The dead fighters of Ewell's Corp, Spotsylvania, May 1864.

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‘Listen to survivors’ and the fetishisation of experience

I am a “survivor” who had traumatic experiences during my time as a survival sex worker who was also trafficked on more than one occasion by multiple pimps (aka “pimples”). Even so, it is crystal clear that the “Nordic Model” increase of criminalization (and the corresponding unwillingness to allow for the possibility that there might be a proportion of sex workers who are NOT trafficked, along with shutting out THEIR voices in legislation over their bodies and human rights from the debates on this topic) – well I can just walk a few blocks to my old track, talk to any of the women who ARE trafficked, and I can give you MANY clear examples of how the “End Demand” legislation has made their lives A LOT worse, a lot more DANGEROUS, a lot more HARMFUL to what little wellbeing they have left. Trafficking is a form of domestic violence, as trafficking is carried out among the adult women I have seen, which is the majority of sex work that takes place where it is visible. FORCING domestic violence victims to get “help” (as the diversion programs for prostitutes in my state is called) has NEVER helped any domestic violence victim! If legislators REALLY want to help adult trafficking victims and, at the same time, not INCREASE victimization and decimate the basic human rights of non-trafficked CONSENSUAL sex workers, they have to INCLUDE voices of ALL SEX WORKERS, not just cherry-picked survivor stories, but also survivor stories like mine (yes I was a sex trafficking victim, but I still support decriminalization and legalization of consensual sex work), and the stories of the larger percentage of sex workers, who are NOT TRAFFICKED.

genders, bodies, politics

The debate over Amnesty International’s draft policy supporting the decriminalisation of sex work has been heated. Although the organisation developed the policy following extensive research with sex workers and consultation with key stakeholders, it has been accused of wanting to protect the rights of ‘pimps’ and ‘Johns’ to buy or profit from the sale of sex. The position of those supporting Amnesty’s draft policy is clear – the vast majority of sex workers globally oppose criminalisation (including the ‘Nordic Model’ of criminalising clients), because it jeopardises their incomes, creates health vulnerabilities and puts them at risk of violence. As the community most directly affected by sex work law and policy, it is argued, their voices should matter most.

Although this may seem uncontroversial, it has been claimed that this injunction to listen to sex workers is an identity politics which fetishises personal experience and is an insufficient basis on which…

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P.S. – You are Loved!

P.S. You Are Loved Project Tag Cloud in the shape of a heart

P.S. You Are Loved Project Tag Cloud

This took me a few days to write, but it’s finally done.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please check out the P.S. You Are Loved Project on Facebook – veve.me/PSYouAreLoved (and forward the link to anyone you think might be interested in helping counter messages of hate to trans*folk that are coming out and getting hate mail)?


Dear Friend,

I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you to receive all those messages of hate, after finally having the courage to reveal yourself as you have known yourself to be for so long.  I doubt I ever will.

I, myself, have struggled since childhood with the knowledge that the sex and gender I was assigned at birth don’t fit with the sense of who I am, internally.  But because neither of the binary options available to me in societal roles of sex and gender fit my own private identity, because even if there were an option that fit me that I could outwardly transition into, I still wouldn’t come even close to fitting anyone else’s idea of a societal norm, I’ve chosen to simply accept the cis-assigned roles allowed me by the normie majority’s sense of acceptable “morality.”  I still don’t “fit in,” but at least this way I don’t stick out *quite* so much.

I’m not telling you all this to try to draw attention to myself – I’m mainly hoping to convey a sense of empathy for the difficulty of your position.  I know a little about feeling like my outside doesn’t match my inside identity.  I know about being a target for hate.  I’ve been beaten up badly more times than I can count, and I’ve lived with daily verbal violence, bullying, and severe public humiliation on a daily basis from my so-called “peers” for years before I managed to escape to the city and the more accepting communities here.  I know, and hopefully you do too, that no matter how “different” we may seem to be to bigoted individuals, there is no excuse for hateful words and actions.  No attribute or aspect of our expressions of identity caused either of us to deserve that kind of treatment.

The thing is, the more that I see hate in the world, towards myself or towards others, the more that I realize that hateful actions say nothing about the target and everything about the hateful person’s fears, insecurities, and guilty anger towards themselves.  It isn’t really *us* that they hate, even though we are the ones they direct it at (because they can’t face who they are and how they feel inside).

So now that I’ve given you a ton of bullshit background explaining why I think I might understand an iota of what you’ve been through with the deluge of recent hate – which, really, I can’t, no more than anyone can be sure they understand anyone else’s experiences but their own – now that I’ve said all that stuff, what is it I’m really trying to communicate?

I guess what I’m trying to say is just my own projections on your situation – not hurtful in intent, but probably almost as misguided.  In the end, the best I can really expect, I imagine, is to learn my own lessons and hope upon hope that this message to myself will have some value to you (or to anyone else besides myself).

The main lesson I’ve learned in life so far (mainly from a serious suicide attempt and from a long bout with severe hard drug addiction in which I wounded everyone who loved me deeply and drove away even my oldest and closest friends, ending up a homeless crack/meth whore for way too long) is this:

I have a responsibility – to myself, to those who love me (past, present, and future), and to all living beings to live life to the fullest – to do my best to change the world and history for the better, to leave a positive legacy, to to be a force for good in every moment that I can.  I have a duty to live.

No matter what I believe about any divine force or a life before or after this one, the only thing I can be sure is that I am alive now.  My only purpose is to live – *truly* live.  I have a mind designed to learn new things constantly, a consciousness to experience and reflect on events, a “heart” – to feel for myself and others, and a conscience (when I don’t try to silence it with denial or addictive behaviors) to help me find my way and live in harmony with the world around me.

It seems this letter may have degenerated into what is beginning to sound like a bunch of self-righteous navel-gazing, but what I really mean is this:

– I don’t know who you are, but I consider you a friend.

– I haven’t met you, but I admire your courage.

– We may never speak, but I urge you: continue being yourself, continue to seek out the fulfillment of your true will in this life, continue pursuing your purpose for existing.

Your sister in spirit,

V.A. Velatura

(P.S. – you are loved!)

Lasting Impressions

When I was fourteen, and just beginning to show the worst symptoms of bipolar depression, I experienced the death of someone close to me for the first time.

I still remember when my mother came into my room to tell me Nana (my mother’s mother) had died, from pneumonia she had contracted because the steroids she needed to be on to keep her autoimmune disorders (including lupus, among other things) in remission, had destroyed her immune system.  It was also the first time I truly understood the meaning of the phrase, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” as ultimately, it was the medications that kept her alive that killed her.

My memory of that event is different than most of the memories before that, in that I remember seeing myself from the door to my room, as my mom came in and told me the news, that Nana had died, and watching myself shrink away from my mother and curl up around the scruffy and worn long-eared rabbit that Nana had given me a decade before then.  It was then I began to understand grief (for someone else, I had dealt with a different kind of grief secretly on an ongoing basis for the last few years at that point following several severe sexual brutalizations), this grief seemed more acute than any feeling I’d ever experienced before.  The grief was so strong, that I feel it now still, in my eyes welling up with tears as I recall, in the feeling like a ball of iron is weighing down my gut, pulling on the bottom of my rib cage…

I started a photography class at a local college a few weeks ago, and instead of checking out a camera from the school a few days at a time, I remembered a recent offer from my mom for her to give me a 35mm camera.  I thought she was referring to the Canon that mom had used in college herself and that, when I was deemed responsible enough with the almost-disposable cheap snapshot camera I’d been given around age 5 when I showed interest in shooting pictures, I was allowed to borrow mom’s hallowed Canon.

The idea excited me.  This whole class excites me, really.  It had been so long since I worked with film, I’d forgotten how thrilling it used to be to me to hoard each exposure for *just* the right moment, because each roll of film and each print had to be begged for following endless hours of chores, and every exposure was priceless.   But I digress.

I was wrong.  I went out to mom’s for dinner after talking to her, she was tickled pink that I came to visit.  As I was getting ready to go, she brought out the camera.  It wasn’t the Canon.

The camera she brought out was a mid-80’s Minolta, a nice 35mm SLR that is IDEAL for the work I’m doing for the next three quarters for the film portions of my photography classes.  As she opened the case to show me, she said the camera had been Nana’s, that Nana bought it right before she started to get really sick, and had used it on her travels to see states she’d not visited before now that she was permanently retired from the hospital where she’d been an RN for close to four decades.  Mom said that it had been sitting in storage since Nana had started getting sick in ’88, that other than two or three times mom and the other kids had taken it out to check on it, it hadn’t been handled, and that it hadn’t been used.

I’ve been using it the last couple weeks.  Ineptly, because it’s been a little over two decades since I last shot film, but I’m anxiously awaiting my shot at checking out a canister and developing this first roll tomorrow.  Digressing again…

Tonight, just a short while ago, I went to clean off the dust that has been on the lens this whole time with a few cotton swabs and some rubbing alcohol, since I’d accidentally touched the surface today and left a fingerprint.  I swabbed the surface gently, switching swabs as soon as they started to leave lint behind.  When it seemed as clean as it would get, and it dried, I held it to the light to check the job I’d done.  Despite my work, a fingerprint still clearly reflected.

What the fuck?! was my first thought – how can that be?  Until I realized, the fingerprint is on the *other side*.  It wasn’t a lens surface I’d cleaned, but only a filter left screwed on the lens to protect it.  I unscrewed the filter to clean it, and then it struck me, hard.

This was the last remaining fingerprint that Nana left behind.

I almost looked for a box to save the filter, but I’m trying to work hard on not hoarding shit anymore (and keeping this would be a step backward on a moderately serious problem I have in that direction).  I would have taken a picture, if I had the right lights necessary to show its reflection on the filter’s glass, but I don’t, and so I didn’t.  And really, it seems to me that the purpose of death for me, as someone left behind, and of grief, is to learn to let go.

And so I let go, and gently swabbed the last traces of my maternal grandmother from the only thing of hers that I still own.  I wonder who will miss me when I go, like I miss Nana now — even though she’s been gone for most of my life.

I spend a lot of time reflecting on ideas for what legacy I hope to leave behind, especially since I have no children and plan to keep it that way (for many very good reasons – a discussion for later).  What fingerprint will I leave behind for decades after my death?  And who will be there to find it?

The Death of my Porn Star Dreams

Shortly after I hooked up with my now-husband, I became aware that there is a fairly large market for adult films starring women of my shape and size (and larger).  As highly sexual and exhibitionistic as I was, I immediately became enamored of the plan to become an adult performer and take at least a few film jobs, maybe start a “personality site” (a site about my film persona with regular postings of new erotic media starring me for paid members), and do phone sex, web cam chats, and sell my used panties for money, things like that.  Hubby (then boyfriend) was excited by this idea, and encouraged me to pursue it.

I had a friend with connections to a few well-known people from the early days of modern adult film (late 70’s – early 80’s) – a director who directed John Holmes more times than any other director, and a former adult performer who had starred in more than a hundred well-known (now vintage) adult films.  Both people enjoyed helping new performers navigate the adult film community and avoid potentially problematic situations.

Before I could make any serious plans, I started snorting coke as a habit, and while this addiction increased my desire to perform sexually for others’ entertainment, it severely curtailed my ability to follow through on specific goals.  Additionally, hubby began to worry about my increasingly poor decision-making, so the few opportunities I did have to go down to L.A. to find work, he was adamant that I not pursue those opportunities without taking him with me which, for various reasons, was not possible.

So I started taking erotic pictures of myself and making my own short adult videos with my webcam and smartphone camera, and at the same time, I started hooking up with guys on online dating sites and on Craigslist to share those pictures and videos and to “cyber” (dirty chatting over IM services while each person masturbates) with… at least at first.  Soon, I started breaking the rules of hubby’s and my open marriage by sneaking out when he was asleep or at work without his permission or knowledge to fuck other guys.  I’d borrow his car, supposedly to run errands, but instead would use up all his gas driving to far suburbs to go fuck strangers.  While I was doing this, I was interspersing these anonymous hookups with visits to fuck my dealers to get more drugs.  Everything about me and my life became a lie to everyone I loved, yet I was brutally honest and clear about everything I was doing to the strangers I hooked up with, to my dealers, and to a few other fellow writers that I knew exclusively online.

I even went so far as to develop a list of all the ways I had thought of to keep from getting caught in lies or cheating.  I called this list, “Detection Considerations” and frequently updated it with methods for manipulating situations to continue my reprehensible behavior so that my husband would not have any tangible clues or proof of my betrayals.

I progressively cared less and less about what I was doing to myself and those in my life.  My apathy toward my husband’s, my family’s, and my friends’ feelings became (I’m certain) more and more apparent to them, and everyone pulled away from me emotionally.  When I did get lonely and reach out for help on occasion, there wasn’t anyone left willing to help anymore.  This encouraged me to sink deeper into the darkness that drug-related activities had cast over my soul, so I used more, and cared less about keeping the promises that I’d made to myself before the start of my use of hard drugs – not to steal or “skim off the top,” not to use needles, not to use heroin, not to use meth, and not to prostitute myself on the street.  Instead, I revelled in my descent into the depths of filth — I saw my involvement in “street life” as an adventure.  In a way, I viewed myself as an amateur anthropologist or sociologist developing case studies on the “aboriginal tribes” of the local street cultures I encountered.

I justified, in part, these adventures with the goal of writing a book instructing aspiring prostitutes on how to do the job, how to navigate the streets, how to stay as healthy as possible (e.g. how to keep from losing teeth, how to minimize blackheads), and how not to get hurt or caught.  Over and over, I made glossaries of the local lingo, lists of methods for common drug or tricking procedures such as how to cook crack or how to make a guy cum as quickly as possible while giving him head, lists of what supplies were essential to carry around (such as disposable wipes, condoms, paper napkins, and lube packets, etc), different ways to shoplift, how to clean meth pipes (bubbles) without breaking them, the lists were endless.  But everytime I’d get about halfway through a journal with my notes and ideas, I’d lose it or the purse containing it to forgetfulness or theft, and I’d have to start a new journal all over again.

One of my writer friends, the only one who knew everything, who I also knew in person, and who was a lover of mine that I had permission from hubby to play with, he pointed out that most of the the information I wanted to present in my free book (a la the Anarchist’s Handbook, I called it “The Crack-Ho’s Cookbook”) went against the *responsible* drug users’ code of never being the person to encourage or help another person take a hard drug for the first time.  He mentioned what I had not thought of, with my drug-addled brain, that there was no way to keep the information out of the hands of minors who might become underage sex workers (something I abhorred the concept of).  I dropped the idea as a serious goal, but still fantasized about a world in which I could publish something like that and give it away for free.

All during my time of using hard drugs, I consistently managed to brainwash myself into associating sexual activity with drug use.  That association, coupled with my shame over everything I did in betraying my husband and other loved ones, has left me with no discernible sex drive since I stopped using drugs this time.  All my adolescent and adult life, I’ve had a higher libido than even the horniest guys I’d ever met.  So the current state of near-complete asexuality is extremely strange for me.  Likewise, as I clear our the e-mail and computer file remnants of all those crazy sexual behaviors, I’m amazed, disgusted, fascinated, and repelled by everything I wrote and did.  I remember those events almost remotely, like watching a documentary about someone else, yet I remember being in those situations physically as well.  I no longer know who the person was who did those things, nor do I know who I am now, either.

Anyway, I no longer have the slightest desire to fuck strangers or to fuck for money, so I can say ‘good riddance’ to my former porn-star dreams.

Learning to Die, Part One – “Fatal Attraction”

Today, write about a loss. The twist: make this the first post in a three-post series (Writing101, Day Four: The Serial Killer).

LEARNING TO DIE

Part One: “Fatal Attraction”

I always thought I would never even try a “hard” drug.  My dad had told me many horror stories of his friends that “never came back” from heavy acid trips and although he never mentioned that he had tried cocaine, speed, and heroin until after I was well into my own bouts with addiction (and recovery), I had been given enough information through his stories of girlfriends lost to addiction, through public education, and through the scare-tactics of the churches I attended as a child, that I was certain that the “harder” drugs were too dangerous to even try.

That being said, I still experimented heavily with alcohol and marijuana, consuming both semi-regularly from the age of 16 until my introduction to cocaine later in life.  I had tried pot once, in a very small amount, before moving out of my hometown, at 16.  Later that year, I decided my only escape from my mother was to choose voluntary psychiatric care at a nearby mental hospital for a few months, and when I got out I went to live with my father and to attend a nearby alternative high school.  There, the common practice after school was to go see the school pot dealer in the woods across from the school and smoke up with him.  I’m not sure how many times I did this, perhaps a few, but I know that I stopped when I had an experience that scared me straight (as far as going out in public when I was stoned).

One evening after smoking out in the woods, I got on the county transit bus to go home to the neighboring town where I lived, stoned out of my gourd.  I fumbled with my change for a long time, dropping quarters on the floor and stumbling around while picking them up.  Finally, I finished paying, got my transfer, and sat down near the front door.  When I got closer to home, a man in a dark blue sweat suit, carrying a navy blue gym bag that proclaimed in bright white letters across the side, “POLICE,” walked up to the front of the bus next to me, leaned over next to my face, and inhaled deeply through his nose.  That sniff seemed to last forever, and it freaked me the fuck out.  I was frozen in place.  He finally stood back up and said, “Sorry, I just had to do that,” and he exited the bus.

My mind spun faster than a gerbil wheel, my eyes watched the window through the back for following police cars, my heart jumped every time we went to make a stop, certain that uniformed officers were planning to board and take me in every time those doors opened up.  I finally made it home safely.

After that, I only toked up when I didn’t have to go anywhere or when I was sure I wouldn’t encounter anyone else while I was baked.

As far as alcohol went, I was able to get a hold of it regularly.  When I was at parties for older friends, I would drink to excess, getting pretty sloshed, then taking the bus home to my grandparents’ house where I lived with my dad in the basement.  He never said anything about me coming home smelling like a distillery, maybe because never really got into any trouble that way and I always came home, albeit pretty early in the morning.

However, one episode encouraged me to be more moderate in my drinking.  When I was 17, I and three other friends decided to try to finish off a full half-gallon of Everclear in one night.  I woke up two days later, praying to a god that I no longer believed in, hoping that he would just let me die.  The pain in every cell of my body took at least another three days to subside, and after that I didn’t drink to blackout ever again, usually I drank to get a small buzz going, and then would switch back and forth between alcohol and water to stay just a little buzzed.

Things changed the year I turned 30.  The fall before then, I tried mushrooms for the first time, having a pretty intense and partly uncomfortable trip, in which I lost my fear of death, or so I thought.  Shortly after, I was introduced to whip-its (nitrous oxide) and the wonders of its anesthesia.  Mushrooms did not become a regular part of my experience, but nitrous did from then on.  Nitrous, along with the things I would later substitute for it, would soon change my world.

Later will come Part Two: “Blowin’ in the Wind”

Three Songs That Saved My Life

Today, celebrate three songs that are significant to you (Writing 101, Day Three: Commit to a Writing Practice).

Before starting: The exercise calls me to write for at least 15 minutes, and however long I spend writing today to be my average writing time for the rest of this month’s course’s exercises.  A lot of people have been saying on The Commons for this month’s course that they find the time passes too slowly.  Not for me.  I have, so far, found myself having to stop myself when I’ve already gone over.  I’ve heard the term “bloggorhea” (like diarrhea of the mouth, but transferred to blogs) used to describe tendencies like mine to just write endless posts about what I find interesting.  I think my challenge this month will be to find a better “economy of words,” as my friend Nancy (an acclaimed gallery artist and former high school English teacher) from my young adulthood claimed was the only real thing my writing lacked.  And here I go doing it again.  Time to just do the exercise.

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

1.  Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in C Minor, as performed by Vladimir Horowitz on a cassette tape recording made during the early 80’s.  Also called “Pathetique.”

I still have the cassette, somewhere.  The music encoded on the magnetic tape of that cassette has been fuzzed out by the noise created by having played it many too many times.  I would play its movements, then rewind, then play it again, and rewind, repeating these as often as I needed to until the tears would slow down and eventually dry up.  I was so often so lonely that I would pity myself my (total) lack of any friend my own age – all my friends were adults, who understood my plight all too well, but they couldn’t take the place of the scoffing, mocking, bullying adolescents who were my peers in school.  I often used to say, “I didn’t have friends, I had books,” growing up, but that’s not completely true.  I had Vladimir Horowitz’s fingers caressing those white and black keys, comprehending the absolute despair that overwhelmed me, soothing my pain.  No other interpretation of that sonata has sounded so right to my ears since, no other version does for me what that one did then.  I found another Horowitz version recorded a couple of decades later, but it doesn’t have the same passion, the same skill, it is a faded replica of the older one’s glory.

2.  For My Lover – Tracy Chapman

When I was 12 or 13, I was given my first CD boombox.  My dad had already started collecting CDs, cassette tapes were still sold in stores but it was clear that CDs were the wave of the future.  With that boombox, I was given the three CD’s that were my favorites of my dad’s collection: Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon,” James Taylor’s “Greatest Hits,” and Tracy Chapman’s debut album.  All three were rotated and played on repeat, but the latter was the one that spoke to my adolescence in a way the other two did not.  It was difficult picking just one song from that album – “Fast Car,” “She’s Got Her Ticket,” and “Baby Can I Hold You” were also top on the rotation of songs to get repeated on my headphones and sung along to under my breath at night, but “For My Lover” spoke to a time of great tribulation when I was 14.  I had been dating a 19-year-old, and he got me pregnant.  I miscarried soon after, but my mom (shortly after he had left town to go home to live with his parents again) went through my room, found my diary, and read the entire thing to find out what was going on in my life.  She tried to have the older boy prosecuted for statutory rape, to which I responded that I would volunteer to testify for the defense and appear in court wearing the sluttiest outfit I could find to prove that I had initiated the relationship and that he didn’t know my age until we were already involved.  I felt like I was in prison, I felt like I was being punished for my choice of lover and for protecting him and, in a way, that was true.

3. My Dad’s Gone Crazy – Eminem

This rap song starts out with the sound of someone chopping up lines on glass with a razor and then snorting something with a straw, only to follow with the sound of a toddler asking, “Daddy, what are you doing?”  The song speaks to the craziness of addiction, the anger and self-righteousness that goes along with it, the rebellion against society, and the grief at what is happening, what he is doing to himself and those who love him still in his life. ‘Nuf said.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now (Writing 101, Day 2: A Room with a View)?

It is winter there now, but the temperature there is probably warmer than it is here right now on this almost-summer day.  This is the same time of year as it was when I was there, and although fourteen years of time and a few lifetimes’ worth of experiences have passed in my life, there are still a few strong sense-memories that remain in the leaky bucket full of holes that I call my memory.

  • Flying for almost 24 hours of vomit-plagued turbulence.  The flights were all full, so there wasn’t room to stretch out as had been predicted by my friend who had made the flight before, so when I disembarked in Melbourne, Australia, my legs were cramped and I was exhausted.  I was not so exhausted, however, that I did not marvel at the scent of the air coming in my rolled-down taxi window once we left the airport traffic behind.  I asked the driver why the air smelled so sweet, he responded only, “Eucalyptus trees.”  Overhead flew a flock of budgies (like sparrows do here) to land, en masse, on a eucalyptus tree near the highway, brightly colored.  Ahead rose downtown Melbourne, with skyscrapers about the same height as here in Seattle, but it seemed there were fewer of them, or maybe they were just spread farther out.  The taxi let me out in a district filled with brick-faced shops and boutiques, tucked in between two buildings was an unassuming cement five-story extended-stay suite hotel in which resided my then-boyfriend.

Other sense-memories bubble up to the surface:

  • Queen Victoria Market on Tuesday – a seemingly never-ending square of tent-roof.  I haggled for the first time in my life, quite by accident, when I put back the sport sandals I’d tried on after finding out their price – $60 Australian.  “I only have fourty,” I explained.  He quickly countered that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to take that $40 instead.  But I wasn’t about to spend the rest of the week completely broke.  He ended up taking $25 for them – at that point equating to about $13 US – for the Nike velcro-strap walking sandals (which are still functional 14 years later).  My boyfriend bought me a small gold-wrapped clear opal pendant. I bought souvenirs for me and my family – “thunder” sticks made of koa wood for percussion, boomerangs painted with elaborate dotted designs, a painted didgeridoo that I never did teach myself how to play, a plethora of beautiful postcards.  There wasn’t enough time to explore every table and nook, I spent half the day there and it wasn’t enough.  The shops in the buildings out on the boundary held further treasures, a glass studio with small delicate glass unicorn, fairy, star, and other fanciful ornaments that I knew wouldn’t survive the trip home.  Flags and kites a few doors down.  I glutted myself on the eyefuls of things I wished I had the resources in my wallet for, to take them all home.

  • Queen Victoria Beach, the sun shone brightly but the temperature was mild and balmy as it was there all week.  The rich creamy frozen yogurt cone on the walk there, the big wooden roller coaster from bygone days with a ginormous bright-painted clown’s face over the entrance.  The painters and sculptors set up on tables and blankets along the sidewalk bounding the beach.  The orange-peach color of the carved stone blocks holding the plaque announcing the name of the beach also proclaimed the cause of the color of the sand – pale orange under an unbelievably blue clear sky.  I had the beach, due to it being a workday, almost to myself.  I spent the rest of the day collecting shells, beach glass, driftwood and sand to take with me.  I was lucky, later, to discover no ban on bringing natural materials from there into the US.  The customs agents simply shook their heads to each other like I was nuts.

  • The streetcar trolleys.  I rode a few during my stay, a novelty for me.  I would have been petrified to try to drive and weave in and out among them, but the drivers downtown seemed not to care.  Drivers seemed very polite to each other in a way that just isn’t seen here.  I saw no evidence that road rage ever existed there, which boggled my mind.  Maybe it was because there was rarely even a hitch in traffic.
  • Anytime I stopped to look around to gain my bearings, someone would always seem to appear to help me find my way.  My helpers would invariably explain that all Australians go on “walkabout” at some point early in their adulthood, thus feeling a keen empathy for lost travelers.  Through them, I was pointed in the direction of all my soon-to-become-favorite attractions.
  • The botanical gardens were filled with tropical plants, larger versions of the small succulent “air plants” that we nurture in miniature here in the States, their versions sometimes dwarfed my body in comparison.  Tall palm trees and vivid exotic blooms of every color surrounded me at every turn.

  • Public art was almost everywhere.  An archway made of giant neon-color pick-up sticks, statues, other metal and stone sculptures, plaques announcing the history of this or that artfully-designed brick, stone, or wood-carved edifice abounded.  A long lush walking park extended across through downtown, along both sides of the small Yarra River.  Mosaics on the path and walls of nearby buildings, more sculptures, frequent rich red-bricked archways under bridges adorned the park, making the long walk well worthwhile.

It was the only time I’ve ever been out of the country.  I have yet to see Canada or Mexico, even though they are both much closer and in the same hemisphere.  Hopefully that will soon change.  But the trip to Melbourne resides in what remains of the lighter side of my memories, from a time when I could not have comprehended even the possibility of the darkness to follow starting a scant six years later that lasted until the end of last year.  It was a summer, or rather a week of Australian winter, of innocence, something which I am ever grateful to have experienced.

The Flow of Ink (Freewriting)

Freewriting for 20 minutes (Writing 101, Day One: Unlock the Mind).

I’m torn. Torn between my desire for thrift in using every page of this journal, and between my desire for ink that flows freely from the metal nib of my new fountain pen that soaks through and makes the back of the page unusable.  I opted for the flow of ink this time, as I think most easily for wordsmithing in cursive, and the bold lines stand out indelibly dark purple against the pleasantly beige page.

I almost forgot to write today, I remembered at five minutes to midnight.

I’m writing in the garage, the only place with the needed combination of adequate light, seating, privacy, and the ability to chain smoke cigarettes, a bad habit I will soon enough need to untrain myself from. It’s going to really suck trying to write for a long while when that happens.

I’ve been in a funk the last couple of months.  It’s been difficult to get out of bed for any reason but unavoidable obligations and social occasions for that time.  I wish that one antidepressant were sufficient for combating my clinical depression, but wishes have always been fishes in that regard ever since I hit puberty.

I’m glad to be clean off drugs, but sometimes I really wish I didn’t have cravings anymore.  They depress me even more.  I cleaned the garage out today all the way back to the wall for the first time since we, my husband and I, moved into this house in 2009.  June, in fact, so this month makes it five years that we’ve been here.  So much has happened since then that it feels more like it’s been a decade, but anyway.  While I was moving the dust around, er, I mean moving boxes, I came across a couple of baggies that had once held drugs.  Not together, separately.  One was one of the baggies from when I was snorting cocaine, toward the beginning.  The other had likely held crystal meth.  While I’m glad I was able to eliminate their presence from the house, it was a real harshmellow (a word I invented many years ago) to find them.  A small part of me wished to be doing drugs still, so I could lick the baggies in futile thriftiness – futile because no small amount of residue they could have contained could have any perceivable effect, but I would still have considered that action a relapse.  Most of me was just sad in remembering that I used to hide back in those areas of the garage so that my husband, if he suddenly came out to check on me, wouldn’t see the straw or flame from the lighter and pipe in my hands before I could hide them, to prevent the explosion of rage and sorrow in discovering me attempting to use in secret – yet again.  Every time I encounter another reminder of my not-so-well-kept-secret life, I mourn for all the heartache I put my husband and my family through.  I didn’t share that at my meeting tonight, the focus/topic was on other things and I was more focused on carrying the message to the newcomer who was there, but I talked with a new female friend about it after the meeting.  She was right, a person so early in recovery  like myself shouldn’t be dealing with paraphernalia alone like I’ve had to on several occasions (I blogged about one of those times recently), but necessity has made my cleaning a solitary trial, so far successful in staying clean through it, however.  Yay, I filled two pages!

So I Never Forget:

Today, I repurposed the garden shed after it had been sitting, filthy, for the last year, after having been my meth/crack crash pad when my husband kicked me out of the house again for using drugs… yet again.  I’d forgotten … Continue reading

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