Tag Archives: art

The Streets of New York

Standard

“This is a powerful collection of photos that truly reflect the outcome of drug use in on the streets of New York. While the pictures speak a thousand words, the accompanying descriptions shed more light on the individuals stories— although its more like a darkness. Chris Arnade is an inspirational photographer whose courage and curiosity drives him to meet hundreds of people who are suffering with addiction, poverty and what is typically seen as poor life decisions such as prostitution. You can visit his website to view more of his heart-breaking and thought-provoking work.” -Enjoy, Robyn

Chris

Chris

Chris Bishop was drinking in front of a liquor store when we met. A resident in the local homeless shelter, he told me the following: At the age of 13, Chris killed his father, stabbing him with a knife after a childhood of abuse. He spent the next 18 years in correctional facilities. ‘When he was drunk and mad he would hold me out the apartment window and threaten to drop me to the street, eight floors below. He beat me and my mother all the time. I have been drinking ever since. To forget.’ When I asked how he wanted to be described, his eyes teared up and he said, ‘I am human, like everyone else.

Vanessa

Vanessa

Vanessa, 35, had three children with an abusive husband. She ‘lost her mind, started doing heroin,’ after losing the children, who were taken away and given to her mother. The drugs led to homelessness and prostitution. She grew up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, but now spends her time in Hunts Point, ‘trying to survive every day. Just doing whatever it takes.’ She was standing on the cold street corner looking for business, wearing only flip flops and smoking with her two friends. When I asked her how she wanted to be described, Mary Alice jumped in and said, ‘She’s the sweetest woman I know. She will give you the shirt off her back, if she has one on.

Beauty

Beauty

“Beauty, 21, was born and raised in Oklahoma, and was brought to New York City by a pimp who promised her she could ‘make some mad money.’ She has since had nine pimps. ‘I have been through nine nigg*s. Got my first black eye from one, another punched me in mouth, but this guy is good to me.’ Her mother was an addict. ‘She started using crack. That’s when it all started, the walls started coming in on me. Now she is incarcerated. I can’t blame my mom, she’s my mom. I smoke weed, but not crack. I don’t like that peppermint burning smell. I want to get out of this stuff, but I am scared. I guess I could stop at any time. Some of the guys tell me I could be a model. Money wise it’s good, but otherwise, fuck Hunts Point. Maybe I can become an RN, or go into childcare.’ When I asked her how she wanted to be described, she said, ‘I’m a good person. I don’t like to see anyone down. I like to make people happy.'”

Luis

Luis

“I call him Luis, but I am not sure. Luis is unable to do more than mutter a few words, often breaking down in tears. He refuses to go to the local shelter or methadone clinic, sleeping instead in various spots, spending his waking hours bumming cigarettes and panhandling in front of bodegas. I worry that my pictures put a happy face on addiction. Photos cannot capture the pain, suffering, and destruction wrought by heroin, crack or in this case, whiskey. Sometimes it requires smoking a cigarette with a sobbing incoherent drunk to truly remind you what loneliness and addiction can do.”

Clarence

Clarence

“The ‘brickyard’ is a vacant lot on an otherwise industrial side street in Hunts Point. It’s where many of the local addicts spend their time, gossiping and smoking. They bring their carts filled with what they can collect to sell to the adjacent scrap metal shops. It’s where I found Clarence, who has lived for 40 years in Hunts Point since moving from North Carolina as a teenager. I spoke with Clarence, a former truck driver, for a long time. He told me all that his addiction has wrought: job loss, homelessness, health problems. Never once did he sound angry, bitter, or depressed.”

Sonya

Sonya

“Sonya lives on the top floor of an abandoned building with her husband of ten years Eric. They left Rhode Island in pursuit of drugs, settling in Hunts Point five years ago. Eric said, ‘This is the only reason me and Sonya are in Hunts Point, because this is literally right now the best heroin in all of New York City.’ Sonya left her husband and family after being turned on to heroin by Eric. ‘I wasn’t addicted to drugs until my 30s. Before then, I was a normal person, meaning I wasn’t a fucking junkie. I lived in Rhode Island and had a family. I was a soccer mom. I always kind of knew I was a heroin addict. I always knew not to fuck with heroin. I always knew it was the drug for me. It just makes you feel good. And when you’re feeling bad, having a magic button is kind of a great thing. Unfortunately the magic button is also a stupid button because it comes with a lot of consequences. I am happier in some ways than I’ve ever been in my life. But I’ve lost so many things. I want to get out of my addiction but in some ways it’s made me grow a lot. And I think I know now how to live more than I ever have.'”

Supreme

Supreme

“Supreme saw me taking pictures and asked to be photographed with his dog Obama (yes, Obama). I asked him why he was giving the camera the finger, he said, ‘Thats for people judging who I am.’ I said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘A doped up junkie.’ I told him I post the pictures online and write a short description. He said, ‘I ain’t mind people knowing what I do or who I am. Its me.’ Supreme and I chatted awhile more; despite the finger he was happy to talk.”

Egypt

Egypt

“Egypt, 38 and homeless, was 14 when her mother, an addict and prostitute, put her out on the streets. She has been working the streets, in the Bronx, addicted to heroin and crack, much of the time since. While telling me her story, she started crying. She was high, having just shot crack. ‘Mix it with lemon juice. If you do it with water you will be fucked up. Abscess, dead.’ She noticed a beat up alley cat wandering. ‘That cat’s how I feel. I really do. I didn’t come out here to fucking cry. See, that cat needs a hug. I get that. He wants somebody to love him. Saying, ‘Don’t touch that,’ is like saying not to touch me.” I apologized for making her cry. She said, ‘I didn’t cry. There’s no time for crying out here. If you cry, you’re a pussy, and you can’t let them do that to you. You can’t let them see you cry. You can’t show your weakness. I’m a cancer. You scrape us off and we come right back. But we’re curable. It’s only as hard as you make it. If you think you can change, if you know you can change, you can. If you set your mind to something, that’s what’s going to happen. You have to want it. You can’t have someone else want it for you.'” Original Images and Descriptions by Chris Arnade.

Advertisements

Words can only Describe!

Standard

“Sometimes we need a reminder of why were sober. Sometimes we need a reminder of why we shouldn’t use. Sometimes we need a reminder of all the things we can accomplish in sobriety. Sometimes we need a reminder of all the fun things we can do sober. But what can remind us? How about making a word cloud!?”

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Please share your wordles on Hippy Healings Facebook page to inspire others! Here is one I found about sober fun that might inspire you along with a blog from Amplifi where the author interviewed several grateful recovering addicts what they liked to do for fun!

 

Image

 

 

Sober Fun: How do You Enjoy a Life of Sobriety?

Some people mistakenly think that they can’t have fun without drugs or alcohol, or that living sober must be miserable and boring.  The truth is that there is no shortage of ways to enjoy life while being alcohol-free and drug-free.  We recently asked some of our amplif(i) Peer Educators what they do to have fun sober.  Here are their answers.

 

Chad:  “I have more fun now in sobriety than I ever did when I was using drugs and alcohol.  I have always enjoyed playing basketball, but since I stopped using drugs and alcohol, I have become a much better athlete.  I’m able to dunk a basketball now, which is a lot of fun.  I’m surrounded by the greatest sober friends who love me for the person I am, and we have a lot of fun together.  I also DJ sober parties, which is a total blast.”

Jason: “I work out and play competitive sports with friends.  I surround myself with the positivity of art, expression, live shows, and people who care about me.  I also go hiking and camping, and spend time giving back to the community.”

Brittany: “I have fun by making people laugh, whether it’s through jokes or silly pranks.  I love spending time with my little cousins, going to see kid movies or just sitting on the couch watching cartoons.  I enjoy baking even though I’m not very good at it.  But getting to eat as I go is the best part.  I also like watching videos on YouTube and playing video games.  I’m not very good at video games, but I like to pretend I know what I’m doing.”

Ramzi: “For fun, my friends and I like to do a lot of things. We like to play basketball, or play music. Since a lot of my friends and I love movies, we like to watch movies, or even make our own movies when we have enough time.  We also do volunteer service in the community.  But ultimately, if my friends and I get together, we’re going to have fun.”

Meredith: “My idea of fun continues to change as I try different things and have new life experiences. I usually have the most fun with other people, doing things like playing volleyball, listening to live music, going on bike rides, playing board games, going to improv shows or the movies, bonfires, swimming, and taking day trips out of town.  I am able to have fun when I am alone too, doing things such as yoga, baking, and do-it-yourself crafts. Ultimately though, fun is about your attitude. I could probably have fun doing anything if I was with the right people and had a positive mindset or attitude.”

Aiden: “When I got sober, I was drawn into the art community here in Phoenix. With gallery openings and live local music almost every night of the week, there’s never a dull moment. Being a recovering drug addict, I frequently crave excitement, and there is definitely no shortage of it in this environment.  Being an artist and musician myself, when I crave quiet I am able to work on my own creations in healthy and fulfilling solitude.  I was blind to these joys prior to getting sober. What I found in these avenues was much more than a sufficient social substitute for drugs and alcohol.”

Andrea: “I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. We love to just be silly and laugh a lot. We play board games, have movie marathons, and go out to dinner. I also like to spend time by myself. I love to just relax and watch some of my favorite TV shows, read, play piano, and bake.”

Shana: “How can you have fun sober?  Make giant art projects, write poetry without rhyming, go on a bike ride to somewhere you’ve never driven your car, find the tallest elevator downtown and ride it, look at the stars with your friends and see who can scream out the names of the constellations the loudest.  That all might sound pretty random, but that’s how I come up with fun.”

As you can see, there are many things you can do to have fun and enjoy life without drugs or alcohol.  The answers above show a wide variety of ways that people have a good time sober, and yet this is only a tiny sample of the countless choices that you have.  The only limit is your imagination.

 

How do you have fun?

 

Take Six

Standard

Here, she feels stable. Here, she has a fresh start. The scene is familiar but only from the years spent visiting her grandparents and wandering the streets that surrounded her with shopping centers full of chain supermarkets and restaurants. She remembers the only store that was remotely unique was called Twist Treat in the shape of a large swirl of pink ice cream in a giant kiddy cone. They always armed her with extra sprinkles on the side and she would dip her chocolate ice cream in the bowl to replenish the sweetness. She reminisces and digresses. She can’t escape the fact that she left behind her home three days ago. Twenty years of the same people, places and things made her feel nauseous. She had to leave, it was her only choice for sanity.

She walked around for miles, up and down the same streets. She drove around uptown, glancing at the little shops and old nooks she used to hang around. Tears rolled down her face but she couldn’t help but smile. This was depressing to think about– leaving her home– but she was so excited. This meant she was one step closer to independence. She had a plan. A master plan to get her long overdue “proper” education that could really take her places.

Since she first heard her father tell her, “if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, at least believe in something,” she was determined to find the answers to life and death. She studied all the great texts in high school, only to find the same patterns disheveled in creative tales and sonnets. All this information only made her more confused. So she busied her mind with something else; art and music. It wasn’t long until the expression and lack of answers led her to experimenting with her reality through drugs. Soon enough she only became concerned with consciousness and lost all desire to pursue her hobbies. When she ran away from philosophy, she made a mistake. The search kept her going at the time, art was just a distraction. When her addiction took over to later reveal her disorders, she morphed into an egocentric, hopeless disaster. But now that she realizes this, she is able to recognize her passion that has followed her all along.

20131101-172143.jpg
She had always been afraid to pursue a philosophy major because she thought the only thing you could to with that is become a writer or a teacher. At this point, she just didn’t care. Those two options didn’t seem so bad anymore. She daydreamed that one day she might be able to conjure up a novel outlining her two months of insanity. She was inspired by all the books she has read while she is in recovery; books about addiction, bipolar disorder and the psychotic mind. She was so intrigued with the memoirs that completely related to her, she felt like she was no longer alone. These people had been best selling authors, brave and admirable for they’re ability to tell their truths so vividly to the world. She knew she would need a lot of strength to dig out those memories she tried so hard to suppress but she thought it was worth it to explore herself enough to help another struggling addict/bipolar. She would need to do extensive interviews with the people that went through it with her. That would require another trip to India… As scary as that thought was, it made her feel warm. She fell in love with India and all the people who helped her along the way. She would want to write down every single experience– even the most embarrassing and shameful. She cringes at the idea of any of her loved ones reading her stories but she had been open up until this point, publishing her journal in front of the whole world. While maybe the whole world wasn’t reading it, they most certainly could. And maybe someday they would. She has big ambitions. Maybe even “grandiose.” But she didn’t care anymore. This is what drove her. This is what kept her clean. This is what kept her sane. This is what kept her alive.

Take Two

Standard

Now she sits here in the local coffee shop. She couldn’t resist. She told herself she was going to the library to read only now she’s people watching as she sips on an iced red eye with two extra shots of espresso. What will this do, she wonders. She didn’t sleep last night. She was busy. Yes. Busy. Busy doing things like watching television, painting, reading and chain smoking. It was a good night. She busied her mind. Now she sits jittery, wondering what to do next. The AA meeting didn’t do a good job of convincing her not to do drugs. Right now a relapse doesn’t seem so awful. Especially when her mother is still drinking. She’s found the proof today when she emptied out the dishwasher; only one of the many things she has accomplished today– oh the power of the awake! It was a wine glass. Why else would there be a single wine glass in the dishwasher? Had her mother fancied herself a glass of fancy 2% milk in a fancy glass for the (what the hell, why not?) fancy night? She thinks not. Its clear her mother likes to get lost in the mess of unmade clarity just like her. She misses it, but that feeling is fleeting. She can’t really relapse. Too much is at stake. Plus it would totally mess up her experiment. It’s been so long since she had done one of these. Before, when she was in college studying massage and oriental medicine, she had constantly experimented with her diet. She tried the regular vegan, the Jain vegan (no root vegetables), the only-fruit vegan, the only-water vegan (aka, anorexia). It was fun for her. Feeling her body express a sense of transformation through her control. But only now it is not her body she is examining; it’s her mind.

Ever since she got diagnosed bipolar about six months ago, she had a hard time accepting what it meant. As far as she could tell, bipolar one meant you were crazy. She surely acknowledges the fact that she was crazy… At least for about two months.. But that psychosis was drug induced. She is sure of it. She never went through such a mind-bending experience before. But she is young, she has time to go through it again– if she so choose. It seems that by neglecting the medicine that regulates and stabilizes her mood is one way to contribute to her experiment. She still takes the one in the morning that is a relatively new addition to her daily pill intake. This one isn’t supposed to kick in for another week or so and it mainly deals with suppressing the depressive stage of bipolar. This will do wonderfully, she thinks. This will increase my chances of mania over depression. She even rationalized a reason to drink caffeine again. Once considered another drug in her eyes, coffee is now a way to support her cause. But perhaps, her mind trails, this is too much coffee. She hasn’t had coffee in months. Caffeine in general– in months. She notices her hands beginning to shake. She has another two cups to go. It was a large that she ordered. Twenty ounces. She takes another sip making a pouty face and quivering at the bitter taste. She will definitely have to pee about four time by the end of the hour… But that’s no concern. What’s on her mind now is what to do with all this time before she has to go to her outpatient program. She was going to workout, only her stomach is filled with acid. Maybe in a couple of hours, after the peeing, when her stomach settles…Suddenly she has a thought; you know, come to think of it, this coffee is something like a laxative for me. This can be beneficial to my eating disorder which in turn may help set off my experiment. She hadn’t eaten much all day. She drank a bit of a fruit smoothie but everything that was solid had later been purged. She was hungry, but now she just feels sick with coffee overload.

Why is this light on? It’s clearly not providing anything useful to this shop! Its daylight. It may not be super sunny, there are scattered clouds, but the sky is the brightest blue I’ve seen in a while. Her thoughts have trailed onward to report the weather apparently. But she’s right. The past week had been cold and bleak. Grey sky’s and falling leaves, rain and a shy full moon at night. She had gotten lost in depression to the point of that new prescription. She confessed to her psychologist that she was fed up with feeling so anxious and helpless. She preferred mania over the feeling of such worthlessness. But most bipolar people do, her doctor reminded her. “This doesn’t mean you should trail off from your meds, they will work in time, give it time.” Fuck time. That’s when she decided to try this experiment. Now she thinks; I should really document all this! Maybe write a book: How to Get Out of Depression, for Bipolar Freaks. Wonderful! She laughs out loud at herself…

Step one. Only take the meds that promote the opposite of how you want to feel.
Step two. Stay up. Just do it. Make yourself do it. You can do it!
Step three. Don’t do drugs.
Step four. Do drink caffeine.
Step five. Eat irregularly. Whatever that means for you.
Step six. Keep busy. If your mind says you should do something, take it up on its impulse and do it.

That’s all she has now. Only it’s not proven yet. This is just the procedure of the experiment. The hypothesis being that she will gain a heightened mood, release any social fears, and possibly set off psychosis… Although she is hoping she will be able to notice when this state comes on so as to avoid it… She will have to write an entirely new book on how to come down slowly from mania without falling quickly into depression.

She makes a note of this.

Now for a moment she is detoured from her thoughts to see an old customer she used to cater to when she worked at this coffee shop she sits in now. What a nice lady, she has no idea what this girl is going through mentally. Blah blah blah. The customers name is Jane. She orders an iced mocha of sorts. She can’t remember all her modifications. I think its a medium iced mocha with half the amount of regular pumps of sauce and nonfat milk, she recalls. That must be it. Jane has alway been a bit of a chatty Kathy but you should have heard the conversation this bipolar/addict was able to keep up. She sounded so normal. So intelligent. But wait, now she’s distracted by the funny police officer with this wide-brimmed hat. He seems to be deep in conversation with this couple of average looking Americans. She wonders what all the hullabaloo is all about. Whatever. Her mind moves to another topic. Only wait, she forgot it already. Look at the leaves run around! Oh lord. She’s almost done with her coffee. Maybe two or three more sips. Oh wait! She remembers what she was thinking but had forgotten! It was about the funny hat. She recalls the police in India. They wore even funnier hats! They looked like they had been taken right out of an old western film where the cowboys run around wearing gallon caps, big and black, but on an Indian, but not a Native American Indian, an India Indian. Ha! The leaves spin in a whirlwind. Creating a circle, a sequence of swirls that drift beyond the ally just outside the shop window. It’s like her mind. La dee da dee da. Spinning in and out of this or that. Around and around, repeating the same thought soon after it drifts into the abyss. At least she can still catch them before their completely gone.

One more hour to waste before she heads to the YMCA to workout. Only she really doesn’t want to go. She hasn’t gone for the past two days and today’s heavy stomach is begging her to stay. Maybe after IOP (her outpatient program) I can go to the Y? Or I can go for a run. I should have went earlier. I knew I should have gone earlier. Tomorrow’s a new day. Only now she can’t decide if she should sleep or not. And what will she say in group today? Will she admit to her lack of sleep? Her surge of inspiration and creativity? Her hours of lolly gagging and tail wagging? We will see.

There are now two officers in funny hats! So serious… She wonders what’s going on but quickly loses interest.

Energy! Energy! Energy! Yes! She will go to the Y! She wants to run in circles! But it’s too early to leave now. She will be there for three hours. But she could go now for an hour then go to the library and roll around in her head some more. Its possible. It’s all possible. Anything is possible! Life is so thrilling! How exciting is it that she gets to live today! Not knowing where her life will take her! She hasn’t a clue! She hasn’t a care! But she knows there are so many directions it can turn, its like a real-life simulation– like the matrix too! She can manipulate it to get what she wants. Oooooo.

20131025-151257.jpg

Yup. This is getting weird. At least she can notice she is getting weird. But should she care? Oh God! She just noticed this hideous painting to her right. Its titled “Romance,” by Ron Strum, its hanging on the wall next to the window she has been so preoccupied with. It’s obviously an oil. Completely dull colours. There sits a sad excuse for a bouquet of flowers with a candelabra and a creepy-ass sculpted dove that really would have been better off without those beady eyes. How do things like this sell? She really wants to get back into doing art again. She managed to squeeze out two unfinished projects in the past two days. That’s more than what she’s managed to produce in the past three years! She used to be quite the acclaimed artist. At least, in her “grandiose,” bipolar mind. But honestly, she did win several First Place awards and Best In Show twice in a row (which happened to be the only two times she even presented in the high school art show). But she left behind her dreams to wallow in a progressing drug addiction. She blamed it on the colleges that clearly could not recognize her potential. Although, she tends to skip past the fact that her essays sucked. I don’t even think I ever reread them... Probably deserved failure, despite all the hard work and passion she put into her pieces, she really didn’t realize that she’d have to talk the talk too. Such a pity. But she digresses as she remembers now, anything is possible!

Box of Dreams

Standard

When I got home from rehab I felt completely lost. Out of work and nothing to do, I turned to one of my favourite coping skills: ART. My mom had  told me she made a box and filled it with symbols of her hopes and dreams and one day they all came true in there own way. So I became inspired to do something of the same…

I took an old shoe box and collaged as much as I could! Anything like inspiring or uplifting images and words all toped off with a bit of glitter! Instead of filling it with objects, I left it empty with a single notebook inside. Now everyday when I wake up, I head into my dream box and write down what I’m grateful for. Some days I’ll even get a card in the mail from someone I just wrote about that same day! Its a great reminder of your goals and aspirations all while growing the relationship you have with your higher power through this small meditation! Try it out on a rainy day and keep the box someplace where you will always be reminded.Share your photos too!

20131005-162225.jpg

What you need:

  • A box
  • Old magazines or newspapers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • GLITTER (optional 😛 )
  • A notepad/notebook to fit inside
  • A pen
  • A desire to change!

20131005-162235.jpg

 .

.

.

.

Whats next?

Wake up every morning and get creative again! Thank your higher power, write what your grateful for, write about your dreams and aspirations, or inspiration you find at meetings! Return the book in the night and do it all again tomorrow! You can even do as my mom suggested by placing small items of symbolic importance in the box and hide it under your bed. Every night before you drift off to sleep, count off all the items in your head as you pray to your higher power.

This is a great coping skill to practice, from making it to using it everyday. You will find your spirits uplifted and heart fill with love as you recount all the things that make you happy in life.

20131005-162242.jpg

Peace and Love, Robyn