Thursday, January 22, 2009

beautiful boy, ugly drug

I finished this book last night. I can't recommend it highly enough to parents. I plan to encourage my teenagers to read it. It's a memoir, written by a father, David Sheff, whose family is coping with their son's addiction to methamphetamine.

Before reading, I had a basic but inadequate knowledge of meth. I had attended a substance abuse conference, but this was years ago, when meth was largely an urban street drug, before it had exploded in rural and suburban America. I had treated individuals who reported a history of using meth, but no acknowledged addicts or current users. That I knew of. After reading this account, I'm close to convinced that a perplexing patient or two were actively using.

I had seen Oprah's depiction of suburban moms addicted to meth but stereotypes die a slow death. I still viewed this drug as a low income affliction, not something my kids would be at risk to use. I had heard first hand accounts of how prevalent meth use was in very rural areas, such as small towns in Wyoming and Montana. Again, not my kids.

This book is a wake up call to parents. All parents. That means me, too. It's about a family I could identify with. A boy with loving, supportive, nurturing parents. A boy whose intellect, creativity, and sparkling personality showed all the signs of a bright future.

Sheff tells us about the private schools carefully selected to advance his son Nic's academic career. Nic's attendance at a study program in Paris. His acceptance at numerous prestigious universities. His attendance at U.C. Berkley.

Nic first tried marijuana and alcohol at age 12, younger than my son is now. His parents' response seemed reasoned and appropriate. Like how I imagined I would handle it. Nic's escalation into "the hard stuff" was unlikely and shocking. Once in the grip, the Sheff family found themselves in the midst of a harrowing nightmare.
Sheff gives us a moment by moment account. His personal reflections, fears, uncertainties, shock, and despair. He wrenchingly questions his parenting decisions, wondering "What did I do?" and "What could I have done differently?"
He interviews leading university researchers and shares his acquired knowledge. It's a quick study on the ravages of meth and recovery strategies. So, for me it serves a personal and a professional function.

In 2005 David Sheff first wrote an article for the New York Times describing his son's ongoing addiction. You can read it on Sheff's website, here or at the NYT, here. He later published this memoir, Beautiful Boy, an expanded version. A book review in the NY Times can be read here and here.

The most common street names for crystal meth are ice and glass. Here are some others:

Batu.....Blade.....Cristy.....Crystal.....Hoo.....Hot ice.....Ice cream.....Icee.....L.A. glass.....L.A. ice.....Quartz.....Shabu..... Shards.....Stove top.....Sugar.....Super ice.....Teena or Tina.....White crunch.... An even longer list can be found, here.

You can view David and Nic Sheff on Oprah, here. Nic has written a book called, Tweak, which I plan to read next.

Oddly enough, I had sat down with my kids about a week prior to my friend lending me this book. I said "We're going to have a talk about sex and drugs." They immediately belly ached, "Aww, Mom! We know all about that stuff."

No. They didn't.

Neither did I.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

like a virgin, stuck for the very first time

My back went out again. What strenuous activity? Bending to pick up dirty clothes off the bathroom floor. Just great. I am thrilled as I rejoice in my youthful vigor and this wonderful adventure called middle aging.

So yesterday I went for a deep tissue massage. Which, for those of you who have not had the pleasure, is not a relaxing, feel-good massage. It's a dig down deep and loosen up the muscle fascia type massage. AKA, holy fucking shit it hurts.

I chose this video because it's the closest I could find to the music selection playing in the background while the masseuse pounded pulverized probed my muscles and I held on to the table for dear life relaxed into it. The singer chanted an encrypted message that only I could decipher, "owwwww... owwwwwwwww... owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww."

Eventually the masseuse found what she was looking for: a hard, tough, unyielding muscle around my butt/hip area.

She asked how I felt about acupuncture. "Oh, I don't know. I've never had it." I thought she was just asking in general.

Turns out she is an acupuncturist. Wow. My lucky day. Grinding my muscles down to a fine powdery pulp isn't torture enough. I need pins stuck in me, too.

So I told her to "go for it" and she stuck me in the butt inserted a needle into my gluteus minimus. Then she continued to work on the other side of me while the acupuncture did it's thing.

I felt a mere prickle when it entered my skin. Then when it reached the muscle, I felt a dull, slight pain. She eased it up and for the duration I could not feel it at all. I felt nothing when she removed it. So all in all, a comfortable experience. How's that for contradiction?

Only one needle but that's all it takes to pop the acupuncture cherry. In my book, anyway. So yeah, acupuncture virgin no more. This small-town-girl turned large-size-Texas-city-slicker goes all ancient eastern medicine, like.

Chest bowed, I crawled strutted out of the torture chamber building, proud of my newly pin-cushioned self. Is it obvious? Could people see the change? The only witnesses to my devirginzed status were two street repair workers holding up a "SLOW" sign. Yes, I think they detected my aura of transformation. Their lingering glances betrayed subtle expressions of admiration and envy.

Brave new world.

The massage did hurt but all the while a deep seated feeling of wellbeing took over me. Comfort in knowing that someone with expert hands was exploring my muscles, searching for the origin of my pain. I felt a sense of relief at my core, for those 90 minutes, and a feeling of hope that she would deliver the magic touch that would return healthy functioning to my body.

I wondered, as I lie there writhing in pain feeling her hands move across my skin, how big a part of the healing process this was. This letting go, believing, feeling relieved and taken care of. Psychologists might call this placebo.

Did the massage plus acupuncture help? Only massive quantities of ibuprofen time will tell.

So how about you? Ever subjected yourself to deep tissue massage? Acupuncture? Did it help?

Saturday, January 10, 2009


If one of your New Year's resolutions is to shed yourself of your less-than-better-half, you may find this information helpful. As someone determined to hang onto my mate, because I know a good man when I've trained, bitch-slapped found one, reading through this helps me when I occasionally need that extra motivation to put the gun down dig my heels in and make it work.

Reading these tips reminds me how difficult divorce can be, how potentially devastating an impact on one's emotional, physical and financial wellbeing.

Sometimes, of course, divorce is the only way to free oneself of a destructive partner. But sometimes we just get tired of trying or we fantasize about a newer, shinier replacement model (or maybe one whose idea of doing the dishes includes a wipe down of the counters and stove top.)

My inspiration for this post: I attended a luncheon for psychologists a while back. The speaker was an attorney who specializes in "collaborative" divorce, a concept and a practice that makes so much sense. Immense good sense when children are involved. I was very impressed with the thoughtful planning and systemmatic effort used to mitigate the negative impact of divorce, especially on the children.

Collaborative divorce is designed to minimize the acrimony. To eliminate the standard scene: two lawyers, at opposite ends of the city, firing settlement offers back and forth, with ever escalating harsh demands. To minimize the much feared, seemingly unavoidable, endlessly rising legal bills.

Collaborative divorce is a system that helps both sides of the table stay calm and negotiate cooperatively. To figure out what each party wants most and move forward from there. Usually (if either party has a wit of healthy parenting instinct) that involves protecting the kids from unnecessary nastiness.

I went to the attorney's webpage the other day to get some information. I retrieved some sensible advice for people contemplating or going through a divorce.


Top Ten Things to Remember During a Divorce to Maintain Your Sanity

1. Take care of yourself physically. Find a way to release stress, move your body and clear out your mind. Yoga, exercise and meditation are great resources.

2. “Fair” is a matter of perspective. What seems fair to you may not seem fair to your spouse or your children. No one is objectively right or wrong about what is or is not fair.

3. Wishing things or people were not the way they are is a tremendous waste of time and energy. Instead, focus on changing what you can change.

4. For things to change, first you must change. That means do something differently, even if it is only changing the way you relate to some piece of information.

5. Your life and your divorce are different from your neighbors’, your friends’ and your brother’s life and divorce. What worked for them may or may not work for you. Take their well-meaning advice as information only.

6. When you forgive someone else, you are helping yourself more than you are helping them. Harboring resentments is like taking poison while hoping that it will cause someone else to die.

7. Acknowledge and work through your feelings. Your emotions are your body’s way of moving energy. The more you push emotions away, the more powerful and overwhelming they become.

8. The only thing we can really count on is that things change. When things are the way you want them, be grateful, because they are going to change. When things are not the way you want them, be grateful that they will also change.

9. Treat yourself kindly and accept kindness from others. Allow others to do for you what you would do for them if they needed it.

10. Live up to your own standards. The right thing to do is the right thing to do, regardless of how anyone else is acting.

Top Ten Practical Things to Remember When Going Through a Divorce

1. Make sure you're physically safe. Courts can issue restraining orders and protective orders, but they're just pieces of paper. If you feel that you and/or your children are physically unsafe, call the authorities.

2. Take care of yourself physically. Find a way to release stress, move your body and clear out your mind. (Redundant? There's a reason. It's that important. More to come in a later post).

3. Find an attorney who fits your style and personality. Remember, you're the boss. Your attorney should tell you your options, explain the consequences and costs of each choice, then let you decide what to do next.

4. Get very clear on how you will pay your living expenses when you are no longer married. If you need education, find out where to get it, how long it will take and how much it will cost. If you need to change jobs or get a job, do that before you are desperate for money, if possible.

5. Learn as much as you can about your financial situation before you separate. Make copies of old records, go through the files, consult your accountant.

6. Treat the financial aspects of your divorce as a business decision. Cut your losses, optimize your gains.

7. Join or create a support group. Family, friends, church members, colleagues, neighbors -- anyone except your children. There are churches, therapists and other professionals who run divorce support groups. Find the same thing for your children. Many school counselors run ongoing groups for students whose parents are divorced or divorcing.

8. Look at the big picture. It is easy to get caught up in small matters that are irritating now, but that won't make a difference to your life in the long run. Don't sweat the small stuff.

9. Encourage your children to have a positive relationship with their other parent. When they go to his or her house, tell them to have a good time. Don't talk bad about the other parent to the children or in front of the children. (Note from me: This point cannot be over stated. It is crucial. Allow your children to enjoy as positive and normal an experience with the other parent as possible).

10. Avoid doing anything that you don't want your spouse to know about. Chances are, he or she will find out one way or another.

All pictures shamelessly snagged from google searches, including this blog, divorcehim.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

congratulations, al franken

From his statement, “After 62 days, after the careful and painstaking hand inspection of nearly 3 million ballots, after hours and hours of hard work by elections officials and volunteers across the state, I am proud and humbled to stand before you as the next Senator from Minnesota."

You can read more at his campaign website,
Al Franken for Senate or at The Huffington Post.

I don't know how you feel about it, but with all that's happening in our economy right now, this country can use a little Stuart Smalley wisdom because we're good enough, we're smart enough, and doggone it, people like us. Or will again, in 12 days.

Wouldn't you be a little more enthusiastic about taking your seat in Senate Chamber if you knew Al Franken would be sitting near you?

You can see a clip of Franken taking on the lies of Ann Coulter, here.