Monthly Archives: August 2014

Gotti and the Gun (Part 1)

Baltimore has two kinds of weather. It is ether brutally hot and humid, or freezing cold. This takes place on one of those freezing cold, bitter winter days.
Aaron and I were driving down Edmonson Avenue with our friend Steve. We were on our way to Jared’s pawn shop on Hilton to sell some boosted pharmaceuticals to get money to get well. As we were driving we saw our main crack dealer Gotti walking down the road. Now, getting ready at that moment was the furthest thing from any of our minds. Anyone with a dope habit will tell you that if you are ill (dope sick) the absolute LAST thing you want to do is smoke crack. It just kicks your withdraws into over drive. That being said though, being as it was like 10 degrees before the windchill we decided to see if Gotti needed a ride.
“Yeah. I just need to go to my girl’s on Wildwood”, he told us. Now, if you are going up Edmonson towards the village center, Wildwood is a two way, divided street. Coming down Edmonson, the way we were headed, and the side of Wildwood that he was going to, Wildwood was a one way coming down, dead-ending into Edmonson. This meant that we had to drive past it, turn up the next street and loop around.
Of course as Gotti is getting into my Cavalier, a cop drives by and hits the lights. “Shit!”, Gotti exclaims, “Don’t let them search the car, I’m dirty. Oh, and if they ask, my name is Pierre Lonfonze.” “Pierre Lonfonze?”, I ask incredulously. “Yeah.”
We pull over and the two cops, both white dudes, walk up to the car, one on each side. As soon as Aaron rolls down the window, the cop on his side points to Gotti, “You. Out.” Aaron lets out of the back of out two door car, and the cop closes the door. We watch as they pat Gotti down and talk to him. They write him his little pink ticket and send him off on foot. (In Baltimore if you are fucked with by the police for what they call a CDS investigation, and they do not arrest anyone, they write you a little receipt saying the officers name, your name, the date, time, street of the stop etc. I don’t know why they do this. I guess they have to hit some sort of weekly quota of how many people they fuck with.) as we were sitting in the car watching this happen, Steve says, “He put something under your seat dude.” Lovely.
Now, they come back to the car to deal with us. “You know why I stopped you all?” The one asks us. We shake our heads communicating that, no we did not know. “I stopped yup because you picked up Gotti, a known crack dealer.” “Great,” I thought, “that motherfucker is hot like that?”
“Step out of the car please,” he tells Aaron and Steve. He takes them behind the car while the other cop sits with me. After a few minutes, he comes back and orders me out of the car. “So your buddy says that he knows Gotti ’cause they were locked up together at RCI.” (RCI is a prison in Hagerstown.) “That maybe,” I say. “Why did you pick up a crack dealer?”, they ask me. “It’s cold,” I said, “We were taking him to his girl’s house on Wildwood.” “Why did you pass Wildwood then?” “‘Cause it is a one way street,” I say. “No it’s not,” they say. (It is – they were just trying to fuck with me.)
“Ok. What is Gotti’s real name?” they question. This is a big test that they like to pull when it is a car that has black and white people together. They figure that if it is your drug dealer than you will not know their real name, which often is true. “Pierre Lonfonze,” I say, trying to keep a straight face. “Yeah, that’s what he told us too, but we aren’t buying it.” “Well that is the only name that I have ever known him by, ” I tell them.
After a few more minutes of harassment, they ask us where we live. We tell them. “70 is that way. I suggest that you head towards it,” we are told. We get back in and drive off, knowing that we were lucky, as that was just about the ONLY time that I have been pulled over I the city and they didn’t search the car. We didn’t yet realize how lucky we were.
“Find the pack,” we tell Steve, as we assume that Gotti had left a pack of crack in our car. “Um, he didn’t leave a pack guys,” Steve says pulling out a loaded gun. (I’m not sure what kind of gun it was as I am not a gun person.)
Within two minutes of us pulling off, my phone rings and it is Gotti. He wants his gun back. He wants to buy it back at three times what he should pay for it. Now let me say a couple things here. One, yes, it is fucked up that Gotti left it in the car, but as it turned out they didn’t search the car. Actually, they didn’t search us either. Gotti was the only person that they did search. He knew that they would search him, as he was the reason that they hemmed us up. Had he kept the gun on him, they would have found it, no doubt. They also would have arrested us all. He took a calculated risk, and it worked.
Second, I personally have never seen Gotti be anything but sweet, polite, and nice, but everyone in the village was absolute terrified of him. “Gotti don’t play,” is a sentiment that you would hear repeatedly in that area.
So, Aaron tells him that we will sell it back to him but that we are not going right back up there ’cause, yeah, we just got fucked with there, and they followed us halfway down Edmonson towards Cooks Lane, which takes you to Route 70.
“Fuck that,” Steve exclaims. “Take me down to Jigga right quick.” We head that way to cop as that was one of the best dopes at time (actually they stayed one of the best dopes for a shockingly long period of time- years). We pull down the street and find the guy in charge. Steve asks him if he is interested in the gun. Of course he is, he is a drug dealer in Baltimore. So we give him the gun in exchange for money and dope.
“You shouldn’t have done that!” Aaron tells Steve. “Gotti knows he fucked up, he would have given us more for it. He wanted it back.”
Later on Aaron and I explained to Gotti what happened to his gun. He felt bad and gave us free ready for about a month straight to try to make up for the incident.
Approximately two or three weeks after this happened, we ran into Steve at the West Side Shopping Center with a black eye and walking with a limp. “What the fuck happened to you?” I asked him. “Gotti and his boys jumped me and stomped the shit out of me. He was pissed about the gun.” “Told you we should have just sold it back to him,” Aaron said.

Ferguson, Missouri and Proof that Racism is Very Much Alive

I tend to try to stay away from anything political in this blog. I feel that it is not really the place for that. With that being Sid, however, I could not refrain from commenting on the tragic death of Mike Brown. I have heard people (a lot of them on Fox News) complain that they are “tired of hearing about race” and are angry that “blacks are turning this into a race issue”. Really? You’re sick of hearing about racism, this week? How do you think blacks, Hispanics, Middle Easterners, and women feel?

The problem, the real tragedy is that what happened to Mike Brown is common. People are criticizing the people in Ferguson for rioting. This is perhaps not the correct method, but you get to the point where you strike back with force. Tupac once said, “if you know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day, they open the door to let me see the party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throw in’ food around, tellin’ me there’s no food. Every day, I’m standing outside tryin’ to sing my way in- ‘We are weak, please let us in. We’re weak, please let us in.’ After about a week, the song is gonna change to, ‘We’re hungry, we need some food.’ After two, three weeks, it’s like, ‘Give me some of the food! I’m breaking down the door.’ After a year, it’s like, ‘I’m pickin’ the lock, commin’ through the door blastin’.’ It’s like, ‘I’m hungry.’ You reached your level, you don’t want any more. We asked ten years ago, we were asking with the Panthers, we were asking in the Civil Rights Movement. Now, those who were asking are all dead or in jail, now what we gonna do? And shouldn’t we be angry?” This of course was a statement from over 20 years ago. That anger has only multiplied.

It is the same with sexism. I don’t know what is worse, that there is racism and sexism, or that there are people out there who think that there isn’t.  There gets to be appoint where you get tired of rising above the hate, of turning the other cheek. Thus the riots. Too many young black men are shot, while unarmed by police. What have learned since Rodney King? Anything?

I once wrote an article called, “Addiction – The Great Equalizer”. As an addict and as a woman, I feel the hate, the outrage, and the pain of the residents of Ferguson. I have faced sexism at every turn. You are stupid because you are a woman. If ypu prove that you are not, you are being a show off. You are obviously incapable of running a job, but if you take control, you are bossy, a bitch, or worst yet, you want to be a man.

I have also faced racial profiling as an addict in all black neighborhoods in Baltimore. You are automatically pulled over being white because you must be a drug addict. Never mind the whites who actually do live there, or who are visiting friends. Once you are pulled over, they instantly bring back up. They search the car no matter what. You are a criminal, thus ypu must be committing a crime.

It sucks, but I only face this in ghetto areas. Blacks, Hispanics, middle Easterners, they face it everywhere. Ferguson was just a sad,tragic reminder of how little progress we have actually made.

 

Addiction and Parenting

     Every Sunday night, AMC had a “Breaking Bad Binge” marathon. This is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time, so I just HAD to watch. It doesn’t matter that I have seen every episode three or four times, it is just one of those shows. One of the episodes that aired last night was one where Jessie has to go over to the house of a couple of meth addicts who had robbed one of his dealers, Skinny Pete. He goes to their house, gun drawn, ready to recoup his money. Upon breaking into the house and searching for the husband and wife duo, who are not home at that time, he discovers their son. The boy is filthy, watching an infomercial on knives because they do not get any other channels on their old ass television set. The first thing he says to Jessie is, “I’m hungry.” It is heartbreaking and difficult to watch.

       Eventually, the little boy’s parents arrive home with meth and dope (and an ATM that they boosted out of. a continence store). Jessie repremands the parents telling them to give the child a bath and a hot meal, on which the mother says, “Give me a hit and I’ll be any kind of mother you want me to be.” Jessie ends up calling the police when he leaves and places the child on the front porch so that he can be taken into foster care.

       As a woman who was in active addiction and a mother at the same time, I had very mixed feelings about this episode. Not just “Breaking Bad” either, there is a general consensus that addicts are horrible parents. Now, I do believe that there are some people who completely neglect their children in order to get high. Just the other day a couple in Baltimore County who was arrested after a maid at the hotel they were staying in walked into their room to clean it and found what she thought was a two year old alone, laying on the kitchen. The parents were out looking for another hotel. The child was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that even though the doctors, nurses, cops, and the maid all thought that he was two, he was actually six. He was just that malnorished. I do not know if this couple was using drugs. Sadly, there are a lot of people who neglect and abuse their kids, and addiction is not to blame.

        Most of the addicts that I know have children. Not all of them have full custody of them, but all of them would die for their children. I have heard stories of people hiding drugs on their children or spending their kids food money to get high, but these stories are not the norm. These are just the stories that stand out. 

       When I was in active addiction, my kids never missed a meal. I never sold the food stamps and bought drugs, leaving no money to feed them. They never missed school. They were always bathed, got new clothes, dolls, toys, whatever. Usually I would stay home with the kids while my husband went to cop. We didn’t get high in front of them.

       I truly believe that this is more normal. Most couples that we knew where both people got high, and they had kids, would keep one parent at home with the kids while the other went out to get money or the drugs. Addicts are not the monsters that people portray them to be. We are people which have a disease, but we still love our children.

        Most addicts with children are motivated by their children to get sober. I do feel that I am most definatley a better mother sober. Most of that has to do with I have more energy to go above and beyond. I do not need dope to be well enough to play on the playground. I do not have to hold back vomit if I make them breakfast before I get well. You see, I may have done everything before, but it was almost as though Imwas just going through the motions. Now, I can put 100% of my energy into my children. 

      I would never, ever begin to suggest that it is ideal for a parent to be an addict. I am just saying that despite episodes like. “Breaking Bad” that portray addicted parents as these monsters who will just leave their small children alone for hours or days on end. My children have never been home alone a day or hour in their lives. Drugs never clouded or inhibited my love for my children. I feel that most parents, whether addicted to drugs or not, would die for their children at the drop of a hat if it was needed.

Depression and Suicide

By now, most everyone has heard that Robin Williams died on Monday at age 63. His death was a tragic loss, as he was a comedic genius. That sense of loss was further compounded by the fact that he killed himself. I was hit especially hard by his death as a person who has struggled greatly with depression for her entire life. I have contemplated suicide on quite a few occasions.
I credit my children with saving my life. In fact on early morning, around 5 am, I was particularly down. After sobbing for almost no reason for the better part of an hour, I realized that my life will be nothing more than a vicious cycle of being uber depressed and just sort of down. I made up my mind that this was too painful. I wasn’t going to live like this anymore. I was just so tired of being depressed, run-down, anxious, and filled with self-doubt. I scurried about the bedroom until I found one of my husbands razor blades. As I picked it up and placed it to my wrist, ready to end my meaningless suffering, my son (who was about 18 months at the time) awoke screaming. It was divine intervention. I was instantly snapped out of it, remembering that I was a mother and had two young children (both under the age of 5 at that time) who depended on me. Honestly, I think the ghost of my father woke up my son to save my life. If he had woken up even 5 minutes (or 2 minutes) later, I would have already been bleeding profusely. My son quite literally saved my life.
Williams’ death was a painful and blunt reminder that you never really know what is going on behind the surface of a person. Robin Williams was a man whose talents entertained multiple generations of my family. My husband and I loved his very grown-up and shockingly raunchy HBO stand up. My children adored him in “Aladdin” and “Peter Pan”, my mother watched “Mork and Mindy” as a young woman. He could seamlessly blend from goofball flicks like “Flubber” to feel good family fun a la “Mrs. Doubtfire” to very dramatic, brilliant adult flicks like, “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting”. Sadly, it seems like Williams spent so much time and energy uplifting the rest of the world, making us laugh till we cried, that he had no energy left for himself.
Shepard Smith of Fox News called Williams a “such a coward” on air while reporting his suicide. He talked about how selfish he was, questioning, “it’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known. And yet, something inside you is so horrible – or you’re such a coward – or whatever the reason – that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.” Obviously, many people who heard this were outraged.
People who commit suicide are not doing it out of an act of selfishness, rather they feel that they are so horrible, such a drain on those around them that the selfish thing to do would be to stay alive and continue to pull their loved ones down. This is obviously not true, but to a person with a mental illness such as bi-polar disorder (which Williams suffered from) or schizophrenia, or even super depression and anxiety disorders and PTSD (all three of which I suffer from, this idea seems very true.
Depression gets you to where you hate yourself to the point where you are incapable of seeing any redeeming qualities in yourself. It seems to be a ludicrous idea that anyone could love you at all. After over a decade with my husband, I still have trouble believing that he loves me. I ask him and responds with, “Of course I love you. You know this. I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t love you with all of my heart.” While that seems like a very logical statement, the reality is that no, I don’t know that he loves me. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I continually push people away and sever relationships simply by not making the effort to keep up the friendship because I have been hurt and betrayed too many times to trust anyone. These real events, combined with my own paranoia and mental illness just doesn’t allow me to think that anyone could actually like me. Why would they? I feel as though I have nothing to offer. Robin Williams may have felt something very similar to this. Kurt Cobain once said, “the most depressing thing is having everything that you ever wanted, everything that was supposed to make you happen, and still be totally miserable. Then you know that you will never be happy, that you are the problem.” I can see how that could be.
Ultimately we will never know exactly what sent Robin Williams off the deep end and made him feel that ending his life was the only solution. I read an interview with Williams recently, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Clearly, whatever was going on inside his head didn’t feel like a temporary problem.
The death of Robin Williams is terribly sad, and leaves a whole in this world. He was a comedic genius. His work spoke to all races, all genders, all generations. He could do it all. I just hope when people think about his suicide, they take it as a lesson that behind anyone’s smile or bright demeanor can be a lot of unknown pain and anguish. R.I.P. Robin Williams, you will truly be missed.

Boosted

Be weary of fast cash
Be weary of fast cash

My time as a thief or a booster, happened much like my drug addiction. Very slow, and then all of the sudden it was a daily event. I do not, under any circumstances, recommend that a person goes out and makes their money by boosting from stores. Yeah, I was making a thousand plus a day easy, but I also have five theft convictions and an attempted theft. To put that in perspective, I have only one CDS conviction and I got high for much, much longer than I boosted for. These of course, are just the convictions, not the arrests. It just isn’t worth it. Fast money can lead to fast jail time.
Anyway, one day my husband and I were at the Hilton pawn shop, Shine Corner, selling something which I can not recall at the moment. While we were there Aaron saw this guy that he was locked up with at the Howard County Detention Center. They traded numbers and off we went to cop. The next day or shortly after, the guy called us asking if we could take him to the store to boost. Of course, he would be paying us. We picked him up and took him to a grocery store where he proceeded to steal, I kid you not, Monostats. Yes, feminine itch cream. The Monostat 7 were worth $7 each and I think he got maybe 10 at one store and 15 at another.
We started to pick him up daily. Sometimes we would take him and a friend of his, and they would both pay us. We started to learn what items you could sell (pretty much any name brand pharmaceutical). Thing was, this dude took FOREVER in each store. I’m talking like 45 minutes to an hour each. It was such a pain in the ass.
One day he didn’t call. We waited for awhile, getting sicker by the minute, until we said, “Fuck it”. We left determined to figure something out. I told my husband that I would take the shit my damn self. We pulled up to a store and I told him to park on the curb. I went in and grabbed a cart. I filled the cart up with clothes and other big things. I went into the pharmacy and found the Prilosecs. I didn’t have my “boosting bag” with me, as this was the first time I was doing this, so I grabbed four 42 counts shoved them under the clothes and went to the dog food isle. I looked around, put them in my bag, and got the fuck out of there.
When I got into the car and we pulled off onto the highway without a hitch, I was shocked at how simple and easy it was. I also had a huge adrenaline rush. We went to the pawn shop and sold the prilos for $11 each. We had enough for two pills each and four to go with the three we had for gas. (Remember, gas was only $2 a gallon in 2004, so you could put $7 in gas.)
That was all she wrote. I loved it. I loved the thrill of getting away with it, but most of all, I loved that I could get money easily whenever I wanted. I had the car, so I didn’t need a ride, and I could get my own money, thank you very much.
After that day, my husband and I would go out like three times a day making a few hundred each time. It was much easier than baby formula. Especially since I had two theft arrests for stealing baby formula. I was awaiting the court dates for these, so they had not yet become convictions.
Theft, like anything else, lost it’s thrill, it’s sense of fun. There were undercover security guards all over the place that knew who I was and were trying to catch me. It was a constant cat and mouse game. Certain stores would call security as soon as I stepped in the door. Sometimes, the police would call me over shit that I didn’t even do, trying to hem me up.
It started to be so hot at so many stores near by that we would have to drive far as shit to find stores where they didn’t know us. When I went to jail at the end of 2006 and got clean for a few years, I was too hot. I racked up all those convictions that I previously mentioned between 2004 and 2006. I also violated probation like three or four times.
I would most certainly NOT glamorize stealing or recommend that anyone go out and choose to make their money this way. I mean, it is better than robbing banks or robbing someone at gun point. In Maryland under $1,000 is a misdemeanor, where as anything involving a firearm is obviously a felony. Yeah, you may make $300 in ten minutes, but after a couple of slaps on the wrist, you are down for the count for six to eighteen months. You aren’t making shit in jail. Trust me, when I came home from jail, I was happy to wait tables for tips.