Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tunnel of love

Things have been a little tense lately. Nothing like the holidays to amplify and magnify emotions and, unfortunately, the shit we go through in our families. Maybe it has nothing to do with the holiday season. In fact, it probably doesn't.

Addiction sucks, and one of the things that sucks the most about it is that it tends to run in families. I'm not going to get into the reasons for that here. It is what it is, and here's what it is:

My brother is an alcoholic, and it's getting worse. Actually, that's a moronic statement. What's it going to do? Get better? Not until he decides to get help, which he isn't going to do. Not right now, anyway.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a big, hairy, drug craving, full-blown addict. But aren't you sober? Yes, I'm sober. Have been for nearly three years. Then what the hell are you saying? I'm saying I'm a big, hairy, drug craving, full blown addict who has been sober for almost three years. Well, what the hell does that have to do with your brother? Christ! If you'll listen, I'll tell you.**

So having lived on both sides of the whole addiction gig, I'll say first hand: You can't help someone who doesn't want help. There's just nothing you can do. NOTHING. Do you hear me? NOTHING! You can be co-dependant, which means catering and coddling, and worrying and blaming yourself, and wondering why and trying to make things "all better" - in other words: you can get lost in someone else's shit. Or you can accept the fact that what's going on has nothing to do with you. You didn't cause the problem and you certainly can't fix it. There's nothing you can do, and that's an awful realization for someone who loves an addict. (As always, addict = addict/alcoholic)

It's the most helpless feeling, to have to sit by and watch someone you care deeply about as they destroy everything around them. It's hell on earth to watch someone die because they won't ask for help. And it's those drama-filled events that happen so often, the midnight crises, the tearful moments that give pseudo hope, the brief glimpses of sanity, that make it all so much worse.

I really don't know which is worse. Living as an addict, or living with one in your life.

It's like going through a tunnel where, with every move forward, what's behind you is erased. Your only option is to go through it. There's no way to avoid the tunnel. It's just there. You can get stuck there, in the dark with your addict, or move through it, leaving them to make their own way. The only thing you have any control over, is your own journey. And that sucks. And it's excruciating, because who doesn't want to double back for a friend?

Anyway, I've moving through my own tunnel, leaving my brother behind. I hope he gets off his ass and catches up, because I love him. And I hate him. And I miss him. But in the past couple of years, I've learned (well, I'm learning) to love myself. I've worked so hard to get where I am, and I'm not doubling back to help him anymore.

There's a woman in Hawaii (I think that's where she's from) who's daughter is an active meth addict, who e-mailed me the other day. She wanted to ask me a question, but wanted to make sure she had the right person at the right e-mail address. I e-mailed her back and verified that yes, I am me, but I haven't heard back from her. So if you're reading this - it's me, and I'm checking my e-mail, waiting for you. Please write to me again.

**I've learned to embrace my Inner Dialogue, and we're getting along much better these days.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Feeling guilty about holiday eating? DON'T!

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! .... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.
And remember:   'Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO, What a Ride'


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3.  The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.


Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

From the (broken) Heart

So many lives are affected by meth. I spent the morning reading some letters at the KCI meth website. They're both heartbreaking and eye opening. I encourage you to take a few minutes and read some of them. You can find them here. They speak for themselves.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dopamine, Methamphetamine and You

This is another guest blog by Lori Pate explaining how meth affects the brain, and why it's so addictive.

Thank you, again, Lori.

First things first -- What does dopamine do anyway?
1) Dopamine is critical to the way the brain controls our movements. Not enough dopamine -- can't move, or control our movements well. Too much dopamine? Uncontrollable/subconscious movements (like picking, tapping, repetitive moments, jerking, twitching). Remember that the heart is a muscle, too, and too much dopamine will result in increased pulse and blood pressure.

2) Dopamine controls the flow of information from other areas of the brain, especially memory, attention and problem-solving tasks. This becomes important when we talk about amphetamine-induced psychosis that is common in meth abusers.

3) When dopamine is released it provides feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate us to do, or continue doing, certain activities. Dopamine is released by naturally rewarding experiences such as food and sex. This pre-programmed reward system makes sure that people do eat, do desire to procreate, and basically survive. Without enough dopamine, people feel the opposite of enjoyment and motivation -- they feel fatigued and depressed, and experience a lack of drive and motivation.

How do brain chemicals like Dopamine work?
Brain chemicals, including Dopamine, are stored in cells, which you can think of like barrels full of that chemical. When something occurs like a good meal or great sex the brain pours out some dopamine from the dopamine barrels into an open space in the brain called a synapse. It floats around there. Think of the synapse like a street, and dopamine is like little cars driving around aimlessly on the street.

Across the street (not far) from the barrels of dopamine are Dopamine receptors. These receptors have little parking spaces on them that only fit Dopamine (or a substance VERY similar in chemical shape to Dopamine) into them, like a lock and key. As the Dopamine floats around in the synapse, it finds parking spaces at Dopamine receptors, and "plugs in" to the receptors. THIS is the point where we feel good, when the Dopamine is parked in a receptor's parking space. There are, however, a limited number of receptors with "Dopamine only parking" available, and each receptor has a limited number of parking spaces. So some of the dopamine may not be able to find a place to park.

When all the parking spaces are taken, the remaining dopamine that didn't find a place to park is normally recycled. There are "reuptake molecules" that do this -- think of them like tow trucks. They find the extra dopamine, and tow it back to the barrels of Dopamine so that it can be re-used the next time. After some time has passed, the receptors release the Dopamine that was parked in their parking spaces, and the tow trucks take those Dopamine molecules back to the barrel too.

The brain has a safety-check system that will destroy any excess Dopamine that isn't in a parking space, and didn't get picked up by the tow truck. There are special chemicals in our brains that will break down this extra dopamine. Think of this like the toxic waste crew coming in and sweeping up the street.

As a last resort, after repeated long-term over-stimulation, the brain will shut down Dopamine receptors so that nothing can park there ever again. Think of this like the demolition team coming in and permanently barricading off the driveways.

This is your brain on Meth!
So now that we have a basic understanding of how things work normally, I'll try to explain how things work when meth is ingested.

When someone eats, snorts, injects, or otherwise gets meth into their system, meth stimulates those barrels of Dopamine to pour out Dopamine. Meth continues to tell the cells to pour out dopamine until the body can break down the meth, which is typically 12 hours or so.

So Dopamine is poured out into the synapse (street) and finds parking spaces at dopamine receptors and makes the user feel high.

But meth is a tricky little chemical. It is shaped closely enough to Dopamine that the tow trucks get confused, and pick up meth thinking that it is dopamine. So the tow trucks are busy driving around hijacked by meth molecules leaving the extra Dopamine molecules floating around in the street (synapse). Well... that means the toxic waste crew comes in and destroys that dopamine that did not get recycled. So for the 12 hours or so it takes for the body to break down the meth, it is also spending that time destroying dopamine.

As long as the user keeps ingesting more meth, this process continues until there is not enough dopamine left to feel high from. When the user finally stops using, and the brain breaks down the meth molecules, the recycle trucks try to salvage what dopamine there is left, while the user crashes.

The end result of a "run" or "binge" on meth is a marked decrease in the amount of dopamine left in the brain. This leaves the user feeling exhausted, hungry, depressed, possibly suicidal and definitely unmotivated. They are literally suffering from a brain chemical imbalance. Self-inflicted mental illness.

How can the brain ever be normal again?
Well, luckily, the human body is pretty resilient. We do have the ability to make replacement dopamine. However, the body was not designed to need to do this in large quantities or in quick supplies. So we don't have a mass-production plant making dopamine. It's a 3 to 4 step process, too.

The process: Phenylalanine --> Tyrosine -->L-dopa --> Dopamine

Phenylalanine is the first "pre-cursor". It can be found in the following foods: soybean protein, frozen tofu, dried and salted cod, shellfish, lean meat, organ meat, skin-free chicken, cheese, milk, eggs, many seeds (watermelon, fenugreek, roasted soybean nuts), and chocolate. Equal artificial sweetener also contains Phenylalanine. The body can turn Phenylalanine into Tyrosine.

Tyrosine can also be found in food. This would eliminate the need for the body to synthesize it from Phenylalanine. One step closer to dopamine! Meat, dairy, eggs as well as almonds, avocados and bananas are good sources of Tyrosine.

From there, the body will convert Tyrosine into L-Dopa, and then on to Dopamine (and other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine).

So... to replace dopamine destroyed while high on meth, the recovering user must eat sources of Phenylalanine or Tyrosine.

To aid the body in making Dopamine, the person can use what dopamine they DO have left as often as possible. This tells the body that they need more of it. While you sleep, you use very little dopamine. Exercising, even just a walk around the block will use dopamine (remember, it controls movement). So setting a reasonable sleep schedule, and trying to get some exercise will help speed up recovery from Self-inflicted Dopamine Destruction (aka meth addiction)!

Be patient -- remember, we weren't designed to waste dopamine, we were supposed to be recycling it. The process of replenishing dopamine takes months. Studies show that recovering meth addicts who have abstained from meth use have about 80% of normal dopamine levels after 18 months of abstinence. This WILL be a long battle. It CAN be won.

What about the receptors that were destroyed?
Well, good news again. Even though those receptors can never heal or recover, the brain is able to use existing receptors and find new pathways to accomplish the same results. Some receptors will even get a home equity loan and build on extra parking spaces!

Are there any medicines that can help?
A doctor should always be consulted and included on any medication treatment for a recovering user. Many recovering addicts have found Wellbutrin (Bupropion) to be helpful after a few months of clean time. What Wellbutrin does is block some (not all) of the tow trucks for a little while so that the dopamine the person has left can be more effective. It does not, however, stimulate the barrels to pour out dopamine. The person has to have enough dopamine in their brain before Wellbutrin can help.

Health stores do carry supplements of Phenylalanine and Tyrosine. A recovering addict who finds it difficult to eat enough protein may benefit from a supplement. Again -- consult your doctor first.

Lori Pate
B.A Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and this page was not intended to provide medical advice.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Men and Women - It's destiny

I promise a serious post next time.

Finally, the long time debate over nature vs. nurture has come to an end. Result? The differences are present from the beginning.

(Just ignore the titles. You'll get it.)

Thanks, Mom, for sending me these!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This is my new inspiration

I turned my television off two weeks after 9/11. (the original one) I can't deal with it.

But if I turned it on and saw this, (which I totally lifted from Janet Reid's blog) I'd probably leave it on forever.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Brain Chemistry of Being a Loved One (of an addict)

Guest blogger
Lori Pate

B.A. Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and this page was not intended to provide medical advice.

The Brain Chemistry of Being a Loved One

Many people who have loved an addict have felt like they were going insane from all the chaos, worry, regret, fear, anger, confusion and more that comes with caring for someone who is in active drug addiction.

It seems reasonable that if the addict would just stop using, everything would return to normal and a happy life would resume. There is usually more going on though. There are chemical changes happening not just in the brain of the addict, but also in the brain of the loved one.

"What? I'm not the crazy one! The addict in my life is the only one going crazy, not me!"

That isn't always true. The chemical changes in the brain of a loved one should be understood to help speed recovery. Chemical changes in the brain of someone who is constantly in a state of stress, fear, anxiety and anger are not insignificant and are accompanied by withdrawal symptoms just like an addict who stops using.

The brain uses chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, to allow us to feel feelings. Hunger, thirst, desire, satisfaction, frustration, fear and every human emotion are felt by the activity of chemical messengers in the brain. The most important messenger in this situation is norepinephrine (also knows as adrenaline).

Norepinephrine is known as the "fight or flight" chemical messenger. This chemical is what causes us to feel a rush of energy when faced with a dangerous situation. Proper activity and levels of this messenger help humans get and keep themselves safe from harm. This chemical gives us the super-human abilities to outrun an attacker or think quickly in an emergency.

When a dangerous situation is perceived, norepinephrine is released in the brain. Receptors in the brain have "parking spaces" for the chemical to "park" in, which deliver the message. Once the chemical is plugged in, we feel a burst of energy, and a drive to get ourselves safe, take action, run or fight.

After the event is over, the messenger is released from the parking spot, and recycled to use again later. We begin to feel calmer and safer. The rush subsides. Heart rates return to normal. The feelings of fear and anxiety subside.

This happens all the time in all healthy humans.

But the human brain does not like constant stimulation. As soon as we are excited from a chemical message, the brain goes to work to return levels to normal. There are several mechanisms that work to do this. First, the chemicals are picked up by "reuptake" chemicals. Think of them like a tow truck. They are constantly floating around, looking for a chemical to tow back home. Recycling the chemicals restores levels to normal.

If constant stimulation occurs, causing constant chemical messages, recycling isn't enough. So the brain, in its effort to regain a normal balance, will begin destroying the chemicals permanently. If we are constantly in fight or flight mode, the brain determines that we have too many "fight or flight" messengers, so destroys them.

For someone who actually has too much adrenaline in their brain, this is helpful. But for someone who is constantly in a situation where they really are put under stress, and are triggered to respond to fear over and over, the destruction of their chemical messengers begins to cause a brain chemistry imbalance.

There is a third mechanism that the brain uses to restore balance. After recycling and destroying the messenger chemicals, if the brain is still being over-stimulated, it will destroy the parking spaces that the chemicals plug into. These are called dendrites. Once a dendrite is destroyed, it can not be repaired. It will never again receive the chemical message it was designed to receive. It is like yanking out the phone cord of a phone that won't stop ringing. It will never ring again.

When a loved one is in a constant state of worry and fear, the brain first experiences stimulation. It feels imperative for the loved one to take action, sometimes desperate action, in an attempt to remedy the fearful situation. If this stimulation continues day after day, the brain can not tolerate the constant stimulation and starts taking action to regain balance. Adrenaline is destroyed. Receptors are destroyed.

This is when the insanity of being a loved one really takes off. The loved one is no longer chemically balanced. Several things happen at this point:

Things that used to signal danger no longer feel so dangerous. There simply aren't enough "danger" chemicals or receptors to accurately convey the appropriate feelings. At this point loved ones may begin accepting very dangerous situations as OK. For example they may feel it is a good idea to track down a loved one at a dealer's house, or accept a loved one who is violent and abusive in their home. They may make a choice to allow a dangerous person to be around their children. This is not because the loved one just isn't making good choices. More accurately it is because their brain chemistry has been altered by the constant chaos, and they no longer have the right feelings that would initiate safe choices. Unacceptable behavior doesn't feel as truly dangerous as it is.

Still, some loved ones are aware enough to know they should stop being in a dangerous situation. When the loved one stops contact with the addict in their life, that is when withdrawal sets in.

Withdrawal occurs when the brain is accustomed to a particular level of chemical activity, and that level is suddenly reduced.

A loved one who has become accustomed to constant stimulation from fear and concern, who then suddenly finds themselves in a safe, calm environment, will feel withdrawal because their brains have adjusted to a high level of adrenaline.

Withdrawal symptoms cause the loved one to feel quite uncomfortable. They will feel sad, have sleep problems, and feel that something is missing or just not quite right. This will cause the loved one to feel a desire to reach back out to the chaos they were accustomed to. The chaos will cause a hit of adrenaline to occur. This is the exact same cycle that an active drug addict goes through: stimulation followed by withdrawal. Withdrawal feelings cause a desire to be stimulated again, because the brain does not like extremes.

Because the loved one who has undergone chemical changes has lower than normal adrenaline activity in the brain, they will crave stimulation. They will feel an overwhelming desire to "check on" the addict, or to take a phone call even though they know it will not have the end result of a pleasant conversation. They will engage in arguments that they know have no possibility of being resolved while the addict in their life is still in active addiction. The will feel drawn back to the fear and worry they just escaped.

An extreme example of this is seen when a battered spouse continues to return to their abuser despite having other options.

This is the brain chemistry side of the chaos cycle of being a loved one.

So does it ever get better?

Yes! It absolutely can get better.

The human body can make more adrenaline, to replace what was destroyed when under constant stress. Not quickly, but slowly, it can replenish the levels of adrenaline so that the person feels normal, without needing chaos in their life to achieve a balance.

The human body makes neurochemicals from our food intake. A healthy, protein rich diet gives the body the building blocks it needs to make more adrenaline. Regular light exercise, a normal sleep pattern, a safe environment, and a healthy diet will help the brain recover.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I have no idea what to title this post

I can't believe it's already the end of October. I'm just doing a quick update this morning so people won't think I've forgotten my blog.

I'm busy doing rewrites for the memoir. It's a slow process, and while I'm not quite sick to death of my book, I can see it on the horizon. On the distant, distant horizon, but nevertheless...

I've also been hard at work gathering information for a support group I'm starting soon, called MOMS - Moms Off Meth Support. My plan is to hold the first meeting in mid-January. I've been talking with people at Probation and Parole, and some wonderful women in Iowa who first started the group 10 years ago. This will definately be a labor of love, but it will also be worth it. The support group is for women who are meth addicts and mothers who may or may not have had their children taken away due to their drug use or incarceration, or who may be in danger of losing their kids.  It will be a place where women can come together to help each other and learn to empower themselves.

My son has a Halloween dance at his developmental therapy program today. He's going as a bug in a boy suit. (what can I say? I'm cheap)  If you know me, you'll understand the costume.  If you don't know me, you're probably better off not knowing.

And finally, just for fun:

This is hard. Was for me, anyway. Look at the two pictures, and see if you can find all the differences in less than a minute. When time's up, click the pictures and an audio file will tell you what the differences were and where to find them.

Happy Halloween

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

The first chapter of my book can now be found on my website, The Next 24.

Thank you to everyone who's been so supportive of me.  This past week has been thrilling!  The manuscript is finished, I've signed with an comes the hard part.  Or the beginning of the hard parts

I'll be working on revisions, continuing to build my platform, and spreading the word about my book.

One project I'm working on right now is starting a Moms Off Meth support group in my city.  There's a group in Iowa that's been running for 10 years.  I've contacted the women who started MOMS, and I'm hoping to be able to attend a facilitator training in November.

I'm excited about this project.  It's something I think is not only needed, but will be well received.  I'll keep you updated.

I've also got some guest bloggers coming up this next month.  I've met some amazing people in recovery, and their stories are powerful and inspiring. 

That's it for now.  Thank you again!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dreams can come true

Last night, I signed with literary agent, Jenny Bent. My dream of becoming a published author is coming to fruition. Thank you so much, Jenny, for your belief in me and my work.

Being a writer is something I've always dreamed of in that sort of daydreaming way, along the lines of, "When I grow up, I want to be (fill in the blank)." My fill in the blank has always been just that: a daydream.

Until I finally got sober just over two and a half years ago.

I've always kept journals, even when I was using, and they were the beginning of my memoir about my meth addiction and recovery. I've saved all the writing from those years. Words scribbled in day planners, scraps of paper and notebooks, letters I'd written to people... In November of 2008, I started putting them together in book form. I completed my memoir this spring.

I've worked hard toward my goal, always hoping, but never truly believing, until these past few months, when I began to see a flicker of light on the horizon.

People become addicts for lots of different reasons. The further we get into our addiction, the more we lose ourselves, and hope that our lives can work, and be better, without drugs.
I never could have achieved the things I have if I were still using. Not in a million years. I'm so grateful for my sobriety, and although I've always been my own worst enemy at times, I'm proud of me. Proud of seeing things through, and having the courage to shoot for the moon.

Most of all, though, I'm proud of the life I've created for my son and myself. I dare say, we both deserve it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

For the families

This is a re-post from June. I've been talking to some people lately, and thought it might be a good time for this.

What did I do? How could I have been so blind? How do I fix this? Why don't they just stop?

Beautiful Boy, a book by David Shef about how his life was affected by his son's addiction, is an intimate look at what it is to love an addict while being powerless to make them stop. Shef gives a voice to the people on the other side of addiction: the ones who watch helplessly while someone they love destroys himself. Beautiful Boy is at once a requiem for the hope and expectation a father has for his son, and a ballad of self-preservation in the eye of the storm of addiction. If you haven't read it, you'll want to.

Recovery is a complicated process and successful recovery involves more than simply separating the addict from the drug. (As always, when I talk about drugs, I'm talking about all drugs, including alcohol.) HELPGUIDE.ORG , a comprehensive website about drug use and recovery, as well as other life issues, has this to say:

Understanding what is involved in recovery

•You cannot force someone you love to stop abusing drugs. As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is seeing the effects of drug abuse, you cannot make someone stop using. The final choice is up to them. The right support can help you make positive choices for yourself, and balance encouraging your loved one to get help without losing yourself in the process.

•Don’t expect your loved one to be able to quit without support. Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, painful, and even deadly. While medical input is always a good idea, if your loved one is addicted to benzodiazepines or is a heavy drinker, withdrawal can be dangerous and should be done under medical supervision.

•Recovery will be an ongoing process. Someone who abused drugs will not suddenly be a cured person once sober. Drug use may have been masking painful feelings that will bubble up to the surface. Many in recovery experience depressed moods for up to a year or more as their brain reestablishes from the drug abuse. Learning new coping skills to resist cravings, and how to apply them in stressful situations, is an ongoing process. Ongoing support is crucial to work through those issues.

Above all, take care of yourself.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The new marketing package

Writers, if you haven't already read this, you should. It's laugh-out-loud funny, and three-tissue sad.

Weighing in

All my life I have struggled with my weight. I’ve been on diets, joined gyms, bought exercise equipment and consumed disgusting liquids, all with the hope of attaining some golden number on the scale.

These days the number on my scale bounces around a lot - while I’m standing on it. This is because I’ve kicked it into the wall a few times too many and it’s not exactly in the best shape

I have a pretty good idea of what I weigh, hence the ritualistic ‘kicking of the scale’ and it’s too damn much. I no longer reward a two pound loss with a box of Twinkies, but it hardly seems to matter. I have parked myself in a fat suit and am uncomfortable living in my own skin.

I know that the only way to fix this is through exercise - and lots of it. But I’m so embarrassed being in public (let alone attempting to move quickly while other people are watching) that it’s hard to get started again. I bought a bicycle and rode it to work for about a week, but I was ashamed to be seen peddling and sweating in commuter traffic. I keep it in my house next to front door. It makes a unique coat rack. I bought some weights and keep them in the living room as a visual reminder to use them, but after tripping over them so often I’ve developed animosity toward them. They are now “out of sight, out of mind”. I have a brand new mini-trampoline that sits in the middle of the living room - again as a visual reminder. This, I actually use. I step on it every time I go to put a DVD in the player. I just love movies! I bought a complete set of workout DVD’s featuring Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser. I’ve watched them all. I also have a membership to a gym. The little plastic tab given to me for checking in and out of the gym makes a stylish key ring accessory.

I’ve been thinking, the past couple of days, that there may be a better use for all this extra furniture/exercise equipment I’ve invested in. I mean, for God’s sake! I have a coat closet right next to my front door. It has hangers in it and everything.

So one day on my way home from work I stopped at a store and bought a nifty, new scale. According to the box, it’s a “scale, body fat analyzer, water and muscle monitoring, precision electronic scale.” NICE!

You need to understand something before I continue. I’ve always been a little accident prone. Well, not exactly accident prone, but kind of ‘bizarre occurrence’ prone. Examples: 1) once I slept with my eye propped open against my pillow. I guess I was in REM sleep and my eyeball was rubbing against the pillow, because when I woke up it looked like it was bleeding and felt like I’d been punched in the eyeball. Not the eye, the eyeball. 2) when I was in college I fell asleep with my arms stretched out over my head. When I woke up, they were numb from the shoulder down - both of them. When my friend came to get me for breakfast I couldn’t open the door because they were just two dead weights. The only movement I could make with them was by twisting my body quickly from side to side. They would just kind of flop. It took awhile before I could open the door. My friend couldn’t help me - it was locked from the inside.

So I took the scale home and began the programming. I entered my sex (which is zero, but that’s another story) weight, height and age. It registered all of these and gave me an accurate weight, but when it came to the other statistics, I kept getting and “Err” message.

I re-read the directions, reprogrammed and tried again. Same thing. Then I noticed a tip that said the scale may not work correctly if your feet are dry, and to apply a little lotion to them to make better contact with the sensors. Now, let me say this: It DID cross my mind momentarily that there could be catastrophic consequences for this action - but only momentarily, and with no specifics.

It never occurred to me what would happen while standing on linoleum, applying lotion to one foot and then standing on that foot to apply lotion to the other one.

As I was falling, I remember thinking, “What did you think was going to happen, Grace?” WHAM! I fell against the toilet and now have a huge blue and green bruise on my…

But, I haven’t given up. This morning I jogged on my mini-trampoline for about 20 minutes. It’s a start - and no injuries yet! NICE!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why I wrote my memoir

People ask me why I wrote my book. What could I possibly have to add to the existing memoirs and other non-fiction books about meth addiction. There are two reasons.

1) There hasn't been, or maybe I should say, "I haven't come across," any accounts of meth abuse and recovery written by a woman.

2) There is a kind of hidden sub-set of meth addicts: middle to upper class, professional, soccer moms and dads...doctors and lawyers...cops and professors...

"Not every alcoholic is laying in the gutter, and not every meth addict has their teeth falling out and jib sores all over their face. People like me and lots of people I knew were doing meth for years and we had jobs and businesses. No one knew. Some of my friends suspected I had an eating disorder, but none of them thought I was a meth addict.

For addicts like me, your life might be a total shambles behind closed doors, but outwardly, you look fairly normal. That's the thing with meth, it's a little different for everybody."

Caitlin L. - 27 mos. clean

According to some substance abuse professionals, we are the hardest addicts to treat. The main reason is denial. We're called "functioning addicts" because we seem to lead typical lives. No one would ever suspect that beneath the facade lies the horror and shame of being a meth addict. I mean, really....who wants to be grouped in with the images people see every day in the media? That's not us. It's just not. It can't be, right? Meth is a drug used by dirty, low class people who were pretty fucked up to begin with. Right?

Not always. Meth has seeped its way into every nook and cranny of society in countries all over the globe. I've personally known teachers, doctors, lawyers, professors, cops and one highly decorated, retired marine, who was in his '70's - all in the throws of their addiction. Some of them are dead now. I don't know what happened to others. What I do know is that these people aren't isolated cases.

The following list is long, but not complete by any measure.

*Fairfax County, Virginia Teacher Charged With Possessing Methamphetamine (May 9th, 2008)

*Largest Kosher Meat Plant In U.S. Was Housing A Meth Lab (May 2008)

*Federal U.S. Postal Carrier Sentenced In Paradise, California - Had Six Year Meth Habit (May 2008)

*A Wisconsin Mother Who Was Given A Second Chance By A Judge After Her Child Died While She Was High On Methamphetamine Has Been Arrested Again For Drunk Driving With Her Children - Age 2 & 3 In The Car (May 2008)

*California Lawyer Gets 20 Years For Meth Scheme (May 29th, 2008)

*Indiana Correctional Officer Had Meth Lab In His Garage Police Allege (April 2008)

*Saint Landry Parish Deputy Crashes Cruiser And Admits To Being Under The Influence Of Crystal Meth, Cocaine, and Loritab (April 2008)

*Disney Star Pleads Guilty To Meth Charges (April 2008)

*A CNN Reporter Will Avoid Jail Time For Meth Possession If He Undergoes Drug Counseling And Therapy (April 18th, 2008).

*Cancer Researcher, Professor Of Pharmacology And Recipient Of Millions In Grants Sentenced To 35 months In Prison For Dealing Methamphetamine (October 2007).

*Cedar Ridge School District Teacher Faces Meth Charges (April 2008)

*Tuscon Ice Cream Distributor Suspected Of Selling Methamphetamine (April 2008)

*Doctor Who Pioneered AIDS Research Faces Jail Time Over Meth Use (April 2008)

*KFC Delivery Boy Arrested For Also Delivering Methamphetamine (March 2008)

*Mills High School English Teacher And Student Body Advisor Arrested For Possession Of Methamphetamine Was Filming Female Students In School Washroom Police Allege (March 2008)

*Oklahoma Lawyer Suspended Over Ethics Violations And Addiction To Methamphetamine (March 2008)

*Grandmother Sold Meth Near School (March 2008)

*Graham County High School Coach And Teacher Charged With 14 Counts Of Manufacturing Methamphetamine (March 2008)

*Cullman Teenager Arrested For Making Meth (March 2008)

*Meth Lab Found On Posey County Sheriff's Parents' Property (April 2008)

*Pickens Judge Indicted, Arrested On Another Drug Charge - Charged With Methamphetamine Possession Twice In Less Than Two Week

*Principal Of Alternative Learning School, Plus 27 Others Indicted As Members Of A Meth Ring.
*Lexington Lawyer Gets Two Years For Planning To Make Methamphetamine

*Daycare Was Doubling As A Methamphetamine Lab - Owners Charged.

*Teacher Accused Of Selling Methamphetamine From School.

*Spencer County Chief Deputy, 7 Others Indicted On Meth Manufacturing Charges.

*Wife Of County Judge Charged With Meth Possession

*59 Year Old Judge In Alabama Removed From Bench In 2006 After Arrest On Meth
Manufacturing Charge - Pleads Guilty In August 2007

*Bakersfield Teacher Accused Of Making Meth At Home & At School

*Licensed Lawyer & Three-time National Collegiate Champion Boxer Who Appeared On NBC's Reality Series "The Contender" Temporarily Suspended For Suspected Meth Use

*Thirteen & Fourteen Year Old Were Cooking Meth From Recipes Found On Internet

*Former Public Defender Sentenced To More Than Fifteen Years For Conspiracy To Distribute Meth

*Oregon Lawyer & State Repesentative Caught With Methamphetamine - Vows To Resign

*Second-grade Teacher At Johnson County Elementary School Arrested For Suspicion Of Meth Manufacturing

*Female attorney facing meth charges tests positive for the drug.

*Former UAF basketball player in court on meth charges

*County High School teacher arrested for possession of meth making chemicals

*A Highly Decorated 18-Year Veteran Of The Oakland County Sheriff's Department Charged With Possession Of Methamphetamine - Found Unconscious In Truck With Belt Around His Arm And A Syringe In His Lap.

*Luna County Sheriff's Deputy Charged With Possession Of Methamphetamine.

*22 Year Veteran Of Honolulu Police Force Gets Five Years Prison For Selling Methamphetamine

*81 Year-Old Man Faces Up To 12 Years In Prison After Being Convicted Of Selling Methamphetamine.

*Retired St. Paul Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Possession Of 12 Pounds Of Methamphetamine With Intent To Distribute

*Speech Language Pathologist With Fort Smith School District Accused Of Delivery Of Methamphetamine.

*District Attorney's nephew to stand trial for methamphetamine & burglary charges

*Sheriff's Deputy in Sanpete County, Utah Charged With Using And Stealing Methamphetamine From A Police Evidence Room

*50 Year Old Elementary School Art Teacher Charged With Keeping Meth In Desk

*Anti-Drug Investigator charged with stealing seven kilos of methamphetamine.

*Dallas County Sheriff Awaits Court Appearance Over Missing Guns, Money, Marijuana And Methamphetamine.

*Award-winning Anti-Drug Essayist Gets 10 Years For Distributing Meth

*Special Education Teacher In Oahu Accused Of Dealing Crystal Meth

*83 Year Old Woman Accused Of Attempting To Smuggle 10 Pounds Of Meth

*Fernley Intermediate School Teacher And Husband Charged With Selling Methamphetamine

*First Grade Elementary School Teacher Arrested For Allegedly Possessing Methamphetamine

*Animal Control Officer Arrested For Possession Of Methamphetamine

*One Of The Nation's Most Influential Evangelical Leaders Admits To Buying Methamphetamine

*Drug Counselor In New York Charged With Operating A Meth Lab

*Children's Aid Society Worker Convicted Of Trafficking A Kilo Of Methamphetamine

*Citibank VP Had A Meth Lab In His Penthouse

*Former Bank Of America Manager And Meth Addict Commits Suicide In Jail

*Doctoral Student And Fullbright Scholar At Columbia University Charged With Making Meth

*Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Charged With Meth Possession

*Operator Of Deadly Crane Collapse Had A History Of Meth Use

*Senior Citizen Was Selling Crystal Methamphetamine From Home

*Third Grade Teacher Busted For Fraud, Possession Of Methamphetamine

*Former Beauty Pageant Winner Was Addicted To Meth

*Moss Point Police Officer Arrested For Possession With Intent To Distribute Methamphetamine

*2003 Mississippi "Businessman Of The Year" Charged With Operating Meth Lab

*Former Hutchinson Correctional Facility Employee Pleads Guilty To Trafficking Methamphetamine

*Prominent Estate Lawyer Arrested For Methamphetamine

*Louisiana Doctor Pleads Guilty To Buying Half Pound Of Methamphetamine

*Town Official (50) And Wife (48) Charged With Operating Meth Lab

*Member Of The Crystal Lake City Council Charged With Possession Of Methamphetamine

*Mayor, Police Chief, Police Dispatcher & Bail Bondsman Face Charges Involving Methamphetamine, Theft & Sex Ring

*Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Officer Arrested For Financing Delivery Of Methamphetamine

*Manager Of Marysville Burger King Charged With Selling Methamphetamine From The Drive-Through Window

*First Grade teacher at Christ the King School Arrested In Maui's Biggest Drug Bust - 14 1/2 Pounds Of Cocaine, 6 Pounds Of Crystal Methamphetamine Seized

*Former Howard High School Teacher Sentenced To Six Years For Meth Distribution Conspiracy

*Former County Prosecutor On Drug Charges - Detectives Discover Methamphetamine, Guns And Drug Paraphernalia In Attorney's Home

*Former National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist With BA In Psychology & Olympic Track Aspirations Pleads Guilty To Murdering Girlfriend During "Methamphetamine-Induced Psychosis"

*Former River Hill High School Teacher Sentenced To 6 1/2 Years For Scheme To Sell $ 50,000 Worth Of Methamphetamine

*Former Brownwood Police Officer Sentenced In Methamphetamine Distribution Conspiracy

*75 Year Old Grandmother Sold Methamphetamine From Home

*Special Education Aide At Carson City School District Arrested For Suspicion Of Felony Possession Of Methamphetamine

*Employee Of Health And Human Services Arrested On Suspicion Of Felony Trafficking In Methamphetamine

*50 Year Old Middle School Principal In Pennsylvania Accused Of Dealing Methamphetamine From His Office

*Ex-Township Supervisor In Michigan Pleads Guilty In Meth Case

*Vice President And CEO of Company That Distributed Over-The-Counter Cold Medicines To Convenience Stores Gets 20 Years Prison For Conspiracy To Distribute Ingredients Used To Make Meth

*Use Of Methamphetamine By Grandmother Played A Role In The Death Of Her Grandson In Vehicle Fire, Drug Expert Testifies

*Kids Soccer Coach In Michigan Arrested On Charges Of Manufacturing/Delivery Of Methamphetamine

*Former California State Prison Guard Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Methamphetamine Into Amador County Prison And Delivering It To Inmates

*Radio Personality From Central Georgia Sentenced To Prison On Federal Charge Involving Methamphetamine

*23-year veteran of the St. Paul Police Department goes to federal prison next month to start serving a five year sentence on a methamphetamine charge.

*Custodian At High School For More Than Eight Years Allegedly Sold Crystal Meth Out Of Her Car And On Campus

*Major Housing Developer Accused of buying $ 50,000 worth of methamphetamine in Pennsylvania

*Convenience Store Owner Charged With Meth Trafficking

*Daughter Of Chief Justice In Canada Pleads Guilty To Several Charges Relating To Identity Fraud - Family Says Addiction To Crystal Meth Is To Blame

*Seventeen Year Old Teen Overcome By Fumes While Trying To Cook Crystal Meth Was "Just Trying To Learn About Science."

*Man Described As A Model Citizen And Family Man Behind New Jersey's Largest Ever Meth Seizure

*Evansville Attorney Accused Of Having A Meth Lab Inside His Law Office

*43 year old Phenix City, Alabama elementary school teacher was arrested Friday night for allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine in her home.

*Iowa Doctor Arrested For Possession With Intent To Deliver After 11 Pounds Of Meth Found In His Home

*Lawyer Charged With Deputy's Death Had Methamphetamine In His System

*63 year Old Former Lake Ozark Alderman Busted For Methamphetamine

*47 Year Old Pottsboro Dentist Arrested for Meth Use

*Second Lawyer In Two Weeks Arrested For Selling Meth To Police Informant In Evansville

*Probation Officer Arrested For Selling Methamphetamine

*Attorney & Chairman of National Drug Council Convicted Of Meth Possession (Cayman Islands)
*Police Chief In Damascus Virginia Charged With Selling Meth To Undercover Informant

*Popular Country Singer Who Topped The Charts In The 70's Charged With Possession Of Meth
*Resident At Veterans Administation Hospital Found Making Meth In Room

*Grandmother, 83 Was A Meth Cook Authorities Allege

*Former Sheriff's Deputy Pleads Guilty To Possession Of 33 Bags Of Crystal Meth

*46 Year Old Athletic Director Of Butler High School In Missouri Arrested For Running A Meth Lab

**Special thanks to

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chuck Palahniuk - 13 Writing Tips

*Disclaimer: Yesterday's post was a joke, although I did actually receive that e-mail. I think some people read too much into it. If I ever DO win the lottery (in any country) I'll probably keep it to myself rather than post my good fortune on the Internet.

I love Chuck Palahniuk's work. FIGHT CLUB was amazing and INVISIBLE MONSTERS was intriguing enough that I read it three times in a row. A favorite quote from his essay, 13 Writing Tips: "his face was slack and wrinkled as the empty ass of his jeans."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Now?

This is a repost from last year. I've been hearing from people who are brand new to recovery, and are asking, "What now? What do I do besides use?" I hope this helps answer those questions.

"Do one thing every day that scares you."

This is a line from a song I remember from awhile ago and I think it's appropriate to recovery. It's important for addicts to stretch their wings. When I speak to groups about recovery, one question that is always asked is: What do you do to fill all your time now that you're not using?

Being an addict takes a lot of time. From looking for drugs, to doing drugs, to trying to figure out how to get more's a full time job. Just the ritual of using consumes huge amounts of time. So what do you do when you find yourself sober with vast chunks of time on your hands?

Here's what I tell the women who ask me this question, since it's typically women I'm speaking to. Think back to your childhood - the time in your life before you started using. What was it that made you happiest? What did you spend most of your free time doing? Maybe it was reading, or drawing. Maybe it was riding a bike or other sports. Or what have you always wanted to do? It doesn't have to be some grand undertaking. It does have to be something that makes you happy, and it should be something that challenges you.

For me, it's writing. I've always loved to write and even in the depth of my addiction, I kept journals. When I was flailing around in early sobriety trying to find ways to fill my time, I experimented with different things, but it was always writing, and reading, that I came back to.

At first it was mostly reading. I've been reading since I was four years old and it's been a life long passion. As a meth addict, though, it's almost impossible to read a book. The concentration just isn't there. So when I finally got sober, I read voraciously - two, three, four books in a week. It was like I was trying to catch up on all the reading I had missed.

Writing was harder. My brain was still healing and the words didn't come as easily as I wanted them to. But I kept writing anyway. I think I wrote myself sober.

So when I asked myself, at the prodding of my therapist and people in my recovery groups: What would I do if I could do anything I wanted? The idea was to answer without fear or insecurity. Two things came immediately to mind and one of them was to be a professional writer. (The other was to be a stand up comedian, but that's a different story)

So I decided to do it. I had been sober for about three months when I wrote a fairy tale and sent it out to eight agents. All of them rejected the story, but four of them gave me specific feedback instead of the standard, "Not for us" note. Specific feedback is a rarity and I was thrilled! I made my own book out of the story and it sits on my coffee table in the living room. It's not the best writing I've ever done, but the book is beautiful and it represents the first book I've completed - let alone having the guts to send it "out there".

All of this scares the hell out of me - but I'm doing it. There are times (a lot of times) when I'm filled with insecurity and doubt about my writing - but I'm doing it. I may never win a contest or be a published writer - but I'm doing it. I'm doing it for me and that's what matters.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jim Carroll - A Person Who Died

Jim Caroll (August 1, 1950 - September 11, 2009)

He was an amazing poet, punk rocker and author of The Basketball Diaries. RIP.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Didn't your mamma warn you....

...not to mess around with superglue? No? How about messing with pissed off women?

If it's no on both counts, here's a word of advice: don't....just don't....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Full steam ahead

Still waiting to hear from two agents who have my full manuscript. This is torture. I'd rather be dipped in sugar water and left suspended upside down in a tree next to a wasp nest. Naked. Or not. Wouldn't matter, really. Not to the wasps, anyway.

So while I'm enduring the literary equivalent of Chinese water torture, I've started writing my first novel. Very different from non-fiction, this is. I've been rolling the idea around for a while, and now I'm starting to develop the characters. It's been fun, and so far, has kept me from pulling out my hair strand by strand.

I don't want to give away the premise for two reasons. 1) I don't want to know if people think it's a dumb idea, and 2) ... actually, I guess it's just the one reason.

If anyone has any connections to either E*** H*****, or J**** B***, please encourage them to contact me soon, while I still have some semblance of sanity.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Never let anyone steal your thunder

I've posted this before, but I've needed a reminder lately. Maybe someone else does, too.

(If you're not comfortable with the god-thing, substitue whatever feels right for you. For me, it's the universe and everything in it.)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful
beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most
frightens us.
We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so
that other people won't feel insecure
around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we
unconsciously give other people permission
to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our
presence automatically liberates others.
~Marrianne Williamson

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Double peanut butter cookies

Here's another recipe that I love.


1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup margarine or butter
2 eggs

1 1/2 cups half wheat, half white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground flax
3/4 to 1 cup peanut butter chips

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2.Combine sugars, peanut butter and shortening in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of mixer until well blended. Add eggs & beat well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add gradually to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended. Stir in peanut butter chips with spoon.

3.Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Make crisscross marks on top with floured fork tines.

4.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are set and tops are moist. Cool about 8 minutes on baking sheet before removing to flat surface.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I'm still here, and still sober. I've been having a rough time the past couple of weeks. I'm also re-thinking this blog. Not the actual blog, but the content. I've been thinking that what I've been doing so far isn't working out very well. The number of visitors has been steady, but small. I need to do something to attract more of a following. Obviously, not posting isn't going to work, but I need to figure out what exactly will.

I'll be back soon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Short, but...well, short

I love this picture. For some reason, it seems to capture the way I've been feeling this past week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

You'll hate yourself if you miss this

I find the most wonderful things on agent's and editor's blogs. This is one of them that led me to a wonderful talent I would otherwise have missed.

This is from Ukraine's Got Talent. Ksenyia Simonova won the contest with her emotional recount of Germany conquering Ukraine in the second world war. The calm and conflict she creates while artisticly narrating the sadness of her beloved country leaves me feeling humbled. At the end, she writes, "You are always near."

Life Without Instructions

Today I read a comment that someone left for me. It was from a woman who is raising four children, one who has Downs syndrome, who's husband is an active meth addict. I visited her blog and read her heartbreaking story.

There are so many families that have been ripped apart by meth. It's seeped into every nook and cranny of society, and has blindsided people from all walks of life. It's especially tragic when it affects children, as it so often does.

Please take a minute to read my previous post about a man who's doing something amazing to give back to his community. Anything you can give, regardless the amount, will go a long way toward helping the most innocent victims of meth addiction.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Scooter Folk Fighting Speed. This is the brainchild of a friend of mine. His charity was just recently got their 501(c) status and is now accepting donations.

S F F S is seeking donations to provide cash assistance to extended family members who are raising the children of their meth addicted loved ones. This from the web site:

has wound it's way across our country and is setting claws into Families everywhere regardless the demographic.
The Children of the homes METH' destroys often find themselves in the Child Protective Service System. Some are fortunate in finding shelter with (extended family)
members; the Biological Parents practicing this particular addiction being in no condition to remain "Role Models", actively functioning as "Custodial Entities".

The S-F-F-S mandate is easily defined:
Should we receive a substantiated request to help with temporary financial aid for an Extended Family Unit raising a child displaced due to the METHAMPHETAMINE RELATED CRISIS of their
Biological Parents; so long as the GUARDIANS are
responsible, drug free individuals themselves;
Scooter folk fighting Speed
They are in their infancy and need donations, however small, to help these families. Take a look at the "links" page. Toward the bottom of the page, you'll find details about their expenses and forecast of needs, as well as actual documents of each grant and their application for 501(c) status. I encourage you to visit the web site and give what you can. Your spare change can make a huge difference in the lives of the innocent casualties of meth abuse. Thank you, in advance, for your help.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some words to live by

"Stop picking around the edges of the world. Take advantage, and if you can't take advantage, take disadvantage. We live here. On this planet, in this nation, in this country right here. Nowhere else! We got a home in this rock, don't you see? Nobody's starving in my home; nobody crying in my home, and if I got a home, you got one too! Grab it. Grab this land. Take it, hold it, my brothers, make it, my brothers, shake it, squeeze it, turn it, twist it, beat it, kick it, kiss it, whip it, stomp it, dig it, plow it, seed it, reap it, rent it, sell it, own it, build it, multiply it and pass it on-can you hear me? Pass it on!'"

--Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Day in the Life

What does a writer/aspiring author do all day? No, seriously. What do I do all day besides obsess about submissions and query letters? Lucky you, you're about to find out.

5:00 am Wake up to a song on the radio alarm clock which will now be stuck in my head all day.
5:15 am Start pumping caffeine into my system. Coffee or Diet Mountain Dew, which, by the way, is the elixir of the gods.
5:20 am Check e-mail for new invites/followers from Facebook and Twitter, respectively
5:25 am Check Facebook and Twitter for updates on the world and the people in it
5:30 am Read editor and agent blogs. Comment when appropriate.
6:00 am Acknowledge son who is now lurking behind me. Say, "Good morning, bug. Did you sleep good? Did you have some good dreams?" Refuse to talk about watching movies backwards, Star Wars, Mamma Mia or whatever else he's currently obsessing about. Talk about it anyway.
6:10 am Continue to check blogs. Check e-mail for agent responses, knowing they're in New York and should be up by now, dammit.
6:20 am Tell the bug in a boy suit that he's too stinky to be unleashed upon society. Start shower for him. Refuse to talk about movies, Star Wars, movies backwards, etc. Talk about it anyway.
6:30 am Make lunch for soon-to-be unstinky boy. Man? Oy.
6:45 am Begin blog entry or stare at computer screen wondering why I have no idea what to blog about.
7:00 am Check meth discussion boards and comment when appropriate. Also, wait with the bug for his van service to pick him up. Refuse to talk about redundant subjects. Check e-mail for agent responses. Have following conversation with son: "Where's the van?" "I don't know, honey. It's coming." "Mom, where's the van?" "I don't know, honey. It'll be here." Repeat ad nauseum until the damn van finally shows up.
7:15 am Thrown on clothes, brush teeth, get dressed. Check e-mail for agent responses.
7:30 - 10:00 am Drive people to developmental therapy. Constantly check phone for calls from agents who've requested fulls.
10:15 am Check e-mail for agent responses.
10:20 - 11:00 am Finish blog entry or lament lack thereof, re-check messages boards and blogs, Twitter, Facebook, post when appropriate
11:00 am A) Walk 5 miles B) Walk 2.5 miles C) Decide I'd be a damn fool to walk in 100 degree temperature. Feel guilty about not walking or feel like a damn fool for walking in 100 degree temperature.
11:10 am If not walking, check e-mail for agent responses. Write or stare at computer screen.

12:30 Check e-mail for agent responses, nap
2:30 Drive people home from developmental therapy
4:30 Check e-mail for agent responses, check Twitter, Facebook, agent/editor blogs, meth messages boards, comment when appropriate (I'm trying to build my platform, after all) Write.
5:00 Decide that it's not good for me to obsess about agents. Refuse to talk to son about current obsessions which now include having pizza for dinner. Talk about it anyway.
5:30 *Yell at son for playing harmonica out his second floor bedroom window for passers by. Give him dinner. Refuse to talk about lack of pizza, movies backwards, Star Wars, Mamma Mia, etc. Talk about it anyway.
6:00 Check e-mail for agent responses. Write. Engage in more social networking.
6:30 *Yell at son again about giving free concerts out his bedroom window. Refuse to discuss current obsessions.
7:00 Check e-mail for agent responses, social networking, attempt to ignore feelings of self-doubt and hopelessness.
7:30 Try to explain to son why he can't have pizza every night for dinner. Refuse to discuss current obsessions. Talk about them anyway.
8:00 Put son to bed. Spend 5 - 10 minutes discussing clouds and weather and why he can't sleep with his window open. (too hot)
8:30 Check e-mail for agent responses. One last look at social networking sites and agents/editor blogs
9:00 Check e-mail for agent responses
9:02 Go to bed, promising myself that I'll clean at least one room in the house tomorrow.
9:10 Fall asleep wondering why I haven't heard from any agents yet.
* Disclaimer: I don't really yell at him, but I do use his "in trouble" name, as in, "Andrew Thomas, close that window! It's too damn hot for free concerts!"

Friday, July 31, 2009

Handling the down swing

I haven't posted here for a few days because I've been busy. That's not entirely true. I'm always busy, but the real reason for my absence is that I've been descending from my pink cloud.

I've been on such an emotional and physical high this past month, and then Tuesday I woke up, and it was gone. For no reason other than my damn brain chemistry. What gets me is that after all these years, practically my whole life, of living with depression/bi-polar, I'm still shocked when the down swing happens. I'm taking all my meds, being active, making progress toward my personal and professional goals. Things are going great. Then they're not.

What I have to remind myself is that things are still great. It's just that I'm going through a depressive time after an incredibly manic phase.

There are people who think that depression/bi-polar disorder are bullshit terms or excuses, but anyone who really knows me and has lived through this with me, knows how painful it is. I no longer make apologies for the way I am. Nor do I dwell on it. I write about it for two reasons.

1. Writing is my release. It's how I unburden my soul.
2. There are other people, some addicts, some not, that go through this exact thing.

That's the main reason I wrote my memoir - to let others know they're not alone.
There's still so much stigma attached to depression, and frankly it's probably the main reason I've spent years of my life self-medicating with drugs. If it's difficult to live with mental illness, then it's probably harder to watch someone you love struggle.

I know how helpless my family feels, and it kills me that this affects them.
When I'm feeling good, I still have almost daily cravings for meth - even after two and a half years of sobriety. When I'm on the down swing, the first thing I want to do is load up and numb out.

The longer I stay sober, though, the easier it is to work through my highs and lows. When I'm going along and things are great, I tend to forget that it's the highs AND the lows that allow me homeostasis. So when I wake up on some random morning, and depression smacks me in the face saying, "Remember me?" that is what I need to remember.

The good news is that I'm better at recognizing what's going on, and that makes it easier to get through the lows. These days, the good days far outweigh the not so good, so there's that. At least I've got that.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Brits Use Vending Machines to Distribute Methadone in Prisons

I found this article via a Twitter post. I'm stunned. I can see the thinking behind the idea. Not the logic, the thinking.

Brits Use Vending Machines to Distribute Methadone in Prisons by John Lee — Published: July 26, 2009

Candy bar, chips, cola...methadone; decisions, decisions…
British inmates may find their vending machines stocked up with an extra little something in the months to come as the Labour government implements a 4 million pound scheme to install methadone vending machines in roughly half of all prisons, nationwide. So far, machines are in place in 57 of a planned 140 prisons.

The machines are used to administer the opiate substitution medication to prisoners who have been assessed as opiate dependent and who would benefit from the substitution therapy. Supplying methadone to inmates reduces levels of illicit opiate use in prisons and helps opiate addicts manage their dependency.

To ensure that the medication is not diverted, the methadone vending machines will require a biometric identification, through the use of a retinal iris scan or a fingerprint, before they will dispense a day’s medication.

Although opposition politicians have ridiculed the vending machines, a Department of Health spokesperson defended their use, saying, “Methadone dispensers are a safe and secure method for providing a prescribed treatment. They can only be accessed by the person who has been clinically assessed as needing methadone and that person is recognized by a biometric marker, such as their iris.”

Opposition MP, Dominic Grieve, lambasted the plan, saying, “We need to get prisoners off all drug addiction -- not substitute one dependency for another. The government's approach of trying to 'manage' addiction is an admission of failure…The public will be shocked that Ministers are spending more on methadone vending machines than the entire budget for abstinence based treatments."

Although methadone is proven the most effective treatment for the management of opiate addiction, its use has always prompted controversy. Abstinence treatments for heroin addiction have shown very little long term efficacy, but tend to be an easier political sell.
Roughly 6400 Britons reside behind bars on drugs charges.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thick, Chewy (and healthy) Oatmeal Cookies

The person I originally started posting these recipes for hasn't even read these posts. As predictable as he is, though, he'll come undone again any minute now, and I'll direct him back here.

I have received some great feedback from other people. Some addicts, some not. Maybe it has to do with the economic climate right now, but eating cheap while eating well seems to be going over well. So I'll continue.

These cookies are healthy, filling and yummy! You can use them as breakfast cookies, if you want. I think. Hell, to me, all cookies are breakfast cookies...and lunch cookies...and snack cookies...

Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup butter, softened (use margarine to cut cost. I like Imperial, but whatever. $.75 max)
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar (buy bulk $.50)
2 eggs ($1.30/12 = .11 per egg = $.22 cents)
1 tsp. vanilla (if you don't already have some, borrow it or do without. It's better with, though)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour ($.25 - buy bulk)
1 tsp. baking soda (nominal & you should already have)
1 tsp. cinnamon (see note for vanilla)
3 cups rolled oats ($.75 - bulk)

1 1/2 cup raisins ($1.50 - bulk. If the raisins are a little dry, boil them in water, drain, use.)
1 cup chopped walnuts ($2.00 max - bulk) Raisins and nuts are the biggest expenses and both can be left out, but both add to the nutrition of this cookie.

1 Tbsp. ground flax seed (optional)

Cream together wet ingredients with electric mixer. (If you're really poor, put the bowl in the middle of a smallish table, insert a large mixing spoon into the ingredients, and run around the table as fast as you can 100 times while hanging onto the spoon.)

Add dry ingredients and mix well.

THIS PART IS IMPORTANT: chill the dough in the refrigerator at least 2-3 hours. You want the dough to be pretty hard. This is what will make the cookies really chewy.

Use a spoon to scoop out dough, roll it into a ball with your hands and gently press down as you put them on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Makes appx. 2 dozen, depending on how big your balls are. (I slay me...)

So here's the breakdown: $5.22 or about $.21 per cookie.

This recipe is obviously vegetarian. To veganize, use Nucoa margarine and Ener G, powdered egg substitute. It's about $5 for a box, but it will last forever.

You can also use any other dried fruit you like. The last batch I made has raisins and dried cranberries. Yum!

Monday, July 20, 2009


This is for everyone, addict or normie, but it's especially for Bobby*. Hang in there, man! Also for Karen**, because I know you read this regularly and love my cooking. ;)
*not his real name
**her real name did the bread go over? Did anyone make it? (Is there anybody out there?)

Well, the best thing to go with warm, homemade bread, is hot, homemade soup - yes, even in the summer. Keeping in line with yesterday's post, it's also cheap to make, filling and 'souper' nutritious. (I know, I know... you don't have to say it.)

Get out your chef hats and aprons, 'cuz here we go!

Healthy Vegetable Soup

You'll need a big-ass pot. The kind your mother made spaghetti or soup in when you were a kid.

(What? You don't have a big-ass pot? Shut the hell up and read yesterday's post.)

This soup is simple and it's also vegan/vegetarian.

1 small bag frozen corn ($1.25 for cheap stuff - corn is corn)
1 small bag frozen mixed veggies ($1.25 tops - see note above)
1 small bag frozen green beans ($1.25 - see note above, above)
1 cup pearl barley ($.50 - buy it in bulk)
1 jar salsa ($3.00 - this will be the most expensive ingredient, but it's worth it)
1 cup chopped celery ($.50 max)
1 cup chopped carrots, frozen or fresh ($1.25 max)
1 large potato cut into small cubes - skin and all ($.50 max)
salt & pepper to taste

Throw all this into your big-ass pot, fill almost to the top with water, simmer until the barley is done and the potato is fork-tender. That's it! If you're single, you can eat this a couple of times a day and it will last over a week.

Grand total: $18.28 for a good week's worth of nutrition. If it lasts 7 days, and it definitely will, you're looking at $2.61/day. Less than a McDonald's combo meal.

I usually throw in some ground flax seed, too. I use flax in almost everything because it's my source of Omega 3 and a great source of fiber for the little amount you'll use. Being a vegetarian, I don't eat fish, so this is how I cover the Omega base. Flax is optional. Just as cayenne pepper, Tabasco, fresh veggies or anything else you want to throw into the pot. I don't recommend pasta, because by the second or third day, those noodles will turn to an unappetizing mush.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Little Help for my Friends

This is for everyone, addict or normie, but it's especially for Bobby*. Hang in there, man! Also for Karen**, because I know you read this regularly and love my cooking. ;)

*not his real name
**her real name

A couple of threads on the KCI board recently have me thinking about something that may seem off the topic of recovery, but really isn't. Addicts who've used for most of their lives usually end up starting over, and sometimes, over and over again. Speaking for myself, starting my life from scratch in the middle of my life, (yikes!) really bites. Realizing how much time I've lost is almost enough to make me want to go back out again.

A huge part of re-building revolves around money. Some had nothing for years except for the chase. Some of us had money and possessions that were lost or thrown away. Whatever the reason, we are, for the most part, starting from scratch. People don't spend their whole lives as addicts and then smoothly transition to the normal world as if nothing ever happened. The point is, being poor sucks. Especially in this economy.

There are people I talk to in forums who are barely managing to feed themselves and their families. Which brings me (finally) to the point of this post.

When I lost my job about a month ago, the first thing I thought, right after I realized that blowing up a building would totally be against my probation, was: how am I going to feed Andy? Not only that, but with limited funds, how would I feed him nutritiously?

I'm baking today. I've been making the following recipes every other week since the day that I********e made the egregious error of letting their best employee go. (I'm not bitter. Just pissed off.) So I thought I'd share these low cost, nutritional recipes. Enjoy!

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

6 cups warm water ($0.00)
4 packages of yeast ($1.50 max)**
1 1/3 cups honey or molasses (molasses are cheaper $2.50 for a bottle)
16 cups whole wheat flour ($.41/lb. bulk - $2.05 for 5 lbs.)**
6 Tbsp melted butter (buy margarine - 1 stick= $.50 max)
2 Tbsp salt ($1.00 for a whole box, so actually nothing)**
appx. 3 cups regular flour ($1.00)**
(I always throw a bunch of flax seed, ground of course, but that's optional.)

Use molassas and Nucoa margarine to veganize, if that's your thing.

**Buy in bulk! Save $$$$$!

Mix water, yeast & half the sweetener, (2/3 c.) with 6 cups w.w. flour together in a big-ass mixing bowl. Let it sit for half an hour or so until it gets bubbly. It will get huge, which is why you need a big-ass bowl.

What? You don't have a big-ass mixing bowl? Haul your butt to the thrift store and pick one up for a buck.

Mix butter, 10 cups w.w. flour and the other half (2/3 c.) of the sweetener with the goo in the big-ass bowl. Knead the hell out of it. If you use regular white flour for the kneading, it will be cheaper. You'll 'knead' a lot of it. (sorry, couldn't resist)

Let it rise until it doubles in volume. Punch it down, knead it again & divide into 4 equal pieces. Slap those puppies into 4 bread pans either greased or sprayed with non-stick...uh...spray. When done, remove from pans immediately and lightly grease (butter, margarine, shortening) on top and all four sides. Otherwise, it'll dry out. Blah.

What? You don't have bread pans? If you can score dope on the streets of San Fransisco at 2 am, you can figure out how to get some bread pans for next to nothing. Spray the pans really well if you've just bought those cheap ones at the Salvation Army.

Let rise until it looks like raw bread. Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 mins. If you're unsure if it's done, flick the top with your finger. It should sound hollow.

TA-DA! Four loaves of VERY nutritious bread (whole wheat, no preservatives & very little fat) for the grand total of $1.88 per loaf. About $7.55 for the whole shebang. The best part about this bread is that it's so dense, it's not only filling, but it's easy to cut into thin slices - something that hard to do with more airy bread.

Tomorrow on The Next 24, Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Cookies & Vegetable Soup. (mmmmm...soup!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Inspiration in Lyrics

This is another song that, although most of the lyrics aren't relevant, helps me in recovery. It's a love song - I think. Or you could listen to it as a break up song from your addiction. But it's the chorus and the last part of the song that have a way of invigorating me. Sometimes I'll just skip to the last part. I love the energy that's built all the way through and is so powerful at the end. Dorky? Guilty.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm Not an Addict

Over at the KCI discussion board today, some of us were sharing music that's helped either get us sober, or inspired us to stay sober. Today I thought I'd share my favorite song that fits both categories for me.