Tag Archives: picture

The Streets of New York

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“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.

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Words can only Describe!

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“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!

 

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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?