About Me

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Los Angeles, California
I am 47 and thriving in Southern California. One day at a time.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

the calm before the calm

tonight there's a warning out in southern california.

hurricane force winds may be touching down, but for the first time in forever and a sigh, i find myself very still inside the storm's eye.

tomorrow, i may be violently twisting off the walls, leveled.
tomorrow, tears may spatter a crumpled, puffy, apple-cheeked face.
and tomorrow, my taut, vibrating chest may whiplash my heart.

but, tonight.

tonight, i sail on glass waters, gentle lapping up on this battered frame...
tonight, a beam pours down, drenching, cleansing, humid and hot...
and tonight, the wind's pitched screams are silent, glorious mute...

and it seems safe to move.

[too scared to try, but it's too good not to...]

and so i turn my face back into the storm.

and carry on.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

i heart aa

aa is not a cult.

aa is not a gathering place for the tribe of the morally defective.

nor is aa a hub for the l.a. jet set; clutching their recyclable starbucks canisters, sucking down hard on camel lights (gone are the days of the styrofoam cup, half sloshed with rich, brown mud...).

for me, aa is a place that should be mandatory for all. like death and taxes.

it is not a crutch. it offers you one until you no longer need it, when you can pass it down to another hobbling soul...

it is not about religion. it is at heart, a spiritual program. about understanding yourself, your destructive ways of thinking and changing them, so that you can be of service to another...and another...and another...

and it is not about judgement. there is no "failure". the person who has 47 days (me) is as welcome as the person who has 48 years. for the 12 steps are a program that can be plugged into anyone's life at any time...

and everyone, everyone, should be able to experience who i did tonight. the coolest cat in los angeles...

al. half-mexican, half-irish, 48 years sober. who left my mind blown up, my heart packed full, and my body all taut; paralyzing excitement...

without a drop of self-pity, he told of his molestations and abuse as a child and moved gracefully into solution. practical tools for how he's lived a sober life.

and for the first time in 47 days, i truly understand what this disease is. is a disease of my thinking. i am learning how to change the way i think, and then create new solutions. pills/alcohol were not my problem. they were my solution.

[farewell ego...i loved ye well...]

and he made me understand how important these meetings are. the fellowship, understanding and compassion from instantly connecting with those in recovery. you do the work alone, no excuses, but you don't have to struggle alone, isolated...isolating is for the addicted...led by your sponsor; your guide, this community can be the steam under your wheels first slow to turn...

tonight, i am grateful for al.

and tonight, i stand in 100% belief of this:

if the whole world went to aa meetings, the world would be that better place that exists in all our dreams.

Monday, November 28, 2011

one is the (loneliest) number



the little red haired girl lay strung out in bed, jonesing for a fix. leaning over into her bedside drawer, she quietly retrieved her second morning cocktail of xanaflex, vicodin/norco and xanax. her husband mumbled and turned over, no longer smiling in his sleep...she is al(one)....

the little red haired girl pounded back 2 plus bottles of wine. it was 7 am. these were secret bottles. 4 were purchased, but 3 were hidden in the car until she could safely hide them in the kitchen. she used to hide her fiorinols here, and he never found those...[famous last words]...she is al(one)...

the little red haired girl's pills were thrown away by him; praying her insanity would unspiral, when all it did was explode. hours of crying, screaming, leaving, driving, begging, ripping; unconsciousness of the disease. the disease devoured everything in sight...and she is al(one)...


singular sensation
pillar of strength

the redheaded woman touches down on rubber and runs intercepted for 2.7 miles., in a facility cramped with gym rats and pounding dance music. she feels anxious, but exhilarated...and she is not al(one)...

the redheaded woman leans into psychiatrist dr.c, emptying buckets of remorse onto his notepads. she feels anxious, but exhilarated...and she is not al(one)...

the redheaded woman sits uncomfortably in an aa meeting, raptly soaking up the shared stories and the raw emotion that flows within the walls. she wonders why she's "meant to be here". she feels anxious, but exhilarated...and she is not al(one)...

there is a woman struggling. scared to mark the final sixteen notches on her klean belt. scared to reenter an unfamiliar world of sobriety. scared to renter a marriage she nearly imploded.

but her work is done alone. and through being alone, she will become one.

go strong, beautiful, capable, intelligent, sober woman...with a creatinine of 1.0.

"one is the loneliest number you will ever do" -the beatles

"one is the most fabulous number you will ever be"- hennybird

let me be one.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

route 66

november 27, 1996.

15 years ago to the day we arrived in the city of angels.

our cherry-red, moon-roofed, danish-monikered, "trine the tercel" had finished puttering due south. she grazed across the 10 as her owners stared slack-jawed at all things l.a.... the hollywood sign! palm trees! intertwining cement monstrosities called freeways!

i squealed when i saw "ralph's"! a supermarket named after my beagle!

i squealed when i saw "the viper room"! that's where river phoenix died!

i squealed when i saw cedars-sinai medical center! so "beverly hills, 90210"!

[oh, the irony...]

with a mattress tied to our roof, a single plant, 90 fiorinol and 5 bottles of 200 tylenol 1s, i was ready to begin sifting for gold in the golden state...

[dreams often don't make sense, and often they turn into nightmares, but sometimes, sometimes, you become conscious enough to wake up...]

today, i am on disability.
today, i no longer have an agent.
today, i am on more immunosuppressives than i have ever been.
today, half my hair has fallen out.

we have debt, our house is worth nothing and we have been apart for 46 days.

today, i am in rehab...

but, i have been sober for 46 days.

i can't remember the last time i didn't pop a few codeine/fiorinol et al, have a glass of wine or buzz off the combo of two.

today, i really believe i could soar on new dreams, and they have nothing to do with credits on a resume, money in the bank, or the latest pret a porter...

[route 66 was travelled by a girl, who was in such a hurry to conquer the city of angels, that she didn't see she was already sitting next to an angel.]

i squeal, dreaming about running on with the healthiest transplant ever...

i squeal, dreaming about the animals i will help again...

i squeal, dreaming about the friends and family i will love again...

i squeal, dreaming about my husband and the joy i will see on his face again...

and i squeal, dreaming about "the little red haired girl" driving along route 66 (again)...for the first time.

today, i really believe i could soar on new dreams.

because i am already travelling one.

one day at a time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

lucky strike (a.k.a. oh, henry!)

saturdays are "sober fun days" here at klean.

[hello. i am an oxymoron. ]

despite this being my sixth saturday, it was my inaugural adventure...

every other saturday, i had been detoxing, bedridden with the plague, elevating rock hard heels swollen from the truck load of immunosupressives with which i'm currently cranked, or aggressively dodging the movie selection, "tower heist" (god forbid we hit up almodovar's latest...).

but, today was bowling.

i suck at bowling. i still have a cold. my second cold in six weeks. my heels still hurt. but i was so in.

but, first we had a morning group with j..

j. is awesome. last night, jacked up on the shimmering, red threads dripping from my brush, she unwound me with her tales of sober transitions. puffy tufts of hair, drain and heart clogging. shafts of gray sprouting above and down under. connect the dots running wild across her face...all in the name of getting sober.

[makes you wanna...oh. right.]

after glorious, gut giggles of resignation faded away, she asked me to write a goodbye letter to either my kidneys, alcohol and drugs or my hair. {so many issues. so little time...} and so i crafted last night's blog, the poem, "fake it 'til you make it". one of the largest cliches in recovery that sheaths my desperate truth.

as i read my poem out loud to the group, my voice shook with firm nervousness and determined vulnerability. and then i went soft; flaccidly quiet with explanation. and j. nailed me.

"your artistic voice is there, present; so strong. but you need to find henriette's voice..."

[couldn't have said it better myself...]

cut to: SOBER FUN DAY! 5 clients, 4 hours, 3 miles, 2 techs and one unconvinced hen...

as we careened over the infamous hills and dales of laurel canyon, my stomach bungee jumped not from the long and winding road to the valley; it flipped at every familiar road and flopped at every familiar store. when we finally parked, i stood, very still, in the lot, like a lost child in a department store, on the verge of tears, compass broken, lost, not found.

every sight, every sound, every taste, every touch, every smell a trigger.... like whack-a-mole.... i got this under control...ok. wait. god...

LOOK...ventura blvd., sober...ok. wait. god...LISTEN...terrestrial radio, sober...ok. wait. god...TASTE...a piece of gum, sober...ok. wait. god...FEEL...this door handle, sober...ok. wait. god...SMELL...the waft of french fries, sober...ok. wait. GOD.


so we shufffled in, shuffled for shoes and shuffled over to a cul de sac of seats around lane 19. before long i was crowned gutter queen and flirtatious repartee and feathery hilarity unloaded the boxes cluttering my mind.

but still i would flinch. darting eyes, indiscernible flick of the wrist, reaching for that glass. craving that throat burn, tweaking for that heady enhancement, that dark infusion, the sexy empowerment that would elevate me to star of the show...

[tap water doesn't f*#king cut it.]

so i got up again. as usual, "henriette" was too long for the digital score board, so henry was born. crotch grabbing, strut talking, crowd pleasing, hank. so with a ten-pounder in hand, an orbit of "his" hips and a thrust of delight, "he" released all expectations down a slippery, uncertain lane...


the shriek heard across fifty states propelled me into flight. pogo stick hops of hysterical joy. fist pumping, high-fiving ecstasy. and bright eyes of surprise; comrades in smiles.

the high i rode, for just a few minutes or more, was clean. and pure. and mine.

i earned it.

my (lucky?) strike.

Friday, November 25, 2011

fake it 'til you make it

sure, tilt head back and laugh, [then zip quick flows her blood,]
like the world's all aglow, [like she's not tripped up by knots.]
it hangs, casual mocking, from your slender, fine wrist,
she's staring, she's wondering, when you'll venture a sip.

stretch hours to drain, her mouth's parched, desert dry,
you easily rise, brush past, not gracing an eye.
it stands lovely and lush, half full, crimson mead,
ah, fantasy sting, flushing hot, gulping speed.

squat on firm, flattened hands, invisible gun to her brain,
so pretty in pink, no-one feels her insane.
"martinelli's?", they bend, irritatingly kind,
"CIDER'S FOR KIDS!", vomit screech, swirling cesspool inside.

ricochet bottle vino, from laid table to floor,
shattered, shimmering diamonds, red-blood soaked, gimme more.
crawling low, so familiar, terra firma of shame,
lapping, sucking, drops of cutting, yes, glorious pain.

but this floor's sterile clean, like stiff hospital gown,
still it stands halfway sloshing, but now breathe you empty crown.
fragmented heart, (sigh), reigned by blue, cloudless sky,
unburdened moment of peace, feign, girl, 'til you fly...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

they tried to make me go rehab (i said no, no no)

twenty two hydrocodone, chased by two glasses red,
her tolerance astounding, her soul dark, flirting dead.

a very yankee thanksgiving, rehab, west hollywood glitz,

away from hubby, and friendship, love's delicate mist.

see her hobbling around, dragging anchors of pain,

trailing transplants and memories, a disease she must claim.

searching skyward, knees bent, pungent earth touches heart,

it hurts constant, so throbbing, to touch, near or far.

but when she bathes in the gray, the pebbles scrape her to clean,

stakes her grounded, in present, gray grit that makes gleam.

black, you shade all, bright white, you blind truth,

let me marinate gray, every day, ah, blissful ignorance youth.

today she's with misfits, not morally sick,

just strangers in (the) night, who love deeply, true, quick.

so grateful for them, for love and for this,

so grateful for willing, open, committed to "yes".

["i said, yes, yes, yes"]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the mormon connection

purple socks...

there once was a little red haired girl*, whose first borne sickness sang "puppy love". he had dark, thick hair and giant white teeth, too sweet on his sister beneath. they danced and they sang, lame comic routines, his was the first pop concert she seen. he so ruled her world, she had his likeness in doll, and multiple pairs of "the" socks. her crush romanticized so, a fantasy struck, where she lay in the hospital stuck. she tingled with thought, that he strode to sweep her away, with forbidden undergarments in tow.

[irony meet henriette's permanently braless chest]...

the would be groupie grew up, crowe's "penny lane" unmanifest, but jammed concert scenes hard like a pro. crushing on rock stars and pop stars, with passionate vocals, screech forever her violent love strain. leather clad irish, and canadian wildish, and many hot stud in between...

then came the mormon heartthrob, everywhere throb, metrosexualyricist-extrordinaire. he kills with his passionate, vulnerable yearnings, he kills with his innocent, otherworldly learnings. has the world at his feet, any girl/boy sure to sleep (with), but pops them out with his bride...

next spectacular spectacular, the little red haired girl was carpeting high on adrenaline, beer and pills; tassels twirling. alone she marked the mosh pit for two, as partner in crime went for brew. then a stranger in paradise broke through... "this ain't my first rodeo, dude", was quick what she wrote, but kind voice, kind face tilted head. numbers exchanged, bliss on a musical plain, then back to utah he went...

he wrote and he wrote, and her eyebrows would lift, not grasping the purest of truth. he would give and give more, as she crawled on the floor, begging, pleading, just taking, take more. music sent broke her in, then caressed her pure melt, into friendship across cyber waves. they don't talk, she writes less, but his music lifts up choking haze. every day he sends song, she has no time to reply, but she listens and fills up on fresh notes. through lyrics and rhythms, and the greatest life lesson, he gently, gracefully deposited hope.

for j. xo

*food for (father figure) thought:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

next stop: zoo station

across my forehead it wisped, angel hair fine,
mocking, reminding, my body's not mine.
strawberry blond, fermented, threadbare,
a moldy, rot mop, full of gunk, dead hairs.

looked up and around, cafeteria bright,
hard clutching to stories, of addicts, of might.
coffee cream, water tall, zen garden inside,
part addict, part transplant, part yet to divide.

point through silver bars, the screen oft reboot,
raise eyebrows in judgement, then turn on your boot.
crunch of the popcorn, on cement sticky sweet,
flick off the light, i'm alone in my heat.

nude, silver slats, peering through into dark,
sweating, convulsing, mind tearing up thought.
you are far from my arms now,
you are far from my heart.

turkey's just a dead carcass, yams golden mush,
jello mold's shake redundant, in vino veritas flush.
spoils of war are spoiled, dressed up in vain,
spoils of war are flushed, blindly down drain.

scanning the board for the next bullet train,
an express pass to redemption, resolution, unpain.
but my ride's the freight car, bumpy, multiple stops,
a lifetime to oil and vinegar bathe what's lost.

so this train moves forward, lead creaking ahead,
starting, smoking, inching onward, dead iron dread.
ah, then like hair wisp, a breeze light strokes my face,
no final destination, but this train stays not in one place...

Monday, November 21, 2011












Sunday, November 20, 2011

good friday

there was something in the air friday night. and it wasn't fernando.

the n.a. meeting began with an interrupted knife fight between javid, schizophrenic, and carlos, anger management. my street smarts surged upwards, but my behind didn't. riding the subway alone from age eight instilled an awareness, if not total bad-assness. i have never judged the unbathed, greasy haired, twitching, self-conversing man pushing his shopping cart of aluminum treasures. maybe somehow, there always bobbed a thought, somewhere in my deep end, that we were one and the same...

during the break, i said hello to r. we hugged. i had met him at a different n.a. meeting last friday. stringy hair, shifty eyes, lithe in leather. the stereotypical, strung out, zeppelinesque rocker if there ever was one. except i knew he had been clean and sober for 7 years off coke and heroin. i knew his name and he knew mine.

i asked him how he was doing, and he said,

"i feel lonely."...

and i said,

"i feel the same."...

there is a feeling in this room that trumps words. empathy.

we talk. we share. but in listening, cultivation occurs.

[sow. plant. water. nurture. bloom...]

haggard, bloated figures. gaunt, bony ones, too. seared souls that utterly belie the phenomenal fortitude birthed from 24, 25, 27 years of sobreity. they tower over my 37 days, and inspire me to come out of the shadows. they wear their struggle across their drawn and landscaped faces; their daily sufferings when thrown to the mat, wrestling with the morning tide about to pull them under. the roar of the ocean, the sting of the brine. they clench at sand, rocks; shells that scar your body, batter your soul. but they never. let. go.

["you spin me right round"]

it began with a whack.

pain against my head. my head against the wall.

suddenly my eyes began to crossover into white and my train of speech slowed right down. i apologized to k., my roommate, assuming my night med., seraquel, had hit me particularly hard core. sinking on a blood sugar ship, i grabbed the other half of my morning pastry and sat to catch some of the local news.

and then.

i couldn't swallow. i panicked and tried to get air through my nose. as i felt my throat close up, i could sense thick flesh pressing against the sides of my mouth, so i stumbled dizzily over to the bathroom. my tongue was fully extended out of my mouth, kielbasa style, covered in pastry. as my body began to faint and fall, i weeble-wobbled over to k's door and pounded away.

"k. help me. i can't breathe."

she grabbed and held me up and we smashed out of our apartment into the common area, screaming for the tech, b, almost off shift. he turned, and later told me, that every vein in my body was bulging hulk-wards, and my tongue was drooped nearly six feet under.

i trembled with fear. i trembled from shock, but quickly my knights with shining sirens arrived.

first do harm, but these men in uniform did nothing but. no help to a gurney or chair, but a self-induced fling, landing me unassisted, curbside of the facility. shadowy faces, angry red lights, hulking figures advancing on this shaking, shivering waif. scanning the mass of unfriendly faces, frantically, frenetically for b., as i slurred my information; nodding off, desperately warding off sleep. holding my twitching arm up against the violence of the flickering flashlights, rapid like florescent gunfire into my terrified eyes.

thrown on the gurney, like a slab of meat on a conveyor belt and packaged into the ambulance waiting.

"has your doctor ever told you there are certain medications you can't take?"

"i'm sorry?"

my head lolled around, as i tried to scrape the thickness of swollen sleep off my tongue.

"has your doctor ever told you there are certain medications you can't take?"

"well, i told you about the 3 medications i am allergic to."


my first thought was," i can't breathe, there's nothing wrong with my hearing, dude."
my second thought was, "uh?, crack is whack?"
my third thought was, "ohhhhhhhhhhh..."

you are treating me this way because i am in rehab.

["they tried to make me go to rehab, i said, no, no, no..."]

man chooses to work with the scared and the crumbled, and he leaves his badge of compassion in a drawer at home.

i met up with my angel of unmercy at cedars after a coarse ride through the meth-addled streets of west hollywood.

"i am not loaded!", i wanted to SCREAM into his judgmental mask, but my protruding tongue, baring an uncanny resemblance to my old beagle's "lipstick", coupled with the sandman's grits so heavy in my eyes, prevented anything but whimpers of submission.

he reinforced the necklace of shame that near snaps my neck every day.

so tonight i am on my knees.


after a meeting.

after calling my sponsor.

[b.f.f addiction. b.f.f transplantation.]

why can't we be friends?
stop raping my life, it's already half done.
a disease controls my mind,
a disease control my body.
one pervades with thoughts dark and obscene,
one pervades with meds that rot flesh unseen.
invasion, then grab the small pleasures of life.
invasion, then stomp out the dreams i held tight.
SICK of hospitals, white coats, sirens loud.
so SICK of this jamming a wedge between all.
i've lost friends who weren't friends, but it hurts just the same.
i still flow and i flow, i shower in pain.

[can you hear me tearing up the blueprint of my childhood?]

i have two diseases recognized by the a.m.a.

and i have a choice.

it is not easy seeing your hair fall out...
it is not easy wearing ankle braces because of painful swelling...
it is not easy seeing your face get fat again...
it is not easy being in an ambulance, under an oxygen mask, unable to breathe...
it is not easy being in rehab...
it is not easy seeing your creatinine incline; 0.8, 0.9, 1.0...

[there is no "finish line".
there is no "fix it".
there is no "over".]

it is not easy, but now i have a choice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

big b.

this is the first night since i arrived at klean that i will be unable to post.

i am crafting a piece about the friday i would like to forget, but it will have to wait.

i cannot concentrate.

for tonight, someone lost control.

tonight, someone listened to the wrong voice.

tonight, someone jumped the fence.

in the blink of an eye, and with the drama of a queen he was gone.

our b.

who upon arrival, could not form a word with those beautiful lips.
but could finally string a sentence.
then finally knit a paragraph.
and by the end, make us all laugh...

buddah like drops of wisdom would drip from his lips. and just as often he would confuse us with his mystifying musings.

but he was uniquely b.

maybe he won't use.

maybe he'll come back.


Friday, November 18, 2011


i am old enough to know that the term "wannabe" was coined for the early 80's madonna obsessed teens who dressed like her, danced like her and wanted to be just. like. her.

and like, that was totally, me.

like madonna, "like, totally," never really left the english vernacular. and neither did my star struck admiration for all things material (girl). it's tough admiring the most commercial of 80's icons, while traversing the plains of high school angst, but she had me by the fingerless gloves and fishnet bow in my kinked out hair.

i love all kinds of music, but i am a slave to the hook. the relentless pop song beat that gets jammed into your hard drive, impossible to eject. so when the first few notes from that casio board jumped my desk top transistor radio, i cranked it. and high.

{"something in the way you love me won't let me be"...}

1983. parachute pants with backwards pockets. utterly impractical, but totally awesome. shoelace thin ties, and neon bright shoelaces. everything rip torned; jeans, fishnet stockings and off the shoulder t's that hung above your knees.

more is more was the yuppies' daily mantra...

[take down wall street anyone?]

more makeup than a post-communist russian immigrant could ever slather on. more cocaine than escobar could ever traffic. and more great music than brandon flowers could ever write.

[i can't believe i just wrote that.]

when madonna's squeaky, pre--evita, minnie mouse voice drummed my ear, i hit the nearest record store the way i would one day hit an l.a. pharmacy. with nervous, anticipatory glee...

{"i don't want to be your prisoner, so baby won't you set me free"...}

but despite her record setting song book of chart topping hits, her astounding chameleon transformations and her inspiring commitment to health, i eventually came to realize i was a certified "wannabe" for only one reason.

she is.

madonna. the material girl. madge. the ex-mrs. ritchie. esther. lourdes, rocco, david and mercy's mom...

society flocks to pigeonhole her, but like johnny weir, you can't clip wings that fly this high...

joan jett, blondie, pat benatar, madonna: independent, magnetic, street smart, wild, wailing women; me: puppy love, imitation station and fatal attraction to their true blue stripes and stars...

{"just try to understand, i've given all i can"...}

madonna is who she is. you may not like what she stands for, but she stands for what she likes.

and she pushes everything right up to the borderline.

despite losing her mother. despite her rape. despite her divorce.

{"'cause you got the best of me"...}

she straddles it, flirting with the razor's edge, paper cutting, but never bleeding heart.


maybe that's why she's alone (do 24-year-old boy toys count?).

maybe we have more in common than our middle names.

maybe we both need to straddle the borderline.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

two and a half men

my alarm went off at 7 am, and i cried.
i took that first sip of coffee, and i cried.

in group, i vomited up resenting meds and their side effects, and i cried.
r. said i was so inspiring and beautiful, and i cried.

i hobbled painfully to the gym, and i cried.
i modified to 6 mi. on the bike, and i cried.

i craved mind, body, spirit contact with my friends, and i cried.
oh, gifted chocolate, licorice, music contact from my friend, and i cried.

i feared to my therapist i may not have hit rock bottom, and i cried.
he told me how courageous i search, and i cried.

i agonized over that never try "first sip", and i cried.
friend, j, eyed me, then earnest, "if i saw you not crying, i'd be worried", and i cried.

i pulled a brush through frizzy, broken, thinned, unsexy hair, and i cried.
k. arrived all handsome and arrived, and i cried.

i noticed the return of the steroid gobble, and i cried.
k. firmed, "no offense, you are gorgeous", and i cried.

k. worried, "weird you come home the week before christmas", and i cried.
but, ah, he wants me to come home. and i cried.

then i sat down and watched the silliest, most slick, subversive sitcom. and i laughed, until i cried.

and cried.

and cried.

[dedicated to my rehab roomate, k. for introducing me to the hugely underrated comedy of one charlie sheen.]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

and then there were 10

i am lapping my mac, floundering for words.

sizzling inside like a telephone wire that has fallen and lies snaked across the ground.


he sits with his skull cap low, a la the edge, hoodie adorned and garnished in tats, it is the end of the line now, a year of rehab or silver slats. fourteen years of treading black tar, he sits quietly slumped, but when he opens wide and far, my heart goes a bump. the grinch ain't got nothing on me...

he is s.

she is jet black barbie, ballooned in front and shelved in the back, vegas princess of clubs and dj-ing, owned her house by twenty-one, snap. bottled her feelings with tablet bottles, after reading the blueprint her parents left, she is cute, coy and cautious, closed as a bottom dwelling clam. and when she's kind, she gleams like a pearl...

she is q.

he is the big, white straight guy, his myriad of baseball caps eclipse his tattooed stems, electrician by trade, but dabbled deeply in fraud. owner of a lonely heart, struggles much to look for the key, reach under to wipe his brow, it hangs down in defeat. we feel the glaze of his effort, it jolts me straight to my feet...

he is m.

he is our big, black, texan teddy bear, his childhood one upps "stranger than fiction",...molestation, abandonment, racism, gay bashing, psychotic friction. he lost direction complete in insidious lure, a chemical euphoria, a monster, meth by needle doth kill. kills homes, money, family, devastation complete, but his soul is intact, utterly kind-hearted, pure sweet.

he is b.

she is a down home sweet mama, makes us biscuits and grits, went through katrina while divorcing, starting using with her kid. her commitment to recovery inspires me, she embraces everything as gift, if she keeps it all together, she'll be rocketing through this shit...

she is a.

she's a therapist, dancer, clothes horse, does caffeine by drip, her natural beauty shocking, but rivals not the things she's shit. the bottle is her weakness, her body image comes 2nd close, she's 12 stepped so many times, she's officially a pro. but her heart, her heart of enormous enveloped this small wreckage from day one.

she is t.

his beauty is distracting, as most of west hollywood can attest, he's a focused, whip smart trainer, unless otherwise preoccupied with meth. couldn't speak when he got here, now what he says makes me think...

he is b.

your friendly neighborhood pharmacist, (note to self. oh. right.), instead likes to drink. his preoccupation with possessions entraps him, his preoccupation with himself succinct. thinks hubby's a hottie, but doesn't see his own shine, i love him already, the good son, see your own fine.

he is s.

androgynous and fine, he's eighteen and so young, for some reason he adores me, thinks i'm beautiful and fun. in suburbian flatlines he became a slave to the junk, but his spark is infectious, unique, pure funk. twirl away from your mother, who deletes evidence of your calls, the rot stepdad yearning "that" phone call, dance away from it all...

he is r.

we've caught roommate syndrome, our cycles are synced, today we donned the same track pants, target's finest, our hit. she's reliable, thoughtful, buys lemons for "the kid"'s drink, until the beast takes her downwards, tummy upwards, legs splayed wide, sloshed with her drink. we laugh over escapades, then cry under them fierce, she's showed me many pathways, towards a new life, a new lease...

she is k.

we are not letters of the alphabet.
not summaries on a blog or paper or tongue
we are not evil or damaged or broken
we are not yet balanced; as one.

misfits, motley crue, we all struggle as one
understanding each other
no age boundaries, cultural differences
no none

tonight i am feeling connected
like a telephone wire
to the buzzing of souls reaching
forward, onward, on fire

we are 11, but we are one.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

gone fishing

one of my bestest memories of daddy was a fishing trip he took my brother and i on when we were very wee...

daddy always treated us as peers, speaking to the air above our heads, never earthbound and never setting his voice box to "baby talk". and so when i hook, lined and sinkered something heavy, he danced, fleet of foot, in circles around me; refusing to lend hand, but joyously crying screams of encouragement. and so, with red, raw palms, salty, wet skin and one final, tremendous tug, i landed my prize on the shore.

one giant sneaker.

silence. and then laughter. uproarious. the ultimate fishing cliche at our feet. and had i caught it.

today, i felt like the fish i never caught.

floundering, unfocused, gasping for air. flipping back and forth within the depths of my grey (matter). nearly coming to blows with the head of transplantation at cedars-sinai; swimming upstream against a current of resistance.

"there is no compromise!"...

"but i can't walk!"

"i understand how hard these side effects are, but the first year is critical for transplants. you will just have to power through the next 5 months..."

["power through?" where did you come up with that mantra? from the pamphlet "how to deal with the psychotic immunosuppressed patient?]

my gut spills over my jeans like a scallop's innards. i have gained 10 lbs. in 2 weeks, all fluid, vacillating throughout the day like a blow fish. catch. release. catch. release. and my body spasms, twitches and throbs, like the dramatic convulsions of a guppy's final breaths.

when i returned to klean, i was still bleeding from the mouth, hook intact. caught...caught between two diseases.

[hmmm...which should i focus on now...recovery? transplant? recovery? transplant?]

but therapeutic measures soon filleted me wide, allowing frustration out the door and potential to tip toe back in. me, craving salt water, so tired of salty tears...

["i have to tell you, your courage and willingness to face everything in your recovery has inspired me as a therapist..."

"you have such an amazing spirit...keep on writing...it's so fantastic..."

"when you are not caught up in your illness, you are an asset to the earth..."]

am i a bloody, blubbery, bloated mess ready to be flushed out to sea?
or have i the guts to be sliced into the finest fillet?

i think i'll go fishing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

back to black

last night i died.

as i sat between my beloveds, k and m, their conversation mused over the relentless omnipresence of alcohol during the holiday season, their disdain of more than a couple of drinks and the "sky's the  limit"less potential to have fun minus alcohol (!). 'twas as endearing as a nickname you're not quite sure if you like, well intentioned, but slightly grating. as the badminton match accelerated, the bird catching air above my head whirled and whizzed blocking out all but one thought.

[i can never drink again.]

already triggered by my socialite ritual: play current fave album LOUD, slap me silly with ms. cover girl and pour healthy sized goblet o' wine/pop xanax (oh. right.); i was already hangin' from the edge of the cliff by my fingernails (of which my immunosuppressives have made sure i have none).

hear the rumbling in the distance
see the dark clouds form
feel the barometer plummet
and your blood grow warm
your blood vessels constrict
and your heart starts to sprint
the darkness lays heavy
and your soul starts to sink


dripping drops, fall faster and faster, wrenching me off the branch i barely grasp above the building tide. with a merciless toss i am plunged into the swell, arms outstretched, flailing, desperate to latch onto my loves. but i am already downstream...deluged...drowned.

then out of the storm, the briefest, violent strike of light. illumination.

"i need a sponsor"...

i can't walk.

my immunosuppressives have been cranked sky high. 200 mg. twice daily of my gal pal, cyclosporine. i like her, but i don't like this much of her. she acts up as hard core swelling of my ankles, calves and thighs. my heels are so hard they would make a male porn star turn green. i shuffle around the facility, feeling like an insane, middle-aged misfit. broken and beat, redhead to feet. tomorrow i meet with the tx. team as we all wobble the high wire, medicinal balancing act together. where do you hang, ms. c? too much of you makes me sick, but keeps "the kid" around; but too little of you might cause him to reject me and bolt...the unknown black hole of immunosuppression has nothing on the black hole residing in my heart...


the psychiatrist is in. and when he is in, i spill out. and out. and out.

"wanting the wine...is more than just a ritual...it's darker"...

"it feels darker"...


[we are black or white. with an allergy to gray. and an appetite for self-destruction.]

"we only said goodbye with words, i died a hundred times..."

amy winehouse. a voice that carried her humiliations and disappointments like dandelion wisps on the wind. effortless beauty. her pain searing like alcohol into her willing wounds and plunging us all into her deep. her darkest moments become art. her darkest moments become dark. her darkest moments become death.


saying goodbye is simple. two words. but living goodbye is time. so i will say goodbye again and again and again...

for i don't want to go back to black.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

here's johnny...


also affectionately known as vicodin.

a bottle was sitting on the desk in the tech's office yesterday. in there to grab the phone, it took just that moment for my pharmaceutical radar to kick into overdrive and zone in on the label, and remaining pills with nasa-like precision. just 6-8 pills remaining, and i knew exactly what that mouthful would feel like.

[(why was it there?) shut up. (why haven't they put it away?) shut up. (could i snipe it?) SHUT UP!]

so, it's no surprise i had a "using" dream last night. we all have them. i've had them as i thrashed through the throes of rebound hell. and i was going to write about that dream until a skating star spiraled me away...

johnny weir.

today, post target getaway, i was hangin' with the three gay stooges, self-referenced this way, openly and adoringly. we were waiting for the most exciting thing on ice since the bartles and james cooler (oh. right.) to glide out onto the ice. and he didn't disapoint. faux fur shoulder pads, fingerless gloves dramatically gracing his visage, he was a frozen ode to 80's fashion. cold as black ice...

and as the melancholy strains of "ava maria" vibrated out, off he soared on a sterling silver blaze of glory. sultry beauty. stunning power. and completely johnny.

and somewhere between the triple salchow and his layback spin, emerged a memory not too many yesteryears ago when i was an unknown disciple of johnny's. kickin' kidney ass, running 5 miles a day, eating like a rockstar, volunteering, screen testing for producers but starring as the good wife and not wolfing fiorinol for nearly a year. my frequency had changed, and i craved no interference.

my most authentic self.

and so i claim my birthright as a canuck, (oh, canada!), and lace up those figurative skates. and here in the golden state, i will glide forward, face tilted into the glorious california sun...skating toward a place i have yet to visit, but ultimately toe pick as home.

johnny weir. my role model. go figure.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

purple haze

"no, daddy, no"...

as our foreign wheels crunched over the wintery toronto streets, he would lean over two times during the 20 minute ride to school. with a practiced turn of the jaguar's gleaming car lighter, up to his lips he would light the ready fag, the brief, hot sizzle sending me into a panic worthy of a xanax.

[too soon?]

i would beg him to stop, as frantically as a strung out junkie pleading for her confiscated pills. i would muffle my open orifices with any and every available piece of clothing. his compromise in the harsh canadian climate was a cracked window that i would point towards like a german shorthaired. i would impatiently watch the cigarette wrinkle down it's short life; hummingbird heart beating my chest.

done. by age 5, i was a life-long, certified non-smoker.

today i called the great white north. it was a phone call long overdue. where i began as a quivering, hot mess, i ended as a tepid puddle of goo. ready to be mopped up and tossed out with the bathwater. my manitobian guardian angels and i. in a conversation without ms. hyde. and by the end they were relating their own addiction experiences. cigarette smoking. in a simply beautiful attempt to relate. striving, despite the sick, purplish haze of turmoil i settled thick across that family, to bridge a gap that will never be crossed between addict and non. but they jumped anyway.

[for c: aunt flo was more like aunt dot.]

i am the second oldest client here at klean. my roommate, k, is the oldest, and she smokes. she tried to quit while here, but the stereotype of recovering addicts is alive and well and living in west hollywood. i yearn for a haz-mat suit (for s.) every time i sprint through the smokers' corner on the way to receiving my life-saving immunosuppressives.

[this coming from the girl who can swallow over 20 fioricet a day...]

i was in a group recently, and we were discussing a creative visualization exercise. i was sharing that my number one priority in life (aside from my awakening into addiction. good times.) has always been my health. and i confessed how it kinda made me sad that i couldn't handle hanging out in the smokers' area and get to know everyone better, because i literally feel ill.

[i would love to quote them from brooke shields anti-smoking psa from the early 80's, but i figure drawing attention to the fact that i could have given birth to almost every client here would go over about as well as being a nag...]

so it was the most unusual suspect who made me laugh out loud with his most witty mumble.

"it's not that great"...

s. age 28. tattooed upside down and backwards. on heroin on and off for 14 years. here for a year. drops words of wisdom as sporadically as an icicle drips melt during that first spring thaw. but so worth waiting for...

eyes wide shut, we often don't see the potential, power or pain buried down under.

don't turn your head away. don't wag your finger hard. don't slam shut those doors.

and close your mind for repairs....

"i had a nightmare
that i slept for a light year
and a thousand locusts
crawled in my right ear
and i found myself
in a circle
by 40 wicked women
dressed in purple"
                                  by s.

["'cuse me while i kiss the sky"...]

for we are all just lost in a purple haze.

Friday, November 11, 2011

reconcilable differences

"why does it say P.L.O.?"

as a young sprite of the mid 70's, the evening news would incessantly report on the chaos in the middle east. particularly the palestinian liberation organization. every night, the initials would blaze across the screen, and her brow would crinkle and crease.

[no, this blog is not an analysis of arafat and his ten points program (thanks, wikipedia).]

rather, the little red haired girl was confused. P.L.O. was used on the black boards at school to prevent the janitorial staff from erasing the day's lesson.

["please leave on".]

but, her house of chaos had no political anarchists. just parental ones.

cut to: the theatre school student, two-time torontonian subway janitor. say that ten times when you're drunk. oh. right.

[lunch break: strawberry kiwi sparkling drink, apricot fro-yo (so early 90's) and 6 codeine tablets.]

oh, if only this steel-toed boot sporting, summer custodian could power wash what remains on our walls. the walls between a husband and a wife.

it's a delicate juggling act, blogging your guts out, married without children. you sometimes try the emotional slight of hand; river rafting through a stream of consciousness flow or flourishing imagery and metaphors, and the odd f-bomb, out of a hat.

[now, i finally see what i never saw. him.]

the horrible irony of becoming sober is that you ache to repair your wrongs, but the tool box is locked in our garage. longing to pick up a white paintbrush and mend our picket fence, but your job is to first mow the lawn.

["fix you".]

if unleashed, i could crash the www. by uploading my remorse. is the constant searing in my chest the endless detox from benzos or is it branding a tattoo of regret...

i miss his laugh.
i miss his skin.
i miss his smell.
i miss his heart.
i miss our life.

we will always see things differently. but, now i see everything through those blue, blue eyes that still make my heart skip a beat.


which makes me want to look inside me.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

rebel with a cause

"you have the arms a junkie would kill for".

and we laugh.

laying our demons out for each other as casually as a doorman nods, "good morning".

feigning certain narcotics don't work so we can get stronger ones. chugging nyquil when we run out of booze. the thrill of finding a cheaper drug dealer at $2.50 a pill instead of $4. mixing drinks with rubbing alcohol. shooting street drugs, but scared to take an antidepressant. getting high with your daughter...

we laugh, but fueling the laughter is a flickering pilot light of pain.


[remember the time i stole your pills?]

as the strains of laughter fade away, i climb into my twin bed, coil around my fur baby and dissolve into tears.

[clearly i haven't logged enough hours.]

here we are stripped of all independence, as they marinate us in recovery, priming us for a sober life.

we walk to aa meetings barren, empty handed. no i.d., no money, sporting the latest in track wear.

they are assembling walls, boundaries for these instant gratification junkies.

[poke, poke, poke.]

but in cunning, creative ways, the lost children of klean dare to defy. we poke and prod at those cemented walls until they give, just a little...and then a little bit more...

[putty in our hands.]

a secret thrill shivers through when distracted techs neglect to collect computers at 11 pm...a forbidden marital skype under the covers (don't go there). rebellious blogging during restricted times and covert access throughout the day.

[the tiniest rush...i am flushed. i am bad.]

uncharted behavior for this gold star girl. the little red haired girl who always polished her uniform shoes. the friend who always remembered birthdays. the good wife with a fully stocked fridge and a well-oiled homestead. the prepared actress with her fully memorized audition.

but as my transplant became fodder for steak and kidney pie, a magnetic voice lured me completely; faster than an auctioneers tongue and more insistent than the muslim call to prayer.

a deafening voice that left me deaf, dumb and blind...

so give me boundaries.

i am an innocent child. tearing up the blueprint of my childhood and finger painting afresh.

i am lost in an emotional whiteout; my responsibility, accountability and reactivity, slicing at my frozen cheeks.

[yes, in rehab, hypothermia is the new black.]

but i don't want to stand alone, shivering out on a snowy embankment, not knowing how to shovel my way out.

so take the hand sanitizer.
take my razor.
take my hairdryer.
take my tweezers.
take my nail clippers.
take my hairspray.
take the serrated knife.
and...(sigh)...take my computer.

[stop. breathe. listen.]

i have no cause to rebel.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


as christmas eve's moon fades into shades of morning gray, the sunrise flirts with the horizon, staining the sky with streaks of light.

in a norman rockwell world, (a.k.a. a world that doesn't exist) the children tumble bleary eyed out of bed, and pounce relentlessly upon the cal-king springs, rousing their equally bleary-eyed parents.

wild bed-heads. hot cocoa steam. ravaged wrapping remains, under the tree are seen.

and the glossiest, shiniest, largest present is saved for last.

as voices lower and chests perk out, the smaller boxes hold the greater interest. the one that holds the keys to that sweet, sweet ride. or the one that holds the brilliance of bling; especially that little (robin's egg) blue box...

we have 3 hour long therapeutic groups a day here. through creative, informational, psychiatric and eastern philosophy sessions we pick at the loose threads each of us sport, attempting to unravel the reasons why we use. we don't use to feel good. we use to self-medicate underlying issues: molestation, chronic illness, childhood abandonment, rape; a smorgasbord of dysfunction under which we curdle and mold...

[no excuses. life is hard.]

we were studying "the little prince" the other day. the childhood favorite turned adult metaphoric minefield. this book is stuffed with more metaphors than a WW2 bomb shelter. a fictional, figurative blueprint on how to live a sober life. exploring the agony and ecstasy of being "tamed": code for the roller coaster ride that is every relationship.

the heart break and exhilaration that sandwiches nothingness.


for what is most important is invisible.

what goes on in group here is pain and laughter and tears and struggle. you can feel it settling on your skin like a fine mist. the agonizing tug-of-war. but no-one here squirming in their seats; in their skin, wants to land in the mud again.

[it's too hard to crawl out of]

yesterday, i wrote a poem. my plaintive song. a few jaunty lines masking a harrowing confusion over the shackled bottles that span the rest of my life. i found joy in my body finding its tracks again, but i am terrified i will commandeer the engine and drive full speed into the bottom of a bottle again...

[pills or booze...booze or pills...]

i'm still a newborn. not yet reborn. toddling my way, barefoot, over those broken shards of glass.

aunt flow was one awkward dodge forward, preparing me for a lifetime of dodging.

[reveal and you shall heal]

for through invisible cyber waves, a deluge of eye-winking commiseration.

the old henriette flickered hot briefly. "but it's about my pain! mourning this twisted loss! not my f-ing period!"

stop. breathe. listen.

and then i felt it.

[like a fine mist]

love. friendship. support.


the greatest gifts are not in boxes. they are invisible.

[and guess what. we all ride the wave together...]

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

bloody mary

leave the guinness to the irish, as they brawl away the night...

leave the molson's to the hosers, eh, always in a hockey fight...

leave veuve cliquot to the french, husbands tend to go astray...

leave jagermeister to the germans, what's an umlaut for anyway?...

leave the sake to the japanese, so annoyingly polite...

leave akvavit to the danish, they raped and pillaged through the night...

leave single malt to the scottish, who never pay their bill...

leave pimm's to the brits, their teeth scare a wee bit...

leave limoncello to the italians, chronic pinching a defect...

leave sangria to those spaniards, so politically incorrect...

leave the port in portugal, what language DO they speak?...

leave the vodka to the russians, siberia, oh, so bleak...

and leave the wines in california, so temptingly within reach...

[stereotype much?]

leave the maitai in hawaii
the cosmo in manhattan, please
leave the boilermakers in texan bars
and the mojito on malibu beach

melting ice cubes, shards of glass, a sticky mess upon the floor
i hesitate but briefly, then walk straight out the door
for today, i had a visitor
7 months delayed, indeed
so now instead of chasing crazy
i am chasing normal (at slow speed)

[welcome home, aunt flow]

Monday, November 7, 2011


"what a beautiful color."

as a girl, i was always complimented on the color of my hair. somewhere between the red of an irish, spring lass and a barbie blond; it is pigeonholed as strawberry blond.

brought up in an etiquette-infused household, my knee-jerk reaction was always to say "thank you" when complimented. not until i mired through the angst high school bestowed, was i able to recognize i couldn't take credit for it. i had to return all the compliments.

i hadn't worked for it.

ah, irony, that wily wench, then sapped me of my ability to accept a compliment. when one landed, i would swiftly dodge it with the two-step, hangin' head shuffle...


even when i conquered math. my achilles heal, that throbbing, pulsating wound that dragged me into the unfamiliar territory of 50%. even when i divided a numerical nightmare into infinite success by scoring a 95%; the chirping praise from my teacher sent my eyes downcast, investigating the latest initialed heart knifed into my desktop...


even when this wannabe theatre star ("i only do theatre") inked an agency contract with the most solicited, coveted agent in toronto and her assistant crowed, "i haven't seen p this excited about anyone in 3 years"...


even when this californian transplant auditioned for a top casting director and she bull horned her to near deafness, "how come i don't know about you? you are my new favorite actress."...


even when a homestead visitor inspected our cocoon and exclaimed, "this is fabulous! did you hire and interior designer?"...


and then came a seismic shift that rattled this certified water whore right out of the pond and onto a rubber deck. puffing and hunched like an emphysemic crone, she agonizingly cantered away into a full blown run.

5 miles a day.

"your cholesterol is excellent. are you taking any medication for it?"...

11 words. compliment = empowerment.

i felt my veins infuse, my biceps bulge and my chest puff out bigger than a porn star's.

buckets of coal had been tossed over my shoulder for school, for career, for my home, but a fire was now lit...


wheeled in for an ultrasound. the technician scans the chart. "so you had your transplant in 1998?"

"no. 1988."

"wow. that's amazing."


"and what was my creatinine?"

breath withheld. chest ablaze. her digits twitching faster than a piper's fingers.

"zero...point...eight...that's beautiful."

technicolor cartoon eyes spring from head as body half faints.


rehab md, formerly known as dr. cuckoo, now known as one cool dude, closes her binder with a satisfying click. he looks her straight in the eyes.

"it has taken me 15 years to see a binder like that. you are recovering amazingly."


the bearable lightness of being floats me out the door.

pure joy. and then. pure agony.

crumpled complex rises up from the deep...

to think. you nearly drowned it all.

but this water whore never lost the ability to tread water. and she rises to the surface, gasping for air a little and then remembering what she really wants.

to stay away from her kryptonite by swimming breast stroke again...

and that you can't take diplomas, career, possessions with you...

when i love my mind, body and spirit...i'll love my self.

and finally be able to accept a compliment.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

easy like sunday morning

there is something remarkable that happens when that door shuts and the gavel pounds twice.

between 4 unadorned walls a roomful of eclectics sit, shifting and sipping.

but when the meeting starts, an aura drifts down blanketing the crowd below.


in my first 30 days, i still do the newcomer bop; standing quickly, eyes shifted downward as i quickly blurt, "henriette, alcoholic, addict"...

"hi henriette".

done. i am accepted.

judgement doesn't squat here.

demons spill forth after the first handshake. laughter flows freely, like a sandbag removed from a dam.

[suppressing laughter of our ridiculousness would lead to emotional implosion]

building my foundation is hard. they wipe the sweat from my brow. interior designing my foundation.

and for an hour, i know i am a picture perfect person.

easy like sunday morning...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

miss understanding

"you are losing a lot of hair".

my husband noted this over the 3 nights of my self-imposed catatonia at cedars.

[one benefit: you don't notice how uncomfortable the beds are]

the fact that he was even present, is certification of a paranormal phenomenon.

ever observant, so observant, too observant...this honed trait makes him a remarkable photographer, and a remarkable person.

he was right. i glanced down at my brush. curled around the black, plastic spikes were masses of coarse, wormy, red strands; far exceeding the average amount.

now in rehab, i have very little to brush. long and fine. strawberry blond. parted down the middle. looks like the "old" henriette...but it has become dry and brittle and breaks easily, much like the veneer shellacked over my heart.

["everything must change"]

from the hell that was prograf, pain meds, stress, getting older. who knows. it will have to be cut.

and, so i trip headfirst into another muddy, life lesson.

[hose me down like a stray dog, 'cause i'm still sitting in the gutter]

when i was very little, we lived in an apartment block over in high park, in the west end of toronto. driving back from work, my daddy would blaze around the corner like a superhero in his ferocity to arrive home. as he peeled off bloor st., he fairly maneuvered a tilt on 2 wheels. driven. and as he settled onto high park ave., the magnificent maples indiscreetly swayed, goading him into his daily call to prayer.

["beep, beep, de, beep, beep, ...beep, beep..."]

like a sleepy bat roused from its cave, i would rocket towards the balcony, regardless of the season, (i. am. canadian.), and unfurl across the barrier, gangly limbs sprawled like linguni. oh, to catch a glimpse of our car! but if i didn't, there was always a second chance for this little bat, answering the beacon of the batmobile. tearing like...you guessed it...i would flap my way over the hallway's parkay flooring and into my bedroom, where i zoned in on one simple, wondrous thing. the bedroom window.

through it, i would soon be able to witness him carefully turning the parking lot corner. that much closer to home. adrenaline threw me mercilessly up against the window; thrusting me up and into the same smudge marks from the day before. permanent idolatry in the shape of a nose mark. and then that shiny blue jag would angle slightly and pause at the underground entrance. careening somewhere between above and below ground. then he would wave and i would wave back zealously, until he and the car would disappear underground. and i couldn't see him anymore.

forever and ever, i held onto his lab coat with a fixated grasp. with fists clenched so tight they became bulbous red, throbbing with angry, jaundiced veins.

cutting off all feeling.

now i know why they call it rock bottom. you tumble into a downward spiral, scratching and scarring yourself and others against the craggy stone. jagged surprises spike and score as you land, face first, against the cold, hard truth.

i feel the disconnect between myself and those who don't suffer with addiction. it echoes back on a string between two empty soup cans. i feel their love, but their inability to relate rattles me like a storefront garage door coming down and i'm left locked inside. it's loud. and dark. and i am afraid. afraid that understanding won't be able to lay down those final planks and i will plunge down into an isolated abyss, bloodied and torn from the fall, as i attempt to crawl my way back to embracing these people into my heart.

[mind the gap, indeed...]

"but daddy would've understood me!", she stomps and cries. "well, honey, daddy doesn't live here anymore."

i unclench my fists slowly, allowing the blood to kindly find flow, and in the blossoming of my palms, i surrender. and let him go. let everything go.

i have a kidney transplant. and i have family and friends...
they have children. and i have family and friends...
we are all different. and i have family and friends...

what's that caramel corn cliche?..."if you love something set it free, if it comes back to you, it is yours, if it doesn't, it never was."

like my hair that will have to be severed, i begin to sever the past.

and will look into a mirror with a new face.

newly shorn. newly born.

Friday, November 4, 2011


my boobs are swollen.

i mention this only because it hints at the prospect that i might be getting a visitor. and that visitor would bring normalcy as a plus one. i haven't seen her in 7 months, 'cause once you start hitching a ride to the prednisone wagon, you never know when you will see aunt flow again. i'm chasing normal, with the myopic intensity of a zombie, arms outstretched, inflexible, eyes glazed with intent, just running in futility on the hamster wheel, craving that first drop of blood...

i am even more sick today. i spent all day in bed. arising now for my daily outpouring of cyber, verbal diarrhea...

[not be be confused with the real kind.]

my roommate hid the baby wipes this morning. there were so many gone when she arose, that she assumed someone was randomly nicking a few here and there.

[that should give you a pretty clear visual of what happened to me in the middle of the night...]

a lot of bizarre things unfold in rehab. it's one bitter pill i don't enjoy swallowing.

[that. and prednisone.]

on hallowe'en, the techs rented two scary movies as a treat for us to watch in the common area. "mandatory fun time! sit together, but not too close!". the techs bought all the fixings for a down home, good ol' fashioned, candied confectionery blow out with caramel apples and ice cream sundaes. because our apartment is the most accessable to the common area, it became ground zero for sugar fixes. but, when grand central emptied, it left behind, glinting like a true diamond under our kitchen light, a serrated knife. why we were as giddy as schoolgirls at a justin beiber concert to discover the contraband.

i grabbed it.

k. jumped with excitement, "quick. hide it"...

my head spun around searching faster than the devil personified.

there are no sharp knives in rehab.

[and i'm just tired of sad, crooked apple slices...]

rehab is a fascinating study of character. we all have items in our medicine cabinet that we just never returned to contraband: hand sanitizer, tweezers, a razor, nail clippers. others have managed to conceal IPHONES, or one allows her dog to roam at every group; sniffing, scratching, yawning and distracting; even though a new rule was recently laid down, "no dogs at group". others still, show up late to group, 1, 2, 4, 7, minutes late, shuffling in noisily, defiantly, casually, littering the end of their butt into the landscaping as they tilt their head back and blow toxic, rebellious fumes into the sky...

[fuck you, god...]

tell me it's not genetic, or a disease, when every single person here has generations of addiction clogging up their veins, and trailing back into the past as clearly as muddied footprints on a white carpet.

are we just cunning and baffling and powerful, like our disease?
always pushing the boundaries?
always wanting just a little bit more than what we have?
always bouncing on the rules like an overstuffed suitcase?

[not for the faint of heart.]

no. for this group of misfits, who hold up a gigantic, blinding mirror to myself, is also some of the kindest souls. they have complimented me. supported me. lent me items. given me books. shared food with me. bought me a birthday present. all within the span of 2 weeks.

we are a duality of extremes, indeed.

fabulous or fatalistic...
instantly magnetize and viciously repel...
go big or go home...

ah, but it's easy to be defiant inside a bubble. in the real world, it doesn't wash for very long and you end up a filthy, stinking mess...

so we are learning how to sit in our filth. stay still in our discomfort.

it is darkest before dawn....
there is a light at the end of the tunnel...
become worse before you get better...

[whatever. it still sucks to be sick.]

i don't want to sit in this feeling of flushed, phlegmy exhaustion. and could someone please take this cleaver out of my head? i don't want to sit in the feeling of knowing what drugs would take this pain away...fiorinol, lortab, norco, vicodin, tramadol, morphine, percocet, dilaudid, klonopin...xanax...

we all do it. we rush to the trough of comfort, gobbling away at our own personal jesus; whether it be cigarettes, coffee, eating, not eating, facebook, the computer, shopping, chocolate; addictions i haven't crossed over to...

[although i am this close to admitting to a rehab-brewed coffee habit and one misstep away from beginning to suck my life away on my virginal cancer stick...]

but i sat in the feeling, after taking a nausea pill and 2 excedrin (down from my regular fistful of 6), and indulged in my physical misery for a while. but soon, the strange trifecta of maggie's ears, a's homemade heating pad and my IPOD on low, cruised my discomfort around to the employee's entrance where i "bach"-ed my way into a cul de sac of comfort: familiar, contained, slightly boring, but utterly relieving.

then i downshifted into neutral.

[honor your body]

i have never driven standard, always been an automatic kind of girl.

maybe it's time to learn to switch gears. i hear you have to breathe a bit in between, but then become more powerful than ever.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

run, baby, run...

this morning, i woke up sick...

[there are no surprises]

saturday's plague, although downgraded to a milder version of it's gnarly self, had been simmering underneath, inside and all around this immunosuppressed broken doll.

no-one's playing the princess card here, but even royalty shouldn't run 3.76 miles when they are still snotting into multiple fistfuls of tissues and take tablets stamped with "this will suppress your immune system and make a cold last for 15 weeks..."

[but, it felt so good...]

then irritatingly, like a ripped cuticle you can't ignore, it became a life lesson...

as i lay in bed all day long, cheeks alternating dry then wet, i stared at the gun-metal gray walls, trying not to focus on how it's my favorite color. trying not to focus on how the academy awards are probably a mile away from here. and trying not to focus on how i always thought i would wear a gown of gun metal gray with my long strawberry blond hair, to the oscars.

crammed into a twin, my fur baby molded firmly against my exhausted form, i birthed a mini ephiphany.

[convenient take out size]

i always want more, more, more of what feels good. more acting jobs, more pills, more alcohol, more of the life i used to have...

for in running 3.76 miles before i was ready, i was metaphorically and literally fast tracking my recovery.   in the euphoria of that 3rd mile, i was back in my old life, empowered, independent, energetic, healthy.
and yesterday, my head knew my body wasn't ready, but my heart told me to fly.

[never have i wanted to run more after hearing our silver station wagon start up tonight. how can a heart hold so much gratitude then dissolve into so much pain? it seesaws back and forth in this gut-churning, head-rocketing amusing park...]

i need to stop running.

from my excuses, from my responsibilities and from my reactivity.

stop. breathe. listen.

["everything must change"]

and when it's right. i'll run rubber like a m-f...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

numbers game

i have never been very good at math.

so it's no surprise that i don't have much of an affinity towards numbers. but in the goulash of information that is thickening in my brain, suspect lumps rise to the surface, slithery and foreign.

i never weigh myself (except when sweaters become shifts, and pants drop to the bathroom floor without an unzip.)

if a certain number flickers in that telltale window, expectations are shot down faster than a gunslinger at high noon. our moods drop, unlike the weight we've gained, and we're tossed into the past, chained to the bad decisions we think we've made the day before.

peering at a lower number, we obsess over what we must perpetuate; jumping ahead into a time that may never come.

and all we really lose is celebrating in the body we have today...

i had that. and i lost it.

[all scales worldwide should be certified as triggers of emotional dysfunction and then disposed of in an entirely green manner]

dr. dauer does not call himself a numbers man. and thank god.

the unpredictability of my creatinine was as untethered as kim kardashian's wedding finger, never conveniently climbing upwards like a spiking fever, as per textbook. they were numbers that didn't make "sense". sick, but not sick enough. soon enough it all blurred into nonsense for me...a haze of hell...

"addicts often emege from childhoods of profound trauma and then rigid, regimented upbringings that manifest in OCD/control issues..."

[you don't say...]

there was a little red haired girl whose daddy had just died. and she had a candy floss pink room with a canopy bed. but she couldn't focus on studying, until her room was perfectly neat, orderly, controlled. "don't look down, you'll see a hair. don't look over, that book's not centered. and whatever you do, don't start counting."

[ding, ding, ding....]

round and round she goes. where she'll stop, nobody knows...

shackled and bound to a russian roulette circle game, she's savagely spun until her mind and spirit are churned into a delicate froth and she can't spot any more. all she wants to do is run, but she's been nailed with slicing accuracy. the bindings will come off, and there won't be any excuses anymore.

sniping the grand prize for the most dysfunctional childhood, she stupors into the past, tripping, and falling, desperately grasping at weeds that will never grow; instead of looking around and inhaling the fortuitous forest in which she actually stands.

don't count the memories that could have been, don't count the pills you took, the pills you had left, the pills you wanted, counting, always counting...

but then she counted on lists. and lists of lists.

lists of every penny she'd spent. music countdown lists, lists of what she wore to school, lists of what she had done, what she had half done, what she wanted to do, what she couldn't do, what she wouldn't do...

and they were numbered and organized, but she never felt truly in control.

because she never really was. and she never really will be. except for today.

creatinine 0.8

19 days sober

ran 3.76 miles

just hen.

just for today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

i believe in santa claus

if i stay here 60 days, which is currently being tabled, on dec 17th a needle will violently prick the bubble of emotional toil in which i currently reside and there a yellow brick road scattered with little white tablets, will sprawl before me. the real world.

"life on life's terms". not cvs's terms.

it will nearly be christmas.

i managed to catch the early bird plastic tree display at costco at the end of september. and i saw my first christmas commercial in the cedars blood lab waiting room this morning. i twitched in my plastic seat; the holiday feeling as distant as a buoy bobbing on the horizon. squinting to identify, then forming no connection to the unremarkable object.

last night, my husband suggested we go to denmark for christmas.

my heart soared high like a sleigh, but my mind began to whirl like the dance of the sugar plum fairy.

["but, but, but, but, but...]

i will have to go to meetings, i will need to talk to a sponsor...

there's an unbridled decadence that dwarfs the birth of christ. the overstuffed bowls of gooey goodness, the oily, meaty star, and the myriad sugary sweets. but for this panicked girl, it was the unspoken truth that motivates most christmas dinners...the full, syrupy glasses, bottles gushing their golden goodness, frothy, cold green men and the flow of something, that once started, can never be sandbagged.

it left me flailing in a soup of sweat...

["how can i say skol with water?']

sugarplums don't dance in this head, only black and blue capsules, white tablets, and coated pink pills...

today i saw dr. dauer. a santa claus wannabee if ever there was one, only of the jewish variety. my mentor adored, my chatty cathy md, my substitute male role model...my rehabilitation news was met with such pure joy that my heart began to sleigh ride up, up, up. he was stunned by my physical transformation,

"when i saw you, you looked like a zombie. you look unbelievable. has kevin seen you?"

gifts of confirmation, support and respect came tumbling out of his mouth with such velocity, much like the speed at which santa must distribute toys from his pack...

and then the big present under the tree came out. and it's bow gleamed and glittered under the cubicle's florescent lights.

"are you able to get to the gym?"

"yes, they give you allotted time. and i did 3 miles today. and i ran."

"you ran?"

"i ran."

and he just got it. and as my tears glistened like the iciest of flakes that flutter on the hardened snow, there was a beautiful silence between us. silence that encapsulated everything we have been together for 16 years.

and then came the hug. and a flu shot.

i have never liked christmas. my father died on december 13th, and yuletide's omnipresence has always left me more melancholy than merry. but today i remembered something.

"everything has to change"...

and so why can't i finally enjoy christmas? i can pop m and m's instead of pills, and drink virgin creations of the fabulous kind and i can finally dance to "jingle bell rock" instead of hitting mute.

maybe. change is slow. but it is possible.

so, yes, henriette, there is a santa claus...