Breaking Bad Never Got Me Addicted

At the risk of having serious television fans throw things at my head, I have to confess I’ve never seen a full-episode of Breaking Bad. I know, I know! Listen, I love Bryan Cranston as much as the next person. I liked the first few seasons of Mad Men so it wasn’t an AMC phobia that kept me away from it. Although the old movie queen in me misses the Bob Dorian days. No, oddly enough this drug addict couldn’t never really get excited about the concept.

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Maybe it’s like doctors who don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy or chefs who can’t stand Food Network. But I was never intrigued enough by the premise of the show to tune in. Granted, I never made my own drugs or even sold drugs for that matter. Okay I made flavored vodka once with Green Apple Jolly Ranchers but it was disgusting and hardly an enterprise idea to pay for my cancer treatments. As a user and frequent customer, the idea of a drug dealer/family man I guess should have been an interesting one. Perhaps the 4 mind-numbingly bad seasons of Weeds that I watched turned me off from drug dealer tv shows. Or maybe it’s because on some level as a connoisseur I know that television could never capture the real-life sketchiness of the drugs dealers I have known. (Reminder: Pitch ‘Drug Dealers I Have Known’ as a coffee table book.) I never ever, once bought weed from somebody who looked like Mary Louise Parker. They usually looked more like Mexican versions of Al Roker and the guy I bought meth from I never actually saw. He was like Carlton the doorman. We’d call and someone, not him, would run it out to the car. Still, I feel like I’m missing out on something. The oddest assortment of people I know love this show. From bank employees and actors to retirees and teachers and beyond, everybody loves it. Everybody but me. It could be the drug dealer thing but I also don’t like watching shows about assholes.

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That early 2000’s trend of building an entire television show around reprehensible awful people seems bland to me now. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Dexter and countless more pounded us over the head with this “Hey aren’t we subversive by having a polarizing character as the lead?” Um, no. It’s titillating  a couple of times but when every show has a drug dealer, hooker, heroin addict, gun smuggler then it becomes boring.  Personally if I hate every character, I’m less likely to want to spend an entire hour with them every week. I worried that Breaking Bad would just make me feel yucky instead of actually caring about what happened to the Walter White.  And don’t give me the “Well, what about Seinfeld?” argument. Seinfeld was a comedy and laughed at the worst of humanity. Plus, Jerry and the gang always got theirs in the end. And oh yeah, Seinfeld was genius.

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In reality, my aversion to the show might have more to do with timing more than anything else. The show premiered in January 2008, the first year I really tried to get sober. By ‘really tried’ I don’t mean going to rehab or even meetings. This stab at sobriety consisted of smoking a lot of cigarettes and watching endless marathons of Real Housewives (a program I also no longer watch due to the high asshole factor.) Just watching people even drink wine or do blow on television was tough back then. It was like having your jaw wired shut and being forced to watch people eat Thanksgiving dinner. Staying away from Breaking Bad might have been more strategic at that point than anything else. Not surprisingly, this fragile time on the sobriety merry-go-round didn’t last. breaking-bad-all-characters

Being sober for over four years and with my days of  dealing with dealers long behind me, maybe I’ll finally catch up with Breaking Bad. Or maybe not. Now that it’s all over, I feel like I’ve missed the party. Which is okay. For a pop culture junkie like me, television addictions are picked up and let go with regularity.

But friends am I missing something? Is Breaking Bad worth watching? And what other shows are you addicted to? And what show does everybody love but you? Tell me in the comments section below!

thanks for letting me cher

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In a misty Santa Monica park, on top of a green hill, with the sound of fog warnings coming from the beach and dogs barking, there’s a rec center. In addition to what sounded like some pretty spicy dance classes, this center also has meetings of the 12 step variety. Meetings I needed very much when I first moved to the beach in 2009 in hopes of turning my shipwreck of a life around.  My first time there I peered in the window and saw all these happy smiling people. Well, this certainly couldn’t be a meeting for drunks and drug addicts. Where was the crying? Where were the hobos with the red bandana knapsacks and pork pie hats? Where were the junkies in wheelchairs on death’s door? Being convinced I was in the wrong place, I quickly got out of there before anybody noticed me.  What I didn’t I know was that was the right place and I would be spending a lot of time there in the months to come.

12 step meetings are crazy ass places. Drama. Laughter. Breakdowns. Breakthroughs. Bunnies. No, really, there was an actress from the 80’s who used to bring her pet rabbit to the meeting. Maybe the bunny had a drinking problem. It’s all the stuff people watch reality tv for but without the commercials. Unlike those televised travesties, meetings actually save people’s lives. I’m not exactly sure how but people who go all the time usually stop doing drugs, drinking, gambling screwing everything in sight or whatever else might ail them. Again, this magical juju is beyond my comprehension. Sure I can tell you the names of the kids on Full House or the order of the singles released on Madonna’s True Blue record, but mysteries of the universe are beyond my comprehension. What I did notice about these gatherings is the folks who shared about their struggles and the solutions to said struggles and did so on a regular basis managed to stay sober. One day after a gathering of these brave people, my heart was full. I left the meeting and as I walked down the fog covered hill, this song started came from the SUV of one of the people leaving the meeting:

I started laughing. Not only because of the song’s goofy jingly-jangly intro or the lyrical parallels to attendees of the meeting, but because it’s Cher. Diva, icon and former spouse to someone who used drugs and alcohol like I did, Cher is everything. I love Cher for the camp factor, for her music and because as a gay man in his forties, it’s the law. Cher is also the ultimate symbol  of survival. Ain’t no Equal commercial or bad movie gonna keep her down!  Just when we think she’s done, she comes back. With a few months sober and back from the brink of self-destruction, I could kind of relate.  I could go on with the Cher metaphor (“I was once a ‘Dark Lady’ and now I ‘Believe”) but I won’t. What people like Cher, Madonna Cyndi Lauper and Boy George represented to me as a kid was individuality and strength, things I so desperately wanted. Meetings were the first place I felt like I could be myself. The real version. I could say, “hey, I’m not feeling good.” or “I need help” without giving a crap about what people thought. I soon began to find my life but bigger than that I learned I didn’t have to do any of this alone. And thankfully, my road to individuality and being able to share my problems was one that didn’t require headdresses or assless pants.

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sober at a mile high

When I ran off to Los Angeles in 1995, Denver was a town in transition. Things were about to happen but they hadn’t quite yet. Suffice to say, when I came back 15 years later things were happening, primarily weed. Like everywhere. Upon arrival in the Mile High City, you are greeted with a permanent marijuana musk which smells like a skunk who’s had too many burritos and by young loadies  who populate city parks sparking up as if they didn’t get the memo that Woodstock ended 40 years ago.  Having lived in Los Angeles during the medical marijuana storefront boom, I had seen pot go retail. But what I had never witnessed was an entire city go to pot.

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There were lots of things about my hometown I didn’t remember. Like the terrible driving. After nearly getting run over by a Subaru, I said to the startled pedestrian next to me, “When did the drivers get so terrible here?” To which she replied with zero irony,”Oh that’s just because everyone here is high.” A subsequent trip to my favorite coffee shop, wherein I witnessed my barista  with cherry red eyes and a cartoonish perma-grin make my latte  at a sloth’s pace, certainly reinforced her theory. From grandmas to teens, on city buses and corporate functions, pot is omnipresent. Being a big fan of bathing and caffeinated beverages delivered in a timely manner, the culture, quite frankly, annoyed me. Still,I tried to not let it bother me. I was the minority here and solid in my sobriety so what did I care?  It would be hypocritical for me too get to judgy seeing as pot served its purpose for me for over decade. It nurtured my favorite pastimes of eating and sleeping while making some truly godawful films more enjoyable.  As long as I didn’t smell like a gassy skunk, Denver could smoke its brains out. After all the, image is that the city has this pot thing totally under control.

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After living back in Denver for the past two and a half  years, however, its hard not to wonder if the veneer on the perma-grin has begun to crack. A 4/20 rally that ended in two shootings doesn’t bode too well for Weed Town, USA. Neither does the onslaught of regulation issues currently biting Denver in the ass. The oddest place I’ve seen pot pop-up is in recovery. My jaw dropped when I was told that a common belief in the 303 is that you can be considered sober and still smoke pot. Marijuana maintenance was acceptable as long as you didn’t drink. As drunk who is also a drug addict, this thinking was news to me. I was told I wasn’t sober if I was using any chemical to check out. In order not to get pissed off at such a notion, I have to keep my eyes on my own paper.

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Policing other people’s recovery or trying to dissuade a city from sparking up a joint would be a colossal waste of time. Besides, my own bucket of crazy needs to emptied on a regular basis, therefore making it a full-time job. If I’m doing the stuff that keeps me spiritually fit, the habits of others are none of my business. I’m able to enjoy myself and my life without substances and that’s all that matters. Is it harder staying in town that’s high? I don’t know. I think staying sober is difficult anywhere. I know fall down drunks in small towns and people with long-term sobriety who live in Las Vegas. Which is to say, I don’t think the diseases of addiction and alcoholism are location-based. I also know how to deal with it better the longer I live here. I avoid places with lots of pot smoking. I try to be understanding of people who need weed to help them stop drinking. I’ve become a more cautious and aware pedestrian.  And, most importantly I allow extra time for my stoned barista to make my latte.

even still, glee exists.

That random dictionary that pops up when you type a word in defines glee as “great pleasure or delight.” I don’t know if the Google dictionary can be trusted but I do know it was hard to feel great pleasure or delight today in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict and the news of Cory Monteith’s death. Admittedly, I don’t follow the news so I wasn’t invested in the Zimmerman trial. For me, obsessively following trials and the news falls under the category of “serenity killers.” I also didn’t really watch Glee but as an addict, this story really bummed me out.

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The 31-year-old Montieth reportedly struggled with drugs and alcohol since his teen years. Most recently, he left rehab for “substance abuse” problems back in May. While Glee might be a modern but happy-shiny teen show, Montieth recent life seems like it was pretty dark. There’s an autopsy coming but what does it matter. The results won’t be released and we won’t ever really have this conversation we so desperately need to have.  The teens who watched Montieth and followed his rise to fame aren’t likely to hear the truth from publicists about his struggle with the disease of addiction.

Perhaps I’m negatively projecting here. But if Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger and Amy Winehouse have taught us anything, it’s that we no longer like to tell the public that drugs and alcohol killed our icons. When I was a kid and Belushi died, I remember seeing a magazine cover saying, “Drugs killed John Belushi.” You would never see a headline like that today.  I’ve griped about this before and-spoiler alert- I’ll continue to do so. If one of these celebrities was killed by cancer or AIDS,we’d know about it. We’d say “Weren’t they strong for battling that disease?” But when it comes to addiction and alcoholism, we tend to revert to shame and misunderstanding. We either blindly idolize them, no questions asked. Or act like they were long time losers who had it coming. Yet the big thing we’re missing out on by withholding, in my opinion, is the collective admitting that”Yes, drugs and alcohol will still kill you” and a chance to talk about it. Of course the media has to wait until autopsies are complete and naturally loved ones of the deceased have every right to privacy. But some acknowledgement of the epidemic could maybe save lives.

But maybe I’m wrong. Just two weeks ago, People magazine featured a story of how Matthew Perry’s life has changed since getting sober. So maybe our attitude is changing. Who knows. This post, as always, is about my attitude. Shocker, I know. But its hard for me not to feel upset when I hear about someone who lost their fight with addiction. Perhaps it freaks me out to realize that could have been me. Or maybe it makes me angry that they never got help or weren’t able to grasp recovery. Probably a little of both.

What I do know is: great pleasure or delight exists for me today. It doesn’t come in a bottle or box or from a sketchy guy in a Datsun at 4am. It comes from being sober. As my husband and I worked on our next creative venture on the couch and nibbled pizza as we bounced ideas off each other this afternoon, I felt real happiness. I also felt it yesterday when I walked down the street and watch gray clouds dot a pink and orange sunset. I feel it when I have ridiculous conversations with my cat. Its because I’m free. I don’t hate myself or my life so much I need to check out. After decades of being miserable I’m finally free. And I guess after years of pain, Cory Montieth is now too. Still, you can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t an easier way out.

oh the places you’ll blow

If you haven’t done acid in your grandparents backyard, you haven’t really lived. That’s what I always say. Actually that’s the first time I’ve ever said that. And honestly, your existence is probably okay if you haven’t. Yet as a young drug addict in training whose motto seemed to be “Sure! Why not?” my adventures in narcotics took me everywhere from acid in grandma’s yard to smoking crack in an alley with a now famous music producer. While drinking just seemed to get me into trouble, drugs always had a unique knack of putting me in the strangest of environs.

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I guess it’s the whole “because they’re illegal” thing. Or maybe its the very nature of getting high. Who knows. But when you’re laying on the floor of a jewelry designer’s warehouse after doing heroin afraid to move because you’re convinced Jesus has come down and is now an alien who shoots lasers from his eyes, you know your life has gotten pretty special. That was at age 20 and after dabbling in meth for a few horrifying months, I trotted off to Europe with the hope that when I got back my drugcations would be cancelled once and for all. Naturally, I smoked a wagon full of hash and bought ecstasy from the Danish version of Kurt Cobain while in Amsterdam but that was to be expected. It’s like eating pizza in New York or hot dogs in Chicago. I got back and despite a few drug free months, the party was back on and I was once again a hot mess. Hanging out in sketchy all night suburban bowling alleys waiting to buy drugs, doing cocaine off the dashboard of a someone’s mom’s Ford escort, using the Mile High City’s gay bar restrooms as my own party depot. Classy excursions all the way around. In a desperate attempt to pull my head out of my ass, I moved to Los Angeles at age 23. Cause there wasn’t in trouble to get into in LA in 1995. Seeing as my sobriety date in January 2nd 2009, we know how that move worked out.

While drugs and alcohol might have taken me to random places (4am at a Korean speakeasy doing shots with Horatio Sands is the first thing to spring to mind), the one thing they never successfully did was totally remove me from myself. That was one vacation that not even the Priceline Negotiator could figure out. Sure, blacking out was a good way to erase how much I hated the world for a few hours. But it never lasted. I guess I’m blogging about this today because I’m happy with where I am. Yes, I could use a non-drug fueled real vacation. But overall I am okay with where I am– physically, spiritually, mentally. And I’m more than okay that my average, daily adventures no longer put my life in danger. That’s always a good thing. It’s also an incredible gift to wake up and know exactly where I was the night before. I don’t have to search receipts or look at fast food bags on my coffee table to piece together what happened. This isn’t to say my life is boring. Or maybe it is. But at least it’s real and at least I’m no longer trying to getaway from my life. Even though the beach sounds pretty incredible right now. Hold the acid.

Disco Damage

If you randomly bust into dance moves when you hear “Le Freak” by Chic  coming from the sound system at the grocery store, if you still expect to be on the guest list even though you have been to a nightclub in several years or if you suffer from minor hearing loss due to dancing next to speakers for an extended period of time; you may be suffering from disco damage. Other common symptoms include the unwavering belief that nothing gets good until after 12am, spontaneously yelling “Hey girl!” at drag queens even if you don’t know them and  a deep desire to dance instead of dealing with your life.

Disco damage sufferers like myself have a had tough week. The back-to-back deaths of Donna Summer and Robin Gibb reinforced the depressing, unavoidable truth: nothing,not even a great dance song, lasts forever. I was a toddler during the original disco era but the beat must have seeped into my brain at an early age because my whole life I’ve been in love with dance music. Yes, I am aware that an affinity for dance music is part of my gay DNA but disco and the culture around it were very much a fantasyland and that appealed to me very much as a future drug addict and alcoholic.

I was scooped into nightclubs and raves at an early age. And what goes better with dance music than drugs? Body glitter and platforms are fabulous but if I really wanted to dance my ass off, drugs had to be my number one accessory. Once at a rave in a warehouse in suburban Denver, the Chic song I mentioned earlier came blasting out of the speakers. I was high on ecstasy and it felt like this  was my moment. This is what I was looking for my whole life. I had friends on the dance floor, I felt fantastic and I was 20. This kind of high needed to happen all the time and normal life needed to feel more like this. So it was this feeling, this hunger that propelled me from Colorado raves to LA nightclubs to working at a record store and to DJing and promoting my own clubs in Hollywood. The goal of a budding disco diva was simple: get high and dance. Ecstasy was the preferred dancing accoutrement for many years but cocaine did the trick and so did some strong cocktails. (For the record, 3 Long Islands and  2 Vicodins aren’t a great dance floor combo and we’ll leave it at that.) There’s a great line in the disco classic, “Lost in Music” by Sister Sledge that sums it up:”Responsibility to me is a tragedy. I’ll get a job some other time.”  For many years, I worked to keep partying, I kept partying to avoid really living.

Eventually, the lights came on, last call was called and I tried to live real life. For a club child, this  is a difficult prospect. We’re used to phony relationships and being high all the time. Things like paying our bills and dealing with our problems are icky tasks meant for those boring, grownups we’d see heading to church on Sunday mornings on our way home from the club. I eventually would face the music and lucky for me that music still  had a disco beat. You could take the homo out of the nightclub but disco would forever “toot, toot- aah- beep beep” in my heart. Donna Summer and the Bee Gees were the soundtrack to my growing up, the background music at the roller rink and still bumping at after hours clubs when I was hell-bent on vanishing in the 1990s and 2000s. Now, songs like Nights on Broadway or Try Me I Know We Can Make it are celebrations that despite ingesting more drugs than a Rick James after-party, I too will survive. My dance parties today take place at my desk most of the time although I still occasionally hit the clubs with other sober folks.  So be kind to me if you see me shaking my booty in the frozen food aisle to Bad Girls or Jive Talking. It’s just a little disco damage and a sweet hangover that I don’t wanna get over.

Depressing New Study on Gays & Addiction Proves What We Already Know

“Your people  sure do love margaritas!’ said the Argentinian lady I used to work for back in the mid-1990s. And she was right. The restaurant she owned was packed on the weekend with gays and lesbians just getting their drink on. Now, a new study from The Center for American Progress says that not only do “my people” love their cocktails but they are more prone to drug and alcohol abuse then our straight counterparts.

I talked about this months ago on these pages and have often wondered what, if any, is the correlation between LGBTs and addiction/alcoholism. Based on my own non-scientific yet vast field experience, I would ascertain that we queers are one cracked out, jacked up drunken mess of a group of people. But clearly I’m no researcher. I like to think of myself as more of a lab rat. Thankfully, this study which pulled data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other studies,  did the real work. The organization claims “that an estimated 20-30% of gay and transgender Americans have abused substances, compared to 9% of the general public” according to TheFix.com. That staggering number confirms what the LGBT community has known for decades but refuses to talk about; addiction and alcoholism are killing thousands of gays and lesbians. So why, after all the knowledge we have about addiction does it continue to ravage the gay community? “The stress that comes from daily battles with discrimination and stigma is a principal driver of these higher rates of substance use, as gay and transgender people turn to tobacco, alcohol, and other substances as a way to cope with these challenges,” the report states. “And a lack of culturally competent health care services also fuels high substance-use rates among gay and transgender people.”  Gay and transgender folks, the study says, are also 200% more likely to smoke tobacco than hetrosexuals while gay men are 3.5 times more likely to smoke pot than straight guys.

I can’t begin to speak on the drinking and drug habits of all gay people. (Contrary to popular belief we don’t all know each other.) But for me personally, I read a survey like that and find those numbers to be right on in my own life. Drug abuse? Check. Alcoholism? Check. Smoking? Check. I’m not sure about the hypothesis of why gays and lesbians drink and drug more though. For me it was a combo of things. Being gay was one part but mainly I drank and used to escape, to get away from a person I hated–myself. I had a lot of shame and not all of it was centered on being gay. Ironically, my “battles with discrimination and stigma”,as the study calls them, were more inflamed while I was using. I don’t encounter that kind of resistance in my sober life but that’s a different study altogether. Personally, I don’t believe being gay or being the child of  an alcoholic or being bullied or having a high voice alone made me an alcoholic. It was all kind of written in the stars before I got here and it was up to me to either meet the challenges or not. But that’s my crazy ass beliefs. My hope is that gay leaders can look at this study and say “Our community has a problem. What do we do about it?” Ignoring it and having Absoult sponsor our gay Pride floats isn’t helping matters, in my opinion.

But what do you guys think? Does this study hold any water? Will it bring out much-needed honest conversation? Or are LGBTs doomed to a life of addiction? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section!

Smoker? I don’t even know ‘er!

I saw one lady smoke when I was about 13 and I thought, “Oh my God. How cool is that? Maybe I should try that.” That lady was Bette Davis and my adventures in nicotine lasted 23 years.

Now I can’t blame Ms. Davis for my cigarette addiction but i have a hunch that I’m not the only little gay boy or wannabe femme fatale who started smoking after seeing her light up on-screen. American Movie Classics was my portal to a more glamorous America and certainly a more fabulous place than Golden, Colorado in the late 1980s. We had moved from our hip Denver neighborhood to a town that had a giant “Howdy Folks! Welcome to Golden!” sign strewn across the main drag. A main drag, which also included a real life Five and Dime and a western apparel shop with a giant white spinning horse on its sign. I thought we had landed in hell. I needed cable television to provide me evidence of otherwise. The films of Bette Davis did just that. And nobody smoked like her. She used a simple cigarette to assert her control, to show that she was bored, to take a moment to plot what to do next. I need an outlet for all of those things too so smoking would be added to my repertoire at precisely the right moment.

My sister, the oldest of  the four kids, broke the smoking taboo for the rest of us. Ever the accidental trail blazer, she left a pack of Camel Lights in her jean jacket, the same jacket my mother washed for her. Well, when the entire load was tobacco stained and covered in the soggy remains, the jig was up. She received a harsh talking to that included the history of cancer in our family and addiction and blah blah blah. The point was she didn’t actually get in trouble and by the time I was old enough, no one really noticed that I started smoking. I was introduced in the harshest way possible on the way to junior high by my friend Tanya Setzer who had lifted some Marlboro reds. It was horrible. It gave me a headache. I hated the way they smelled. And I could not wait to do it again. I changed my brand because I was quite sure that no one outside a biker bar should be smoking Reds and I was off and puffing for more than two decades.

I quit smoking on November 15th, 2010. It was the strangest thing too. Being the ever dramatic addict, I usually like to send out a big press release informing everyone I know of the incredible thing I’ve just done so I can be applauded and then when I fail, I can do so in the most public way possible. But this time, I just quit. It was my birthday present to myself. Hindsight being what it is, I should have given myself some jeans or a new coffeemaker because no gift should make you feel as horrible as quitting smoking did. Around my second week, when I couldn’t breathe, had gotten a gum infection and felt like throwing up every time I stood up, I called a friend who is a detox nurse in Los Angeles. She informed me this horrible physical state could last 90 days or more. “Now a warning?” I thought to myself. But it passed and eventually I felt better.  But I still miss “the cigarette break” even if I don’t miss smelling like an ashtray and hacking up my lung every morning. I miss the ritual of stepping outside and taking a moment. People told me replace it with a prayer break or a short walk. Bullshit. It isn’t the same thing. The upside is without all of those breaks I have more time back, time that can be put into the nap bank. So it all evens out. It always does.  In the end, Bette Davis died of breast cancer and her real life was far from glamorous. The western wear shop became a Starbucks. And I finally stopped trying to be someone else.

The Rabbit Habit

Once upon a cracked-out time, your’s truly hopped up the bunny trail that was a steep Capitol Hill street near my friend’s apartment. I swayed and sashayed as I had been awake for days.  I noticed something miraculous on the small grassy patch near the building’s steps.

Three fat, round white rabbits lay sleeping in the wee hours of the morning!  From where I was walking they looked like plump lop eared bunnies straight out of some Easter special. So imagine my surprise when I got closer and I realized they weren’t rabbits at all. It was three garbage-stuffed, white plastic grocery bags with their handles tied together. And thus began the ending of my relationship with crystal meth.

I had what I wistfully like to refer to as my summer of meth. Like the summer of love or the summer of 69. But with crank bought from sketchy dudes at all night bowling alleys. It was actually probably closer to two summers but who’s to say because when you’re using crystal meth everything seems to last a lot longer than it should. It’s hard to fathom that I had a relationship with crystal meth in the first place. I mean, me of the daily long naps and the intricately delicious meals was somehow dragged into a world of zero sleep and no food? How was it possible? Oh because I’m an addict that’s right. More proof positive that crystal meth was bad news for me is while high on that drug I favored smoking menthol cigarettes and drinking gin and tonics. What. The. Hell.  When the most white trash drug in the world can turn me into an old black lady, things are not okay. That whole lifestyle was so hilariously awful that it is truly befuddling. The best part about meth, because there are so many wonderful things, was the that while using it I could drink even more without getting messy. But when my little crystal crew all became paranoid and some of us stopped talking to one another and then I saw the not bunnies, I decided to get out while I could.

It popped up in my life in Los Angeles here and there but amazingly I learned my lesson. Or learned there were drugs I liked more. Like booze. I guess I’m grateful for the rabbit apparition. I’ve met hundreds of people in the program whose lives have been destroyed by that drug and it is no joke. I somehow escaped it’s death grip and that’s pretty miraculous.

The Raves of Our Lives

I feel like I’ve 12 stepped and therapied my behind off in order to be okay with my insane past. I can laugh about most of it but that doesn’t mean I always want to be reminded of it. So when my days as drugged out raver recently surfaced on Facebook, my reaction threw me for a loop.

Last week, I was added to a Facebook  group called something like “I went to raves in Colorado in the 90s”  by one of my oldest friends. I used to poo poo reminiscing yet for some reason this group sucked me right in. The group grew to over 1,000 people all of whom shared songs and memories and photos of the all night debauchery that was set to an electronic soundtrack. The fairy wings, the glitter, the fuzzy wookie boots and other cartoon couture litter the pictures of children who took drugs and danced all night long. I’ve spent this week revisiting my past and I’m surprising okay with it. I went to some of Denver’s earliest raves in 1990 through 1993 but the scene held steady well into the early 2000s. I was 17 when I first got my rave on and rolled it up by the time I turned 21. We did mass amounts  of Ecstasy and danced and made friends and all loved each other. Until we didn’t. Crystal meth came into the picture, parties started getting broken up by the cops and drama was on every dance floor. I mean talk about a recipe for disaster– take minors, add drugs that make you wanna screw your brains out, stir and enjoy! Personally, I had a blast but it was clear from my early days of raving that all I wanted was more. I went every Saturday for months and did Ecstasy every week. And coke and whatever else was being passed around. I burnt out at 20 and  again at 21. But I wasn’t alone, we were all really young and high and the lifestyle wasn’t built to last.

When I turned 21, I shook off the fuzzy backpacks and the people I met in that world.  Raves were for kids and I was ready to drink with the big boys. I didn’t look back. Well until last week. It’s odd. Part of me has truly enjoyed the memories of the people and the music and the general craziness. It’s healthy for me to look back on time in my life with love and fondness. Another sick part of me really wishes I could do it again or live like that today. I know that’s nuts and beyond unhealthy but there you go. The reality is a 40 year-old raver high on drugs still acting like the party never ended would be tragic.com. For me, anyway.

I can’t argue the culture significance of raves as I was always fickle. Before raves, I was goth before that I was a moody Smiths listening teenager. After raves I moved to LA and embraced the glam rock revival and then electro clash. In short, I was always a bit of scenester sheep looking to latch on to the next big thing. But I can  look at those pictures of myself and have compassion for that kid and the journeys he was going to embark on.