THE BLOG
02/01/2013 12:51 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

A Year Above the Influence

In 2006, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. It was dormant, I was told, but there was a 50 percent chance it could become active. I had to take medication for six months during which I couldn't drink alcohol, but I decided 50 percent was enough of a chance to take. The idea alone of going half a year without indulging in booze was unthinkable at the time. I was stoned from the moment I got up to the moment I passed out, my days and nights drowned in cheap vodka in an attempt to bridge the gap between my expectations and my existence. With the blind recklessness of youth to guide me, I dabbled in cocaine and whatever else I could land face-down, ass-up into.

For nearly my entire adult life I have been consistently drunk, stoned or otherwise impaired. So much so that my identity was wrapped up in being a shitshow -- I proudly proclaimed myself a stoner and alcoholic, regarding the distinctions as part and parcel of being a writer. The drugs and the booze, I reasoned, fueled my creativity. Even as I'm writing this I'm craving a joint. The very act of smoking became a ritual of writing. As I've gotten older I've tempered my drinking, still I see it as a necessity to my art. And my life. Every aspect of my life is somehow affected by these dependencies, from the way I interact with people to how I sleep and eat. And so I've always expected my life to be lived with the assistance of drugs and alcohol. Then 2012 happened.

2012 was, unequivocally, the worst year of my life. It was worse than 2006; worse than the year my mother died and was buried on my 14th birthday; worse than the year I had to slink out of New York, broken and broke, back upstate to Poughkeepsie. While I had contemplated suicide over the years, 2012 drove me closer than I've ever gotten to attempting it. I penned a suicide note in June, then in December, for the first time, I inflicted physical harm on myself. I cut my wrists with a broken shard from glass I had thrown against the wall in a violent, drunken rage.

It was a moment of tremendous importance that led me to undertake this project -- I realized no matter how much I drank or smoked, life could still be unbearable. So when my partner in trash, Tommy, proposed tackling 2013 sober, I decided to join him. A year over the influence. A year of spiritual housecleaning. We've both earned reputations for going above and beyond the drunken call of duty, thus when we announced our intentions to our friends, we were met with more than a hint of skepticism. By doing it together, however, we stand a better chance of not falling on our faces.

The purpose of creating a blog is to record our progress, to hold ourselves accountable for said progress and to explore the reasoning behind our respective substance use and abuse. We'll document how being sober affects our mental, physical, emotional and financial well-being as well as share anecdotes from our rich history of shitfaced shenanigans. This is a social experiment meant to challenge our will and an art project designed to challenge us creatively. It certainly won't be easy but nothing worth undertaking is.

2012 was decidedly ended in a blaze of glory and 2014 shall be rung in similarly, but 2013 shall be spent over the influence.

tommylester

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