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Living in stone

Genevieve,

Sorry I didn’t get with you earlier. I had to have my foot worked on yesterday, and my eyes are still twirling around in my head. Recovering from surgery is never as easy as they say. It’s certainly much harder than I thought. Those painkillers are enticing. Like morphine—sleepy but not asleep, present but not quite, happy but not joyful, melancholy but not depressed. It’s very much what I sought from drinking and drugs before.

At the same time, I hate it. I’ve achieved all of that in isolated moments in sobriety—isolated moments that become longer and more connected as I grow in sobriety.

As you can probably tell, I have the special advantage of having sobered up at a later age—almost 30—but also entering sobriety with the maturity of an 11 year old. Together, the retarded state of my emotional maturity keeps me growing, and in growing, keeps me excited and interested in what this life has to offer. My very astute 18-year-old daughter tells me I’ve finally achieved the maturity of a 35 year old and that, someday, my maturity and my age might meet—and I’ll be wise because of it, with the special advantage of knowing what it was like to be absolutely conscious of my development.

My god, I wish I was as on the ball as she is. As it stands, I can look back and see what a danger-prone and self-destructive person I was at her age. Fortunately, she didn’t start drinking regularly at the age of ten and has all the advantages of having a parent who knows what it means to have lost time, focus, and steady-mindedness.

I went over to school the other day to attend to some teaching duties. On the way, I stopped by the art department and borrowed a couple of chisels to work on a new stone. I really want to head downstairs to work on it, but I dare not let this foot swell up and lengthen the healing process. I saw Maria Rodriquez while I was at school. She remembers you well and says, Hey!. She hopes all is going well for you and send her warmest regards.

I loved those pictures and sure would like to get together and talk stone someday. I’m generally at AA hall twice a week, Monday evening (when I can) for the meditation deal and Saturday for the noon laugh-in. I also go to a meeting at Village Christian on Friday evening at 7 p.m. or thereabouts. It’s tiny, some old friends and me. But they are good guys who you might want to take some time for dinner with after the meeting. I generally can’t make dinner because I have a seven year old—my adopted son—who needs attention because Billi works on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Who knows about this sculpture thing? It’s a great creative moment for me, and since I work in a very intuitive way with such things, it’s nice not to know where it’s going until the moment comes when it’s time to stop.

I doubt my sculpture will ever be anything but abstract, and always with some sort of political undertone. The creative moment is always a good lead in to writing for me. I have a book to finish and a dissertation to get underway. But the way I look at it, while sculpture may take time, energy, and obsession, it doesn’t distract from the larger scope of my work.

If anything, I have to make sure I make some money in between. Since money is only a negative motivator for me (as in, I pay bills to keep negative consequences of not paying at bay), I have to put special effort into deviating from my work to attend to a job.

I will probably attend Miles’ next workshop in October. I’ve spoken to Mark, my teacher at the college, and he says that he can only take me so far in Sculpture II. I need to move on. The process of fiddling around with remedial work, he says, will only stifle and keep me behind. I agree. I’ve had some students who need to fulfill requirements just to get to their level of accomplishment. Since I have no stake in the educational requirements of an art degree—I am now all-but-dissertation for a Ph.D. in 20th century U.S. Environmental History and American Literature—I can work to fill the front yard with as many pieces as I can hack.

In the meantime, I get to live to see what’s next. When I was a kid, I thought life would end at a desk in a dark room somewhere. How lively a life I’ve had instead. In this particular moment, it’s all wake up in the morning and realizing that the rest is gravy.

Call me sometime soon. I realize you are a busy businessperson, as well as being involved in other things elsewhere. But if you can pencil me in sometime—Tuesdays and Thursdays all day until the end of the semester—that would be fine. This summer will be harder to find time, hopefully. I want to be out building bridges and walking on the sky, wrangling the weight and skill of being an ironworker. But that depends on the state of heavy construction.

Patrick

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