Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Is crisis relative?

Hmm. My kid leaves, and first I sit in the black hole of no-crisis: what do I do? No one needs me. Dinner is the most important decision to be made today.

Then I walk into a pressure-filled day at work, which is WAY less calamity than I'm used to enduring, but it overwhelms me. Hey, 23 articles due to be edited in 3 days: doesn't compare to rescuing your junkie kid, right? I should be able to handle it. Not. My head starts spinning and won't stop.

And then I come home and think of New Orleans, and of the true meaning of crisis.

So my vote is yes: it's relative. Yours?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Wild rudbeckia, I believe

Well. Aside from suddenly developing a runny nose which lasted the entire 11 miles, that was a pleasant way to start a Sunday. Gave me some time to think.

First I thought about how obssessed I am with measurement. Keep it at 16 mph, girl. There's a hill. No slowing down under 12, no matter how steep. Ooh; only took me 4.5 minutes to Center Line Road. There's where I usually stop to rest: no, no, no stopping today. Make the whole thing in under 45 minutes.

Took me several miles (okay, 3.36, if you must know) before I realized what I was doing. Calm down, Frankie. Look at the goddamn flowers and enjoy the day.

So as the spine of the bike trail lifted and views unfolded on both sides, I did. And it was nice.

Parents of addicts, relax. Enjoy the day. We can't do anything to help our kids, not really. Subconsciously driving ourselves to exhaustion won't get them any cleaner.

May I recommend a bike ride? A slow one. Look for some flowers while you're at it.


Friday, August 26, 2005

In the no-park zone

It gets old after a while, saying goodbye all the time.

How else do you explain the boy sleeping all the way to the airport, finally being roused enough at the departure gate to wrestle his bags out of the trunk, shoulder his way into a black button-down shirt, sling computer case over shoulder, and trudge into the terminal without so much as a backward glance or a nod goodbye?

And how else, but desperation for one teensy acknowledgement of all her effort, do you explain a mother standing in the no-park zone for 15 minutes, peering through the terminal windows, hoping against hope he'll walk back out, sheepish grin on his face, "Hey, Mom, sorry, I, uh, I forgot to say good bye, forgot to thank you for all you've done for me?"

Must admit I drove away a little irritated. It does get old after a while.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Wow. And yet...

So. He's going to rehab. Tomorrow. The one he wanted, the one he went to before, in Cali. So he did make it happen: wow. And he's paying for it, indirectly, out of his own college money.

That part stinks, yeah. And yet -- it doesn't stink.

After all, it's his problem, he owns it. So maybe if he loses money paying for rehab, he'll take it more seriously this time. Pray god.

Plus there's that icky little threat of prison hanging over his head.

But jeez, heroin is a hard drug to kick. I dunno, if, in his place, I could do it. I gotta admire him, after all, for coming as far as he has. And yet...

And yet. How do you admire a junkie?

Ain't nothing simple about this game, folks.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Complacency in the face of a storm

Okay, so we had a little confrontation last night. A little yelling, truth be told, after he'd spent the day lying around:

* * *

Look, son, you've been out of jail, what, almost a week now? It's time for you to get into rehab.

I know, Mom! You don't need to give me this lecture!

Okay, but if you know, why aren't you doing anything about it?

It's not up to me!!!!

Oh yes, it is. This is your recovery. You have to be the one to make it happen.

I don't have any say in it! Dad wants me to go to the fucking Christian place.

And you?

I want to go back to where I was before, in Cali.

(Big sigh) Didn't Dad say he's using your college money to pay for this?

(Eyes flicker with realization) Yes.

Then it is your decision, kiddo. Tell Dad you want to be in rehab by Friday. Make it happen.

* * *

Problem is, the kid might be clean, but he's still an addict. Duh. And addicts aren't exactly known for making it happen. Frustrating, frustrating. And this conversation was after the one with his dad, which was 80 times more frustrating, i.e., You bailed him out of jail to go into rehab. WHY ISN'T HE IN REHAB?

Aaaargh. It's like we're just stuck in the path of least resistance--smack in the direct line of a killer storm.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A few moments before dusk

I suppose you could call it bittersweet, heavy on sweet.

We had dinner together last night, all of us. Well, as hub pointed out, all but his two, who are states away. Okay, all of mine, anyway.

Sweet: Sitting around a bonfire roasting ribs over the flames. All three boys there, all talking, all safe and sweet and funny. Oldest showing his pix from last weekend. Middle one sober, out of jail, listening, grinning, commenting, not dominating. Youngest content, poking at the glowing coals, absorbing. All of us laughing, teasing, loving.

Bitter: Wondering if the evening will ever replicate itself, once the middle boy is paroled in another state. Knowing he’s high risk for death by overdose if he relapses.

Sweet again: Seeing him reattach to the family. Seeing him wanting to go to Cali, wanting to get into rehab, yet reluctant to leave us. Seeing him smile.

Bitter again: Pushing, prodding him to leave, to get to rehab. Knowing that doing so means no more evenings like this for a long, long time. Maybe, maybe even ever.

We stayed until it was too dark to see anymore, wanting it to last, hating the moment those car doors would click shut and we all drive our separate ways into the coming night.

I suppose you could call it bittersweet.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

"Free" choice

Mmm-hmm. The papa heard the word "free" associated with Christian rehab, and suddenly he's a Bible-quoting born-again. Who lives nothing remotely close to a Christian lifestyle, but hey, who's keeping score?

And wouldn't the kid just looooove to live in a house where you must sign off on a mega-list of rules, like: I agree not to sing, hum, or whistle secular music for the next 15 months. Sure he would. That and sing in the choir on Sundays. That's why he muttered he'd really rather go back to jail than have someone else's religion forced on him, but hey, who's keeping score? Or listening?

So tomorrow good old Pop's taking the boy a couple hours away to check out the place, and no decisions on "regular" rehab until then, so could I just get off it already? This place is free, for chrissake.

All right, all right, I'm off it. But it just means more delays until the boy gets into the safety of a program, and away from the temptation of seeing old friends. One hit, that's all it takes with heroin. One hit, and he's a junkie again.

So yeah, my fingernails are nubs. Somebody get me some ice cream already, wouldja?

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Damage report: zilch. So far. Unless you count me waking up four kabillion times last night, wondering if he'd sneaked out his window to a) meet his old friends and get high, b) throw gravel at his girlfriend's window to wake her up [wait, why would he do that when she has a cell phone?], or c) start hitchhiking to Mexico.

In reality, as we sat around last night he was polite, engaging, cooperative, and contrite. He ate like a horse, reveled in the luxury of an actual couch, and told us stories of what it was like to be in jail. Trust me, conversation from this kid is not a miracle, but...it's a miracle. Comparatively speaking.

But he's supposed to be in rehab, and as much as I ached with joy last night when I had the opportunity to snap a pix of all three sons together again, I also ache with dread. What if, what if, what if. All it takes is a split-second wrong decision, and he's on a run again.

Needed: One plane ticket to rehab for him. One Al-Anon meeting for me. Pronto, please.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Emotional rotation

The news is reporting 11 confirmed tornadoes in our area tonight.

Make that 12. My son came home.

Exes with money can do this, you know. "Surprise: I bailed him out and drove him home. Rehab? He's supposed to go to rehab? Details, schmetails."

Stay tuned for possible damage report. But damn, he looks good.


And you thought picking a preschool was hard

I need your help. Do you know of anyone who's been through a good rehab program—especially someone who was on hard drugs—and stayed well afterward? Can you give me the name of the facility? Like, today?

See, my son is getting bailed out of jail. Tomorrow, I think. His dad and I have fought and fought about how much will be spent on his treatment, to the point that we're not even speaking right now.

Mature, huh?

But at this point, he would be home for two days, then fly straight to rehab in Cali. That's the plan, if it hasn't changed overnight without my knowledge (no bets there, folks).

But here's the deal: I'm not convinced the rehab facility he was in previously is the best one for him. A little too shame-based, in my non-pro opinion. So I really want to hear from anyone who had a positive experience elsewhere. Money counts. No way he could go to a $30K per month place, which is what the big boys run. And no way I'm sending him to one of those free, Bible-based kidnapping centers, either, sorry to say. Twelve steps, yes. Ten commandments, no. Sorry if that offends anyone. It's just that I've been there, done that, no thanks.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, in advance, for any suggestions. I'm kinda, well, desperate on his behalf, since rehab has to happen in the next few days. So name away, would ya?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Excerpt: The intervention

The snow feels dirty underfoot as I crunch across it, barely conscious of the traffic around me. Joe meets me at the door: come in, Mom. Logan’s in the shower, perfect timing.

The climb up the stairs to their apartment feels endless. When did I get so old, so tired?

Caitlyn is sitting on the couch, curled up under a blanket, blankly watching TV. Alex, the boys’ roommate and friend since childhood, sits nearby.

“Hi, Mrs. Bryson!” He doesn’t know my remarried name, but it doesn’t matter. He’s just surprised to see a mom here. “What brings you out this way?” Big smile.

I stretch my lips in return. “Just stopped by to visit with Logan a little while.”

“Cool. Did you have a nice Christmas?” He obviously doesn’t know why I’m here.

Logan enters with a bowl of cereal in one hand. “Hey. Mom.” Suspicion in his voice as he sits next to Caitlyn. He looks fine, and I struggle, again, to reconcile the label. Heroin addict. “What’s up?” Caitlyn looks like she’ll cry.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fledgling hope

It occurs to me that you don't know my son, not at all. Well, then, lemme tell you about him.

He's got this slow, adorably crooked smile. He lifted weights last winter and now he has a strong, square frame. Or he did before this relapse, anyway—before he got so guant-looking.

He loves animals. Was forever finding wild things and plopping them in my lap to be fixed. Baby birds, bunnies, snakes—once he arrived home from school, scrawny arms wrapped around a spotted fawn he'd found tangled in some barbed wire on the side of the bike trail. Softest-hearted kid you could ever hope to meet. We took the fawn to wildlife rehab (some coincidence, huh?) but it died anyway. He took that hard.

He took his teen years hard, too. Somewhere in there, he met drugs. Hopefully, somewhere in there he also met the strength to beat them.

When I saw him in jail last week, he sat on the other side of the glass, head bowed, eyes averted, tears running off the end of his nose. Told me he'd lost his friends, his freedom, his dignity. Told me he loved me. Looked up, eyes momentarily hopeful: "If I get out of here, I think I want to be a veterinarian. I really want to get my life fixed, Mom. I don't want to be an addict any more."

Me either, kiddo. Me either. Get well: I'm saving you a baby bird or two to fix.

And on a lovely day, too

First, I thanked the ex for reminding me what an ass he is.

Then I sat in the park and cried. Not my-boyfriend-is-leaving-for-the-weekend kind of crying, which I have little tolerance for. No. Deep, gut-wrenching, helpless kind of crying.

The kind of crying you do when you suspect you are really watching your kid on a slow, dusty march to the grave—you, standing there on the sidelines, powerless to do a thing to stop it.

The kind you do when your ex don’wanna put out the money for rehab, and you don’t have it. That kind.

I decided to write a letter to the ass—er, the ex, asking him to reconsider what it means to be a father to this kid. Asking him to consider that he may have to spend five times on this son what he has to spend on the other two. Asking him to put off buying his new plane, and buy another chance for the boy, instead.

And then I sat in the park and cried.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tough lollipops

Yeah, yeah. Feminism is cool, we’re all empowered, yada, yada. Except when the rubber really meets the road, and THEN who’s empowered?

The ones with the money, that’s who.

Case in point: my ex, who hasn’t seen the bottom side of a checkbook balance since we were young married thangs—him in school and me raising babies. Now, lo these many years later, he’s financially loaded and I’m, well, not. Has nothing to do with who works harder: chalk it up to life being unfair.

Okay, fine, I can live with that. No bitterness for me, just a giant dose of feminist independence, thank you. Whatever needs to be done, you bet I can do it.

Until now. Until our boy is in the deepest trouble of his life.

And now, since the ex is Mr. Moneybags, guess who gets to choose the rehab center? Guess who gets to say how much of that ever-so-crucial after-care the kid gets? Guess who gets to dangle the keys of freedom in front of the boy: Daddy could get you out of jail at any time, you know…? And wouldn’t you know it, that’s whose decisions will be based solely on how much it costs, instead of on how much it will help the boy beat the overwhelming odds of surviving heroin.

And guess who gets to cry into her pillow at night, frustrated and helpless and feeling oh-so-un-empowered, oh-so-un-able to influence the decisions that could save her kid’s life? That’s right, the one without the money. The feminist.

The hardest pill I have to swallow these days is just being quiet, letting the ex think he’s all-wise and all-powerful, because that’s the only way my son can get the horrifically expensive rehab care offered. And that, my friends, purely and simply sucks.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

No credit repair needed, thank you

Apologies to those who left nice comments yesterday. I had so many messages in the vein of, "Hey, nice blog; now visit mine for some amazing CREDIT REPAIR secrets!" that I finally decided, on the recommendation of an experienced blogger pal, to install Haloscan, wherein comments have to be approved by me before showing up on the blog. In the process of installation, I lost a bunch of super-nice remarks by first-time visitors. Awww.

Anyway, I'm not sure I'll keep Haloscan turned on, because it takes away a bit of the spontaneity of posting, but I do plan to keep it on for at least a few more days before deciding. Meanwhile, comment on, folks.

I just love it when people keep their credit repair secrets, well, secret. Don't you?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The prologue

Christ. I’m standing in a muggy courtroom in a small god-only-knows-where town in Tennessee, my husband by my side, waiting to see my son. My barely-twenty son. The one locked in my memory, adorable, grinning, ten years old—netting crabs on sun-stroked afternoons at the beach. Today he will be wearing a uniform of wide black and white bands. The attorney has prepared me: he won’t look good.

The judge is speaking. “Somebody tell me when the prisoners get here. It’s hot in the holding room—there isn’t any air conditioning back there.”

He proceeds with cases from the audience, petty theft and unpaid rent. The small room is packed, standing room only. I peruse the other attendees: a girl with her arm in a cast; a woman slowly rocking a sleeping baby; a wizened man with no teeth; several well-dressed people.

The attorney appears, stomach over his belt and eyebrows every which way: come with me. We follow him into a side room, a room with a conference table and four chairs. In front of two of the chairs are grey felt hats, meticulously positioned. The owners of the hats appear, a pair of young troopers, clean cut, compassionate eyes, barely older than my boy.

The attorney introduces us. “These here are the officers who stopped your son.”

We shake hands and a potent moment hangs in the air before they begin to tell the story. Bobby first. “It was evident to me when I stopped him that he has a very serious problem. At first we thought trafficking: car from Illinois, his license from Florida, no suitcase with him. Those are all signs of trafficking. But he only had two hypodermic needles with him, and two constricting arm bands. No scales, no baggies. What really surprised me was all the caps all over the car—you know, those little caps that come on the needles? They were everywhere. And the metal tins they cook the stuff in, those were all over the place, too—front seat and back.”

He stops, seeing my sudden tears, and his tone gets gentler. “I don’t mean to upset you, Ma'am.”

Of course not. Why would he want to upset me? He’s just a Tennessee law enforcement officer keeping a junkie off the streets. He doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my boy. Doesn’t know what led to this point.

Doesn’t know about that terrible day last Christmas, when I first began to drown.


Locomotion promotion

Gotta promote, they say. I've now linked to Blogarama, Link2blogs, BlogCatalog, Bloggernity, and Bloghop. That's enough for now; my cut-and-paste fingers are getting worn out. Thanks to Lee, another blogger whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting, for the great links.

Let me know how you found my weanling bloggette, and I'll award you 50 bloggie points. Which are good for absolutely nada, but you gotta love getting points, you know?

Truth be told

So why am I doing this? Marketing, baby, pure and simple. Day job, schmay job. I want to write and be read. Besides, my story. Ah, my story. Writing it and getting it out there is the only way I can begin to shake myself of a terrible need to do something, anything, about what happened.

I once had a professor, a sock-em-in-the-gut-with-who-you-are kind of guy, gay. The kind who gave you the feeling he'd spent years fighting against the system, against expectations. The kind you'd expect to have some stories to tell. After two semesters with this man, during which he required daily journals from us, he wrote on the bottom of my final paper: "Compared to yours, my life has been perfectly prosaic, and I would've never thought I could say that to anyone."

First I had to look up the meaning of the word prosaic.

Then I got to thinking: you know, he could be right. So I decided to write. A message or two from now, I'll post the prologue for my narrative non-fiction, a work still in progress because the story still is.