Friday, December 29, 2006


Sweet, milky air, growing into the nooks and crannies of my lungs, swelling them, smooth gulps of big happiness. Smiling flower faces, petals, butterflies swooping, birds with grins, singing, cheery blues and greens and deeper green, the happy shades of nature, a carefully styled musical, glad-hearted surreality.

And the voices. My own voice, back at me. No puzzled, blank stares. No lame guesses at origin, Swedish? Russian? What the hell?
Slow-talkers, kind, ridiculously helpful. I love it. And for the first time, it's mine. The place I'd cringed away from, the uneducated, suave-less lilt and naive stumblings. I belong here.
Embarrassed, I'd tried to shrug it off. Trying to trade it for exotica, anything from a movie, passionate, dark excitement. New York skin rashes, heroin dealers on subway landings, sex with strangers. Veins messy scars of numbness and weird twinges. A skinny blonde girl with an odd accent, a nothing, just a smudge in an impatient, irritated culture, monosyllabic grunts, slammed phones. Angry money-hungry, ripping you off fuckers, grinding you under their heel, just to be an inch higher for a second, blocking the tiny-penis/ non-orgasming wife/ chubby child complex.

It feels so good, way down here, at the end of the world. In with my own. What a realisation. These are real people. Being nice, because they're nice. Not wanting anything from you. Eye contact. Screwed up, for sure, but not pretending to be any other way, laughing at themselves, instead of you. I'd underestimated them. Us.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


A breath plus a breath plus a breath is a day plus a day plus a day. Looking back, I'm surprised I made it. I had to. My partner at work, minutes before he was fired, talked my breath into my lungs and through. That was before it all went really bad.
I made fun of his plan, his suicide plan. Sometimes it isn't even me, talking, lying to my bank, running to meet the dealer on the corner.
Later, a few days later, hearing the news via angry grapevines, the easy, understanding lifeline worker's voice stroking my head through the phonelines, it wasn't any better, hearing their advice. The next time you see him, the person you taught intravenous drug use to, the one who hated heroin, and was scared of coke, the one you laughed at, your purse filled with them, until he used, call 911 when you see him. Tell them you need and ambulance, and police, to commit him to a psychiatric ward, against his will, to drag him there, handcuffed, tied to a bed, no drugs to hold him, pain emotional and physical, eating his body toothily, that person that trusts you, the only one left on your side, with the feelings you know yourself, black mountains steep and choking on every side. Or, let him die. And then, well, if you think you feel bad now, four friends minused already, that same phone-call, it almost gets easier each time, now instead of disbelief, you guess it, hung about in the silent awkward static of time- when it could still be a wrong-guess, and that's all you can hope for. The one life that you're in over your elbows, you know the shadows in his heart, you know it all, to watch that jump, suited, tied, clean socked- into blood red jelly and crushed skull. The pillows still smelling like him, all the hate reversed to love, the negatives held clearly to the sunny kitchen window. Look idiot, look. Now you can see everything. Please don't ring, telephone. I can feel it, a pain reverb, coming down the wires, coming.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Trying to breathe

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Fuck I hope he's okay.
He isn't back yet?
Oh. Well, just try not to think about him. Forget, if you can.
The phone rang. Surprisingly not the bank, wondering why I'd banked and cashed cheques from an empty account.
Her voice sounded bankish. She could actually speak english.
Hello I'm calling from the SPCA.
Oh, yes. You got my email.
Yes. And I have a Boo Cyr here, in Lost Cats.
Thank fuck. My little non-judging, snuggle-bum. Alive. And with all his limbs.
He's been here for 3 days, we tried to call-
Oh god, yes the number was changed just last week...
Our chauffeur (probably a strange translation from their french name for him) dropped by your house today. He left a note.
When can I get him?
We shut 11pm , just don't come on the dot. We're at 5432 Middle of fucking nowhere street. Bring ID and cash, we charge per day (aha! maybe this explains the lack of prompt communication).

That place had terror in its walls. I know animal lovers gravitate to jobs like that, I don't know why. Never an animalish person, not able to get past the slobbery tongues and bad smells, that place was traumatic, just to visit. Along one wall, chains and large labels, to hook onto cages. A hospitaly, no fun allowed font, all written in french, severe and self important. The chains looked old. VICIOUS. ABANDONED. NOT TO BE DESTROYED. TO BE DESTROYED.

I looked around for a bell, or someone who could help me, raising my 'excuse-mes" louder and louder. A tired little man emerged from an office piiled high with paper and junk.

Some cats shut down emotionally, the man warned me. It's how they cope. Don't be surprised if he doesn't recognize you, or seem happy to see you. He led me down a long concrete ramp to the basement, the stray cat prison. The artificially lit, concrete room was small and floor to ceiling with metal cages. Each cat had its own cage, about 4 times the size of a cat carry-box. And there he was, the first cat I saw. "Oh he hasn't shut down" the man said, the other cats lying as if dead, not even looking up.

When he unlocked the cage Boo seemed excited, but no meow, not even one. I reached out and picked him up, the way I love to hold him, the way he hates to be held. Usually he squirms and wriggles, definately a meow. Instead, purring manically, his body limp, cradled baby-like he looked up at me, his face unusally narrow and pinched looking. I felt like an evil imposter, or the dumbest, most uncaring owner. But I had to say it.
This isn't him. It can't be. He's not like this.

The man doublechecked the file number, and held out Boo's collar.
But this is his. Isn't it?

Even his fur felt different. His smell, strange. His bratty attitude had gone. I mean purring? Fuck, he's too cool to purr. He didn't meow at all until in the cab, 20 minutes down the road.
Finally I knew him.

That place was like an orphange from the dark ages. The thought of his 3 days, in there, caged, unable to walk or run. It makes my chest hurt. The ones that have to stay for months? That's animal cruelty.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

wasted means hasted

A blur of work, hours gobbled by sonething inexplicable. Five minutes now is 5 hours. Just sitting down, wheeling chair deskward, a sip of water, pretending it will make a difference to the drought in my mouth and throat. I feel productive. If only that made a difference. Always doted on by my bosses and colleagues, handled with care, as if a lapcat, needing strokes and tail scratches, I blipped last week. Felt the first frowns ever,workwise.

I thought of apologizing, but it's not good to admit a thing like I did. It's less of an issue, flickering out in a shroud of unknown variables. A personal something-or-other, maybe completely understandable.

So this was it, two radios to write, 3 days. Easy. The first day, I researched, had the ideas, but fuck, every time I started to write, the words dripped out of my finger like a clogged syringe. So, I'd leap to my feet, go bathroomward, the end stall, coughing and scriiping my heels on the tiled floor when the main door swung open. The stall doors have oddly loose locks, and three times someone has opened the door on me, my arm whipping up, in record time, to slam it in their face. But even record time can be just enough to see me with my purse strap twisted, held in my mouth, bloodied arms, a needle poised, or half in.

By the time I get the fucking vein, sometimes 45 minutes can pass, one night four, uh-huh, four, hours had passed. And that was the first radio-writing(non-writing really) night at work. Four thirty am, I depressed the plunger, the liquid so bloodied and thick, despite countless emties and clot-removal. Switch to new syringe, add a bit of water to anti-opaque it. Maybe the coke had clung to the clots I'd killed, because it was weak as fuck.

By that time, I was alone in the office, daylight waiting in the wings, 4.30am. Too late to go home and sleep, three hours in my own bed could only be a cruel tease, I worked(I guess, no actual words materialized on my radio template) until 6.30am, when the dealer turns his phone on.

The day was like a marathon drug-scoring, over and over not predicting the right amount of drugs to get, yo-yoing between the money-machine, my dealer's car, the bathroom, oh yes, and my radio scripts.

That evening, falling asleep in my cab home, I had had had to finish the radios, for a meeting at 9am the next morning. I tried, a valiant effort, I presume, but all I know with clarity is that moment I burst awake. The clock flashing 9am, computer still open on my chest, radio templates still empty, the meeting starting.

That felt really bad.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Shooting time

Chemicals dancing through my veins, if you kissed me you could taste it. I lick my lips, not savouring the flavour, savouring the maximum hit, a rare treat. Back from the bathroom, it took an hour for the heady rush, legs shaking, one heel starts to click, a staccato tile tap, arms reach out to steady, cubicled in brace. Brain singing, a-hum with tingles. A collection of too-blunt needles, dead or dying, lying on the hammock of my skirt. Vital to sort through pre-standing, or skittering they'll sppin away, under the toilet door, a dramatic entrance from backstage. Introducing my own final act. No claps. But, still spinning, I remember, stuffing my secrets, my coffin's nails, deep, below the bric-a-brac of purse filling. My black top, baggy, almost to my knuckles, white lining screaming with blood, red and brown and black. Pretty smears of every size and shape. An ad I carry with me. Cool my puffy arms under the tap. Alert for the sound of a footstep outside the door. Blood flooding around the sink. Sometimes, complaining, my arms seem to bleed forever, soaking and re-soaking toilet paper, racing for the floor. I never realized how hard blood clings. Stubborn. Refusing to be unwanted. The fastest way is Grandkma's, warm, soapy water. Push through the doors. Nod to the uniforms, heavy belts, bouncing conversation between them. Silence shouts as I appear. Funny the way the security guards flirt, attempting english, eyes caressing my calves from high black heels, scarf around my neck. I can read their eyes as they categorize me as lah-de-dah, expensive needs, gleaming manners. I can see it fills their purpose, a reason to feel proud of their fat asses, flat to chair, 24 hours. The reason men go to war, or open doors. Protecting us, the ladies. The ladylikest ladies, streaming pricey perfume, manicured, articulate, we make their muscles bulge.

I came into work this morning, late as usual, despite my 8.30am promises (embarrassingly adament). Almost on time, until the shot-stop, a few blocks from work, fighting for a vein, 45 minutes of increasing bluntness. Have you ever tried to push a soup spoon through your skin? Meet my bloodstained needles. Bent and encrusted. We hate each other, but we're nothing alone.

Into my office, my colleague already in his seat. A wry smirk. It was him I made my early-start promise to. Out of excuses, I've milked every possibility and more. I just said said hello. A flesh wall, he seemed icy. Not like him at all. I slid my slouchy leather purse beside my desk, filled with gear, packets of coke to snack on through the day. Leaning down, something familiar caught my eye. Beside the trash can, an orange lid- a syringe lid, with a bloody syringe beside it. My heart squeezing, I swooped casually, palming it to pocket. Two feet away from my quiet partner. Unusually so. Fuck, is this a trap? The obvious hit me, too late. Had he seen it, unsure who owned it? Waiting for my silent claim. A mouse, mouth stuffed with cheddar, a sigh before the spring, the clack of snapped spine. I watched him for a twitch or cough. He stared ahead. Are you okay? I asked, breath held. He's a good guy. Very good. He wouldn't care about weekend drug binges, but during work, me his partner, intentionally wounding our duo? From the top of the hydrosllde, peering over, sick with dread, I was 7 years old, but it would repeat. The pushy boys, building up behind. Teetering, shrinking to the side. I couldn't get back down. The ladder was packed. But fuck, I couldn't step over, steep nothingness ahead. Tears streamed down my face. Quiet, breathless sobs I didn't want to show. Then one hand from behind decided it. One hard shove. I stumbled over the metal edge, other kids' knees and feet and elbows clunking me, spun down the chute choking with fear.

The day is gone now. I think I'm safe. Saved by the wind, a leaf, a blade of grass, who knows? I can't imagine what I'd do, his finger pointing at it, I know the disgust people feel for used syringes, as if they're all crawling with maggoty disease. And then, they'd ask to see my arms. Usually not shocking, now like anti-drug bilboards, or connect the dots, red and swollen, mangled. Small bloody holes 2.5 cm apart, tracing each vein from hand to elbow, only breaking slightly midway, as the flesh deepens. The bruises are fading, they're blues now, peacock shades. Forget-me-nots to night sky shadows. Large scarred mounds at my elbow crook, bold white. Impossible to mistake, no lie could ever save me then.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I haven't been completely honest.

Yes, I feel stupid.
I keep remembering one moment. My first methadone reduction, when I was less than 3 months addicted. Early morning, a small group slouched in chairs as the nurse outlined the process. I was charming him, teacher's pet. He had too much hope in me from the begining. So did I. No doubt it would be breeze, no backwards glances, no reverb.

"Some of you may start using coke. Be careful" He warned. He was a know-it-all, who knew the words, but not the feelings. Later, often refusing to believe I could feel something that wasn't listed on his print-out. "Especially intravenous users, who may be hooked on the needle itself." I was staring at his T shirt, rasta-ish, cheesy. He was a self-righteous do-gooder, like one of those scary hip christians, who listen to christian rock, throwing in wierdo slang like groovy. Supicious. The type to turn on you. Get your secrets out and then nail your coffin shut with them. The coke comment- not applicable to me. Boring. I fucking hated the coke-effect. Egoistic, paranoid, blathering incessently, gaunt and chemical filled. Like skipping cds. I could smell them a mile off. That drug tears your body apart, it isn't like heroin, although cut with crap essentially a plant, natural, beautiful, kind to your body in every way but addiction.

He continued. "You get into that, just even start- you talk to us. There's no drug to help you get off coke. You'll find yourself in a hell a millions times worse than you are now." And that was that.

A year and half later now. But still, I remember the slant of his body, the dead eyes of the boys in rags, half the room asleep. Sure, one in ten succeeds in this program. It's the first thing they tell you. Drilled in, so that you don't even care each week when you tell them you've screwed up, yes you pretend to look like you do, but they've already ticked that box, like filling in your name. If they lied, and said it was 9 out of ten who fucking aced it, don't they realise how much easier it would be? Blind faith. A little lie to ignore the cravings, deny them as something else, rather than feeling sick and icky, right on schedule, failing, right on schedule, wasting time and having constant mysterious appointments to explain to work.
But that's a tangent.

I was saying, I remember that moment of coke-hell warning, an exclamation point in my mind. And my relief in a way- well fuck, maybe things aren't that bad. Never could coke seduce me.

As clearly as I remember that 8am moment, probably the only 8am clear moment of my life- I have a corresponding hole, scissored out of time, concerning one particular moment- now, maybe 2 months ago.

The moment I tripped out of my dealer's car, that always moment, skiittering on heels to the closest bathroom, cooked my heroin, shot it and then opened a bag of coke I can't remember buying, or why it even would occur to me, and shot that too.

For the first two weeks it was every few days, a treat, on top of heroin. One bag, 5 shots.
I can't feel heroin much anymore, because my methadone dose has been hiked so high (for that exact purpose) so the rush was a surprise, I actually hadn't realised how little I feel heroin now- how 95% of the pleasure is just in the comfort action. My mind tricking me. I also hadn't noticed how much heroin had changed me. Room-loving, too-loud music on headphones, alone alone alone. Excited plans to go out, that the day of would never happen. Any excuse. Friends on permanent call waiting.
Ringing phones ignored. Cocooned. Safe.

That one, first shot of coke changed all that. I had done it a bit last summer, but got bored of it, scared at the intenseness and freakish cartoons my friends became. i didn't want to be like that. Chewing my fucking face off. Seething with that restless pacing energy. I like calm. And heroin was bountiful and loving, my tolerance low, I had found my match and I couldn't be bothered flirting. Friends tried to convince me. Nah. And if and when I did, I stopped on little amounts, weekend nights only, sensible stuff.

So now, that shot. I put down the syringe and called the friends I had pushed away. Non-judgemental, I have good friends, they made it clear, unspoken, but very clear, each in different ways, that it was up to me. The friendship. It would be there, but for me to re-ignite. All busy people, and me too. They knew I was unchangeable, so they just told me they loved me and the unanswered phone calls and constantly rain-checked catch-ups dried up.
My veins buzzing with charm and energy, I searched my phone book for links and called them all, over the next few days. The world had opened its petals, I felt like I was me again, for the first time realising I had been gone. I could have been a professional soirée-attendee, in the past. Out every night, living off conversation, fascinating people, vodka, wine, lustful eyes, being envied by women and hated, collecting hearts. University was a like a vague hobby, to keep my brain moving.

Coke-filled, I enjoyed that sort of thing again. Not hesitating to turn up alone at an event or party. I felt free. This city is small. I was welcomed back smoothly. Although, I'm sure they noticed that I liked the bathroom, flitting to it half hourly, at least.

My boyfriend wasn't impressed. He stayed away. More a fiend than I, afraid it would tempt him. And then one day, a week or two of warnings from him later, he asked for a bit in his spoon. That was, looking back, a clear, sharp fork in the road.
I asked him if he was sure. Pretending I could make a difference. That was that. The same with heroin. I don't think he slept for a week. He shifts a lot on it. Too too much, is probably why. I'm sure he's lying about however much he takes. It's just an automatic reaction with him. Lies, like some people giggle, bursting out, hard to stifle, and always one leading to another.

A partner in crime is always fun. And depending on the crime- often, not a good idea. We did a lot. Until my mid-arms were so swollen I could barely feel a thing, still shooting, once it took an hour and a half. Tears and blood dripping over my purse, staining my thighs and feet, smudges on my forehead. Those are the lowest moments. When all syringe-rationale "efficient, precise, clean, effective, cost-smart" are stained.

Tall, I've found long sleeves a rare and elusive purchase. Just past three quarters is my usual length. Not enough anymore. Cradling my arms, gentle, careful movements. Wrist to bicep, plump with swelling and patterned with bruising. Hillier over my favourite veins. Violet, yellow, blue, pink. Delicate and light, my veins rarely complain after heroin, never bruising. Never anything like this. It's a combination of the amount of shots needed and the vile toxicity of coke. If a little splash of heroin spills from my vein it is absorbed quickly by my body. I'll feel the effects, although no rush. Cocaine, ack, so different. Poison. If anyone sane saw my arms right now, they would lock me in a room, and call white coats.

But something incredible has happened. Heroin, like a light beer versus a tequila shot, plus three times as expensive, has been overshadowed. Listen to this: I can't remember the last time I did heroin. A switch has been flicked. Everything's different. I have to keep up with my methadone, or I would be violently ill, but I've lost the lust. I've never ever enjoyed methadone, I can't wait to get off it. Finally now, the doctors will start weaning me off. I should be ecstatic. It's been two weeks at least. Cravings gone.

But replaced.

That's what I've avoided mentioning, or even thinking. I hate this. Me. I hate not being able to trust myself. Desperately sure of something one day, not at all, the next. How certain is certain? I don't want to be a sucker for believing in myself. Do I have to fight myself every step of the way? Again. The same huge mistake. I'd comforted myself before, trying to gloss my initial retardedness, maintaining any mistake is acceptable if you learn from it.
But I just learnt how to do it all over again, with heightened efficiency.

I have been scared. Very scared. But two days ago, something changed. Seeing my arms, as if violently beaten, pushing needles through swelling, always searching for the vein less mutilated, to mush it more, the initial walking-on-clouds feeling replaced by irritation, I couldn't tie a pretty bow around this one. This drug is not kind, it's not a pure heroin-style emotional hug, it's chemically, sickly. Ragged teeth eating my health. An enemy I have invited inside. Like an exquisitely gorgeous person with foul breath and genitals. Wrong, all wrong. The way after the first month with a new lover, their skin and lines and shapes have become different to you. Inside-out. Beautiful personality and character is by far the best plastic surgery. For me, the initial prettiness of cocaine didn't take long to rot. Chemicals slinking through my blood, inky bitterness in the back of my throat. Lips numb from holding the syringe, from an unnoticed tiny droplet's kiss. Sour and cruel. I know this is my enemy, in satin dress, big eyes from under hooded lids. Sleeping baby with forked tongue.

I just have to sneak up on it, before it sneaks up on me. Cut it out like a cancerous mole. Keep looking over my shoulder. I've always loved scary movies, the scarier the better. I'm sure you all know the dark, windy night scene, before the terror starts, that camera shot that rests a moment too long on the knife-block, big chef knives just so, all in place, tense and silent. Foreshadowing. Waiting breathlessly for the killer's hand. Itching to reveal a knife-less gap. An empty, screaming space.

This time, I'll be at the knife-block waiting for him. It's time to be tough.