Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Rock Star

The room is completely dark with the exception of the red ember illuminating a sweaty face. I don't have my glasses on so it is impossible to see much farther than my nose. I had gone to "sleep" a few hours or a few days ago. It is hard to tell. Have you every had that feeling when you wake up and you are not sure exactly where you are or what the fuck happened? Yeah that was me. Wait a minute. I have something in my mouth. What the fucking fuck. I fell asleep eating something- something sweet. I continue chewing this paste in my mouth. I feel the sugary paste on the corners of my mouth I must have been drooling as well.

 I try to lean up when I notice my arm has gone completely numb. I must have "slept" on it the wrong way. There is no light in here. Someone has covered the only window with cardboard. The room smells like sulfur, butane, and the faint smell of ass. That old fart smell. I know There is a light around here somewhere if I could only wake my arm up to grab my glasses off the nightstand. As I reach up to scratch my nose, I my glasses are on my face. I can't see because I am having trouble keeping my eyes open.

I am bolted awake by and alarm. What the fuck is happening here. I hear something slam again the wall. No more alarm to worry about. The light is on now, blasting into my face. He took the shade off the lamp, but I don't see him. I notice something in my mouth. The fucking cinnamon roll. I never did finish chewing it. God damn. Ugh. I see it now, smeared across my lap. I must have fell asleep half propped up, while I was eating the cinnamon roll. Everything is slowly coming into focus.

My eyes travel to the side of the bed. Ah ha. There is the culprit right there. I see the pill bottle and pick it up with the tingling arm. Whatever was in here is long gone. "May cause drowsiness". Ain't that the truth. The only thing that would cause a night like this is a klonopin, or 2, or 4. Oh my. As my gaze gets adjusted I see the blood on my arm. It looks like I was hacking on my arm while I was dipping on some benzos. I have a softball sized bruise near my elbow.

FUCK. The alarm goes off again.


I hear a voice. Where is that coming from? I lean over to the other side of the bed. There he is. Above a torn piece of carpet, I see a sweaty man. He is around 20 years old with bad skin and darting eyes. His fingers are red. His shirt is off so I can see the greasy layer of ribs leading down to his belt. I am not sure how long I have been sleeping but apparently my host never got any rest.

Without so much as giving me a sideways glance to break from his carpet surfing he hisses "Can you turn off that fucking alarm?"
I step over his back and grab it. It is the least I can do. He let me stay the night.

I pat him gently on the shoulder "hey man, I guess that means you aren't going to make it to work this morning."

I crawl back into his bed. I am not sure why he invited me here. He said it was because he didn't want to be alone. I can understand that, I can understand him. If I can get him off that floor, I might want to cuddle ESPECIALLY since I ate up all his comedown. In the meantime, I will catch a few moments of sleep. Soon, it will be check out time and I am not sure of he has any more money. We are living the dream, the dope fiend and the rock star.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The slings and arrows

The fog has slowly rolled in over the city. I can hear the sounds of the garbage trucks getting started on their route. I can hear the chimes of the recycled bottles getting places gingerly in shopping carts as the all night recyclers attempt to beat the clock. In a few moments, their free money will be sailing off to the city dump. There is a method to their madness. Sorting through their smelly routes of dumpsters and cans they can get up to $50 for three to four hours of intense scrounging.

 I feel slightly guilty when I see the older Asian ladies searching. I have put everything from piss to bloody hits I have missed to uncapped syringes in those bottles. I hate to think of myself as catalyst of a new disease. I knew a mother that died that way. She got the Hep C after being stuck by one of her son's needles. He swore he was clean. As she made his bed, she felt the truth sticking her deep into her finger. I wondered what he thought as he stood there at her bedside thirty years later when she died of liver cancer. He still had not gotten clean.

 Mornings in San Francisco are the worst time. The moisture in the air makes the streets smell like a mixture of piss and rotten food. San Francisco is known for a few things- good food, cheap drugs, and pussy. I am sitting in the all night doughnut shop watching the hookers walk by. They swear the best time to catch a trick is on his way to work. I would never be out this late. It is still dark outside and no one can hear you scream. At least, no one who cares. 

The pimps like to shoot dice up on the corner. They come down from Oakland and Vallejo and pick the girls up before the sun shows their true age. There is a girl in here getting coffee. She isn't even old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes. In the light you can see that under all that make-up she can't be more than sixteen years old. I am not sure any of these men are looking at her face. She is mostly naked in a pair of booty shorts and a half top. I can see the bruise she is trying to cover up on her leg with the wrong color foundation. The customers don't like the merchandise all beat up. One of the girl in the stable must have loaned her some clothes. 

As I attempt to gnaw on my bear claw, I feel my stomach start to churn. 

"Hey baby- you got a dollar. Can you help me out?" I ask her. 
I have no shame.
As she pulls her money out of her bra she tells me "all I got is twenties, sweetie". 
This is the worst possible answer.
She pours the cream into her coffee and cover it up as I slide out of my booth. I am in hustler mode now. She is going to give me some money. She just doesn't know it yet. 
I smile at her and tell her "well- let me follow you to the counter girl". I grab her coffee for her. Chivalry is not dead.  
She gives me that look to let me know she can't and I whisper to her "help me out. I am sick". 
As we get to the counter, I know what is about to happen. She gets her change and hands me a $5 dollar bill. That lincoln hits my hand and the satisfaction of a well played con makes a warm sensation fill my body.

I kiss the girl on her cheek as she rushes for the door. I feel for her situation. I haven't been her but I know what she is going through. Yet, I still needed that money. She has spent far too long in here. I hear the clip, clip of her heels as she runs to get into the passenger seat. Her chariot awaits. She may get backhanded for giving me that $5 or she may have learned how to lie. Either way, she will hand him over all the money and probably the coffee too. And it better be just how he likes it.

This is my time to move. My stomach is telling me it really , really is not hungry. The tears start running down my face as I yawn. I see the clouds changing as I pass by the liquor store. Me and the homebum standing out front are in the same position. He can't get what he needs until that door opens at six o'clock. He will be pissing on himself by noon. Right now, he needs this door to open to get rid of the shakes. 

I reach toward him. "Hey man- you want the rest of this bearclaw?" I ask.
He paces in places and tells me "No sis, I can't eat. Thank you though."

We all share the same streets at the same time in the same place- The junkie, the drunk, the hooker, the cops, the pimps, and the johns. We are all looking for something but none of us seem to find it. Even when we get what we think we need, there is only that brief feeling of satisfaction until we get the next. 

I see the shadows up ahead and know that is flacco up there. Or gordo, or big man or whatever I can them today. I pull out my $45 and add her $5 to mine to make $50. Now I can get a gram. Once I get this sick off of me, I will curl up somewhere like a cat in the hot sun. Maybe I should save the rest of this doughnut. It will taste good until I have to do this same thing all over again. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

There was that time I almost lost my leg

There are many types of users. There are "chippers". These are the junkie unicorns of users. These are people who can use occasionally. To me, any day was an occasion. How someone can take an Oxy or shoot some dope here and there is beyond my comprehension. Yet i hear that people do it. Personally, my drug of choice was more. 

There are pain patients.  After having three surgeries, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. I needed that pain medicine- needed it. I would be lying if I said it didn't feel good in the process. It would have been so easy to take that extra pill. And pain profoundly impacts your life. It is hard to participate in the world when you have trouble sitting in the chair. Pain patients- I salute you. You are like the food addict. You need something to live that may be killing you at the same time. 

There are the new users. They provide middlemen, older junkies, and dealers a constant stream of income. All that over charging and overdosing. It is almost as if they fell compelled to step on their dope to keep them from killing themselves. And they need you to do EVERYTHING for them. Please new users- quit while you are behind. If not, be safe. Don't trust assholes to give you clean supplies. Don't believe in favors. There are none. 

There are too many of us to describe in one place.
There are the maintenance users. They use just enough to keep from killing themselves as a result of crippling depression. There are the users that never save a wakeup and always push the limits, the greedy dope hogs of the world. There are tweeky mcdopeheads, always insisting on mixing uppers and downers. They like to nod out staring out the window as they look for the FBI and masterbate at the same time. There are the scientist users- keeping a sterile field, clean water while injecting dope that was up someone's dirty ass a few days prior. 

Finally, there are the garbage can users. They will stick a rusty needle in their neck on a street corner. That was me. They will use spit or tears to mix up dope. That was me. They will hate themselves so much that they will almost lose their leg to an infection because they refuse to go to the doctor. That was me. I think I shot up with grape crush trying to be cute. I wasn't laughing when I stuck my finger in a hole between the bone section. I paused but it did not stop me. We all have our crosses to bear. 

I walked around with the rotten leg for a month. I got it treated but never changed the bandages. I got arrested with four abscesses but that leg stunk so bad the police wanted to let me go. Too much paperwork to take a crazy junkie bitch to the hospital in handcuffs. One of my abscesses needed surgery. So I was in Jail with a bandage on each limb. 

People always say there is no one like me. You are just like me. We are the same. We chose different roads but end in the same place. Today, I chose to live. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Heating Pad

When I was a teenager, I remember sitting on the sofa starting blankly at the TV while my mother vaguely attempted to educate me on the ways of the world. She would have her heating pad on her back after a hard day at work. She carried most of the parenting burden as my father was either traveling for work or drunk or both. I would to lose myself in Star Trek the Next Generation, imagine myself being magically transported past the boundaries of West Chester Ohio. I had very few friends and an emotional unstable boyfriend, a perfect storm of self pity  I could not wait for the weekend so I could get out of the house.

 Around 7:30, my vegetative meditation would be broken by the sound of a car in the driveway. I could feel a chill go up my spine. I held my breath with anxious anticipation as my father turned the door knob. I never needed to look up from the tv but I could tell within three steps if he was drunk. In fact, I already knew he had been drinking today. I saw him at the bar on my way to school. The bus passed by the pub where he swore he ate his morning breakfast. I suppose it was more like hair of the dog. It was always silently humiliating to me to know that he was drinking before 8:00am. As if he was on auto pilot, He would come home in the afternoon, sleep it off, then go back to work. His command of the alcoholic arts was truly masterful- up until he got fired for being drunk on the job. He had "hid" it for years, or at least they had tolerated him. Now he was home from another job. It was too late to try to hide in my room.

As he walked through the door, I sensed the extra stagger. There was always an extra step on the end when he was tanked. I exhaled my frustration into the universe. With a silent glance,  my mother insisted I say hello to him. She said it "made her life easier" aka he would continue to put his check in the bank as long as I was nice to him. I knew his routine. He just wanted to get food, go upstairs, smoke a few pall mall gold 100s and pass out without incident. Normally, there would be yelling as I scurried away. She had her heating pad on so she wasn't up for an argument, not tonight.

I took a sip on my beverage, a sprite and peach schnapps. I had started stealing from the bottle and adding water here and there. This was a Christmas bottle from a few years back. If my mother smelled the alcohol on my breath, she never let on. Maybe she thought it was better to have me drinking in the house than out with my "friends". As I sip the syrupy relief, I resolve to myself that this will not be my life. NEVER. I cannot wait until I leave for college in a few months. I cannot take these feelings.

Between the cutting and the laxatives and the alcohol and the vicodin, maybe I can be thin and normal. I think to myself would rather be curled up with some drugs than stuck on the couch with my fucking heating pad waiting for my drunk husband.

When I look back now, it was so easy for me to judge them. So easy for me to feel superior to my hard working parents. I left Cincinnati Ohio with my college money that a traded for an arm full of heroin. As I puked from one end of the public bus to the other, I thought to myself "this is the fucking life". I never wanted to be like my parents. In fact, I wasn't like them. I was a spoiled self indulgent asshole that only thought about myself. A heroin addiction, I believed, was my cosmic punishment for being so ungrateful for the life I left. 
 The truth is somewhere in the grey area. I am sitting on my couch tonight with a heating pad wondering what my children will think of me someday.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

90 day wonder

"Hey Tracey I have 90 days clean " he says. 
I see the glow has returned in his eyes. He has that look, that swagger. That pep in his step like fuck yeah my dick works AND I can take a shit every fucking day. Feel me?  I haven't seen him in awhile. I assumed he was in jail. When people come around after rehab, they have this bloated look on their face. Like a fucking chipmunk storing up for a relapse. Their food reserves hang off their cheeks. 

The first week after getting off dope is spent masterbating, showering, and marveling that a needle is no longer hanging out of your arm. The first month is depression alternating with boredom. Suddenly you are sober to realize OH GOD I FUCKED UP MY LIFE. There are parents to deal with, bills to pay. If you duck off to treatment, these will be waiting for you when you come home. It is amazing how fast collection agents get your new addy.

By the second month, the connection is no longer on speed dial. Fuck, they may start calling you. They sound like a jilted lover "hey bro- what's up? It's been awhile." Fuck you dude. Remember when you gave me one fucking bag for my play station, the one I got for Christmas. Eat a dick. Or at least you WOULD say that if you were not so scared you would need them again. 

By 90 days, you think you are solid enough to come around scumbags like me. Yeah man, let's chill- you, me, and this monkey on my back. You look like shiny new money to me. Should I ask you to get high? No. Too obvious. Should I ask you for some money. Negative. You will say no. 

"Hey man. You look good. You know I am going to see my boy. He has that fire man. But I know you don't do that anymore. Much respect." 

I can practically see the money fly out of your pockets! You got 90 days bro? You got some money. Well, once I get you back on that horse, I got 99 problems and a fix ain't one. You are about to hook it up. 

That is this life. 
What comes around goes around. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

What Deserves My Attention

I took some time off work this week to finish my book proposal. There was a time when getting a book published was my only dream. I remember bringing a sample of my work to the English Department of the University I was attending when I first started using drugs. The professor was nice enough to humor me by reading it but I could tell he was put off by the content. He referred me to another colleague and I never pursued it. 

I had more important things to do. My work at the time was filled with near pornographic material on my love for opiates. I loved the burn of the needle, I dreamed about when heroin and I would be together again. Drugs were my sex, my romance, my joy in one place. I never had to look beyond the plastic bag or bottles of pills. As I licked the blood of my hands, it was as if I was embracing life when that needle came out of my skin. My foreplay consisted of two hours of waiting for a dealer. I was in that phase when heroin WAS love and we were happy. 

And then the years passed, they inched along at a snail's pace. The life of an addict and the life of a user are two totally different things. A few mornings spent broke on a toilet in withdrawal let you know that opiates are in charge and you are their bitch. There is no love anymore. There is simply the absence of pain. Remember that first time you slipped money out of someone's wallet, or shorted someone on a bag, or slept with some dealer, or worked some ugly girl for some drugs. Or maybe you are one of the unlucky ones that puts your paycheck up your arm and your stuff in the pawnshop. The servers, the drivers, the workers who are hooked one day at a time. 

I had planned to spend my time writing but I spent a lot of time with my youngest child. Having kids was a dream I had given up on. Now these kids are my everything. They are my hope for the future. They tell me every morning with their soft hugs and laughter than mine is a life worth living. I am more than a scumfuck junkie. I am capable of love. 

I don't know if my book will get published but in the game of life, against the odds, I came out ahead. These days I have with no needle hanging out of my arm have taught me my dreams were so small, my vision was so narrow. My life is filled with ups and downs but they are no longer held in powders and delivered at the cost of my dignity. 

I'm just going to sit here and watch my son play with trains because that deserves my attention. I am living my dreams and casting aside bad memories 

This is my cat nesting in my clothes. I guess he loves me too xoxo