March 17, 2019
On Sundays I reflect.
I've done this at least 52 times now. That's a trip
Today I turn 29. I didn't drink alcohol this week.
This has been a long and hard year for me. Last year on this day I began with brunch in NYC. My friends treated me to a five course meal with champagne at any opportunity the waiter would allow. I'm sure I had a few beers and a coffee in that mix. I remember people coming up to our table to ask my friends if I was a celebrity, one man specifically mentioned The Chainsmokers were in town and suggested I was one of them. At the end of our two hour indulgence, my younger friend from my frat in college happened to walk in the restaurant and I spent $50 on two glasses of Scotch for us. The next thing I remember is waking up on my friends couch and preparing to pregame my birthday party. We met some other friends at an apartment in Brooklyn where they only had tequila to drink. I remember drinking as much as I could (I hate tequila). At this point I was dressed in a dinosaur costume and we headed for the House of Yes to meet up with my other friend and the girl I was seeing at the time. Soul Clap was spinning records, my favorite DJs.
At this point one of my friends had to leave, and I continued to drink heavily. My other friend tried to help me keep it together, but there was no hope. It was 2 or 3 in the morning and I was drunk for the third time in a day. At this point none of my friends wanted anything to do with me, and my lady friend told me she didn't want me at her apartment. I followed two of my other friends outside around 4 am to say goodbye only to find out the club would not let me back in. I pleaded with the bouncer and tried to break in, only to have him threaten to call the police on me. My friend paid my tab and got my credit card and then they took me home. My lady friend changed her mind, and I stayed at her apartment after all. It was clear she wanted nothing to do with me. I was a drunk asshole.
So I wake up in her loft, and I've never felt like such a piece of shit. I had upset my friends, and nobody who was there wanted anything to do with me. I had thought about sobriety many times in life prior to that morning, but that day I knew it would be a long time before I drank again. It took me a few days to come out of that place. I've never felt as badly as I did in the aftermath of my 28th birthday. I knew there was nothing I could do to erase that behavior, nor to change the way I'd treated my friends that day and for my whole career as an alcoholic.
So I spent this past year getting sober. I never want alcohol to be the excuse for treating people like shit. I never want a hangover to be the reason I don't blow glass. I drank June 1 when I got back from my next trip to NYC, and the lady friend ended things with me officially. I thought I could drink and write for a night and make everything better after a few months of abstinence. Instead I had two cups of whiskey and fell asleep. I also drank at my show last month, and I think it made me puke.
So here I am a year later, having consumed alcohol twice. I don't go to bars any more. I don't spend money I don't have on booze. I'm never hungover, and I'm never worried about driving my car or operating my lathe due to being drunk. I used to use alcohol as an excuse in so many areas of my life. Now it's just an excuse for me to be my awkward self without liquid courage. Most of you probably don't know me and you don't know how I was when I was drinking. I don't really know how to explain what it was like, but those who know how I got know this is a much better version of myself these days.
I've spent the last year with only one priority for the first time in my life; my self. Every day is a struggle choosing not to drink. It's a struggle to get out of bed and exercise, and make my smoothie. I drink Chinese herbal tea twice daily but some days like yesterday, I forgot my fully blended smoothie in the garage when I drove to work. Sometimes it feels like I can't catch a break, like when I spend all day handling business so I can get on the torch just to make another cup that has an imperfection on the last step.
Then I enter my studio, every morning whether I'm blowing glass or not. That's the first step, just showing up. Every day I walk in my studio and I know why I'm working so hard. My studio is all I need. After years on the road, without a place to call my own all I need is a space to create when the feeling is right. Sometimes I go in five days in a row and don't make anything, but then I get the inspiration to make something beautiful.
Over the last year it's been hard to motivate myself to blow glass, but when I do I've had a few breakthroughs with my work and designs this year. I've got two renters in the studio that I enjoy being around and working with. I've developed this Sunday Reflection into a way of keeping myself accountable, and it's become a meditation for me every Sunday morning. I've improved more as a snowboarder this year than ever before.
Things in my life are going extremely well, despite the fact that I'm still struggling. I can't believe I made it 29 years here. I can't believe I made it through the last year to be honest. I remember sitting in that airport in New York last year and just feeling the worst I think I've ever felt. It's been hard, but I'm very grateful to be on the path I'm on.
This essay feels like a lot of rambling again. I'm really just in awe that this day actually came. After drinking every day for ten years I never thought I would be sober for a full year. I remember when I was young and in AA and I couldn't fathom a whole month without alcohol.
There is so much that I want to accomplish by the time I'm 30. Primarily, I'm determined to ditch digital. This technology is driving me crazy. As soon as I don't have to manage social media accounts I'll be able to focus on my real goals. Don't worry! I'll still check in weekly with my Sunday Reflections, and you'll still get even more behind the scenes content when JCost gets here this summer.
If you've read this far, I want to thank you for taking the time to follow my journey. I'm amazed by how many friends and family members tune in. I'm astonished by how many people I have connected with through Drinking Vessels; artists, collectors, appreciators. The feedback from you is why I keep creating this content; from Sunday Reflections, to every day Instagram updates and behind the scenes live action.
I'm going to go enjoy the day. It's beautiful outside here in the mountains. I'll be making art and spending my day with friends. Tonight we're seeing my friends The Main Squeeze, a band I saw weekly in college back when Wednesday night was 15 cent beer night. I'll get back to business tomorrow, but for today I'm just going to enjoy myself.
Thanks for tuning in
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.
March 24, 2019
Ben, Thankyou for writing another beautiful reflection. I’ve met you a few times, Purim, High Holidays, and of course not too many appear on the outside with what’s going on in the inside. I find your writing extremely meaningful and thankful you want to share it. I hope you continue on this positive, creative journey and I’ll look forward to reading more. Hope you’ve had a wonderful birthday this year celebrating you. I’m sending you a virtual hug!