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In The House…

Safe Passage is actually a traditional Spanish-style stucco house nestled in a hilly, nearly-gentrified stuccoed neighborhood with manicured front lawns and sand and concrete back yards.

Twenty years ago, this ‘hood was a gangsta’ music video staple; the infamous Crenshaw District. Today the biggest nuisance is the neighbor’s spastic barking dog that never sleeps and the leathery Mexican who’s probably a lot younger than he looks who sells  “Hot Tomales! Hot Tomales! Hot Tomales!” from a rickety shopping cart he pushes from sunrise to sunset- which I discovered is when he performs his night job of selling oranges and flowers near the I-10 entrance ramp.

Next door to Safe Passage is the companion men’s halfway house. They have a common living area with flat screen tv and satellite. Here in the women’s house  there’s no such luxury. Its’ each girl for herself in the T.V. department. No common area…just a converted house full converted bedrooms.

There’s no sign outside that broadcast to the neighbors that the women  here are a bunch of broken, broke and broken-down spirits who spend the early morning attending mandated  A-A Meetings, the early afternoon sleeping and half the night succumbing to old street habits-panhandleing and digging through trash for aluminum cans.

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From News to Blues

I Haven’t…

I can count on one hand the number of times I tried to get high on Marijuana…and failed:

(1.) Early 1997 Evansville, Ind. I was a cub reporter for the ABC affiliate in town. I smoked some “Medicinal” weed with my one of my co-workers to celebrate the remission of his Lymphoma.  I didn’t like him much, but for some reason, he invited me to share his moment. He got mellow and joyfully weepy, I got joyful watching him weep. I had misjudged him.

(2.) Summer  1998 Sanibel Island, Florida. I was a rising reporter/anchor for the CBS station in Southwest Florida. I was smoking with the crush du  jour  who promised his “shit” was “tight.”  Strange words for a young corporate white guy, but hey, I’ve been called an “Uppity Black Chick” who am I to judge?

(3.) Indian Summer Sept. 11 2001 New York City. News had kicked me to the curb and I had found out in Feb of 2001 that Pink Slips are not really pink. I  moved to NYC just one week prior to  9/11/01.   I was sitting in the stairwell of a dilapidated building on 8th Ave. near Times Square that no longer exists now. I was smoking with my new friend, a Bus Boy at the restaurant where I had begun working to pay the rent. His name was Earland- a smiley black surfer dude (really) with a huge afro whose dealer lived in a pre-famous Madonna’s former crib (circa 1970-something).  Puffing among the ghosts of pot/crack/coke/heroin heads past, It felt as if anything could happen and anything was possible- even though Manhattan had sank into a firey pit just days earlier. I was was no longer a local celebrity defined by my glossy job. I was anonymous, careerless and fearless.

I Don’t…

I drink casually. I’ve suffered many throbbing hangovers and in my lifetime I’ve puked up about $200 worth of over-priced club/lounge/pub cocktails purchased by hopeful hornies at said establishments. A cocktail goes for at least $12. That’s not very many drinks. In a word, I don’t drink much.

I Was…

Roll Tide. I am a graduate of The University of Alabama. I have a B.S. degree  in journalism. (there’s an obvious joke there)  I worked eight years as a professional newscaster. I was an Anchor Woman. Really.  I made decent money, I was a local celebrity.  I was respected by my viewers.  Television News is a very small club to which only a few claim membership (compared to most other “normal” careers) and I was one of its members. Then suddenly…I was out.

I Am…

standing in the doorway of Safe Passages, a Christian-run halfway house for paroled women who are recovering refugees from crack cocaine addiction, alcohol addiction, abuse, prostitution, homelessness.  I am their newest tenant.

I haven’t done drugs…

I don’t drink excessively…

I was a professional career woman

I am a law-abiding citizen.

I am drowning in low self-esteem.

How did I get here?

The Economy was kicking my ass. There were shoeprints where a job, love and self-respect should have been.  I was down to my last $10 and living in a strange new city that I’m convinced is actually Hell and my options were not attractive: live in my compact car, check into a homeless shelter, or take a bed at Safe Passage– a Los Angeles-based Christian-run halfway house for recovering addicts, abuse victims and parolees.

I was not a recovering addict, victim of abuse nor a parolee. I have a university degree in journalism. But when I lay in that $400 dollar a month over-priced bed in the room that I share with two other broken women listening to them  snore, fart and wrestle with the addiction demon in their nightmares, I had to face the fact that the busted economy hadn’t landed me here. My own reckless actions  due to an abysmal lack of self-worth had landed me here and I would have to accept that fact before I could change that fact. This blog is part of that process.