The Pine St Inn

One would think we would come back from vacation refreshed and relaxed, ready to battle life in our rejuvenated state. Wrong. The last few years Fall has been a turbulent time. Fall in our family has usually been taken literally. As in we fall apart. Several years ago it was a beautiful, crisp, Fall morning in New England when I found out my daughter was a heroin addict. The following Fall she relapsed to the point of nearly killing herself multiple times. Last year she relapsed again in late August. So, I came back from vacation sort of bracing myself. I had decided that this Fall would be no different from all the other Falls save for the fact that I would anticipate it, prepare myself, and not be shocked. I was not wrong. But, per usual, I wasn’t right either.

I wasn’t wrong because we have been out straight crazy since the minute the plane landed in Boston. As soon as I came home I went immediately into the month end from hell in accounting land. Back to school, always a fun time and general post-vacation chaos ensued. To add to that, my very favorite kitty got out late one night… I won’t point the finger of blame on anyone but a certain Colombian I know and his father were out in the garage very late and left a door open, but that’s none of my business. All I know is by the time I woke up at 6 my poor cat was frantic to get in the house and when AC grabbed him, he bite him. Badly. Which I can’t say I blame him, because if I was Diego and was left outside for three or four hours  by a Colombian who left the window open, I would bite him too. But that’s none of my business either. Needless to say, AC ended up with a bad infection and a doctor visit. That was day one post-vacation.

Day two post-vacation started innocuously enough. I made it to work at a reasonable time. My boss was in that day, and we share an office. We were both working as good employees should when I received a text notification from Verizon stating one of my phone lines just called 911. A moment later, another text came through that had JoDee’s number calling 911. I tried to call her phone immediately, it went to voicemail. I thought someone’s dead. I tried her number again, immediately went to voicemail. Interesting fact I did not know, if you call 911 your call waiting won’t work on a cell phone. It blocks the line. Who knew? I didn’t. I stood up and frantically started searching for my car keys. I got a new car with that damn keyless entry FOB which I lose daily. My phone jumped to life in my hand and the caller ID let me know it was a call from JayPay phone. For those few seconds it took for me to press answer, put the phone to my ear, and say hello, I basically buried JoDee. I instantly thought she overdosed. He is calling to tell me he called 911. I was surprised to hear the panicked crying of JoDee on the other end. Sobbing. Yelling. Scared to death.

Thankfully, no one was dead. And no one was relapsing (that I am aware of and if someone knows something different, keep it to yourself. No one likes a tattle- tale). Unfortunately, however, there was something awful happening. JoDee and JayPay had walked into their apartment at the precise time that it was being robbed. I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been. I can’t imagine how violating that must feel. To have your belongs rifled through, touched, and stolen by a stranger. It makes me sick just thinking about it. And, if that isn’t bad enough, he was armed with a gun. How the hell does that happen? I mean, they aren’t living in Beirut for god sakes. It was unnerving for me, so I can imagine how shook up they were. They had a lot stolen and it’s hard to recover from that. And I said I would be willing to help them anyway I could. Famous. Last. Words.

JoDee hasn’t lived at home for a year. A year ago she relapsed, went to detox, and then an after program. At the after program she got kicked out for testing positive for Suboxone, which she was not prescribed. She was home exactly one night. By the next day she had a bed in a half-way house. She begged me not to make her go. She was ready to be clean, she would do the right thing. Pleading with me not to make her leave. She just wanted to be home. Of course, as a mother that was really hard to hear. It also totally pissed me off because she was clean. She was doing the right thing. Until she wasn’t anymore. Once someone lies to you once, you always question if they are telling the truth. And, really, an addict is telling the truth in the heat of the moment. But when the dust settles, and the cravings start taking over it won’t take much to break the promise. Again. And again. It’s endless. So I drove her to that half-way house, I helped her in with her bags. She had a momentary panic attack searching for her meds, and then we said good-byes. And I drove home, alone, thinking about how we had ended up back at this place again. I vowed she was never coming home. I knew that being home was a trigger for her. Not because living at home is so horrible, or that anyone at home is using, but because it was easy for her to get away with more. I would enable her. I would make it easy for her to come and go as she pleased and my house would be a pit stop to sleep it off or start the search for the next bag.

It took me a long time to be able to understand the difference between parenting an addict and parenting a normal. A normal needs are totally different from that of a child-addict. The things that would come instinctual for me, are the opposite of what I should do. I know that I can’t let her be comfortable, or help too much. There are different lines and different boundaries. Not just for her but for me too. She was never coming home. I had decided that. Under no circumstance was she coming home to live. It would be no good for anyone. People around me often don’t understand that. When I say I can’t let my child come home I am seen as cold or uncaring and that’s ok. AC didn’t get it. He kept telling me she was best home with her family but I wouldn’t budge. When she got kicked out of that program, same thing. I stood my ground, AC thought I was nuts. Fast-forward a year, a sober-house and an apartment with her boyfriend, later and she is back home. JoDee didn’t feel safe, I said come home. I meant for a night. A few if you need more time. She came with whatever stuff they had left, filled my car a couple of times and bam….my garage is their storage unit and they are sleeping on a mattress in the living room. All things considered it has gone reasonably well. A little squabbling between siblings, a few times JoDee and I laughed so hard JayPay couldn’t stand us, but overall, livable. I don’t imagine that they will want to do this for a long period of time. I don’t imagine that we wouldn’t all kill each other, eventually. But for now, it works. And the moral to this story is…. Never say never.

The Telephone Pole

The rocking chair squeaks against the old hard-wood floor as it rocks back and forth. I was contemplating getting up, but I love that rocking chair. It’s soothing to babies, and soothing to adults. It feels like a place where nothing will change, time will freeze, and baby kitty sleeps in my lap. I keep rocking, as I look out the window. The Japanese cherry blossom tree on the front yard only partially bloomed. It has been dying for years, but when it does bloom it is so beautiful, I can’t stand the thought of cutting it down. This year it bloomed over most of the tree but the flowers only lasted a day. Instead of the two weeks we are usually afforded. I still can’t remove it. I shift my weight, a fleeting thought of standing up is running through my head, but baby kitty stretches his front paws as though to say do it and your dead. As I settle back in the chair, begin rocking again, I see the end of the driveway. Our driveway has seen many cars, and many faces, and many feet in the last few years. That driveway has stood the test of snow, rain, blazing sun. It has oil stains, tire marks, and paint splatter. Beyond the driveway, away from the house, is a fence. And a sidewalk. Next to the sidewalk, off to the side so not to block the path of a person using it, a telephone pole. That telephone pole is what has my attention.


I remember the day like it was yesterday. Or today. It was hot for September that year. Even in the evening. It wasn’t cooling down like it normal would in New England. There was no bite of cool breeze. It was as though the universe was expelling my anger in the form of unseasonal heat. But I didn’t even notice it. Another day had been spent working (or trying at least) after spending an exhausting amount of time finding someone to stay with JoDee since I couldn’t leave her alone. I had picked her up from the place she was being “drug-sat” and was making dinner while she was sitting on the couch, playing with her brothers Ipod. I was sick. I was so desperate. I was so naïve in those days. I had no idea the wrath that was to come from her drug addiction. I wavered between crying and wanting to punch the face off anyone who came within arm’s length of me. I don’t remember what I was making for dinner, I don’t remember even eating back then, but I do remember AC coming in from work and immediately telling me she shouldn’t be using Jared’s Ipod. I told him that she was playing games, to give her some space, for god sakes. He said that girl can get on the internet with a microwave if it meant getting drugs. He was right.


I walked in the living room and knew from the look on her face, it was bad. We sat down on the couch with her, him on one side and me on the other. She knew she was screwed. I took the Ipod from her hand, and saw the thread of inbox messages between her and him. Bring me drugs. No. Yes. Your mother will see me. I don’t care, I can’t take it, I’m so sick (she was), I’m dying (she wasn’t). You will feel better soon. No I won’t. Later in the thread he agreed to drop of heroin, an arm band and a needle with a lighter near the telephone pole. As soon as I read it, I ran down the driveway, around the maple tree with the roots sticking out of the ground in the corner. I saw him. He saw me. He ran. I ran after him. Seconds are seconds. They go by in an instant but sometimes seconds are minutes, or hours, or years. Those few seconds had some much packed into them. Do I chase him? And if catch him, then what? Beat him up? Call the police? Call the police! I stopped in my tracks. He ran to his car, peeled out and took off. I walked in the house, telling AC and JoDee nothing was there. He must have not dropped it. I text message AC that there was a cigarette box by the pole that I watched him put there. I wanted AC to check it. He casual walked out of the house, and retrieved the box. It was a Newport Cigarette box. I watched him throw it by the telephone pole. I watched him deliver a box with a tiny baggy filled with brown powdery substance, a needle with an orange cap, a spoon that looked like something that was from the 1800’s and went a couple of rounds with the garbage disposal, with a small blue bic lighter. We didn’t want to take anything out of the box because thought they might finger print it (clearly we have seen one too many episodes of CSI or any number of shows on Investigation Discovery!) so we left everything in the box and delivered it to the police station.


Eventually he was picked up for distribution. I did not know that it was illegal to distribute drugs if you weren’t selling them. I didn’t even think they would arrest him, I thought it would just put him on the radar. I can’t say I wasn’t thrilled. I was. I was elated that he was arrested. I was celebrating it as a huge success. Score one for us. The realization that I would eventually have to tell JoDee that I had him arrested was sort of secondary at the time. I had brought Jared’s Ipod to the police station so they could take pictures of all the messages between them. She had no idea. She didn’t know for days. It took me a while to even tell her. It was a huge struggle. I didn’t want to tell her. I didn’t want her to know he was in jail because I was concerned that she would get angry and run away. Though, I’m not sure where she wouldn’t go since I had her only drug ally arrested. AC thought we should tell he because she was going to keep trying to reach out to him. He thought we should tell her that we mean business and we would have her locked up too, which I would have. Eventually, after we had come home from a meeting where I listen to the speaker talk about honesty and being honest with yourself and your family, I decided I had to tell her. And, to her credit, she took it much better than I thought she would. Undoubtedly she was angry. She was nervous that he would think she set him up. I told her that I made it perfectly clear that I wanted to police to tell him I was responsible for locking him up. I told them I would testify if I had too, which I didn’t, I just had to write an affidavit. After a few minutes, she was quiet. And still. I was afraid to even ask what she was thinking. She must have read my mind, because she said she was glad he was in jail. That maybe in jail he would get the help he needed. And knowing he was locked up, maybe she could get the help she needed.

It would be really nice if that was the end of the story. But we all know jail didn’t fix him, and her being away from him didn’t fix her. A few weeks after that incident JoDee relapsed again, and then she went to rehab that she would subsequently run from a few weeks after that. So much has happened in the years since that event. I have called the police on that particular person no less than 3 more times. JoDee is still an addict and he is too. I have no idea if he is in active addiction or not (I think he is in jail again). Occasionally, on days like this, I stare out the window, at that telephone pole, and think of all the things I thought would be compared to what actually was. It reminds me that addiction is a process for all involved. Not just the addict. This was a process for me. For me to realize that I have to stand certain grounds even though I think it will kill me. I have learned that I cannot anticipate the next “thing”, the next incident. I have no control over JoDee’s addiction, but I also have no control over anyone but myself. I have learned that parenting an adult is harder than parenting a child. And I have learned that responsibility is necessary for every single person to be truly self-accepting. When a person does not have to take responsibility for their actions, actions become decisions, decisions become choices, choices become habits and habits are hard to break.


As I sit in that rocking chair, listening to baby kitty purr in my lap, I remind myself that I am lucky. That my child has survived so far, even if has been painful and ugly. We are still lucky. Maybe that baggie of heroin was laced with something. Maybe that would have been the time she died. I will never know, but I think about it every time I look at that telephone pole. Kitty #2 is whining to come in and as AC opens the door he asks if I am ok. I tell him I’m fine. He says you look like you’re in outer space. He asks what I am thinking about. I open my mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. How do you vocalize all those thoughts, how do you explain that addiction might have made you a better parent. That addiction has changed our lives forever, but I feel grateful anyway. That the pole in our yard, strong and resilient, is symbolic of addiction in our family. Instead I say nothing. Somethings are just better left unsaid.

How I Met Your Cat?

Actually it’s my cat. But he wasn’t always my cat. And in fact, he is not my cat, he is my baby, my precious, the only one in the house who is allowed to wake my whenever he wants, scratch me until I bleed, demand to be fed and sleep in my space leaving me a quarter of the space needed for appropriate sleeping. The ironic thing about this is, I hate cats. Or I did. I used too. I have changed. In the past few years many things have changed, and this is one of the things that is at the top of the “Recently Changed List”. Let me expand.

As my dear, dear friends Lynnie and EJ will tell you, I always said a good cat is a dead cat. Now, before you judge or unfriend or un-blog me, let me finish. I promise it will end with repentance. It is not that I actually wanted to kill cats, or truly wanted all cats expunged from the earth. That is not at all true. I just never had cats and I was always allergic to them. They made my eyes water, nose run, sneeze and sneeze and sneeze. My ex-husband had some really good friends (I’m assuming they are still good friends, just with him, not me) that had cats or a cat. And said cat loved sleeping with their daughter. When JoDee would come home from their house, I would have to wash her pillow and blanket right away or I would suffer miserably. So I sort of felt like they torture me, I should torture them back, but in a verbal way, not actually torture them. No cats have ever been harmed in the name of my cat dislike. I promise.

Anyway, I have lived my whole life believing that I never wanted to be in the presence of cat. Ever. And nothing really ever changed to make me think differently. I have a dog. I have watched other dogs. When AC ex-wife got sick, I let his girls bring their dog (which has since passed away, no fault of mine either but still super sad) here for two weeks while she was in the hospital. I said hell to the no about their cats. I was not budging. Those cats were not coming to my house. No way, no how, fah-get- it yo. And I had no guilt about that. Then said cats got preggers. And then said cats had 4 kittens. And the kittens were cute. I saw them a couple of times when we were dropping off the girls. Yup. Cute. Cute in the way of knowing that you can hold them, cuddle a little bit, and give them back. Just like babies either before you want any or after yours are all grown. And then there was JoDee. Every ridiculous decision I have made as of late has been the result of something relative to JoDee.

JoDee was just really trying to get clean. And by really trying, I mean vocalizing it but not really following through. She was about to head off to Arizona for her first real attempt at rehab. This was when I was in the begging, bargaining and pleading stage. You know, if you stay clean I will buy you a small Caribbean island. I’m sure many can relate. So, JoDee wanted a stupid kitten. And I did not, but I said ok, if you stay clean we will take the kitten. I flew out with her in October, my aunt and uncle live in the area so they picked us up at the airport and dropped her off. About 4 weeks later, the kitten was ready to leave his mother. JoDee was at rehab, doing well, and I made a promise, so I did what I said I would, and took the damn kitten. That was a Friday. Saturday morning I got the phone call that JoDee was on the run in Arizona, smoking crystal meth. Awesome. Now I have a kitten, I didn’t want and know nothing about. I did not know jack-shit about kittens, cats or how to introduce kittens to a dog. The dog was terrified of the 2lb kitten and he is 130lbs. I was not happy. I wasn’t sleeping and when I tried to sleep the cat would jump on the bed and knead my blanket purring so loud he sounded like a boat engine. I felt like I was being motor boated by a kitten, talk about really screwing with your mind!

I spent those weeks JoDee was running amuck with no mercy to her family, sending her Facebook messages and picture of the cat, trying desperately, pathetically to leverage the stinkin’ cat as bribery to come home. I mean, I have read it in all the psych books, the getting of a new kitten always shakes addicts out of addiction. Duh!!! Even as I think about it, I am horrified at my stupidity. Reality frequently would shake its judging head reminding me a kitten will not fix this. Under any circumstances. But Denial and I were BFF’s then so I let Denial convince me that it might work. The idea of seeing beautiful Mr. Diego might make JoDee see the error of her ways and run home to my open arms swearing off drugs for life and becoming a world-famous doctor and lawyer while being a Noble Peace Prize Winner. She would of course, win the Noble Peace Prize for finding the cure for addiction. CATS!!!! Oy vey. The dumbeth run deepeth. If you have been reading this blog, even a little bit, you know that is not at all what happens. But, when JoDee did finally come home, many, many weeks later, she walked through the door, still wearing I don’t even know what because I had never seen those clothes before and they should have been burned they were so nasty, crashed on the couch, and the baby kitty, crawled up on her pillow, nuzzled her face, and fell asleep with her. It was the most precious site. She was sound asleep and the kitty crawled under the covers with her, keeping her safe.

The ironic part was how Diego and I become best buds. I did not want that cat in my house. I was dreading it. I was nasty about it. I kept telling the girls to keep “that thing away from me”. In my feeble, closed mind (hopefully the only time in my life I will refer to myself that way! I am anything but closed-minded normally!), the cat was the devil incarnate and I didn’t want him anywhere near me. The girls, who love cats and all things feline more than most humans, were worried about me hating the cat. They were worried Bud, my dog, would try to eat the cat and I wouldn’t do anything or would care. And they were sort of hoping I would send them packing with the cat so they didn’t have to watch me glaring at the cat with disdain. Until, one night. It was 2 in the morning. I was sleepless, depressed, worried and agitated. I got out of bed to watch TV in the living room where I wouldn’t bother anyone. I sat on the couch and suddenly this tiny ball of fur and claws jumped out of nowhere onto my shoulder, scaring the every lovin’ shit out of me. I yelled. He yelled. We both stared at each other, and then he did THE thing. The thing that made me love him. He licked my nose. It was the cutest little tongue, with crappy sandpaper feel, but it was so innocent and so cute. It made me think of all my kids as babies, and how much of a pain in the ass they were, but so adorable, you want to squeeze them. I sat back and baby kitty crawled onto my chest, licked my chin, started purring and feel asleep. I was hooked.

What I really love about my baby kitty is he hates everyone else. He bites, scratches, attacks and ignores everyone. But me. If I walk in the door, he runs to greet me. If I have to use the bathroom, he has to follow me in. At night he sleeps on my side, usually spread eagle on his back. I’m the only one allowed to let him scratch his back or his belly. I am the only one he seeks out to lay with during the day. If I work from home he is on my papers or on my laptop or stealing my ruler or pen. In the end, it is true love. That cat is allowed to do whatever he wants. For some reason, he has a particular hatred for Jared. He lunges for him, he swats him, scratches him and then runs from him. He is allowed. He bites SC on the nose and face. He is allowed. He scratches OC and bites her hands. He is allowed. He scratches at the basement door when he is ready to come up, even if it is the middle of the night, he is allowed. He cries when he is hungry, even if it is at 4 in the morning but he is allowed. He is allowed to do anything he wants. Always. No matter what. He wants your eye-ball? Give it to him. He wants your first-born? Hand it over. He wants to crawl up and sleep on your face? Don’t even think about moving him off! He. Is. Allowed. He is allowed because I was wrong. Cats are wonderful and lovable and beautiful. I love my cat. Maybe I’m not a cat person, maybe I’m just a Diego person, but I will be forever changed as far as my opinions on cats, for the better.