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Grapevine : February 2011
home) seems like the most nerve- wracking thing that I attempted in that time, including quitting smoking and going back to school. I was raised and educated in Philadelphia. As a kid I liked to draw funny cartoons and make people laugh. My heroes then were famous cartoonists Bill Watter- son, Gary Larson and Johnny Hart. Drawing cartoons was the one thing that made this glasses-wearing, allergy-ridden, non-athletic kid feel special, made mefeelthat Ibelonged. I applied myself to the craft complete- lyandwhenIwas14Iwasgiven a job creating cartoons for a free weekly newspaper. IwassoproudofwhatIhad done. All the great cartoonists had been published young, and now I could count myself among them. The paper with my first cartoon came out on a Wednesday. Earlier thatdayIgotacallfromoneofmy friends who said his parents weren't home and that he had broken into their liquor cabinet. By the time the paper arrived later that afternoon, I was completely wasted. That day I got alcohol poison- ing, was hospitalized and had my first taste of alcoholism. I promised I would never drink again and meant it, but I had started a pattern that would last the next 12 years. That day my dream of being a cartoonist was fulfilled, and my nightmare of becoming an alcoholic began. By the time I moved to San Francisco 10 years later, I had stopped making cartoons or art- work of any kind. I had been ar- rested, been in a couple fights that put me in the hospital and was al- most kicked out of college for aca- demic misconduct. In short, my life was a complete mess. I had been in the rooms of AA twice during this time---once of my own accord and then again with a court card to sign. Both times I left because I was unable to see the value of a sober life. One time when I had a month sober I had a moment of clarity. It was a rare warm day in December, but it wasn't the warmth of the sun I felt. For once I was at peace and I knew at that moment that every- thing would be fine and that being sober was the best thing for me. Unfortunately, I was unwilling to change my life. I still saw the same friends and went to the same places. Although I had a sponsor and was reading the Big Book, I drank again. The paper with my first cartoon came out on a Wednesday. By the time the paper arrived later that afternoon, I was completely wasted. Grapevine 41