Sunday, August 27, 2017

"What's the worst thing you've ever done for drugs?"

"What's the worst thing you've ever done for drugs?" he asked me.
 He took another bite of his food. I feel like I am being interviewed for a job I'll never get. If I tell the truth, he is sure to reject me. If I lie, I suppose he will know. I'm not sure how a casual late lunch/pre dinner with a person I met through Instagram has turned into an interrogation of sorts. It's not a date, more of an initiation. Can I meet the standard qualifications to fit into role. It's as if I wouldn't want to be in any club that would have me as a member but social isolation is also a mother fucker.

The truth is flexible. You don't have to lie. You can simply chose to omit the truth. Did you quit using? The correct answer is yes I did (but I started back again). Did you rip me off? The correct answer is no (but my boy did and we split the difference). Do you love me? The answer is always yes. I just happen to love/d drugs more.

He presses me again, not satisfied to hear my opinions on the decor, the neighbor, or the passersby we watch from our window seat. "What do you think is THE worst thing you have ever done for drugs?" When he reaches across the table for the salt, I notice a bump on his hand. It is the type of angry bump one gets from shooting tar into a vein  that is completely unreceptive. The infection has taken off part of the ink from his tattoo. Is this old? Is it new? I can't tell exactly.  He is overdressed for this occasion. San Francisco doesn't require a t-shirt and a flannel and a jacket and a beanie. Despite the fan twirling overhead, I can see the sweat starting to accumulate on his forehead. I can tell he wants to brush it away with our extra napkins.

I take a bite of my increasingly cold food. I hate eating in front of anyone. I feel like eating is an embarrassing private habit. I pull down my shirt to make sure no flesh is poking out on the side above my skirt. I keep pressing my hair behind my ear. I am becoming increasingly anxious from the copious amount of caffeine I ingested earlier. "Um, I would suppose it would be sex for drugs or money."

He laughs out loud, as if I have made a fart joke or something outrageously hilarious. "That's it? I thought coming from you there would be something more original" he quickly salts his food "I mean women give that shit up for a dinner on tinder these days."

I can't decide if I am supposed to be offended by his lack of empathy or laugh. "Well, that is something I don't really like to talk about..." I take a bite of my food, spilling the contents of my taco back on my plate. It sounded like an addiction related dick measuring contest was about to pop off. Instead, we are both trying to feel each other out with small talk about music and why coke tastes better in a bottle.

What IS the worst thing I've ever done for drugs, I think to myself. What does WORST even mean? Have I begged for drugs? Yes. I used to pan handle. I used to go the open air drug market to beg for "uno por gratis". I've spent hundreds of dollars with you. Can you help me out? I'm sick. That falls on deaf ears more times then not. Hundreds? Thousands? I've put a whole life of dreams up my arm. The cost? PRICELESS. Have I scammed for drugs? My whole life is an elaborate con I've played on myself. Of course I have scammed people for drugs. In fact, I've even worked for drugs. Imagine that. I worked a retail job getting yelled at by customers while I saved my pennies up to cop a few Percs when they were available. Who knew it would lead to begging people for their rinse. Do I want to explain these things to another person? Not really, not ever if I can help it.

As I choke down the rest of my food, I notice a restlessness. There is general sense of urgency on his part to end our lunch. As he takes a swig of his "apple juice" from his bag, I get the sense that it wasn't a test to see if he could understand me. It was a test to see if I could understand him. Did I completely miss something here? He throws his napkin down and stands up. It is time to go. NOW.

As we step out in the approaching night air, I turn my head to him. "I didn't get a chance to ask you the same question. What's the worst thing you've done for drugs..." he quickly hugs me as if to say this interaction is over.

He tilts his head to me "I'm not sure yet..."  he half smiles "have a good evening." As he pulls his backpack over his shoulder, I can't help but catch a glimpse of his reflection as he walks away.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Friends and Cats and Other Alternatives to Dope

THERE IS NO MAGIC FORMULA.

Ok, thanks for letting me get that out of the way. So- you want to quit dope? Or maybe you don't. You want to cut back? Or maybe you just want to be safer? (fuck I hope so). I don't know what your goals are dear reader. I just know you have to have something positive going on in your life outside of powders or brown sticky substances.

There is a scene in the movie "Black Tar Heroin" when I was doing laundry. I asked the filmmaker when I got sober, why am I doing laundry. Pretty much anyone who knew me knew I would pick up clothes from the street, a thrift store, or just wear the same damn outfit for a month before I would bother to do laundry. He told me "all you ever did was get high- we needed footage of you doing something else". I cringed for a minute. Then I realized what he was saying was true. My whole life revolved around the obsession and compulsion to use drugs. The obsession in that drugs were pretty much all I ever thought about 24/7. Getting drugs, using drugs, and getting money for drugs were my top three. The compulsion in that I would use drugs even when I didn't want to use them. It was like I had these plans to do other things I would still end up alone with a needle in my arm.

I don't know the magic formula. Maybe you will stop on your own. Maybe rehab. Maybe you will start smoking weed and forget opioids. Maybe Subs or methadone or whatever will do the trick. I just don't know what works for each person. What I do know is that having positive things in your life is going to help you. For me, it is hanging out with my cats/dog. I like to walk around and look at graffiti. I hang out with my best friend at least once a week. I go to a job I like. I go to meetings periodically, mostly for the social aspect of them. I volunteer to help other. I get tattooed by friends. I just try to be in the moment.

Do your thing friends. Don't let your thing do you.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Heroin Saved My Life.

Heroin Saved My Life.
Story time. Pull up a warm fuzzy blanket and some sour patch kids.
Young Tracey was not the Tracey you know today. I was full of insecurity.
I had gotten involved in a relationship with a man I barely knew.
He swept me off my feet with his constant attention.
He was also kinda sort of homeless.
He had nothing else to do.
He told me he loved me and fucked me ten different ways.
He then told me I was fat, stupid, lazy.
Kept me alone in the house for days.

When that relationship ended, I was just on the border of suicidal. Perhaps you have experienced this type of suicidal. It isn't the post strung out suicidal when you low key wish you would die but maybe this hit will fix me suicidal. It was the type of suicidal when I actively went through the A,B,Cs of killing myself. Alcohol wasn't helping. Alcohol always seemed to amplify the worst parts of my personality. I am *almost* joking when I say a night of drinking would end in either 1. crying in a bathroom somewhere 2. trying to stab my friends 3. a combination of both. When heroin came along, I was beyond depressed. I was frequently contemplating the merits of running my car into a brick wall when those delicious powders came into my life.

Heroin probably saved my life. It gave me a purpose. An incredibly dysfunctional one, true, but a purpose. What would have REALLY saved me was some adequate mental health treatment to deal with both my depression and PTSD. These options were not available to me. I found something that seemed to work until the solution became a much larger problem. In dealing with the broader issue of opioid use, it seems like our policy makers are completely out of touch with the fact that drugs play an important role in the daily life of users. Not only do they feel good, they replace what is missing- love, food, security, and at times even health. In any attempt to prevent drug use or discontinue it, we have to be providing some kind of solutions.

I eventually got the care I needed many years later. I am proud to say I survived eight years of active heavy drug use. I am not embarrased by it. I get sad around some of the extremely poor choices I made but getting sad can't actually change a mother fucking thing. I have to put in some work around amending my behavior to not go down those roads again.

I love you friends.
I don't know why you are using.
I just want you to be safe.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Possessed by something outside of myself

Guest Post by Ickymack

Look in the mirror and here I am again 
Abandon sense to bandages to sample where the tragic is
Self knowledge isn't self control,  I sit with sticky swollen skin and candles lit 
Like 
I can't fathom how I got back here 
Rather save face than save ass 
In a soft chair 
Sinking slowly,  remote control me
Rewind and maybe,  just maybe we could've stopped there. 
I try to tell myself that it's not fair 
But deep down this beat up bruised and confused spirit believes its exactly what the fuck I deserve, 
Suffer the world
Stutter for words 
Covered in cuts in a puddle of isopropyl night terrors 
Shudder and curse. 
Because I said I was never going back there 
Said I was never coming back here 
But here I am again,  Broken and beat 
Licking dots of warm blood from my elbow crease 
A Marlboro pleads me to seek its relief 
I concede, no reason to stop there. 
But what happens when it stops working? 
I'm no surgeon 
This is a game of hand grenades and plans I've made have long since pulled curtains 
Bolted doors
Boarded up windows
Grown weeds and graffiti 
And I get the feeling the demolition crew is closing in soon 
(Probably gonna be some more fuckin condos) 
But what the fuck do I know? 
Little to none
Sick of the shit 
Sick of the sun
Sick of the switch gettin flipped quick and makin a run 
Sick of taking every bit of will I got to not fuck up,  to not go out, to stop myself 
I could break out of a straight jacket, leg shackles, chastity belt,  bolt from class without a hall pass,  the man in the iron mask gonna get a breath of fresh air I swear to god! 
But god doesn't live here 
Not in this addiction 
This is prison 
A silhouette sits in the window wishing for redemption 
But I hurt a lot of people 
Made a lot of justifications 
Once an occasion 
Turns to a habit
Turns to a matchstick 
Burning to blackness
The curse if an addict
Hurt with black magic
Possessed by something outside of myself? 
Or maybe it's been in me since the beginning 
Maybe I was meant to numb this broken brain like Novocaine I know it's crazy 
But maybe I never had a chance at winning. 

Look in the mirror and here I am again
And for the first time I realize I'm not alone,  and I never have been 
Whatever happened happened 
And I'm glad it happened 
Self knowledge isn't self control but at least it's half the battle 





Saturday, August 12, 2017

The City I Love

Chicken and a 40 from the corner store
Glass pipes with a rose in it for my gal
Graffiti on the sidewalk from a Pentel
The smell of rotten food on a hot summer day

Homeboy playing Parliament in his 49ers gear
The pigeons all gather for a piece of my tortilla
The ocean so cold, the train is so warm
The dealers ask me "que pasa mammi"

Fog rolls over the hills
I'm nodding in my friends(?) car
Cotton fever givin me chills
Antibiotics and a Nestle quik chaser

I tried to call home but you didn't answer
I tried to fall in love but I have nothing to offer
I have this room and you have a clean outfit
Tap on my shoulder while I pick at my skin

I read a book by William S Burroughs.
I'm the authority on vices and sins.
Let's go record shopping while it's still ironic.
I'll be RIGHT back with your money. 3,2,1,...

A pack of Newports and a dream please
A Mountain Dew to swallow my lies
My blue eyes pinned to the wall behind me
An alcohol wipe to scrub you out of my life

The City I Love


RIP TO THE ONE AND ONLY STAK. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Cassie

my wife loved blackberries.
i had never noticed how they grow everywhere here.
on the side of the road, under bridges, in the cracks in the sidewalk.
you can’t avoid them and i try not to.
they say it gets better. 
that the passage of time erases the loss.
i pray that that is not true. 
i can no longer remember her laugh, or the sound of it.
i can no longer remember the sound her chest made when she inhaled.
wrinkles around her eyes that grinned in unison when she was surprised
the feeling of cold sweat on her nervous palms when we hadn’t seen each other in a few days
her feet shuffling to the hallway in the morning and it’s perfect cadence are all also gone.
they say that everyday it hurts less but this pain in my chest
the feeling that i still can’t completely catch my breath
my terror that this may all be true and the horror that it is indeed
my empty rib cage where she fit so perfectly even on the most sleepless of nights 
are all but the very last reminders that she was real
here with me
not a school boys dream crush dreamt and shaped to perfection on the backs of eyelids
not the beautiful lead character in a story made up to impress my childhood friends
not the product of an overactive underfed tender little love starved ache that lived in my soul until the day that we met
she was real.
beautiful and kind.
slightly flawed in all the best ways.
she had never shot drugs when i met her and i was her first.
i didn’t fight it and she didn’t fight.
it seemed to make sense that she would be with me in that way.
like some weird ritualistic bloodletting wedding ceremony
the blood is the life
her parents say, still say that i killed her
and i agree.
i did kill Cassie.
i killed someones child,
i killed someones love,
i killed my future and i killed my happiness
they say it gets better
and i pray that that isn’t true.
   The writer's father 


This is a guest piece by my bff K Sabatini, seen here. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

No Shelter From the Coming Storm

I can hear breath go in and out or is that the sound of a lost cause? I feel my lungs expand with the ever present doubt that they will fill to the brim with the oxygen I need to survive. I can hear the blood rushing through my ears. Pulsing like an electric shock through to my teeth. My heart beats inside my head like the faint tapping of the police at the door. Yes I can hear all that banging. I barely see the people walking by, gazing down at me. They provide me with a passing glance as they pour a handful of soil into my grave. Walking by, judging my position in life- six feet under, five bags deep.

I feel them slip the oxygen into my nose. Into? Out? I'm confused now. I feel the cold stainless steel against my air as the push me into the back of the ambulance. I see the scrubbed white walls as the wheel me down the hall. I try to reach up but I am shackled to the gurney. "We are taking you into surgery now. Count backwards from 10, 9, 8..."I feel the prick in my arm. I wake up to blood soaked bandages. I feel a tightness in my arm. "Can I call my mother?" I start to tremble from the anesthesia. 

I was laying on the ground, dreaming of him/her/them. Not the ground, like looking at the cloud on your grandmother's porch in the summertime. I was laying on the concrete, dreaming of the afternoon you pushed my hair gently behind my ear. You promised me everything was going to be okay as you squeezed my shoulders. I was sick that morning/day/night/decade. I didn't have the motion to go another step. You gestured that you would come back for me. Did you ever? I didn't leave that spot for hours upon hours, thinking I didn't want to miss you. Believing you would come back with my dope or my money. I believe you never did.

I was trying to find a vein. Here a poke, there a poke, everywhere a poke. Is it worse to have money and no way to get drugs or drugs and no way to find a vein? Blood trickles into my new socks. When I stand up, I see the future. No rest for the weary, no shelter from the coming storm. 

     I took my depression jammies off just for you. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Encounter


The blonde hooker with the black eye reaches for her bear claw while the man in the piss stained clothes shuffles by, headed for the sugar. It's that period of the twenty four hours that make up a day when the brutal realities of life are hidden away from the pedestrians known by normal folk. The darkness veils the stark truth of life on the fringes of the city. The florescent lights of the donut shop are a magnifying glass, revealing what the naked eye generally avoids. As the man fills the coffee cup he pulled off one of the tables with what seems like an endless supply of sugar, I focus on my apple turnover.

"Dude," my friend yells as she tries to fan the smell away from his nose "how can a person live like that?" He takes a sip of his coffee, a watered down hazelnut blend. It is hot, steaming up his broken glasses. The arm no longer exists on the right side. His ego has given way to a utilitarian desire to see.

I point to the clock "that dude is waiting until the liquor store opens at six am. He probably passed out before he could hit the store before they stopped selling..." I try not to look at the man and his predicament. It can't avert my eyes from the wet stain on the back of his pants.

He continues "that dude...that dude is fucked..."

I chuckle to myself. THAT dude is fucked. We are sitting in this donut shop because neither one of us have a place to stay tonight. We are pooling our money to split a gram from the only connect who will come out this late. This mfer has an abscess so ripe, I can smell it across the table. I haven't had a period or a phone call to my family in over six months. Both of us are so sick, we can't finish a pastry, which would be the only thing we ate today if we could actually eat. I touched a dick for my money, he stole from a mom and pop store while they followed him out into the street screaming. Yeah. THAT dude is fucked. Not us.

As the old drunk walks past me to hit the door, we briefly lock eyes. How did he get to this place? How did I get to this place? "You got a cigarette?" he asks me. I honestly don't smoke. As he shuffles out, killing time, I push my food into another circle waiting for my own sweet relief to arrive.



    I am kind of a crazy cat lady. I have a dog too. She is great, just 13 1/2 so she sleeps all day.