Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 7, pt 1 (Austin)

This is part of a series…please start with the first post

I knew what a speedball was, but that was as far as my speedball experience went. I hate needles. I can understand the “uh, huh.” That I may be getting from you but it’s true. I really hate needles. I used to get extremely lightheaded at the just the sight of them, but all it takes is one low moment, or in my case a series of perpetually low moments and any escape from that is welcomed with open arms. Big pun.

“We have to do this quick and silent so that Tracy doesn’t find out. She doesn’t like me doing this.”

“Steven, have you ever shot up before?”

“No, first time caller.”

“Ok. We’ll do you first then. You don’t have any diseases, do you?”

“No, why?”

(I look at Jason)

“I only have one rig.”

“We have to share a needle. Hold my belt like this.”

Remember that “we got to keep it down, guys” speech? Ha, throw that shit out of the fucking window. I’m not sure what the fuck happened or went wrong, but now I belt around my arm, a needle sticking out of that arm, that we want to be careful with because it’s “needle sharing day” at the drug den next door. I start violently projectile vomiting and it’s not stopping. No shit, “wafer thin mint” vomiting and just all over the place. Jason grabs me by the back of the head and points my head toward the sink. I knock over the dishes that were on a drying rack with my left hand. I go to grab a towel and knock over a spice rack. Paprika problems now.

Tracy is now in the kitchen wondering why the fuck I’m covered in barf, on her kitchen floor, with what turns out to be her new belt around my arm, with a needle sticking out of it.

Me: “Tracy, I got the smokes for you.”

I’m out and I wake up on my couch back at my apartment the next morning…no fucking idea how I got back there.

It’s hard to describe the shame that I felt that morning or afternoon when I woke up on the old, blue, twin-recliner that was in our huge living room at the apartment that John and I shared 20 years ago. I woke up and my arm hurt. I looked down and I saw that it was bruised and then it hit me.

I had injected a mixture of heroin and cocaine into my arm. Wait, no I didn’t. That’s stupid. A really fucked up guy that was trying to do round house kicks near my face shot me up. Oh, yeah. The other guy had awkwardly asked me, “You don’t have hep, right?” Then Jason looked at me and clarified. “We only have one rig”, so then I figured that meant that we were all going to share the hypodermic needle. Yep, that’s right. We shared a needle, but at least I went first. Oh, God, what the fuck did I do? Did I really cross that line? How? I hate needles. It’s fascinating how I could go from hating needles to shooting heroin and cocaine within a span of a binge, but I guess that participating in over 12 hours of freebasing, doing lines, shrooms, and assorted pills will do that to you. I must have stared at my bruised arm that next day for half an hour and I might have even cried. A lot of emotions, thoughts, the now almost certainty of a scary future, were all racing through my mind at a breakneck speed. I was a junkie now, right?

I sat on the couch, trying to remember the details of the night, before I remember having the needle in my arm, Jason was whispering everything he said as to not wake up his girlfriend Tracy. Tracy was fine with smoking crack, but she wasn’t cool with black tar and hypodermics.

Rude.

“Dude, we’ve got some tar, so we’re doing speedballs, have you ever shot up?” whispering the entire time. It’s funny but for one of the first times and perhaps for the first time I was honest regarding my previous drug use when confronted or asked about it. You see, I would usually exaggerate or flat out lie regarding my drug consumption in order to make it sound like I was more experienced than I actually was, but not this time. I wanted to make sure that they knew that I was a needle virgin. “No, man. I’ve never shot up.” Then Jason gave me the opportunity to just leave. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was asked. I paused for just a second. Of course, I did. I’m a drug addict. That’s what I did for fun and now I was stepping it up a notch. Fuck it. Live fast, die young, all that bullshit that a young, depressed mind can think of that completely rationalizes the approaching regrettable behavior.

Why didn’t I just walk out? Because, fuck it. I wasn’t necessarily suicidal anymore, but the ongoing depression can be this weird variable that can seem so limiting in some ways, but then so relaxing or liberating in other ways, or at least for me. I’m going to try to explain what I mean by that. Depression for me, with the accompanying anxiety, can sometimes feel like a prison where I just want to be in a small space or almost in a corner somewhere. I usually like corner booths, etc. if given the option when seating in a public place. Other times depression can be the exact opposite. Depression can be extremely liberating and almost powerful, but only in the sense that there is freedom and power in not giving a fucking shit if you live or die. If you don’t care about if you live or die, but you’re not actively suicidal, it’s this fun purgatory state of “I’m not jumping in front of the train on purpose, but I’m not running like crazy to avoid it either.” Make sense? No, of course not, but that’s the way it was for me at that time in my life. If I’m depressed as fuck, I might as well expand my mind and kiss the fucking sky. There were worse ways to die than to die like a partier, I figured. So, what was my experience like when I shot up a speedball? Well, remember that I was told, by a whispering Jason to keep it down, because of Tracy? I wasn’t very good at that. I’m standing in the kitchen with the karate kid roundhouse guy and Jason, while they got my hypo and shot ready. They are both discussing the spoon, how much dope to use, how to split it up, God knows what else, I’m just mentally numb, it’s been a really long party already and now the belt gets tight around my arm and I feel a pinch.

“Oops” …Ralph Macchio said. I really didn’t like hearing the word oops from a weird round house kicking motherfucker while he’s shooting me up with a speedball for the first time and then, I slowly looked down and I began to get kind of lightheaded, but sick also. I then began to projectile vomit almost uncontrollably. I could aim my spewing face, but the vomiting was fast and violent. I hit the sink with perfect aim…eventually. I made a huge mess just vomiting, but then to make it even worse I knocked over the dishes that were on the drying rack, sending them crashing to the floor, waking up Tracy in the process, and now we have a mad Tracy. Her boyfriend and the karate kid are trying to keep me from slumping onto the floor, while I’m vomiting, needle sticking out of my arm, and then I am on the floor. Yes, the floor. Couch, though. Wait, what? Now, I am on my couch. The big blue dual recliner couch. What day is it? Is there a show? Where did she go? Oh, yeah. Why does my arm hurt so bad? Oh, fuck. I’m an idiot. And that’s when I realize that I had partied like a dying Rockstar and I couldn’t remember anything cool at all. No one else knew how I ended up back on that big blue couch. I couldn’t figure out how I got from Jason’s kitchen to my couch.

Perhaps my priorities are completely fucked up, but I am more ashamed that I walked away without a good heroin / cocaine speedball story than I am of the fact that I shot up. I can’t believe that I just passed the fuck out and that I don’t remember it, but that’s the fucking truth. Bill Clinton junkie.

I mentioned Survivor’s Guilt in a previous post and I want to mention it again, because it happened in my life recently, so it’s very fresh. Matter of fact, I am currently experiencing it.

I saw the pictures first, then the words of the post. The pictures were of a familiar face, one that I had seen 20 years ago around the coffee table at Jason’s apartment. The words of the post then attracted my attention. It was the usual type of phrasing, something like “it is with a heavy heart…” type of prelude where you don’t even need to finish reading before you already know the ending. I just sat there and wondered. Why am I alive and he is dead? I was around the same coffee table that he was around, but somehow, I made it out. It just doesn’t seem fair. Survivor’s Guilt. I like the first part of that. The survivor part.

“Two for twenty.”

What did this guy just mumble to me? I thought. Then I ran those words back through my head and I realized that he was probably talking about crack. That also wasn’t a bad price if the rocks were of decent size. I turned around and had a brief business meeting with the freelance cocaine salesmen that happened to be working while I was leaving the Velveeta Room that night and of course I was wasted. I remember that I was almost out of coke and Jason had been out camping with his friends, but he was expected back really soon. This crack salesman found me just in the nick of time and he had that great low-ball sales approach. We exchange common pleasantries and briefly discuss his merchandise, and with my money folded in a single fold, both bills together, the crack salesman feels the $20 bills ever so slightly until his calloused fingers detect the rough section on the face of the bill. Those rough patches let him know that the money is real. No thank you, no, please come again and no exchange of business cards, but a respectful transaction nonetheless. That was really easy, plus as I was searching for my cash, I found a lighter that I accidently ganked. It’s almost brand new and it’s a Bic. Coming up Milhouse.

So, I just scored some cheap crack and now I’m walking back to my Toyota Tercel. I get in the car and I’m a nervous wreck. That was always the most nervous time for me when I was trying to score crack. The time frame where I had just bought it, I’m walking back to my car, looking around for cops, friends, associates, etc. I have it and I’m really excited to get home to smoke my crack, but I have to be really careful. I don’t want to drive around while I’m drunk with crack on me, while also driving like a jonesin’ crack head trying to race home to smoke his crack. What a lesson in self-control. I just drive nice and easy all the way back to the apartment. Just follow those bright red brake light in front of you and stay between those yellow lines. Just like a video game, just make it home. My hands grip the steering wheel and I begin to go over my story and what to do if I get pulled over. I then practice in my head and sometimes the random audible word or sentence pops out of my mouth, while I’m learning the potential script to my hypothetical police encounter. This game of role play lasts until I pull into my parking space at the apartment complex. Now, after driving fast, but not too fast, following taillights home and rehearsing the one-act play that never saw a curtain, I sit in my 1983 Toyota Tercel SR-5 and I just look around the parking lot and sit complexly still, I’m not sure what this is accomplishing but it has the overall feeling of being cautious. Am I looking for cops, neighbors, friends? Yes, no, probably, I’m not really sure why, but now I feel safe to go to my apartment.

I close the car door and start walking to the apartment. Wait, did I really lock it? I go back to my car and see that it’s locked. I start walking back to my apartment. Wait. I checked the one door, but what about the emergency brake? If it pops out of gear and then the cops come? Fuck that shit. I better check. I walk back to the car. Everything is fine. I start walking back to the apartment. Wait. Did I make sure to lock it after I checked my emergency brake? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I walk back to the car. It is locked. I check every door with a lock on it. Twice. Ok, one more time. I then am satisfied that everything is secure. It just doesn’t make sense to do that. 1983 Tercel, factory stereo. Oh, well. I begin to walk to my apartment. I walk very fast, but I don’t run, and I’m consciously trying to not talk to myself, which I sometimes do when I’m really excited about something. This low mumbling to my inner self, which I’ve always just assumed that others do this as well. My hand grabs the green metal railing of the stairs as I almost glide with each eager step up the staircase, and I already have the keys to my apartment in my other hand ready, in order to shave seconds off of the time that it will take for me to fill my lungs with the viscous, yellow smoke that my body craves. Moments after the money for crack exchange was made, I had shoved my purchase in the top pocket of my jeans, you know that one pocket, the crack is in that tiny “coke pocket” in my Levis. I get into the apartment and I’m trying to find my stem, but then I remember that my stem is at Jason’s house, because he was using it in his bong. Fuck, that was stupid. Oh, but then I remember that I have a stem in my bong. I can use that stem. (Pause for effect) I have a bong. (Another pause) I could just use my bong like Jason uses his bong. (you get the idea) I could just use my bong the same way that Jason uses his bong. I can use my shotgun like bong… in order to blast huge amounts of crack smoke into my body. The bong that makes motherfuckers ask if weed is laced…I had never even considered it before, but now I was a fucking genius.

I’m sure that you remember the bong that I had built during that time in my life. It was a simple design that was amazingly effective and efficient when it came to trapping a lot of smoke and then shot-gunning that smoke into your lungs with an unusual amount of force for a bong. I’ll go over it again briefly for those who haven’t read that post. It was built from a recycled, glass liquor decanter that I had purchased at Goodwill in Austin. It had a long, clear, vinyl tube that ran several feet from where it was connected to a brass tube, that was attached to the glass decanter itself. How were they connected? Meaning, how was the brass tube and hose connected to the decanter? A modified, plastic Nyquil shot glass. The decanter was oddly shaped, very large at the bottom, so it held a lot of water, but there was also a lot of room for smoke and when that long tube was added, it turned it into something reminiscent of the force when using a beer bong. It was almost like an inverted beer bong. This was the bong where people would ask me if my weed was laced. I never had people ask me that before, but motherfuckers would after they used this bong. I eventually ended up smashing the fuck out of this bong. I had to. It was too good when it came to free-basing. It had to die. This bong had a certain bite to it and it needed to be killed just like Old Yeller. I smashed it myself and it hurt me to do so, but like I said, it had to be done.

I had only used that bong for smoking weed as it just hadn’t occurred to me before that to even use a bong to smoke crack with, but that is what Jason used. He just used one of those cheap, plastic, kind of see-through plastic bongs and for some reason it was usually red and always without any water in the bong at all. Just dry bonging it. But he’d get a new one every once in a while, after discarding the pervious one in a post binge, come-down, vain attempt at getting clean. “I’m never smoking crack again.” Two days later… “Is that a new bong?”

My bong was a completely different animal. I emptied the stale, bong water out of my homemade water-pipe, but the smell of stale bong water doesn’t just dissipate quickly as you probably are aware. I didn’t have enough screens and so I was trying to improvise and before you start yelling at me through the computer screen to just go grab the faucet screens out of the bathrooms and kitchen, just stop. C’mon motherfucker, you know those screens had the life expectancy of a Valium pill at a coke party. Those screens had long been ripped out of their intended faucet homes and shoved into a pipe or bong. Once again, why are the screens so important? When using a metal stem, it is best to use stainless steel screens, but you have to use a lot of them, like 6-8 if I remember correctly, you’ll have to excuse my brain. It’s been fried by Graduate-level mathematics lately, but them it was the crack. Crack doesn’t smoke like weed. It turns into an oil and that oil has to go somewhere so you use the screens to trap the oil.. then as the pipe (stem) cools down, you turn the stem (pipe) upside down so that the crack oil drips back into the screens, thus making each hit really good and each hit lasting longer. In theory.

The almost ritualistic preparation of the crack smoking device is ready after I bend up some larger screens in order to make the bong work better. The crack rocks seem to be of good size and the consistency is good, meaning that they break up nicely, not too firm, but not too soft.

I fill the bowl and then I begin to slowly dance the flame from the newly acquisitioned Bic lighter over the small, yellow rocks as they slowly melt away, filling the dry bong with smoke, with almost no smoke escaping. I pause and blow out, oh my God that’s nice, and I haven’t even cleared the bong. I exhale as hard as I can and then shotgun the entire contents of the bong.

Just by typing these words down I can feel chemical changes happening in my body, just by thinking of that evening and how high I got. I was barely using any crack, but I was getting so motherfucking high and I wasn’t losing much smoke at all.

I’m 28 and I’ve just created a death machine.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 6, pt 1 (Austin)

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 6, part 1 (Austin)

(These are all part of a series…it is suggested that you start with post 1)

That first binge at Jason’s was really fun and his blow was getting better with every line that I did, plus Jason said that he always had coke around and that he could front me a quarter ounce at a time without any problem. Jason also was extremely efficient at cooking up cocaine, but he used a completely different method than Mike did. As I mentioned, Jason made it with a large, stainless steel, serving spoon. Mike used that weird beaker, mixed with a lava lamp, that produced these medium-sized gumball shapes of freebase appear out of nowhere, just as if he was performing a magic trick. It was just extremely hypnotic to watch that small ball of base swirl in his contraption. (see past post)

Jason used that huge spoon, but he also would only cook up an 8 ball at a time, which I noticed because I had been cooking up less than a ½ gram at a time. The recovered crack-heads reading this will be shaking their heads in disgust one more time as they just read that last part regarding the ½ gram of pre-cooked weight. It’s way too low. I found that out with Jason and it’s weird that Mike never told me that. Mike never told me that you had to cook more than what I had been doing. You see, in order for it to be good, strong, crack you really want to cook up a decent amount at a time, you can cook up a gram at a time, but you should really just cook up at least an 8 ball every time. The more the better at that point is what I understand. It’s something about the quantity, that even when it’s divided up just has stronger base. That’s the rumor. Jason didn’t use a disassembled tire gauge like Mike did, no Jason used a cheap plastic bong, no water, metal stem, stainless steel screens. That was Jason’s rig of choice and it worked really, really, well. By using that method there was very little crack smoke going to waste. Brilliant.

I’m 27 and John and I start up the show at the Continental Club. I know I said that last time, but I mean it this time…

I was just looking at some old pictures of the Continental Club online. Man, it brought back some memories. Yes, John and I did a show there so, we will start there. I honestly don’t remember how, but my roommate and fellow open mic comic John Rabon was approached by the manager regarding taking over the comedy night that they had been doing at the iconic Continental Club in Austin, Texas. The comedy night there had been going on for a few months and the host was just getting tired of hosting it if I remember correctly. John was hesitant until they offered us $20 a week to host and a case of beer for the comics to split. No problem. We decided to switch off hosting in order to pocket the money ourselves and we would try to only book comics that didn’t drink. That way we could keep the beer as well as the money. That is not the way to book a show, unless you are an idiot. Well, we were two idiots who were broke as fuck, but now we had some money and a case of beer. Lots of unfunny, but sober comics got their chance to headline during that shows run.

I fucked it up though. If you have noticed I really haven’t discussed many women during these essays, but I have dated some women throughout my life that do deserve mentioning, but honestly, I’ll just need to write a separate book at some point to address those. I’ve had girls waving guns around, one that wanted me to punch her in the face while we had sex. Yeah, that’s what she asked for. “Will you punch me in the face while we have sex?” No, I did not punch her in the face and I’m extremely happy that I didn’t. That was a weird request though.

I did meet a girl at the Continental Club and I guess we just had one of those really short, fun, yet karma-damaging relationships that I just should never have been in at all. I ended up knowing her for years, but the relationship only lasted a month or so and it wasn’t anything close to any sort of traditional relationship of any type.  It was marred by the fact that she already had a live-in, long-term boyfriend. She worked at the Continental Club and everyone there not only knew that she had a boyfriend, but they all really seemed to like her boyfriend. He was apparently a really good dude, and then I stepped into the already crowded picture. What a mess. I knew that I was fucking up bad, but I didn’t care. She was cool and had cool friends. I had only heard of this world and maybe I had seen it in a movie or two. I know that this will fuck up the show and will fuck up a lot of things, but I’m fine with that and I guess that I’ll be that dick who everybody hates at one of the most iconic bars in Austin. Alright.

(One night at the Continental Club)

“Hey Steven, I think you’re funny. Do you want to go to a party or maybe a few parties with me after work?”

I probably mumbled something stupid, but we hopped in my 1983 Toyota Tercel SR-5 with no insurance to match and headed on a month long “oh well, fuck it” experiment. The experiment failed in some ways and was a success in others. Such is life. I remember that when she kissed me that night I distinctly thought to myself “Well, this ain’t gonna last.” It just couldn’t.

She was the type of person that you know is going to be out of your life soon, but you just have fun with it while you can, knowing that it will dissolve away rapidly as minds and priorities change with the wind. Her friends hated me, but she thought that I was funny, and she really liked the huge bulge in my pants that was created by the 8 ball of coke that I was holding. Hey, she liked me for me…and I always had cocaine on me back then.

She left one morning after breakfast, explaining that she missed her dogs, her old house, and her old life with her boyfriend. He had been broken hearted and sitting home really depressed. I do regret being the guy who did that, but… I wasn’t mad at all when she left. I knew it was going to happen and I giggled to myself when she left as if I had fooled her for the entire month that she had stayed with me. When she and I would go out to see a band or to parties together every guy would give me that “what the fuck is up with this guy and why is he with her look?” and I would just laugh. “I don’t create the waves, guy. I just ride them.”

Like I said, I was actually shocked that she had stayed as long as she did. During that time, I went to some of the most fun after-hours parties that I’ve ever been to. These parties were going on until the sun came up and usually occurred at a number of homes in South Austin. We would sometimes have several to hit, but she and I went out every night. That’s when I started to learn how to just trade some coke for a bar tab here and there or dinner someplace. A half gram of coke would be about $30-40, but my cost would be a lot less. That my friend is how you party like a rock-star on the budget of an open mic comic.

Through that one girl I met a lot of local musicians and just performers in general that I would notice from the Zachary Scott Theatre or a drummer from this band, singer from that band. I was finding out about these secret rooms in some establishments and the endless amount of parties. I partied at the house on the stilts, where people had signed the wall next to the front door for years upon their first entry. Seriously, you could look on the wall and see the autographs of Austin’s musical landscape right in front of you on that wall. I was also at that house on the streets out behind the Continental where it was always snowing on the pool table owned by a person with the same name as myself. It was so wild to just be thrown into Coolsville for just a moment. Absolutely crazy.

On my 28th birthday I was handed 1.7 grams of blow from a stranger as a present while we were partying at this big house in the Barton Springs area of Austin. It certainly wasn’t a party for me, but they did sing me happy birthday and like I said before, it did snow in July. There were naked women in the swimming pool, local performers, musicians, and me. I was being told that I was cool and funny just because I must have been, I was with her and why would I be around all of those people if I wasn’t really cool? Placebo. It won’t last much longer, she will be gone soon, and your life will get back to being really lonely and boring. And then she was gone. I sat alone in the two-bedroom apartment at Stonehollow and wondered why I would always be the bar-back, but never the bartender and then I walked over and knocked on Jason’s apartment door. I don’t stay too long, just about 18 hours or so. I would have to go back and forth as we were beginning to run low on cigarettes and lighters at Jason’s apartment, so I would sneak some out of John’s extra pack of buy one, get one free, Camel Reds that the cigarette girls had been giving away for free the night before at the Velveeta Room. They were free cigarettes, that’s not really stealing…

It’s about 6 am but we need baking soda, lighters, and more 7-up to use as a mixer to go with the handle of Sky vodka that was still half-full, but the other handle of Sky had already been depleted and discarded near the over-piled kitchen garbage can. We need the baking soda in order to cook up more coke. The convenience store is just down the street, maybe a couple of blocks, three at the most. I can drive if I can just stop shaking. I’ll just wash my face with cold water, that will help. Fuck, I better put on a fresh shirt, this one has stains on it. Visine! I’ll get some Visine, that makes for sober looking eyes. I’m trying not to shake as I walk down the cement steps and I’m grabbing onto the green painted metal railing of the staircase that leads me to the asphalt parking lot, where my 1983 Toyota Tercel SR-5 is parked. The keys are shaking in my hand and I’m having trouble getting the key to go into the ignition. There, finally the car starts and I’m trying to get to the store. I make it, but I’m shaking, sweating, and I have to buy baking soda and lighters at 6 am, while looking not like a crack-head. I see a familiar face. Oh fuck, it’s a girl that I know from High School. She doesn’t see me, but I don’t think that we are here with the same shopping list. She leaves. I’m standing there hiding near the bathroom and ATM machine, shaking with a box of baking soda in one hand, a bottle of 7-up in the other hand, and trying to look like I haven’t been smoking crack for hours on end. I get back to the Jason’s apartment and I’m just a nervous wreck. I’m paranoid because the clerk at the convenience store asked if I was ok. Then, the clerk was on the telephone as I was driving away. What? No, I won’t stop looking out of your miniblinds. The cops man, I mumbled to Jason and his two friends that were there. I kind of knew the one guy, but the other guy I didn’t know, but he was now doing round-house kicks near my face. Near my face, with his foot as if he is trying to knock a balloon out of my mouth. He keeps doing this. I’m not sure why. He then stops his impromptu martial arts display and goes to the kitchen. Jason follows him into the kitchen, but turns around quickly, looks in my direction. “Dude, speedball.”

I’m 28

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 5, pt 1 (Austin)

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 5, pt 1(Austin)

I wake up to a knocking sound. Why is there a knocking sound? Why am I being called Mr. Kendrick? I’m in jail, but it smells like cheap potpourri and bug spray. Wait, I’m not in jail. “Damn, it Steven!” BANG, BANG, BANG, on the door.  “Oh, hey I’m taking a shit.” “For 30 minutes?” “I’ll be right out.”

Fuck, I fell asleep on the bathroom floor at work again. God, I hate working on Saturday mornings at LawnChem residential and commercial lawn care providers. It fucking sucks. I was up all night on Thursday with John at the Velveeta Room and our fellow LawnChem employee, Matt who tried stand-up for the first time and then I was doing blow all night in my room Friday night. I was starting to notice that most of my comedic heroes did cocaine. I was beginning to wonder if cocaine was a key that opened a special door in the mind of a comedian. I was beginning to believe that I could control my cocaine use since I’ve haven’t smoked it now in a month or so. I’m just doing lines, I bought two bullets. Not for a gat ha ha, no two bullets for carrying around. One metal bullet for weed and then a plastic bullet for coke. Do I have to explain to you what a weed bullet pipe is? I think that they still sell them. It’s small, metal, the top screw off, there is a rubber mouthpiece, and you can hit it for a long time if packed well. The cocaine bullet is different of course. It is made out of plastic and it has a tiny little lever on the side that will load up a single hit of blow and then you just sniff it out. You go to the bathroom, pull out the bullet, flush the toilet with your foot as you snort up a little hit of blow, then you go back to your desk and work incredibly efficient and with a smile on your face. Keep a Mountain Dew on your desk to make people think that you are amped up on the Dew. Unless of course you forget to bring your coke bullet with you to work on a Saturday morning and you start to crash hard. Then, you get woken up by the loud banging of a pissed off manager at LawnChem during a 30-minute unauthorized bathroom break.

I was so fucking stressed. Thursday night was a motherfucker. Our friend Matt was hilarious, and we had been trying to convince him to try his hand at comedy. Misery loves company. Matt loved Mountain Dew, Taco Bell, and Motley Crue. He knew every word of every Motley Crue song, probably backwards, plus he had this great natural rhythm and cadence as he talked, we just thought that it was a riot when Matt would go off on a 20-minute Motley Crue tirade. Matt drank Jack Daniels. Nothing else. No weed, no beer, no coke, nothing.

Now, if you read the last post you saw that there were two Howards. Kremer and Beecher. They would almost work in tandem to make sure that every new comic felt some hazing during the average Thursday open mic at the Velveeta. It was brutal, but also hilarious. John and I were always so excited to go to the Velveeta Room on a Thursday and this Thursday we were taking Matt in order for Matt to try stand-up comedy for the first time.

Walking towards the old building that houses the Velveeta Room, next to an always perpetually busy Esther’s Follies was insane, especially while coked-up, high, and with a few drinks in me. There was usually an array of Ester’s character actors parading outside on the sidewalk in front of the huge windows that created this living, dynamic, ever-changing stage backdrop that makes Ester’s Follies, unlike anything that I’ve ever seen. The audience sits in theatre type seating staring towards the stage, but the backdrop behind the stage are those huge windows that open the entire performance space to the hectic, bustling, sometimes accidently funny, ever-changing landscape of that 10 yards of the 6th Street sidewalk. In order for a comic to get into the Velveeta room, when Ester’s Follies was busy, you literally had to wade through a barrage of Ester’s performers as they are engaged with their audience, while on a public sidewalk. There are performers in these extravagant costumes and even some civilians get caught up in the show. In addition, almost every night there was an older man spinning flowers on the tip of his fingers just to make the show and experience complete. Wow, what a trip.

I was probably going over my poorly constructed bits in my head while John, Matt, and I trekked to the Velveeta Room as the sounds of 6th Street filled the air and swirled down the street.  My senses are filled by the smell of a worn out stretch of black-top that has been soaked with the faint smell of vomit and urine deposited throughout the ¼ mile or so of clandestine watering holes that have endured decades of weekend partiers from all over the globe. The sounds of the various door-men screaming out their establishment’s nightly specials, bands that are performing, I get handed a flyer for a show, sorry no time for that. I don’t go to shows, I perform shows. I’m a comic. We’ll not really. I’m an open mic comic.

The Velveeta Room is packed that night of course, it was usually busy on a Thursday night. I’m doing a little coke, smoking weed out of my bullet and then blowing it out thru a bounce sheet paper-towel tube that I have hidden by the exit. Howard Kremer is onstage, and I hear his “How to Learn Dirty Words in Spanish” cassette tape that he was selling for $5 and then he and Chip Pope, another Velveeta Room comedy heavyweight begin to do this impromptu sketch and at one point Kremer says “Well at least I ain’t a can of paint.” Howard Kremer holds up this can of paint and the lids falls off. Paint spill out of the can and now there is paint all over the stage. Howard and Chip end the skit and both bail the stage. “Your next comic coming up to the stage is a Velveeta virgin, please welcome Matt StevenandJohn’s friend from work….” Or something like that. Our friend Matt goes up onstage and he starts right into his material. He is actually doing very well. He just has this great natural comedic cadence to his voice and he’s in his routine for about 2 minutes and then he steps into the puddle of paint and busts his ass. Not, just a slip mind you. He went ass over teakettle, just spectacular as if it had been planned. I can still see it so vividly and in slow motion now 20 years in the future as it happened in front of my eyes that evening. Matt gets up and wonders what the fuck just happened to him. He has this red paint all over his shirt, his jeans, and his boots. Holy shit, his boots. I told you that he like Motley Crue, well Matt had these snake skin boots. I’ll give you a minute to picture that like a Kodak insta…ma..tac..-Biggie.

See, our friend Matt from work was in the greenroom getting ready for his set. There wasn’t a monitor in the greenroom so that the comic could see the performance that was happening before their set. This was in the mid, late 90s. There was barely a fucking greenroom. Matt had no idea that there had been paint spilled just minutes before his name was called and he rushed up onstage with his body filled with pre-show, first time, anxiety. When he slipped in the paint he got really mad about his boots. John and I chased Matt down and kept him from charging Kremer. We calmed him the fuck down and John specifically helped keep that from getting really bad. Matt had stabbed someone before and he always had his knife on him. Always. Matt told me later that he had followed Kremer after the shows for a couple of nights after that incident, but he never got an opportunity. He then just blew it off, but it took a while.

I’m 27and I’m not suicidal anymore, but now I think that coke can make me funny. I’m throwing up every day and I quit my job at LawnChem. John and I get a regular gig at The Continental Club in South Austin. I fuck it up.

When my new next-door neighbor handed me that small bag a coke, well it was 1.7 grams, which is called a teen, I guess that I should say that it was once called a teen, it probably still is, but with the changes in slang I can’t be totes sure. When he handed me that free coke, I knew that I was in trouble, but there are two kinds of trouble with cocaine. There’s the sniffing trouble and then there’s the smoking trouble.

I could have some issue with doing a too much blow when I was just doing lines, but for me at least, when I crossed over and started to smoke crack, it made doing lines just a pit stop, not the destination. I now knew that it could be that good, brain-dick type of shit, so if I got really drunk…the party was going to end up there, but it didn’t happen like that at the one bedroom that I shared with John, it was when we got to the two bedroom and we moved next door to the coke dealer Jason. I saw Jason again shortly after I had been to the grocery store, so I was walking in with some groceries. We talked a little, but he seemed kind of fucked up and I needed to get the frozen pizzas in the freezer. There was a knock on my door about 20 minutes later and it was Jason. He came in, sat down and asked if we had a plate. Jason breaks out some coke and we’re doing some lines, drinking some vodka that he brought over, and he kind of mumbles out a question asking me if I liked to party, party. He said the word party twice. What the fuck does he mean by saying party, party? So, doing coke was party, but party, party? “Smoke it, rock it up?” I now know that not only is my neighbor a dealer, but he likes to smoke it also. This is right next door to me and Jason invites me over and asks if I have to work the next day. We both laughed after my answer was no and then went to his apartment, which is on the same floor as my apartment. The entire floor only housed four apartments total and we are two of them. Jason was younger than me by five years or so, had a young, hot girlfriend named Tracy, that he lived with, and then he also had a couple of “girlfriends” around town that he tried to keep a secret from his current girlfriend, Tracy.  Jason has a really nice apartment with a big television, huge stereo system, video game console, but he also has a big serving spoon bent up on his electric range. Jason starts cooking up some coke and invites me to sit down on his couch and smoke some rocks. I haven’t smoked cocaine for a while now, so I am in kind of a dilemma. Do I just be a very rude neighbor and say, “Fuck you and your drugs buddy!”, no…I can’t do that… it’s love thy neighbor…and thy neighbor’s coke. In all seriousness though, it has probably been a couple of months since I was smoking at Mike’s Enfield Drugs and I have felt so strong and sure that I would never do it again, but I just sat on that couch and stared at the glass-topped coffee table that I would be sitting around smoking crack at for about a year. I can see the linear scratches from a razor blade etched into the glass.The tell-tale sign of the ghost of parties past. Fuck, It’s all starting over again.

I’ve admitted to the world that I used to smoke crack, but what I say next is one of the biggest regrets of my life.

I was bullied a lot in high-school and you probably already have read that post and I really don’t like bullies now. That is what makes this so terribly difficult to admit publicly, but here goes. I am so ashamed to admit it this, but I became a bully after I began to get a few laughs. I bullied fellow comics and I bullied audience members, I was just a dick. And it felt really good. I mean it felt REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good. I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t feeling good. I liked to offend people and to ruin their nights out on the town. I liked the feeling of being a complete dick to other comics and just people in general. I was really 100% fuck you or at least as close to that as I could get, and I am deeply regretful for many of the words that I said to people during that time in my life. I hurt some really nice people, but at the time it was fun. It was so much fun that it would be hard not to repeat it all over again. I can see why bullies bully. It makes you feel so fucking cool and powerful while you are bullying another individual. It really does, and I was a bully. I now have a degree in psychology that only enhances the depth of personal regret that I feel towards my past behavior. I am so truly sorry.

I’m so ashamed that I became the same person that I wrote about earlier. But it’s true. I could sit back, coked-up, and ruin a comedy night by screaming at the audience or fucking up the set of another comic with a special brand of drunken, coked-up heckling that comes from someone that has done too much blow and seen one too many drunken viewings of Bill Hicks screaming “You’re a drunk cunt!” at the audience. I was just a mess and I deeply apologize to everyone that had to witness that part of it. I’m sorry. I’ll talk about some individual examples of this behavior later, but I do have a moment where I wake up naked after a party with a dick drawn on my forehead. It was a party for comics.

I’m 27 years old and I’m just being a dick. It’s fun.

“Dude, is that shit laced?” I would honestly get asked that question by people older than the age of 21 after they had smoked weed using the bong that I had made. Laced. Ha ha, yeah buddy, it’s laced. I’m going to put some really expensive drugs on some not so expensive drugs and sneak it to you for free, you bet. Laced all day long. Double laced like old-school Kaepa tennis shoes even. That weed is two-laces ahead of you, Jack.

This bong was the shit though. I’ve never smoked out of anything that got me higher than that bong that I made for dirt cheap. I found the glass body of it at Goodwill. The glass part of it that held the water and smoke was made from an old, kind of oddly-shaped liquor decanter and it had a long, clear, hose that was attached to the top, right next to the bowl. The stopper that went on top of the decanter was made from the plastic shot glass that comes with Nyquil. I just drilled two holes in it, inserted two brass tubes, one for the bowl to slide in and the other for the hoes to fit on so that smoke will shotgun into your lungs, and then I duct-taped that motherfucker up.

Holy fucking shit, this thing was a killer. A motherfucking masterpiece. I know that there are people still around that remember that beauty. They may still be high from it. Ha ha. That bong trapped a lot of smoke in the top of that liquor decanter, plus the decanter could hold lots of water and then the way that the decanter was shaped, it was almost like this huge inverted funnel or strange beer bong, but for weed. It’s was truly amazing, and I should be celebrated for building it, where’s my parade on 420 for the construction of such a masterpiece? It was so good that after I used it for smoking crack I overdosed. I’ll get to that though, because it didn’t occur to me that I should try my glorious bong to smoke rocks until much later than the first few days partying with Jason, my new next-door neighbor drug dealer.

That first night at Jason’s apartment we smoked a lot of blow, drank a lot of Sky Vodka, took pills, ate shrooms, and listened to Grind, by Alice in Chains, over and over and over again. Lots of young people were coming by Jason’s to party or to buy coke. These were pretty, young people too. I of course I didn’t fit in, but Jason seemed to like me. Jason had a sweet RX7 convertible and pictures of his family’s ranch on the walls. He and his friends dressed well, went out on boats, to the rodeo, concerts, etc. but while either doing lines or smoking rocks. That group of crack-heads were the most functioning set of crack-heads that I’ve ever seen. These were all either young professionals or they were older students getting ready to graduate from college, but they either snorted a bunch of lines and/or were smoking rocks. WTF? My mind was totally blown. One of the regular partiers at that apartment worked as a salesperson for Dell Computers in Round Rock, Texas. Are you fucking kidding me? I swear to you that she would come by his place during her lunch hour and smoke rocks up until she had to go back to work and then she would come back to Jason’s apartment the second her shift ended for the day. I was absolutely amazed at her ability to just look natural. There wasn’t any visible redness to the face, eyes, nothing. You couldn’t tell that she was all cracked out. It was just insane. This person is actually still alive and well and works as an executive in corporate America. She may still do a lot of blow. You’ll never hear her name from me though. Not now, not ever.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 4, pt 1 (Austin)

“I just want to go home. Can I just go home Mike?”
“Nobody calls me a crack head, you motherfucker!”
“I’m sorry man, it was a joke, just a stupid fucking joke. Dude, please I’m scared, Mike.”
“Shut the fuck up and go sit on the couch!”

Don’t ever let your supplier meet your buyer. I was so excited to have my 8 balls but let me just tell you how fucking stupid I was. Alright, when you want to set up shop at any level there are going to be some costs involved. You need some baggies, some cut, and a scale. I used some type of vitamin shit that they sold at the head shop for the cut when I bought the baggies, but here is one of the major ways that I fucked up. I bought the cheapest scale possible. It wasn’t that metal cheap-ass old-school weed scale with the key-chain ring looking thing or clip on the end and it wasn’t a triple beam miracle dream one either. It sure the fuck wasn’t digital. It was one of those janky-ass little “beam” scale with a tiny weight and a removable tiny plastic bowl to put coke in. It wasn’t nearly accurate enough and cocaine is one of those things that you really have to know your inventory and there needs to be a good level of product uniformity.

So, purple Camaro guy from my real estate office shows up to buy some coke and he’s not there for 5 minutes and I hear Mike pull up. I’m standing there not saying a word, but I’m fuming inside. Why am I mad? I was talking to Mike about 30 minutes before and he knew my guy was coming by. He knew I was about to sell some coke to this guy and he just showed up out of nowhere. Mike was there for 5 minutes before he looked at my guest and asked him “Hey, you cool? Do you guys want to do some lines?” I’m just standing there trying to figure out what is happening because I really needed to sell the blow that I had, but this new shit Mike had was just out of this world, great coke the “where did my face go?”, type of shit and of course now my buddy wants some of Mike’s blow instead of the lesser quality coke that Mike had sold to me. Mike hung out a while and they eventually exchanged phone numbers. Fuck.
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*(next time at Mikes)


“Dude, what the fuck is that?”
“Oh, shit don’t use that pipe!”
“Why?”
“We were using it to smoke heroin.”

There was a weird state of cognitive dissonance occurring in my brain while I was screaming at the other addicts in the room, that were also sitting around the coffee table that night at Mike’s Enfield Drug House. I couldn’t believe that they were so rude as to not inform a crack head that the crack pipe on the table had also been used for heroin. The nerve. I was mad as hell, but we settled out of court for a different crack pipe filled with crack, well freebase. Mike’s choice of pipe was weird, and I’ve never seen that be someone’s preferred choice of crack pipe before. Oh, you didn’t know that there are different types of crack pipes? Oh, yeah. I’ve seen of course the traditional, glass crack pipe like in the movies, but that’s the movies playa. I’ve only seen those around a few places. I’ve seen a lot of the metal stems from the older type bongs, you know the metal stem and the metal, threaded bowl. Those make great crack pipes; you just have to use a bunch of screens in it as well. That way when the crack melts down it gets in those screens and you can then do screen hits in those final hours of a crack binge. I’ve seen those plastic bongs without water used, but Mike loved using a tire gauge. He would disassemble a tire gauge and then bend it at the end. The freebase would get trapped in there and smoke for a long time.

I had been over at Mike’s place and we had been going for over a day. Mike’s cooking up more magical beaker, lava lamp, freebase and we’re all just chilling on the couch. I wanted to do a hit, but I didn’t ask if I could have a hit, I was broke, and I just took one off of the crack platter. It was the last rock on the platter. I just wasn’t thinking about it because Mike was cooking more up, but that set him off. Mike is yelling about me be disrespectful, I had just done my first couple of comedy open mics and it slipped. “Mike, why are you acting like such a fucking crack-head?”

I said that and I turned around and started walking away. I was kind of getting ready to giggle out loud, and I might have been beginning to smile, as I saw the other guys backing up fast as if the running of the bulls had just begun and they were all there front and center wearing red berets. I’m just knocked the fuck out. Cold. I’m coming to hearing screaming and I was just out for a bit I think, but I’m just so disoriented. I’m by the pool table, Mike has a gun to my head, and I just start asking Mike’s permission to leave. He tells me to shut up. I shut the fuck up.
Mike thinks for a bit, just holding the gun in one hand and tells me to go sit on the couch. He then gets the other guys to sit down with us on the couches to smoke freebase around the coffee table. He gives me hit after hit, excluding the others. I keep saying I’m good, but Mike yells ‘You wanted the last hit so bad why don’t you just smoke all of the crack! I’m a fucking crack head, right? That’s what you fucking called me!” “Well, Steven I got news for you, you’re a crack head too and you’re always going to be one!” We all smoked crack for probably 4 or 6 hours. Mike was calling it crack with every hit.

The next time that I went over there I was really scared. I was terrified, but I owed Mike money again. He opened the door as if nothing happened. I kept waiting for that moment in a mob movie where the guy gets killed just as everyone is being really cool and nice to him. Then one of the other coffee table crack heads looked at me and whispered, “Hey dude, the other day, don’t worry about that. Mike’s ok. Just don’t do it again and don’t mention it.” I never did until now. I tried staying away from Mike’s, but I just couldn’t. It had become my second home.
And you already know what Mike was doing the last time that I saw him, so I won’t be redundant. Mike was busted shortly after that driving with a large amount of raw materials for his small, independent business. I have a lot more to say about Mike, but that will have to wait.

I’m 26 years old and I’ve been fired from my job again. I moved into a new apartment in order to get paid. Wait what? Yeah, it’s a little scam we used to do in apartment leasing, but you have to move in order to do it. I’ve also tried standup comedy in order to “conquer my anxiety”. All it does is facilitate my alcoholism and anxiety, but it’s a weird new high.

When someone tells me that they are or were an addict, one of the first things that I look at are their arms. I’m not looking for track marks, I’m looking for tattoos. Do they have tattoos, because how the fuck could you afford those nice tattoos if you were an addict? Were you blowing the tattoo artist? It’s really one of the first things that I look for.

I had a new job at the biggest apartment locater service in Austin and the first thing that I did was take advantage of it. I moved into a new apartment and made some cash. How? Well, when you are an apartment locater you get a commission when someone leases an apartment because of you, even if it is you. That’s right, I would show myself the apartment and then get the commission. Everybody did it and it was straight up cool with all parties involved. I found a place before the old place knew that `I was gone. Ha ha. That’s right, I had one of my patented two in the morning move-outs, because I was behind on rent. I knew that I was fucking up my rental history, but I didn’t care. I’d be dead within a few years, I kept telling myself and I was actually looking forward to it. My relationships with women were lasting as long as it took for those girls to figure out that they were missing a few compact discs or when they just grew tired of my excuses for why I was such a loser.

I’m doing stand-up comedy, but I’m not good and I don’t fit in. Of course, I fall on my standby and end up trying too hard to impress people. I am living by myself and I’m not freebasing, but I am doing a lot of powder and my drinking is up to a six pack a night, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m not a big dude and I was already throwing up pretty much daily at this point. I am really struggling to pay my rent and so I decide to find a roommate.

I find one guy, but then he just doesn’t work out. My next roommate ended up being a really good guy until he met me. We met doing comedy and ended up having a lot of fun. You know though, it’s the weirdest fucking thing. This guy is a white dude that looks like Mac Dre. You know, that one rapper from the bay area? Yeah, he looked like that guy, but kind of dorky and white. That guy is John Rabon and he is still a stand-up comic working in Austin. I was good friends with John, but I fucked that up too. We’re good now, but I really fucked him over. John witnessed a lot of my destructive behavior and I’m sure that may be a little confusing. I mean let’s take inventory really quick. I’m not in touch with Mike, I’m not freebasing anymore, just an alcoholic drinking, smoking, and taking Vicodin. No biggie.

Well, John and I are doing decent in the one apartment as roommates. I quit real estate though and I started working with John at a lawn care provider. We are both doing ok, but we want a larger place in the same apartment complex. It’s moving day and we are packing up and moving our stuff to the new apartment. During one of our last trips with boxes for our new place I’m walking up the stairs and on the same floor as my apartment I see someone that I had worked with and I knew that he did blow. He was there to see a friend of his, one of my new neighbors. It was nice to see him, and I told him where I was living, just two doors down the hall.

John and I are unpacking, and I hear a knock at the door. It’s my buddy and my new neighbor. They came inside, we were having a few beers and my buddy pulls out some coke and asks if I have a plate. We all do some lines (not John) and then my friend and new neighbor decide to leave. On the way out, my new neighbor turns to me and says, “welcome to the neighborhood.” He hands me about a gram of really nice coke, not Mike quality, but really good. Oh, fuck. My new neighbor is a coke dealer.

I’m 26 and I’m not going to sleep very well for a while.

I suffer from Survivor’s Guilt. Actually, a lot of us do regarding something or some event, but I notice mine when I drive by a bus stop and I see somebody all fucked up, cracked out, or nodding off on the bench. I sit in my car and I know that if my parents hadn’t saved my ass, I would have been right there with them. Plain and simple, end of story. It makes me feel so wasteful and worthless knowing how many opportunities I’ve fucked up, that I just felt entitled to, as someone is suffering who might have never had the same opportunities. It just makes me so sad.

I tip the fuck out of those guys. By that I mean I give them money when I hit a red light. “But they are going to spend it on drugs.” Good. They need it. They need the drugs until they don’t. If I’m giving them money they are high. They are walking to their spot, not breaking into your car. You’re welcome. I know that I share more in common with that person than most people, but it’s so hard for me not to just sit at the light and cry. I just feel so fucking guilty that I made it out.

There is a homeless dude around U.H that took a pay reduction when I graduated. I gave him at least $3 a day, sometimes more. I missed paying him one time and I felt so bad. The homeless crack head could tell that I felt bad and he told me not to worry. He then tapped his pocket and said, “I’ve had a good day.” I just feel so fucking guilty that I made it out of that mess and with some college degrees on the wall. Well, they’re not on my walls. All of my degrees hang on the walls at my parent’s house. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Stand-up comedy was a lifesaver for me. It helped my depression get below the “fuck it” level that it was on. I was still depressed, and my anxiety was still prevalent, but I was laughing a lot. Not at my jokes, my jokes were just absolutely awful, and I knew that they were bad, but I knew that I could get better. I was laughing so much because some of the comics that were in Austin at that time were just amazing. It also kind of looked like some of them were trying to impersonate drug-addicts.

It was kind of weird, but at the time there seemed to be a correlation with how funny you were and how many holes were in your jeans. These funny motherfuckers looked like they just didn’t give a shit. I admired that and most of all I had a place to go where I wasn’t going to be tempted to use cocaine. From what I understand now the Austin comedy scene is booming, but that is a contradiction to what it was when both John and I started doing comedy.

There was really only one regular comedy open mic in Austin at the time and it was The Velveeta Room on 6th Street. It was so difficult for me to walk into that building due to its size and my anxiety. I could almost feel the walls closing in on me every time that I’ve ever entered that club. It was just awful. I want to stress again, that I wasn’t just sitting around moping, no I was laughing, drinking, and having fun, but I was still depressed.

I was still going to laugh at jokes if they were funny while I’m depressed. Here’s the thing, if someone tells a funny joke in jail, the inmates still laugh even though they are in jail. You just adapt, even if you are really scared. And I was scared most of the time that I was in that building. My anxiety just hit through the roof, but not after about 6 beers, and some weed. I didn’t smoke a lot of weed before I started doing comedy. I smoked some, but not much. I ramped it the fuck up after about two weeks into comedy. I was just so fucking tired of taking Xanax and some other pill that I had been prescribed. I just started smoking a fuck-ton of weed on the suggestion of a friend. That 3rd-party recommendation is powerful. Any MBA/Psych man knows that, and I even knew it about 20 years ago as this was occurring. If someone had a suggestion to help with my anxiety, I was all for it.

I took the advice and I started smoking joints after I had smoked every third or fourth cigarette during the evening. Boom. There you go. I wasn’t cured at all and I still had anxiety, but my anxiety wasn’t as strong as it had been, and the frequency of my anxiety attacks were reduced significantly. So, smoking weed helped? Probably, but I don’t think that it was the only contributing factor. I had been so worried about being successful after I had flunked out of college, but now that I was an aspiring crack-head, coke snorting, binge drinking comedian. I wasn’t worried about trying to find a good job. Fuck that shit. I was looking forward to having a life of disposable jobs that didn’t require a drug test so that I could have time to do my comedy gigs.

I had a rule about jobs. “Never get a job that you’re not ready to quit.” A good job can kill a comic. Howard Beecher told me that. Howard was one of those bad ass comics. He wasn’t the absolute funniest or most consistent, but he could fuck you up viciously with this conversation technique that is almost like he is personally heckling you as he talks.

“Hey, I really liked your set tonight Steven.”
“I haven’t gone up yet Howard,”
“I know”

Damn. Yeah, he’s actually a really nice guy, but don’t get into a battle with him. Not when he’s hot or on a roll. Most of the comics at the Velveeta were nice people outside of the Velveeta Room, but inside there it could be motherfucking brutal. Was it brutal like getting a beatdown in a really nice crack-house in Tarrytown? No. It wasn’t as brutal as that, but if you caught a night where Howard Kremer was using the back mic to heckle the comic onstage, as if he was this booming voice of God, telling the open mic comic that they sucked and should quit. Damn. Yep, that was a regular occurrence. I was depressed, but I was laughing so much every time that I went there on a Thursday night.

Before I jump too far into this let’s just back up one tiny bit. John and I had a damn good time. I’ll get to the bad part of it soon enough, but not yet because the fun that I had with John meant the world to me. Before we moved into the new apartment we worked together at a lawn-care place, where we drove around during the day to look at lawns and we would listen to cassette recordings of our comedy, but it wasn’t from an actual show. We would practice stand-up comedy in our dining area, while recording our comedy routines on a cassette recorder. We would then drive around listening to those as we worked our lawn-care jobs. We were so driven, but not really focused or even knowing what to do. The lawn-care job was fun at first, but my cocaine addiction was still sputtering along, fueled by powder and my growing dependency on alcohol. I was really focused on keeping my coke consumption to a tolerated amount, but I was really not even worried that my drinking was getting so out of control. I say that it was just getting out of control, but honestly, I’ve always had my black-out drinking moments. They have always been present since I was in my late-teens, it’s just that the frequency of them was becoming much greater. I was now drinking until I got drunk almost every night.

I’m 27, but I’m backing away from the cliff.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA Post 3, Pt. 1 (Austin)

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA, post 3, pt1 (Austin)

So, I threw down the most cocaine that I had ever purchased (at that time), an 8 ball, 3.5 grams, on Mike’s kitchen island thinking that I’m about receive a high five and Mike just laughs. Mike has this silver tray that he pulls out of a cabinet that has a mound of cocaine on it. I saw a lot more later on, but this was the most that I’ve ever seen at this point. I didn’t know it, but my education was about to begin. Mike started telling me about fish scales and Peruvian flake and the beauty of cocaine. The historical figures that have used it. We did what seemed like at the time a bunch of blow but we just snorted it. No one was at his house, but he and I and his girlfriend.

“Hello, Crack-Head, Real Estate, Car Rental. This is Steven speaking. Yes, we have that late model 300Z in. No, I don’t own it, but yes, you can rent it out for some coke.”

So, Mike had his two Porsches. The 928 and then one that looked like a 911, but it took special fuel and sounded like a jet. I have no idea how much Mike poured into that not a 911 but kind of, but I was there during a few of his phone calls to his mechanic. Mike would just scream at this guy regarding how long the repairs were taking and he might have put in $200,000 in that thing, but now I had a bad ass car too. Well, kind of.

I had this client in my real-estate life that I had found an apartment for 6 months before and now he wanted a nicer place. This guy worked in Alaska and would be gone for months at a time and we became friends. He is the only person that I’ve ever met that didn’t like weed because it made him cough. What? But he loved coke. I would hook him up and we’d hang out on occasion. My client had to rush to Alaska and asked me to watch his place and drive his car every once in a while, to keep it running and moving around.

He didn’t know that I was smoking crack. He just thought I was doing lines. This guy has now trusted a crack-head with his late model 300 Z with removable T-Tops. “No, I won’t drive it every day.” “Sure, I’ll take care of everything.” “Crack is whack, don’t hurry back, driving your car like it’s on a motherfucking racetrack. When you try to reach me by phone, I won’t holla back, I’m at home high on crack, your car is gone, but not a car jack, I rented it out to a dealer for the night and got a 1.7 back. That’s a teen. know what I mean?”

The broker at my office hired this new agent. He was a sketchy motherfucker and that’s coming from me. He was dating a stripper, but bragging about fucking her roommate, just got into apartment and house leasing, has a purple Camaro with purple lights underneath, and he also did the absolute best Jerky Boys impression that I’ve ever heard. “Hey Chisel Chest!” just spot on. Well this guy happened to have a good coke connection. No…………you think? Maybe?

His second week at work he offers me coke for the 300Z. Just for one night. Well, that night turned into every weekend for a couple of months and I did a lot of free blow. I really liked the free blow, but it wasn’t as good as Mike’s coke. Mike’s was coke that should be kept in a vault and studied. It was this beautiful, amazing, fluffy goodness that never clumped, but wasn’t hard to break up. It was perfect. Mike also cooked it up different. I’ve mentioned the chemicals, but

Mike’s freebase, never crack when Mike touches it, always looks like these perfect medium-sized marbles or large gumballs. They weren’t like what you see in the movies…Got more pies to bake up…circular, but flat stovetop, crack chef creations, pulled out of microwave.

The way that Mike would cook up his masterpieces was by using these test-tube type beakers and using a swirling motion with a piece of coat hanger in it at first, but then he would pull it out and eventually this small ball of freebase would appear out of nowhere, just swirling in the solution, slowly getting bigger and perfectly round. It was absolutely magical to see.

I’m 25 and I about to move on past Mike’s but not without an incident where Mike puts a gun to my head. I act really tough with a gun to my head. I don’t say a fucking thing. I listen. I do what I’m told and then the fucking second, I’m all alone I cry and shake for a long time. I’m a pussy like that.

“Hey, it’s Mike. You got that? (money)
“I got most of it.”
“Goddamnit! I said all of it. It’s always some bullshit. You coming over?”
“Yeah.”
“Bring lighters and my money.”

I miss Mike. I found that out yesterday after writing. I really do miss Mike. Yes, he introduced me to really hard drugs, but I could hang out, watch football and bullshit about just regular shit. I had friends.

It’s strange how nonchalant freebasing can become when it’s an accepted group norm among addicts. No one is judging you or asking why you’re losing weight, we’re all just cool little crack-heads chilling together. You start to hear everyone’s backgrounds, dreams, ambitions, but then you hear the other stuff too. The stuff that haunts them. The only people who understood me were sitting around that coffee table or standing with amazement as magician Mike spun a ball of freebase in his weird base-making lava lamp like beaker.

There was a new girl though in Mike’s life. This woman was a call-girl that Mike knew and they fell in love over a bag of freebase and dreams of managing the famous bass player that had just moved into the garage apartment. She started to count how much coke his buddies were using and not paying the fair street value for. “You just give them those hits for free?” Shut the fuck up you fucking bitch. You are about to really fuck this party up.

Now, Mike starts to become a little more concerned with how much blow is being done vs. the amount that he’s selling. I’m doing the same amount, but with the new pricing structure, I’m starting to get priced out of the market and my tab keeps going up. Now, whenever I’m over at Mike’s house freebasing, he owns me and can control me. I owe him money,

I’m missing work more, met a girl, fucked that up, and I start dodging Mike because I can’t cover enough of my coke tab. I make my first purchase of crack cocaine off of the street from a random dude that I allowed to jump in my car. I give him money and he opens the door, hops out, and runs off. I look down and notice that he left his shoes in the floorboard. I later learned that is crack-head, street buy insurance.

As a common courtesy, the crack-head, homeless, street guy that goes and gets the crack from the dealer, will leave their shoes as a sign of good faith that they will return and that they won’t just run off with your money and the crack.

Isn’t that so romantic or almost holiday-like? In the Land of Crack, Santa leaves his shoes one night and returns with crack the next day. It’s not a fool-proof method. I’ve thrown crack shoes out of my car on a few occasions with visions of barefooted crackheads laughing at me and smoking my crack. I’m 25 and I’m about to lose my job.

I loved my brain-dick getting sucked by those hundred girls during that 10-minute freebase blast. Brain-dick blowjob. That’s what crack was like. My brain was sitting back in a packed strip club sippin on Moet, chillen, getting its dick sucked by a hundred girls at the same time. Everyone was cheering my name and patting me on the back. I was so fucking cool and I loved me so much. It was kind of like the end of that movie Lucas, but with crack cocaine. I know it’s difficult to picture the stars of that movie high on crack, but please just try to stretch your imagination. Nothing was bad. I had so much promise. The world loved me, and I loved it back. I loved those 10-minute rides.

I’ll be back to the conclusion of Mike and my next coffee table group of wacky addicts after this, but let’s just pause all this shit real quick. I have a motherfucking Psych degree. Let’s learn something.

What is happening? I’ve been flushing my brain with dopamine and also re-enforcing habitual behavior that is becoming associated with intense pleasure. I learned that during Physiological Psychology in 2015 at the University of Houston. Go Coogs!

I can’t even explain the redness on my face and how much I started to sweat during our lectures regarding addiction in that class. I’m surrounded by these kids that are college age, most with very little drug experience when compared to myself and my professor was a Ph.D. bad ass who has published quite a few peer-reviewed articles regarding addiction. I began to learn what I had done to myself. How the cocaine would penetrate the blood-brain barrier and enter my brain, turning off the re-uptake, telling my body to just relax and telling my brain to stop producing dopamine naturally.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Pretend that you are dopamine. Seriously, your name is now Johnny kickass Dopamine. Well, John Dopamine works in the brain and he goes to work every day, but one weekend he doesn’t need to go to work, someone found a replacement John Dopamine to cover the shift. Like an A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) Johnny Dopamine. The work will still get done. No one will notice that it’s not the real John. Now, John gets his next paycheck, expecting to see that it’s much lower due to the missed work, but it’s for the same amount. So, smart Johnny Dopamine says, Fuck this work shit, I’m staying home. The paychecks keep coming week after week, month after month, year after year, and Johnny Dopamine stays home and doesn’t even call the brain. No call, no show. Nobody notices because the job is still getting done, by the A.I. Johnny Dopamine.

If one day, A.I. Johnny Dopamine just stops showing up, no call, no show there is going to be an issue because the real Johnny Dopamine hasn’t been to work in the brain for years. He’s just chillen playing PlayStation and shit, not even remotely thinking about work and he hasn’t shaved in days. Even if the phone rings from the brain’s HR department that day, a bottle-neck is going to occur in the brain where Johnny Dopamine works. Even if he comes in the next day, it’s going to take a while to get back up to speed and that’s without any more setbacks or surprise visits from weekend-shift or graveyard shift A.I. Johnny Dopamine.

This is what is happening when you try to quit cocaine and it really hurts in both a mental and physical way. It drove me into a deep depression, where for a couple of nights it got really, really bad. I was going through my first detox. I had to get more crack or my brain was going to lose shareholders.

Xanax is about to be prescribed to me for the first time. I’m throwing up every day and I just can’t stop shaking if I’m not on Xanax. I’m taking way too much of them and I’m going to have to get more.

“Hello, Thank you for calling Pharmacy no-name, next to your Real Estate Office”

“Hi, yeah. Um, weirdest thing, I had my pill bottle open while I was brushing my teeth. My toothbrush fell out of my hand and…well, it knocked my bottle of pills in the toilet. Can, I get more.?”

“Mr. Kendrick, Were you given the forms regarding the risk of abuse?”

“Yes, but I don’t know how to divide them up once they’re soaking in pee-pee water.”

“We can help you this one time. Mr. Kendrick.”

“Thank you.”

Stupid motherfuckers. Ha.

“Mr. Kendrick, I’m going to need you to exit the vehicle and please keep your hands where I can see them.”

I’ve just been arrested for the first time. I was trying to buy crack cocaine in East Austin at 5 am.

There’s a pair of shoes on the passenger side floormat and I’m wearing an Austin Board of Realtors shirt. I had just been awarded Leasing Agent of the Month and appeared in the Austin Business Journal for my Real Estate job. Oops.

I’m alone in jail and I’m detoxing hard, but I feel strangely comfortable locked up in a small cell. I feel safe. No phone call. I might as well not exist. I have disappeared.

*
*
*
*

I’m sometimes a really lucky motherfucker. You’ll learn that later when I discuss my overdoses, relapses, and the night that my dear friend pulled me off of that bus-stop bench. Yeah, we’ll eventually end up there and that was in Houston. That was 2015.

I’m lucky tonight though and I’m out looking for crack. I bought some powder from my 300Z car rental client (see that post), but I’m still fucking up the cooking process at home. It’s just not coming out right and now, I’m just licking this thick cocaine snot off of this hot spoon because it just won’t rock-up correctly. I’m blowing on it, adding water, blowing, stirring…just fucking it up.

I’m randomly adding more coke, baking soda. It’s just a fucking mess. I’m having to cook it over a flame because my apartment has a gas stove. Gas stoves don’t work well with the method of cooking up cocaine that Mike taught me to use when I’m not at his house. I need an electric stove so that the bent-up spoon can sit on the stove burner.

I’m just fucking it up and I’m using cheap lighters. If a former crack-head is reading this they are going to just shake their head in disgust. Those fucking cheap, free with a pack of cigarettes, or anything that you buy in a 7-11, that’s not a Bic is going to fuck up your hit. It just won’t burn right.

I’m licking this spoon and it’s making my mouth incredibly numb and just teasing my brain-dick. My taste buds are being assaulted by the unpleasantness of the poorly cooked freebase, undissolved baking soda, and the black soot collecting on the bottom of the spoon, that is now smearing on my face and lips. I go to the mirror and with the smeared black spoon soot on my face, I resemble a coked-up Robert Smith from The Cure.

I’m high, but I’m functioning. I’m functioning enough to drive, but I know that I shouldn’t. I try so fucking hard not to follow that cocaine hunger, but once that switch is flipped it’s done. I have to get crack. My body aches from the spoon tease and with the psychological phenomenon known as reactance, associated with me not being able to have my nice fulfilling crack hit. I just wanted $40 worth so that I can get on with my night. I was on the east-side of Austin and I found a guy willing to go find me some crack. He left his shoes in compliance with industry standard, best practices and went to find me some crack. Business crack…I’m wearing my Austin Board of Realtor’s), shirt.

I saw a cop roll by a street over and I get really fucking nervous. I start to drive away, just trying to get home with my new pair of $40 crack shoes. I see the cop pull behind me, hit his lights, and he busted me. He busted me for an outstanding warrant from San Marcos, Texas. I had bounced a check years before and it was still in the system. I told you. I’m a lucky motherfucker. 5 minutes later and I might have had a serious charge.

I’m supposed to show a house the next evening for my real-estate job and I’m already pissing my broker off. But aren’t I the Leasing Agent of the Month and wasn’t I in the Austin Business Journal? Motherfucker, it was a small office and a crack-head, yours truly, was leading the office in leasing. They obviously have bigger problems than Steven Kendrick. Matter of fact, when I miss my appointment to show that house, they put me on notice.

I’m 25 years old and my parents are about to get a collect phone call from their youngest son, Steven.

“Hey Mike, sorry man I was…”
“I don’t have time for this, I just got back. Do you have my damn money?”
“Yeah man, actually all of it.”
“Bring my money and bring lighters. Bics, get Bics!”
“Cool man.”

I hated jail. I wasn’t there too long, just under 48 hours, but when I got out, I was determined to just lay low, finally pay Mike every penny back that I owed him, and then I would quit coke for good. I dodged Mike until I had the rest of his money, but I did buy coke from the guy in my real estate office. The problem though with that was the quality of the cocaine. It was just really bad, strip club type coke.

If you’ve ever purchased cheap coke, around last call in a strip club or gay bar, just reading this could make your nose begin to have these weird nose hallucinations. No? My nose does. Man, just by thinking of really low-quality, late night coke, I can get this strange burning sensation go up my nose and start down my throat, and that’s just by thinking about it too much.

See, I went way too far down the drug path or at least I thought that way until I was 41. I was freebasing to celebrate my accomplishments and good days at work, but I was also freebasing to help with a bad day. But bad days are tough for a crack head. The dopamine rush from the cocaine feels amazing, but now you’re wide awake for hours. Who the fuck wants to be wide awake during a bad day? A crack head can stay awake for a long time and just have a few really long, bad days in a week instead of the normal seven days in a week.

Not at Mike’s though. Mike’s house was a really fun place to smoke crack after a long day of showing apartments to people and we would stand around freebasing for hours, just bullshitting. It was that normal around Mike’s house in Tarrytown, plus with nice leather couches and a pool table.

There was such a normalcy associated with it all. Quite domestic really as we all chipped in a couple of times a week and helped keep it clean. We had the nicest crack-house on the block that came with a famous bass player in the tiny basement apartment and an outdoor swimming pool to lounge in. But with crack, well freebase. You never called it crack around Mike.

I had been dodging Mike for over a week. I’m legitimately scared and of course my anxiety is having me imagine that Mike is driving by my house several times a day, looking for me. I was so paranoid that I stayed at my real estate office one night. I just don’t want to call Mike unless I have his money, all of it. I was already late in regard to paying him and to make it worse, I had been ducking him. I was scared to death when I called Mike. Mike would sometimes just unload and scream at people on the phone when they owed him money, especially if they just vanished for a week or two. I eventually called Mike and he told me to come over and to bring lighters.

When I got to Mike’s they had just gotten back into town from a trip to Laredo. Everyone went but me. I was the only one of the regulars that was excluded. It’s so weird to feel that a bunch of crack heads don’t like you enough to want to have you go along on their adventures. My feelings were so hurt, almost as if I had been broken up with. They were all telling stories about meeting people and the hotel rooms that they stayed in. I just sat there on the couch feeling so dejected.

I gave Mike his money. “Do you want a blast?” asked Mike. I had been sitting in that jail making plans for my future and how I was going to clean up. I was going to become a real estate broker instead of just an agent, but I was also a full-blown addict by then. I said yes, and Mike fixed my pipe with a nice big hit of freebase. “You got any money?” “No, Mike. I just gave you my money.” “I’ll start you another tab at $90 an 8 ball.

Whoa what? Apparently, Mike had been able to get a better deal on blow and was passing the savings on to me. I was able to get some great coke from Mike and hook up my friend in the real estate office. I was going to sell a person a bag of cocaine for the first time.

Spoiler Alert: I was a horrible drug dealer. If you listen to Biggie Small’s 10 Crack Commandments, just know that I broke a lot of those rules, but the biggest rule that I broke was Biggie’s 4th rule. Never get high on your own supply. It’s bad for business and it’s awful for an addict. If the price of cocaine drops, the demand will rise. This is true for buyers and for addicts.

I think we can all agree that at this point in my life the last thing that I needed was more cocaine. I’m 25 and about to sell my first bag of coke. I make a major mistake and it costs me dearly.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA Post 2, Pt 1 (Austin)

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA Post 2, Part 1 (Austin)

The brain doesn’t fully develop until someone is roughly 25 years old. I was taught this in physiological psychology. So, what do we do as a society? Assume that people under that age are ready for the world. Maybe some are, but not this motherfucker.

I was so lost and depressed, but I want to stress that I wasn’t showing it. No, I was projecting a good self-perception, talking about stupid business ideas, going out to clubs sometimes with friends, smoking, drinking, going to parties etc., but you have to understand that I had been wearing that mask for so long that you couldn’t see it. That mask was my regular face.

It feels weird to wear that mask for so long. Have you ever been around someone that is dying? Not like in your arms after a gun fight, but someone that knows that they are dying soon, like in a week or month, 6 months…It’s weird because you’re trying to comfort them, but also always aware not to make future plans with them or talk about a cool concert that is happening in 9 months or when that person may not be around and alive for. It’s like that when you are so depressed and just don’t want to go on, but you don’t want to show it either.

So, I had started to throw up while drinking in college because I could drink a lot longer if I just threw up when I started feeling like I was getting drunk. I’m a genius. Now, I’m being introduced to cocaine for the first time. A girl asked me if I did cocaine. I told her I did a bunch and probably some lies regarding my past drug use to cement the fact that I was a seasoned coke head. I then had the same reaction that I’ve had when I did any hard drug. “That’s great. Why is that shit illegal?”

Honestly, thank God for cocaine. It kept me alert, full of dopamine, since the re-uptake had been blocked, and busy doing cocaine stuff. This was actually a good thing in my life at the time. I was an antenna waiting for anything to make me feel good and this did. I could drink longer and this dopamine was the bees knees my friend. Just fucking great. After a line of coke, I loved being Steven Kendrick or at least it was so much easier to pretend. The mask wasn’t so tight anymore. Is that spirit gum?

Here’s the scary part. If I didn’t find drugs at that point in my life I could have been talked into a lot of shit. I was really close to suicide and that most likely would have been the result if cocaine hadn’t saved my life, but all it would have taken was some confirmation bias, a group of like-minded individuals telling me their “philosophy” and I could have ended up in a cult. Seriously, I was so fucking lost.

I then met a dumbass that was a real-estate agent. A successful dumbshit can be so inspiring at times. “That motherfucker can do it?’, must be a relatively common first sentence uttered just before someone makes a significant change in their own lives.

I sign up for real-estate classes, start carrying around a little personal stash of coke on me to get through the day and then I meet Mike. Mike is much older than I am, talking mad shit to the instructor and has a 928. Mike and I went to lunch one time with his girlfriend, but other than that we never hung out during our time in those real-estate classes. It was after I got my real-estate license that shit went down.

I was invited to come hang out at Mikes one night and I threw down an 8 ball of coke on the kitchen island counter-top waiting to be declared a bad-ass for having so much blow. Mike begins to laugh and just keeps laughing as if it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen. I’m standing there like I’m Escobar and he’s laughing at me like I’m Pookie.

The last time that I saw Mike he was outside in the backyard of his house in Tarrytown on Enfield. We called his place “Enfield Drugs”. Ha, Austin joke. He and a friend were removing rocks from an exterior wall of his house. He was chipping away at them with a small hammer. Mike was really fucked up as usual. This dude smoked crack all day long, but if you called it crack, in his house, you are going to get the absolute shit beat out of you. Just like that. I never heard anyone use the C word in front of Mike. It was called either base or free-base, a base hit, blasting off, but NEVER called crack.

Mike was a big deal in the coke scene when he was in his early 20s, according to Mike and the 4 or 5 close friends of his from school. He drove a Corvette in college and once again, according to him and his friends, Mike would drive around UT and The Drag with a safe in his trunk filled with coke.

Which now, as a 47-year-old who has some life experience, I just kind of laugh at the “keeping a safe full of drugs” in his Vette, but that was the story. If true, what the fuck was this guy thinking? The cops were just going to see the safe and “Wait guys, this kid has a safe and I bet it’s locked. We’re done here. He’s untouchable.” Maybe I’m missing something such as a warrant being needed in that instance, but that was the story.

Why was Mike removing rocks from the exterior of his house? That’s where he was hiding a big stash of cocaine. He was that paranoid. He wanted to move it again.

I hung out with Mike for a long time before I ever freebased cocaine, well a long time when you’re 23 or 24. I just did a bunch of lines. I was taught that crack smokers were homeless losers, not two Porsches in the driveway and dressing well, with nice things in a nice house. My young eyes didn’t see the parents at home who were worried sick about their son Mike, who were most likely paying all of his bills and that they owned the house and they bought him the cars. I saw the veneer and assumed that I was looking at something genuine and solid throughout, not beauty surrounding particle board.

Mike was a mean motherfucker, but he had the best coke that I have ever seen, and he knew how to cook it with chemicals. I’ve never seen anyone do that since and I have no idea what he used and he didn’t always have the chemicals on hand, Mike would be really excited when he did though, because it supposedly made it better.

There is this misperception that if you smoke one hit of crack, that you are hooked. I guess it does depend on your operational definition of hooked and the variability of that equation must be massive. Heterogeneous like a motherfucker. I say this because I wasn’t good at freebasing at first. Wait what? Yeah, I was bad at it. I had to practice.

I know. I know. I know. Yes, I had to practice smoking crack and it took me probably a weekend to get it right. I wasn’t doing it right at first. If you want to piss a lot of crack heads off, be the guy that keeps smoking a big hit of crack, then blowing it out, looking around at their eyes and saying, “I don’t really feel it.”

They want to kill you. That would piss off a crack head so much it makes me laugh out loud while writing this. I’d have this pipe filled with a big rock and Mike would be instructing me the whole way as if a father was teaching his young son to ride a bike. “No, too much flame, back off, no, now, now, now. … There would be this long dramatic pause as I’d slowly blow out the thick, viscous smoke. “I don’t feel it.” The other smokers (Mike’s friend’s) would yell out in agony as if they had just witnessed a shanked field goal that would have caused them to have a big pay day.

These guys would be waiting for their hits and when a crack head sees that pipe going around, they are starving for it. When you are blowing out the smoke from a hit, you start thinking about that next hit. Then when you are waiting for your next hit, you watch the eyes of everyone else while they are taking their hits. You watch their eyes roll back as they blow it out. You see them lay back in the couch and smile. They feel like a lottery winner and that’s pretty close to reality. You smoke a hit, you feel as if you won the lottery and by the time it’s your turn for another hit, the money has all been spent, and you’re broke again. another hit, another winner, or at least the sensation of being a winner. Those crack heads would all be watching Mike fill my pipe the most, coach me, yell at them for being impatient, and then I take my hit… “Nope. Nothing. Is this broken? Can I try again?” Mike would usually say sure.

It’s funny to me now, to look back at that one scenario, but at the time I remember thinking. “Are you fucking kidding me? I’m so worthless I can’t even smoke crack right.” I just want to die. When I wasn’t at Mike’s place, I was probably at my new apartment just sitting around crying by myself. I did that a lot of that when I was between the ages of 23-32. I would just sit in my room and cry for hours on end. Now, I’m 23 and I’m living all by myself in my new apartment just down the street on Enfield, not in Tarrytown, but less than a 10-minute drive from Mike’s Enfield Drugs.

All the pizza guy had to do was have his manager call the cops and we’re all doing major fucking time. “What the fuck. What the fuck. What the fuck. What the fuck. Oh shit. Oh shit, Mike put down the fucking gun. Just put down the fucking gun, Mike. Please dude. Please.”

I don’t know what the fuck Mike was thinking, but he would brag about the number of consecutive days that we would stay awake freebasing. I personally have been up at least 5 days straight smoking crack, but it might have been more. Time can just speed by like you wouldn’t believe when 4 or 5 people are splitting some cooked up 8 balls. You can seriously try to guess the time and be hours off. “What day is it?” was a popular question during a long coke binge and this one had been going for days and Mike was just going crazy. Mike didn’t drink alcohol a lot, but he would drink Jack on occasion and the combination was really bad past day 3 of a binge.

Mike had ordered a pizza from Dominos and he didn’t have cash on him, and this was in the early 90s. Mike started asking a room full of crack heads for money. Bahahahaha. You so funny Mike! “You think a crack head paying ya back shit forget it.”- Biggie So, Mike gets the exact change and gives it to his buddy to pay the pizza delivery guy. Mike’s buddy said “Dude, Mike what about the tip.” Mike says, “Fuck him, he should get another job if he wants a tip.” We’re all looking at each other for someone to reason with Mike and to take charge, but we’ve now entered this cracked out version of groupthink going on between us. Groupthink brought down a space shuttle, that shit is powerful. Nobody said a word to contradict Mike. None of us wanted to feel the wrath of a freebasing, drunk, 3-day binge Mike. “Yeah, just go pay him,” one guy says. “I’ll pay the tip” I said. Mike says. “We’re not going to tip the pizza guy.”

The pizza delivery guy showed up and started to bitch about the lack of tip and Mike yells out, “Fuck you, you motherfucking cocksucker, just unloading on the guy, but we have enough blow in his cabinet to go away a long time… and that was just what I knew about. Have you ever had that friend that wants to get high or drunk and drive fast? Not going crazy fast, but just enough over the speed limit to where you have to check them. “Yo man… Do you have blow on you? Then don’t speed.” But you couldn’t check Mike, not like you would someone else, not this night. The pizza guy screams back a bunch of fuck yous and Mike says, “I’m getting my gun.” He said it loud enough that I didn’t know if the pizza guy had heard or not, but the pizza guy was leaving, leaving really mad and understandably so. Mike said that none of us could leave and he is now holding his gun. We just all stayed there. I was terrified, but since then I have always tipped the pizza guy well. Ask the guys at Star Pizza about me when I order from them. I always tip big to the pizza guy. Always at least $8, but as much as $20, but that $20 was an outlier moment when I used to drink. I was a very generous drunk and that generosity helped facilitate the biggest relapse of my life, but that is a long way down the road. Why didn’t I just leave? I was smoking crack for pennies on the dollar if I hung out with Mike. Plus, at this time I was still functioning.

That’s right. You’re looking at the Leasing Agent of the Month for Habitat Hunters in Austin, Texas. I was just blossoming as a promising young real-estate agent and part-time crack head, making my own hours and cooking up my own rocks at home. Mike taught me an easy method, but of course. I’m fucking it up too. I fuck everything up. I’m starting to burn myself on purpose more. Yes, I used to burn myself on purpose. I liked the pain. It gave me this wave of comfort that you just wouldn’t believe. I would burn my arms with lit cigarettes just to feel it burn through until I squished it out. You were going to be scared of me. You were going to just leave me alone. Look at my arm, if I’m crazy enough to burn myself, who would fuck with me? I’m a genius.

“Addicts are weak” (I posted this on FB, but then deleted it during an anxiety attack. I was asked by a friend to repost it.)

Yeah, let’s just get this out of the way now. By the time an addict can be visually detected by a stranger, that addict may have already been to hell and back. That addict in front of you that is dirty and disheveled is a mother fucking warrior. You are just now seeing this person after the battles, after the wars, after the years of being unbelievably strong has worn them down. The drugs have fogged up their brain and the booze on their breath has temporarily washed away the memory of what was deposited in their throats by a disgusting family member. The years of abuse that they endured could have been physical, mental, sexual, or fuck it, maybe they had a trifecta of fuck happen to them and now they have to sit there and have a stranger judge them. “Get a job loser!” They have a job. Their job is to try not to jump in front of that speeding bus today. Their job is to not jump off that bridge when the memories get too vivid. You don’t want their job. Just give them the change in your pocket and pray that your family member never has to meet the jury of their peers judging them for being “weak”.

My parents are very nice people that I’ve never seen hold an alcoholic beverage of any kind. My mother was a church secretary for over a decade and my father was a Church Elder. From the time that I was relatively young, I had been taught that the devil makes all of the alcohol and drugs in the world. Wait what? You heard me. “Why do people drink, mom?’ “The Devil makes them drink.” “How do they make whiskey, mom? “The Devil makes whiskey.” “What are drugs, mom?” The Devil makes them the day after Christmas, because he hates Jesus.” “Oh, don’t listen to that music, it’s the Devil.” The Devil did it. 
That was the answer in my house growing up. Why does this happen? The devil. Why does the tornado kill people? The Devil. So, your answer to everything is “The Devil, but I’m grounded for failing Science? Fuck you.

Mike had a 928. I saw it for the first time when he, his girlfriend and I went to lunch. I was really worried, because I had smoked some weed with Mike, and I was scared to be in public while high. Ha ha. Yeah, I was greener than the brown mexi-weed that we were probably smoking. I could barely fit in the Porsche and was in the limited area, not a back seat, but just a carpeted void near the back, but still smooshed behind the passenger front seat. I could barely breathe, but I was sitting in a 928. I can see why girls would be impressed by a nice car. This was my dream car and I was sitting in it. I’m not saying that I would have blown Mike because of his car, but he never offered me the deal to let me drive in exchange either. I can see how kids can be impressed by dealers in nice cars. It’s intoxicating when sitting in a nice Porsche, there is a sense of accomplishment, even though it is merely a placebo and has absolutely nothing to do with person accomplishment. It just feels like it. Which is fine. I’ve paid good money for bunk shit plenty of times.

I apologize for the slight detour from yesterday’s post, but I want the reader to understand my position on addicts and that my parents were nice, God-fearing people who really did try, but if you’re going to tell me that the Devil did it, and that’s your stock answer, then all it is going to take is for me to find out that you are wrong about that. Then your credibility regarding recreational pharmaceuticals is shit. It’s all based on church sermons, Nancy Reagan, and complete bullshit. You know nothing. Where’s your 928?

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA, Post 1, Pt 1 (Austin)

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA Post 1, Part 1 (Austin)

When I started pre-school as a kid it wasn’t long before I knew something was different and wrong with me. I was broken.

I didn’t know how to talk. I would say things, but people would just look at me, and then my mother would translate for me. I would end up participating in multiple developmental reading programs and I would have many private speech tutors until the 7th grade.

By the 7th grade, the only letter that was still fucking with me was the letter r. I hate the letter r. Fuck r. I love the word kangaroo though. Kangaroo was the first and last r-word that I pronounced correctly during my experience in institutionalized speech therapy. It hasn’t occurred to me until this moment, but I said kangaroo and then I bounced out of that program. Ha ha.

It’s terrifying going through life as a young kid when there is only one person that can understand you. I would talk incoherently, and my mother would translate for me. This went on for years to a degree, but there was slow improvement over time. Very slow.

My mother became the “room mother” for my pre-school class that year and then she assumed the same role at the various schools until my family moved to Georgetown. Then, I was on my own and really, really scared to talk out loud. At my new school when the kids began to look at me funny, I told the other kids that I was from another country. They soon found out that I was lying, but what an imagination for a silent kid.

I needed speech therapy badly, but in order to participate, the children with the speech issues were herded together and removed from another required and fundamental class, like math, reading, or English. So, you have the slight improvement in speech, but now you fall behind in other classes. Now, I couldn’t talk correctly, and I started falling behind my other classmates. FML wasn’t evented yet, but I must have felt the equivalent.

For example, I was too scared to go trick or treating. I couldn’t say trick or treat correctly, and I didn’t want to be made fun of. I skipped a year, but the next year I ended up just growling at people. I could sound like a little monster and growl, so I was one for Halloween. I went as a little monster and growled for candy.

I’m just now beginning to focus on this part of my life and how the process of institutionalized speech therapy, and just having the inability to communicate with others, has correlated with my anxiety, but I think it needs to be done.

Thank you for listening.

My parents never owned guns and that’s why I’m still alive.

My sophomore year in high school was and still is the worst year of my life. Four classmates of mine stole a boat from a house down the river. I saw them in the boat that day and they told me that the boat belonged to one of their uncles. Later that day, I saw someone towing that same boat down the river, but the boat was in really bad shape now, like it had been looted. The person asked if I knew whos boat it was, and I told him that it belonged to my friends.

About a week later the police came to my school and I was interrogated by the police and the principal regarding the boat. The next day I showed up to band practice in the morning and my life changed. My seat was with the other tuba players, but this morning my chair was pushed away from the other chairs and directly on the chalkboard behind me, written in huge letters was the word “NARC”. The kids that stole the boat had told everyone that I had informed the police that they were smoking pot and that in turn, the cops had busted them for weed.

Then it started. The threatening phone calls to me. the sexually violent calls to my mother, the dead cat on my yard, being punched in the halls, slapped on the back of the neck, kids would sit behind me during football games, while I’m holding my tuba and threaten me. It was hell. All my friends left me, I was sometimes even escorted from class to class by an assistant principal and sometimes a teacher, but nothing happened to the children that were doing this to me. The scariest part was lunchtime at school. I couldn’t leave campus and I had nowhere to go to, but I found a place to hide.

I made my lunch every day and then I would open up the band hall door with my knife, by moving the locking mechanism with the blade. I then opened the door, closed it and locked it behind me. I would find an empty up-stairs practice room in the adjacent choir practice hall and I’d step into the choir practice room, lock the door behind me, turn off the light, and hide in the dark shadow, where no one could find me. I felt so safe there. I would eat my lunch in the darkness all by myself. Just me, the narc that everyone hated, alone in the dark shadows of a locked practice room that was not big enough to fit four adults. That lasted for months, but the kids were looking for me and they knew the band hall lock trick also. I would hear them hunting for me as I sat hidden in the darkness eating my sandwich. No chips. Chips make noise.

Then, a band director caught me, and I got into trouble for breaking into the choir hall. I began to miss a lot of school, I stopped marching in the band, claiming a back injury, and I had to go to summer school again. But summer school was in another town and they didn’t know me. I made some friends and having that time in summer school really helped. I was liked again and met friends that were nice, but I had changed and my trust towards people had been altered. I started to drink and experiment slightly with drugs. They made me feel good. Finally, something made me feel good.

Why didn’t I fight back? I was under 5 feet tall and scared. My parents obviously knew something was wrong, but I didn’t tell my parents the extent of my abuse and what was going on, because who the fuck wants to tell their mother and father that they are getting beat up and are too scared to go to school. I’d rather have shot myself in the fucking head. Better yet, I would have loved to have shot those four motherfuckers in the head. I’m so glad that my parents didn’t have guns.

I’d be dead and so would those four other kids.

During my mid-20s I became a real-estate agent. It was the perfect plan. I had just flunked out of college and I was lost, depressed and about 6 months away from my first weekend long coke binge.

This was B.C. (before cameras), so you could get away with murder if you worked in a bar (late night parties until the morning with the doors locked) or in real-estate, it basically meant that you were never going to be homeless, but not necessarily due to personal monetary gain. When I became a real-estate agent they gave me an MLS key that would open the lock boxes all over Austin, of any vacant house that was on the market. I fully took advantage of this.

I had parties in a few vacant homes and met my first big dealer, who is dead now. That was the worst decision of my life, getting hooked up with that dude. That’s the closest that I ever got to being a straight up bad guy. I was right there on the edge of no turning back. He was out of Tarrytown in this crazy house where a local, bass playing legend was dealing heroin in the basement apartment.

I saw kilos go in and out and beatdowns every once in a while. I fucked up once and got beat down in front of about 6 people. I did the last line of coke that was on the plate and apparently that was a no-no. That house was part of my life for about 2 years until the dude got busted. I overdosed in that place once, but I was lucky and came out of it.

Well, gotta hit the books.

The difference between crack and freebase is zip code. I learned that in Austin. If you were using cocaine that way, back then, it was crack on the east-side of town, but in Tarrytown it wasn’t crack. It was freebasing. It wasn’t a crack house. That was a big house with a Porsche 928 in the driveway. Yeah, the one like in Scarface with those fucking headlights that flip around crazy and shit.

This wasn’t crack head central. This was a house with drug-addicted call-girls (heroin) going in and out of the residence for Mike to fuck. This was a house where local musicians or a random local celebrity might be seen at some weird hour. Mike was a weird guy. Mike had been burned over a lot of his body during a misunderstanding involving a mason jar full of gasoline, a match, and Mike. Apparently, Mike had pissed some people off years before. They rang his doorbell and when he answered the door, they smashed a mason jar, that was full of gas on Mike’s head and lit him on fire when he was out cold.

Mike had burn scars on his body that would poke out from under his shirt and reach toward his missing ear. Mike had scars, bitches, cars, coke, and everything figured out. Mike knew it all. I was set playa, I knew Mike.

I’ve never known depression like what I experienced when I flunked out of college the first time. I was a budding alcoholic that didn’t understand the panic attacks, what they were, or even what to call them. I was just crazy.

I would sit in my bed at night and rock back and forth with my eyes closed, but they never really closed. The light always was able to shine through my eyelids. Not really of course, but that is what it felt like. These bright lights going off inside my head while I tried to sleep.

As I was laying still under the covers my body felt as if it was inside one of those parking lot, amusement park rides called “The Zipper!” That is what it felt like. A less violent version of “The Zipper!”, but while trying to sleep and with a job to try to find the next day.

I tried medication, which just made me a zombie. I loved it for about a month or two, but believe it or not the zombie life has its drawbacks. Booze helped a lot if I drank enough, but I couldn’t drink enough and function, plus it didn’t help me with the depression.

The depression was the loneliest time of my life. High School sucked, I had made some friends in college, but fucked that up, and in my mind EVERYONE was doing better than me in life and now the Dallas Cowboys are doing training camp in Austin and throwing another hundred or so well-paid young men in the mix to fuck up the already dwindling possible female alcoholics and soon to be addicts to party with on 6th street.

I was 23 years old and I was just over it.

I was always a Bar-back, never a Bartender. Well, I did bartend, but not for very long and not very well. I don’t perform well when people are looking at me when I’m not 100% sure of what I am doing. I get distracted and so nervous during those close encounters with people.

You wouldn’t think that working on 6th Street would be so stressful, but back then you would generally be working with an annoyed bartender who knows EVERY line from the movie “Cocktail” and sits there practicing bar tricks, discussing the importance of well cut bar fruit, making sure the bar-back had enough Zima stocked or two rows of Corona, labels out, ice topped off in the well, and making sure that the bar-back is in pain by the time that the shift is over. Then you have to worry about the roided-out security guy that wants to play “nut-check” as some type of non-erotic testicular tapping that is prevalent in these jobs. It’s just stupid.

I could make a drink so smooth at home, but if I was on 6th Street trying to bartend I just had such a hard time remembering what and how much went into a drink that I just couldn’t do it under the allotted time. According to the regulation Olympic stopwatch that was usually being used for some reason during a bartender test.

Why do I mention my inability to bartend under pressure? I had just flunked out of college, which is a shame that resonates within the family and spills out of the house into the street for everyone to see and discuss. Loved ones begin doing amazingly fast calculations regarding how much money they spent and wasted in order for the college dream to be crushed by my alcoholism and these panic attacks that weren’t called panic attacks yet. It was called I’m really broken, and I don’t know why. It’s important to emphasize the destruction of self-efficacy. Self-perception and self-efficacy is where “fake it till you make it” can really fuck you up. It’s like a cat pretending not to look hurt, so that it’s not mauled by other animals when it’s assumed weak. If you fake it till you make it when mental health is concerned, the ending can be really fucking bad playa. The end. The inability to bartend wasn’t the only issue.

My first impressions are just awful. Multiple Migs has a better first impression than I do. I now just try to say as little as possible without seeming like a complete douchebag and I’m not doing well at it. I need more practice, but I don’t like meeting people. It’s scary as fuck to me. I have to practice first impressions due to my anxiety.

Then, when the meeting happens things need to be very close to how I imagined it, while practicing it. Everything in its place during that. Nobody just coughed or said something just before I said hello. I have their name written down three places, but now my shirt is stupid and I picked up a snail on the sidewalk outside and moved it to the bushes so that it wouldn’t get crushed, because since I know it’s there and it does get crushed then it’s the same as if I just crushed it, but I didn’t wash my hands before I shook his hand. His hand will smell like a snail. I hope that wasn’t a stinky snail because then he’ll think that I have stinky snail hands. How do I bring that up in a casual way? “You know I actually pick up snails to save them from getting crunched. I’m a good person. That’s why your hand smells like snails.” “Smell your hand. Snail?” “No, I actually asked if you were able to find parking ok.”

Unfortunately, that’s not far from one of my first impressions. It’s just awful.

So, I barely graduated high school, flunked out of college, I’m having panic attacks, ulcers, and I can’t bartend. I’m not smart enough. By this time, I’m just panicking. WTF am I supposed to do? I’m worthless and my first impressions are horrible, which leads to fucked up interviews. I have no chance in life, matter of fact, the only time that I’m cool and fun is when I’m drunk, but that’s only until I pass out. Then I’m just me and I suck. I can’t do anything, and I shake sometimes while trying to sleep. I’m 23 and I just hate everything that there is about being Steven Kendrick. Why did I have to be short, stupid, balding, and without anything in the world that was going to turn it around. So, I just drank every night until I blacked out, until the next day started. Then I would put my dirty Maggie Maes shirt back on and go to work as a barback. There was this girl that I met though, and she knew this dude that would make money taking polaroid pictures of people while they were on 6th street. He sold all types of things.

I want you to know how I got to where I did. How I ended up at Mike’s house and how I eventually became a crack-head (or Freebase Fanatic on the nice side of town) for a few years. Don’t worry, the ending is really good. I end up getting multiple college degrees, but the path is fucked up and scary as shit. I have no idea how I’m still here in this world. It just doesn’t make sense. When thinking back to those days, I’m about to start my real-estate career and perform stand-up comedy for the first time. Well, the second time, but I never told anyone about the first time when I was 19. I’m also about to become roommates with John Rabon and move next door to a one-stop shop of 24-hour drugs.

BTW- I talked with Rabon before I started writing about our time as roommates and he gave me his permission. Yes, I asked for his permission to discuss that time in our lives. John is a great guy and I feel a lot of guilt in regard to John. A lot.