Sunday, February 27, 2011

Did You Look?

I hate when people tell me they check out my blog, and they clearly did not. I can look at my stats, and see where people have visited from. Being honest is a big thing that we learn to work on in recovery. We are taught, again, to learn the value in truth and honesty. We are encouraged to be honest with ourselves, and we have to "take a good, honest look at ourselves" before we can get better. After years of addiction, some people will never trust us again. And we painfully, slowly build that trust with our loved ones again.

And then, you look around to realize most of the world is full of liars.

I really could care less if someone checks out my blog, or not. I write it for me, and now for all of you who have become my community. If I give someone the link, it is merely because I think it may interest/benefit has nothing to do with me. And I could care less if someone looks at it or why lie to me, and tell me you did? (It is always those in the straight world that do this, by the way...the addicts and ex addicts I know either lap it up, or honestly say they have not had time...)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Thousand Tiny Foils

A thousand shiny foils,
Twinkling and sparking
In the dim light.

A thousand tiny foils,
Dotting the invaded
Landscapes of my mind.

A thousand shiny little foils,
Rocking my memories
As if...
Into the recesses
Of my mind.

A thousand tiny foils,
In a world so distraught,
And desperate, deteriorated
And dilapidated.

A thousand shiny foils,
Sparkling in the sunlight,
Spilled, and sniffed, and shot
Remnants of what...
Once was.

A thousand shiny little foils,
Bet I have thrown away
Many, many more than a thousand.
And used.
Up, up, and away...

A thousand tiny foils,
Reflecting like a broken mirror
Shining light into...
Those ancient caverns in my soul.

And I can only hope,
To bring them bursting into the light,
They will combust
And fade away forever,
I think...

As I prepare to go on the record.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Talking to a single dad I know tonight...and the sentiment that being a single parent was not the ideal situation. And my initial reaction was agreement. But, then...I thought about the implications of that. And I thought, what is the ideal situation? Is it being happily married, where you kiss the kids goodnight, and then also kiss your significant other good night (and whatever else)? And I thought about...I don't think that would make me happy. I think that single parenting IS my ideal situation. At least in the world I know now...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Going Out...

Listening to
The droning television
In the next room,
People talking about death
I have died a million deaths

In that life unknown
To the light.

Droning voices
About ghosts and demons
A shelter to find
In my storm
Always hung out in bars,
Both damp and dirty
With bathrooms bleeding
Of disease.
Voices droning on
Next to me,
Sounds farther and farther
All I see is a tunnel.


Voices humming around me
These words I cannot make out
Looking through the
Searching for the face
As I come back to,

"And find myself alone, alone"

And I think...
Just maybe...

It was all a dream.

Portrait of Destruction

An excerpt...I call this one "Portrait of Destruction."

I cannot even begin to describe the damage I witnessed in those three months I was in New Orleans after the storm. I looked through pictures to try to put the images in my head into words, and I was brought to tears again and again as I thumbed through those images. Yet, I am left with a blank on the page in trying to describe what I saw. It really was indescribable.

Wood. Wood was everywhere. I was amazed at the amount of wood that was everywhere. Splintered wood with chipping paint in the bright colors of the houses in the Bywater, chipping in pinks and greens and yellows and reds. Rotting in brown, and turning to black.

Boards. Wooden boards were everywhere. Splintered and scattered and strewn about. Various lengths and sizes lay tossed all over the roads, piling up into a massive mound made of molding and rotting wood. Boards that once created a barrier to the elements for the families inside now left lying in ruin by the force of the storm and the weight of the water.

In the middle of St. Claude, the wood piled so high in points that is was over my head. Mismatched sizes, tossed and strewn at various angles, balancing precariously on one end. Bits of bright paint, speckled throughout the various shades of brown and black. Rotting, molding, discarded wood. No longer suitable to stand, splintered and smashed.

Pieces of white ceiling tiles, turning black from the muds and the mold. Flaky pieces of plaster, crumbling like sand in the dry, but clumping like clay in the wet. Various layers and textures of plaster and ceiling. Pieces of walls scattered throughout, painted in neutral and brights and pastels, fading away to the color of grey outside in the heat and the elements.

Furniture, falling apart from the weight of the wet water. Dressers, rotten and moldy stand outside so many houses, sad and lonely on the streets. Clothes, spotted with black mold, pop out of the dresser drawers, tattered and torn and blowing in the wind. Taffeta, and silk, and cotton, and lace. Jeans and shirts and dresses and hats. Discarded and ruined left homeless on the streets of New Orleans. Sagging boards of chests and tables and dressers and drawers, nearly bucking under the pressure…to conform and become a part of this conglomeration of wood.

And debris. Logs, and sticks, and scattered barks. Rotting leaves, making their way back to the Earth in decay. The Louisiana black mud was still wet, and the ground retained the pungent and putrid smell of death in places. Soft, rich, and fertile Louisiana soil squished around your shoes, green grass burst forth from within the black mud in places less travelled. And footprints sank in the rest.

Houses speckled with black dots of mold, revealing their sagging interior and weakened foundations. The water line stretched from house to house throughout the Bywater and beyond. The line rose higher and higher the deeper you went into the Ninth Ward, until there is no more visible water line…and all you see is destruction.

Cars smashed and tossed and discarded on those streets. The only houses here left crumbling, and it was an eerie quiet. Deserted streets, covered in mud and silt and debris. Wood piled everywhere, scattered remnants of a neighborhood that once stood here. The wind whipped off the river, and in the quiet the sound of a lone hammer rode the Ninth Ward wind. The heavy feeling of death weighed down on the living that had returned to this coffin.

Vehicles lifted to roofs, and houses moved down the street. Toilets abandoned in the middle of the road. Sinks and stoves out in the yards. Toys buried in the mud and debris, left dirty and rotting to never be played with again. A house on the hills near a levee left with all its belongings pushed high against one side by the quick rushing deluge. A refrigerator turned over once floated down a street.

Bright orange spray paint, weird hieroglyphics of Xs, and numbers, and in discernable letters marked the houses from search and rescue…denoting what was dead and what may be living. Notes from the aftermath, scrawled like graffiti for the entire world to see.

Reflections of rainbows in the sun scattered throughout the mud and debris. Remnants of oil and gas, leaving their rainbow patterns glimmering everywhere in the sun. I remembered the way the rainbows floated on top of the water in those days following the storm. Now, these rainbows looked devastated in their fading state of existence.

Windows broken, a million different patterns of glass and shatter emerged. A million different stories they told. Shattered, spewing glass everywhere by the sheer forces of nature. Broken bits and pieces, and broken parts of things once whole, all the remnants shattered under the sheer force of multiple disasters. It was devastating.

Piles of wood, and plaster, and metal, and debris loomed up everywhere. Collapsed houses, and wooden splinters spilling out into the streets. Bright bits of fabric dotted the landscape of destruction. As we got close to the Quarter, I heard hammering and saw fresh lumber on many corners. Buildings on Canal still stood behind boarded up windows. Hotels still housed gaping holes in their hearts, with debris spilling out. Turning down Rampart, I was appalled at the Middle Ground. It was piled with debris…piled so high you could not see the opposite two lanes of traffic. It looked like wood, and cardboard, and tires, and refrigerators, and toilets, and pipes, and metal, and plaster, and buckets, and dressers with clothes spilling out, and couches, and chairs, and tables, and cabinets falling apart…it was a big mountain of ruined and soggy pieces of people’s lives.

Many of the houses had the black markings of mold to show where the waterline had been. I watched as that waterline grew higher and higher the deeper we got into the Bywater.

Another Excerpt

Another short excerpt...this is the scene on the plane, being evacuated from Hurricane Katrina

The plane was full, and we made our way to the last two seats. Weary and tired, we sat down without a word to each other. It was hot on the plane, and the odor of hundreds of unshowered was all too prevalent. There was a hum of conversation was tinted with trepidation and fear.

“Where the hell are we going? Will they serve us any food? When will we come back to New Orleans? Have you ever been on a plane before? What if it crashes? How soon can I take a shower? Do you think I will be able to get some clean clothes? Are we going far? What day is it anyway? Do you think we will be able to stay together?”

It was dark by the time we got on that plane, although I had no idea what time it was. We left the apartment in the Treme just after daybreak, and we boarded a plane sometime after dark. Liam and I sat silently slumped in our seats, sinking farther into the oblivion. The air on the plane felt panicked and fearful, but thank god for the insulation of the pills. I had learned to stop asking questions.

As the plane began to taxi down the runway, I realized from the conversation around that many of these people had never been on an airplane. Many of the people around me had never even left the city. Many of these people had no knowledge of the world beyond New Orleans. Fear was mounting, as the airplane picked up speed on the runway. An audible gasp echoed throughout the cabin as the plane first lifted into the air, that moment when your stomach drops just a little as the wheels lift off the runway. It was virtually silent, and then the hum of voices began to rise once more.

After the plane steadied in the air, the mood around seemed to relax just a little. The pilot’s voice came over the speaker. “Thanks for flying with us today, folks. We are going to get you to a place that is safe and dry. We are going to Middleton, Rhode Island…”

“Road where?” I heard someone ask and it became obvious to me that this person had never heard of a state named Rhode Island. I think the general consensus on the plane was that we were going to a road somewhere in Louisiana. The pilot continued his spiel.

“We will fly over New York in about an hour and a half, and then we will be landing about 50 miles north of there,” the pilot said.

Chaos and mayhem followed. Panic spread like wildfire too quickly to contain. Women wailed from fear and frustration. Sadness and horror were evident in the voices that cried out around me. People stood up, shouting and flailing their arms in the air. Eyes darted back and forth, looking for an escape route but fell on nothing but the walls around. Black faces grew pale as the color drained out when those words sunk into their hearts and minds. I was, of course, opiate insulated to the mayhem around.

Much of the rest of that flight was riddled with both panic and confusion. The chaotic din died down much more slowly than it started, and by the time the pilot pointed out New York City on one side of the plane most of the people were quiet.

We landed in Middleton, Rhode Island around midnight. Before we landed the pilot mention the time and date. It was September 11. This was the first time in thirteen days that I was aware of the date and time. The sun and the moon and a plethora of substance with blatant abuse had ruled me. It was almost midnight, September 11, and I made it out of the devastation that the world watched on CNN for days.

An Excerpt

An short excerpt from the book...a couple weeks before the storm.

I stood outside the jail, looking down the alley as I leaned on a chain link fence. The bright orange tinted streetlight hummed, illuminating the fence to sparkle in some parts. It was late, and I could barely hear the crickets over the orange sparkly hum. My best friend Quentin, his girlfriend Barbie, and our bail bondsman, junky friend, Reese, was there. Barbie hugged me and reassured me that they had some dope for me. Quentin hugged me, too, relieved that I was okay. Reese was quiet and somewhat stern as we all climbed into his blazer. I was in the back fidgeting. He turned around, talking as serious as I had ever heard him.

“You have to get some help, Toby. You are going to Charity. You are telling them you tried to kill yourself. Harley and I are going with you. We will stay with you until they take you. They will not refuse a suicide attempt. It has to happen, Toby. You have to get clean.” Reese lectured.

He agreed to let me go back to Quentin’s to take a shower and get well. I would agree to just about anything right now. I was free. Dope was moments away. Although once the dope hit my veins and the Sickness began to fade into high, I could change my mind. I got out of the blazer and slowly climbed into the house at 2222 N. Rampart. I headed to the claw foot tub in the very back.

As the tub filled, I relished in the sound of the flowing water. The foil sat on the toilet, as I sat on the ground. I relished in the quiet. I relished in this solitude. The foil shone bright like the star that led the wise men to Jesus. My hands shook, as I filled a tiny cup with water. My hands shook, as I dumped in the brown powder. I was nearly drooling as the bittersweet smoke began to gently rise, and I pulled the flame back. You don’t want it to smoke much. My hands were shaky, as I tried to steady the needle in the cotton.

My breath quickened as I sucked up the lovely brown liquid. My veins were screaming by now, and they seemed to bulge from hunger and need. I entered quickly, like an adept fencer going in for the kill with his sword. I felt the slight resistance, and pop. The blood jolted back; rushing quicker as I pulled the plunger back to be sure I was in the vein. Blossoming like a poppy flower, and with a slight push I watched it all flow fast to my veins.

I was ready for rehab.


Wrote a poem in class the other day...and I found it when searching for the name of a classmate's blog...Here it is,

My life
From the fog,
From the high
That is shrouded
In truths
That most
Refuse to believe

Open up
My eyes
My soul
To these demonic
Dark, dark eyes
Into my core
And picking out
All the fucking evil
Reveal the truth
Bound up
In a film
Of lies...
Dig to the core,
Get down in the dirt,
And know
What is dirty
Can always be cleaned,
And what is twisted
Can also be straightened
And what was old
Can become new again...

At least, in this contradictory life of mine.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


So things have changed, once more...sometimes it seems like my life is spinning so quickly that I will never be able to keep up, even with lots of chicory coffee.

I decided against the internship. After those comments, I did not feel like writing, and I refuse to let something like that effect my creativity. I had pretty much decided this, when I got a little push.

I had a meeting with my professor of my independent study, who is helping me polish the make it a final product also agreed I needed to quit that. He told me I had too much work to do, and that this work was way more important. And he is right. I do not want to get involved in another project. This book project is where my loyalty must lie.
I am searching for some synonyms for storm...or hurricane...
Or maybe some catch phrases dealing with storms...or hurricanes...or even Katrina in particular
Any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Angels, Ancestors, and Some Philosophies of Life

Thinking about Pop. Sometimes, I feel like I have to be strong for him, and not cry. I feel like that is what he would want me to do. I know he could not stand to see me cry. Sometimes when I am in his room at my mom's house, I really miss him...but I tell myself not to cry.

And I keep thinking about the videos of my son and my Pop. Those were the only videos of the two of them that existed. I can never get that back. And it really upsets me.

And then, I think about my Pop. I know I have a very special angel watching over me and my son. I truly believe that. I believe that his hand is on my shoulder, and that he will protect me. I realize now, that my angel cannot stop a person from breaking into my house and stealing some very important things...important to me, anyway. But, I do believe he guides me in other ways...he is behind all the coincidence and random happenstance, things like being gifted with this wonderful professor to work on my book with...who happens to be the father of a recovered addict, like the random chance that my screenwriting professor works with Nick Jr...on one of my son's favorite shows, and every series of small events that leads to something bigger, and better...he is behind it.

I have faith in my Pop. I have faith that everything will work out. I know I have an angel watching over me, to make sure nothing happens to me or my precious little boy. I also have faith in the universe, and I truly believe that everything you put out there comes back to you. I believe that if you put out all the right things, and you put your heart and soul into your life and what you do with will come back to you. That is what keeps the universe in balance. I also believe that everything happens for a reason. I know that we may not understand things when they happen, but I truly believe that one will all make sense. I do not believe the universe is a chaotic and random place, spinning off in a million different directions with no pattern to it, and that everything is merely a reaction to that motion. There is something much greater than that out there. There are lots of things out there much greater than that. Look at our ancestors, the way my Pop looks after me. This has been part of the human experience for millions of years. I do not understand why I have to have this sadness, almost overwhelming me with emotion all day, as I have cried at the drop of a hat. I have been crying at commercials and cartoons, and Teen Mom all day. I do not understand why I have to go through another loss like this...haven't I done this before? Did I not get that lesson? But, maybe this lesson is different. And maybe I just didn't learn the first few times through...

Like most addicts, I have banged my head on the wall before. Sometimes, it takes me a few tries to get it right.

I think back to the times I have lost everything. It has happened several times before. One time, Liam and I were strung out...and we were staying in hotels...and we did not pay our storage shed fees. They could not get in touch with us, our number changed as we moved rooms each week. My mom was enforcing tough love, and told them to sell it. She called me one day when I was on the bus going to the Methadone Clinic. If I could get 45 minutes away without a car, in three hours with several hundred dollars...I could keep it. I just resigned to give it up. Liam's family on the other hand, really tried to get the money to the storage place...but, it was too late. My mom had known about it for days. His parents always enabled. I lamented more about the lost journals in times of sobriety, when I started to write again. But, I always got over it. I care more about those losses now, than I did then. I think about the Hurricane. We left a lot of stuff behind in the chaos. Pictures. Journals. Cameras. I had lost so much at the point the Hurricane hit...that I barely realized it was gone. We had been living in and out of various hotels for at least a year at this point...maybe much longer. We hardly had anything. And I had too many other things spinning in my mind then to care about a bunch of stuff...

I had no memories. I had no family. I had no roots. And I had no where to go home to. I was an orphan. I wandered the deserts in search of soul and water. I was lost in the forest, looking up for the stars to guide me...but the whole sky was dark. I had no sentimentality. I had no morals, and I had no shame. I barely had a soul.

And now, I have two souls. And at least two more angels, watching over me. I have my family back. And I have a place to call home, and several more I am always welcome at. I have plenty of food and water, and most of the time I can see the stars. Especially in the mountains. I have roots, and they extend over several generations. My soul is full, and my honesty is raw, and I have millions of memories, both good and bad. And I am damn sentimental fool.

So, I lament about the loss of the videos, and all the pictures and the journals from the past. But, this is just another wave of the tide in this wild ride we call life. It is the ebb and the flow of being human. It cannot always be happy, and that is hard for an ex addict to swallow. With drugs, at least we thought we were happy because we were numb, insulated to the sadness and pain, and also to the love and joy. It is human to feel these things, though. It is cathartic to cry sometimes, and our emotions are what make us different from animals. Emotions are one of the things that make us human, and it is an experience that is shared by all of us. Without those emotions, we become a little less human. And yes, I will lament...but I will also get over it, eventually. I always do.

Things That Cannot Be Replaced

It is the things that cannot be replaced that make me so sad. This is the reality for an addict, and the aftermath of addiction. There are pieces of our lives that will be forever destroyed. There are things lost in the fire, both possessions and otherwise...that just cannot be replaced. I thought I dealt with this enough in my life.

Then, I am robbed. They took my old computer that still had a lot of writing on it. It still had all my Flip videos of my son as a baby. Videos of him and my grandfather, who passed away this summer. I backed it all up on a external hard drive...and those mother fuckers took this, too. All those videos, all that writing...lost.

I went through this with addiction, too many times. I could not pay my storage shed fee, and everything was sold. Journals I kept for years, pictures, mementos. Then, years go by...and I lose it all again in the Hurricane. It is the things I cannot replace that always bothered me so much. Wedding pictures. Journals. My books with comments scrawled all along the margins. Keepsakes, mementos. You can never get those kinds of things back. I thought I had dealt with this already.

And it happens again. This time, to no fault of my own. Still, I am heartbroken about the videos. The videos of my son and my grandfather...I will never get those back. And those are the only videos he would have ever seen of my son and my Pop together. I am just so sad about that. Why did they take the back up drive, too?

I have been through this already. I should know this emotion. But, this time it is worse. There are some things in life you just cannot matter how hard you try. I know this sounds whiny and cliche...but, it is just not fair. And I do not want to deal with all this again.