Monthly Archives: November 2007

Good Cop Bad Cop

“Where did this cop–of all people–get the nerve to argue with anybody in terms of Right and Reason?  I had been there with these fuzzy little shitheads–and so, I sensed, had the desk clerk.  He had the air of a man who’d been fucked around, in his time, by a fairly good cross-section of mean-tempered rule-crazy cops….So now he was just giving their argument back to them: It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, man…or who’s paid his bill & who hasn’t…what matters right now is that for the first time in my life I can work out on a pig: ‘Fuck you, offcer, I’m in charge here, and I’m telling you we don’t have room for you.’ ” –Hunter S. Thompson 

A while back, I had a positive encounter with an officer.  (!)  I was pulled over for speeding.  Hewas the epitome of politeness.  He introduced himself, ran my info, and let me go on my way with a verbal warning.  He gave me a card with his name on it and said that if I had complaints or felt uncomfortable with the stop, the card gave me the information I needed to make a complaint against him.  Since then, I have been watching my speed, and I think about that officer a lot.  I like slowing down as a personal show of gratitude for his professionalism.  When I received a speeding ticket several months prior to that, the officer was rude and inflammatory, and I cared little about indulging him.

Given that I engage in illegal activity daily, I don’t see police officers as allies.  I have had positive encounters, but also a fair share of negative ones.  My first two encounters were not so positive, and it poisoned me against law enforcement for a while.  I had to become a little older and reflect on the whole concept of “law and order” to appreciate it.  I share these experiences not to promote negativity toward law enforcement, but because I think a legal establishment’s abuse of power is the most odious display of authority in our society, and should not be concealed.

 At 13, I snuck out with my friend (call her Lucy).  We wanted to walk to the house of the boy she had a crush on, although we didn’t know the right direction, let alone where he lived.  She began dating him a few weeks later, and as it turns out, it was a 17-mile trek one way on winding mountain roads.  We brought backpacks with snacks to boost our energy.  A deputy stopped us (I still vividly remember the name on his nametag).  “What do you think you’re doing?  What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”  We were petrified and completely honest.  We said what we were doing, gave him the name of the boy, and revealed every hidden facet of our plan.  He asked us if we were running away; we said no.  He told us to put our backpacks on the hood of his vehicle.  Lucy bravely asked why, and he barked that we didn’t have a choice.  Our packs went on the hood.  Now I understand it was a consent to search, but I didn’t understand that at the time.  He found 3 asthma inhalers belonging to Lucy, the only incriminating evidence against us.  He asked if we were on drugs; we said no.  She explained that she had severe asthma and was testing them under her doctor’s care.  He told us to get in the SUV.

We started to get in the back.  He told us to get in the front.  We opened the passenger door to see him unstrapping the rifle that was lashed under the front seat.  He examined it for a moment, the barrel pointing in our direction, put it back in its place, and let it sit on its carriage withoug restrapping it.  He told us to be careful of it.  We squashed in next to him.  I sat in the middle.  He said nothing.  He was a smoker, and his windows were cracked.  He roled them up completely, lit a cigarette, and smoked it without saying a word.  Lucy coughed, and he audibly smirked.  When he was finished, he took our names.  He put the call in as “runaways.”  I opened my mouth, and he put a finger up to silence me while he radioed it in.  He drove to a gas station and called our parents.  He told them he highly suspected that we were using drugs and had admitted to running away.  He was going to let us off without a curfew ticket as long as they came to pick us up right away.  Our parents thanked him profusely. 

Six months later, I was on the opposite side of things.  A friend’s mom overheard me saying I had been hurt by someone and called the police.  They wanted to come by my house the next day.  I called the deputy and left a pathetic message desperately pleading with him not to come, that it had just been a “misunderstanding.”  The idea of my parents finding out was devastating.  The police came, three males and one female officer.  They appeared more concerned that the person in question had been on drugs than what happened, and asked lots of questions about his drug use.  I wouldn’t tell them much, so they left me with the female in an attempt to get me to spill my guts.  She was harsh, cold, and kept saying that I needed to tell her “everything.”  The others came back and asked me for the hundreth time if I wanted to press charges.  I again said no.  One of them said, “You know we have the power to press charges, even if you don’t want to.  We can take this all the way with or without you.”  I understand now that certain crimes are crimes against the state and therefore the state has the power to press charges, but it was a huge violation of privacy.  I was terrified and feeling completely out of control.  They finally said that since two months had passed and I wasn’t cooperating, little would likely ever come of it, but they laid a first-rate guilt trip on me and cautioned that I should expect a hostile welcoming when I returned to school in the fall.  I cried and cried, and they just said to be prepared because “gossip like this spreads like wildfire.”  A year later, the lead deputy in that case came to our sex ed class to give a talk on legal stuff.  He asked the teacher for a class list and read it, said something, and the teacher called me over.  She whispered loudly that the lecture might be “upsetting,” and that I didn’t have to stay.  I was stunned.  She hadn’t even explained what they would be discussing, so I said I was fine and crept back to my seat, mortified.  After class, I ditched for the rest of the day and got wonderfully high in defiance of what I considered two shitty institutions: law enforcement and high school.

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Moving Toward Treatment

Yesterday I went to a counseling session.  It felt so good to do something positive for myself.  It lends a new perspective to have things evaluated through the eyes of another person, especially someone who is so clear-headed and objective.  It was quite sobering, and I left feeling both relieved and scared.  We worked on a plan to start moving toward sobriety, although our goals are different…I want to get back to where I’m in control of my using again; he wants me completely clean.  I know I’m deceiving myself if I think I can contain my habit, but the idea of living a chemical-free life for more than a week is alien and nerve-racking.   I have zero capacity for controlled use.

He talked about enabling.  He defined it as people who allow me to use without imposing any negative consequences.  When I think about it in those terms, I guess I know a lot of enablers.  He talked about building a support system of about four people to be a safety net when I’m feeling tempted to use.  I couldn’t give him four names.  We came up with two, but it was a stretch.  My habit has given me the courage and motive to burn bridges, sabotage healthy relationships, and withdraw from the world.  Two years ago I would have been able to name a host of people that I felt close enough to trust and reach out to for help.  Addiction is most efficient when it is safeguarded by isolation.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve consistently chosen addiction over relationships with family and friends.

He talked about methadone.  I’m not sure what to think.  I asked about potential for abuse, and he said there is potential, but distribution is regulated.  I didn’t ask what happens if you crush it up and shoot it with smack, because if it is another way to get fucked up, then I’m all for it.  I will have to learn more about it.  Therein lies my vice…I tend to abuse anything I can get my hands on.  I thought of asking about buprenorphine, since it supposedly has a lower potential for abuse, but I stopped myself because why on earth would I choose a treatment that can’t be milked for another high over one that can?  He did say it’s dangerous to be on heroin and methadone at the same time. 

I don’t know whether it’s wise to voluntarily consent to a government drug test (I assume it would be accessible to the government if it’s through a clinic) and have it become a part of my permanent medical history.  The thought of having my name next to a positive check is profoundly disconcerting.  It may never make a difference, but once I commit, I can’t undo it.  I would hate to clean up, put my life back together, try to get a job in the courts someday, and be denied because the information surfaces. Maybe I should stick to short-term goals and worry more about surviving now than about the far-off future, but I don’t want to dig a hole for myself that I can’t undo.

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Woohoo! I Not Stupid

‘I Not Stupid’ is the name of a movie I saw several years ago at a Seattle film festival.  It was great.  Anyway, the title went through my head as I woke up this morning.  Last night was the big night…my presentation for the two-month project that I unwisely condensed into a few days of frenzied research and nutty writing.  The presentation was more than an hour long (brownie points), and I think it went very well.  I was able to answer every question and look like I knew what I was doing.  I even felt like I knew what I was doing.  Peculiar….

I planned to get unreservedly drunk last night in celebration, but I had an agonizing headache (too much learning?), so I will celebrate tonight.  Tomorrow I will actually pick up a book of fiction again and feel the splendor of its enthralling pages.

I am so thankful the semester is winding down.  A few finals, a few more papers, and that’s it! 

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Semester Woes

This semester has been a bit tumultuous.  I slunk back to school after a long break (it’s been over two years with one failed attempt in between).  I jumped into the endeavor without any sensible precautions as to what I could reasonably take on.  It seemed like a breeze.  I was riding high on the fact that I had aced every test and paper, and it seemed perfectly manageable for a while.  To my shy embarrassment, I was the student my teachers were making exemplary examples of (although I was unintentionally acing some of their tests while on cocaine, for which I meekly apologize now).  I thought that if I could just keep going a little longer, I would have the semester successfully bagged.  I lost control a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m scrambling to keep my head afloat.  I hope I prove to be more bouyant than I feel.

I almost forgot to show up for a test when I was high.  Still moderately high, I walked in thirty minutes late and felt pressure to catch up so the rest of the class wouldn’t be waiting on me before all the tests were in and the lecture could begin.  I almost certainly set a new record for speed writing while on heroin.  [A word to the wise: if you find yourself taking a test while mentally compromised, use a pencil.  I did not.]  As it turned out, I flew through the damn thing and turned it in before half the class did.  I get that test back tomorrow.  It goes without saying that my hopes are gloomy.  I should rightfully be failed based simply on the number of times I scratched out my tell-all, ink-etched sentences and started over.

Tuesday is Judgment Day.  I have an hour-long presentation to give on a project that was assigned in early October, but that I’ve conveniently adjourned from my thoughts until this week.  Hmm.  It should be a disaster of colossal proportions, but in light of the worst case scenario, I’m game for offering my classmates an hour of spirited entertainment.

I seem to be at least the second generation in my family to embody this trend.  Well…I’ve dipped to new lows, but I’m not the first to dabble in scholastic debauchery.  My dad was the first that I know of.  He survived high school, college, and law school with perhaps the highest grades and lowest median average of sobriety of any student.  He was voted most outstanding senior by the junior class.  He was elected the head of a straight-laced and straight-faced pre-med fraternity that promptly became suspended after it rapidly deteriorated to the most scandalous party fraternity on campus.  To be fair, he put his nose to the grindstone in law school by working daily and attending classes nightly, but his weekends never lent themselves entirely to studying. 

The fundamental difference between my dad and I is that he was drinking then, and I’m doing drugs now.  However much I laugh at my situation, I cannot possibly continue for long like this.  Heroin and education are fundamentally opposed, not least because of the fact that I hardly remember portions of my life for the last two years.  Even if I continue to grasp course material, memorization is impossible, and I am therefore doomed to fail if I can’t quit.  I don’t think I will fail any classes this semester, which I consider that a bona fide miracle, but I can’t ask to get by on another semester of lucky breaks.  The question now is whether to enroll for any classes next semester or forget about school once again.

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Women, Love Your Bodies

 Female language is funny.  I was discussing female bodies with my friend after he told me a girl broke up with him based on a misinterpreted comment about her weight.  I told him never to assume anything with regard to a woman’s weight.  In our conversation, he used the word ‘shapely.’  I said to be careful using that word, because it can be construed as ‘fat.’  Then he used the word ‘athletic.’  I said to be careful using that too, because if it refers to above the waist, it can be construed as a small chest, and if it refers to below the waist, it can be construed as bulky.

 

Are we really that complex?  Most men I’ve encountered have a much deeper appreciation for variety within the female form than women give them credit for.  Women critique and analyze every centimeter of their bodies (certainly not all women, but many).  They set themselves up for failure by taking cues from the acting and modeling industries.  In that sense, I think men somewhat inflame the problem, because the norm within those industries is what men come to expect as the contemporary iconic sex symbol.  However, that’s just association.  In everyday life, men seem to be far more tolerant, forgiving, and loving of figure flaws than women realize.

 

My judgment might be wrong, but from what I’ve observed, models were ‘shapely’ until 1965, when Edie Sedgwick ushered in the impossibly thin boyish look as a model for Vogue in New York.  The models before Edie would now probably be viewed as somewhat matronly with their curves and red lipstick.  Edie is my favorite model of all time.  She changed everything.  Within months, New York women were emulating her style, and within a year, the world was.  She had no curves, was muscular but incredibly thin, was extremely pale, wore nude lipstick, cropped her hair short, and played up her boyish persona.  At the same time, she was heavy on black eye makeup and fake lashes, wore oversized jewelry, and dressed exquisitely feminine.  Sound sort of like today’s models (minus the cropped hair)?  Twiggy ushered in 1966.  She is usually credited with creating a unique look, but like Edie before her, she had almost platinum blonde hair, an impossibly boyish figure (she was 16), pale skin, nude lips, and went over the top with black eye makeup and fake lashes.  Edie preceded her, but Edie’s fame was mostly confined to New York, whereas Twiggy was international.  Twiggy changed a lot, but Edie deserves the credit for being the leading light.  (Below: Edie on the left, Twiggy on the right.)

edie-296.jpg sixties7.jpg

The fashion industry still hasn’t moved on from many of the style norms set by women like Edie and Twiggy.  The industry has traditionally always swung like a pendulum between trends and body types, but the rail-thin angular model has been a runway norm ever since the sixties.  Designers claim such models are better for runways because they come closest to emulating what clothes look like on a clothes hanger (truly), and this is somehow desirable to them.  The trend has come under heavy crossfire lately due to concern over super skinny models.  The sixties influence is enormously popular now (although it’s waning), and with the resurgence of sixties style, the demand for super skinny models has become greater than ever.  The two historically went together, so it seems like a predictable match again.  The style trend will change, and with it, I think more shapely models will make the biggest comeback since the 1950s.  No small part may be that the heavier the public gets, the less women will tolerate anorexic frames on magazine covers and in movies.  The runways will, as always, precede the trend, Hollywood will follow, and it will filter down to style for the masses. 

Will any of this affect how men view their women at home?  I still believe most men are gracious, respectful, and awed by the form of their female lover, no matter what she sees in the mirror.

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Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged?

I had a harsh run-in today with an ex friend.  I love this friend dearly, and we were inseparably close.  I lost touch and fucked things up, and she logically moved on.  She laid into me about drugs and the person I’ve become.  There was nothing I could say in defense. 

A note was left on my car a few days ago saying something to the extent of “death to junkies.”  It indicated that I should consider a new career path of going to Iraq to be target practice for soldiers.  I don’t know who left it.

I’ve encountered  harsh judgment from a lot of people.  The above Iraq comment is used frequently with reference to drug users.  Another common one is that we should be sent to the Middle East to be blown up by terrorists in an attempt to appease their call for blood.  I would never move to argue with anyone about the complete worthlessness of my role in humanity.  If the military accepted enrollment of junkies to better serve troops in target practice, I might consider it, if I weren’t inclined toward pacifism.  However, the more I get familiarized with the world of drugs, the more I see that the true targets should be the distributors, not the users.  It’s not an attempt to shift blame for the problem from myself.  Most days I feel the weight of the entire drug problem on my shoulders.  However, chasing down users and throwing them in jail does little to solve the problem because it’s not a deterrent, and in fact, it plays a hand in inflaming the problem on a societal level (think taxes, overcrowded jails, the propensity for nonviolent criminals to become more rebellious upon serving time).  The farther up the chain the problem is targeted, the more effective the solution will be. 

opium-poppy.jpgAccording to the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics for 2003 (the most recent year I had) for dispositions conducted by U.S. attorneys, the total number of suspects for all offenses totaled 128,518.  Of those, drug offenses made up the largest single bracket by far at 28,537.  This included all drug offenses, including marijuana.  Drug offenses had the highest percentage of prosecution (82.2%).  In contrast, the prosecution rate was 72.8% for weapons offenses, 61.3% for violent offenses, and 60% for property offenses.    The average rate of prosecution for all offenses was 62.3%, so the rate for drug prosecutions of 82.2% is disproportionate. 

I always assumed the consumer creates the need and the supplier fulfills it.  Therefore, eliminate the demand, and you eliminate the supply.  It would just dry up.  However, a friend recently offered a differing viewpoint that maybe it’s the suppliers who create the need, and the consumers who fulfill it.  It’s food for thought.  China’s history is a case in point.  Certain illicit drugs are destructive enough that they cannot seem to be handled by any society no matter what.  Opium and its derivatives seem to be one such group of drugs.  China fought wars to keep opium out, but perhaps the richest and most aggressive drug cartel of all time– the British Empire– defeated them and overtook Hong Kong to keep the opium flowing.  Over 25% of China’s adult male population subsequently became addicted.  Had the Empire chosen to push their booming campaign on a different nation, what would have stopped the outcome from being any different?

Like most other social issues, this problem is best analyzed from a host of angles to arrive at the most effective solution.  Different individuals or groups will try to cook the problem down to one specific origin, which is effective in the same way that a bipartisan system is effective in politics to ensure that the scales never tip too far in any one direction.  Blame can be attributed to individual choice, genetic propensity, societal disadvantages, institutionalized inequality, or a host of other views.  Like most things, the truth is often somewhere in the middle, or an amalgam of all viewpoints.  Prevailing winds carry social attitudes.  Right now, I think the perception of drug use is in a fascinating transition from individual weakness to a certifiable disease.  The DSM-IV classifies drug addiction as a treatable disease.  The medical field is heading such a viewpoint, and society seems to be sluggishly embracing it.  It matters because the question of who or what is responsible dictates how the problem is approached and solutions are pursued.  So far, the “war on drugs” has had no qualms about heavily targeting the lowest bottomfeeders– the addicts who use but don’t sell– along with the rest of the drug chain.  It has been largely ineffective, and has caused collateral damage at all levels of society.  As one of those bottomfeeders, I can practically vouch that stopping me will not go far in taking a sizeable chunk out of the problem, but it will go far in burning taxpayer dollars and tying up governmental resources better spent stopping my supplier, or those who supply him. 

I was friends with my dealer long before I started using.  I don’t blame him for my choices, and I have a hard time judging him when it’s my arm his product goes into, but he’s an exceptionally destructive person toward individuals and society.  I’m just a small piece of the puzzle, and he hurts me constantly.  Better me (a lowly bottomfeeder) than anyone else, but I presume I’m not a unique case.  A couple of months ago, I walked in on him.  He grabbed his gun, clocked me twice, and I went down bleeding and half unconscious, but he didn’t stop there with the pummeling.  I had a seizure that night.  Another time he dropped me to my knees, grabbed my hair, put his gun to the back of my head, and switched the safety off.  He said, “I hope you’re ready to meet your maker, because you’re about to fucking die.”  What was I going to do after that, call the cops on him?  He has forbidden me to get treatment, and when I try to quit, he ropes me back in with plenty of free drugs.  It’s a business to him, sine qua non.  Knowing that I am not an isolated case, I bear witness to the significant violent threat he poses to society. I use, but I’ve never committed a peripheral crime to maintain my habit.  Drug fighting forces should drop nonviolent users of all kinds to the lowest priority and instead focus their time and money on bigger fish.

b-ayer.jpg

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Relapse

I am really fucking up.  For a while now I’ve been using every few hours around the clock, including at work.  Using in public obviously increases the chance of getting arrested, and I think I would care except that all I really care about is using.  I had been binging more and more frequently, then the episodes started bleeding into each other until there was no letup, and it’s been that way for over a month.  My best friend asked me to quit for a day, since the prior week had been way out of control.  I agreed to when he pointed out that getting high would be more effective the next day if I could get my tolerance to drop a bit.  Going clean is torture.  I got sick faster than I ever have after about six hours.  By early evening, I got hold of a bit from a source I had never used before.  The stuff was either bad or else I was allergic to something in it, because it really messed with me.  A few hours later, I had what felt like a heart attack (I’ve had two confirmed ones, plus seizures and overdoses), but I don’t know for sure.  I laid in bed in acute pain and unable to move, and I didn’t call into work.  I’ve been missing at least one day a week, and I show up late or leave early a lot.  The few hours I manage to be there, I usually use at least once.  I can’t get back in control.  This isn’t me.  For a long time I balanced working eighty hours between two jobs with school on the side.  I had friends, was happy, clean, and I was good to my parents and siblings.  I don’t know how to stop now, but I’m also not sure if I want to stop.

Two nights ago I was hanging out with my neighbor, who was the hookup for the bad stuff.  He was on something that made him extremely aggressive.  He was telling me how fragile skinny girls are while slamming his wall.  That scared the piss out of me, so I got up to leave, and he punched me three times, bam bam bam, in the face and stomach.  When I got back to my place upstairs, he came and pounded on my door for over an hour with no letup.  Calling the cops was out because I was high as a kite, and he’s on parole and would go back to prison for a long time.  I don’t like the guy, but I don’t want to be the one to maket that call.  The next night (last night) I was back at his place using, and he offered to share his vile drug that made him so aggressive.  It turned out to be PCP.  I’ve never tried a drug I didn’t like until last night.  I was scared out of my wits.  I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t.  I had terrifying thoughts, scary hallucinations, and was viciously suicidal.  I sat in the shower for over an hour desperately wanting to kill myself.  I don’t remember a lot of it, but after sobering up a bit, I got out a notebook and wrote some pretty crazy things down that I read this morning.  In April I had a lethal overdose that happened really fast.  The dealer’s roommate (they’re both my good friends) took me to the side of a road and called 911 from my phone before leaving me there.  I haven’t spent much time thinking about the overdose, but last night my thoughts were heavily focused on it.  From what I wrote, I think I was questioning whether I had been alive or dead since it happened, because I had felt dead since April.  Strange drug. 

Yesterday, I think I stumbled on my family’s plan for an intervention, so I laid low.  This morning I listened to my dreaded voicemails.  The first several were attempts of friends and family to contact me, people I haven’t heard from in months, just wanting to “talk.”  Those morphed into emergency calls from my parents taking my mom to the hospital in the afternoon.  She just had heart surgery last week, and I never went to see her in the hospital or at her house afterward.  Two days prior to her surgery, my dad had received some bad results from a biopsy, but they still don’t know what precisely is wrong with him.  I haven’t been there for him either.   They are both really sick, and their drinking on top of their health problems is killing them faster.  Meanwhile, I went AWOL while they’re simultaneously facing what could be the death of them.  I hate myself so much lately.  How do I face them today?  I have to see my dad in a little bit, and I don’t know what I will say to him.

Okay, this was a completely pessimistic post, but a vent was in order before work. 

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