anything but a wasted life

Of course I would get my period a couple days ago. Luckily, mine don’t last very long, and it’s almost done. A hooker’s nightmare. Or savior depending on how you see it. I guess I should milk it and earn myself a sex-free night. I just hope he doesn’t insist on my having orgasms (real ones). It didn’t seem to be an issue the night we met. An old client of mine got upset with me once for faking. He said that he was old enough to know when a woman faked it. Something about the clit. He was dead set on making me come. He was a handsome black man and gave decent head, and eventually I did, but I felt like poo right after. It’s too much. Too real. Too personal. You’d think the act of intercourse and fellatio would also feel this way, but for some reason I’ve always been able to compartmentalize it. Coming is different. Faking is easier and far less emotional. Although, I really hate feigning an orgasm too. One, it sets a horrible sexual precedent for women and men. Men think it’s so easy to make girls come, and I’m just furthering the myth. I never faked orgasm before I was a hooker. I guess I gave up my social cause for five-star restaurants and travel. Two, how much time is believable before I come? How much noise? How long? How closely are they paying attention to my anatomy? I wish they didn’t give a shit. When did john’s start caring about our orgasms, anyway? Just enjoy and get yours. I don’t want to come with you. This isn’t my fantasy, honey, it’s yours.

anything but a wasted life

I was ecstatic to end my stay at Gladman. Time in a psych ward feels like an eternity. I did everything my rehab counselors told me not to do and nothing they suggested. Ninety meetings in ninety days: nope. Get a sponsor: nope. Keep away from using friends: nope. No relationships: fuck that. Don’t drink or use: yes!

I was sleeping on the couch of my boyfriend’s house (we lost our apartment while I was locked up) with his roommate who drank a case of beer a night. But since I was out to prove the “know-it-all” counselors wrong, I didn’t partake. A few months out and still sober, I was introduced to a girl named Jennifer. She was fourteen and had been clean for a year. She showed me the heart of NA. I had hated meetings before, but she took me to a great NA meeting in San Anselmo, which became my home group for a very long time. It was then that I fell in love with the program. I never did ninety in ninety, but I started doing all the other stuff. My home group had ex-convicts, hookers, and society’s rejects. My kind of people. Even though I was only sixteen and hadn’t lived as much as my peers, I fit right in. Everyone was sarcastic, had a dark sense of humor, and big-ass heart’s. Besides for the overuse of drugs and booze and the propensity to be an asshole, this is what you’ll find in the twelve-step program. The people in AA and NA taught me how to love myself, how to be honest and have integrity. I grew up in the program. I never had the compulsion to drink or use—staying sober was real easy for me. I saw people struggle and relapse, and I always felt extremely lucky.

I spoke at tons of meeting and was even selected to tell my story at a young people’s convention in front of sixteen hundred people (I still have the cassette tape recording). I chaired meetings in jails and prisons. I spoke at a meeting in San Quentin when I was eighteen, and I held a weekly NA meeting INSIDE a jail cell for two years at the Marin County Jail. Nothing will make you feel more grateful than leaving a jail cell. I changed my major from psychology to pre-law with a minor in criminal justice, and prison reform was the topic of my senior thesis at SFSU. The program was my life. I never pushed it on others nor judged people who drank or used. I’d go to bars and clubs and simply say, “No, thank you,” if someone offered me something. It wasn’t about anyone else. It was about me, and my personal choices. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not spent those twelve and a half years in the program. I wouldn’t change a thing.

anything but a wasted life

[two weeks into rehab]

I broke my hand while playing volleyball. Don’t ask me how, but after waiting for a few painful hours at the Alta Bates ER with a counselor, they put my hand in a thing and gave me pain meds—under very strict watch. I did the typical fake taking one so I could double up on the next. That night, when I took both pills, was the first time I didn’t like being high. The pills made me feel sick and cloudy, and I wanted it to be over. It was a breakthrough moment. I didn’t tell anyone. I had already found out the hard way that authority figures often used things against you. Instead of hearing what this meant to me, they would likely concentrate on the doubling up. The significance of it was not lost on me, which was the only thing that really mattered.

Similar to Gladman, we had lots of groups. We watched classic “Don’t Do Drugs” movies, which is ironic because I was in a “Don’t Drink and Drive” after-school special a couple years previous. We were hooked-up to Biofeedback machines, and made leather bracelets. We went to local AA and NA meetings, were I was a minority, both in age, race, and background. I thought the meetings were bullshit, but I kept my mouth shut. I was just counting down the days. When it finally came time for me to graduate, my counselors said I was never going to make it (meaning stay clean). Which bugged me. I didn’t like being told what I was or wasn’t going to do, so being the stubborn person that I am, I set out to prove them wrong. I wonder if that tactic has worked on other people?

anything but a wasted life

After a few more weeks of the same bullshit within the peach walls, my yearning for freedom had replaced my need to rebel, and I came to the realization that I needed to play their game in order for this to happen, so I started behaving. I eventually earned enough points and made it to Unit One.

My delinquent high school graduation took place while I was locked up. The hospital gave me a six-hour pass to attend. I had stopped going to school in January—which is when I passed the proficiency exam—but they invited me to graduate with the seniors in May. It was amazing being out, but sad knowing I had to go back. The ceremony was at a beautiful location in San Anselmo, surrounded by trees and peacefulness. After the graduation ceremony, when my friends were going to party, I had to return to the fucking mental institution in East Oakland, gangs and hubba rock. I did, however, manage to sneak off to have sex with my boyfriend before going back.

Gladman was affiliated with an adult rehab next door. I spoke to one of my counselors, then the head of the rehab center, and convinced him to let me in the twenty-eight day program. I was two years younger than the minimum age requirement, but they admitted me anyway. I had no intention of joining AA or staying clean; I just wanted the fuck out of that hospital. I missed my friends, my boyfriend, and the acid I had in my freezer.

anything but a wasted life

Then there was that old-ass Rorschach test. Of course I lied—like a good little girl. I told Dr. Whatshisname that I saw butterflies and lollipops. Happy things. When in reality, I was seeing death and decay. I wonder what he wrote down about me? Probably something like: “I’m bored out of my skull. I can’t wait to get out of the ghetto”. And, “This girl thinks she’s so smart, but she’s not fooling me”. I wonder if that’s part of the test—if the answers are categorical bullshit. It’s not what you see, it’s what you lie about what you see.

My doctors eventually decided that my problems weren’t stemming from a mental disability, it was drugs and alcohol—so they sent me to a teenage rehab center in the small town where I grew up. Of all the rehabs in the Bay Area! My depression ten-folded as we drove over Whites Hill. My childhood memories being the source of my angst.

I begrudgingly went through the intake, and when my mom left, I made the rookie mistake of mentioning to a fellow “camper” that I was going to kill myself as soon as I was alone. Stupid. I had assumed she would be on my side. She wasn’t. She told the counselors, and they called my mom. They said they couldn’t keep me because it wasn’t that kind of facility, meaning one where someone could be placed under twenty-four hour watch.

After being there a total of five hours, a cop car came to take me back to the Marin General Crisis Unit. He made me remove all the safety pins from my jeans in case I tried to hurt myself. I’m not sure how I could have managed that though, seeing as how he handcuffed my hands behind my back for the long ride. Poor cop. He wanted to be shooting at criminals, not escorting miserable teens, but that’s the action in Marin.

So I was right back where I started. There was more talk amongst the adults (as I mentioned, I had been living on my own, but hadn’t emancipated, and therefore was rendered shit-out-of-luck), then back to Gladman. This time I put up a fight, like a scene from The Wall. They literally had to drag me out of the hospital. It was all very dramatique. My dad was there this time. We weren’t close, and I wasn’t thrilled with his presence, which only added to my state of mind. I was crying and making a complete scene the whole way to Oakland. Saying the meanest shit to my mom. When we got close to the exit off the freeway I tried to jump out of the moving car. My dad was doing eighty, I was halfway out the window, and my mom’s screaming and trying to grab me. I was thinking, if I can reach the tire, it’ll pull me under. I must die before we hit the exit. I didn’t.

anything but a wasted life

They stuck me in Unit Two. Unit One was for people less insane or less likely to hurt themselves. I was with the psychotic and the endangered teens. It was surreal to say the least. The endangered and bored messed with the loony. They were endless entertainment. Some of them had been locked up for well over ten years. We were angry and they didn’t know better. Most of the kids were around my age (sixteen), but some were much younger. There was a sweet, twelve-year-old girl who had tried to hang herself—she still had the mark around her neck from it. I got the distinct feeling that some of the uber young were locked up simply due to the fact that their parents couldn’t (or didn’t) want to deal with them. I suppose the same could have been said for me, but I was living on my own, and therefore a burden to no one.

Inside this cement circus located in the hood, us at-risk youths were forced to attend a billion meetings and therapy sessions. They were trying to fix us (or heal us…tomato, tomahto). We had to earn points in order to move to Unit One—which was more relaxed, and you weren’t on twenty-four seven watch. Earning points required a good attitude and rule following. I had a shitty attitude and was anti-establishment. I stayed in Unit Two for a while. None of the bedrooms (which we shared) had locks, so the nutrolls had free reign to go through your shit. One of the female lifers would leave messages for me on my nightstand with things like, “God called for you.” She was a schizophrenic kleptomaniac. I think her name was Judy. Looking back, perhaps she wasn’t as crazy as it seemed, because her notes usually made me smile. A rarity when institutionalized. One monotonous day I was walking down the hall and saw her wearing my T-shirt. She had on five T-shirts (none of them hers), all safety-pinned to her bra. I got one of the guards. We discovered all kinds of shit in her drawers. Who knows how long she had been working at that collection. That’s institution living for you. The Lithium shuffle. Kids on Ritalin. Cancer in the small enclosed smoking area with the only TV. Peach walls. No hope. And the sound of gunfire outside. I wasn’t getting better, just more morbid. I wrote down the lyrics to Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight” and sent it anonymously to the man who had abused me mentally and physically as a kid. Classic teen move.

Coupled with losing my freedom, I was in extreme physical pain for the first week. Apparently I had had a seriously bad urinary tract infection that I was ignorant of (I wondered why it was difficult and painful to pee, but I always figured it was the pound of mushrooms or acid I had taken). I was put on antibiotics, a mild pain killer, and cranberry juice. They’d call me up to the nurses’ station and watch me take the pills and drink my juice (very One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

The only thing I liked about Gladman was bingo night. Every Saturday night we played bingo in the dining hall. Playing bingo with the mentally unstable is seriously comical—but also seriously frustrating. “Bingo!” every five minutes. You don’t have bingo, freakshow, stop yelling it. I won a pair of striped tube socks once. I had those socks for years.


[5.3.12 Ear Inn, TriBeCa 2:35 p.m]

What am I doing? I’m in New York on a job, and I’m texting (and missing) Brody, and he’s been acting jealous. This won’t go down well will it? I’m sitting in this amazing pub called the Ear Inn right now, and I wish he were here. He’s about to have a child with a woman who’s pissed at him for leaving. This is a total shitshow. Why him, universe? Why now? I miss his taste. Fuck! I suppose it might motivate me to do better. Get out of this racket. I have two photo series that I need to finish. I need to market my art. I need representation. I need. I need. I was destined for good things. Wasn’t I? Pepe Le Pew knows about the book. I’m not sure how, but he’s pretty tech savvy. He said that he would help me when the time is ready. Should I take him out of it? Crap, why do I have such long-term relationships with people? Maybe I should just milk him for all I can before the release date. Who am I kidding, we all know my heart is good and soft, I’ll never be able to milk him for anything. Nothing past what we agree on, that is. Why did I tell my fucking clients?! Dummy. I haven’t seen him since our trip to Europe, and that was four years ago. He said that he keeps tabs on me. Sees how I’m doing. I love technology, but I also like to think we’re still living in an age when it was much more difficult to stalk people.

[9:48 p.m. EST]

Fuckity fuck. Spoke to Brody about an hour ago. It was kind of weird. I know I’m drunk, but I thought I was being sweet. Perhaps not, because he ended it being snarky. And not cute, I-want-to-fuck-you snarky, it was more, I’ll-show-you-who-has-the-upper-hand snark. Why do I do this? I should have screwed that cute actor who came onto me at the bar earlier. I should have gone to that art show of another person I met. Instead, I’m sitting here pining for a snarky, recently separated man with a kid about to be popped who drives me crazy. I need help. The heart wants and all that shit.