I got this email over a month ago. Today I finally replied.
From: Sylvain P.
Subject: Blog reading, Cd Buying, "fan"
Date: August 23, 2007 5:31:31 PM PDT
To: Justin Winokur
I just finished reading all of your blog entries from 2001 till the Aug. 8/07 one... it took me a while since i only found your blog recently, but didn't feel i should just start in the middle so i started reading where you deamed it was time for you to start writing... you wouldn' t start a book in the middle.. well maybe you would... but you get what i mean right?... I hope you do anyway.
I am currently downloading your Thirteen Songs about Love on iTunes. I listened to the samples before buying it and I don't know if I love it I have to tell you;... but I bought it anyway because I felt a commitment to you after reading so much about you. I'm telling myself that it's one of those albums that will sound the way it's suppose to sound when you listen to it from the first to the last song. I'll let you know if I like it better after I listen to it all.
I'm sure you get emails from fans all the time telling you all kinds of things... things you probably never imagined perfect strangers (what makes them perfect anyway) would ever share with you... I always wondered that about being a "celebrity"... how it would feel to have a whole following who thinks they know you but they really just know that persona of you that you decide to put out there.. even if you don't try to edit yourself you still do to an extent... I'm not sure where i'm going with this... you've got me thinking in partial sentences and half thoughs...
I guess I just wanted to tell you that you have another person who doesn't know you and will most likely never meet you ( but it is a small world after all) who knows about you and the things you shared about your life... sometimes it's just nice to know someone is out there listening... and reading.
And I must make a confession that I first started reading your blog because I though you were very hot (and though you were gay/bi)... now i still think your hot but it's not (sorry) the first thing I think about when i think of Justin.
I hope you keep making music and that you realise that life isn't always as hard as you make it out to be... sometimes life is just sitting around being a bit bored while somoene ties up the loose ends for you.
Cheers man and I hope you keep blogging.
A "fan" but I use the term loosely,
Fredericton NB Canada
From: Justin Winokur
Subject: Re: Blog reading, Cd Buying, "fan"
Date: September 30, 2007 10:33:09 PM PDT
Did you ever read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
There's this one part towards the beginning where Charlie's grandfather buys him a Willy Wonka chocolate bar. Charlie hopes that one of the winning tickets is inside of it with all his heart. Charlie is filled with anticipation, excitement, and fear. So, he keeps the candy bar for some days without even opening it.
Then, one day he smells it. That's all. He just smells it. He wants to savor the entire experience and make it last as long as possible.
The next day he gets up the nerve to open up the corner and take the tiniest bite. Then he puts it away.
Each day he tears open the wrapper just the littlest bit more so he can have another nibble.
Or, at least that's how I remember the story went.
But, that's how I felt with this email you sent. I read the first sentence and then just sat with your words for a few weeks. Only then did I finally let myself move on to the next sentence. And, then I let that roll around in my mind for a while.
It's been over a month since you wrote to me, and only tonight did I decide I'd finally get up the nerve to finish reading your email.
I was nervous and excited and a little scared to read the last paragraphs. I don't know what I was scared of. Probably that the letter would end and then there'd be silence and no trip to the chocolate factory.
One thing is for sure: I don't get emails like yours very often at all anymore. I used to get them from time to time back when I wrote a lot more. But, I started to get down in the last years. And, when I get depressed I isolate myself from the world and keep my stories to myself. I spent a long time scared and ashamed of what I was feeling, thinking, and doing.
I didn't want to share those things with anyone, because talking about them or writing about them would've forced me to meet those problems head on.
My mixed up logic went something like this: If I don't write about it in my blog then maybe I can close my eyes and it will all go away.
As I write this, I find myself wanting to write that it was one of my worst ideas ever. But, as I pause I realize that it is, hands down, the worst idea I've ever had. Worse yet, I actually put this shabby plan into action for a few years.
I think the point of all that is that during those very low times I stopped writing. As you can imagine, everyone else stopped writing back.
Your letter hits me like the first warm day after a cold, rainy spring. (Not that I'd know what a cold, rainy spring is actually like. I mean, come on, I live in California. But, this is how I imagine it would feel.)
Your letter made me feel appreciated. You made me feel like someone notices.
And, it's incredibly reassuring to know you bought my album. Way back in dusty old 2003 I would sometimes get over 7,000 hits a day on my crazy blog. I thought this was ridiculous and fascinating. I'd watch the IP logs and I noticed that most readers would come by and read quite a few of my entries in one sitting. Yet, almost none bought my album. It made me sad and a little angry. I gave away buttons, photos, necklaces, and anything else I could find to give away to this strange world of strangers. I really wanted everyone to hear the album I worked on for so many years—this thing that meant the absolute most to me. I'd hoped that more people would buy it.
But, they didn't. I think this made me feel like nobody cared about my music. And, maybe nobody does. Then again, even if they did, how would I know? (I mean, unless everyone sends me emails like yours or something.)
You, however, did buy my album. And, for that I thank you.
I made another album, too. It's not out yet. But, there's a link to a song I'm giving away for free on the music page of my web site http://justinwinokur.com. It's called The End Of The Road. I think it sounds like The Monkees and Neil Diamond with some Brian Wilson thrown in there.
And, I don't think I'm a celebrity. I thought that being a celebrity meant that other people write about your life? The only person that continues to chronicle my life and broadcast it to the public is me. (Then again, I imagine my ex-girlfriends might write about me on their blogs to chronicle my bad behavior or how mad they are at me for any number of stupid things I did or said. But, I know better than to ever read an ex's blog. And, this isn't the same as having a real writer write about me, even if the ex-girlfriend is actually a real writer.)
On the other side of the scale: I did spend two months in rehab this year. Does spending some time in rehab make you a celebrity? Or, does being a celebrity make you go to rehab?
Send me your post address. I'll find something cool to send you.
And, I hope you keep taking the time to tell people when you're thinking about them.
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