Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall

I have been traveling a lot, trying to use my personal story to help others. I'm typing this on my phone so forgive me in advance . 


It's fall now. My kids need me to be home. I need to catch up on carepackages, apply for funding, and just focus on keeping my mind right. I'm not going to lie to kick it, for whatever reason, the winter months give me a wave of depression. My mother really loved the holidays. She would do the whole house with decorations. She had decorative sweaters, decorative jewelry and pins. I have never embraced anything as much as she embraced the holiday season.  


Winter as a homeless junkie sucked beyond measure. The SF Bay Area in my specific corridor doesn't really get "seasons" per se. It's more 10 days of heat, dry, cold/foggy, and rain. The rain when you live outside is inescapable. There are only so many sheltered spots in my general area. Those are highly coveted and physically defended. The average person might stay awake on rocks or tweak to avoid laying in a puddle at night. Remember- it isn't JUST a puddle. It's a combo of the oil and piss runoff that has accumulated in the dry season. The shelters were whack- curfew by sevenish only to be kicked out in the early early morning. That's if they aren't full. 


I'm old now. I'm an old retired junkie. But I can clearly remember shivering in the cold rain, unable to accumulate enough money for a fix. No place to sit, no place to stay, no prospects. Those memories keep me sober but they also make me insane. I left that life and three people took my place. The water wheel of addiction flows like the dope on the streets. 


You are probably alone reading this. I'm alone too. Alone in my hotel at a conference. I'm trying to learn about new ways to help people that use drugs, people like us. We deserve help. We deserve to be safe. We deserve love. 


Be safe my friends. I'll get a story to you when I return. 



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Walking with my Co Worker

I was walking through the Tenderloin today with one of my co-workers, another person who used to use drugs. I try to run my thoughts through the "is this appropriate filter" but that filter fails when I traverse certain blocks. Here is where I used to sleep outside. This is where the male hustlers used to pick up dates. This is the door well where I sat frozen for few hours after I shot up MDMA mixed with LSD. This is where my ex boyfriend carved A + T in a heart. That boyfriend died of AIDS. This is where I had someone overdose me on meth to try to rape me. I later pressed charges but the statute of limitations on sexual assault was two years at the time. Here is where I turned a trick for twenty dollars then lied to my boyfriend about it (so he wouldn't have to turn a trick). Here is where I used to sell drugs. This is were I used to beg for them when I was dope sick. These were the hotels that kicked me out when my boyfriend used to beat me up. This is the last place I used drugs.  Ok, I didn't actualy tell him all that. Some of it though, for sure.

The Tenderloin tour was nothing but tender. I am how ever strange, grateful it all happened. I appreciate every thing I have today. From clean sheets, to use of the limb they said I might need amputated, to people that love me. People ACTUALLY love me. Not because I have the bag but because I am a good person. I like to pet all the animals. Eat curry. Drink tea that is hot. I have THREE sets of sheets because I can. I like to wear whimsical socks because it makes me smile. I survived all that shit I mentioned. I am happy to have made it out alive.

I love you ppl. I was traveling, not ignoring you. I was eating way too many sea creatures in Boston.

Recent articles about me/harm reduction

Glamour

CNN

Friday, September 22, 2017

When You Overdose...

When you overdose...There will be nothing left for US. I promise I will hug your mother. I'll check on her too or at least I think I will. Your friends are all going to tell stories- good ones and not so good ones. They're angry. We don't understand. We're sad. My sweater won't smell like you for long. It will fade- like the memory of the last time i saw your face. Don't worry, someone will adopt your dog. Did you think about them? When your boyfriend/girlfriend starts fucking someone new, I'll assure them that enough time has passed. What was filled with love is now just there passing time- until the grief subsides.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Best You Can Hope For

"I want him to crawl inside my skin..." I reach for my Arizona Ice Tea. I feel like I swallowed sand paper or razor blades. I went to the free clinic yesterday. They told me I had a two for one infection- strep throat and an abscess. Trying to wash down these horse pills known as antibiotics on an empty stomach is just too fucking much.

My girl is nodding next to me. She looks pretty tonight. Her hair is pulled back into a pony tail, a scarf covers up her exposed skin. Her dress is a sort of black crushed velvet, tight at the waist. Her sugar daddy liked to show her off. She wipes her makeup and lipstick off with some alcohol pads. Our dealer met her in the lobby of the hotel. He knew EXACTLY what time she was going to return. I think he still had hopes she would date him again. She promised me she would never be that desperate. A one time thing is what she told me. I almost believed her.

We put all of our money together on a gram and a hotel room for the night, leaving nothing but a healthy rinse for the morning. She promised me if I went to the doctor she would "take care of me" for the day. I didn't have much to contribute but I could hit her in the neck. That made me valuable. "Blow Blow" I insisted. I wiped away the trickle of blood before it reached the scarf. She needed that for the next date.  I can feel the fever breaking as I sweat underneath my thermal, hoodie, and a wife beater to tuck in my non existent lady bits. We have the window up, the door barricaded shut. Neither one of feels safe in  this place so we pushed the dresser against the door. A couple of xanax later, it will be night night time.

She passes me her other Little Debbie swiss roll she grabbed from the corner store. "dude," she tells me "what the fuck are you even saying?" I am semi delirious from the fever I've had from two days. That plus finally getting well has made the dope hit me hard. I snuggle up even tighter against her. I know she isn't into chicks really but I know she doesn't mind either. We both did that double awhile back. The guy just wanted to watch us kiss while he jacked off, or so he said. I closed my eyes. I didn't want to see it. I just could not that day. She handled everything.

The chocolate is like paste in my sore mouth and throat. "I want some one to crawl inside my skin," I repeated "I want a man to touch my face when he kisses me. I want someone to kiss my scars. I want someone to tell me I'm okay." I halfway laughed at the benzos were kicking in. What I was saying was completely ridiculous. I kicked my shoes off the bed. As the thumped on the floor, I heard the TINK of my empty beer bottle hitting the floor. "I want a him to pull me next to him. Kiss my shoulders, you know, romantic shit."

She started laughing "Kiss your shoulders?" She shook her head. I could feel the motion making my head gently knock against the wall. It was getting heavy now. The pills, all of them, were making their way through my bloodstream. "Bitch you want shoulder kisses? Of all the things- shoulder kisses?" She actually giggled like we were normal for a moment.

I cut her off "YEAH" I said defensively "shoulder fucking kisses." SOME PRETTY WOMAN SHIT she said under her breath.

Her voice starts to trail off "the best you can hope for..." She never answers.

When I open my eyes in the morning, there is 20 units waiting for me. I never saw her again.

I saw them give up on life support and wrap a sheet around this person on Wednesday. No one should ever die alone like this. 


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Social Isolation and Overdose.

I got a message this week from someone who I've never met. That isn't unusual. I get lots of messages and I try to answer all of them. What was unusual was more the content of the message. Essentially the person said I was the only person outside of his dealer that knew he was using heroin. They knew nothing about me really except they thought I might be a person who would care.

That fucked me up family. NO ONE KNOWS you are using heroin except your dealer? That person is at SUCH high risk of dying alone from a fentanyl overdose. It made my heart hurt. Also, thinking about the feeling of keeping a secret like that from everyone in your life. So much stigma attached to heroin use. You can go to any club on any weekend and see people freely blowing lines of coke. Heroin makes a person a social outcast where people feel it is necessary to hide the valuables. This person works, is attractive (from what I can see in pics. I'm not trying to look too hard), has so many "things going for them". Oh, and they use heroin.

I thought about you, dear readers. How many of you have no one to talk to except folk you chat with on the internets (yes I said internets)? We are socially isolated and afraid. In that situation, drugs are a logical conclusion. The drugs are a solution of sorts that create a whole new set of problems. In looking at what we can do to reduce overdoses and increase the health of people who use drugs, it is becoming clearly to me that addressing social isolation needs to be a part of that strategy. I don't know the answers but I know we desperately need connection besides for the connection.

I love you friends.

I won an award this week for my public service. 
This is a pic from my flight with my bff. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fuck Love

"Fuck love," I told him "I don't need love when I have drugs." I rolled back over.

I could feel his leg shaking on the bed, a combination of anger and betrayal.
"Why did you do that Tracey," he gently turned me towards him "why would you let someone take my check?" I turned my back to him again. I don't feel like talking anymore. My sugar daddy came through with the $200 I begged/borrowed/lied for. I was celebrating- can't you tell?

I was high. High as fuck. The type of high where there really was no point in asking me anything that involved reality. The truth was not going to come out of my mouth. I didn't take his check, I reasoned to myself. I didn't profit in any way. Someone else took it so what did it matter to me...

He started getting louder "why didn't it matter to you?" He asked as if I cared "Because it wasn't YOURS. Because I thought we still meant something to each other?" That was his first mistake. Caring about me. Thinking I had the capacity to get beyond my pettiness.

He was the most beautiful man I had ever dated. I don't mean handsome. I mean he was fucking beautiful as in even the most homophobic of men would concede "that's a handsome man." Heroin had brought us together, a relationship forged in desperation. We would stay the night in seedy hotels, where the floor would move from bugs at night. We clung to each other for some sort of security. Eventually, that security turned romantic, as romantic as I had ever experienced. He bought me a gift once and would save me a wake up. I don't know if it gets more romantic than that.

It's over now. Over the day we sipped that first dose of methadone at the clinic. It was if we both woke up only to say "not you". Except I was regretting that decision. Except I was still in love with him. Except I was chipping again and he was fucking other women. When he didn't come back to the room we shared, I did care if someone took his check. I didn't care about anything. Not caring was my escape. He didn't see the eyeliner that was running into the pillow case from the tears in my eyes. I just wanted him to leave me her to die in dramatic strung out fashion. I proved myself to be the junkie I knew I was right? let me wallow in this a little deeper.

As the door slammed, my heart closed too. Fuck love, I told myself, as I mixed myself another shot- just because.

Recent things I have been in or written:
Bustle

The dopeypodcast

An article for work it health







Sunday, August 27, 2017

"What's the worst thing you've ever done for drugs?"

"What's the worst thing you've ever done for drugs?" he asked me.
 He took another bite of his food. I feel like I am being interviewed for a job I'll never get. If I tell the truth, he is sure to reject me. If I lie, I suppose he will know. I'm not sure how a casual late lunch/pre dinner with a person I met through Instagram has turned into an interrogation of sorts. It's not a date, more of an initiation. Can I meet the standard qualifications to fit into role. It's as if I wouldn't want to be in any club that would have me as a member but social isolation is also a mother fucker.

The truth is flexible. You don't have to lie. You can simply chose to omit the truth. Did you quit using? The correct answer is yes I did (but I started back again). Did you rip me off? The correct answer is no (but my boy did and we split the difference). Do you love me? The answer is always yes. I just happen to love/d drugs more.

He presses me again, not satisfied to hear my opinions on the decor, the neighbor, or the passersby we watch from our window seat. "What do you think is THE worst thing you have ever done for drugs?" When he reaches across the table for the salt, I notice a bump on his hand. It is the type of angry bump one gets from shooting tar into a vein  that is completely unreceptive. The infection has taken off part of the ink from his tattoo. Is this old? Is it new? I can't tell exactly.  He is overdressed for this occasion. San Francisco doesn't require a t-shirt and a flannel and a jacket and a beanie. Despite the fan twirling overhead, I can see the sweat starting to accumulate on his forehead. I can tell he wants to brush it away with our extra napkins.

I take a bite of my increasingly cold food. I hate eating in front of anyone. I feel like eating is an embarrassing private habit. I pull down my shirt to make sure no flesh is poking out on the side above my skirt. I keep pressing my hair behind my ear. I am becoming increasingly anxious from the copious amount of caffeine I ingested earlier. "Um, I would suppose it would be sex for drugs or money."

He laughs out loud, as if I have made a fart joke or something outrageously hilarious. "That's it? I thought coming from you there would be something more original" he quickly salts his food "I mean women give that shit up for a dinner on tinder these days."

I can't decide if I am supposed to be offended by his lack of empathy or laugh. "Well, that is something I don't really like to talk about..." I take a bite of my food, spilling the contents of my taco back on my plate. It sounded like an addiction related dick measuring contest was about to pop off. Instead, we are both trying to feel each other out with small talk about music and why coke tastes better in a bottle.

What IS the worst thing I've ever done for drugs, I think to myself. What does WORST even mean? Have I begged for drugs? Yes. I used to pan handle. I used to go the open air drug market to beg for "uno por gratis". I've spent hundreds of dollars with you. Can you help me out? I'm sick. That falls on deaf ears more times then not. Hundreds? Thousands? I've put a whole life of dreams up my arm. The cost? PRICELESS. Have I scammed for drugs? My whole life is an elaborate con I've played on myself. Of course I have scammed people for drugs. In fact, I've even worked for drugs. Imagine that. I worked a retail job getting yelled at by customers while I saved my pennies up to cop a few Percs when they were available. Who knew it would lead to begging people for their rinse. Do I want to explain these things to another person? Not really, not ever if I can help it.

As I choke down the rest of my food, I notice a restlessness. There is general sense of urgency on his part to end our lunch. As he takes a swig of his "apple juice" from his bag, I get the sense that it wasn't a test to see if he could understand me. It was a test to see if I could understand him. Did I completely miss something here? He throws his napkin down and stands up. It is time to go. NOW.

As we step out in the approaching night air, I turn my head to him. "I didn't get a chance to ask you the same question. What's the worst thing you've done for drugs..." he quickly hugs me as if to say this interaction is over.

He tilts his head to me "I'm not sure yet..."  he half smiles "have a good evening." As he pulls his backpack over his shoulder, I can't help but catch a glimpse of his reflection as he walks away.