Friday, September 22, 2017
Sunday, September 17, 2017
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
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
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:
An article for work it health
Sunday, August 27, 2017
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.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Ok, thanks for letting me get that out of the way. So- you want to quit dope? Or maybe you don't. You want to cut back? Or maybe you just want to be safer? (fuck I hope so). I don't know what your goals are dear reader. I just know you have to have something positive going on in your life outside of powders or brown sticky substances.
There is a scene in the movie "Black Tar Heroin" when I was doing laundry. I asked the filmmaker when I got sober, why am I doing laundry. Pretty much anyone who knew me knew I would pick up clothes from the street, a thrift store, or just wear the same damn outfit for a month before I would bother to do laundry. He told me "all you ever did was get high- we needed footage of you doing something else". I cringed for a minute. Then I realized what he was saying was true. My whole life revolved around the obsession and compulsion to use drugs. The obsession in that drugs were pretty much all I ever thought about 24/7. Getting drugs, using drugs, and getting money for drugs were my top three. The compulsion in that I would use drugs even when I didn't want to use them. It was like I had these plans to do other things I would still end up alone with a needle in my arm.
I don't know the magic formula. Maybe you will stop on your own. Maybe rehab. Maybe you will start smoking weed and forget opioids. Maybe Subs or methadone or whatever will do the trick. I just don't know what works for each person. What I do know is that having positive things in your life is going to help you. For me, it is hanging out with my cats/dog. I like to walk around and look at graffiti. I hang out with my best friend at least once a week. I go to a job I like. I go to meetings periodically, mostly for the social aspect of them. I volunteer to help other. I get tattooed by friends. I just try to be in the moment.
Do your thing friends. Don't let your thing do you.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Story time. Pull up a warm fuzzy blanket and some sour patch kids.
Young Tracey was not the Tracey you know today. I was full of insecurity.
I had gotten involved in a relationship with a man I barely knew.
He swept me off my feet with his constant attention.
He was also kinda sort of homeless.
He had nothing else to do.
He told me he loved me and fucked me ten different ways.
He then told me I was fat, stupid, lazy.
Kept me alone in the house for days.
When that relationship ended, I was just on the border of suicidal. Perhaps you have experienced this type of suicidal. It isn't the post strung out suicidal when you low key wish you would die but maybe this hit will fix me suicidal. It was the type of suicidal when I actively went through the A,B,Cs of killing myself. Alcohol wasn't helping. Alcohol always seemed to amplify the worst parts of my personality. I am *almost* joking when I say a night of drinking would end in either 1. crying in a bathroom somewhere 2. trying to stab my friends 3. a combination of both. When heroin came along, I was beyond depressed. I was frequently contemplating the merits of running my car into a brick wall when those delicious powders came into my life.
Heroin probably saved my life. It gave me a purpose. An incredibly dysfunctional one, true, but a purpose. What would have REALLY saved me was some adequate mental health treatment to deal with both my depression and PTSD. These options were not available to me. I found something that seemed to work until the solution became a much larger problem. In dealing with the broader issue of opioid use, it seems like our policy makers are completely out of touch with the fact that drugs play an important role in the daily life of users. Not only do they feel good, they replace what is missing- love, food, security, and at times even health. In any attempt to prevent drug use or discontinue it, we have to be providing some kind of solutions.
I eventually got the care I needed many years later. I am proud to say I survived eight years of active heavy drug use. I am not embarrased by it. I get sad around some of the extremely poor choices I made but getting sad can't actually change a mother fucking thing. I have to put in some work around amending my behavior to not go down those roads again.
I love you friends.
I don't know why you are using.
I just want you to be safe.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Glass pipes with a rose in it for my gal
Graffiti on the sidewalk from a Pentel
The smell of rotten food on a hot summer day
Homeboy playing Parliament in his 49ers gear
The pigeons all gather for a piece of my tortilla
The ocean so cold, the train is so warm
The dealers ask me "que pasa mammi"
Fog rolls over the hills
I'm nodding in my friends(?) car
Cotton fever givin me chills
Antibiotics and a Nestle quik chaser
I tried to call home but you didn't answer
I tried to fall in love but I have nothing to offer
I have this room and you have a clean outfit
Tap on my shoulder while I pick at my skin
I read a book by William S Burroughs.
I'm the authority on vices and sins.
Let's go record shopping while it's still ironic.
I'll be RIGHT back with your money. 3,2,1,...
A pack of Newports and a dream please
A Mountain Dew to swallow my lies
My blue eyes pinned to the wall behind me
An alcohol wipe to scrub you out of my life
The City I Love
RIP TO THE ONE AND ONLY STAK.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
"Dude," my friend yells as she tries to fan the smell away from his nose "how can a person live like that?" He takes a sip of his coffee, a watered down hazelnut blend. It is hot, steaming up his broken glasses. The arm no longer exists on the right side. His ego has given way to a utilitarian desire to see.
I point to the clock "that dude is waiting until the liquor store opens at six am. He probably passed out before he could hit the store before they stopped selling..." I try not to look at the man and his predicament. It can't avert my eyes from the wet stain on the back of his pants.
He continues "that dude...that dude is fucked..."
I chuckle to myself. THAT dude is fucked. We are sitting in this donut shop because neither one of us have a place to stay tonight. We are pooling our money to split a gram from the only connect who will come out this late. This mfer has an abscess so ripe, I can smell it across the table. I haven't had a period or a phone call to my family in over six months. Both of us are so sick, we can't finish a pastry, which would be the only thing we ate today if we could actually eat. I touched a dick for my money, he stole from a mom and pop store while they followed him out into the street screaming. Yeah. THAT dude is fucked. Not us.
As the old drunk walks past me to hit the door, we briefly lock eyes. How did he get to this place? How did I get to this place? "You got a cigarette?" he asks me. I honestly don't smoke. As he shuffles out, killing time, I push my food into another circle waiting for my own sweet relief to arrive.
I am kind of a crazy cat lady. I have a dog too. She is great, just 13 1/2 so she sleeps all day.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
OH HOW I WISH YOU WERE HERE. There was a time when we promised each other that our love would last- forever? Forever wasn't really that long ago baby, was it? As soon as I pulled that needle out of my skin, all the hellos in the world could not feel as good as this. You kissed me on my dry lips. I swore that I would never do it again (again and again and again). I am better off without you, I tell myself as I think about you walking away with someone else.
I wasn't born a junkie. What made me this way? Was it the vampire that made me- another lost soul that didn't want to experience death alone. They turned me out into the cold cruel reality of love in thirty units. It manifested into fifty now, eighty on a good day. Add the water, draw up the universe and pray this gets me. We are all interconnected through the brotherhood of the traveling spoon, of the constipation, the tiny pupils, the friendly discourse that comes as we wait on the same dealer. Of the artists without a canvas, the musicians with their equipment in pawn, and the frail kid in long sleeves serving cocktails so he can get a fix with his hard earned tips.
I wasn't born a junkie.
I don't need to die as one, either.
As long as the breath goes in and out, I have the capacity to change.
I am sitting here drinking a soy latte next to my cat in the house that I own, on the computer I just bought, and I'm sober. Things can change.
Below is me getting my mic for a feature on CNN on naloxone care packages.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
He has currently logged seven weeks clean.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
There was a point in my life when every cent went to dope. Every fucking cent. I would sit on the sidewalk when my hustle was weak. I would beg for change (fuck some food) to scrape up enough money for a bag that I knew would do nothing but barely get the sick off. Then I would have to do it all over again. Work was completely out of the question when your habit is THIS BIG. It also would take me 1-2 hour on occasion to find a usable vein. Using was an all encompassing endeavor. This isn't every one's story. This is just my story.
Enter into my life a friend. Now, dear readers, we all know how isolated your average opioid user is, even if they are sober. I am not sure what it is about our taste for the opioids but we are an intelligent bunch that tends to run on the sensitive loner side. How many of us like to read books more than go out or watch a good movie over deal with people. We struggle with the outside world. For many of us, opioids are the initial lubricant for socialization that spirals into never leaving our rooms. At many years "clean" or whatever the term you want to use it, I did not think I would meet a new friend. My friends have died/left/moved relapsed. I thought that game was over. I was wrong.
I made a friend ( a few in fact) at 46 years old when I took the plunge, left my insulated over scheduled world last year. I went on book events for "The Big Fix". I spoke about harm reduction. I got out of my shell. It was scary as fuck but I did it. I got to meet some of y'all around the country. It was lovely. It was inspiring. It changed me. I did not want to be caught in the social isolation bubble again.
Fast forward to yesterday. I went with my best friend to get lobster rolls and see a movie. Seems simple but to be in a place in my life where I can not only do whatever the fuck I want (within reason) because I am not using and have the money AND be able to do that with another human is pretty monumental. For him as well. It was kind of magical really. What was more magical was walking through the city we both love without having to cop anything beside a slurpee.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Sunday, July 9, 2017
Monday, July 3, 2017
Thinking about the last time I saw your face.
I start a text. It says "I love you".
I quickly fumble for the backspace.
I can see you when I close my eyes.
I can feel you deliberately brush my arm.
"Try it" you said. "Trust me" you said.
You're so beautiful to me. What's the harm.
I smell you in my t-shirt when I'm sick,
I taste the salt from your cheek on my lips.
I breathe you in as all my "reasons" slip away,
Here's my last crumpled twenty spot,
Get us another shot,
Promise me you'll stay.
Friday, June 30, 2017
As I head in the opposite direction, my heart briefly sinks into my Sambas wondering if I can find the strength to hold back the tears that claw at the back of my eyes. I slide down the wall until I smell the piss before I see it. A pool underneath the railing telling me this is no place for me to wait for prince charming to appear. There are no princes. There are no heroes in this life. There are only moments when I know I am doing what I need to do and emotions that boil in my insides telling me to get out. There is a breeze in the tunnel telling me that I can get away from this place. You were already gone before you even got here- a shadow of the person I once knew.
Friday, June 23, 2017
I'm lying on my bed under three different types of blankets. The window is slightly open so the sea breeze can creep across my exposed ankles. I feel nothing. I feel everything. At the same time. I am not sure why my life feels so empty when you arent around. There is a whole, as large as my imagination, picturing you here with me. There is a burning in my brain. It stings with the memory of what it would feel like to have you inside of me. You aren't a lover. You are my drug. I love you despite your abuse. I can't quit you.
I can't go on with you.
I can't go on without you.
Taste the blood.
I bite my tongue in desperation.
Switching from side to side to side.
I cry inside my pillow.
Kicking you one more time.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
There is this huge myth that getting off drugs is the solution to all of your problems. HAHA. Not even fucking close. Getting off drugs is a solution to a subset of your problems. When you quit opioids, it might fix your orgasm issues. You might be able to poop daily. You might not go to jail, get abscesses, overdose, a heart infection, or spend all over your money on little powders and pills. Getting off drugs does not make that girl/boy love you. It will not make people forgive you. It will not fix the fact that people are still peopley and somewhat scary. It won't fix your social anxiety. Don't hate me for telling the truth. It takes some work on your end.
You know what else is work? Sucking dick while you are dopesick. Working a nine to five while supporting a habit. Remembering all the lies you have told. Missing family functions while you wait for the dealer who is eight hours late. Stealing from stores. Middlemanning for people who truly hate you. Going to the pawn shop. Breaking all your "nevers". Being sick for twelve hours, then buying baking soda bunk dope, then having to hustle all over again. THAT IS A TON OF FUCKING WORK.
My children had their own version of fight club this morning. While I was getting dressed for work, they started beating the living crap out of each other. While I packed the lunches, this started up again. "BUT HEY KIDS- I'M NOT SHOOTING DOPE". They do not give two fucks about this (well they do but not in this case). They needed me to get in there, break them up, figure out what the issue was, and get them on their way. Just like you do. You need to stop beating yourself up, sort a few things out, and get on your way.
I love all you friends. I understand the struggle. I understand your fears. I honestly, truly want you to be happy. I want you to have the whole picture. My life is not perfect but it is pretty fucking okay. Be safe.
I was hiding in the kids' room earlier. They found me.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
No. Not this time. That isn't one of my children. The cries of my children are generally followed up with a second set of cries indicating one child has decided to violently charge the other to avenge whatever caused the first set of tears.
My friend and I have dragged our lawn chairs closer to the field. We are pretending to watch the nine year old compete in this game of chance known as youth athletics. Mostly, we are happy to spend some time together. With jobs(mine) and relationships (his), we don't get to see each other that often. There is a certain comfort in having a friend that understands what it is like to shoot dope then try to transition into a "normal" life. His recent relapse has reminded me how fragile the line between sobriety and insanity is on a daily basis. The last time I saw him, he was high as fuck. I had to admit I was more than a little jealous at the time. It had been a long long time since I had been so close to that eyes rolling back in your head feeling. Now, newly detoxed, we are trying to spend a few hours to catch up on the months that were squeezed into a couple weeks of using.
"Have you ever been sick enough to shit your pants?" I asked in between watching pitches.
He looks at me as if I asked him if he has ever killed a pet. "NOOOOOOOOOO" he blurts out, grabbing his neck in a semi pearl clutching gesture. He rolls his eyes "Have you?"
He starts waving his hands with the c'mon with the story motion. I look around to make sure none of the other parents are close by. Okay, I'm game let's go.
One day in particular, I was sick so a friend convinced me to do some coke. I hated coke- but do you have some? You know how we are. Anyway- I was selling the Chivah, the shitty stuff all up with coffee etc that the low level Mexican cartel guys would front me. ANYWAY- I was all nestled in my room so I took the balloons out of my mouth. If all sold all the dope, the would throw me free coke. I thought hey, what a gift. I realize now it was so I would sell dope all day and all night for them. I invited some fuckwit up to my room 'cause I did want to do my shit alone. But there was a problem, when I did my uptown, I was so sure I was going to fucking die but I was paranoid, too"
"DUDE", my friend injects.
Exactly, dude is right.
My friend nods at me. "I like where this story is headed", he tells me. We giggle like two school girls with lots of tattoos.
Stop me if this story is too gross for you look. Silence. I continue
I get my narrow junkie ass on top of that sink. I do what we do. Except that mfing thing is the entire length of the colon. I have now delivered a five pound chinga babe. A dry grey stool without a single drop of moisture. I felt liberated from the cement oppressor that had been weighing me down. I shit in the sink and threw it out the window. Then I wiped my hands with alcohol pads cause yeah that is sterile. And fuckity fuck, that's my story. I'm sticking to it."
There is an awkward pause then we both laugh hysterically. We are laughing at us, who we are, the life we lead, the things we do. I pass him my Gatorade as we both shake our heads in recognition. My son asks to sit on my lap. I happily oblige him. As I sit at the game with my kids, my past, and my best friend in the world, my life feels complete again. I am content in the recognition that I am not in that place today. The only hits I have today came from my daughter in the third inning.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
When I make these posts on reddit or my personal blog, decision makers are reading them. They want to know what we are thinking. They just don't ask us directly. If you have ideas, please feel free to post them. I will continue to pass them on.
We need our voices to be heard, not just just read.
I love you. Be safe.
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Also thank you for all the birthday wishes!