From the February 2011 magazine.

February 2011: Artist Interrupted

A promising career is snuffed out by alcoholism

"My first cartoon came out. By the time the paper arrived that afternoon, I was completely wasted."

I am sitting in the airport waiting for a delayed flight out of San Francisco. Four years ago I came to the city by the bay with a notebook full of drunken musings and a head full of my best ideas, which included becoming an artist of some sort who could drink all day like my heroes at the time, Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac. I was leaving behind a worried family, a nearly ruined education, a police record and a couple of vengeful thugs who would have hurt me if they could.

I have been sober now for two years and change. Going home to stay (I never stopped calling Philadelphia home) seems like the most nerve-wracking thing that I attempted in that time, including quitting smoking and going back to school.

-- Paul W.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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