Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Remember

What are they
Doing right now?

What am I
Doing right now?
Through emotions

Where is
That warm, warm weather?
Where is
That hot, muggy air?
As my toes
Feel freezing.

I remember
Freezing in the summer
Even when it was
100 degrees outside.

I remember
Being insulated in the winter
Because the layers
Of dope were so thick
Inside my veins.

I remember
Dark and dusty
Old and dirty
Pungent and inviting

I remember
Sad and angry
Laughter and smiles
Cold and lonely
I remember you...

All of you.

I remember
A shiny needle
And its worn sheath
Numbers faded
And dull

I remember
That distinct
And inviting smell
The brown color
And all
The cravings within.

I remember
All the things
I wanted to forget

And I have forgotten
So many things
I want to remember.

Its like I was
Never there.

A million miles away
In my mind
And in my heart
My life,
A million miles away

I remember
Who was there
And what we
Were doing
But, I cannot
What it was like.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Cravings fade away
As do junkies and thieves
But my memories
Forever imprinted
In my mind
Seen through my eyes
That were often foggy
And high

I remember
All the faces
That made up
My daily life
And all the laughter
Fills my memory

Faces smiling down at me
Some from heaven
Some only in my memory

Liam...all the love
We shared
All the struggle
And all the laughter
I will never love again
Like that

And all the other
I knew back then...
Bob, and Phoenix
Shannon, and Pauli
Jamie, and Sophia
Nell, and Irene
Ashley,and Jeff
Papa, and even Julie
Bound together
By the struggles
Of addiction

My memory serves
To remind me now
Where not to go
But, I often think
Of all the people
I used to know
With fondness

I do not miss those days.
But, I do miss those people.

Dog Shit

Everyone knows that when you have a dog in the city, you MUST clean up its poop. It is an irresponsible of a pet owner to let their dog shit on the sidewalk and then leave it there for someone to step in! I have never owned a dog, but I have seen lots of dog shit on the sidewalk. And I have stepped in it, too.
We had a neighbor on Port Street who never cleaned up her dog's shit. It was baffling because she drove a hippie bus, had dreadlocks, and was always talking about peace and spreading the love. Spread the shit, too I guess. To make matters worse, she owned a very large Rottweiler. If you have ever seen a Rottweiler's shit, it is almost as big as a horse's and much nastier. We were forever dodging the hippie's dog shit on the 800 block of Port Street. She just let the motherfucker out without a leash and let him wander off to take a shit where ever he pleased.
Constant dog shit on the sidewalk gets irritating. But, when it interferes with the flow of heroin that is when enough becomes enough. How could dog shit affect my daily fix? Well...I will tell you about the day the shit hit the fan...or the windshield of a hippie bus.
My dope dealer had lost his leg sometime before I had known him. I heard he had been shot. I also heard he was stabbed while in jail. I am not sure how it happened, and I never asked him. He had a prosthetic from the knee down on his left leg.
Now, my dealer was a really cool guy. He would come inside the house and visit for a minute or two. He wasn't the type of guy to just honk the horn and make the junky run out to the car. Of course, sometimes he would want you to step out, but he generally came on inside.
One day he pulled up in the Land Rover just as I was really getting anxious. I had been looking out the window for the past thirty minutes, but did not notice the stupid Rottweiler wandering outside. My dealer got out of his car, and as he approached the steps, he stepped in a huge pile of steaming dog shit that was at the base of my front steps. With his prosthetic, of course.
He comes hobbling to the door, pissed. He is muttering and cussing under his breath. He was always very calm about everything, but this had him a little riled up. He is muttering something about the damn dog owner and the huge pile of shit. I grab a roll of paper towels and help him clean it up. He slipped in it a little and it is a HUGE mess. He tracked it into my house and all over my porch. And of course, he steps in it with the prosthetic!
I get my package, all the while my dealer is still mumbling under his breath. He says I am going to have to come out to the car next time so I can be the one to step in the shit. I am just thankful he is not making me meet him elsewhere! But, damn I am pissed at my stupid hippie neighbor!
Liam is even more pissed than me. He has had dogs before, so he knows more about owner's etiquette. He storms out to the shed in the back yard and grabs a shovel. He scoops up the enormous pile of shit that is now smashed into the sidewalk. He walks right over to the neighbor's hippie bus and throws it onto her windshield. It is so heavy I can hear the thud it makes from three houses away. I can still picture that steaming shit splattering on her windshield. She never did leave any shit on the block after that!

Friday, February 26, 2010


I found a recipe for homemade Absinthe one time. It seemed relatively easy. Just add a little wormwood to some Vodka, touch it up with a few spices...and you can get really wasted. The recipe said to let it sit for seven to ten days, no more than fifteen days or it could be poisonous.
I took a bottle of Absolute Vodka that was about 1/3 full to begin this absinthe experiment. Then, I added the wormwood, which I aquired at a local Voodoo shop. Then, I spiced it up with cloves, cardamon, and other various pungent herbs. A little sugar to counteract the bitterness of the wormwood. I set the concoction in the window to start its magic.
Six nights later, Liam was spinning records while I was working. I ended up working later than planned, and I did not want to hit the club after I finally got off. So, of course, I went to The Abbey. My friend Dave wandered over after he got off his job at a nearby Italian restaurant. We sat there, drinking ourselves into oblivion.
Dave and I eventually grew tired of the bar, and headed back to my house on Port Street. I am sure we were probably looking for cocaine, but those details I do not remember. When we returned to my house, the house was jumping.
Liam and Pablo had brought most of the club back with them. The decks were blasting, as Liam and Pablo continued to spin some mad beats. Everyone in the house was on something, ecstasy being the most likely culprit. Even in my drunken state, I could see everyone's eyes as disks and saucers.
Dave and I were not only drunk, but we were quite surly. There were no drugs left unconsumed by the time we arrived. So, we headed to the kitchen to drink all the available alcohol. We finished off the rest of the beer in the fridge, which just left us hungry for more.
We could have walked several blocks to the store, but we were too drunk and too lazy. Quite annoyed with all the ecstatic ravers dancing in my two front rooms, I plopped down on the couch, defeated. That is when I spotted the bottle.
There it was! Sitting in the window just beckoning me, calling me over. What a beautiful sight! The clear liquid was now a light green tinge, and I knew the wormwood was beginning its magic. What the hell, six days instead of big deal. And Dave and I were DYING of thirst.
I had never had absinthe before, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I retrieved two rocks glasses, and poured both Dave and I a shot. Sniffing the liquid, it smelled herbal and a little spicy. It reminded me a little of cutting grass. Swigging it back, all I tasted was bitter! It tasted awful! So awful, that Dave and I did not want to drag it out. We proceeded to take two or three shots more.
The next thing I know, I am dancing around with all these people. All the lights get real hazy, and everything seems to be glowing. My body is all tingly,and my mood has gone from surly to ecstatic. I am dancing and hugging everyone. I really thought someone had slipped me some X. And that is the last thing I remember,
The next thing I know, the afternoon sun is blazing through the windows and my head is killing me. I slowly open my eyes. I am on the blue velvet couch, and Dave is on the other couch. He is stirring in his restless sleep. The house is trashed and it is obvious there was a party here. No one else is here, so I assume Liam has already left for work. The clock on the VCR says 4:12.
I am thinking I have never had such a terrible headache when Dave's head pops up. He is obviously in just as much pain and probably doesn't remember much more than me. I ask him, why do I have such an AWFUL headache? He feebly looks over at the window, while a very shaky finger points at the bottle of absinthe.
"That...that...shit," he croaks, and then drops his head as if exhausted.
Thankfully, Dave pulled a gram of dope out of his pocket a minute later. That act, too, took all his energy. There is no hangover a big, fat line of heroin won't cure. Shortly after, I got up and cleaned the house. I never did touch that bottle of absinthe again. I just let it sit there. It went through a cycle of greens before turning brown and eventually black. I am sure that by the time I threw it out, it was most certainly deadly.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The needle
Slides in like butter

The thick brown liquid
Waits as
I poke around for
A vein

There it is
I see red
My blood
Flows back into
The syringe
Mixing with the brown

The red blood
Like a poppy
As it
Ebbs and flows

The spark of red
And I know
I am coming home.

Monday, February 22, 2010


The first time I went to jail, I do not really count it. I was in Charlotte, NC and the issue with the particular charges was so muddled that they really did not have anything on me. I was bonded out in several hours, and later all the charges were absolved. But, the second time I went to jail was in New Orleans...
Going to jail at Orleans Parish Prison is always a long process. It does not matter how small your charge may be, you will be there for a WHILE. In New Orleans, the police will arrest you for anything they feel like, whether you did it or not sometimes. I once heard someone tell me that under Napoleonic Code, the police can arrest you for anything and they have 30 days to decide if the charges are even something you can be arrested for.
I am not sure of the validity of this Napoleonic Code statement. That particular statement was followed with a New Orleans arrest story that I do not really believe. But, then, anything you hear about New Orleans could happen. This particular person, we will call him "Space", told me he was arrested in the Quarter for impersonating a sidewalk while his friend was arrested for molesting a hot dog.
The story goes something like this...These two guys from Virginia were down in New Orleans with a girl. This girl was wasted drunk and making an ass of herself on Bourbon Street. The two guys were fed up with it and tired of wrangling her into some sort of control. They had given up, and in frustration Space sat down, defeated, on the sidewalk. His friend went and got a Lucky Dog. The cops approached the drunk girl and she took off. So, the cops unwilling to chase her arrested the boys for the aforementioned charges. The cops told the boys they could arrest them for anything and had 30 days to decide if these charges were real. The boys ended up spending almost 24 hours in OPP.
Now, that last part I do believe. Anyone arrested in New Orleans will be lucky to get out of jail in twelve hours, usually it is more like 24. The rumored reason for this is that the parish gets money for each prisoner each shift, and OPP gets paid for every prisoner from at least two shifts. A head count is taken after each twelve hour shift, and the parish's pay is determined. After the count, bonded prisoners can be released. If you are lucky enough to get there just before the end of a shift and be included in that head count, you may get out in twelve hours. Each arrested person will be there at least twelve hours...once you factor in all the paperwork shuffle of an overcrowded and ancient system it could be much longer.
The first time I was arrested in New Orleans, I did not know any of this. I was arrested for driving without a licence in a car with invalid plates. The situation could have been much worse, as I was selling to support my habit at the time. I was on my way to fill out some job applications. I had put the dope in my sock in my boot, then at the last minute decided that was a bad omen. I left the dope at home. I thought I would not be gone for more than an hour. Thankfully, I made that decision or else I would have been charged with felony possession of heroin.
I was stopped in a roadblock set up to check inspection stickers. With a Louisiana inspection sticker and a North Carolina tag, the cop was immediately tipped off. When she discovered my NC licence was revoked, I was immediately in handcuffs in the back of the cop car.
When I first arrived at Orleans Parish Prison dressed nice for a job inquiry, I noticed all the people. There were holding cells on one side, two full of men and one full of women. When I say full, I mean standing room only...and squished together. The medical area is on one side with chairs facing a television in the middle. One the end opposite the entrance, is the place where they finger print you. I later learned the fingerprinting is the last phase before they take your possessions and dress you out. Just beyond the door by the fingerprinting station is a counter where you must relinquish your clothes and other possessions.
When I first arrived, I did not call someone right away. Had I known the long process, calling someone to get the bond ball rolling would have been my first move. I just sat there. Liam was working a double, and my parents were in North Carolina. My bond was only six hundred dollars, which we could have afforded to pay out right. Sixty bucks to a big deal. I was only here for driving without a licence so I did not think there was any way I would be there for more that a few hours. I would be out before the withdrawal had set in for sure.
Oh, how wrong I was. They eventually put me in the holding cell crowded with women. Everyone was talking about their criminal activities, either that landed them there or otherwise. Drug talk was being thrown all around this cell. It seemed crazy to me. I wasn't about to say anything. I was here for driving without a licence, the last thing I wanted any guards to overhear was that I was a heroin addict. I just played it innocent. These hard women kept telling me I looked to sweet and innocent to be here. They were not surprised I was driving without a licence, but they would have never believed I was a heroin addict.
I sat there for hours and hours, and I still had not made any phone calls. If I knew what I know about jail now, I would have called a bail bondsmen as soon as I could. He could have contacted Liam at work, and then gone from there.Having no idea how jail situations work, I didn't do anything at first. As the hours passed, the uncomfortableness of withdrawal began to creep up on me. I started to panic a little and feel a little desperation.
I was let out to make a call after about six hours. At this point, I thought I was going mad and I just wanted to get the fuck out. Again, now six hours in jail seems like nothing, but it was an eternity then. I called Liam's job, but they would not accept a call from jail. Calls to a cell phone will not go through, so I could not call half the people I knew. I did not know many numbers by heart, either. I called The Abbey over and over but the phone was busy. I did not know I could call a bondsman and have him call Liam. In desperation, I called my parents in NC.
My step dad answered the phone, and he sounded really freaked out. He was concerned for me and assured me that they would take care of it right away. They wired the whole six hundred right to the jail with no concern about getting it back. They just wanted me out of that place. Of course, they had no idea about my addiction or all the bad things I surrounded myself with on a daily basis. This was at a time when my habit was new, and my life had yet to fall apart. My parents were far enough away, they thought I was prospering down in New Orleans. If they had known the path I had begun to follow, I feel sure they would have just left me there. And now that I am sober, I cannot say I would have blamed them.
From the point my bond was wired directly to the jail, I thought it would be any minute. I was able to hold my composure even though my insides were crumbling from the impeding doom of a definite withdrawal. I am back in the holding cell, and I am just waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
I am called out of the holding cell, which is a relief because it gets stifling in there with all those people. There was one girl in there who was off her rocker and would not shut up. She had apparently been running naked down Claiborne because the voices in her head told her to. When the cops approached, the voices told her not to tell the cops about them like she had all the other times this happened before. The voices were telling her her destiny was jail this time, not the mental ward at Charity Hospital. Her name was Mary, and she also claimed to be the mother of Jesus. I guess the voices were telling her that too.
The guards led me over to the chairs in the middle of the room. Ironically, a news special detailing the rise of heroin use in the city is on. I chuckle to myself. I am lighthearted thinking I have been let out of the holding cell because I am on my way home. It has been almost seven hours since by bond was paid, surely I am almost home. Then, I am called over to give my fingerprints.
That was the first time I have ever been fingerprinted. It was so long ago, and New Orleans has such an arcane system that fingerprinting is done with the old school ink rollers. It is quite a messy process. They also take your picture with an old school portrait camera. I learn years later how arcane this system is, as most of this is done digitally now.
Next, I am escorted through the doors by the fingerprinting station. I think I am getting released, or that I am about to be released. Now that I am more schooled in the ways of the jailhouse, I know I had a lot more paperwork to fill oat before being set free. After being lead through the doors into another area of OPP, I am in disbelief when they give me a bag of sweats.
Go put these on, and meet me at that desk. Above the desk the officer is pointing to, is a sign reading "Property." But, my bond has been paid I argue. My bond was paid hours ago. Why am I dressing out and where do I go next? The officer tells me that she is merely following orders. I am dressing out and going to another building. This is when I learn there is even a bus ride involved. Oh shit...I am not getting home for quite some time.
I am led with three other girls to a room, almost like a large storage closet. There is a table, like an old lunchroom table, at the end with two women behind it. They inspect the bag I was given, checking off that all items are in there. They say to strip down, and they are watching. Then, we must turn around so they can make sure we are not hiding anything. We are instructed to put on the sweatsuit we are given. They take our clothes and put them in a paper bag. We then sign paperwork approving that all this is kosher. We return to the property desk and give them our valuables, such as jewelry. We sign more paperwork and are sent to a much smaller holding cell.
Again, I wait and wait. Crazy Mary is brought into this smaller cell as well. We are all dressed in sweats colored pink, purple, green, and blue. Different shades and hues from wash and wear. OPP does not have jumpsuits, instead sweats. Which if you ask me, is way better than your standard orange jumpsuit. It would be years to come before I swore of that horrible jailhouse orange color for any item of clothing.
All the waiting and the dope sickness is creeping in worse than ever. I am trying to this out of my mind, trying to resist the urge to puke. I do not want anyone here to recognize my illness as withdrawal. I am only here for driving without a licence, and my bond was paid almost ten hours earlier. Again, if I had known what I know now, I would know they could not do anything to me if I was showing signs of dope sickness when I was arrested for a traffic violation. Finally, after there are eight girls in this tiny holding cell, they round us up to transport us.
Apparently the housing for women is just across the street, but we are transported in a van. What a waste of money, I think. First of all, my bond has already been paid...I do not need to be moved. Plus, they will have to throw out this toothbrush they issued me and wash all these clothes I have worn for a short time. We are all herded down a hallway with double exit doors on the end.
A male guard appears with what looks to me like handcuffs and chains. I know know these are shackles. We are put in groups of two. I am paired up with a large and scary looking woman. She is quite manly, has her hair in small braids, and wears a menacing look. We are handcuffed together at our wrists. Then our ankles are shackled together. The cuffs hurt my bony ankles. We now have to walk in unison with this other criminal to and from the van. I am struggling with this three legged walk, and this menacing girl I am shackled too drags me along. "Ain't you never been shackled before?" she asks me. No, I have not. And from the looks of it, I could be shackled to a murderer. I have no idea why she is here, and I better fall in line with this three legged pace.
We are in the transport van for only a matter of minutes until we are shuffled back off and into a new building. Getting inside and out of a van when shackled to a menacing potential murderer is not easy. My ankles were killing me, and I was relieved when the shackles came off. I now know there is an art to walking in shackles, and it does take practice...and it is much easier if you are not shackled to another person.
I am put into a large room that had a gymnasium type feel. It was relatively dark in there, with only a few lights very dim in the ceiling. The walls were lined with metal bunk beds, three levels high. I noticed a crazy girl rocking in the corner by the door. There were two picnic tables in the center. I really just want to lie down at this point, and I climb over two girls to a very top bed. It is not comfortable, but at least I can stretch out.
The girls around me happen to all be addicts, most of them there for dope and related charges. And like it is when any addict is locked up, the talk drifts quickly to drugs. One girl was dealing out of her house with her boyfriend, and the cops shot their dogs in the bust. Another girl was prostituting for her dope money, and another stealing to get her fix. I am thankful my addiction has not brought me to these places yet.
My dope dealer at the time was infamous throughout the city and served customers all over. I hear the girls giggling about the possibility of calling him to make a run out to the tier. I am thinking to myself....I will be calling him just as soon as I get outta here...and hopefully that will be soon. I share a cigarette with one of the girls here.
I am surprised that they are allowed cigarettes in this closed up room, and I am not sure how allowed they really are. I do not care. I do not even smoke, but it staves of the withdrawal and helps me hold it together a little longer. I hear from the girls around me that someone who came in with me has managed to get some crack in. Probably the murderer. I smell the distinct and menacing odor of crack floating up towards my bed. I want to go home.
Shortly, they call my name. I am taken out with all the stuff they issued me. I was probably on the tier for about two hours, maybe less. Next, was the whole process in reverse...just not as long. Shackled to myself this time, and I was the only prisoner in the van. Wait, wait, and wait until there is a line of about twenty prisoners all back in their street clothes. Waiting for that door to open.
When the door finally opens, I do not see Liam waiting for me. We are all released on a dark alley, and I know the jail is not a good part of town. I just keep walking with the crowd. I am not sticking around in withdrawal to wait for Liam. He is probably wasted and passed out somewhere. I just start walking.
I walk past the methadone clinic. I walk past the seedy motels, and cars are honking at me assuming I am a prostitute. I walk past Charity Hospital. I walk past city hall, and across Canal into the Quarter. I walk down Decatur through the Quarter. Liam is nowhere in sight. I do not care; I know we have dope at home. And I NEED it.
I walk the two hours home, and finally arrive there sick as a fucking dog. Then, I realize I do not have my house key. It is with the car, in the impound. I climb over our fence, hoping the back door is open...ripping my pantyhose and cutting my thigh in the process. Back door locked. Back over the fence. I contemplate on breaking a window. I use my better judgement.
My landlord lives next door. Although it is 3am, I bang on his door until he wakes up. I explain the situation, and he lets me in the house. I am still appreciative of Steven for always being such a cool landlord. Finally, I am in the house.
I go straight for the dope. My hands are shaking, and my breath is quick. I set out the biggest, fattest line I have ever seen. (I only snorted it at this point.) In one final swoop, I sucked up the entire line. Ahhhhhh, relief and all my troubles fade away. Moments later, I hear Liam's key in the door.
He just missed me at the jail, and did not think I would walk. He did not even look for me while he was in the cab. It doesn't matter. We are both home. Safe and sound. And high.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Missing Him

Missing him
When I look back
On all that we went
Through together.

If we had survived it
We would have been
So glorious
Together in the state
We both live in now.

We would be so close
Understanding me
Without words
Instead of this terrible silence
I live in now.

We would be so tight
Instead of
Locked in hatred
As I am now.

Missing him
And all we had
All I fucked up
But not single handed
And I wonder
If he ever misses me to.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Problems with Treatment

I was on methadone for quite some time throughout my years of addiction. I had been on and off methadone several times. My years of addiction were waning as the use of suboxone became popular, so I do not have much personal insight on this treatment. I do think that this treatment would also apply to my theory here. Of course, all treatment could apply this theory in part.
I think that methadone itself is not the problem. I always hear that methadone is just trading one addiction for another. And it is, as long as the program simply doles out methadone and does not work with the clients much further. I think it is the personal work that is the key to a successful recovery from addiction, especially opiate addiction which I have first hand knowledge of.
How do we get the addict from point A to point Z? That is the real question. When I first decided to get off heroin, I would have never considered a program that did not use some kind of substitute. I had tried to kick numerous times, sometimes cold turkey, other times with the use of pills. Sometimes I only stayed clean for a few days, other times much longer. But the fact of the matter is I did not stay clean forever with those options. The addiction always ended up creeping back in.
For an addict to think about the possibility of NEVER EVER using another opiate again is one of the scariest thoughts in the world. When you are caught up in the web of addiction, a substitution such as methadone feels like the only viable option. Methadone can get an addict from point A to point B. It can get them to stop using heroin, which is the first step. It is getting them beyond that point where we see most programs falling short.
Methadone is excellent in theory. The theory behind it is that you give the addict that kick that he needs. You keep him out of withdrawal and still in a state of feeling good. The addict is able to stop the criminal side of the dope game with methadone. The addict is able to go about usual business with methadone, like working and keeping a roof over their head. Then, the addict works on his life. Hopefully, improving it enough so that he will not want to go back to getting high. You put the addict in a position where he would not trade all his accomplishments and the glory of life that comes along with this work. Then, you can wean the addict off methadone. In theory, this would work. Of course, its not that simple with all addicts. Like most addiction treatment, this could be quite a process of ups and downs. A process that could take months or could take years. A process full of stumbles and falls sometimes, before an addict can walk straight again.
The problem is that most methadone clinics simply give out methadone and do not offer the proper counselling. They do not require the proper counselling. And so many junkies are not ready for the proper counselling. So many junkies simply want the medicine and that is it. That is when you try it again and again until you get so sick and tired of it that you have to stop the cycle. Or that is when you become a lifer. And no one should want to impose their own sentence of life.
The problem also lies in the fact that treatment for addiction is very expensive. And most addicts are broke by the time they seek help. I understand that clinics are providing what they can at the minimal fee an addict can afford. When I first contemplated methadone, I could not afford it. I could not afford to come up with the eighty to a hundred to start the program. I could afford a fifty to hundred dollar a day habit, but to pay for methadone instead and not get sick in the process was not as easy. It was generally like one or the other. Sometimes when you paid for the clinic, you had to wait several day to get enough medicine. Or you had to wait until the following day to get the medicine...I could not get on methadone and avoid withdrawal. So I just kept using dope.
I remember the first time I got on methadone was in Savannah, Georgia. I was sick and I was desperate. I was tired of the irregular supply of heroin in this area and the constant struggle to stay well. I showed up at the clinic in pain. Serious pain. every addict the recognized the pain on my face. I could not pee in a cup because I was so dehydrated and had been throwing up. They told me I could not be medicated for 4 days if I couldn't pee. They suggested I go out in the parking lot and find something, then come back in four days. They told me to keep maintaining and using for those days...or else they knew it could be a while before I came back.
When I first got on methadone, I was not really ready to quit using. I was tired of the grind, and I needed a break. I did not stop obsessing about drugs. Getting up and going to the clinic became my daily fix. All the people at the clinic still talked of drugs, and surrounded themselves with drugs and other users. You weren't thrown out of the program for using, it just kept you that much further from getting take homes. Drug talk is abound most methadone clinics. Most first time methadone users are not ready to get clean. And some methadone users never really want to get clean.
I do feel it important to break the whole habit eventually. Getting up to get to the clinic everyday still keeps the addict in an addiction cycle. You wake up, and go get your fix. Once I broke that cycle, I started to wake up...and get something to drink before I thought about a fix. I remember writing one time, shortly after kicking how dope was the first thing I thought about every morning and the last thing I thought about every night. It wasn't until I realized that I had broken this pattern that I felt completely clean. My thoughts were no longer obsessed with dope. And this took a while. It takes some time to undo the patterns we have set in our minds for years and years.
Addiction is a system of cycles. We do not always get it the first time. That is part of the disease. Relapse is part of the process. Over time, my clean time became more frequent and the using times in between became shorter and shorter. It took so many failures to finally succeed at this. it is not easy...and there is to quick fix cure all.
I think treatment should not be so expensive in light of the very nature of addiction. Treatment is not a one shot deal quick fix. It is not a cure all. And it may have to be repeated.
If we could get more government support to help these addicts, such as those on methadone. If we could get more counselling available to these addicts on methadone. Give them an incentive to attend a clinic that had a counselling and support service that was an integral part of it. Such as, with clean time the addict gets a reduced fee in addition to take homes. Or it is free to get in the program with state support, and some kind of contract where violation of it would negate state support.
I was at a clinic where you had to see a counselor once a month. My counselor would organize her CDs when I had my session. Even if I had been receptive to counselling...this would have deterred me. There is just not enough support out there for people who need it.
But, then I do not know the statistics behind it all. I once heard something like only 6% of heroin addicts will ever get clean for good. But then I think those are just the statistics they use to scare you in these HBO Documentaries I used to watch. I know quite a few addicts than have been clean for years, have good jobs and families now...and are not going back to being an addict ever. Then, I know people who have OD ed and people who are lifers. So, I really do not know anything beyond my first hand experience. Maybe it is just not worth the effort and money because to many people fail. Once a junky, always a junky some say. (But I disagree with vehemently.) Methadone clinics are quite lucrative I believe, but I am sure quite a headache...maybe anyone with enough goodwill to want to help these people as well as motivation and know how, they would go into another business.
The bottom line...treatment for addiction in this country is a PROBLEM. It is too expensive for most addicts to afford. Take Dr. Drew and his celebrity addiction...most of us could never afford that! A good rehab costs ten to twenty grand. Most addicts do not have that, and neither do their families. We need affordable options for these people. It is sad to see so may people just getting sicker and sicker. Of course when I was there, I did not think I was sick.
Maybe I just did not belong there. And eventually, my consequences caught up with me...and eventually things changed. I was lost for seven years in a world I did not belong in. I barely made it out alive. I never had an expensive rehab, I went to jail. And because I did not belong there, but I did what landed me there. I did not go to rehab, but I lost my marriage and everything I knew and loved. Eventually, I did not want to be there anymore. I was done...I just wish more people had the chance to get help.
Then, I remind myself that an addict does not get better until he or she is ready to. I only got better when I was ready. It had to be on my time table. I wish it had been on other's time table because I would not have lost so much...I would not be so far behind. But, that is not the way it works. As an addict, you have to be ready...and then, the process really begins.

The Cracks

Looking back on my life as I knew it from the place that I stand today...
One thing that recovered addicts like to say is that their worst day sober is better than their best day using. I guess you could call that a catch phrase. I guess it is an NA catch phrase, like keep it simple, stupid and fake it til you make it. Well, I have never been much for catch phrases. Just as I have never been one for that blanket approach to recovery, you know just sugar coat it up real good, keep reciting the lines and eventually it will get better. I do not fall for a lot of this jargon, it just does not work for me.
I think that recovery is an individual process. I think that just blindly following slogans and going to meetings is not the only way. I do not think that meetings are a bad thing or that NA is not okay. I just want to say that is not what did it for me.
I will say that I am a recovered addict. I will say that I will never use again. I will say that I may still think about getting high, but I just do not want to do it anymore. Now, when the thought enters my mind, I lose interest in it before I entertain the idea. Even now, after I have been writing about my past addictions, focusing on using in a way...I do not want to go out and use. I do not have a "craving" for it when I relive the past in my writings. I am not triggered when I walk past someone who is high or even selling drugs right in front of me. If I feel any urge, it fades as quickly as it came. The desire is just now longer there.
And I know how an addict's demons can lurk in the recesses of their minds for years and years, waiting to flare up. I believe in all that. I know I cannot let my guard down and try to use just one time. Yeah sure, sometimes I feel pretty sure I could...but the past has taught me that the consequences of failing at that are too great. I am at a point that the high just does not seem worth it anymore. It does not seem as fun as a simple thing like playing with my child.
That is what I think it is about. I think recovery is all about self discovery and rediscovery. I think it is all about learning about yourself, inside and out...while making a better life. Once you have a better life, things you would not trade for the perils of makes it easier. At least that is how it is for me.
I will not say that my worst day sober is better than my best day using because it is not. That would be a lie. But, I will say that no drug made me feel as good as my son's smile. I will say that no high ever made me feel as good as a good writing flow when the words just coming pouring out. I will say nothing in my world of addiction was as powerful as my mother's unconditional love, the powerful force that has always loved me no matter what. In my days of addiction, I did not have much family in my life...I would not trade the fact they are in my life once again FOR ANYTHING.
I can say now, that I have dreams that will come true. I have people that are important to me, and most importantly, I realize I have people who I have always been important to. When I look into my son's eyes, I am complete. I am whole again...and the world is once again full of potential and possibility.
On a bad day, I may feel the cracks that still exist from being broken so badly at one time. I once heard as saying I like to think of on those days. Blessed be the cracks, for that is where the light can be let in. It makes me thankful for the new perspective those cracks have given me. Tiger Woods said yesterday that what we accomplish is not as important as what we overcome. Without the cracks, I would not have overcome my past, my addictions. And on a good day, I feel like the light around me shines so bright that the cracks on the surface are not even visible. These cracks will be what makes me, not what breaks me.


Dark memories
Twirling through my brain
Like an avalanche

Mingling with reality
Making it all warm and fuzzy

I open my mouth
To hold up the shot glass
Tossing the warm brown liquid
Down the back of my throat
That good burn

All my limbs
Are ecstatic now
Relaxation and letting go
Waiting to take the ride

A dark and dusty bar
Where the voices are all muffled
And slurred
Where the smiles are all high
And the floor is drenched
With beer and liquor
The smell is pungent
And sweet
Home sweet home
The smell of the bar

Seems I cannot remember
Where I came from
Or where I am going
All I know
Is I want another
Of both deadly varieties.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Broken Glass

Standing here,
Makes me wonder

Was it all worth it?
What is it I gain?
Only some good stories.

And maybe some
Real life experience.

Standing here,
Looking back
With eyes full of regret
There are times
My life now is like hell.

And I think back
To before...

When I resided in hell
But was too fucked up
To care.
And when it got to be
Way too much,
I just did another shot
And then...
I didn't give a damn.

Sometimes I look
At the royal mess I made
And sometimes I feel
Like I am still picking up
All the pieces.

And that is when I fear
I am shattered
I am broken forever
Pieces of glass flying
Some of them
Will never be found
And others
Will be found
In the corners
Of my mind
Years and years from now.

On the mend...
But still always broken
And I wonder...
If I can even be fixed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"You buy the ticket, you take the ride."
"What if you were born with the ticket," I ask.
"I guess you ride for free."

LSD 2...Desperation

Speaking of LSD, I was reminded of an earlier incident in which I was "unknowingly" flooded with LSD. It was so much that I tripped for two days. It was two of the most bizarre and excruciating days I have ever endured.

It was Jazz Fest, which is always one of the best times in New Orleans. The city is packed with all kinds of hippies and other music aficionados. The music rocks, the people are all ecstatic, and the drugs are flowing freely. The Jazz Fest was always one of my favorite times of the year.

Liam and I had been out at the fest most of the day. We had been steadily drinking and snorting both coke and heroin. We returned home briefly to change and head out to the Quarter for the night. Our coke was getting low, and the mission at hand was to find more. As well as getting as drunk as possible, that is.

Of course we headed straight to The Abbey, knowing that we can always find someone with coke there. When we get there, we start off with two shots of Jameson and a couple of beers. The man is not there, but he should be there shortly. As we wait, we are steadily drinking whiskey and snorting heroin. The wait gets longer and longer and we get drunker and drunker. It gets to the point we can barely hold our heads up. (We have been at it since before noon, although it is not quite ten o'clock.)

We are desperate now, and we leave The Abbey on a mission in search of something to wake us up. There are hippies everywhere. We walk to all the usual spots, and no cocaine is to be found. We figure our best bet is to head back to The Abbey. We know everyone there, and the coke man will DEFINITELY show up there eventually.

We pass the Hideout on the way back, and there are all kinds of stinky dready kids lingering around that corner at Decatur and Ursuline. I look down on the ground and see a sweet breath bottle. You know, the tiny bottles that minty breath freshener comes in. Reminded of the days long ago on Phish tour when I used to get the acid I sold in these containers, I bend down to pick it up. Casually, I just put it in my pocket and keep walking.

A block further, and we enter The Abbey...hopeful for some coke. Nothing yet, the bartender tells us. We sit down, ordering two more shots and two more beers. (Which was stupid considering the shape we were in, but that is how we used to roll.) I pull the sweet breath container out of my pocket to inspect it.

Sure as shit, it looks like LSD. The liquid inside is a dark brown rather than a bright green. There is hardly anything left in there it seems, just a little thick brown liquid hovering around the bottom. I look at Liam, and our desperation fuels our imagination. This LSD would give us the fuel we needed to wait for the cocaine to arrive.
There did not seem to be enough liquid in the vial to do much to either of us, and then how could we get this thick liquid out of there? I went into the dirty little Abbey bathroom, and held the bottle under the sink filling it with water. I headed back to the bar and sat next to Liam. I handed him the bottle, which he simply turned up and sucked on it. He handed it back to me and I did the same. Instantly, we both seemed to wake up which I am sure now was all in our minds.
After that I am not sure how much time passed. The events thereafter become foggy for a while. I am sure we sat there and drank more. Now, I am also sure we eventually ran into the man and purchased cocaine. (I am sure of that fact because two days later I reached into my pocket and found several unopened bags.) What happened next is kind of a confusing blur, yet all the images still remain with me crystal clear.
I am not sure when we decided to leave the bar, or why. I do know that suddenly we were at home, and Liam was screaming, "Why the fuck am I tripping? What is going on?" It is suddenly obvious to me he has no recollection of sipping on the vial, and when I try to tell him he is in complete denial.
His mood is highly agitated and seems to get more and more agitated as he paces through the house. He is ranting and raving about nothing that makes any sense. This creature reminds me not of my dearly beloved, but instead of a rabid, caged animal. I gather money and a few things and proceed to go for a walk.
At first, I have to drag Liam away from his ranting. He says he has never tripped this hard before and swears someone also must have dosed him. My jaw is feeling clenched and the lights are getting sparkly. There are trails on everything and I know the acid is really kicking in. We have to get out side, take a walk, I beg.
Outside, the air seems cool and refreshing compared to the stifling air of inside. The stars seem to shine even brighter overhead than they do in Texas, and the sounds of the city echo in my ears. Instead of the normal soft fuzzy edges, everything is sharp and contrasting. Even in the dark, the houses of the Marigny and Bywater seem to be brighter than they are in the day. A Virgin Mary statue on a lawn seems to be basking in the moonlight. I start to relax as the world looks beautiful. The impending acid trip seems less foreboding and more inviting. I know I have to just sit back and try to enjoy the ride. There is nothing I can do but take the ride at this point.
Liam, on the other hand, is a basket case. In all our years of getting high, I have never seen him so fucked up. He is babbling incoherently and wandering off every chance he can. I think we should head to the river, for her vast beauty should calm him down.
It is a grueling trip there as we walk through the Marigny and into the Quarter through Frenchman street. Several bars on Frenchman are hopping. Not like the area hops today, back then it was just getting popular. Liam is freaking out at the sight of people. He starts yelling and staring, just acting completely bizarre. And it is starting to freak me out...the last thing I am capable of right now is babysitting.
We head into the Quarter at Esplanade and Decatur. We are probably headed to The Abbey out of sheer instinct. Lower Decatur is jam packed. I duck into The Abbey, but Liam refuses. I am partly scared to leave him outside as he yells at passerby. Then, I am also too embarrassed to go in. The bartenders eyes are just as glazed as mine. When we do a shot together, she reveals she thinks someone has dosed her as well. Did she suck on that vial, too? Not that she remembers. Maybe someone was dosing people at the bar, which would explain why Liam and I are way too fucked up to have just done a rinse off the vial. I have to get back outside before Liam goes to jail...or the mental ward.
I am relieved to see he is still outside the bar. He is sitting on the sidewalk with a menacing look on his face. Thankfully, he has stopped yelling and is just muttering under his breath. I think I heard him barking, too. The river, I think. We have to get up to the river. Oh, how beautiful the Mississippi is going to look on acid!
We walk up through the market to the river. We come up at the end of the brick walk, just by the port area. We sit down on the bricks with our backs rested on the large planter all the way at the end of the walk...right where it becomes dirt. Right by the pier that so many gutter punks get drunk at. The light of the moon is leaping off the water. The river seems so much bigger, and it seems to be flowing so hard that the sound of it is deafening. Liam is quiet, finally. I start to relax again a little as I notice his shoulders slump slightly, losing some of their immense tension.
But, that relaxation is about to end as the roller coaster comes slowly to another peak. Hold on, all you can do is ride the coaster. I hear a squeaky sound and look down by my hand. I see a rat, just standing there looking at me. He must be the size of a small dog, or at least it seems that way. And I am sure he is breathing right on my hand. The rats in the Quarter are some bold motherfuckers!
I scream, and Liam is off again. He is shrieking and babbling senseless things all over again. Shit, I cannot deal with this. I get him up and we head down the brick path towards some crazy lights I see. We make our way up into the grass, as I feel it will be softer on my feet. When we pass a group of drunk guys, Liam falls to the ground. He is kicking and screaming and laughing like a madman. The passersby are just staring. Get up, you fool...I do not want to get arrested.
We make our way down the river a ways. We stop several times to look at the river. She really is beautiful. The lights reflecting in a rainbow of primary colors with every ripple. Liam finally started to calm down again. Staring out onto the river, we both kept getting lost in our own acid filled thoughts. The silence was nice.
We stopped to watch a welder on a riverboat. Sparks seemed to fly for miles, cascading all over the rippling water, colors flying and reflecting everywhere. The welding tool would crank up, screeching like a banshee, and then the sparks were flying. Sparks changing from gold to pink to purple. Sparks flying in all shades of green and red, dying as they fell into the water. We just stared and stared in wonderment. It was really beautiful.
We wandered further down, sitting in a gazebo. Then we stumbled upon some bronze statues on a bench. An old man with 30s style glasses talking to a young boy. I think the plaque says something about education, but I am not sure. Liam sits next to the boy on the bench, and I wander up to the river again.
As I stare, amazed at the beauty, I hear Liam talking quietly behind me. At first, I think he is talking to me. I turn to look and I realize he is talking to the statues. "Education is so vital, so important for our young people..." He continues on and on, talking to the old man about the values of education and the importance of youth. I look back to the river.
Then, I hear his harsh voice again. I turn, and he is glaring at the little boy. "What? What?" he says. " You just need to shut your mouth you little motherfucker. I am serious, you need to shut the fuck up, NOW!" I am laughing uncontrollably now.
We wander through the Quarter and surrounding areas for hours on end. Bouncing between laughter, quiet reflections, and just pure insanity. We get home hours after the sun has come up, but we are still tripping. Liam has to go to work, and I have tickets to the Panic show that night. We hole up in our house for a while hoping to come down a little.
But, of course, the acid still rages. Liam heads off to work, somewhat calmed down but still wasted. I head to the parking lot of the show. I need to keep my head together, as I am still fighting the acid and now extreme tiredness. I take a couple of methadone wafers to try and calm down. It takes the edge off a little. I score a couple of bags of heroin and get a 5th of Jameson. I end up selling my tickets to the show because I just cannot seem to bear the crowd. By the end of the night, I am standing in the parking lot of the Memorial Auditorium with a bag of dope in one hand and a bottle of Jameson in the other. I am convinced at this point that these items are now my only connection to reality.
Thankfully, I make my way home and eventually drink enough to pass out. When I wake up, I feel like crap. My whole body is sore from being up for days, and my head is pounding from a hangover. My guts are wrenching, begging for another line of heroin. I get up, sifting insanely through my pockets for dope. I find several bags of cocaine that I have not even touched. This is when I realize I must have scored two days ago, but by then my mind was so far in space I did not use them. Thankfully, I have two bags of dope in the other pocket. I split one bag into two big, fat lines. I do one and leave the other for Liam.
Ahhhhhh, much better. Now, I curl up on the couch and turn on the stereo. Blind Melon, of course. My body relaxes, as I ponder the evils of acid. I remember all the reasons I swore it off years ago. I can honestly say I never touched that shit again. I can also say I think my mind is slightly changed forever from that night.


I quit using LSD in college, shortly after I started taking it, really. Once I discovered ecstasy, I had no use for acid anymore. Acid was just too much for my brain sometimes and I felt like I could implode. At first, LSD was a perception exploration exercise. You know, look out at the world in a whole new light and all that shit. Eventually though, you have looked at everything you can from this new and altered perspective. That is when it becomes more dangerous for someone like me because that is the point you begin to look inward. You begin to search through your own mind in this altered and deranged state. Believe me, what I found up there while on LSD was pretty terrifying. I did not see the point in acid when I could eat one of those smacky x pills and feel so wonderful.
By the time I had grown up into a full fledged heroin addict, ecstasy had not touched my tongue in years and LSD was almost unheard of. Junkies generally do not take LSD, too much self exploration and evaluation is dangerous to those in such a precarious position as opiate addiction brings. But, of course, there is the occasional exception...and more times than not it turns very ugly.
I was working at the Shobar on Bourbon Street when I saw one of the most bizarre incidents involving LSD. It was summertime, and it was not that busy in the sweltering heat of New Orleans. I was standing outside the club, working the door, trying to tempt men into the club in my skimpy little stripper attire. And of course, I was also looking around for drugs and whatever else I might could get into. The neon lights of Bourbon Street were all sparkly that night. My spirits were high, almost as much as my mind and body were.
Then, I see a fellow junky they call Alex walking down Bourbon. He seems like he is wearing blinders as he staggers through the sparse crowd still managing to bump into several people. Uh-oh, I think. He must be wasted, probably nipping more liquor from his job. I turn to the left, acting like I am interested in something else, in hopes that he will not even see me. I really do not want his drunk ass stumbling up into the club and causing a bunch of trouble.
He must have already seen me and made a beeline right for me because the next thing I know he is breathing down my neck. He is all smiles even though he seems to be looking through blinded eyes. "You got any dope," he sneers. " I just ate a couple of hits of acid and I really would love to get some dope." Uh-oh, I think again. LSD is never a good thing for a dope addict. Talk about an excruciating withdrawal if he doesn't find anything! Lord knows he will be tripping much longer that he will be high on dope.
"Nope, sorry," I say. "I am always looking though, so if I find it, I will keep ya in mind." Alex nods his head and thanks me gratefully. As he turns to leave, I notice his grin is crooked and his eyes are glassy and blind. I chuckle to myself as I think of the awful ride my junky comrade is probably in for.
Hours have passed, and the dope has once again come and gone, much quicker than the customers in the strip club. There are maybe two customers lingering, and they are both quite occupied. I have sat at the bar with Q, talking about life over Jameson and Jager for the past hour or so. I guess I had better get outside and try a last ditch effort to round up a final deal for the evening. We all know I gotta have money for more dope tomorrow...
Outside the door again in my skimpy stripper gear, hollering at the suckers passing by when I see Alex again. Uh-oh, I think for yet another time this evening. He looks a disheveled mess, and he is drenched in sweat. His eyes are no longer blind, but instead all seeing and completely crazed. He must be drowning in the sickness, I think. Poor kid.
Again, he makes a beeline over to me, this time I can see he is terrified. I notice his arm is dripping with blood, as it trickles down and drops all over Bourbon Street. His crazy eyes are so focused on me that it sends shivers up my spine...his eyes seem to stare past my body searching for something. My soul, maybe. I can sense his desperation from across the street.
"I need help, I don't know what to do," he babbles before he launches into the details. Alex did manage to find some dope, and some coke for that matter. He ducked into some seedy bar in the Quarter to shoot up with his old trusty rusty. Apparently, he had been using the same needle for quite some time. (We all know a junky never follows the instructions on the needle, reading USE ONCE AND DESTROY.) When Alex finally got his needle in his ruined veins, the tip had broken off inside his skin. And his mind all muddled with LSD had started to take him for a ride.
He believed he had injected the needle right into his vein, which I do not think is entirely possible. He said he could feel the needle slowly working its way through the vein, creeping up this arm. He had envisioned it making its way to his heart, and then piercing his heart and causing his instant death with that final swoop. In an attempt to save his own life, he has cut into his arm with a razor blade. He actually tried to get in there and retrieve the tip of his needle. Scared to death he cannot find it, but he insists he can still feel it creeping slowly through his veins.
I am laughing inside as I try to calm him down. His mind must be complete mush to believe himself right now! If an addict injects a little cotton into his bloodstream, it is called a bone crusher because it is so painful that it feels like your bones are crushing. (Not to be confused with cotton fever, which is caused by a bacteria in the cotton used to filter a shot and caused uncontrollable shivering.) I am pretty sure an injected sharp piece of metal would be so painful that Alex would not be walking down Bourbon Street. Frustrated by my calm, Alex stomps away from the club, according to him headed home so his heart will implode when he is in his own bed...if he cannot dig the needle out with some kind of razor.
The next day, I see Alex...alive and well, no doubt. Although, his arm has several nasty cuts up and down it, he seems to be rather buoyant. "Still alive, buddy," I ask. He grins of total embarrassment. He tells me that after panicking most of the night, the LSD finally began to wear off. Then, he took his needle out of his kit for the first time since the terrifying incident, and there was the tip...still attached securely to the shaft. "I tell you what, " Alex says, "I will never take LSD again, that shit is too scary."
Yep, that is why I swore the stuff off years ago!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Bittersweet. That is the way I would describe it. That is the word I would use to describe everything about those times. The smell of dope cooking in the spoon is an earthy smell, somewhat sweet with a little hint of bitterness. The taste of good dope is also bittersweet. Compared to cocaine, the first taste of heroin is sweet. That sweetness is followed by a bitter bite that can make your face pucker if you are not prepared for it. Heroin smells like the Earth, and tastes bittersweet.
As the needle slides in, you get giddy as you see the blood flowing back, blossoming in the needle like the poppy flower itself. As your whole body sighs in relief, the bittersweet dope taste rises to the back of your throat. The high is sweet, but you are bitter that you are now out of dope...and you must start the hunt again soon.
Memories from those days have a bittersweet quality as well. There is the closeness I shared with my fellow addicts, as we were all bonded by pain and sickness. There was the carefree feeling when nothing mattered, and there were consequences that set in when the high was over. There were all the nights of talking all night, and then all the mornings of puking until the man showed up. I cannot honestly say that those times were all bad, as so many recovered addicts like to claim. Instead, I like to think of them as bittersweet. Sweet like sugar with a hint of bitter always lingering in the aftertaste.
William S. Burroughs once said, "All pleasure really relief." So true for the junky.

Toilet Water

I once heard a story told by one of my gay friends. Ash was hanging out in the French Quarter's most notorious gay bar, The Oz. Now, as his evening progressed his inner calling to shoot more dope is creeping up. By the time Ash finally scores, he has been back to his apartment several times, walked the Quarter, and now seems to be headed straight into the depths of withdrawal. As his bowels are seemingly moving around, getting ready to explode as the sickness sets in, he realizes he will have to shoot up in the public bathroom at a gay bar.
Good thing he has remembered his works! So, Ash gets into the stall after waiting in line for what seemed like an eternity, twitching with anxiousness and impending doom. He gets out his dope, and he sets up his works. He can feel those waiting for a stall breathing down his closed door. Oh shit, Ash realizes he has no water with him. What does one do in this conundrum?
Do you give up your spot in the safe and secure bathroom to get water? You would then have to get back in line again, and the impending sickness will NOT wait. There is no back chamber to this toilet where clean water is held. The toilet bowl appears to be the only option...
Don't think about it, just dip the needle in. As the pain sets down on top of you, and the sickness has crept into all your are screaming to get well. And the toilet water seems the only viable option. So, Ash just dips the needle in the toilet water, smells the sweetness of the dope cooking, and momentarily hits a vein. AHHHHHHH...releif, who cares what you had to do to get there. Getting there is all that matters.
And then there is Jeff, from St. Louis. He recalls using the water from a puddle to shoot up with. He was very sick, and it was very wet. He had been waiting around the shady corners of St. Louis, hoping to score for hours. As he gets sicker and sicker, desperation seeps in. When he is finally handed a couple of bags from a dark and grubby hand in the dirty alleyway, he is dying inside. Quickly, he runs through the rain into an empty lot where he uses the dirty puddle water to shoot his dope.
At one time, these stories horrified me. How could one become so desperate as to use toilet water? For years, I made a point to always bring a tiny jar of water along with my works. But, in the world of heroin addiction, things always fall by the wayside...and we all end up in the shit.
The first time I was caught sick without any water and in deperate need of my fix, I used lemonade. I knew people cooked down crack with lemon juice, so Tropicana lemonade should work just fine. It burned like hell, but at least I wasn't sick anymore. I have used Gatorade, white wine, and even my beloved Jameson. Talk about an instant hangover.
And yes, I also became desperate enough to use toilet water. I used to try to use a bathroom to shoot up in that had a toilet with a back chamber. I never minded using that water because it had not yet been in the bowl with shit and piss. Once, I was permanantly banned from a bar because I broke the lid to that back chamber. My shot got me so fucked up that I stumbled, and the lid was still cocked to the side with all my works set on it. The lid came tumbling down, shattering, and sending my needle and charred spoon flying. By the time I could react in my slowed down state, the bartender was screaming at me to get my shit and get the FUCK out. I must admit, that in a desperate time or two, I have just plunged that needle into the toilet bowl. In my defense, my veins were screaming obsenities at me and trying to claw their way out from the inside.
Junkies do all kinds of weird things to their needles. When it is old and doesn't slide as smooth, just stick the plunger in your ear...the ear wax lubricates it. I knew one guy who was constantly filing down the tip of his needle to make it glide in smoother. Forget that it might leave sanded down needle dust that could get in his vein, he wanted it to slide in smooth as butter. I even knew someone who made a syringe, using bamboo and an old tip to a hypo. I don't know how he saw the blood draw back in the bamboo, but he said he used it for months.
Looking back, I am just thankful that I do not have hepatitis or some other weird diesease from all my transgressions. I never shared a needle, but I would use my own until it was no longer usable. And sometimes even then, I could make it work. I am lucky I never got sick from shooting liquor or kool-aid. I am thankful that as careless as I have been, that I am perfectly healthy. (And believe me, I have been extensively tested for everything before I had my son.) I just wish that all my friends had been so lucky.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Soft Edges

They always ask me,
What is it like?

Everything is forgiving,
Soft edges and soft eyes,
Certain sparkles on everything.
Seems like a dusting of tiny glitter
Is being spread all over.
All the lights
Seem to have a fuzzy haze
And eveyone's eyes
Are looking past me
As I look past everyone's eyes.
All smiles, soft lips
Turned up
Into soft edges.
I am floating
Around the room...
Walking over glitter
In the hazy soft lights.
Everything is sparkling
And everything is new.
The concrete seems soft
Under my feet.
And the music is just right.
The liquor goes down
All warm
And tingly...
My whole body quivers

From delight.

That Snowy Christmas in the Crescent City

So, I guess there is a lot more to add to that snowy Christmas Day in New Orleans. Once we had a pocketful of dope, nothing was gonna stop us from having a great Christmas. It was cold, so wandering around all of our usual spots was out. Thankfully, it had only snowed for about an hour...and the ground was WAY TOO warm for anything to stick.
Even though the snow only lasted about an hour and nothing had accumulate, New Orleans natives will always remember this snow. It is like that in places where it never snows, when a little bit comes down it is remembered for at least 50 years. Especially when it snows on Christmas. Now that I am in a much colder place, the whole memory seems so surreal. Strange how our perspectives change. To me, it seems like the whole incident was just a dream. Maybe it was all the dope that I was on at the time. My memories all seem a lttle fuzzy around the edges.
The rest of the next two days, we spent inside our tiny one bedroom apartment. Liam and I had just weathered quite a storm the past few days, but then those storms were frequent on the horizon back in those days.(Hell, storms can be frequent on my horizon still, maybe I am just a stormy individual.) We had planned on a nice Christmas at home with a spread of appetizers and snacks that we could just munch on all day...roasted pork accompanied by lots of different cheeses, an assortment of dips, all kinds of tiny fried finger foods, and who could forget the sweets! Being that we were addicts, we always had issues with money. We had recieved several Walmart gift cards for Christmas. Since we couldn't get any dope with them, we figured we could use them for our Christmas spread.
But, yesterday on our way to Walmart, we discovered several of the gift cards were missing. Of course I suspected Liam, who did not work and laid around causing trouble all day. I just knew he had done something with them. Probably traded them with Johnny for crack. When Liam started smoking crack, he would just smoke and smoke until he was broke. He usually hid his crack smoking from me, which was a virtually impossible feat because I supported him...and all his habits. He, of course, blamed the whole thing on some of my junky friends who had stopped by earlier to go cop. A fight ensued...Liam, of course, vehemently stuck to his story of innocence. No sense in arguing with a man who believes his own lies. So, after much yelling...we let it go, and went on to Walmart with greatly reduced spending power.
And then, it is snowing on Christmas...and we are outside that wintery morning, waiting for the man, as usual...nothing is gonna bring us down now.
Fond memories here, we spent the whole day holed up inside of our tiny apartment. It was cold because we did not have the gas turned on, and our heat did not work. We did not have hot water either, but who needs a bath. We just snuggled to stay warm...Oh yeah, and we drank and got high to keep warm. Jameson and heroin, a great relaxing combination for a perfect day stuck inside. We made tons of food, setting it out everywhere. We ate, and smoked weed, then ate some more. We shot dope as we felt like it, knowing we had plenty and didn't have to worry about getting sick THAT day. We watched movies on our stolen cable, and drank straight from the fifth. We did not have a phone, so we didn't have to worry about calling our families. And no one stopped by, except for a few drunk friends on their way home from the bar...a breif stop to smoke a bowl on the journey home. A nice, nice Christmas for those days.
Now my Christmases are filled with the family I didn't call that year, as well as tons of toys and wrapping paper. Liam is void in my Christmases now, as is most everything that was part of that life, of those days. I still worry about money at Christmas, but not because I have to buy drugs or my gift cards disappeared but instead because I want to but ALL the toys available for my son. Christmases now often have snow, as we new tradition is always celebrate Christmas at our new family retreat in the mountains of NC. Christmas is now warm and fuzzy, and we always have heat. Looking fondly back on that Christmas, I still prefer the way I celebrate today.


It is about to snow today...and I am reminded about a time it snowed in New Orleans.
Christmas Day, and the snow begins to fall in New Orleans...for the first time in 25 years. I am standing on the street corner as the snow is falling, waiting for the man. I need to get enough dope to outlast this snow storm. It is freezing. I stick my toungue out to catch the snowflakes. No one can drive in this Louisana snow. The man says he is coming.
I wait and wait. Finally, as the flakes begin to subside, the man pulls around the corner. "Here is 200 bucks, give me as much as you can." I am now ready to weather this winter storm...with 15 bags in my pocket.