Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Smokey

Smokey- it sounds like the name for a pimp that chain smokes. Nope, he is just my little friend. 


Fourteen years ago, I was living in a clean and sober housing situation run by the Salvation Army. It was inside a single room occupancy hotel with around 100 units, some of which had been sectioned off for office use. My room was on the second floor. I was facing the street, overlooking the Tenderloin. I used to look at into the night sky and see reflections of myself in the shadows. I used to keep my milk on the ledge. I made instant coffee in the sink using barely hot water. I splurged on basic cable I watched on my tiny screen. My life was simple, easy, and full of fear. How could I ever get out of this place? How could I ever leave the only place I had known in my adult life where I could live and not stick needles in my arm. I would sign my boyfriend in for overnight visits.As we would lay in the glow of the streetlights outside, we talked of getting a place together. A few months later, I got my secret wish. 

There was the apartment and then there was the cat. A cat named Smokey. He was named Sammy but when his first owner went into hospice, we knew he would be perfect for us. He was smart. He was playful. He was just what I needed to quell my anxiety of being out on my own. I would sit on the couch, freaking out about the world. He would brush himself against me, then bite the fucking shit out of my leg as if to say "get over yourself". I agreed. I would attempt to lock him out at night to keep him from disturbing my sleep. Between school and working at a hospital based methadone clinic, I was tired. He didn't give a shit. He would beat his front paws on the door until I opened it. BAM< BAM < BAM. Bitch, get up. He was like the drug habit I had left behind. At the crack of dawn, he wanted to be fed. No excuses. When I was pregnant for the first time, he gave me a weird sniff. When I had a miscarriage, he sat on my stomach for a few weeks while I cried. He turned his head to the side "I guess you can pet me...." he told me. He was so generous with his feline time. 

Now, my recovery cat is dying from cancer. Fuck cancer. Fuck what it does. It took my mother, now it is taking my cat. My mother died quickly. Less than one week from diagnosis until her death. Smokey is slowly withering away. It is triggering all kinds of buried emotions.  It reminds me of all the events I couldn't attend because I had a needle in my arm. Of times I wasn't there for people that loved me. Of times I didn't say goodbye. Regrets of years I wasted. Yet, we are together. Right now. He is chilling behind me. I am giving him his CBDs and whatever the hell he wants to eat. I even put the food on my bed next to him if he wants to eat it there. There are no rules anymore. Just me trying to take care of him and make his life a little better. I have lost a hundred or more people in my life to overdoses yet my cat is giving me a chance to say goodbye to all of them. I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service, although this is painful for all it entails. 

To some, I am just a drug addict and he is just a cat. 
In reality, we are so much more.
Love gave us life. 
I hope you are finding love today. 
I hope you are safe and finding some peace. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"The Big Fix: Hope After Heroin".

By now, you faithful readers know my book is out. I am going to be doing some traveling where I talk about my book. I hope I get to meet you all and sign them for you.

March 24- Diesel Bookstore in Oakland 7-8pm
April 8 - The Woodstock Writer's Festival, Woodstock NY
April 12- The Atlantic summit on Mental Health and Addiction Washington DC
April 21- Barnes and Noble in Emeryville
June 4- Life Ring Annual Conference San Diego California.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Shiitake Mushroom

"It looked like a fucking shiitake mushroom, I swear " he tells me as he passes me the pipe.
I hate smoking crack. HATE it. If you have $17 and you are dope sick, doesn't it seem logical to wait until you have $8 to get some dope? Of course it does. But this mother fucker is not logically. He just spent the last of his money on a twenty shot he got a discount. In thirty minutes when this crack is gone, he is going to be TWICE as sick rolling around the floor tasting every little bit of pigeon shit that made it of the ledge on to the carpet.
I chose to abstain from his madness. I wave his offer off. If he had some meth, that is one thing but crack, no. Not unless I have some landing gear or at least a 40 oz to calm me down.
I am puzzled "What do you mean it looked like a shiitake mushroom?"
He pauses for a minute to take a drink of Kern's strawberry drink. That beverage must taste like sugar and sand in that dehydrated mouth. He must have inside a combination of biting his lip and sucking dick with that cracked tooth near the front. Ouch.
"Okay bitch, listen," he tells me as he takes another sip. "The trick tells me he is going to pay me $40 and take me to the hot tubs for a blow job. I tell him fuck the hot tubs, give me $80 and I will take you to my room."
Oh God, I think to myself, what just happened on this couch. I try to block it from my mind.
"Anyway,  bring him over here. He wants to kiss me and shit but I said Oh NO honey. Don't get it twisted. That is extra baby. He seemed all nervous so I put on some porn. Then he had the NERVE to ask me to turn it off. Said he couldn't concentrate..."
That man must have been extremely brave or extremely horny to come to this shit hole. My friend was letting me stay with him for a few days until he got his SSI check as long as I "help out around the house". "Help out around the house" meant kicking in drugs or money or both. I was willing to do both. He didn't have much of a habit and I was tired of the streets. He would even give me an extra set of keys. I wasn't know to steal anything. The main person I was hurting was myself. I had a good reputation in that sense.
"So listen," he continues "when I go to take down his pants there it was". He points to his crotch for effect. "A fucking shittake mushroom. It was a big fat head and just a tiny little stalk. I could see why he had to pick up a hooker with that thing."
I scratch my chin. Hmm. "You know," I tell him "that doesn't sound like a shiitake mushroom. That is a portobello mushroom"
His face suddenly gets red as he points at me "what the fuck do you think you are- some mushroom expert? I am letting you fucking stay here. I am telling you about some traumatizing shit here. That dick was fucking traumatizing. It smelled like a fucking garden too. You know- fertilizer."
At that moment, we both bust out fucking laughing. I could not stop laughing for ten minutes. I was happy to have someone to talk with. He was happy to have someone in his space. Sadly, when he described the man I knew exactly what he had meant.
I laid back on the sofa waiting for the right moment to tell him I had saved a piece of dope for us from the last batch. Until then, I let him finish off his crack. He probably needed it right now.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Past is History

Currently, I am propped up on my bed. I have a pillow on my lap to keep my chromebook from feeling like it is going to sear the flesh off my legs with it's toaster like heat after an hour or so of browsing the internet. My 12 year old black lab mix Sadie is curled up next to me on the dog bed we probably should have thrown out a few years ago after she tore the stuffing out of it. She is too tired for these kinds of play now. She likes to rest near me, my constant companion for most of her life. She was rescued from a crackhouse just like me. My old cat is a few feet ahead of me. He doesn't know it yet but he is heading for the oncologist in a few days. The last surgery for a tumor on his side was unsuccessful. He is not yet 14. I have to say, I am not ready to let him go. My daughter is rustling around in her chemistry kit in the next room. When the chemistry kit mentioned "ice cream" as an experiment, she is now all about being a junior scientist. I hope she keeps with it.

My life seems pretty normal this morning. This is in stark contrast from where I came from.

 The other morning, a friend of mine were swapping stories from our past. She was telling me about a little "ho stroll" she used to know right off of MLK BLVD in Oakland. There is a tiny strip where African American Trans women like herself would work as sex workers. There was a section of road right off the highway that lead to a cheap hotel. The girls would come dressed in the male attire because the risk of being themselves in their daily life was too great. They would switch into heels, panties, and maybe some lipstick in the bushes. She described their legs as "rusty" and the johns sometimes would specifically look for a hit of whiskers to make sure the sex worker had the "equipment" they needed. Dates would be turned for $15-20. Condoms were few and the risks of violence or disease were plenty. Young "thugs" would come in from the city. They would signal out from the bushes to come closer. They were looking for some quick sex on the downlow while they project their hatred of "faggots" in when the street lights are turned off and the sun rises to hide all of the things that happen in a place like this. There is the intersection of illusion, seduction, and self hatred. There are places like this in every city. Places we pass in the daytime and never give a second glance.

I was telling her about the men who would come to the city with their briefcases and their hidden habits. "hey you, come here..." they would tell me from a few building away. They would hide their cars and their identities. Their wallets would be locked in the glovebox which was locked in a parking garage a few blocks away from the trap houses and dope spots. "Can you get me something?" they would ask "You got a place?" would be a second request. They would never want to bring dirt like myself on top of the shag carpet of their own places. They would never want me to see the pictures of their shy girlfriends of the smiling t-ball pictures of their son that hung over the table just inside the front door. He would lay his keys there before he bounded through the doorway. He wanted those tight hugs that told him he was alright after leaving a person like myself in a place like this. He needed his dope and he needed me to get it. His tie was off to the side and the sweat let me know the sickness was in full effect. "Will you help me?" Of course baby. I will help you. I will tie off your arm and cop your dope and let you use my room. I will make sure you are never soiled by my troubles. I will never let you see my junkie tears. I will take your money, get whatever is I need, and pass on the rest. Because these are the places we pass in the daytime. Never giving a thought to what is happening inside.

My past- my past is history- yet no matter how many days have elapsed people like myself are left to carry around those memories. I feel fortunate when I can get together with someone and swap stories. Not because I want to go back to that place but because there are so few people that can truly understand what I have seen. The underbelly of society is rich with sights and sounds that stay with you for a lifetime. My cat, my dog, and my cushy life don't erase that.

I get a lot of criticism- why can't you just let that part of your life go? Because, it will never leave me. It is a part of me that keep me real. And I won't be ashamed of it. Not one little bit. I can't change it. Why let it eat me alive?

I hope that you can learn to accept your past today.
I hope that you can accept yourself today.
Love XOXO tracey.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

New video

I do videos for youtube a few times a year. Watch then send me some questions! click here . By the way, you will notice, I do not run ads on my blog or my channel.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Taking the Leap

Some days I feel like jumping in front of a train. This is a very unpleasant yet realistic side effect of having a life long battle with depression. I imagine the train getting closer. I can see myself stepping past the yellow line in such a way there would no way for the driver to stop. My problems would be over in an instant. That is the fantasy. That achy feeling that chases me around would finally be gone.

Then reality sets in. What if I merely get stuck on the tracks? I end up getting sandwiched there while my leg is painfully pinned under the massive weight of this monstrous machine. I scream in agony while my life flashes in front of my eyes. What about my kids? Will I be an invalid, pushed around for the rest of my life? Will my mistakes make me a burden for everyone I love? What about the horrified by standers? They are going to be traumatized for life because of my shitty choices. Most of all, in facing death, I realize I wanted to live. I didn't want to actually die. I just couldn't take the pain anymore. Will people understand this? 

Using drugs is very similar. We are caught up in our own world, in our thoughts. We are afraid to share them. It is embarrassing to tell the average person that I sometimes think about throwing myself in front of the train. But- in telling you- I relieve my suffering. It is important to find someone that understands what I am going through. In telling someone, it makes it much less likely I will do it. I may THINK about things but ultimately, I am in charge. I cannot control my thoughts, only my actions. if you are struggling with something, it is okay to have wild thoughts. Focus on your reactions. The needle doesn't fall in your arm. The benzo doesn't slip under your tongue. You have to pick it up. Just like I have no control over feeling or thinking about suicide from time to time, I work towards being safe. I may not always be happy, but I can be safe. 

I hope you understand my insanity. I am not going to hurt myself today. Or tomorrow. Recovery isn't a magical solution for everything but it is a start. I get help from kitty kisses, my kids' smiles, sunsets, and popcorn. I find little ways to cope until the pain passes. I find a way because love you all too much.i hope you will also find a way.  I hope you won't hurt yourself today. I hope you will talk to someone who cares for you. 

XOXO Tracey