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.