wake up, eat a bunch of food, and then sleep some more.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Break Sobriety Tour 2009

I´m going to try and make this quick because this Internet booth seems to be filling with gas fumes. Tonight I was going to go on this space tour, where they show you all the constellations. It´s amazing how many stars you can see here. I forget about the stars sometimes in New York. The tour, however, was canceled because it is cloudy, and it is actually raining a bit in the driest place on earth. Amazing!

The trip has been incredible. There has been a good mix of Serious stupidity (typical move of getting ripped off by a cabbie after many hours of traveling and not knowing the exchange rate), serious sunburn, excellent romantic intrigue, language lessons, sweeping landscapes, freezing temperatures, contemplation, sober conversations with drunken individuals, and more. The one thing that hasn´t been happening has been SLEEP.

Yes, that´s right. I´m on fucken vacation andI haven´t been able to sleep more than a few hours a night. I brought with me a bunch of my knockout pills but refuse to take them. I don´t know why. I guess this kind of insomnia just doesn´t bother me that much, because when I get up, I can face the day because there´s so much to do and it´s exciting. I guess I don´t want to take the pills because I don´t want to be groggy. The other night I couldn´t sleep and I lay awake thinking about this boy, and how much I love the desert and photography and traveling and blah blah blah and wondered if I could possibly make this my life. Like, how can I make a living like this? And will I ever see this boy again after this trip? How can I make my life all about travel and photography and cute boys? That´s what I want my life to be like.

It wasn´t until the next day that I realized...huh...this is my life. At least, for the moment. That´s the big human condition though, isn´t it...not being able to enjoy the moment...struggling to prolong it always...staying up late at night wondering, worrying about how to make it last...

I will write some more about this romantic intrigue but I can´t now because it still feels like a fresh and lovely gift and if I write about it I think it will start to feel like a loss. So I will say that the desert is so humbling. I will have to ruminate on it some more, but it makes me feel like an idiot for living in New York. It makes me realize that so many of my most important and enjoyable moments in life happened in the desert.

I realized this as I wrote this in a postcard to Wonder Woman that I came here to figure things out, and all I´ve figured out is that it is pretty misguided to think that you can just sit down and think things through and come up with solutions...at least for me. I can´t just sit down and make plan that will work for me. All I can do is tell myself that as long as I have my wits about me, and can continue to wander the way that I want, everything will be okay. No, better than okay.

Solo travel is incredible. I don´t know what I was so worried about. Now that I´m away, I remember the scariest part of traveling is returning home, or¨re-entry,¨as Sharp calls it. I miss everyone, but I miss this feeling too...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

t-minus 14 hours

I have to admit that when I say am "excited" for my trip to the desert, this excitement is more fear-based than happy-based. Detox doc and I have been talking about this innate desire I have to attack all my fears. He says that this may not be a good thing...like wanting to conquer your fear of public speaking is a good thing...but wanting to attack bears...not a good thing. It is hard for me to know the difference, though.

Taking away booze has made me want to be in control of everything, and in a desire to overcome this, I have not planned a damn thing. Like I have not planned anything beyond my plane ticket. This terrifies me. I know this sounds completely idiotic. Like, why would I scare the shit out of myself intentionally...but it's something I have to do, just to show myself that it's okay.

Why yes, being neurotic is very stressful. I keep on telling you this.

All I know is that when I get on the airplane, there is a 20 percent chance that I will feel very good about everything, a 20 percent chance that I will fall asleep, (I AM EXHAUSTED. I did not sleep last night, and I slept on Neighbor's sofa before getting up before dawn again to shoot photos before embarking on a most stressful day) a 50 percent chance that I will feel on the verge of a nervous breakdown and decide to take a handful of tranquilizers, and a 10 percent chance that I will sit next to a very cute boy who will take my mind off of all of my troubles. That's the way life is when you've sworn off of men for the month.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

not helpful

I am not a happy camper today. It has been a most stressful week, and today I was supposed to get shit done, and instead I had a rude awakening and could not get over it, and wallowed in anger all day and got NOTHING done on a day that I could not really afford to waste. I literally sat here all day and was just angry as all hell, so I ate candy and smoked cigarettes and don't think I took a real breath in seven hours.

Stress management much?

Do you ever have a moment where you look back on several distinct moments where you said to yourself, "I'll deal with this later," or "I'm going to hate myself later for this," or "Fuck it, I'm sure everything will be fine," and then you just want to go back in time and bitch-slap your former self eight times over --- because really, what did you do then instead of taking care of business? Who the hell knows? I sure as hell don't.

And yet I'm doing it again. I'm like, "Oh, it's okay. Everything will be fine. I'm just going to sit here until I can go to sleep, and when I wake up tomorrow, rested, I will be able to deal with it, because today...well, today...today is just not a good day. Today was never meant to be. And tomorrow...tomorrow will be better."

I never said I was good with stress.

Thursday I am leaving for the Atacama Desert:

I will lay my eyes on something along those lines on Saturday probably. I don't know how, but somehow between now and Wednesday I am going to make write 20 more thesis-like pages appear out of NOTHING and then vanish into the desert for a week or so. I think it'll be good times. I want some peyote. Psychedelics are not on my list of banned substances.

Sobriety has been very, very hard this week. I miss Joe, and I miss the carefree feeling I had a few weeks ago that everything was going to be okay. Because I don't really feel that way anymore. I am really excited about my trip, but something about traveling and not drinking suddenly seems even lonelier than I ever imagined. I must be masochistic. And I can't stop thinking about the fact that I'm graduating in two months. TWO MONTHS. It's like reality suddenly decided it wants to be my new, annoying new best friend and I don't really like her very much.

Okay, me stop now, because this...this is not helpful. But I don't know what would be right now. Or...I do know...but...I don't do that anymore.