Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Scoring in Another City - Guest Post

One thing that is hard for me to do is to pinpoint when I consider I became an “addict”. I started smoking weed when I was thirteen years old and smoked pretty much every single day until I was in college. I don’t consider that an addiction because I could go without it easily. I started doing psychedelic drugs my senior year of high school (mushrooms, LSD, DMT etc.), but I also don’t consider that an addiction because that is something that nobody can do every single day. I started snorting cocaine and molly (ecstasy) my second year of college, I’m not sure if I would consider this an addiction. I was friends with a group of kids that would do it a lot and I saw a money-making opportunity. I started selling a lot of molly. And like most other things in my life this turned out too good to be true. As soon as I started buying ounces and making serious cash, I got arrested for a DWI and I had four grams left of molly on me and also a little DMT and some Adderall pills. This is probably the reason I started doing heroin, which I DEFINITELY consider an addiction. My brother has been an opiate addict for a long time. I was and still am in school for electrical engineering, but when I was going through this case everything seemed like it was going downhill. I know that many people would not guess I am an addict at first sight since I’m and Indian in engineering school which made it that much easier. My brother finished a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and masters in pharmaceutical engineering so why couldn’t I do it? I always hated what heroin had done to my brother and what he had become, but the way things were going I decided “fuck it”. That decision has changed my life in so many ways. Since my brother had already gone through his pill phase and was doing heroin at the time I skipped the whole pill phase. I only snorted dope twice before I decided that wasn’t what I was expecting from it and asked my brother to shoot me up. Before I knew it I was emptying my bank account, stealing, writing fake checks and forging signatures to get what I needed.

As a heroin addict I now know that it doesn’t really matter where I go or what city you throw me in, I’m going to find what I need. But at this time I had no idea how to get dope in another city or how to get it onto a plane. Thankfully my brother had experience in this area. My cousin was getting married in thesummer and my whole family was going. I am from Rochester, NY, so on the complete opposite side of the country. My brother said he had a doctor in San Francisco when he used to get prescribed Oxycontin, but we knew that wouldn’t last us even if we got it. We haven’t been to California in a long time so there was no way we were going to be sick at this wedding and in San Francisco. Luckily my brother recently got a loan from school about a week prior and there was about $1700 left of the $3000and me and him were flying separately from our parents. We bought about $150 of heroin and $100 of coke and thought that would last us the four day trip (HA!!). We diluted it all in an eye drop container and each did a shot the night before and the morning of our flight. My brother had done this before, but I hadn’t so I was scared out of my mind. Before I knew it we got through the TSA people and were boarding the flight to stop somewhere before SF (I forget which city)Oddly enough my high school economics teacher was sitting in the seat across the aisle from me. That didn’t stop me and my brother from taking turns going to the bathroom to shoot speedballs. By our next flight we were just shooting up in our seats with a blanket over us.

We met our uncle in California and by the next morning we were out of heroin and getting sick quickly. Google is a fantastic thing. We found out where to get dope, somewhere called the Tenderloin District. Even better news, our hotel wasn’t too far from the area at all. I also had no idea what to call heroin in this city, where I’m from it’s called “boy” and I didn’t want to confuse anyone. Our hotel was in a really nice area so it was hard to believe that in a few blocks I would literally see people smoking crack and shooting up in the street. I have never even seen anything like it in Rochester and I was going to bad areas every day. Me and my brother were starting to get sick so we told my uncle that we were going for a walk after thoroughly doing our research on where to go in this area. We just basically walked down California St and turned onto another street and kept walking until we decided it was a bad enough area to start asking around for heroin. The first time we tried I talked to some Asian kid that just made an obvious deal, either buying or selling. I made it clear that I want DOPE and he said “yea” and took us to some old Hispanic guy. We gave him the $40 and he gave us a bag, we walked away without looking at it. I got a glimpse and I told my brother it was crack, but he waited until we were out of the bad area to look at it. We had to try again, because there was no way we were shooting crack without having heroin by our side. The next time I just asked someone else and was successful in getting black tar. I had never had black tar, I was just used to the powder I get in NY. By the next day I had memorized exactly where to go and how to get dope.Our whole weekend basically consisted of going to the Tenderloin and back up to the nice area to attend the wedding functions. We were shooting up in the Fairmont hotel and a wedding that my aunt and uncle spent A LOT of money on.

It was clear that in the Tenderloin the people ran that area. Even if cops arrested people for drug possession or whatever that can’t even come close to stopping the drug use in this area. I even saw many abandoned cop cars that were spray painted on and broken up which was just a symbol of the fact that the people did what they want. The area was dirty and would be scary to most normal people. Most Indian kids had no business walking down these streets and would be scared shitless from these people. But me and my brother had our business here and knew that no drug dealer was going to deny our money. We must have seen at least three or four people smoking crack or shooting up every time we walked down there. I could see people hanging out with their group of friends or junkies, but I knew not to go to the junkies. Junkies will either rob you or get a cut of what you’re getting. Me and my brother have been those people before so we knew we had to find a dealer. One time we even conveniently saw a guy weighing out his tar on a scale outside. We had enough money to not be sick the entire weekend and even be high most of the time. But we had to juggle our drug-using time with our wedding-helping time.

Doing tar was so much more of a process. We had to melt it on a spoon which took forever, I’m used to not even heating the powder just throwing it in a cap and mixing with water. We had to melt so much that we basically had to use the full 10 units to get a good shot. The whole process took about ten to fifteen minutes to complete. The dope was so dark I could barely see my blood in the needle. Also the high didn’t come as quickly as the powder I get in NY, which is the reason we probably did too much and by the time I got back to the after party for the wedding I was really high. One of my second cousins (not related by blood and whom I’ve never known) even thought I was on coke (he’s done coke). And one of my cousins thought we kept leaving to smoke weed, but that was easy to dodge. I was able to even get a number and meet the guy a few times.


I still look back at that weekend and SF was definitely one of the craziest cities I have visited. I have never seen a city where there are really crazy places just a few blocks from the very nice places, its mind boggling. Drug addicts, pimps, hookers, you name it and I saw it. I’m used to being in a car when I go to pick up, but this time we were walking into the heart of the San Francisco ghetto. Heroin will make you do some wild things. I enjoyed the documentary BTH because I recognize some of those places even though I only went there a few times. I was there for a wedding, but there was a whole other side to our trip that our family didn’t know about. The drugs had made us incredible liars and master manipulators. But are those skills that will get us far in the future? Was I proud of the fact that I was able to get dope as soon as I wanted it? For a while I tried not to be, but I couldn’t help the feeling. I guess it’s just another way heroin reeled me in further, making me proud of something other people would consider repulsive. At the same time hating the fact that I would be sick without it and absolutely needed it when I was on the other side of the United States. Either way that’s a weekend I’ll never forget.

I’m glad I’m in a better condition now for the most part, I am on suboxone and it works wonders. Since I am in legal trouble and on probation, it’s an extremely dumb idea to continue to use. I’ve been an inch away from being thrown in jail by my PO, but I decided to get clean when my back was against the wall. I have never gone more than two days without taking anything so suboxone is the best choice at the moment. I don’t want to get cocky and think I can get off suboxone and end up using and in jail. I have a whole future ahead of me that include good jobs and a good degree if I can put these things in my past. My goals for the short term are to successfully and honestly complete rehab, and finish my degree. Ending the drug use is only the beginning, there is also ending the sick thinking and sick behaviors that go side and side with drug use. For now I’ve ended everything including the pot smoking and drinking. I do believe that pot has its benefits, but if it will lead me back to opiates then that is a risk I’m not willing to take.



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Happiness Where I Can Find It

I was out with my kids today. I was struck by the irony. It was an overcast morning. The fog was slowly being eaten up by the rays of sunshine forcing their will over the hill side. I was parked in my camping chair. I just got a new set of blue Coleman camping chairs specifically for this occasion. Mine has a cup holder on one side and room for a cold pack on the other. I got two of them so my husband could sit next to me. There were two other chairs. One looks like a little fox. The other one was a little brown bear. My two sons were sitting in them eating their Cheetos. I was imploring them not to get cheeto dust all over their baseball pants before we got to the game. They have white pants that won't be white for much longer. They spend more time playing in the dirt on the field then hitting the ball.

We were there this morning to watch my daughter play softball. This is the first year they actually keep score. Now is the time where they have winners and losers. She will start learning about competition. She will learn that the world is not perfect. Some people are better than you. Some people can achieve more. She hasn't learned yet about what it means to hate yourself, to hate parts of your body. She hasn't experienced much rejection or disappointment. She has two involved parents. For the moment, the world is at her fingertips. She believes everything is possible.

As I sat there in my Cadillac of lawn chairs, I felt completely at ease. I was one of the parents. I was one of the cool kids. I was there cheering my child on as she scored a run. Her dad and I beamed with pride that we had a winner on our hands, even if the game was small in the scheme of life. It was good to be on the winning side because next week might be an entirely different story. She was randomly assigned to this team. Life is a series of random choices that lead to success here. It could be entirely different.

When, it got hot outside, I took off my sweater. I had a tank top on. It is a long grey tank top, long enough to cover the rolls of fat I have gained in recovery. I have tattoos. I am sleeved to my elbows. I got the tattoos to cover up my track marks and scars. Does the world see me like I see myself? Am I Tracey the mom at this game? Or will I always carry the legacy of my years as a street junkie? I used to sit in broken down lawn chairs in alleyways. I used to fit in there. I was 100% comfortable sticking a needle in my arm in the middle of a busy street for anyone to see. Children passed by, getting directed away by their mothers while I wiped the dripping blood with alcohol pads and threw them on the ground. How many times had I sat with my black t-shirts cut off on a hot day picking at sores on my arms while others scurried off to be with their families? What damage did I do to others while I was busy killing myself?

People ask me all the time- what will I tell my children about drugs? My kids know I used to be a homeless drug addict. They don't really understand what it means but I don't keep these facts from them. They know I was in a movie about drugs. They know I spend many nights stuffing envelopes full of medical supplies to people who need help. I don't keep things from them. We discuss my scars. We have open conversations about my weight. I just want them to know that drug addicts are human beings worthy of compassion because that is how I truly feel.

The thing I realize the most in these sometimes awkward situations is that I need to have compassion for myself. I am not the sum of my past. I have gone willingly to many dark places. But that is not where I am today. I cannot forget the past nor can I change it. I accept myself, scars an all because I have no other choice. All my fears, all my anxiety comes from being afraid of this world of what we call "normal" people. The reality is I belong wherever I go because I am enough. I am beautiful, I am capable, I am lovable. So are you. Love yourself today even if you don't like your choices. You are not broken. You are one choice away from a whole different life.

I can relax in my deluxe camping chair because I have earned that comfy seat. I enjoy happiness where I can find it.


Friday, March 20, 2015

My attempt at a happy post

A reader asked me to make a happy post. They said they needed a dose of hope now and then. 

There is life after heroin. There is life after drug addiction.

I used to wake up every morning, shoot drugs. Degrade myself. Shoot more drugs. Beg, borrow, steal, shame. Shoot more drugs. Nod. Eat sugary snacks. Degrade myself. Shoot more drugs. Drain an abscess. Pass out. FUCK YEAH heroin.

It wasn't always that way. When I first started, I was a college student. I had a decent apartment. I had friends. I had a shitty job in retail where I met my friends at the bar after work on Fridays for happy hour. I had this whole LIFE that slowly melted away. I never "regained" my old life. My old self was gone. I had changed- my experiences had changed me. I got a life that is much better.

I get up everyday next to my husband (if he hasn't gotten up first for work). I make myself cereal and soymilk. I chill on the couch while scrolling through my emails. I get the kids up around 6 during the week. I have three kids. They like to snuggle in the morning. My daughter likes to chase the old cat around. He tolerates her insolence in return for a hearty ration of wet food. My middle son frequently refuses breakfast unless it is bacon or waffles with whipped cream. My younger son is less fussy. He likes to watch ninja turtles. At the same time, he likes to share the same bowl of cereal with me. I get them dressed. I drop my youngest off last. We cuddle on the train. We get off and the lady at the train station gives him fruit snacks. On the weekends, we like to visit farms or go to the woods.

My life goals were:
Find someone that loves me- done
Make my mom proud of me- done
Finish my degree- done
Get a nice place to live- done
Have a family- done

Getting clean may not be right for you right now. I totally understand that. I truly wasn't ready until I was ready. That doesn't mean you will use forever. Don't let it get you down. Depression and self pity are horrible for the health of us junkies. We need some spark of life. Enjoy your life, no matter what it is that you are doing. Be safe. Use as safely as possible. Find your dreams again. Find things and people that you love. Believe me, someone loves you. I love you.

The world needs you.
-Tracey


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Drugs and Cincinnati

When I look at my kids, I see reflections of the promise that was once there. I really enjoy the clean slate and their fresh perspective on my life. They see me as a totally different person, one without a past, one that is perfect the way I am today. I suppose this was the way I was before all the insecurities and curiosity that turned me to drugs.
When I get ready for bed at night, I spent a lot of time reflecting. The time period when I first started drinking and smoking pot except it just is not that interesting to me. There was nothing unusual about it. That time was spent partying with friends. I even had a period where I was completely abstinent from drugs and alcohol. At the time, it was not much of an issue. Things started to spiral in a completely different direction in late 1990. My drinking became uglier and I became an unhappy person. When I smoked pot, I smoked as much as I could possibly handle. I really liked going to school but I really liked getting high on a daily basis. One of these things won out over the other. Shooting up drugs became something I coveted as the ultimate expression of fuck it. I had sat and watched my father medicate his life away. I wanted that for myself.
You just don’t run to the heroin in a small town. Your life slowly builds to the point where you are willing and you are unafraid of the ultimate price. You have to find someone crazy enough to turn you on to it the first time. It is almost like a vampire making other vampires. That person doesn’t want to be alone so they are willing to turn you to have some company. However, they have forgotten the pain of their original decision. The first year that I did IV drugs, I didn't know how to stick a needle in my own arm. In many cases, girls are turned on to the drug by boyfriends or other males seeking a partner in crime. I used to think it was so nice they would take the time out to hit me aka stick the needle into my vein. Then I realized it was because I was the person buying the majority of the drugs. 
There are many terms in the drug world. The basics: rig, outfits, kits, kits, needles, are all slang for syringes. The syringes come in different needle lengths based on depth they need to travel. The smaller the vein, the smaller the needle you generally use unless you are digging in up to a forbidden location with poor circulation such as your stomach, legs, etc. Most drugs have to be mixed with water and cooked in a spoon or mixed then drawn up with cotton. Terms for injecting yourself include; Getting a hit, booting up, fixing, getting off, the list is nearly endless. I was too young to understand many of them although “Dancing with Mr. Brownstone” was popular at the time. I just needed someone with the skill and patience to put some illicit drugs into my willing arms. The first time I did heroin, it was a whole ordeal. At the time, I knew no one in Cincinnati that could get heroin. People would take the long pilgrimage to NYC and return with some overpriced bags of death to distribute to willing victims. The bags would be stamped with names. The first time I ever tried heroin, my particular poison was 666. It should have been an omen of what was to come over the next eight years. 
What we needed to come up with today seems like an enormous amount of money -- $120, so all of us could get loaded. The last thing I wanted to do was try it by myself. I was still partying, still part of a group.  I wasn't much of a leader, mostly a follower. As I mentioned, people had a tendency to follow me around because I could come up with money. I remember going to the ATM and someone had accidentally left their card in there. I withdrew $40 -- just enough. That was my overall motto with drugs. I did “just enough,” never taking too much. I was suicidal but I didn't want to die -- at least not yet. That would come after many years of addiction.
The very first time I used, we went around in a circle. Some more seasoned junkies, the ones we bought the dope from, they went first. The second person in our circle had a complication. The very first time I used heroin, one of my compatriots overdosed in front of my eyes. He turned a shade of bluish gray and his eyes rolled back in his head. He grabbed the table in what they call the death grip. They put him in the shower and splashed him with water. All of the excitement was over in 10-15 minutes. He was unsure of what had transpired but I saw death play out in front of my eyes.They asked me if I still wanted to go. Of course! Only half for me. I stared into my friends eyes. “Look at me," he said as his friend pushed the needle in. It felt amazing and scary at the same time. The rest was history. For the next eight years, I was chasing that feeling I felt. The soft, around-the-edges feeling of fuck-it-all that I would never experience the same way again. A part of my life died that day because I never saw the world through anything but a cracked lens. I traded sanity for instant gratification and loved it. 
There were many months in between that time and the next time I used opiates. Between the heavy drinking and the pot smoking, I quickly became the local side show. Alcohol and I have never made for a good combination. When I drink, I am either crying or trying to stab my friends. My progression was a slow downward spiral into less and less social acceptability. I was supposed to be this college student full of promise. I tested out of almost my whole first year of freshman coursework at the University of Cincinnati. They told me in my admissions interview, I was a one of a kind student. Indeed, this was a true statement. I was more interested in studying different things that were slowly getting me in more and more trouble.
I have been arrested eleven times. The first time was for shoplifting four packs of Kool cigarettes for a friend in Cincinnati. They were so grateful at my attempt to resolve their nicotine cravings, they left me at the store after I was detained and later transported to the jail downtown. I had to get myself home from the central station. This should have been an omen, a portend noting that a life of crime was both lonely and unrewarding for a person like myself.
The second time I was arrested was much more typical of the addict experience. I was out late at the bar. I had been studying for finals so I had been running on very little sleep. I was not the best student at this point, so I would cram a month into a day and hope for the best come test time. I was out for a quick drink and a dance at Cooters, a nightclub that hosted gay dance nights. I had been sampling my favorite -- vodka and cranberry juice. I have racked my brain over the memory of this night for many years. I honestly do not remember having more than a few drinks. For the uninitiated, one of the issues with mixed drinks is that you can not always gauge the amount of alcohol present. The unspoken rule at the bar is that the better you tip the bartender, the stronger the drink. I always tipped well, so my two drinks could have really been like four or five drinks. I am not sure if I fell asleep at the wheel or if I passed out. It was a long drive from Clifton, where I hung out,  to West Chester where I was living at the time with my parents. The drive was between thirty or forty blurry minutes. I made the trek back and forth trying to maintain the semblance of a normal life.  
Many nights I woke up in my bed with no idea how I had gotten home, let alone undressed and under the blankets. Only one time in a a year of hard drinking  did anyone ever take my keys. I woke up from a blackout in my car. I was trying to start my car with a wooden stick. I was so pissed at my friends. I easily could have killed myself or other people at least fifty times; a year’s worth of weekends when I drove drunk or high. The night I finally wrecked my car, I hit one guard rail and spun across the highway to hit another. I was so frantic. Could someone just give me a ride to my friend’s house? I was so close. I had ripped my tights. My knees were bloody and bruised. The car was destroyed but I was only concerned with a ride. It never occurred to me that I had been drunk. Never. I was just tired. The field sobriety test was completely rigged but I just happened to blow over the legal limit. Fuck. Driving under the influence.

The worst part was having to call my parents in the middle of the night to ask my dad to pick me up. Not that he hadn’t ever had a DUI. I think he had three in total over the course of ten or fifteen years. The worse his drinking got, the closer he drank to home. Near the end, I had even seen my mom make him a drink at social occasions which would have sent things off the rails in my teenage years. Well, at least he would be sober if he picked me up in the middle of the night. This would be the beginning in a long string of disappointments for my parents. And this would be the beginning of jail as a second home of sorts for me. My life was changing and not for the better.
What was the moment I realized I was an addict? In 1991, I was living in an incredibly sparse apartment on Calhoun Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. The apartment was in the busy college district, close to bars and live music venues. The apartment was subsidized by my parents. I had wrecked my third car. After my DUI, I had no license. I was living in the city so I could continue to go to classes at the University of Cincinnati. I worked at Pier 1 Imports at night and drank most days. Attending classes was an occasional thing, though I still managed acceptable marks in school. 
I had tried heroin a few times. It was hard to get after my friend stole my connection. I was intrigued when my friend suggested we shoot morphine pills he had gotten from his girlfriend, the daughter of a pharmacist. I was also pretty selective about who shot me up. After overdosing on heroin the second time I tried it, I knew you had to trust the people around you. Otherwise, you might end up dumped at the hospital at best, rolled up in a carpet at the worst case scenario. I was always a little afraid using with different people but I really liked drugs. I would feel this excitement like butterflies in my stomach. I NEEDED to get high. I deserved to get high. I was going to throw caution to the wind and get in on these pills.
            "Needles and pins, pins and needles." He was trying to describe the feeling.
            “So this is going to be different?” I asked. How is this any different than heroin. I was confused and intrigued by the opportunity for something different. I wanted to try everything one time.
            “You know I can't hit myself.” I told them
That feeling, that admission. Was I going to be left out? Was this person going to beable to find a vein? That fear of not being a part of the group. Only this time, I wasn’t getting picked last for the kickball team, I was some loser that couldn’t fix their own drugs. I found out that the person that has money never gets left out. So in the early stages, I always tried to have money
              “I only have one rig.” he told me. 
He sounded reluctant to share. Of course, let’s get to it. I didn't care if I had to share a needle.
            “Can you help me out? I asked him. " I got $40.” 

           In the old days, pre-needle exchanges, you had to know a diabetic to get a syringe. You kept it until it literally broke, hopefully not in your arm while you were fixing. You would sharpen it on a matchbook. It would pull up your skin like a fish hook. In a group situation, you could be completely fucked if the rig broke before it was your turn. Couples rarely cleaned their rigs with bleach because they could not stand the wait for their issue. 
           "What is this going to do to me?" It was never really mentioned. Just the feeling: needles and pins. Four days of needles and pins.
Then,  I learned about a whole new reality -- withdrawal. What is this feeling? My legs weighed a thousand pounds. I locked up from muscle cramps on the couch. My nose was runny. My eyes watered. I thought addiction was in your head. I begged Nathan to suffocate me. He was the first person I ever met would could explain what was happening to me. It was if i was having my period for the first time without knowing anything about the female anatomy. Just like the scared 12 year old girl, I literally thought I was dying from the withdrawal.
My friend informed me "You’re going to be alright, Trace. You’re just kicking."
Kill me now. I thought this was all psychological stuff junkies made up to get you to give them $20.
           People came in and out of my apartment that day and for the next four days. They would yell up to my window. I had no phone. No real furniture. A mattress, a couch and a garbage can to puke in. Jason and Mark asked if they could stay the night. They were naive enough to still attempt to be friends with an emerging junkie and neighborhood mess. Jason was my occasional drunken lover. Mark was a dear friend. The concern was written on their faces.
"Is there something we can do?" they asked.
"Besides kill me? No, man. Nothing." I told them.  I felt hot then the chills.
I didn’t want to do anything besides lay on that couch and die to be relieved from my miserable condition. The compassion of the two young men was not lost on me but it was useless at that moment. No, I don’t want food, water, sex, friends, air. Nothing. It should all have been a warning sign, but we were so young. When I get off this couch, I am never going to do this shit again. Until the next time. Pins and Needles. Needles and Pins. The draw is just too strong to the feeling. The suffering is completely overwritten by the craving for the drugs. Feed me. Make me full. 
This was a showing of "Black Tar Heroin" in Cincinnati, Ohio.















Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Sisterhood of Traveling Junkie

"Being a junkie is bad", he tells me  "I don't mean "bad" as in a value judgement sort of bad like hey dude, you are fucked up because you are a junkie kind of bad. Being a junkie is a ton of fucking work."

I can see the lighter hit the target without seeing his face on geeze. People smoking meth look highly unattractive. It smells like nail polish remover crossed with butane and death. I am surprised the smell of that stuff doesn't kill every roach for two miles. I hate hanging out with tweakers. I mean I am a tweaker, sort of. I like to use meth but I cannot imagine using it day after day after day, year after year. I am not the kind of person to take a part a computer and try to rebuild it. I don't go headfirst into a dumpster then come to a day later. I don't whack off until my snatch is scabby. I just like to be up then come down. I am an equal opportunity user.

This guy invited himself over for my birthday. He said he would give me a hit for free. I made it clear from the second it suggested it there would be no "tweaking and freaking" up in my room. I have lost the count how many times men have offered to give me drugs then EXPECTED me to have sex with them the second they pulled the needle out of their arm. In fact, I have even paid for drugs and had the same thing happen. Gross. I use meth to get my dope tolerance down. I am not interested in anything else. I hate dealing with these assholes. My neighbor was so mad I wouldn't have sex with him, he removed the plates from where you plug in appliances on his side of the wall then started chipping away at mine so he could get a peek at me. This is the same freak who has the ENTIRE wall facing min covered in a porn collage. They are all pictures he has cut from the back of magazines. The little ones for 1-800 ads that are an inch tall pasted together to cover the entire surface. From what I understand, he takes a hit of speed and gets lost jacking off while moving his eyes along the wall. He is a special kind of weirdo.

"Why do you do that shit Tony?" I ask "Aren't you wasting it?" I never have quite understood how a person switched from the needle back to smoking or snorting drugs. It seems like such a waste to me.

He shows me his neck "Because T. I got a needle broken off in there."

He goes on to explain he has no veins left in his body except his femoral and his arm pit which he saves for "special occasions". He has to pay a phlebotomist to come in and fix him up. She works at a nursing home during the day and sells the medical supplies she steals from there to dealers.

I can't say I don't understand that. I am currently digging in the heel of my foot. I have been up so long everything is shiny and hazy at the same time.

"Why do you do THAT shit?' he asks me, pointing to my heroin. "being a junkie is fucking stupid. Spending all your life asleep, sick, or scamming for money." He continues as he flips through a magazine. "Think of all the money you waste. I can do one bag, maybe two, and be set for at least a day."

There it is there- that superiority complex. You use a drug every day, have no veins, but I am the one who is fucked up. I shake my head. The fucking nerve of him. I turn back to finish what I started. Bam. I stick my leg over my head to let the burn travel down my leg. What is going to happen now, I wonder to myself. Will I die? Will I feel good? I only have a few seconds before the feeling washes over me. Then- not much of anything. .2 tenths doesn't do much of anything anymore. Just makes life bearable.

I look over to Tony. I guess I had been missing something while I was digging for a vein. He is looking at a magazine, true enough,  but not the kind with articles. I glance over to see a man with his fist up another dude's ass. Um what? He is calmly browsing gay porn as if it was the New York Times. I wonder if his girlfriend knows. I guess it is none of my business.

"Can I use your bathroom?" he asks me.

Sure, I think. Just don't be in there all night or get any of my shampoo bottles stuck up your ass. Different strokes, I suppose. When he finally gives me my bag of speed, I trade it for heroin. I never got him to come out of the bathroom. he just pushed it from under the door. I have no idea what went on in there but he came out the next day shaved from head to toe with a face full of scabs from picking imaginary pimples. I was still grateful for the birthday present. There is no better feeling than knowing I am going to bed with something for the morning. 
He was right about one thing. Being a junkie is a ton of fucking work. I was thankful for an opportunity to rest. 

Thinking of my friend who died last year.