Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Guess Things Could Always Have Been Worse...

I just read this article, describing the robbery of a pharmacy, where the crazed man, determined to get painkillers ended up shooting everyone on site.  His wife was also arrested for her involvement.  The neighbors are all shocked, as no one suspected drug problems...and everyone just thinks this man is so nice.

And he probably is a really nice guy...most addicts are.  And I am quite sure that anyone living in the home was WELL aware of any drug problems...but, no one outside could suspect a thing.  And I think about the desperation when you are in need, the awful pain of withdrawal...and the insanity that comes along with it.

I cannot imagine robbing a pharmacy and shooting everyone...but I do know what it is like to bend every moral you have to get drugs.  I do know what it is like to cross that line.  As addicts, we all cross different lines...some are merely hurting ourselves, while others are hurting others...even taking a life.  And I think about all the blurred lines, and I realize the denotation in the sand is really the you never know where the addiction will lead...

Sad, though...this poor guy, really just starting a life with his wife...and now he is facing murder charges.  I think about those days when I was just beginning a marriage.  All those promises, and all those hopes.  I think back to the innocent days when Liam and I were in love...both with each other, and with heroin.  I think back to all those times, both good and bad.  And I think back to it all now, sometimes with bitterness, still.  But, then...I look at this story, and I realize things could have been much, much worse.  I think of this young man, waking up from the fog of intense opiate find your life forever altered, and incarcerated.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dedicated To My Phish Friends In Portsmouth VA Tonight

This little story is dedicated to all my Phish friends who are in Portsmouth, VA tonight. 

Back in the day, I was quite the Phish fan, travelling around the country with the freedom of the road and good weed.  I met many of my life long friends through our mutual love of music…back in those innocent days of The Allman Brothers and the early 90s.  Back in the days of dancing and ecstasy and the innocent experimentation coupled with that freedom of youth.  Back then, my musical tastes were wandering and jamming, with dread locks, patuoli, and long hippie dresses. 

As time wore on, the music became harder…and so did the drugs.  I progressed to house music, dancing up the same sweat on a club on ecstasy.  And the club scene led to cocaine, crystal, ketamine, and creative cacophony.  One minute, I was dancing to DJ Archer at Mythos, and the next minute I was in the dark caverns of the Audubon Hotel. 

And the music became more angry and violent, as I more often abandoned the dance floor to slink upstairs to the rooms of the infamous “hotel” on St. Charles.  The buzz grew harder and more complex, as I woke most mornings aching from the want and need.  Thriving on the fuel of punk music and the screaming rage of the bands of the day, with little food to sustain my often-erratic stomach.  Over time, I passed up the rolled up dollar bill in search of something much quicker and more direct…and in no time the veins in my arms were marked with reds and light purples.  Purple turns to black, and all the music I dance to in the strip club screams of heroin and blood. 

Years and years have passed since even those years in the clubs of Bourbon Street, where my world was turned inside out.  I have been clean more than five years, and the music I listen to now is varied from black and white, depending on mood and state of mind.  There are days that I listen to Shannon Hoon wailing in his pain and desperation, while other days I crave Henry Rollins or Eyehategod.  There are days that Tom Waits bellows to my soul, while other days I relish in the brassy sound of Billie Holiday.  And there are still days that I crave that old hippie jam band I once travelled with.  Those days are not as frequent as they were in my twenties, but when they take hold…sometimes I listen to Phish for days. 

Phish was in town on Friday night, and I took my son to the show.  We both had a great time, and I met up with old friends, reminiscing about times long, long gone.  Some friends I managed to see at the show, and others I never caught sight of.  It is much different when you have a two year old at a show with you…your eyes are constantly focused on the little one, and many former acquaintances could have walked right by.  The band, along with quite a few of my friends, travelled to Raleigh last night, and are now in Portsmouth, VA…for another night of Phish.  I wish I could have attended another show, but the responsibilities of life call me once more…and, it is just not feasible.  Thinking about Portsmouth, though, brought an old story to mind that I have been meaning to tell.  Thanks guys (all my old pals in Portsmouth tonight), for the inspiration to finally get yet another story down on paper…

Those days of dope were tough living in Williamsburg, VA.  This place was not like New Orleans, where the dope was all over the place.  Sometimes, you had to get creative in the Burg…and most of the time that included a little road trip.  I often made the trip to Portsmouth to cop with a certain friend who had connections there. 

Now, the telling of this story would not be proper without an introduction to this character, whom I knew as “Space.”  Space had been in and out of the cycle of addiction for years, much like me and Liam….but not much like most of the people in the Burg.  Space had earned this nickname for a reason…and he was really all over the place. 

His long brown hair, hung oily in his unshaven face most of the time, and his thick camouflage jacket was often his uniform in the winter.  His dark brown eyes darted back and forth, until they would slightly close with the pleasure of heroin.  Space would silently settle down with the pleasure of a fat shot, but the rest of the time he was on full blast.  He was one of the craziest characters I have ever met.

One day, we are speeding towards Portsmouth, in search of dope in Space’s humongous truck.  Space sits in the driver’s seat, focusing on the road as best as he can, as he rambles on about the Breathalyzer in his truck.  I sit in the front seat, anticipating this little ride…in search of the good shit.   Sometimes, the dangers of the ride there are all worth the pleasure in the end. 

Space’s large, dark blue truck looms down the highway, with its camper top covering the bed, allowing tons of covered room for all kinds of shady shit.  The camper top is sprinkled with stickers of the rebel flag, and Space looks particularly unshaven and back woods.  He rambles on speeding towards our death on several instances…and I determine that Space is the worst driver I know. 

We arrive on the shitty side of Portsmouth and immediately begin trolling the streets looking for a dealer with pockets full of dope.  Space knows a lot of the dealers here, and I look at the beauty of this little place, as his eyes scan back and forth with the keen sense of a dope hound. 

The streets are speckled with old houses, full of character and years of neglect.  Neighbors sit on the porches in spotty locations, sipping libations from a paper sack.  The streets get smaller as we get deeper and deeper in to the heart of this place.  Chain link fences, and random corner stores.  The streets are a mixture of black and white pavement, giving the aged impression of grey and broken in bits that are descending to ash before out eyes. 

In front of us, a black man darts out with his head tucked down.  Space perks up, leaning his head forward and squinting his eyes.  Then, his eyebrows adamantly rise in recognition.  And his smile turns upside down, and his pursed face turns redder and redder.

“Yep!”  He yells.  “That mother fucker!  Yep, that is him!” 

I still think he is talking about the dope man, as Space floors it and the truck lurches forward.  Space leans his head out, shouting at the man.

“Yep, its me, mother fucker!”  he yells, as the man starts and takers off.  Space looks at me.

“That fucker owes me forty bucks!  Burned me on a couple a bags!”  he tells me as he presses more weight on the gas pedal. 

Before I know it, we are barreling down a small narrow road in a black neighborhood, in a huge pick up truck with its camper top decorated with the rebel flag.  Space is now yelling out the window that he is “gonna get the son of a bitch. “

I ducked my head down, slightly.  I was not sure if I was more mortified or more terrified, as Space speed down the neighborhood street chasing this man.  The man, also dipped his head, then turned, darting down a tight alley.  Space turned the large truck on a dime, following his target right down the alley.

I see the sides of buildings brushing right past the windows of the truck, and boards of the buildings on both sides of the alley fly by my side window, revealing sagging textures and chipping paint just inches out the open window.    In front of the looming truck, a skinny black man runs for his life.  Between the engine’s violent roars, Space screams about being burned and getting his money.  The man ducks to one side, and we come sailing out of the alley as the skinny black man in debt to my crazy friend has disappeared. 

The engine quiets a little, as Space’s food and mood begin to steady.  He just slows the truck down, focusing on the road.

“That asshole owes me money, and I WILL get it,” he says.  Then, his eyes begin to dart back and forth once more, looking for the dope.  Thankfully, his phone rang moments later.  It was his connection in Portsmouth, telling us to meet him at a nearby gas station because he has the goods. 

The rest of the trip went off without a hitch.  We easily scored, banged up in a diner parking lot, and rode blissfully back to the Burg with a pocket full of the good stuff.  I often rode to Portsmouth with Space, and each and every trip provided me with a great story to tell.  And at the time, I never feared for my life in Portsmouth because the need for dope refused to allow it.  Since I got clean, I have often looked back on those trips to Portsmouth with a mixture of terror and humor.  I can honestly say, I really did not want to visit Portsmouth again.

Until tonight.  I wish I were in Portsmouth tonight.  I would be dancing and enjoying Phish and the entire hippie fumes.  I would be miles away from those days of copping in the Portsmouth ghettos.  And miles and miles closer to here.  Even if those ghettos are lingering right around the corner from the show.   

Fuck You, Once Again

Time and the way things change can surprise us all at times.  And then, there are some things that even time cannot heal.  There are some things that no matter how much time and distance lies in between...they will not change.  Some things will just hurt forever, and there may even be times that those old wounds will be torn open once leave them gushing blood all over the floor.

These wounds of mine are so scarred, now rough, like leather.  And I know they cannot be ripped open again because there really is no blood left to bleed.  All that is left is a hole of the flesh that once was.  All that is left is this scarred leather like thing that I cringe to see every time I look down.  And although the blood has not flowed near those nasty sites of pain and destruction for years, sometimes the wounds still hurt.  Some things just do not get better, and time and distance do not heal...but, only help to forget.

This leathery wound of mine is all red and inflamed, as new information is brought down on an old, old situation.  And my heart is so fucking heavy today, as I think about all the things I lost in the fire.  But, as time goes on, I realize that the most precious thing lost in the fire was really not as pristine as I once thought...

Cryptic language, I know.  But, I hate to just dive right into the same old shit without some sort of flowery introduction.

An old girlfriend of mine was in town the other night for the concert.  (Which I thoroughly enjoyed.)  Janine and I were once very, very close.  Interpret that however you wish, and all of the interpretations will be correct on some level, I am sure.  She is one person who was always there for me when I really needed her.  I love Janine with all my heart.  She has been there for years, and she was there through some of the roughest times of my life.

I met Janine through my ex husband.  They worked together.  Back in those days, I remember how Liam used to look at me, like I was the only girl in the world.  I remember how much I trusted him.  He would never cheat on me.  Look at the way he looked at me.  I never minded that he had friends, regardless of their sex.  I felt so sure he would never cheat on me.

When he left me for another woman, a friend of mine...well I was floored.

And not like I could ever talk about cheating.  It was not like I was loyal.  I was more loyal to his dope habit than to our marriage.  And more loyal to myself than anything else.  I guess I am just selfish.  And the addiction crept in, taking everything else away.  But, I kept him well.  And I kept us both addicted.  I really have no room to say anything.  And I probably deserved it all.

Still, it hurts.  I thought he was my one true love.  I thought he was my soulmate.  I thought so many things that were not true.  And I guess that is to be expected when you fall in love with a liar.  That liar turned my world upside down before...and now, I feel it all creeping back in.  I feel it all washing back over me, and my eyes are flooded with tears.

Janine told me she messed around with my ex husband.  Before we split...and before she got to know me.  And I am not angry.  Certainly not at her.  I love her.  And after the night she hooked up with my husband, our love grew far beyond what either of us expected.  And I am not mad at Liam...I know I have no right to be.  And the whole thing just solidifies what happened.  It just proves to me that I am better off without him.

But, it all hurts the same.  Damn, he cheated on me almost two years before he left me for another women.  Had he cheated before?  I always heard that he was with the woman he left me for long before I fucked up so badly that he had an excuse to leave me.  And now this other friend?  How many other friends of mine did he hook up with?  But, many friends of his did I hook up with?  Still, it hurts.

Those last two years with him, as we began to recover from heroin addiction...I thought that things were all being put back in place.  And really, that is just what he let me think.  All the while, he was just waiting until he found another sure thing.  Testing out the waters where ever he knew he would not be seen.  Pretending to put it back together, but really just tearing it all apart.  I just wish he could have been more honest with me...more honest with himself.  Instead of just fucking up my entire life.  Fuck you, Liam.  Fuck you.  That is really all I have to say.  Fuck you.  Once again.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

News of Another Dead Friend

I don’t always check my messages as religiously as I once did. I saw the note in my inbox, and I thought it was a story. Or a really profound thought. And as a busy single mom, trying to start a career as a writer…I wanted to save this little morsel for when I had to time to savor it. I always enjoy a note from Animal.

And before me I have these pictures, and all these memories, feelings flooding back over me. The wooden floor. The needle. The hair, the nails, the skin. A chill ran up my spine, like the dope sickness is about to set in. A chill in the living room air from my window unit, while the rest of the place is humid and muggy. My friends here in NC may complain, but it reminds me of New Orleans. It all reminds me of New Orleans some days. Some days, the chill runs up and down my spine, flashing me back…

Just like these pictures. For an instant, my mind, my skin cold and clammy, transported me back to those days. Those days, so far away from these places. These things we dwell on as a writer, committing our travesties down to paper, at last. These memories, these images, these chills up and down the spine…putting me right back in that place. That wooden floor, reminding me…

Reminding me of the Shobar stage, old and worn with the years. Black and white cheap linoleum, and crazy painted bathroom walls. White stalls, and broken toilets. Backs lifted off, and twisted around…to set up my shit. Porcelain, and wooden, and tiled, and faint…faint back in the recesses of my mind…brought leaping forward.


By the memories of the past

These images of

What once was.

This thing I know so well

This thing I knew too well

Still hate to see ‘em go.

And the memories,

Bubbling to the surface

Once more

Spilling over…

The Audubon Hotel. Damn, those were the days. Damn, they ALL were the days. Even some of the dark and desperate days still have this romantic allure. In my mind. Those places, and all the people. Carefree. A piece of me will always long for those days.

Sometimes, it seems they are dropping like flies. Around me, the world still crumbles at times…and in the distance, I hear a soft and melodic music haunting me. A slow and steady beat, rising in my chest and ascending through my soul. A deep and pounding bass, causing my feet to move involuntarily below me…as the ecstasy sets in.

Relax, and let all the cares fade away. Let it all fade away. Sounds romantic. Feels fantastic, I think…as I look back with longing. Then, the shiver up my spine once more.

Like I have seen a ghost. I have seen a ghost of my past, and a tiny little piece of it that really is gone. A tiny little piece of it that really has returned to the realm of the ghostly. The wooden floor, the hair, the skin…the god damned needle. And the fucking apple. A ghost of my past, sending the chill up my spine. And I think I am on the verge of withdrawal again. Only I have not taken an opiate in years. These ghosts crawl into the recesses of my brain, tricking my nerves into thinking old patterns. Triggered, once more, by the images of yesteryear.

I take a deep breath. Look through the pictures again. Spine tingling, and chills running back and forth, as these thoughts dance wildly in my head. It almost feels like I am right back there again.

Then, I pull up Word, and begin to write. Balance flowing back onto my shoulders once more. All of it, spilling out. Where the words have been rather silent as of late…

I look around at this tiny little place, and the tiny little face sleeping across the room. And I think about how far I have come. Too far to turn back now…that is for damn sure. And, I put it down, once more. And I know I am lucky to be alive.

Another dead friend. Is that what this all will boil down to? Dead bodies, piling up everywhere. They have been dropping like flies for fucking years. My heart is heavy with all the sadness, and the pain. My heart is just so god damned heavy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Addiction Permeates All

And there really is no escaping matter how hard we try. It permeates every corner of life.

A friend of a friend of mine has been drinking excessively, and maybe taking pills too. Things have gotten out of control for this young man...and everyone sees it. Talking my friend...I am moved, once again, to write about addiction.

I think about the way addiction permeates so much of who some of us are. One of my best friends, Natalie, was touched by the addiction of her mother. Her mother's addiction eventually took her life, but Natalie had been missing her mother for much longer than that. Natalie watched her mother die, climbing up into bed with her ghost, crying like the little girl she felt she was. Natalie's mother's addiction is one of the main things that has made Natalie the person she is today. I think about this sometimes from an addict's perspective. And also from a mother's perspective. All Natalie needed was a is all we all really need, isn't it?

Speaking with this friend of mine today, regarding addiction and the predicament with our friend...he mentioned that his parents also died from pills and drinking. And I think about it all again. I think about it from an addict's perspective. And I think about it from a mother's perspective. And I think about Natalie. I think about so many addicts I knew with kids...

As an addict, I never thought about how this disease really permeates everything...and no one is immune, really. I had friends, also addicted, who had kids. It never phased me...I did not have kids and I did know anything about it. But, now...I look back, horrified for some of those poor kids. Everyone knows someone who drinks too much...or gambles too much...or watches too much porn, addicted to heroin. I thought a lot in those days about how it affected me. But, I never really thought about how others may have spent days and nights worried about me. And I am mostly thankful that I was not a mother back then.

I look at my beautiful little boy, as his blue eyes look over the top of the computer, just now. As he asks me to close the computer, he holds out his finger, scolding when I ask for ten more minutes. "No ten minutes," he tells me, eyes looking down upset. And I think about how I could never do that to him. I have this responsibility to that little face. And that little face has changed my life.

I hope.

As an addict, I know how easy it can happen. But, as a mother...I hope it is not possible. And then, I look back at these adult children of addicts who are no longer with us. I look at Natalie. I look at the friend I spoke with today. And I realize what strength it must take to overcome something like that....and to keep caring, to keep being passionate about things and people.

Addiction permeates all our lives. Some of our lives are so saturated in it that it seems we are drowning at times, and some of us only see it in a friend of a friend. But, it is each and every one of our lives. The experience is more universal than we think...some of us just come much, much closer to the core.

Now, I must go, because it has been about five minutes...and I have been instructed that I do not have ten minutes...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Cop Post...Flirting This Time!

Interesting thing happened to me the other day...

I took my son to the new Italian Ice place in our neighborhood. We had taken a nice long nap that afternoon, which has been a rarity for me in the last year. After our nap, we got up and went out to a great little place that has really good and cheap tacos. Then, Italian Ice for dessert.

The little ice cream place was packed! I did not know that the Italian Ice was free, but when they handed it over, no charge...I realized why everyone is so interested in this place! My son and I sat at a table, when a cop joined the line...

In my past life, as an addict, generally in possession of illegal drugs...I was usually cautious, to say the least, when I saw a cop. To be totally honest, I was often scared shitless when I saw a cop.

Now, I smile at the local cops, waving...and I know, they ain't got nothing on me these days! As this cop approaches, my son looks up and waves. Before I realize what is going on, the cop is smiling at me, and talking to both me and my son. As he walks away to order his ice cream, I realize he was flirting with me!! After he gets his order, he turns to wave good-bye. I wave back, and think to myself...

Damn, has my life changed so much that I now look like the person a cop would hit on???? Do I really look like the type of person that a cop would ask out on a date??? (I must admit, I think I would only be interested in dating a cop that were female...)

I think back to the days when a cop would have eyed me suspiciously...

And I wonder...have I really changed that much?!?!? (Not that it is a bad thing...) I asked several friends about it. One agreed I had most certainly changed that much. Another suggested maybe the cop was looking for some information. And another thought it was just the baby, and actually had nothing to do with me. And my beloved best friend simply called me a MILF...gotta love your best friend!

But, I guess I have changed that much. I am surprised the cop was not put off by The Misfits chain wallet, or the leather studded belt and bracelets. But, I was sporting a frilly little flower print shirt, and my jeans were actually clean and fit rather well. And my eyes were clear and sober, as I ate my ice cream with my son. I guess, I am the type of person a cop might hit on...


Chaotic thoughts
Riding the wave of the high
Random actions
Of utter and complete desperation.
The world around us
Crumbles as we speak
Each line revealing something else
More perverted
About the character

Layers and layers
Of dirt and grime
Years of neglect
And chipping paint
Peeling away
All the broken layers
Of a life,
Slowing peeling each one
Like a summer sunburn
Basking in the bright colors
All the stories beneath.
The stories,
Still killing me slowly.
Sometimes I fear
I will never find
The raw wood that lies...
Somewhere deep below
The painted years of neglect.

The restoration is painful
And the layers of story
Are tinged with guilt
And indignity
Of complete and utter
The wood beneath,
Damaged from the days of the storm
May still be salvageable
Sanded down with patience
And persistence
Revealing the natural vein of the wood.

And I am left with raw wood,
A thing unfinished.
Sanded smooth
And well cared for
Surrounded by the paint,
Chipped away stories
Lying in ruin
Discarded pieces
All around this piece of work.