Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's Great to be Alive

If I had to make any statements about my weekend, I think It's Great to be Alive would describe how I felt the entire weekend.  Although it was bitter sweet and full of emotions both high and low, I would not trade it for anything.  The best part about it was the fact that going into the weekend I had no idea how it was going to go.  When I first moved to Denver, I spent a lot of time going out by myself.  Now back in Atlanta, I have come to the realization that in order to do the things I want to do, I will probably have to do them alone.  Well, at least that is what I was thinking on Friday. Here is how things ended up.

As I drove to Athens with the window down and the music loud with the cold air and warm sunshine hitting my face, my mind was racing.  I had two nights of the Drive by Truckers ahead of me.  I had a hotel room and the plan was to meet up with a new sober friend.   She and I have been facebook friends for a while and actually met in Charlotte on NYE.  I was venturing into completely new territory.  First I was headed into a very risky weekend in a city where all of my addictions met each other years ago.  I was without any of my support network, and to top it off I was going to hang out with this person that I had just met.  Needless to say the fear or excitement or what ever it was crept into my very dysfunctional brain and the next thing I know I am thinking about fat lines of Cocaine, ice cold whiskey, and LSD.  Which was my typical concert cocktail.   Now, I have had these thoughts before but not like this.  Usually it is a fleeting thought and is gone before I even realize what I was really was thinking about.  After a while of playing the tape through, and realizing that I would just end up scaring the shit out of my new friend in that state of mind as well as end up in jail or worse I came up a much safer plan.  I have really been wanting to get tattooed lately and I mean heavily.  My old friend Craig, who is no longer with us, use to love getting work done at Pain and Wonder.  Which is right next to the 40 Watt.  How appropriate would it be for these guys to tattoo me right next door to where I would be seeing my favorite band?  But, what would I get?  Immediately I realized how much I had been thinking about Cocaine and decided that the symbol for one of my 12 step groups would work.  Then every time from this weekend on I would have a permanent reminder of what I am suppose to be doing instead of what might feel good.  Unfortunately Pain and Wonder was all booked up till Tuesday, but I still managed to get the tattoo done.  It has been a while since I have gotten work done and I forgot how much that shit hurts....  But I still love it!

I was a little apprehensive about the weekend with my new friend but, from what I new about her, I told myself everything would be OK.  I have my reminder, I have my phone, and if I really get tempted or uncomfortable I will just leave.  More times than not, my expectations or fears or what ever you want to call it were way off.  There was absolutely no reason for apprehension.  My new friend who I will call "FISH" for now ended up being a perfect running mate for the weekend.  Smart, funny, weird, and a rock n roll lover, who could ask for more.  Saturday, we went to the DBT fundraiser for Nuci's Space with her boyfriend, which was really cool.  He is one of us and is also a member of one of my most recent favorite bands.  We talked about music and recovery, and I was very amazed with his openness with a stranger.  Needless to say it was a really great evening.  In that moment I had an epiphany.  I have known for a while that Kennesaw, Ga was not were I wanted to live and that it probably was not the best place for me to pursue a writing career.  Lets face it, it is not the thriving metropolis of art and free thinking.  Actually it is the complete opposite and I do not fit here at all.  The funny part about all this is that my mom asked me Friday before I left what my plans were, as far as where I wanted to live once that time came.  It was something that had really been causing a good bit of internal strife.  I knew for obvious reasons that Colorado was no longer an option, but the thought of spending any money on a place in Cobb County or Fulton made me sick to my stomach. But, now that little Addie is here the thought of moving out of state was no longer on the table.  What was I going to do?  In that moment talking about staying sober and seeing rock n roll on the patio of Nuci's Space in Athens, I realized that was exactly where I was suppose to be.  This is a place full of art, weirdness, acceptance, rock n roll and a great recovery scene.  So now the weight of where I will be headed next, is gone.  I just need to figure out how and when.  We will see what happens this next year in school and go from there.

Now, this is the part of the story where things get a little sad.  Some time Thursday night longtime friend, and road manager of the Truckers, and long time 40 Watt employee, Craig Lieske, past away.  I did not know him but from everything I witnessed this weekend he was truly loved.  Friday, during the show, it was obvious that the band was hurting.  From where I was standing I could see the folks in the front row up against the stage crying and singing at the same time.  It touched a place in my heart.  I felt so bad for them.  I thought about how I would feel in their shoes.  I was amazed at the bands commitment and the show went on.  I guess that is why its called rock n roll.  I am guessing that since Craig was a rock musician this is what he would have wanted.  It was quite moving and now I completely understood why I love this band and their music the way I do.  It is the perseverance out of struggle that get can relate to.  I have always been good at getting back on the horse after I have fallen off it.  Despite the feelings off loss in the air the entire weekend, it was a like a warm hug from an old friend.  Sad, yet full of hope and promise of the future...  Maybe it was Craig looking down on all of us in that venue, watching us rock!

 With it being Martin Luther King Jr's birthday today, I absolutely must share one of if not the coolest experience of the weekend.  On Friday night there was this guy standing behind me yelling and dancing that brought a big smile to my face.  He was very excited and reminded me of an old friend.  As the band started to play the third song, "The Three Great Alabama Icons" he started yelling wildly that he had played this song for his class earlier that day.  Come to find out he was a teacher at a local high school.  I want to say a lit teacher, but I really cannot remember.  For those of you that are not familiar with this song, it is ultimately a song about Alabama, during the years of George Wallace.  The self proclaimed segregationist and on and off Governor of Alabama from 1963 to 1987.  The song finishes with George Wallace ending up in hell with the Devil being a southerner.  The song portrays Wallace for what he was, an opportunist willing trample on the backs of others to get where he wanted to go.  After the show I introduced my self the guy standing behind me who turned out to be a friend of my new buddy "Fish".  We talked about the reactions of his students from hearing the song, which were mostly black.  He said they loved it.  We went on to talk about my writing and other things.  It really was great to meet a teacher stepping out of bounds to make sure his kids learned.  I dont ever remember learning about George Wallace in High School.

To sum everything up, it is great to be alive.  This turned out to be the best weekend I have had in a really long time.  I gained a new friend, which I desperately needed.  I spent some time with some great musicians, went to a fantastic meeting, decided where I will live next and saw one of my favorite bands live two nights in a row.  The best part about this is I managed to do all this with out drugs and alcohol.  What a blessing!  I guess the tattoo worked.  I will go to any length to stay sober, but I will never quit seeing rock n roll!

Rest in Peace Craig Lieske!

A World of Hurt

Once upon a time, my advice to you would have been go out and find yourself a whore
But I guess I've grown up, because I don't give that kind of advice anymore

Gonna be a world of hurt / Gonna be a world of hurt / Gonna be a world of hurt

I was 27 when I figured out that blowing my brains wasn't the answer
So I decided, maybe I should find a way to make this world work out for me
And my good friend Paul was 83 when he told me; that "To love is to feel pain"
And I thought about that then and I've thought about that again and again

Gonna be a world of hurt / Gonna be a world of hurt / Gonna be a world of hurt

"To love is to feel pain" there ain't no way around it
The very nature of love is to grieve when it is over
The secret to a happy ending is knowing when to roll the credits
Better role them now before something else goes wrong
No, it's a wonderful world, if you can put aside the sadness
And hang on to every ounce of beauty upon you
Better take the time to know it there ain't no way around it
If you feel anything at all

Gonna be a world of hurt / Gonna be a world of hurt / Gonna be a world of hurt

So if what you have is working for you, or you think that it can stand a reasonable chance, and whatever's broken seems fixable and nothing's beyond repair
If you still think about each other and smile before you remember how screwed up it's gotten or maybe dream of a time less rotten
Remember, it ain't too late to take a deep breath and throw yourself into it with everything you got

It's great to be alive

Gonna be a world of hurt / Gonna be a world of hurt / Gonna be a world of hurt

Patterson Hood / Drive-By Truckers (In studio 11PM, June 16, 2005) © Soul Dump Music (BMI)
Pedal Steel Guitar - John Neff / Wurlitzer Electric Piano - Jason Isbell / Lead Guitar - Mike Cooley

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