Thursday, September 8, 2011

David Sedaris and Mosquitoes

Excerpt from David Sedaris’ "Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist"


After a few months in my parents’ basement, I took an apartment near the state university where I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these is dangerous, but in combination they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations. The moment I took my first burning snootful, I understood that this was the drug for me. Speed eliminates all doubt. Am I smart enough? Will people like me? Do I really look all right in this plastic jumpsuit? These are questions for insecure potheads. A speed enthusiast knows that everything he says or does is brilliant. The upswing is that, having eliminated the need for both eating and sleeping, you have a full twenty-four hours a day to spread your charm and wit.

We were asked to read this essay given to us in our Art Seminar class and we were going to discuss it today. I didn't make it to class. I got out there at 5am until 7 a.m., when I'd had enough of waiting while the mosquitoes chewed at my head, and feeling soggy from the rain.  So I wrote my professor telling him I wouldn't be in class and why. 

What really added insult to injury, was at around 5:30 a.m., a car came by and I am 99.9%  certain it was someone I knew, who didn't stop. I know they saw me. I think it was the same person who did the same thing on another occasion during the Spring one morning, when I was again hitch hiking, trying to get to school. Very mean spirited I have to say. 

Regardless, it made me happy to contemplate  and write about David Sedaris' s essay. What struck me most about Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist, was not only how funny David Sedaris is, but there is are elements of serious truths, that underline his personal stories from his life. The excerpt above spoke volumes to me, because I grew up in the 60s and went to a kind of wild conceptual art school, all through the 70s . I relate to what he says about how that combination of conceptual art and altered states of reality, could potentially destroy civilizations. 

I certainly experienced first hand how substance and alcohol abuse can do a complete and thorough job in destroying individuals and families. I have no doubt I might have been able to experience my first University go round, in a much more positive and productive way, had I'd been clean and sober with a clear mind. It truly makes me so grateful to know my Fine Art University education is now the best it could possibly be, and David Sedaris helped to add clarity to my perspective. 

And so, in spite of not having wheels, being left to head chewing mosquitoes, hitch hiking along the side of the road, in the rain, at 5:30 in the dark morning, my not so great day still looks a hundred times better than any good day I'd ever had in altered states of reality. I thank God I found a 12 Step Fellowship of Recovery , second to none, that changed my life, saved my life, and gave me a good life.

It has been said, that David Sedaris is Garrison Keillor's evil twin.  I think he is brilliant. I'd heard him some time ago on CBC Radio Q, with Jian Ghomeshi. I was crazy about him then and I hadn't read any of his books. I was anxious to get online to know more about him today. I was surprised to learn he attended the University of Chicago, where he graduated with his BFA, in spite of how he states he seemed to grow up without an "artistic temperment". 

He got his start on radio, where he read his writings on air. I love the fact he is so self effacing with his humour and wit. A very real guy and he could almost pass as a Canadian, because he struck me as being very humble, down to earth and soft spoken. I am looking forward to getting back to school on Monday so I can sign some of his work out from the library. Here's hoping and praying I get there with out the head chewing mean spirited creatures!

2 comments:

Christie said...

hey great piece Cathy; really enjoyed reading it.

Little Iron Horse said...

Thank you Christie for reading and your comment. You made my day!