Monday, May 31, 2010

A Holiday Weekend

For most of the people I know today is the last day in a long holiday weekend. For me, other than the fact that the calendar says it Memorial Day, it is just another day. Memorial Day will be celebrated in various ways by people, some with respect to those who passed and served, other will have not even gave a passing thought to those Veterans.

Such is life in our world today.

The Weekend was for me a bit better than those experienced in some time. Things were done that more closely resembled the life of many others I know. Going to the cemetery, doing a bit of sprucing up there at family members graves. Going to Presque Isle for a ride to see all the weekend celebrants coming up from Pittsburgh. Splitting a 6 pack of really greasy hotdogs and hamburgs, along with an order of Greek fries. Indigestion came later.

I also got my hair cut. I always have to be pushed into a barbers chair. But it was so long, and it was pulled into a pony tail yet again. It was a pain to wash and comb out in the mornings after washing. So my hair was at a point were one either got it cut or invested in additional hair care products. It cost $13.00 and a nice tip for the poor girl stuck chopping that hair into something acceptable looking.

I watched the Indianapolis 500. The race was not delayed by rain nor did it have too many wrecks. It wasn't the most exciting Indy 500 race I've ever watched, but it id help pass the time. Danika came in 5th, her best finish. Good for her.

I also smoked a 20 piece. It was better than previous crack from last week. But I didn't enjoy it at all. The buzz is not as much fun as it used to be. I also let guilt get in the way and then that guilt allows the paranoia creep into the picture as well. I really shouldn't be feeling guilty. I do what I do in a manner that has, by and large, kept the harm to me and those around me to a minimum.

I have been cutting back in what I write here. I know why as well. There may be people who are judging. I have to get beyond that fact though. Because if they are judging me, they damned well already know who and what I am. There is nothing I could put into this blog that would change anything.

I do have to keep in mind that what I write here is for me. If this blog and anything contained within it is of use to anyone else, that's a bonus. The fact that when I do use is documented here is important. My reactions to that using are also part of what put in here and that has it's uses as well.

There may be another reason I have cut back here as well. I have been spending a great deal of time online. Doing, writing in and participating in activities that have nothing to do with drugs and people who take drugs. Well, at least not crack. I'm getting involved with activities that are more characteristic to what "normal" people do online.

Is that a sign that I'm gaining on it?

A little.

And every little bit counts.

Better is Better.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Friday!

And in actuality it's just another day to me.

I survived, I have money in a safe place and I didn't get shot, overdose or get arrested. Yes, I did get high and yes, I did get ripped off as well. That's part of the deal when you're a crackhead. Sometimes I forget that if you deal with someone who smokes crack or deals crack you stand a chance of getting ripped off.

I think I should reread some of what's been previously posted here more often.

To add insult to injury the crack was crap. It's holiday, end of the month, checks are out crack. That means that it's cut to the point that you really have more soda than cocaine. People have money, have time off of work and they want to party. Dealers want to make as much as they can make during these periods, so they stretch it as much as possible.

The shits so bad that the dealers might not even be arrested for possession if they were caught.

But, I'm not broke.

I have things to do which are closer to what "normal" people do on a holiday weekend. I also plan to make some purchases that will improve my "quality of life." Damn, that's a departure from my previous behaviors. Things are not perfect but things are improving slowly.

So I repeat my mantra. Not my slogan, but my mantra: Better is Better.

You're damned right it is!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tomorrow, tomorrow, there's always tomorrow...

It's only a day away.

That's the thing too. I'm sitting here fantasizing about tomorrow. I'm thinking about what I'm going to do once the money comes in. I feel it in my guts. That's fucked up, but that's the way it is. That feeling doesn't pass in 20 to 30 minutes and anyone who says it does is full of shit.

But I did do stuff to keep my squirming mind busy.

I went to the store with my friend Don. He finally was sober and over that shakes enough to walk a few blocks to the convenience store for some smokes. He got a pack of cigarettes for me as well. Then we cruised over to Dollar General to get some food. He doesn't walk all that well and has to stop about every half block to get his breath.

This ate up about two hours. It was and is nice outside with blue skies and the temperature in the mid 70s. The scenery, as in college girls walking by along with good looking office workers going for lunch, was nice. Hey, what can I say? I'm not really a dirty old man, but I'm not dead either. This is funny in a way, but not, some of those girls leave nothing to the imagination.

Oh well.

Then we came back and I had to do something to keep myself busy. I have a Facebook page and monkeyed around there a little bit. Commented on some "friends" pages. Left comments on sites that want to boycott BP. Listened to a PRI podcast regarding the "war on drugs." (It's a dismal failure.) Un-friended one "friend" who is just hustling an adult website. Sheesh, don't they read my profile?

Erie Crackhead has better and/or other things he does with his money.

But the whole time the thought was rolling through my head. Tomorrow is almost here. Tomorrow is when shit is going to happen. Tomorrow is when I better do all the things I need to do before making that phone call. Tomorrow is when the rubber better damned well hit the road before the shit hits the fan.

In a manner of speaking of course.

Yep, it's only a day away....

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's time to make lists.

Yes, it is!

Lists will be made to make sure everything that needs to be paid does get paid. Lists need to be made so that things that I need will be bought. Lists will also be made for things I want. Things that might make my life a bit more comfortable. Things that might make me appear a bit more presentable.

Not that preppy, button down collar image that I used to project. More of an image of a person on a long term permanent paid vacation. A paid vacationer from Hell on a tight budget.

OK. Back to the lists.

Rent and electric bills are the only things hanging over my head this month. Groceries need to be bought. Before I make that list the refrigerator is going to be cleaned out first. Not so much to discard the mystery food and science projects that may have accumulated, but to get an accurate inventory of the edibles. No sense in buying stuff I don't need.

There is a good chance that money will be set aside for future purchases. This set aside money may also be just to have in case of an emergency. This may also allow a bit more freedom to go and do things Erie Crackhead has been depriving himself from.

So, you are saying to yourself, "What the hell does any of this have to do with crack."

The fact that preparations are being made to pay bills, buy food and perhaps get a crackhead something nice have a hell of a lot to do with crack. Because if Erie Crackhead starts smoking crack before this stuff gets done, there's a damned good chance none of it will get done.

When this crackhead, and when almost any other crackhead gets money it's a race. That race is between the responsible use of that cash and the crack. I've been working hard at making sure responsibility wins over the crack. It's been work, but I've had help.

Will I get high?

Don't ask stupid questions. The thing is that there will be safeguards in place when that does happen. And the guilt associated with buzz is much less when the important things have taken the higher priority. Rent and utilities paid, food bought and some cash saved is a huge advance for me.

There will be no sitting there saying to myself, "What the fuck do I do now."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Better is Better

Despite my whining, and doubts and a lot of negative thinking I am making progress.

Money, not a great deal but nonetheless a positive balance is in the bank. My checking account has usually been in the range of $200 to $300 in the hole at this time of the month. Debts for loans from my neighbor are only $30. I owe no one else a nickel. In past months I would have owed, at a minimum, $250 to others. I have money put aside, out of my reach. It'll work out to about $100 by my next check. Right now it's $150, but I know that at least $40 will get smoked up.

But looking at the numbers, I've smoked about $400 less than in previous months.

Yeah, there was still about or will be about $500.00 puffed away, but consumption has been cut almost in half.

Better is better.

Doing things, not to get through cravings, but to stave them off in the first place have helped. This silly blog has refocused me, even with the negative shit in it at times. Not dwelling on getting high, but talking about what's been happening. Also exposing myself to the thoughts of people way smarter than me. And to thoughts of people who are walking in the same shoes as me.

Yeah, better is better.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Friend Greg

Greg really isn't his real name, but he's a really shy guy and I don't want to embarrass him. He's a really nice guy as well. He goes out of his way when he sees Erie Crackhead just to say, "Hi!"

Yeah, he's special.

I had mentioned his unfortunate run in with the Erie police a few weeks back. I finally found out how the whole thing turned out for him. As it turns out, things turned out alright.

He had a hearing before the area District Justice.

Before that hearing a few letters were sent to people in positions that needed to be made aware of Greg's treatment by our men in blue. Greg's counselor and doc at the VA Hospital relayed his unfortunate experience, in language and terms understood by those in positions of responsibility.

They relayed that Greg was a responsible individual, who unfortunately has a disability. They also relayed the fact that Greg was neither an alcoholic or drug abuser. These people also described the abuse and ridicule Greg was subjected to while in the care of our police.

I would hope that their treatment of Greg's situation wasn't special and would be extended to anyone caught in the same web that Greg found himself. I also hope that this type of concern for all Vets isn't just limited to the fine people who work at the Erie, PA facility.

But, then again Greg is special and so is the staff at Erie's VA Hospital.

The day came for Greg's hearing on the charge of public intoxication. He arrived at the District Justice's offices with his counselor, his doc and a VA attorney. The only thing missing was the arresting officer. Apparently the powers to be saw their error and thought better of causing embarrassment to the police department.

The charges were dropped.

Greg was given the opportunity to tell his story to the justice. His support team also reinforced Greg's story as well. All this was unnecessary from a legal point of view, as nothing further could be done with the charge. But it was heartening to hear Greg tell of the justice's reaction to the whole mess.

The District Justice was royally pissed off.

As a result, more letters were written to the Mayor and Chief of Police.

So there's a happy ending to this.

One thing to note.

People with disabilities often don't look for special treatment. In many respects they want to be treated the same as anyone else. Many don't even consider their disabilities a disability. But at the same time, busting someones balls because they may walk funny or talk funny, in your opinion, is just plain wrong.

Especially if that person is a Vet. I know at least one who has friends in high places. I know why he has those friends as well.

Like I said, he's special.

Shit, I did it again. the soapbox.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Guaranteed to Fail

Well, this kind of pissed me off.

On the other hand it really shouldn't. Look, the relapse rate of cocaine addicts is in the range of 94% to 99%.


You really shouldn't be surprised, I've known these facts since my first go-round in a hospital short term rehab. Actually it was more of an alcohol detox ward, but us hapless crackheads were welcomed as long as we had good insurance.

Despite the incredible odds against using again, there are those who have stopped. I know a few who managed a year or more. I also know way many more who can't put a week together without a hit. Treatment or getting into a rehab of some sort at least offers some refuge from crack hell.

Now this little fact pops up.

The professionals have tools that at least predict those who'll get through the entire treatment process. At least those who can get through treatment successfully have a better shot at gaining some straight time. The Stroop Test, which you can learn more about by clicking the title, is a predictor which shows which patients are more likely to drop out of treatment.

I do have a few questions.

If someone takes that test and is shown to be a likely candidate to not successfully finish treatment are there alternate methods that might increase their chances of at least short term success?

Do the treatment professionals just cross their fingers and hope for the best in the one size fits all treatment models in existence today?

Are there options available to the patient as well as the counselors and therapists to improve the addicts chances in this game where the odds are tilted in favor of the crack?

If there are not alternative treatments at this time, is any kind of research being done to improve our odds?

If you have some answers, let me know. Then I'll let others know so that shortly we all will know. You know?

With all that said, even "successful" completion of treatment is not a a guarantee of continuing abstinence. Unless some meaningful answers are formulated then that future vaccine being developed in some lab some place may be our only hope.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Someone asked me...

Am I happy?

Most people know what to say right off of the get go. Of course they're happy, why shouldn't they be happy? They have all the comforts that life can provide and are surrounded by loved ones and friends. What's not to be happy about?

I didn't know what to say. There is no straight answer to that painfully simple question, at least for me. One reason is that I'm not so sure what happiness is anymore.

I know a bit about what happiness isn't. It hits me straight between the eyes when a hit is taken. It's disguised as that initial rush from that first hit But at times it's that first hit that makes me feel a little bit closer to normal but really not happy. What the hell normal is really?

Once someone told me that normal was just a cycle on a washing machine.

So, am I happy?

Well to tell the truth, I've been a hell of a lot happier. But now thinking about those happy times is only a source of pain. Those happy times will never be regained. Too much time and neglect, mostly mine toward others has gone by the boards.


No more whining. At least not here. It was the pursuit of happiness that got me here. Happiness can't be pursued though, you just have to let it happen. If it's forced it's just a fleeting thing. Just out of reach and never fully achieved.

I guess I should be happy still being alive after the hell I've gone through. I should be happy there is a roof over my head, plenty of food for my belly and a few bucks in my pocket. I also should be happy that there are at least a few people who will talk to me as a person and not a piece of human refuge that so many associate with crackheads.

I mean, crackheads have feelings too...

And the beast?

The beast is never happy, even when it's fed, it's just wants more and more and more. So twenty bucks and a little snack to shut it's mouth for awhile. Not much of a snack, but it's quiet for now.

For a little while anyway.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Am I a Phony?

You know, a phony person.

One who presents themselves as something quite different than what they really are in fact. Someone who appears to be normal to all outward appearances. Someone who's comments, insights and opinions are welcomed and respected. Someone who hides behind the curtain while pulling levers and manipulating gears so that the image is far different than his reality.

That troubles me in that this is part and parcel of the compartmentalization in my life that I am trying to breakdown. Presenting one me while knowing that is a false front.

On some fronts, I have invited a few to take a peek behind the curtain. I have, so to speak, invited a few to the edge of my circle. Not into yet, but at a safe distance that allows me to observe and to be observed. This is all at arms length as there is a great deal of fear should someone get too close.

Closeness has it's dangers, both to those others as well as myself. I've hurt and have been hurt. Part of that pain feeds the beast and it's appetite waxes and wanes. But it roars to life at times with frightening unpredictability.

Last night it whimpered when I got $20.00 from my neighbor.

So the beast got a snack.

That happened as I was drawing others in, and I pushed them away at the same time.

And sooner or later the phony me is gonna' have to come clean if it's ever going to safe to let someone close. After all I done, seen and heard what the hell am do I have to fear.

Just me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Do I have a disease?

The debate rages on, but Congress seems to have made that decision for us.

What would we do without politicians?

Don't answer that...

Anyway, I was feeling depressed about having used on Monday. Tuesday had me babbling in one of my "support groups" dedicated to Harm Reduction. As in do no harm to others or to one's self. Or in my case, minimize the risk to myself.

So after reading from "Addiction Inbox,"(A link to that article is in the title to this blog entry) an internal argument rekindled inside of me. I posted to my group the following:

I keep forgetting.
Do I have a disease?
Am I of weak moral fiber?
Have I only made and continue to make bad choices?
Am I only trapped in the endless cycle of a dependence on a chemical to make me feel normal?
And what ever the answer, do I have a snowball's chance in hell of escaping this hell?
Oh, fuck it...

A reply was posted by someone, much smarter and wiser than myself. Out of respect to this private list and to protect the author's privacy all identity has been stripped. With all that said, the reply was this:

I choose to engage in recreational intoxication and to do no harm.

Although this entails some risk so do other behaviors such as gay sex, skydiving, or driving an automobile. We do not choose to call these diseases.

The people who have a disease, the sick ones, are the one's who want to outlaw drugs and fill prisons and lock up people like me in 12 step indoctrination camps and take away my freedom of religion and shove the god of billshit down my throat.

I do agree with this, with possible exception of the gay sex.

All sex is risky, but that is for someone else's blog or editorial.

I smoke crack. There are inherent risks in engaging in that activity and I do my best to minimize those risks. And while that activity isn't always a pleasurable one, it is something I choose to engage in from time to time. In a sense, it has becomes hard wired into me.

So far as the harm and risks are concerned, there is little left to lose and I insulate myself so no harm is done to others. I try to minimize the financial consequences so that my life can be a bit more comfortable. In that regard, by using harm reduction techniques in my finances, some success has been realized.

But eventual abstinence is a goal. It may not be in reach at this moment, but is something I'm working to achieve. But my usage is reduced significantly from where it was not too long ago. In part that has been a benefit of writing this blog.

Beating myself for episodes of hitting the pipe are counter productive. I am, as the steppers are fond of saying, "a work in progress." That progress will be measured in the long term results. One of those goals is to be abstinent with money in my pocket.

It probably won't happen tomorrow, may be not next week or even next year. But it's a goal I am aiming towards.

You gotta' have some goals. I'm keeping mine simple and allow for mistakes.

If you've never made a mistake, you've never done anything.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Money is Put Away

But small amounts flow in and out of my hands.

Saturday had my neighbor stopping by with his bottle. Misery loves company I guess, so I had a few shots with him. He also had a big head start on me so far as the drinks were concerned. As usual the offer was made to loan me twenty bucks. That only happens when he's drunk.

What's crackhead to do?

I took his twenty and called a newcomer to my circle of smokers. I wanted to try out their source. You know, to see if their shit was any better than the shit I got from my regular Dude. As usual, it was the same shit in a different package. I shared what was gotten with my new "friend."

Dope's gone, new friend leaves and I sit there wondering, "What the fuck was that all about?"

Can I blame my vodka swigging neighbor for this turn of events. Certainly not, as he just wants a little company and knows of my bad habits. In his mind, he's trying to help. Help what, I'm not sure but his motives are not devious or underhanded.

Perhaps he just uses the occasional loan as a way of insuring my company in the future. Besides, he knows I always pay him back. I also feed him 2 or 3 nights a week. I'm doing my part to keep him alive, as he is often too drunk to fix anything of nutritional value for himself. A symbiotic relationship of sorts.

But my smoking crack is not his fault.

Perhaps it was my wonderful day at the park on Friday. That put me in a great mood. Made me feel free in a way. Maybe I was feeling too good. Certainly not invincible, but I was in a good place.

I do know that taking a hit is not going to make anything better, but looking for balance in it is fucked up.