Showing posts from 2019

On pause

I enjoyed shooting heroin as much as one can enjoy it. It served it’s purpose- filling the void of non existent relationships, happiness, and self esteem. I didn’t need love. Heroin WAS love. Mix that with  the ego boost that was amphetamines. My path to daily maintenance was settled. I saw the consequences but I cared very little about them. If only I had an endless supply, I told myself. In reality, I should’ve been more focused on having usable veins. I abused the vessel that held my future endeavors to the point the machine turned against me. It was time to try abstinence, possibly and probably against my better judgment. There was simply no evidence it would work. Twenty something years later, I’m a functioning human. There are days when I’m less functioning than others. I hold no illusions about that time of my life. I am both lucky to have survived and angry that drugs don’t work for me anymore. I can hold both opinions. I was fortunate to survived before fentanyl but I’m sad

Put Lemon Juice on it

Put Lemon Juice on my regrets, Inject them directly into my neck. Heroin swirled in a snowdrift Helicopters drown out hunger pangs. My circle is very small. It consists of kids, cats, and depression naps. I don't go out much- though I enjoy myself when I do. I spent a lot of time mindlessly scrolling my phone wondering if anyone is truly happy. Things have changed for me recently. Watching people  I love return to active drug use has made me question a lot of things in my life.

Crispy Bacon

When the seasons change, when the days get dark early, my mind turns to heroin. Maybe there isn’t even heroin left in the US but I can’t say even at 21 years sober, I don’t occasionally get an itch. It’s more of missing numbness- numbness with flashes of euphoria. The Holiday Season reminds me of all the things I don’t have. Both my parents are dead. I have debts. My mental health goes through various stages of instability. I’m no longer in that blind faith phase of 12 step where I am fully invested in the idea that if I do x,y,z- I’ll be fine. So here I am. Being active in a drug habit was fucking awful, don’t get me wrong. It’s cold now. A good vein is not easy to find when you are searching between two cars while your “friend” watches out for the police. There’s no joy in trying to figure out which limbs are the least infected. I often couldn’t feel my own legs because of the swelling from cellulitis mixed with dull nerves from constantly poking myself with a syringe. I’d lay unde

Two consenting adults

I went to pull my pants off. The customer was anxious to get to the goods. Around the world in thirty minutes or hopefully less. The abscess on my upper thigh had busted this morning. The puss had dried into a crust that sealed my tights onto my body. I didn’t want to pull to hard. Not only would it create suspicions (“look no tracks”)- there were no visible marks on my arms. Those veins had exited long ago. Tugging too hard at the fabric of this Petri dish of a garment would be painful. He took a long pull from his pipe. I guess crack was somehow different from heroin. I had broken my    own rule here. Drugs and money didn’t mix. I liked my customers a little less rough around the edges. But today a girl has bills to pay. Find luck where you make it. “Shhh. Shhh.” The John whizzes past me to hit the light switch “Shhhhhh.” He hushes me again as he gets down towards the floor. The FBI clearly has this room staked out for his twenty shot. I’m glad I got my money upfront but also he’

“The Only Way”

Dear Readers, Folks that read this blog are all over the map with their drug use. Some of you are just starting out on this journey. I can only encourage you to get narcan, use safe technique, get advice from reputable sources, and take breaks. There are some that are midway through and have decided using drugs still works for you. And you know what- that is okay. You deserved to be treated with respect. Period. Humans have been using drugs for thousands of years. That isn’t going to stop because of prohibition. There are the vets of the drug war out there- I see you. You aren’t ready to stop but you don’t want to keep going either. That’s a tough place my friend. You don’t have to decide today but in the meantime, take better care of yourself baby. Finally, there are my pre and early recovery folk. Let me have a few words. There is no one way to do recovery. 12 step is not the only way. Yes, it is the dominant treatment but that doesn’t make it the best treatment. Sanitariums used

In My Feelings

Overdose Awareness Day is my least favorite day of the year. Let me explain. In 1992, I came to San Francisco California in the middle of the AIDS crisis. Contrary to popular belief, I was already using drugs intravenously before the Greyhound bus touched down here. I had began using opioids (later Heroin) and the needle in 1990. There just wasn’t much access to them in Ohio. I knew about HIV but not much. Suburban Ohio was still struggling to understand it wasn’t a gay disease or Godly retribution for abhorrent behaviors. The empathy in the presentation was lacking. My eyes were about to open as I arrived in the city where sick and dying folks were out in the open. It was something to behold.  I cannot stress strongly enough how 21 year old me was not prepared for the city. I had no concept of how widespread HIV was in the population of people who used drugs here in the City. Standing next to gaunt human beings with lesions at the syringe exchange, it was my first exposure to

Huddled masses

What do you tell a 15 year old boy in leopard print skinny jeans that has just sucked a  lawyer’s dick for $100 when he asks you to help him find a vein. Do you take the moral high road telling him "I don't want to be responsible for your drug use." or do you tell him that you can explain what to do but you don't want to help. Or do you hold his arm and do the damn thing, perhaps asking that he provides you with a healthy rinse of his cooker in return for your service? Quite the quandary. I don't remember what I did on that foggy night underneath the street light in the parking lot by the breakfast spot where we both (separately) met the dope man. I'd like to think I did the first one but I truly can’t recall. I do remember reviving him from an overdose a few years later. Why don’t you let me die was his response. Unfortunately,  I was put in this situation more than once by more than one person. Girls who ran away from foster care and boys who’s stepdads gave

They Can’t get “Clean” if They are Dead

They can’t get clean if they are dead.      Tracey, you saved two of my best friends lives. You sent out Narcan kit to a friend who was there when they both overdosed on heroin that definitely cut with fentanyl/fentanyl analogues. Both friends collapsed after ten minutes when they dosed and thankfully the friend with the Narcan kit that you sent him had the kit in hit car. After my friends collapsed; the sober friend ran to his car and retrieved the kit then he administered the Narcan to them. Within 2 minutes my two friends were brought out of the overdose and were fully conscious. So thank you, thank you so so so very much for sending those kits. You've likely saved hundreds of lives, including my two friends. Two days after that very close call, both of those friends admitted themselves to inpatient rehab.  My friends have now been clean a little over a year now. You truly are an amazing individual for doing what you do. Again thank you fr o m the bottom of my heart. You'

New piece in the Fix


Today’s reflection

A person hooked on opioids is acutely aware of their situation. No outsider need warn them- they know. The first time you wake up with that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach or lack the energy to go to school/work/Outside, your plight is clearly outlined. We chose to deny this at first but the truth has a way of chopping at your conscious. You know what is going on. But does the benefits of the drug outweigh the consequences? No one else can decide this for you. I stopped Heroin many times before I finally stopped. I would break my syringes. Go a few days without using. I’d do all the speed, take a benzo, smoke weed- whatever- to delay the inevitable return to the needle. Truly, I had no reason to stop besides for the fact I hated the bag chase. I had no job, no friends, no place to live, no will to live, no life. Heroin filled the chasm between myself and the world I saw others live in. It allowed me to function with suicidal depression- until it didn’t. I got to a place, a ve

Last Night’s Makeup

Last night’s makeup is caked around my eyes, there's a mascara ring of fire as I brush away my remorse. I exhale to the universe, my breath reeks late night chore boy and foil. Greeting the new day, I slam my hand against the alarm clock. My roommates are long gone. I’m the fuck up who gives everyone pause. Surprisingly, I got my pants off before the Xanax hit me. My "friend" at the bar knew I had been on a teensy crack binge (among other things).If I let him rub my thigh and pretend I'm interested, he's a generous person. His breath smells like Newports and rotten garbage. He leaned in for a kiss as I turned sideways. Such is life. It’s 7:45 am. I have to be at my  job at 9 to open. My plan is to sleep with my head on the desk in between customers, like nap time in kindergarten. “I just want to rest my eyes for a minute” is what I’ll tell the fresh faced teenager whom I will need to cover for me today. I also have a few buy one get one free coupons I will use w

Watch you Smoke

The first time I injected anything into my veins, I was 20 years old. In the summertime, I’d get a rash because my thighs would rub together. I’d smother myself in baby oil, hoping to get a tan line around my mint shorts. Or my weathered swimsuit. I’d lay on the lawn chair in the backyard until the cicadas started chirping and the neighbor would fire up the weed whacker over the sound of the evening news. West Chester was the type of place where you could ride your bike to the end of the dead end  street to poke a stick at a dead raccoon. It’s face slowly decomposing with the passing of the last humid days of summer. I’d pull up my comforter to sleep curled up on top of the air conditioning vent, remaining completely oblivious to the fact that in a few years I will no longer have a place to call home. In the long nights, kids who “know better” pass joints of weed they got from a wooden box hidden in their dad’s underwear drawer. A wedding will be the first place you will get a sip

When I was young

When I was young, I knew there was something different about me. It wasn’t just the fact that I was shunned by most of adolescent society because I was significantly overweight. I just felt this overwhelming sense that I didn’t belong to the pastel world of suburban Ohio. The corn fields and the chain stores and the sameness. No one wanted to stick out. There was conformity in the water there. A belief in following behind the latest whatever. I tried to fall in line.  Until one night while eating popcorn and laying next to the air conditioning on a summer night, I saw a thing that changed my life. It was punk rock on my tv. I don’t remember the exact film clip but I remember seeing kids wearing dresses made out of trash bags, boys wearing eyeliner, ripped jeans with safety pins. And I wanted in. I had no access to these things, but I wanted them. I also knew at this age that I was attracted to boys AND girls, a thing that was 100% not allowed when we were seeing images of humans su

Back from Burnout

2019 has been a year of transitions for me. I’ve spent the past twenty one years working as an advocate for those folks who have been widely written off by society. Sex workers, those who’ve been incarcerated, people who use drugs, and those experiencing mental health issues. I never anticipated I would be in the position to advocate for anything. I fully believed I would die with a syringe hanging out of my arm. Fast forward to the present. I’m working to figure out what the next chapter holds for me. Is it as a writer? Is it as a speaker? Is it raising kids? I’m doing all these things. I’m also dealing with pretty serve severe flair ups of anxiety. Working in this field can take an emotional toll on a person. We are years deep into an overdose crisis with only glimmers of hope. Anyway readers, I haven’t quit being your advocate. I’ve just been recharging a bit. I’ve been taking the necessary steps to keep my mental health in order. I have a bunch of new stories I’ve been sketchin

Waiting for anything

There was an old man that used to drive by when I was sitting on the fire hydrant. On the warm fall afternoon, I would feel the nod slowly creeping up on me. I would sit with my eyes closed like a cat in the windowsill. He would beep to get my attention. I would wave him on. “Never- not on my worst day would I go with you...” I would choke on those words a few weeks later. I was young then. I had long black hair, blue eyes. My lashes were as long as the track mark that snaked from the pit of my elbow to my wrist. I was skinny then. I was thin for the first and only time in my life. Six months of daily heroin use had whittled away my appetite to nothing but an occasional home run fruit pie or little Debbie snack cake. My leggings covered the bruises- I took too many klonopins and tumbled down the stairs last night. I woke up sick this morning, overslept my medication. I flip my hair for effect as the cars go by. Waiting for anything and nothing to happen.

Emerging from the Cocoon of Sadness- death hangover

This is part of a work in progress      When I left the emergency room, I felt an overwhelming sense of embarrassment as if I had failed a test life had provided for me. As a woman and a mother, I am supposed to be able to handle anything and everything life throws at me. Wash the bowls for the morning cereal, make sure there are available clean socks, sign that permission slip, pack one lunch from home, one likes pasta with red sauce, one pasta with butter. Make sure the bus pass has enough money, dial in the conference call at exactly 11 am, clean the catbox before the senior cat shits on the floor, give the dog his medicine, and OH! Deal with the deaths of those around me without missing a beat. The rubber band that has held my life tightly together for years was beginning to snap back.     A text breezes past my screen.       “Tracey- are you dialing in this call?’ - Abe.     “I am actually at the hospital right now…” why do I need an excuse to say I can’t take on anymore. I f

Scissors by my face

I've been working on material for a new book. Would love your thoughts.- Love Tracey That morning started like any other morning. It ended in the emergency room. Copious amounts of caffeine washing down the remnants of last night’s lack of sleep. My blanket is covered in sweat. As I rolled over, I can hear my son let out a little sigh. He gets sweaty, too. A different kind of sweaty from a 200 pound woman. Small children look like cherub angels from Renaissance paintings or ceramic Precious Moments figurines. I look like an out of shape exerciser in too tight clothes on a hot summer day. I pull my yoga shorts up. I will have to tip toe past him to get out the door.       I’m 48 years old resting on a tiny mattress on a bunk bed. The bunk is about as comfortable as it sounds but it is what I am working with at the moment. The springs sticking in my back are a minor irritation I consider worth the physical discomfort. I just need to get access to the fan on a nightly basis. U