Tag Archives: crime

Hiding In Plain Sight

So, my seasonal job seems to have turned into a permanent position, which is fabulous. That was what I wanted to begin with. I figured that Christmas was a good time to get my foot in the door so to speak. Also, my kids have birthdays in the end of November and the beginning of December, so I figured that worst case scenario, I would make some extra loot during the holidays and have some experience in the field that I want to have an eventual career in.
Well, it is February now, and week 1 of the retail year, and I am still employed. I absolutely love it there. I have gotten quite a few positive guest feedbacks on our surveys that we invite all our patrons to take. I love the people that I work with as well (for the most part – of course there are a couple of people that I don’t get along with). It is all women save for one gay man, and they all are as obsessed with makeup as I am. It is fun to have a place where I can be around people who have the same passions as me, and I am privy to what new products are coming out as well.
The one single issue that I find that I have is the same one that I have had at every other job, hiding my history. For one, I feel that it would truly cost me my job. Not so much my past drug convictions or assualt arrest, but my numerous theft arrests and subsequent convictions. See, we have a problem with thefts at my store. Ironically we sell a good deal of what I used to boost, but thank God, I never stole or tried to steal anything from my store. There was a big crackdown a few years back on all of the pawn shops in Baltimore that took all of the stolen pharmaceuticals, so no one really has a place to sell that stuff any more.
No, no one is stealing razor blades or Olaay’s from my work. No, they go for fragrance. That and the Urban Decay “Naked” palettes.
Since I have been employed there, I have seen a fellow employee get fired for theft of some sort. I don’t thi that she was physically stealing so much as helping or enabling someone else to steal. Obviously I wou never do anything to jeopardize a job that I love in a field that I love, but would my manager see that? Or if she knew my record would suspicion always be cast my way when ever there is a theft during a shift of mine?
As for the new friends that I am making, would they still like me if they new that I am a recovering heroin addict? It is easy to say that if they would care then they are not people to be friends with anyway, but it is not that simple. I have a very hard time opening up to people and making friends. I don’t want to ruin any chance of making new friends by sabotaging my chance by revealing a past that they really have no business of knowing.
I do feel in a way that after all of the progress that I thought that I had made, maybe I haven’t made as much as I thought after all. Maybe I should be confident enough to say fuck them if they can’t handel my past. I feel like I have been able to own my addiction, but I guess that I am not as secure in myself as I thought. Or maybe, I am allowed to have some secrets. Maybe we all do. Maybe my past is none of their business as I honestly am an entirely different person than I was back then.

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Fears

Last year I wrote about regrets, about how as human beings, but especially as active and recovering addicts, we must learn to live with regrets. This post is about learning to live with fears and overcoming fears.
In some ways, I fear almost nothing. Except for snakes- they scare the living shit out of me. As far as other people go, I don’t really fear people too much. Humans are going to do what they are going to do, and there is no sense in me fretting over it. Example, I am not particularly afraid of guns. I have had friends murdered before, and I have been robbed at gun point before. My husband, sister and good friend were saved by the grace of God, when a revolver pointed st point blank range jammed twice (and revolvers DO NOT jam). So, I know very well what guns can do, and I do feel like there should be tighter restrictions upon getting guns. The thing is though, nine times out of ten, when someone pulls a gun on you they have it pre-determined whether they are going to just use it to scare you, or kill you. Freaking the fuck out most certainly will not help you out, in fact, it may farther the likelihood that the person will pull the trigger.
Likewise, I feel like when I watch movies and they put a gun to someone’s head and force them to do shit like dig their own grave and jump in it, no fucking way – just shoot me. I feel like free will may be the last thing that I would be possessing in that situation, so just kill me.
Oddly however, I am really quite afraid of death. It is actually something that I think about on almost a daily basis. I hope that when It is my time, I am at peace with the thought of death and am ready to go. I am religious and fully believe in heaven and hell. I fear not being a good enough person to make it to heaven. I try every day to be a good person, but perhaps my sins of the past are to much to overcome. I hope not.
Ever since I turned 30 in May, I have had like a major mid-life (quarter-life?) crisis. I feel as though I have accomplished nothing in my life thus far. I am just no getting started towards a career that I love. I am smart, I had a full scholarship at one of the top schools in the country, and I fucked it all up. Add my criminal record to all that, and I screwed a lot up in my life. I am saving up to go to school to get my makeup artistry certification later this year.
I did everything ass backwards. Most people that I graduated from high school with are just now having their first babies. They are well established in their careers though. I have a nine and six year old, and am just starting my carreer aspirations.
I briefly hit on this last post, but my greatest fear in life is that my children make the same mistakes that my husband and I made. They may not be as lucky as we were. Many addicts do not make it out alive. I fear that they will discover how off the chain we were and use this as a reason, an excuse, to use copious amounts of drugs.
Even more terrifying for me, is the fear that my daughter will discover that I used heroin for part of my pregnancy with her and refuse to speak to me because of it. She and I were both clean when she was born, but she may not understand the intricacies of detoxing off of heroin while pregnant.
I hope that 2015 will be the year that I start to overcome my fears.

BCCBIC (Baltimore City Central Booking and Intake Center):Part 2

The officer walks me into an open area. To my right is a window with a CO behind it and a chair in front of it. Imediatley past that is a very small room followed by a row of pay phones. Across from the phones is the nurses center. Then on both sides of the walls are cells marked single cell until you get to the end of the hall. In front of where I am standing is a double doorway that leads to an area similar to the set up that I have just described, only it is about three times as big. It is the men’s side. There is a room connecting the men’s and women’s sides, it is the fingerprinting area.
The cop hands me off to a CO and says, “Watch her. She’s pregnant and ill.” She shakes her head as a sign that she understands and leads me into the room next to the window. There she somewhat strip searches me (although of any jail I have been to, this was the laziest, most half-assed stip search that I have ever been apart of). Next, she leads me back to a bench in front of where I just entered where I sit for about an hour, until I am called to have my fingerprints taken. Now, I go to the window where they do my property intake.mi am given a piece of paper to sign that lists what items they have taken from me, and that I am theoretically going to get back upon my release. There is a time printed on the paper. This time marks when my 24 hours start. This time, six hours AFTER my arrest. I was lucky too. I was able to be walked right into bookings. Often times, weekends, concerts, the Grand Prix, etc. there is a line to even get in the door. I know of many people who waited for anywhere from 2-8 hours to get in the door. Add this to the probably two or three hours they spent at the district police station, and the few hours that it takes once you are inside before your time starts.
Next, I see the nurse. After a 30 second physical. I am allowed to make my call. I call my mother. She isn’t exactly happy, but tells me that she will bail me out if I am not PR’d (released on personal recognizance). A guard yells at me to get off the phone, that my 30 seconds are up, and takes me to a cell. I walk into a cell that is marked that it is for single occupancy. There is probably 20-25 women in there. It is so tight that you literally can not shift positions without making everyone shift.
The next 20 or so hours tick by at a snails pace. Talking to the other women helps pass the time, but I am so sick that it is unbearable. One girl in the sell has ready, but no lighter. A girl in the cell across from ours has a lighter, but nothing to light. The chick with the ready tries to get the inmate who is mopping the floors to get the lighter from her, but he is too scared to do it.
The only other white girl in the cell is a girl about my age (21 at the time). She is in there for prostitution. She said that she is in there almost every week. Usually it is a walk through, meaning that you are arrested for something petty like trespassing or failure to obey police orders and are held for a day and then released without a charge. She was hoping that was what this was, but wasn’t sure as none of us are told our charges until we see the commissioner. She knew that if it was a solicitation charge there would be a bail attached and probably a high one. The city had started a crack down of hookers due to the fact that we had (possibly still have) the highest AIDS rate in the country. The mayor (Martin O’Malley) felt that the hookers were to blame for this. At one point she got into it with another woman because she didn’t want to sit on the floor. “It’s dirty. It’s gross!”, she exclaimed. “How clean theses dicks be that you suck all day?”, the other woman asked. “Well theses dicks get me ready. If this floor goons give me ready, then I ain’t got no problem with it.” You cannot make this shit up people.
At some point in the day, I guess lunch, we are brought food. There are no windows or clocks in booking, and they keep the ultra bright fluorescent lights on 24/7 to throw off any sense of time that you may have. Even if I weren’t puking every 10 minutes, I couldn’t have ate that lunch. Mystery meat all the way. I did drink the juice, so that I didn’t get too dehydrated. I traded my sand which for the apple. I figured that I should try to get something down, if for no other purpose but to throw up something instead of stomach lining.
Eventually, after about 20 hours, my name is called. I am going to the commissioner. So I think. I mean, I am, but first I am taken to another set of holding cells. These are for people about to see one of the commissioners. I think that they had 13 or 15 commissioners on duty at that time. I sit for about an hour and then am lead to a tiny, tiny room. My left wrist is handcuffed to the counter, and the door is locked behind me. The commissioner, a young black guy with long dreads, sits in an office on the other side of bullet proof glass. I can see my booking photo up on the screen (and what a lovely head shot that was too), along with a statement of charges that I have not yet seen. He slides me a copy of my paper work through a slit in the glass. I am being charged with possession of a CDS (not marijuana), which carries up to four years and is a misdemeanor. He reads me what the police said happen, most of which was lies. They said that the witnessed the event which was impossible because they were coming from the Edmonson Village Center, we were in an alley further past where they had stopped us. They hadn’t even gotten to where we copped yet. Also you cannot see into the alley from Edmonson as it is an L shaped alley. Also they said that I handed the dude the money, and that he then handed Aaron the pills. That doesn’t happen. The dealer always gives the drugs to the person who gives them the money. Often there will be four or five people in the car. The person who hands the money,mis probably the person who put up most of the money. You could just be giving. Ride to a stranger to cop, and here the dealer gives this person all your shit. No. If they did that and then the person in your car didn’t want to give you all your shit, you would not want to go back to that dealer. Also, they made no mention of the fact that my husband claimed all responsibility for the drugs. I told the man about these lies. He looked at me and dead panned, “You mean to tell me that the Baltimore City police lied in a charging document?” Ok, good point. He proceeded to ask me a few questions. Had I ever been arrested before? Yes. Did I have any open charges? Yes Was I on probation? Yes. Did I have any convictions? Yes any felonies? No. Any FTAs? No (although I raked up quite a few in the year that followed). How long had I lived at my present address? All of my life. He then told me that he was going to grant me a PR. I was ecstatic to say the least. I asked him if he was going to decide my husband’s fate. He told me that he was. I asked him if he knew what he was going to do, he told me that he didn’t know. I told him that I would greatly appreciate it if he would PR Aaron as well, because I didn’t know this side of town, and my car was impounded. He laughed and said that he would keep it in mind. Just to note, he did PR my husband. He then pushed a button to let a CO know that he was done with me. I am taken back to the cell that I was just in while waiting to have my bail set. After another two hours I, along with anyone else who has been PR’d, am taken to another row of cells on the ground level. This is where you sit for another hour or six while they run your name one last time for warrants and retrieve your property. I have known of a few people who have made it this far, to only then have their warrants discovered. If you were assigned a bail, youa are taken back downstairs to the cells that you were in before they took you to the commissioner cells. Only this time you are on the last cells in the line. Theses are the people waiting to go upstairs to get put with general population while you either wait to be bailed out or sit until trial or your release date.
Anyway, the wait while in the property cells in particularly long and excruciating. You can see the street. You have been told that you are to be release, yet here you stand. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, they call seven women, and one man (Aaron). We are let through a set of double doors after we sign for our property. Aaron and I are both sick as fuck, but happy to see each other. We hug and kiss and hold hands as we walk out the door. The sunlight blinds me, and even though I have only been locked up for about 30 hours total, it feels like it has been a week. We turn on my phone, and call my mom to come get us. I have made through hell and back.

BCCBIC (Baltimore City Central Booking and Intake Center): Part One

I have been through Baltimore City’s Central Booking twice, both for the same charge. The only way I can describe this place is hell on Earth. Literally. I honestly believe that hell must be more pleasant than BCCBIC. I have been through quite a few central bookings, and I have seen quite a few of them on various reality shows about jails. None of them even come close to be comparable to the atrocious conditions that exist in Baltimore.
Back in July of 2005, my husband and I were in town copping. I was pregnant and on the wait list for CAP (Center for Addiction and Pregnancy). I was told in no uncertain terms to not try to quite using heroin cold turkey. As bad as my habit was, there was a very real possibility that the withdraws could easily kill my daughter. (I did, however, quite using coke and crack the moment that I found out that I was pregnant). Anyway, we had copped from our usual spot, and the normal amount that we would buy as a gate shot, but the shit was just off that day. It was abundantly clear that this dope was not going to hold us long enough to go out boosting. We had $25 left, and needed gas. We knew of a spot off of Loudon Ave. that had sixes. We figured that we would get three of these, and still have $7 left for gas.
We pulled on to the street and found the dude with the shit and told him that we wanted three. He instructed us to pull into the alley. This alley is a L shaped alley, meaning that no one driving down Edmonson Avenue (which is a main road of sorts) cannot see down it. He came up to our car hit us, then hit the guy behind us. We pulled out of the other side of the alley onto the one-way portion of Wildwood Parkway (for theses of you who frequently read my blog, this was the same on-way section of Wildwood that we were attempting to give Gotti a ride to when we were pulled over and he left his loaded gun in my car). We pulled out and we forced to sit at a red light before we could turn on to Edmonson Avenue.
Before we had a chance to put the pills up, before we had a chance to blink really, there was a car blocking us in, and four Knockers at the car. The were ridding down Edmonson with their doors open, and saw two white people on wildwood and jumped out on us. “Why don’t you make it easy and just give it to us,” the one said. Considering that A) they were just in my husband’s hand and B) a lot of times when they talk to you like this, if you just give it up without a fight, they will let you go, my husband gave it to them, laughing with disbelief at the situation. “I like this dude,” the cop noted.
Instantly they pulled us both out of the car and cuffed us with zip ties. “You all just saved the white boy behind you,” they smirked at us, “we just saw him swallow his shit.” Fucking fantastic. “Those pills were just for me,” my husband pleaded with them. “Please don’t arrest my wife. She’s pregnant. I stopped without telling her. They aren’t her’s.” “You’re pregnant?”, one of them asked me. I stated that indeed I was. “Oh well, they should have you out in no time.”
They put us into the car with two of them, while the other two officers followed us in my car to the Southwestern District police station. As we drove by Loudon, we saw two more cops messing with the guy who served us and another dude. At first they put me into this weird ass bull pen, and then they moved me to a private cell in the back of the police station. It was really, really dark back there. I wasn’t there long before they yanked me out and took me outside and put me into one side of a divided paddy wagon. My husband was on the other side with the men. “Whoa, whoa!”, a cop started screaming, running out of the station. “She’s pregnant! You can’t take her in the wagon.” There are no dealt belts in the wagon, and they notoriously drive very erratically with the intent to throw the inmates all over the place. They pulled me out of the wagon, and put me in a cop car. “Do you need to go to the hospital?”, the officer driving the car implored. “Umm, does that mean that I don’t have to go to bookings? Or that that time counts as part of my 24 hours?”, I asked. “No,” he told me, “your 24 hours starts when we do your property intake, which wouldn’t happen until you get to bookings. After you leave the hospital.” “Oh hell no!”, I stated, “let’s go then.” (For those of you confused, very shortly prior to my arrest Baltimore City got into a lot of trouble with the FBI due to the conditions in BCCBIC. One of the biggest issues was hat people would sit for days before they were ever taken to see a commissioner. This meant days before they were told what they were charged with, and what their bail would be. By law, you have to be taken to see the commissioner within 24 hours, or they have to release you.)
So here I was, approximately 3-4 hours after my arrest, and I was just now headed to Bookings. It took us about 15 minutes to get to Eager Street. The cops pulled up and walked me in. Now, mind you that this was far from my first arrest. I looked around as I walked in, and all I could think was, “This is gonna suck. Be time.”

Continued in BCCBIC Part Two

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.

I May Have Tits, But I Have Every Right To Be A Dick

Today, in the year of 2014, I find that society still views women as either the Madonna or the whore. We are classified or boxed in as either Mother Theresa or Kim Kardashian. The problem is that we are neither, or rather, we are both. This paradox is multiplied for female addicts.

in one aspect, women who are hard drug users are almost immediately classified as whores. I do not mean like, “Oh, she’s such a whore” either. I mean that the easiest and thus normal assumption is that we are actual whores, that we obviously suck dick to obtain our drug money. I’m not going to tell you that this doesn’t happen, it does. That doesn’t mean that every woman who sticks a needle in her arm or smokes crack is a prostitute. There are a good deal of men who actively participate in gay sex for hire to procure their drug of choice, it is just not the automatic assumption.

Ironically, though, it tends to only be when a woman gets to the point where you can look at her and tell that she is an addict that women get classified as “the whore”. I’m talking pock marked skin and meth mouth. Stringy hair and bones protruding. Otherwise, we are innocent angles that people are shocked to learn that we do such things.

I cannot tell you how many times, when upon hearing about my past, people have said to me, “I had no idea. You seem like such a nice lady, a good mother.” That’s entirely the issue. I AM a nice lady. I AM a good mother. I just also happen to suffer from the disease of addiction. 

As a woman, when I was in active addiction, I used this paradigm to my advantage. I would dress nice and sweet, with my makeup and hair done, wearing expensive clothes and purses to go boosting. The point was to play up the Madonna aspect in order to be over looked in the stores. It is simple pragmatism. Play up to people’s small minded, boxed in views of women in order to obtain what you need without arising suspicion.

Similarly, on the occasion that I was caught I would then play the weak female in order to get off with a warning. This works far better than one could imagine. Especially, if the security guard or cop is a man. They all want to save you. I even had a cop who did arrest me try to set me up with one of his cop friends to help me turn my life around. Yeah, buddy, after I get release on PR’d or bailed out I’ll be sure to hit you up. Right.

Women always try to use their innocent feminine ways in court as well. Cry for the judge they tell you. Talk about how sorry you are and that you are ready to be a good girl now. Particularly if you are a mother. Although in all fairness, that is probably true. 

On the other end of the spectrum is the whore. Women who stand out on the street often play up their overt sexuality in order to make it known which end they stand on. Funnily enough, I knew a few women who worked as strippers to support their habits. They played up the innocent while taking off their clothes. These girls looked young. You know the bodies of pre-pubescent girls. Actually, now that I think of it, one of the most successful prostitutes that I knew looked old in her face, but from a distance looked twelve. All of theses girls played upon (or preyed upon?) men with pedophile urges. See, we may play dumb if it suits us, but we are far smarter and far more calculated than we let on. 

The right thing to do might be to fight against these stereotypes and declare that we are far more complex than either the Madonna or the whore. As addicts, however, we are more interested in a means to an end. If we can get we want, or more accurately what we need, by letting the world box us into a cheap, outdated stereotypes, then so be it. It’s not right, but neither is people thinking that women are that simple, so fuck it. When you are ill and need to get well, sexual politics is the last thing on your mind.

Soundtrack To My Life: Part Two

In my most recent posting, I talked about my love of music. I also related how The Ghetto Boy’s anthem, “Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me” was a song that sadly all too indicative of my life. Especially my life and mind frame while I was using and abusing cocaine.

In this post I wanted to discuss another song that feels as though the lyrics were literally ripped right from my guts. It is a song written by my idol, Courtney Love. It is not my favorite song that she has written. That would be “Jennifer’s Body”. It is not what I consider to be the most important song that she has ever written. That would be “Asking For It”, with it’s heart-wrenching chorus of, “Was she asking for it?/ Was she asking nice?/ Yeah she was asking for it/ And did she ask you twice?” No, not either of those, but “Doll Parts”.

I can feel the pain and the anger in her voice on such a visceral level. That song hits me on so many different levels. The way she howls, “He only loves those things/ Because he loves to see me break”, is enough to make me tear. This basically sums up the way I feel my rapist thinks/thought about me. I was an object, something to play with. To this day he still sends me messages and letters and e-mails telling me how mutch he loved and still loves me. I can’t really say with too much certainty if he truly believes this or not. He might think that he loves me. But he doesn’t. Not really. He loved toying with me. He loved to break me. He loves to break women in general, but I was different somehow. Maybe because I had always been so good to him, who knows.

“I fake it so real/ I am beyond fake”. This is of course one of the most famous, of -quoted lyrics that Ms. Love has ever written. I am all too familiar with this. Haters steadily want to knock Love for this line as sort of an admittance of guilt. Like, “See, she admitted it. She’s a faker.” I don’t see it that way. In that same vein, I see myself as beyond fake. I am one of the realist people out there, but I have always been a master at hiding my pain. I can cover up my cracked interior with well groomed and made up exterior. This here, this blog, has been an alley for my pain more so than anything else I have ever had. Most people are truly shocked if and when they ever find out my deep level of depression and anxiety. My own mother seemed completely and utterly clueless when she read about the state of my mental health on this very blog.

All addicts learn to fake a whole slew of personalities and skill sets so to say. We become master manipulators. Con artists extrordinares. We learn to fake anything that is going to consistently work to get us our drugs or money. We figure out want angle we can play at any given situation. I used to know this guy who lived in a section eight apartment in Baltimore. He had an abscence on his arm much like the one that Jared Leto has in “Requiem For A Dream”. He would un bandage it to shoot up. He looked like a straight bum about 90% of the time. But, he owned one suit. He would save it to go out shoplifting. He was about 56 years old. Put a suit on him and put him in a store on a Sunday morning, and he looks like a nice older gentlemen who just left church. That was his hustle. I would do up my makeup, bring in a Neiman Macus purse to boost. I would wear nice, clean, designer clothes. Until the store knew who I was, I could go for a long time without arousing any suspicion. We also learn to fake that we are clean. We even fake this to ourselves. Not that we are clean, of course, but that we don’t have a problem. That is why step one is to simply admit that you have a problem. We may fake that we are clean, but usually those who know us the best know better.

The whole general concept of the song, that we as women are nothing more than doll parts is something that I can relate to. “I am doll eyes, doll mouth, doll legs/ I am doll arm, big veins, dog bait… I am doll parts, bad skin, doll heart”. As girls we fed over photoshopped images of women who have been made to look like human Barbie dolls. Pretty, but silent. Part of the background. Girls are taught over and over that there looks and beauty are valued far above their intelligence. We are dolls. But the point of the song is that dolls can break too easily.

The song though at it’s heart is a song about hurt, pain and longing. “Yeah, they really want you/ They really want you/ They really do/ Yeah, they really want you/ Well I do too.” On the surface it sounds like this is about a man that is wanted by another, more popular, more wanted woman. It can be so much more than that. “You” can just be to fit in to society. While Love paints herself as the ultimate outcast, I think that she is getting she wants a place at the table just like everyone else. “And I do too”. My whole life as been a struggle to fit in. Not so much in the respect that I feel the need to conform to society’s rules and standards, because I most certainly do not. I have no problem with being different. But I would like to feel like I come from the same fucking planet.

The part of the song that hits my heart strings everytime that I hear it is when she repeats over and over, first softly singing and then screaming, “Someday you will ache like I ache”. I would sing this line over and over agin when ever I feel uber depressed. It is sad and it is angry all at the same time. It is a plea, and it is a hex. It is a “fuck you- you will feel my pain, if it is the last thing I do.” I have felt this all too often. This rage that burn in the pit of my stomach that developed as a teenager, but never burned out. It is a rage that makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs. It is a hatred for the world, for myself, for everyone who has ever wronged me, wronged the fucking world. It is a rage that I can not calm. I can calm it and quiet it for brief periods of time, but I can not make it go away.

The rage and the pain of all Courtney Love songs, but especially “Doll Parts” gets me like no other music. I may mostly listen to rap and hip-hop, but I always come back to Hole when I need to sing or scream my lungs out. Soundtrack to my life.

The First Time

Just like losing your virginity, every addict remembers the first time they got high. And like sex, most people’s expeiriences tendnto be either really bad or totally orgasmic and wonderful. Either people tell stories of throwing up for hours or speak of an inexplicable bliss that they would go on to chase forever, never to duplicate.

My first time was neither, or rather both. To set the scene, I was 19 and on summer vacation from the University of Maryland College Park where I was an honor student. I had recently broke up with the verbally abusive, alcoholic boyfriend that I had had for the past three years. I was hanging out with a guy who would eventually become my boyfriend for a short time. He was a recovering addict. He had just come home from jail and rehab for theft charges that stemed from his drug habit.

I was hardly a drug virgin. I had smoked copious amounts of weed, popped E pills galore, done Special K and coke. Never heroin, though. I was scared of it. My ex used to do dope occasionally and sometimes would disappear into the ghetto parts of Baltimore for a week or so, worrying me to no end. The guy who I was hanging out with (who we will call J) was recovering from a pretty bad dope habit. I was sort of afraid of heroin.

One day J called me up saying that he had gotten a bunch of cash for his birthday. He asked if Inknew somewhere to get some girl (coke). I said that I did not as my ex usually got any drugs that we did. I never really sought out drugs at that time, I just did what was around. Anyway, J told me that he new a place where we could get it. He would pay if I provided him with a ride. I was game.

What he didn’t tell me was that we were going to be pulling up to a dope strip. He had told me that we were meeting somebody in Baltimore County. Lies. We were going to an area behind the Edmonson Village Center that I would come to know very well in the future. When he told me that we were almost there, I asked if he needed to call the guy and was very confused when he stated that he didn’t. “Umm, how will he know that we were here if we don’t call?”, I inquired. “They just will”, he told me.

We rounded the turn and the road went from row houses to a cul-de-sac with three to four level brick apartment buildings. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot about 15 guys ran to the car, shoving their hands and heads inside either window. “Girl”, “Red tops”, “Boy”, “Yellow tops”, “Nickles”, “What you need?”. I was shocked and a little frightened. I had never seen anything like this before. J pointed to a guy he recognized and asked, “What you give me for $200? I want girl.” At the time these apartments had nickels so the dude gave us 45 red top vials. He went back to my house and snorted coke all night.

This continued for about a few weeks going in town three to four times a week. One time, he got six boys (dope). After we had been doing coke all night, J asked me if I wanted some of the dope. He told me it would help me to come down off of the coke. I was hesitant. I knew that he had just cam home from jail on theft charges that he never would gotten if he didnt need the money for the heroin. I went into my 14 year old sister’s room. She had two of her friends over. “Have you all ever done dope?,” I asked them. “Oh yeah. A bunch of times,” they all answered in unison. “How bad could it be if a bunch of 13 and 14 year olds are doing it?” I thought to myself.

I marched back into my bedroom and told J that I did in fact want some. He broke some out for me. “This ain’t coke, girl. Don’t be doing no big ass coke lines. It will kill your this shit’s a lot stronger. You just take little bumps.” So that is what I did. Little bumps.

I felt drunk. Dizzy. A little sick. I never threw up, but I cam really fucking close. He had to go home, but I was way too fucked up to drive. He drove to his house and I spent the night. My skin felt like it was being attacked by swarms of fire ants. We made a bed on his floor and laid there all night. Watching tv and scratching each others backs. I didn’t sleep at all. I couldn’t. Between the nausea, the feeling like I had been lit on fire, and feeling drunk and dizzy, there was no way that I was going to sleep. I had never felt anything like this. I had energy, but I was relaxed an serene. I was giggly and happy.

This became a new habit, getting dope to come down off of the coke at the end of the night. Soon the pendulum started to shift, however and we started to get more and more dope until the order was mostly dope and just a little coke.

“They used to call us track stars/ Before they even stopped/ We ran to them cars.” – Young Jeezy. This describes to a T what it was like when my silver Cavalier pulled up to the apartments. They had so many dealers back there. So much competition, and they knew that we spent money, thqt we weren’t knockers. They all ran at the car before we had even stopped, twenty sets of arms in the windows shouting for you to but from them.

I was still so very green at that time. I had never been pulled over in the city. I knew nothing about lying police and racial profiling. I had yet to discover that we would be pulled over just because we were white. One night we were coming back from the apartments. It was a Saturday night at about two am. It was me, J and one of our friends in the car. We were coming down the one way street to turn on to Edmonson Avenue to go home. That night however, the police had set up a sobriety check piont. You HAD to go throughout the parking lot of the village center because the road was blocked. J had his left hand filled with vials, and was driving with his right hand. We pulled up to the check point. An officer shined a flashlight into the car and asked J if he had been drinking at all. “No sir,” J said. “Okay,” the officer replied, “Take this pamphlet about drinking and driving.” Since J’s left hand was over flowing with vials he has to awkwardly reach across the steering wheel with his right hand to grab the pamphlet. “Have a nice night and be careful,” the cop told us. “You too,” we replied. As we pulled off, J and our friend were freaking out. “Do you have any idea how fucking close that was?” They asked me. I mean of course I knew that we had drugs and that they were illegal, but I didn’t really grasp what a fucking close call that was. I didn’t think about how lucky we were that he didn’t ask what three white people were doing coming from an all black, notorious drug area at two in the morning.

For the next few months J and I were getting high almost everyday. He also taught me  hustle that I did on and off for years to come. One day it was J’s birthday. While he went out to dinner with his mother, I went out and boosted the items that we sold to the corner store downtown. I picked him up at 8:30 pm. We had to make it to the store in Baltimore before it closed at 9 pm. It was about 25 minutes away. Problem was sometimes the store was known to close early. J drive and was speedimg in order to ensure that we made it. On the school down the street from his house, a cop was shooting radar. As soon as we drive by, the lights switched on. “Shit!” J exclaimed. We were short on time and ahas a back seat full of stolen gods. They took J’s license to run, they walked back to the car and asked him to step out of the vehicle. He had three warrants for his arrest. He had violated his probation. One of the warrants had no bail, so he sat in the Baltimore County Detention Center for about four months.

When he was locked up, I decided to chill with the drugs for a bit. I couldn’t sleep. My back ached. I swore that I needed a new mattress. It wasn’t until I got a REAL, REAL habit that I realized that I was going through a very minor form of withdrawls.

One day J’s brother-in-law called needing a ride in town to cop. J and I had given him a ride a few times before. I explained that J was locked up and was denied bail so it would be impossible for the two of us to give him a ride. “Why don’t you just come get me? My treat.” I hesitated, he had been really cool the times that J and I had given him a ride, but he was hammered the first time that I met him and a total asshole. Eventually, he talked me into picking him up. Over and over again, he would convince me.

One night after we went in town we decided to hang out with some friends and get some vodka. Before I knew it, we were drunk and having sex. We started hanging out everyday, and long story short, we are married to this day with two wonderful children.

Almost every event in my life goes back, one way or another to that first night that I tried dope. A lot of shit that I went through because of heroin was terrible. Jail, arrests, overdoses, sickness, losing more friends and family then I care to remember. But it made me who I am. Aaron and I had met, but as I previously stated, I hated him. We got close because of the drugs. Usually couples that get high together fail, but we are soul mates. I have two beautiful children who would not exist if I were not giving my future husbands rides in town. Most importantly, I am proud of my scars.mi have huge, physical scars on my forearms, and shins from abscesses and infections. They serve as a reminder for all the internal scars that you can not see. I have been to hell and back. I survived and am stronger due to the journey. I am not hear to scare anyone or to say how wonderful you will feel on heroin. Honestly, it feels great, but that feeling wears off. What you are left with is a whole in your soul that you continually fill with a drug that is ripping it open wider and wider every time you use it to fill the whole up. Every addict remembers their first time. I choose to remember mine, but I am sure that play the movie all the way through. I don’t hit pause when it is still fun.

Insanity

Many people define insanity as the repeating of the same actions over and over with the exception of a different result.

By that definition, relapsing, and addiction itself, is insane. Why do we as addicts seem to think that “this time will be different”? We go through literal hell in order to get clean, yet we are so quick to foforget about this. Our disease allows us to feel that we are “cured”. An addict is never cured. You are either an active or a recovering addict.

When I first started using heroin, it took quite awhile to become physically addicted. After my first arrest, which was for shoplifting items that I then sold and used the money for drugs, my mother wanted me to go to an outpatient rehab. (Ironically, this was the facility that a couple of years later informed me that I was pregnant.) Me, my husband (who was just a friend then) and my little sister were all arrested. I was19, my ssister was 16. We both did the adolescent program at the rehab. During the intake interview, I was clear about my disdain for the idea of me attending such groups. It was a waste of my time, I explained to the man who did my intake. “I don’t have a habit,” I told him. “I can get high for a week or a day, then stop for a week or so.” “And you think that you can keep this pattern up with out ever catching a habit?” He asked me incredulously. I responded that I knew that I could. “Good luck with that,” he huffed.

Of course, this man who I so stupidly blew off, was right. I obtained a violent habit. It didn’t help that the dope that I was doing was fentanyl based. Quicker than I realized what had happened, I was dry heaving every morning, throwing up yellow stomach lining. I was done for.

Eventually, two years, nine changes, and four warrants later, I was arrested three days before Christmas. One of the four warrants was a no bail warrant and I could have a bail review until the judge who had set the no bail could see me, and he was on a two week Christmas vacation. Three weeks later, I had my bail review. He closed the case, releasing me with time served. I then had to get picked up by another county where two of my warrants were. The fourth warrant got quashed while I was locked up, so once I bailed out, I was home.

I had went through the ills in jail, on lock up, in a cell 23 hours a day. Being ill us awful regardless, but in jail is exceptionally cruel. Thin ass, worn through mattress, only one shower a day, no advil, tums, NOTHING. All you want to do is sleep, and you cannot do that because you are kicking heroin.

While in the first detention center, I found out that one of my friends was murdered because he was trying to tell these coke dealers that it was not us who had stolen his stash. It was a lie, a rumor that a guy who was mad at my sister’s boyfriend made up. The dealer had pointed a revolver at my husband’s head at point blank range and pulled the trigger. It jamed. TWICE. Tge dealer pistol whipped my sister as my husband pulled off. Obviously the dealer was pissed that he had failed. (I believe that my father acted as a guardian angel and saved everyone in the car.) My friend was killed because we weren’t. Because he felt that someone had to pay for his stash getting stolen. Didn’t matter who it was. Didn’t matter that WE didn’t even anything to do with it.

Sitting in jail for a few weeks gave me some time to reflect on my drug use. I didn’t want to go through this kind of hell again. I was done.

I came home and stayed clean. For three years I stayed clean. I got a job as a waitress. Eventually I was a certified trainer. Then I was the lead server. I became a lead bartender also. I gave birth to my second child. Life was great.

The entire time that I was clean, there were people who lived in the house with my family that were getting high. It didn’t bother me. I could handle it. I couldn’t handle my husband getting high.

He had surgery on his knee. He was given prescription for Percocet. After a few months, the doctor cut off the script. He was still in pain, and we were living with people who were getting high, so he started to get shit off of them. I could only see him high in front of me but for so long. He tried to hide it from me, but I knew. Soon I started using too.

I won’t get addicted this time. I know better. We didn’t do it every day. But a couple of times a week quickly progressed to daily.

Our addiction is tricky. We can be clean for years, but once we start up again, it very quickly goes right back to where we left off. We trick ourselves in to believing that we are cured, but the drugs have altered our brains forever. Your synapses have changed, and theydon’t go back to that of ssomeone who has never been a drug addict.

This is why you see people who have been clean for fifteen years or so and get high a few times and loose everything that they worked so hard for. Everything that they accomplished during their clean time, is gone.

It takes an addict an average of about nine times to actually achieve sobriety. We are insane. We keep thinking that this time we will control the drugs, not the other way around.  But we are not, and never will be casual users. The drugs have altered our brains, our souls. No matter how much we lie to ouselves, or others, the drugs have a grip on us.

This is why one of the most dangerous things in an addict’s recovery is complacency. The idea that we can be cured is bullshit. I now know that we will never NOT be an addict. I have been in recovery for two years, and I hope to be for the rest of my life. I am no longer insane.