Showing posts from February, 2013

Return of the prodigal daughter

Dear readers, I am going on vacation. I would love for you to post some comments or questions here. What treatment options are available where you live? I am noticing that in many parts of the word, treatment options are very limited.  In the depths of my addiction, I only went home one time in 1993. I came home a week after my brother wedding. In fact, no one was planning to be at the house. I did a farewell to San Francisco  hit of speed before I got on the airplane. I was so paranoid the whole flight. I believe I ordered some booze to take the edge off. I arrived at the airport to realize I had not idea how I was going to get to West Chester. I was in Kentucky. I was at least one state and an hour drive away from my destination. Getting home was going to take some serious effort on my part with no money. I took a free hotel shuttle to downtown Cincinnati. Then, tweaking out of my mind, I walked from downtown beyond Eden Park so two to four miles through all the worst areas downt

15 years clean today

The last year of my using was very, very lonely even though I was generally with someone. Ben and I were together for six long months. When I met him, he had fully succumb to the depths of his addiction. he had left his sheltered world and all his friends and set out for the city. When we met, it was an odd arrangement. We loved each other but both us were strung out to the point that we existed in the same space rather than have a relationship. Ben and I were different kinds of addicts. I was what I cal a maintenance addict- I did just enough to get by on a daily basis. Ben , on the other hand, would alternate between pushing things to the absolute extremes and wanting to get clean. Clean - what is that? What does that mean? Nothing? No drugs? Just smoke weed and drink? Absolutely nothing? Have you ever been clean? Have you ever known anyone that was clean. Never, never, never I thought. To me clean was a mix of chemicals. I will stop doing this and only do that. I will cut back on

Being present

It is that time of year again. Hopefully I will be fast asleep as I tick of another year clean. I am not sure where you are right now. I am not sure what part of the world you are in. Are you suffering from addiction? Have you used drugs today? Are you feeling alone in recovery? Something unites all of us. I enjoy being clean but it is hard for me to be present. It has gotten easier over time but sometimes I catch my mind drifting off. I live in a fantasy world most of my child hood.  My adult years were spent stuffing my feeling then BAM we are supposed to process all of them. Flooding is what it is called in therapy. Drowning is what I call it. All of your feelings flow over you like a wave and you are struggling for air. When I sit with my children and I snuggle with them, I am flooded with a different type of emotion. I honestly cannot believe how much I love them. They are such special little people and I am privileged to be part of their lives. "Read story- AGAIN".

Why Write? Why Now?

I have always liked to write. I wrote a book of poetry and a book of fiction when I was a teenager. I always have all these thoughts up in my head that drive me crazy at times. I question myself, I over think things. Some where in the world right now, a person is suffering as I have suffered in the past. I have watched a few little pieces of Black Tar Heroin recently. On one level, it is painful for me. How did I get to that place? How did I survive? On the other hand, I achieved all of the goals I outlined in the film. In 2005, I got my Bachelors degree in Business Administration. In, 2007 I completed a Masters Degree in Public Administration. I have three healthy, drug free children. I did all those things and more. It can be hard going back to that place. However, I see it everyday in the work that I do, the alleys I cross to get to my job. I came to San Francisco in April of 1992. I really believed I would go home someday. I also believed that the drugs wouldn't get me. Wit

Never enough

A hole that love can not fill. A burning star that will not shine A memory we never made I fear I am never enough. Awake I find no purpose In a crowd I silently scream I bit the hand that gently fed Enough was never a word for me. I strip my skin of all my weakness I tear my heart out for you to see I live for nights I trace their shadows It is never enough. I am not enough

My life in pictures

Sometimes pictures speak better than words


I had this man in my life. He was the synthesis of all the worst things life had to offer. I spent most of my addiction alone. I would sit and stare out the window for hours. Or stare at the ceiling. Many times I wished I would die but I never really thought of killing myself until I met him. I used to live in an alleyway right off the hustler alley. For the most part the businesses wouldn't complain about the homeless residents. Either that or the police didn't really care. They knew most of us by name. The chevron gas station was nice enough to let us use the bathroom there so I had some shred of humanity left. I never stayed one night in a homeless shelter. I felt safer outside. Enclosed places made me paranoid after years of doing crystal meth. I hated him. I hated everything about him. He was short, mad, persistent. The second day I dated him he kicked the door in to my room and my life. I had spent $40 for a place to be alone. He held me down with a knife to my thro

Black Tar Heroin 10 questions answered

I want to get this in one place. Here you go When was the film made? The film was made from Dec 1995 to Dec 1997. Originally the film was supposed to be for one year but I believe when HBO picked up the film they wanted two years. How were you picked for the film? Steven met a bunch of different people at the youth needle exchange. He wanted subjects that were slightly younger than me. He filmed a few other people  that never made it into the final film Were you paid for the film? No. I was not paid for the film. he bought me a hotel to stay in for a week and bought me lunch a few times. I think they left some money for me when I was in jail too. Documentary film makers, in general, don't pay their subjects. Was I friends with the other people from the film ? Sort of. I never knew Alice. I met Oreo when he was 15 or 16. He was VERY young when the film was made. His mom used to work the desk in one of the hotels I lived in. Jake and I used to hang out. At one point he had

Hello to my new readers

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The carousel

Drug addiction is not a part of my everyday life. I am not sleeping in a doorway today. I am not in a rat infested hotel paying to live in squalid conditions for the freedom to use. I am not degrading myself for money or drugs. I am not destroying my body, my mind, or my teeth today. But addiction is still there. It is under the surface. It is the oil that streaks the water. No one comes out unscathed. Right now, today, I'm in the up part of the carousel ride. Things are going well and I know where I am headed. To create a meaningful life, recovering addicts crave consistency. The routine replaces the anxiety of not knowing what to do. If I wasn't doing drugs- what would I be doing?! A popular refrain. The carousel also has down times. The death of my mother. A miscarriage. Not getting things the way I want them. Not getting things exactly as a planned. Not being able to control everything in my universe. Yes, it is that simple. Addiction made me expect recovery to be this

Suburban Blues

It is that time of year. Time for my suburban blues to lift their veil of secrecy. I have suffered from seasonal depression all my life. There is something about the darkness and the fraud of the Christmas holiday season that gives me the blues. Its not that I am a holiday hater. My mother was always very entertaining with her wreath earrings, her Mr. and Mrs. Claus table decorations, her saturated rum cake paired with her beer cheese. My mom had a flair for the dramatic suburban arts.  I, on the other hand, have always been of a darker nature. I liked Halloween and Tim Burton movies. I liked to marinate in my misfortune and wear it around the house. Just wait- some day I will get out of here and make it on my own! I will wear black nail polish and black clothes every day! Ha! The suburban blues- if I can't fit in I will not conform because you don't like me anyway so fuck you first. As an adult, I have a new version of the suburban blues. Trying to make EVERY MOMENT magica

Grammar, Commas, Spelling, Fear

Ok, Ok. I get it. Grammar, Commas, Spelling. Not really my thing. I do use the spell check but I am quite sure things get through that are grossly incorrect. For those using google translator, my sincerest apologizes as I generally use my own version of Tracey language. If you are reading my blog, thank you. I hope you will allow me a few mistake here and there. A question came up about my past drug use. I considered myself an equal opportunity drug addict. I started out drinking and smoking pot. I can say from the very beginning, I never drank alcohol for the taste. I hated the taste of alcohol. One of the first time I ever remember drinking was warm Pabst Blue Ribbon my friend and I took from the trunk of my dads car on a hot day. It tasted like I felt afterwards, full and sick. I think the first time I remember getting drunk was at a neighbors wedding. I went around drinking left over drinks, mostly whiskey. I had the most horrible stomach ache but that didn't stop me from try

The Seasons

Growing up in Ohio, life is all about the seasons. We grew up in west Chester. It started out as a sleepy little suburb with big yards. Our parcel used to be part of a farm an a piece of barb wire fence still existed in the back at the end of the property. The 1/4 acre lots seems especially spacious in comparison to our outer San Francisco shack we call a home. The thing I miss the most in California is the seasons. My mother grew up splitting time between New York and Florida. My father was from rural Kentucky. They were an odd match. I think he was more in his element in the outdoors. She enjoyed the suburban existence but had a neurotic fear of driving which made sprawl uncomfortable for her. Many were the days I resented her for not being willing to drive us somewhere. Last year, I had a massive panic attack while driving my mini- van. The past repeating itself. I realize as an adult my mother had some type of anxiety disorder and my father was a late in life alcoholic. He was th

Capturing the moment

I had a really good day today. A really really good day. A good day full of uncomplicated emotions and low expectations. Recovery is saying: I had a really good today today. I want to cherish this day. Tomorrow may be hard so I want to remember this day. Addiction is saying: I had a really good day today. I wonder what I could do to have another day EXACTLY like this one. Addiction is a state of suspended animation. You are frozen in the block of self doubt and dependent on a chemical for your joy. Recovery for me is making room for the human experience. No two moments need to be the same. Stepping in the mud, looking at blackberries, simply alive and in the moment.


In all of our lives, there are moments that seem to be part of a great cosmic plan of misery. Ppl used to ask me all the time how I ended up in San Francisco. It wasn't destiny. I used to listen to the Doors "the End" on acid and think one day I will go out West. The real reason I ended up in California was that someone was going to kill me and I had two choices: New York or San Francisco. Those were the only places where I knew to get heroin.  I had an apartment on Mcmillian in Clifton. The neighborhood was a mixture of college town, Gay district, place where mentally ill and whinos congregated. I had an apartment there because I was pretending to go to college in between drug binges. My apartment had no real furniture except a matress on the floor and a broken couch. Graffiti and handprints were on the wall. Basically if you were over the age of 18 you came to my place to get fucked up. If you were under age, you stayed on short vine. I barely knew this person, a fri

Any day without a needle in my neck

I used to say any day with out a needle in my neck is a good day. I think this still holds true although my life today is a little more nuanced. Some of my scars I have on my legs are from using water from the top of a car on a rainy day to fix. Some of them are from being so dope sick I would stick that dirty shoe polish directly in my leg. My veins in my arms disappeared in the first few years so I was frequently seen dropping my pants trying to find a vein in my legs. I used to call them the road map to misery. It did indeed look like I had been dropped in a dumpster and chewed on by rats. I only had a rat jump on me once when I was sleeping outside. I ran into a constant stream of human vermin. The drug world is full of people who feel as if they are some how maintaining humanity however there is some cognitive dissonance there. Where you think you are and where you are- dogging rain drops sleeping in a hustler alley- are different. Any day without a needle in my neck is a good

They ripped you from my guts

I don't have pleasant happy birth stories to tell my three kids. Basically, they ripped you from my guts. Today is my youngest sons birthday. His ripping was the most pleasant of the three. When we found out I was pregnant for the second time, after miscarriage, I was fooled into a sense of security. I thought birth was this natural thing involving some mild sedation and voila! They hand you a baby, put it in cute clothes, and you live happily every after. That was the way my mother had always made it sound. She told me about how, in her day, they knocked her out and when she woke up the baby was all cleaned up. I thought that I would go into the hospital and instinctually know how to push my lovey out. Uh, no. Not what happened. The first issue with baby one was I gained WAY too much weight. In fact, you are not eating for two. When you are a fatty and old aka advanced maternal age, every visit is about creating fear in the heart of the crazy old lady who dared to fight biolog


I was raised by both my parents. My father was gone much of the time. He frequently traveled, drank, or worked 80 hour weeks. My mother held down the household and insisted on attempting some sort of normalcy. One of the strangest periods of my life was the years when my grandmother and her husband lived with us. He was awesome. He was 1/2 Native American loved to smoke. He would let you have a few sips of his beer while he told stories about killing people in the war. I was always mezmorized by his tattoo. He liked his slippers, getting his hands dirty. He had the vague smell of motor oil. I admired him. They way he took his teeth out to make us laugh. He seemed real to me. My grandmother needed him. I am not sure what caused her condition but by the time she lived with us, she had delusions. She would think you were other people " the Rhondas and the Bettys". She would talk to the tv. She scared the living hell out of me and was my caretaker an entire summer. My breakfas

Thank you for reading my blog

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A faded letter

People argue that prostitution is the worlds oldest profession. I have always argued that farming came first, prostitution came in response. You could also argue that being a mother is the oldest vocation as it does not come naturally to many. There are many things I like to write about in prose. Prostitution is not one of them. The enormous stigma that comes with it makes it an awkward conversation starter. If you are a homeless or drug addicted female, there will be someone in the shadows gently nudging you into prostitution. I'm not talking about a pimp or panderer as many of those girls, and I do mean girls, do not use hard drugs. What I mean is that drugs require money. If your are not a thief or a fraud which I am not, there are limited other ways to fuel your habit. Prostitution is 90% acting and 10% action. It is a fantasy for many, an illusion that someone wants a connection with you even if you have to pay for it. In my life as a soccer mom, I have had numerous women

The children

I am hopelessly in love with my children. From the second I saw their faces, I knew a love that beyond anything I could have ever imagined. The lives I created bring a joy into this world that gives me hope. There was a period in my life when I did NOT want children. I think this way mainly because I didn't think they were possible. Having experienced the evils of the world, I lay awake some nights. Maybe this was why I started having panic attacks at 41. I am unable to sleep because I want to shield them from the dark places that I know exist somewhere. If only there was some road map, some landmarks, I could tell them to steer clear of for their safety and my sanity. I want to give them the best opportunity I can at joy. In creating my blog, the fuller picture of my life is that I am a caring mother, a good citizen, generally boring on the daily. I traded insanity for the fragile balance between dutiful mother and raving lunatic. I remember we always knew when our mother was

My affliction

I didn't follow the trajectory that was outlined for me. It was as if a new life was created for me as a 27 year old. When I stopped using, I had to relearn how to live life. It is amazing how the life of a homeless addict parallels the life of an animal. At first, you roam in packs for the mutual benefit of the entire system. In the end, you spend your time alone, not social interaction, in complete hypervigilance and survival mode. The first thing you need to do to survive as a using addict is surrender to your affliction. Forgo your dreams. Forget your connections. Destroy your relationships if you want to keep those people safe. Having one foot in society and one foot in the crack house breaks everyone in two. Your loved ones stop suffering when you cut all ties- or so I thought for many years. There was at least two or three years where I rarely called home. In fact, I believe I had almost no contact with my family for nearly a full year. My mother used to lament that she wa

Mundane Details

When I thought of writing about my life, I was concerned about what to put in print. First of all, I don't want to harm anyone with the truth. I think the truth is much more disarming than fiction. The truth also varies from day to day. Today, I may be deliriously happy being clean and sober. Tomorrow I may want to jump in front of the train rather than face all my responsibilities. Sometimes I like to hide in the bathtub. Not that I can't hear children fighting during snack time or feel my water slowly getting cold because I have to share my bath with a toddler. For a moment, I can slip into the water and be where ever my imagination takes me. Another issue is the weight of my past. It carries a heavy burden like stones on my chest sucking the air out of me. My daughter wanted to be a junior Girl Scout. Explaining to total strangers past felony convictions and arrests for prostitution isn't a pleasant conversation. Something as simple as watching a character get shunned

The framework

How did I become an addict? Was I born that way? Did something in my psyche break creating a vacuum of opportunity? No one has those answers. Matter is never created or destroyed so what does it really matter. Food was my first addiction. Food and depression go hand in hand like the chocolate and peanut butter in a Reece's . I became depressed around the age of 7. I was always the type to be sensitive to the point of fragile. Someone said something about my sister as an eight year old and I pinned them to a wall and started choking them. I had mo way to cope with my reality. My feelings were getting in my way and I started stuffing them. You may wonder- how does a person eat a whole Sara Lee cheesecake?! Very fucking easily. If you have a question about this, imagine a pain that is only cured with sugar followed by the sleep of a lifetime. The sleep of barbaric overindulging the depression of failing yourself again. The addict was there. My personality was transforming into tha

The last day- Feb 26, 1998

February is what I call "recovery month" because it contains my clean time anniversary. It is always a time when I do alot of reflection. The last day I used, February 26, 1998. I was "living" in the Hotel Kinney with rats, roaches, and other creatures of the night. I was completely emaciated. for the first time in years, I was alone. I didn't have a boyfriend. I had gotten to the point where I was using to exist because I couldn't call it anything else. I had no veins left. I was shooting up in the soles of my feet. I had tried methadone unsuccessfully because I couldn't stop using while I was on it. My habit was out of control. I was using speed heroin and cocaine in the same syringe. I remember it used to make me feel normal, almost like I do now, for a few minutes then came the depression and sickness. I could barely walk from all the needle pricks. I knew the police were looking for me. I had a suitcase packed in my closet so I would be ready th

Mommy vs mama

Being a person in recovery, nothing is ever promised to you. Everything I have acquired in my life since the day I got clean required hard work. The best decision I made in terms of my personal self reliance was to tell my mother I didn't want her to send me money anymore a few months after I got into treatment. It wasn't as if I didn't need the money- I absolutely need it- but I would never be on my own until I cut the cord as a 28 year old. I needed to be my own person, whatever that meant. My mother and I had a unique relationship. She was a perfect co-dependant and recovery advocate at the same time. Through out my childhood my mother and I were at odds. It always seemed to me that if she only would do this or that, maybe my father would quit drinking. When I got to be a teenager, I saw her in a totally different light. She was from that generation where the family is supposed to stick together. She wanted to work things out and always held out that glimmer of hope th


All my life I have had small visions of things to come. The night my mother went into the hospital, I was watching Battlesar Gallatica and I began to cry hysterically. When I was 17, I was riding on the school bus staring out the window and I had an idea that someday someone was going to make a movie about me. Out of nowhere, I had a dream about an old friend I hadn't seen since the early 90's a few days before he was killed by the police. I had a dream about Spanky. I have these dreams. Every since I was a child, I had a vision about the lights that kept coming in waves in front of my eyes. They were waves almost as if I was in motion. When I got pregnant in June of 2006, it was one of the happiest days of my life. We had been talking about maybe having children but to get pregnant my first month of birth control! I thought it was a minor miracle like many of the other miracles I have seen in recovery. What kind of mother would i be? Would my child be an addict? Would they t

Reflections on the first time.

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 the drugs. When I get ready for bed at night, I spent alot of time reflecting. Its wasn't THAT long ago i came to SF. The first year that I did IV drugs, I didn't know how to stick a needle in my own arm. It was only when I became frustrated with sharing that I learned. The first time I did heroin, it was a whole ordeal. At the time, no one in Cincinnati I knew could get heroin locally. 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- my particular poison was 666. We needed to come up with today seems like an enormous amoun

The Dark End of the Street

One of the reasons I started writing again was the overwhelming response to "Black Tar Heroin-The Dark End of the Street". When I agreed to do the movie, it was Dec of 1995. Originally, the movie was going to be filmed for one year. The filmmaker was looking for people younger than myself but i did my best to talk my way in to the Film. I really, truthfully believed at that point in my life that the film was to serve as my last will and testament. I had been using steady with no respite for 4-5 years. I was probably close to 120 pounds. I had an HIV scare in 1992 and had reason to believe I was infected would refuse on and off to get a test. I was paranoid, dejected. I was a constant string of abscesses and abusive relationships. I would say that was without a doubt, the lowest period of my life. The film ended Dec 1997 after extending an additional year. It was released in mid1998 on HBO and had two million viewers that first week. The issues for me was that I was clean wh

Gifted and Talented

Growing up as a fatty in skinny society was traumatic enough without the unpleasant addition of glasses, an alcoholic father, and the label of gifted and talented. In other words, you are not just a social outcast but you are destined to be intelligent enough to recognize your plight. Unlike today, in the seventies fat kids were a rarity. There was no plus section, no Torrid. My parents bought me clothes in the maternity section and hemmed them for me. Boys had husky tough skins. There were no obese garamimals. To add insult to injury, I was a food addict before it was known that eating a bag of of Doritos and washing it down with a two liter of Mountain Dew wasn't normal for a seven year old. I've been on weight loss plans since I was ten. Parents get kinda grumpy with their chubby embarrassment but as a parent myself I see the solution was fairly simple - stop buying crappy food! Junior High School was excruciatingly painful. Cries of orca the killer whale got old aroun

What it means to be a woman

I was thinking last night on how I learned about being a woman. My mother was born in 1941. She was wedged between two different generations. I used to watch her with great interest, especially on Sundays when she would set her hair. She was one of the last beehive holdouts. While the 70s switched to harshly feathered hair, my mom was still rolling and setting her hair on Sundays. The process was exhausting. First, she had to wash inordinate amounts of white rain out. Then she would put her hair in roller that looked like torture devices held together with bobby pins. When her hair finally dried overnight, there was the teasing, the spraying. I'm quite sure a section of the ozone layer was taken out with her signature 'do. Finally was the reteasing and daily sleep positioning to retain its glory. They say the higher the hair the closer to God. She clearly was a saint. Finally, the hair was topped of by her kerchiefs, accessorized with her pal mall gold 100s, and finished with a

Blah Blah Blah Yackety Smackety

After another night of interrupted sleep, i was rewarded at 5:00am by a preschooler refusing to remove his wet pull up and return to bed. The daily battles with this particular pre-schooler have brought out all the worst in me. Sometimes I wonder "does he think I am some type of punk bitch and he can talk to me any old way". I realize when you have taken me back to prison slang, we have some parenting issues UP IN HERE. I know I was a very willful child and I am being rewarded by karma. This preschooler favorite expression is "I can't". we need him to go to the Bob the Builder School of yes we can!! I was walking to work this morning dodging piles of both human waste and crackheads pushing over stuffed shopping carts. San Francisco is much more than Pier 39 and the Golden Gate Bridge. We have our seedy underbelly but it isn't on the under- its just beneath the surface if you open your eyes. I remember sleeping out in the alleyways for many years. The colde