Archives For Drug addiction

 

It was 102 degrees the day the air conditioning crapped out on our tour bus. Mid August, somewhere between West Virginia and North Carolina.

20 writers trapped on a scorching hot bus. We drank to block out the oppressive heat. We were off the next day, so we showed no restraint. Not that we ever showed the slenderest thread of restraint.

It was the 90’s. We were in our 20’s. Do the math.

 

In the mid-90’s, spoken word poetry was HOT. The in-your-face nature of it, attacking gender, racial and economic social inequity, was perfect for that time. Which is why Perry Farrell decided to add a Third Stage to Lollapalooza for spoken word.

 

Slam Poetry

Slam Poetry is spoken word on steroids. A brutal poetry competition where judges quantify your talent with numbers on cardboard signs.

The New York City slam venue was a ruthless arena. You were heckled mercilessly the minute you stepped on stage, and if you wanted to stay on, you’d better be good.

I was.

Skinny little girl with a big fat mouth. I was featured in a documentary about the NYC slam scene and won a highly coveted spot on that ‘94 tour.

 

Lolla’s 1994 lineup was stellar. Nirvana. Green Day. Beastie Boys. George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars. Cypress Hill. A Tribe Called Quest.

In April, Kurt Cobain put a shotgun to his head, and Nirvana was replaced by The Smashing Pumpkins.

A massive let down.

 

Tequila at Twelve

We opened the Third Stage at noon, blasting War’s “Low Rider.” I got things going, dancing onstage in my Lolla uniform, daisy dukes and combat boots. By 12:30, I was pouring bottom shelf tequila into the mouths of teenage babes from the jug I kept behind the sound booth.

We performed several sets of poetry a day. Our teen audience, enraptured by the spoken word scene, stalked us between sets, asking for autographs. It was heady stuff.

 

The downside was, the Third Stage was sponsored by MTV. We were expected to run moronic crowd participation skits, like “The Dating Game” and “Oprahpalooza.”  As our youthful rebellious response to the commercialism of MTV we decided to jack up the skits.

 

Girl-on-Girl Porn

I ran the Dating Game.

I’d pick an extremely hot, intoxicated Lolita to be the “Bachelorette” on stage, along with three guys. Right before she chose one, I’d yell, “Forget these losers! Pick ME!”

Then I’d start making out with her. I had a built-in radar that always found a girl who dug it. We’d end up rolling around on the stage, grinding and groping each other while the audience went completely bat shit crazy.

Word got around that there was live girl-on-girl porn on the Third Stage at 4:00. By mid-summer, it was one of the hottest tickets on the tour.

Thank God there were no responsible adults around.

 

 

 

Rock Stars and Poets and Bears, Oh My

The cool thing about Lollapalooza is that everyone, musicians, roadies and poets, milled about backstage together, ate together, partied together. Gradually, most of the musicans came to the Third Stage to check us out. As the tour wore on, some of us collaborated. A horn player from Parliament Funkadelic dug me and my poetry. He would come to the Third Stage to accompany my performances.

The dark, rich sounds of his trumpet wove around my words, letting the audience feel both the story in my poetry, and the story of how he and I felt about each other. Those seductive, late afternoon renditions of my spoken word were the pinnacle of my performing career.

For many, for most, it was the summer of love.

 

Okay. It was a total fuck fest.

On tour, everyone’s single. You never knew which musician would wake up on our bus, crawling out of the coffin-like sleep bunks. I won’t name names. I’m a star-fucker, not a name-dropper.

 

 

Some of my favorite tour moments took place after we closed the third stage at 6:00.

Every evening, I raced across the venue to Main stage to catch Parliment Funkadelic and worship at the altar of George Clinton. Clinton was an icon who dominated my R&B project girl childhood. I don’t get stupid about musicians, but I’d watch the P. Funk All Stars from backstage and fangirl the fuck out.

 

After, we’d, head to the Beastie Boys’ trailer where they set up a basketball court outside and played as their pre-show warm up. My horn player played against them every night. The Beastie’s were dope white boys from Queens, and I was fond of them, but I took perverse pleasure in watching my horn player stomp their asses across the court.

We drove through the night to the next city. No showers, no sleep, no exercise, no healthy food. Touring was grueling, so we bolstered ourselves with alcohol and drugs. We only checked into a hotel if we played the same city for more than a day. Then we had the luxury of a shower, but still, no one slept. With all of us set loose at a hotel for the night, neither did any of the other guests.

I chronicled the tour by talking into a hand-held tape recorder which I carried with me everywhere. I have the entire experience on tape. I recently moved, and unearthed the whole collection of cassettes.

I can’t bear to listen to them.

 

Returning Hero

I came back to New York victorious.

Clips from interviews and performances had been splattered across MTV. We had crossed over, melded performance poetry with rock and roll.

One MTV news clip was 10 seconds of me, my flaming red, 90’s hair bigger than my body, standing on the Beastie’s basketball court. All full of myself, and lots of tequila, I proclaimed “Spoken word is ROCK AND ROLL POETRY!” At the moment, my horn player stole the ball from Ad-Roc and made a running layup, and I screamed, “That’s what I’m TALKING about!”

It was played repeatedly.

I had offers to do articles. Books. I had performances scheduled. My phone rang incessantly. Managers wanted me. Agents wanted me.

Unfortunately-

I had acquired a bad habit. Without the tour, without the whole carnival of lights, sound and music…

My 10 seconds of fame so overwhelming, I could not handle it…

Or knew I couldn’t sustain it?

Something.

I lost myself.

 

I missed deadlines. Blew off performances, or showed up so high on smack, I’d stumble through a shit show and think I was spectacular.

I pulled the phone out of the wall, for days at a time. Heroin makes you antisocial.

A popular female journalist (I’m not going to say her name; she’s still around) interviewed me for a downtown New York City weekly newspaper (yes, that one). I showed up high, junkie girlfriend in tow. To the bemusement of the journalist, we spent the interview nodding off, waking up to bicker about my writing, the meaning of art, and who used up the last of our drugs.

The photographer snapped a picture of me asleep at the café table, coffee cup raised to my lips. Instead of writing about the spoken word movement, the journalist focused on downtown druggie nihilism masquerading as art. She made me the poster child for 1990’s drug-addled self-sabotage in a hatchet piece called “How to Destroy Your Writing Career.”

They never ran that story. I faded, mercifully, into obscurity.

 

Most of the poets I knew from that tour are successful writers.

I never discuss it. People who know me today don’t even know it ever happened.

Maybe it didn’t.

 

 

When I first wrote this story in 2013, I ended it with an homage to the genius of Kurt Cobain. I quoted “All Apologies” and loftily asserted that I needed to forgive myself for squandering my opportunity.

Five years later, I see the truth. The story that journalist wrote IS my story. I am a master of self sabotage. I fear success more than failure.

There is nothing else in the world that I want to do more than write, yet it brings up every fear I have about not being good enough.

I wrote an essay about mental illness, and when I was honored for that essay at a writing conference, I was ironically so anxiety-ridden I never left my hotel room.

Paradoxically, I see myself as both magnificent and inadequate. If I achieve any level of success as a writer, it creates such cognitive dissonance that I need to massage my psyche back into alignment with drugs, with sex, with bad decisions.

I am the Queen of Bad Decisions – I may go down, but it will be in beautiful fiery flames of my own making. I get to control my own failure, rather than let it blindside me.

The book that lives inside me goes unwritten. Surely I would be exposed to the writing community as a fake. The belief that I am a fraud is called Imposter Syndrome. It (along with massive Daddy Issues) has bought my therapist her beach house, but I’m certain it will be rooted in me until the day I die.

 

Here I feel safe. Here, I have a small, fiercely devoted group of followers, and your love for me and my words does not scare me. It’s a sweet miracle that every time I hit “Publish,” there you are.

Thank you.

Talk to me.
All this self-awareness has given me a giant migraine, but I’m listening.

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I’m 5 minutes into a conversation with a woman who works as a hospice nurse when I realize my life has no purpose.

I’ve spent my life trying to create meaning from brokenness. Smash the mirror and the shards reflect rainbows. I’ve told my stories; I’ve birthed a child and made a home; I’ve cleaned bathrooms at the Statue of Liberty; I’ve used up at least 7 of my 9 lives but nothing I’ve accomplished rivals her love for the dying.

I was three when my father died. All I remember of him are pancakes shaped like Supergirl and the day police came to the door to tell my mother he was dead. “Oh, you have the wrong family,” she laughed, with her gravelly cigarette-flavored laugh. A laugh borne of desperation because who dies at 46 and leaves his wife with six kids? My mother wept and wept and then I was sent away to a group home to live.

I learned early how to go away in my head when people did things I didn’t like.

Seven months, two weeks and five days ago I took my last pill. “Fame, puts you there where things are hollow.” I am fameless, yet I live in that hollow place.

I’ve lost the one true love of my life. Opiates stoked the chemical blaze in my brain that told me the world was amazing. Nothing feels right, because nothing feels.

Wake up. Think about pills. Get ready for bed, think about pills. I double cleanse my skin, layering on serums and lotions and think about pills, bribe myself by saying this is self-care, this is MY time, but who really owns time? I’d like to have a talk with that motherfucker about letting the last couple of decades go by without me having achieved anything worthwhile.

My ex and I are splitting custody of my son this summer. We live so far from one another that I am spending my summer on the Garden State Parkway.

I used to love driving. I was a road warrior, a travel mug and ear-splitting music my shield and javelin. I could drive forever listening to Lenny Kravitz’s saxophone oozing out of my speakers like slow brown honey. This blistering summer, driving feels like a punishment for me AND the highway. My tires pummel miles of desiccated asphalt relentlessly.

Another brutally hot summer, my eighth, I was sent away to Camp Rainbow, a broken mirror of a place with a cheery subterfuge of a name. It was a camp for troubled children.

Was I troubled? What troubled me was having my waterfall of cascading red curls shorn into an ugly pixie cut. My mother saved the ponytail for years. Eventually my hair grew back, but in a tumbleweed of  unruly curls that jutted out from my head in a frizzy pyramid. The only remnant I had of those silky red waves was encased in a thick plastic bag.

Without the velvet cushioned rabbit hole of opiates, I have no interest in anything. Destroy the dopamine neurons in rats and they’ll starve to death, even with food right in front of them.

I can’t write. The only thing I want to write about is this, and I don’t want to write about it. Peel back the layers to find what? One doesn’t don’t peel layers of onion expecting to find gold. There is only more onion.

Eventually my oldest brother extricated me from that group home. In the year I spent there, I learned that trust is not a thing and abuse masquerades as love. True enough, I was rescued, but my story was of imprisonment, not rescue.

After that, I carried around a blistering orange sandstorm of rage that my small body could barely contain.

I know why the rescue dog bites.

Sea salt, tomato sauce, protein powder, brown sugar – I reorganize the pantry and think about pills. Later, he’ll ask “where’s the protein powder?” and I won’t remember. It was in the doing, not the thing itself. This is a kitchen meditation performed so I won’t vacuum my car and search for pills.

He’s a good man. But I watch him through eyes that belong to this new person, this woman who goes to sleep at 8 pm because being awake hurts.

He is sturdy, both in mind and body. He is earthy and rooted; the perfect yin to my dreamer yang, he of the melting guitar solos and rustic house by the bay and this would be an idyllic summer if only I could feel it.

I can’t feel my life.

There are pictures to prove it exists; at least fifty the day of my son’s 8th grade graduation. What is left now? How can he be a character in my story, now that he’s telling his own? What else can I give him aside from a deeply dysfunctional childhood?

I only hope it will make you funny, and compassionate. ‘Adversity builds character,’ I say, but what else is left to say when the house is gone?

There are amends to be made, mostly to me. I’ve squandered myself feeling excessively and numbing it to survive. This great Empty is not the selective numbing of drugs. Opiates barricade against pain while simultaneously allowing angels from heaven to kiss your brain.

This is nothingness. This is flat line.

The latest narrative of trendy personal transformation is that we are the masters of our own destiny. What first world arrogance it is, to claim that we alone are responsible for our own stories! New age frivolity has tricked us into believing that we are the average of people we spend time with. As if the nuances of spirit, essence, energy and inclinations are mathematical things.

Some of our stories are contracts with God, written before we have a chance to tell them. Long before I learned the meaning of the word “innocence” I had already lost mine.

For years I kept my addiction private, like a small secret talisman I carried around in my pocket for good luck. Now I need to loosen the choke hold it has on my life. I share this story as a chemist, hoping to dilute its concentration and in doing so, create a new solution.

When I do feel, it’s anger. The stigma attached to my addiction has devoured me from the inside out. Why are women permitted – encouraged, actually – to be impaired,  as long as it’s from alcohol? The boozy, wine-soaked mom is a tiresome social media trope. Where are the memes playfully celebrating mothers who pop Oxy?

I’m no longer ashamed of my addiction, nor do I judge those addicted to food, love, religion, sex, exercise, status, material possessions. You’re no doubt reading this on a smart phone you’re addicted to.

It’s inevitable. We have no chance against the science used to ensnare us in our own impulses, trapping us in the dopamine loop of mindless consumption. An individualized mass psychosis as a response to being human in a toxic world.

What is left to believe in? To whom do the faithless pray?

There must be something. It is a beautiful accident that we even exist; that billions of years ago fiery, chaotic forces swirled through empty space and formed our planet. Somewhere between the poles of life and death exists hope.

The story I tell now is of time, and numbers, and counting. It’s been seven months, two weeks and five days since I last used.

One day at a time.

One hour at a time.

One minute at a time.

Tick. Tock.

Talk to me. 
I’m listening. 

Join me on Facebook, so I can have friends without leaving the house.

Good Time

April 29, 2015 — 121 Comments

shooting gallery 2

I’m king of this blood-haunted room,

Grand marshal over the endless parade of junkies, thugs and whores waiting to be immunized against their sad life stories

 

Cops crawl the streets like flies on shit and fiends need to bang their dope quick, don’t need to get popped holding a dime bag

They need a place to shoot, a sheltered squat with a stash of needles, where other dope fiends can help them hit a closed up vein

So they come here cause it’s close; cause they too sick to make it home or cause they just can’t wait

They come here for a good time

 

We the best shooting gallery down town,

Boneman, Double D and me run the place and we sell new needles for 2 bucks and bleach if you wanna clean your own

Stupid ass junkies be sharing shit and injecting each other with death,

sharing the lethal hardware of contaminated needles

 

Dope fiends always on the hustle, always on the grind, steal and sell their mama’s radio and forge her welfare check

I don’t need no fucking hustle, I make mad bank off these crack heads,

2 dollars to get in, 2 dollars for a clean needle, and all the pussy I want

Bitches come in sick, slogging through trash heaps out front, climb the rickety steps into this burned out hollow of a house

Crying and moaning they ain’t got no money and I give ’em a taste after they suck my dick

 

I won’t do no dope, I smoke herb but I ain’t about no junkie life

so I always have plenty, bitches come here knowing they can trade pussy for junk

Boneman wishes he could get pussy like I do, but he’s a dumb junkie hisself,

He lives here, his soul drained away through the tiny holes in his veins

His bed a moldy cot in a ratty gallery.

 

But tonight me and Double D getting all the pussy we want,

Tonight, we are KINGS

This is our palace, gouged walls, charred beams,

Dirty bedsheets hung over what once were windows.

Outside, trade in crack and dope busts the streets as wide open as a carnival midway,

50 dealers walk up and down, ten dollar bags in their socks,

Inside, candlelight distorted human shadows huddle together next to grimy walls,

“Cooker friends,” in solidarity for a moment over glassine packets of powder and a bottle cap,

and some bitch wrapped in blackened rags moans on a dirty mattress.

 

Tonight, they all here for a good time

 

Later I’ll go home and find mom passed out in her own piss;

an empty Colt 45 bottle rolling by her side and a Hi Point 9 mm under her pillow

My mom and her fucking men; the parade of drunken scumbags who came in and out of our lives, who came in and out of me

The one who fucked me when mom left to get scratch offs, smokes and a 40 down the block;

she’d come back and hear me crying, ass split and

let it go on a whole year cause he made good money running numbers

 

She was wasted drunk the day Julius fell out the window

My baby brother J was leaning against the screen and

people said mom was too drunk to pull him away from a loose screen

but it wasn’t

The morgue doctor saw the hole in his brain; a clean shot, a stray bullet from a playground shoot out caught him in the head and

He fell hard against that screen.

Already dead.

Still, he had no business up against that window watching gang gunfire,

And I hope to god I catch my mom without her Hi Point one night cause I would like to kill her in her sleep,

slam a pipe down on her skull and spill her ugly brains onto the pillow

 

But tonight we having a good time

 

Fucking dope fiend bitches coming in here like crazy tonight, sick and moaning and broke, and I fuck them and throw a five dollar bag at them

And the men look at me with hollow eyes

Wasted and ruined, breathing in urban grief like it was oxygen

One lame ass fool is whining that his works is too dull; he can’t get a clean shot and he

pushes it against his thick neck, wincing in pain

A trickle a blood runs down his throat, twisting like a river on a map

A map he uses to find the shortcut to death

 

Outside I ain’t nobody, I ain’t SHIT

but I got JUICE in here

If a white bitch come in here, Me and Double D, we both fuck her

White pussy don’t come in but once or twice a month

 

So this skinny white red-head bitch shows up,

I seen her before, little east village punk bitch,

She don’t smell nasty like the others, like piss and dead dreams. Her clothes is clean

She talks different too, like she finished high school.

I woulda finished high school too if I was a skinny white snooty bitch and she sound like she even went to college, yeah, she one of them community college cunts.

She smile at me, and I know she don’t mean ‘hello.’

She means ‘look at you, you dumbass nigger, working with dope fiends all day you ain’t never gonna be as good as me cause I’m WHITE’

She think she all that

She don’t need no money, she straight

But I’m gonna fuck this bitch anyway, who the FUCK she think she is?!

She ain’t better than NOBODY

She just a dumb ass dope fiend whore like the rest of ’em

 

I grab her arm and she turn around, eyes big, and she starts to pull away and I punch her face and stomach, HARD

Pull her over to the mattress and she try and crawl in between the mattress and the wall and I pull her hair, jerk her head so hard that I rip handfuls of red hair out her head

She screaming so I keep ripping red hair out her head, mixed with red blood, blood everywhere, her face, her scalp and I feel like an INDIAN scalping this crazy white bitch!

She just laying there, not even crying so

I fuck her hard and come all up inside her, I hope I leave little black babies in this bitch

But she look like she going away in her head someplace

Look at me when I fuck you!

LOOK AT ME BITCH!

I punch her face hard again so she knows who’s fucking her but her head turns up this time and my ring catches her SPLAT!  on her chin

Bust her chin wide open, wide, like my brother’s eyes when he fell 12 stories, wide as the Hudson river where we dump the bodies that OD

DAMN her face is split, blood and torn skin where her chin used to be, and that is gonna leave a nice fucking scar,

YEAH!

She gonna have a big-ass train track scar under her chin,

For the rest of her life, and

20 years from now she’s gonna be driving down the FDR drive, take the Houston street exit,

and pass by here.

Only it ain’t a shooting gallery no more, it’s a motherfucking yogurt shop

but she gonna pass it by and remember

Lift up her hand to feel that bumpy jagged scar

and remember this night

when she came in here and

we had a good time.

 

 

Talk to me. I’m listening.

heroin 2

I snapped a picture of my surroundings and sent it to him, so somebody would know where I was.

“Pretty,” he said. “Where is that?”

“Downtown Newark.”

Downtown Newark, New Jersey is anything but pretty, but nighttime hides a multitude of sins.

“Are you going to score?”

“Yes” I  texted.

“Don’t be a dumbass” he responded.

“If you don’t hear from me in an hour-there’s a problem.”

 

An hour later, the most magnificent church bells rang in my soul as I bathed in the warm golden sunshine of a perfect life.

 

I was jolted out of my reverie by an obnoxious beeping.

It it was coming from my phone. I squinted, got a closer look.

7:45? AM?? Fuck. I’m usually up at 6:30. Get my kid up at 7.

My heart, thudding in my chest, slowed a bit when I recognized the reassuring sounds of his spoon clinking against his bowl of cereal.

I splashed cold water on my face. I was pale except the dark purple circles under my eyes. My hair was matted to my head from sweating profusely. I had a set of scratches on both arms.

I looked like a junkie.

If the shoe fits…

My kid was sitting at the table, eating his breakfast and looking at his tablet. I’ve taught him to be independent in the morning. But not so I can sleep off a dope nod.

“Baby, why didn’t you get me up?”

He shrugged. “Don’t sweat it. Can you make my lunch?”

He didn’t say anything about me wearing yesterday’s clothes. He couldn’t smell the dried vomit on my shirt. I opened the refrigerator door and the light hurt my eyes. Slowly, with shaky hands, I made his lunch.

Mother of the year

This is the last time I get high.

—-

NYC, April 1995

“Where have you been?” I looked up sleepily at Debby. It was 5 am and she had just let herself back into my apartment.

“I couldn’t sleep. I went to cop. You want me to fix you?”

“What day is it?” I looked at the calendar. “No. It’s Tuesday, right? I work today.”

I watched her prep her fix. I loved watching her beautiful, delicate hands do this. Her skilled fingers, the neat flick of her wrist – raised prepping a dope fix to an art form.

“Frenchie just got this in. This shit is supposed to be fire.”

She dumped the contents of her packet into a spoon, flicking at the small plastic packet until all the power tumbled out.

She added a small amount of water to the dope, making it the perfect consistency. She held a lighter to the bottom of the spoon, cooking the mixture to the optimum temperature. She always got it right – hot enough to burn off some of the cut in the dope – but never so hot that it damaged the heroin.

She twisted the cotton off the end of a Q- tip into a tic-tac sized ball. She dropped the tiny puff into the heroin and it swelled up like a sponge. She pushed the tip of the syringe into the center of the cotton, which filtered out impurities.

Slowly, she retracted the plunger until all of the heroin was sucked in.

Using her index and middle fingers she gently slapped a vein right above the crook of her elbow. She never had to pull back the plunger, like most junkies did, to draw blood up the syringe and make sure she was in a vein.

She never missed.

I watched her eyes take on that faraway look of exquisite pleasure, as her brain rode the waves of that first rush. Her facial muscles slackened, her body swayed. She looked at me and smiled.

“I’m…so…high…”

Those were her last words.

 

Her eyes rolled back in her head. She slumped to the floor. Her lips turned blue, then purple.

All in slow motion.

I did nothing. I was paralyzed with fear. I could not bring myself to touch her. I called 911 and babbled hysterically.

I could actually see a faint pulse throbbing irregularly in her throat. Her breathing was shallow. Her skin was the yellow color of cafeteria cheese.

She was dying.

She was dying, and I couldn’t bear to watch it.

I ran out of my apartment and stumbled out onto the street. I had on no coat or shoes, and even though it was mid-April, it was only a raw, cold 40 degrees. I ran through the streets barefoot, wild and desperate, going nowhere.

The police and EMT workers arrived 11 minutes after I called 911. The 5th precinct was only 8 short city blocks away. But an overdose, on the Lower East Side? That’s how you clean up the streets. Human pesticide, as far as the police were concerned.

By the time we all got inside my apartment, Debby was dead.

 

A memorial service was held for Debby at St. Marks Church in the Bowery, the second oldest church in New York and a legendary performance space. Debby knew everyone, and everyone knew Debby.

Her memorial service was standing room only. Several of NYC’s leading punk musicians unplugged and performed acoustic songs.

Debby had introduced me to rock stars and gangsters, and heroin and lesbianism. She was the first and only woman I ever fell deeply in love with.

I wrote a spoken word poem, dedicated to her memory, and performed it at her memorial service.

It was the last time I ever performed spoken word in front of a live audience.

 

After the service I copped several dime bags of smack down on Clinton Street.

My boyfriend’s face, when he saw them, darkened with rage. He snatched the packets off the table.

“What?!” I demanded. “WHAT?? This is the last time I get high!”

Apparently not. He flushed the drugs down the toilet. He snapped my works in half and threw the pieces out of the window.

I kicked heroin cold turkey. There was no money for fancy rehab.

The plan was simple. My boyfriend would not let me leave the house.

The withdrawal was not so simple.

I had excruciating pain in every muscle of my body. For three days, I threw up violently, and had horrible bouts of diarrhea. I was weak and dehydrated but couldn’t keep food down. I suffered with severe flu-like symptoms; sneezing and sniffling and dizziness and fever. Sweat poured off of me constantly; I was dangerously dehydrated. Sleep would have been a welcome relief, but there was no way I could fall asleep. I had frightening visual and auditory hallucinations.

By the second day, my boyfriend had to call both his brother and his cousin – who played in a band with him – for reinforcements. It took THREE GROWN MEN to keep me inside that apartment and away from my dealers.

I turned into a snarling, cursing beast. In between raging bouts of excruciating pain and illness, I fought them with the strength of 10 men.

My boyfriend’s brother was a recovered heroin addict. I sobbed uncontrollably to him and said,
”This is what it feels like to DIE.”

He answered, “NO. This is what it feels like to LIVE.”

 

By the third night I was drained and exhausted, and managed to fall asleep at dawn for a few hours.

I awoke Sunday morning. My muscles had stopped spasming in pain.

My boyfriend pulled back the shades that had been drawn for days.
“Let’s get some air in here,” he said.

He opened the large casement windows. Just then, in the distance, church bells began to chime.

It sounded like life.

It was Easter Sunday morning. And like Jesus, I had risen from the dead.

All these years later, and sadness throbs through my body.

There is a price to pay for feeling broken.

I’m aware of how I’m perceived, but I can’t feel it.

Heroin renders me immortal. I am what all humans seek through religion and spirituality.

On heroin, I am my vision of myself.

I’m socially adept, moving fluidly among others instead of hiding in my room.

I’m the writer who inspires, rather than constantly crawling through the wreckage of her squandered life.

I’m a woman capable of love; of intimacy and relationships. Not someone who lets no one get close.

I’m the mother my child deserves, not the one who’s exhausted and impatient and irritable.
Not the selfish bitch who risked her life to get a fucking fix.

 

This is the LAST time I get high.

This IS the last time I get high.

THIS. Is the last time I get high.

 

What is, or was, your drug of choice? What finally made you stop?
Did you ever write a post you just weren’t sure you should write, but you did anyway?
Are you tired of your problems? Are you tired of mine?

Talk to me. I’m listening.

This is the most simple, most perfect, most beautiful song about heroin addiction ever.

563291f

 

The first thing I did was Google what heroin stamp it was that killed Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I wanted to know. Not that I would recognize the name. The names are relevant to 2014, not 1994. “Obamacare,” “Call of Duty,” “Hangover Part 2.”

Heroin stamps are used by drug distribution crews to mark products. Each stamp represents a different quality of heroin; a different strain, a different high.

heroin_stamps

In case any of you are interested in heroin stamps

 

It was Ace of Hearts and Ace of Spades.

Next, I went online to the heroin community threads to see what the reviews were of these stamps. There are many sites devoted to the detailed analysis of every stamp existing, with rating systems like these:

City or state stamp was copped in:
Stamp name:
Stamp Color:
Stamp Graphic (if any):
Color and Consistency/texture of Product:
Quality/neatness of stamp and packaging:
Quantity of Product (1-10 scale):
Quality of Product (1-10 scale):
ROA: IV, intranasal/sniffed, smoked, etc.
Other comments (duration of high, any weird effects, is this a new batch of the same stamp, anything unusual about the dope, etc):

For the record:

I KNOW THESE THINGS BECAUSE I’M AN INFORMATION JUNKIE,

NOT A HEROIN JUNKIE.

I read about EVERYTHING.

There’s even a chick who has an entire blog devoted to analyzing stamp quality. I was just about to link it, but somehow, I just didn’t think that was a good idea.

I’m angry because the smack that killed Philip Seymour Hoffman, for several weeks now, has been flagged for containing a lethal mixture of heroin laced with fentanyl.

If he’d even been remotely aware of that, he’d be alive today, and three children would still have a father.

 

 

TOASTERS

true_west_cov

 

I’ve been an avid theater goer for as many years as I can remember. I was especially invested in seeing theater the years I lived in New York, and was a bartender and cocktail waitress in after hour clubs. an aspiring actress. I’ve seen hundreds of plays.

And Philip Seymour Hoffman gave me, perhaps, one of the most thrilling nights of theater I’ve ever witnessed. Top three, I would say.

In 2000, he starred in “True West,” written by iconic American playwright Sam Shepard.
It’s a raw and darkly comic story of two brothers who engage in a ferocious onstage battle of sibling rivalry.

And, because it’s family, no one wins.

What made this play something that had never been done before – was that these two actors had decided that on any given night – they would SWITCH ROLES.

This might not seem like a big deal. It was, in fact, groundbreaking.

As an actor, in order to be really good, you have to live and breathe a character.

You have to get inside his skin and embody his every thought, dream and desire, so by the time you get on that stage, there is not one false note.

There’s no room for a false note. There’s no director yelling, “Cut!” so you can try it again.

It’s LIVE. You’d better have it right. Otherwise, you just sound like you’re speaking empty words.

I know this because I have given mediocre performances that sounded like I was just talking. But every so often, the magic kicked in, and I gave a spectacular performance.

I breathed life into a character – and the audience breathed with me. It’s palpable. You know you’ve got it right, because your energy and theirs hum along together on an electric current that fuels you to greatness.

Just their faces on the Playbill cover made me want to see this

Just their faces on the Playbill cover made me want to see this

 

The characters in True West are as diametrically opposed as two characters can possible be. And the idea that the two actors – Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly – could actually do either role on any given night – was nothing short of SPECTACULAR.

It BLEW ME AWAY. It both inspired me as and actress – and, I’ll admit – completely humbled me.

Philip Seymour Hoffman OWNED that stage from the second he walked onto it.

And in my heart of hearts, I knew I would never, ever, ever be that good.

The play is always associated with toasters. Many, many toasters.

Austin, the younger brother (who was played by Hoffman the night I saw it) starts out as the hardworking, straight-laced younger brother.

By the second act, he has traded personalities with his thieving older brother, and has robbed the entire neighborhood of their toasters.

Shepard’s use of Austin’s complete and total satisfaction with his stolen toasters is the literal negation of the American Dream as defined in modern life.

He experiences WINNING – because he’s successful as a toaster thief.

Philip Seymour Hoffman went on to grace the Broadway stage with performances that were second to none. He was special to us – to New Yorkers. He graduated from NYU with a degree in theater. He lived here, right in the Village. Raised his children here.

He belonged to us.

And the night he died, the lights on Broadway were a little less bright.

true west stolen toasters

Do they even make toasters like this anymore?

 

 

 

 

Many of you are probably familiar with the movie “Almost Famous.”

almost famous

GREAT sunglasses

 

It came out the same year I saw True West.  it’s a coming of age film that follows a starry-eyed teenage rock writer on the road with one of the nation’s biggest up-and-coming bands.

It’s a beautifully written story of rock and roll, love, and of our own limitations.

The film has beautifully nuanced performances, and some unforgettable moments.

zooey01

“One day, you’ll be cool. Look under your bed. It will set you free.”

 

For me- unequivocably? It was Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of the late, great rock journalist Lester Bangs.

Lester Bangs wasn’t just a rock journalist – he was THE rock journalist.

There has never been a rock writer like him before, or since.

He was demonic, passionate, hilarious, irreverent cough-syrup fueled madman, who lived the rock and roll life while writing about it – and tragically, died a rock and roll death of a drug overdose, at 33.

I grew up in a music-dominated household. My older brothers all read Creem Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice.

And, because I was a nerd, I read all the magazines that were laying around the house. By the time I was my son’s age, I was reading (although not at all understanding) Lester Bang’s music reviews.

When I was older, long after Bangs was dead, I fully appreciated who he was. He didn’t just write about rock music.

He lived it, celebrating its excesses, drawing energy from the chaos, and matching its passion in prose that erupted from those magazines.

“Music, you know, true music, not just rock and roll, it chooses you, it lives in your car, or alone listening to your headphones with vast scenic bridges or angelic choirs in your brain. It’s a place apart from the vast benign lap of America.”

This is not rock journalism.

This is poetry.

Lester_Bangs

Yes, he was a Freaking Mess.

 

If you watch Lester Bangs on YouTube, you will see that Philip Seymour Hoffman captured the very essence of this man.

Is it any wonder that the best scenes of Almost Famous are the ones in which Hoffman portrays Lester Bangs?

The best line from Almost Famous is an actual quote of Lester Bangs.

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

The scene is just beautiful.

 

Philip Seymour Hoffman is gone. His three children have lost a father. The world has lost an amazing actor.

The silver lining in the dark cloud of the death of these two geniuses – is that they left indelible marks, and we get to revisit the genius of their work.

Simultaneously.

 

This is my favorite scene from “Almost Famous.”

 

 

Did you have a reaction to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death? 
Talk to me. I’m listening.