Table of Contents Skin Deep Feature 3
Tattoos Data 12
Making a Murderer Interview 15
By the Numbers: Obesity Statistics 20
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe 22
Vendor Highlight 24
Hoboscope Fun 30
Contact Director: email@example.com Media: firstname.lastname@example.org 1724 NW 4th St. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73106 405-415-8425
Find Us Online www.thecurbsidechronicle.org facebook.com/CurbsideOKC twitter.com/CurbsideOKC instagram.com/CurbsideOKC The Curbside Chronicle is a program of the Homeless Alliance Printed locally at Paragon Press in Oklahoma City
intro by Jim Downey | photos by Steven Burton Photographer Steven Burton spent over 400 hours digitally removing tattoos from former gang members to help people see beyond the ink. In his emotional series, Skin Deep: Looking Beyond Tattoos, Burton highlights the long-lasting effects that tattoos have on ex-gang members, how we as society judge them, and, ultimately,
how they judge themselves. Through his photographs, Burton aims to humanize a group of people who so often are demonized by society for their appearance. Most of the subjects photographed hadnâ€™t seen themselves without tattoos for decades, and many of them were going through the process of tattoo re-
moval in hopes of brighter futures. Burton hopes the images and personal stories of his subjects can give readers a glimpse into the lives of exgang members and inspire empathy and understanding for people to see beyond their appearance, beyond their past, and, instead, see them for who they are beneath the ink.
I love seeing my boy, my five-year-old boy. I love him to death and I’d do anything for him. He’s already trippin’ out on my tattoos. He’s asking, ‘Why do you have horns?’ I don’t know what to tell him. Sometimes something I think in my head is, ‘Maybe if I just don’t be around, he won’t be like me. He won’t be nothing like me because he won’t see me like how I am.’ But then again, a kid wants their dad in their life.
When I was younger, my dad, I used to see him with tattoos everywhere. And he looked like he was big and bad. I used to see him with guns on him and stuff. I felt like I needed to be like him because that’s my dad, you know? He didn’t want me to look like this, but he was always on drugs so he couldn’t stop me.
To see that picture without the tattoos - I just seen it like that was the beginning of my life.
I’ll sit down in the bus and no one will want to sit next to me. They’d rather stand up than sit next to me. Watching old ladies and they start grabbing their purse. I’m like, ‘Dude relax. I’m coming home from work.’ But there’s always going to be judgement.
People who donâ€™t know me probably think I am smoking drugs, have a gun, or that I am violent, but I am not like that no more. I left that all behind. I left all of that behind.
People stare at me in the streets a lot. I am a good person, you know? I have a good heart.
data provided by The Harris Poll
70,000,000 the number of American adults who have at least one tattoo.
of those with tattoos have more than one.
The most tattooed region in the U.S. is the
the amount of money Americans spend on tattoos each year.
has the highest percentage of tattooed employees of any industry.
34% OKLAHOMA 29% 87% is one of the THREE WORST states for tattoo discrimination.
of American adults have a tattoo.
of Americans see those with tattoos as less respectable. of Americans see those with tattoos as less intelligent.
of employers reported that a visible tattoo is enough to disqualify a potential employee or college applicant.
the amount of money Americans spend each year on tattoo removal.
the average cost to remove a small tattoo.
of people are getting or have gotten a tattoo removed.
of people have some regret after getting their tattoo.
The percentage of Americans who have a tattoo covered up:
MAKING A MURDERER EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH STEVEN AVERY’S DEFENSE LAWYERS, DEAN STRANG AND JERRY BUTING by Laura Kelly | photos courtesy of INSP.ngo This time last year, few people outside of Wisconsin could have told you anything about Manitowoc County. But on December 18, Netflix’s true crime series Making a Murderer hit. Suddenly, people all over the world had passionate and detailed views about the area’s sheriff’s department, which had prosecuted Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey for the murder of Teresa Halbach. Avery’s lawyers, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, emerged as unlikely heroes in the wake of the gripping documentary and are now filling theatres internationally with their speaking tour. They took a minute to chat with the International Network of Street Papers about how they hope to use the popularity of Making a Murderer to start a conversation about criminal and social justice.
Making a Murderer focuses on Manitowoc County man Steven Avery’s wrongful conviction for the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen and his subsequent arrest and conviction for the murder of Teresa Halbach. The 10-part series is a damning reflection on the flaws of the US justice system and a powerful indictment of the role of class, power, poverty, and educational opportunity on legal outcomes. In an otherwise bleak tale, Strang and Buting are the sole beacon of light. When Strang breaks down partway through the series, saying he almost wishes that Avery were guilty because otherwise the injustice he has faced is too unbearable, it is the most inspiring a lawyer has been since Atticus Finch’s closing speech in To Kill a Mockingbird. Both men’s passion for justice ig-
nited a vast following of fans - enough to fill venues across the US and UK and turned both into very unlikely pinups. Though perplexed at this “crazily improbable” turn of events, both are determined to use the publicity to open up a frank debate on the reality of human attempts to provide justice. Recognizing the particular problems that street paper vendors - and others experiencing housing insecurity - face with the law, they were particularly keen to attack these issues with INSP. “I didn’t realize there was an international network before,” says Strang. “That’s amazing.” Speaking to our global readers, who care enough to buy their local street paper, is a good start. After all, they point out, criminal justice starts with social justice. 15
Why have you decided to take time away from your day job to go on tour? Jerry Buting: After the documentary came out, there were so many issues that it raised – unanswered questions not just about the case, but issues of justice. One of the things that we saw pretty quickly was that even though the media would interview us and ask questions about some of those issues, the reports that would end up on TV and in print would be fluff. They didn’t even scratch the surface. We talked it over, and we thought it would be great if we could have a forum where we could bring in the public and have them ask us questions and talk about justice. Dean Strang: A long-form conversation. Jerry Buting: Yes, a long-form conversation. And we did that - 90 minutes in Milwaukee. All of a sudden, all of these other cities said, ‘Hey, we’d like to do that too.’ It just sort of grew on its own, organically. Then some tour promoters came up with the idea of doing a longer-term thing in America. And now we’ve gone foreign as well. Do you feel like your discussions will have an impact, once people leave the theatre? Dean: I really do hope so. That’s the point - to foster dialogue about problems in the administration of justice that transcend one county or one time in the United States and, to a very large extent, transcend all national borders. Because no matter where on this Earth we are trying to administer justice, it’s human beings who are the entire composition of every institution of justice that any country has ever devised. So, many of the weaknesses or frailties of any system of justice are universal. Ultimately, these things don’t change unless the public understands what the professionals on the inside are doing and what the risks for uncertainty or unreliability really are. Again, those risks tend to transcend national boundaries. They often concern class. Class gets linked to race and ethnicity. Poverty is linked to race and ethnicity. 16
Jerry Buting presents evidence during Avery’s trial.
We’re hoping that members of the public who found themselves engaged by Serial the podcast, or by Making a Murderer, or by The Jinx, or by Paradise Lost, or whatever these interesting and well-done true crime entrants are, we’re hoping that they’ll take that interest and challenge themselves to look beyond one case that happened at a distant time and place and to look at their own locale and to the future. We hope they’ll look at what they can do to get involved in advancing, not just criminal justice, but social justice. When you agreed to be filmed for Making a Murderer, you can’t have known how big the series would be. Would you have thought any differently about agreeing to be filmed, if you’d realized how much of an impact it would have on your lives? Dean: I wonder if it would have scared me off, at the time, had there been any way at all to anticipate this. I hope not because - though unexpected and
widely improbable - it’s been a great gift to be able to participate as a voice in this discussion. For myself, I wonder because I remember once we’d decided to cooperate with the filmmakers, thinking, ‘Ok, they’re bright and they’re hardworking but they are, after all, students. They are talking about making a documentary.’ I remember reassuring myself that if they sell their movie, it’ll be 110 minutes in a theatrical release in some art house in Greenwich Village and 17 people will ever see it. I remember telling myself that. Hahaha! I got that one wrong. Jerry: At the most, we thought there might have been a DVD that was way down in the catalogue of mail order through Netflix or Blockbuster. There were really only a few documentaries like that at the time… and really only one that had given the defense perspective - a film called The Staircase that very few people have seen.
wonderful ethic of our profession that says sometimes you do things for free or sometimes you take a loss, because it’s the right thing to do. Jerry: And you have to think, it’s not just the economic cost of working on a case this big. They are black holes for the rest of your practice. You get all-consumed in that. It also affects your family life, and we knew that. All these things had to be sorted out before I agreed to participate. I already had another big Innocence Project case going on already that I was doing pro bono. Dean: Yeah, and you had kids in high school. You certainly both looked like you cared beyond the paycheck, that there was an element of it being the right thing to do… Did it have a big impact on both of your lives at the time?
We heard in the program about there being hundreds of thousands available for Avery’s defense. It sounds like a lot of money, but, as I understand it is actually not that lucrative to take on these sorts of cases. How hard do you have to think before taking on a job like that? Dean: There was enough money here that our partners were not going to banish us from our law firms. Was it going to be a loss on paper? Yes. Was it going to be a disastrous loss? No. It’s not just the short-term economic decisions that govern whether you’re going to take a case like that. Part of it is, is the case compelling to me? Do I like the client? Do I think there’s a potential injustice that’s developing? In the long run, a case that gets heavy publicity can potentially advance a lawyer’s career. In the short term, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more work. But in the long run, if your colleagues generally think that you handled yourself well - win or lose - it can tend to burnish your reputation and lead to referrals over time. There’s also the
Jerry: No question. For two months we had an apartment that was two hours from our homes. For most of the two months, we were there. I would come home for less than 24 hours every weekend and that was it. I would try to get home for Saturday mornings when the kids were having their basketball games or whatever.
judges are elected. And try as they might, it’s very hard for an elected judge to throw a confession out that could mean a whole case might get dismissed. I frankly never expected that either one of these defendants, if they lost at the trial, would succeed at appeal until they got to federal court, where it is very different because the judges are appointed. They don’t have to run for election and they can therefore make the decision on the law rather than whether their opinion would be politically unpopular. Dean: What I’d like to add to that - not only do I think that the federal court came to the right outcome, I think it came to the right outcome in the right way. Even people who disagree with the outcome probably would acknowledge this federal court in the right way. It was indisputably a thoughtful decision, a factually well-documented decision, a careful decision, and a thorough decision. The judge gave full and fair consideration to every argument the state was making, every argument the defense was making, and what prior courts had said that bound him. It was a very good piece of judicial craft, whether you agree with the outcome or not. I do. I think it was the right outcome, but it is important that it was done in the right way.
After the documentary came out, there were so many issues that it raised – unanswered questions not just about the case, but issues of justice. Brendan Dassey [Steven Avery’s nephew who was also convicted for Halbach’s murder, in a separate trial] has recently had his murder conviction overturned, on the basis that his confession was coerced. He is to be released within 90 days unless the state wins a retrial. Do you think this is the right decision? Jerry: Absolutely. In fact, we were very disappointed that the state courts never did. Although not terribly surprised, because in Wisconsin those state court
Are you convinced that both Avery and Dassey are innocent of Halbach’s murder? Dean: ‘Convinced of innocence’ is not the way I’ve ever put it. I’ve never been at all convinced of guilt, and I’ve suspected innocence. But I’m not omniscient. I wasn’t there. In the end, this is part of what we are trying to talk to the public about. Guilt or innocence is really not the modest question that the criminal justice system can hope to answer. The modest - but critically important - question for the criminal
justice system and for human affairs is; is the state able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? So that, with whatever level of uncertainty remains, we’re comfortable with taking somebody’s liberty for the rest of his life. I think that both of us are utterly convinced that this case was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
public interest, I think, in exploring where the professionals in the criminal justice system succeed and where they fail. And if they fail, why? And whether those are failures that are structural and therefore likely to repeat.
Making a Murderer and your subsequent tour have shone a spotlight on serious problems in the criminal justice system but what can the readers of this street paper do?
The point is not for the entire world to remember Teresa Halbach’s death. The
Jerry: One of the things that is universally a problem is funding for indigent defense, or legal aid. It is chronically underfunded all over the world and getting worse in most places. All you have to do is go into a courthouse and you’ll see that the poor people are the ones who are most often the defendants in a case.
You certainly can say, I’ll never commit a serious crime. You cannot say that you’ll never be accused of one. Did you ever worry that Making a Murderer made Teresa Halbach’s death into water-cooler entertainment? Jerry: Some of it did concern us. That’s why we wanted to do a speaking tour. It can be dealt with in a very shallow way, or you can deal with the real issues. There have been people who have taken it very seriously - there are people on social media, on Reddit, where they’ve just gone down in the rabbit hole. Some of it is bizarre, but a lot is not. Some of it is very well thought out. All in all, I think it has not been abused as entertainment. There is some entertainment aspect to it; otherwise you’re not going to get people interested in watching it.
point is to remember that she’s one of thousands of people who are murdered every year, or somehow made victim of crime. The issues really are very broad. I think a responsible true crime effort - whether book, broadcast, or movie really can advance an important public discussion about how well we’re doing at administering justice.
Approximately 80% of cases are people who cannot even afford a lawyer. So if the people that are defending them are like some of the other attorneys that you saw in this film - Brendan’s representation was not that good - then you’re going to get a much higher likelihood of wrongful convictions. The support of the public for defenders of people who cannot afford their own is very important.
Dean: The importance of any victim’s experience, or any defendant’s experience, or their families’ experiences, is not a voyeuristic peak at their grief or their pain. And it’s certainly not reveling in the details of somebody’s death. The importance of any victim, or any defendant, or any family member’s experience is what it tells us about how well we’re doing in the criminal justice system to provide justice for victims, for families, for defendants, and ultimately, for all of us. You certainly can say, I’ll never commit a serious crime. You cannot say that you’ll never be accused of one. And you certainly cannot say that you’ll never be the victim of one. So you can wind up involuntarily needing whatever effort justice lawyers and judges and police officers can muster. There is a great 18
Actor Kristen Bell tweeted her love of the lawyers with this image that later went viral.
Dean: This is what I’d add to that. The person from whom you just bought this newspaper probably lives every day with the risk that if it rains while he or she is sleeping, they are going to get wet. They are experiencing housing insecurity. When you can’t count on a roof over your head, you immediately become more vulnerable to crime. If you are living on the street, you immediately draw more attention from the police, not because you are a potential victim, but because you are assumed to be a potential risk to the public. So you draw an unhealthy and difficult level of attention from the police - difficult for any of us to live with. Most of us couldn’t live with daily police scrutiny. You are much more likely to get swept up in the criminal justice system as a victim or defendant. Moreover, when you are insecure about your housing - when you’re trying to live under a bridge, or under a lean-to by a tree, or on a heating grate - your sense of self erodes very quickly and with that, your mental health. Once your mental health erodes, you may start self-medicating, or go back to using drugs or abusing alcohol. Your prospects then, again, of becoming a criminal defendant or becoming a victim are even more elevated. So if you just bought this street paper and are worried about criminal justice, you need to worry about why the people you walk by, and have simple transactions with every day, can’t take for granted a roof over their head or their next meal. That’s where justice begins. Not in the courthouse but out on the street corner where you bought this paper. It begins in trying to make sure we are reducing the number of people who are not secure in their housing, not secure in where their food is coming from, and don’t have adequate access to mental healthcare provision.
That’s where justice begins. Not in the courthouse but out on the street corner where you bought this paper.
BY THE NUMBERS: OBESITY data provided by United Way of Central Oklahoma graphics by Shelbi Rosa
OBESITY IN OKLAHOMA BY AGE
OBESITY IN OKLAHOMA BY SEX
OBESITY IN OKLAHOMA BY RACE & ETHNICITY
Oklahoma ranks the SECOND WORST in the U.S. for fruit and vegetable consumption
OBESITY IN CENTRAL OKLAHOMA BY COUNTY
The adult Hypertension rate is 37.5%, the NINTH HIGHEST in the U.S.
The rate of adult Diabetes is 12%, the SEVENTH HIGHEST in the U.S.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie by Brittyn Howard, @localrootsdietitian
Brittyn Howard is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in the Oklahoma City area. Brittyn’s blog, Local Roots, advocates for whole-food, plant-based nutrition that nourishes the whole body down to the roots. This includes fresh, organic, pure ingredients that promote holistic healing and well-being. For more recipes and meal prep ideas, follow Local Roots on Instagram @localrootsdietitian or at brittynhowardrdn.com. Healthy pumpkin pie anyone? Or wait, let me rephrase this.... pumpkin pie for BREAKFAST anyone? Seriously the answer to having your pumpkin pie and eating it too. No added sugars, no artificial ingredients, made in under 10 minutes, and so, so delicious!
1 frozen banana, peeled
1/2 cup puréed organic pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg or pumpkin spice. Cardamom would be delicious as well!
Blend together bananas, pumpkin purée and almond milk until smooth, adding almond milk as needed.
Add chia + hemp seeds and all of your spices and blend until smooth.
Pour into chilled mug, top with coco nut, chia, or cinnamon sticks.
Calories: 360 | Protein: 10 g | Fiber: 30 g Carbs: 70 g | Fat: 10 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g Vitamin A: 384% DV | Iron: 40% DV Calcium: 56% DV | Vitamin C: 26% DV 22 8
SUNDAY DECEMBER 11 TH
LOCAL SHOPPING LIVE MUSIC FULL BAR KIDS CRAFTS GIFT WRAPPING FREE ENTRY
12PM-5PM - FARMERS PUBLIC MARKET - 311 S KLEIN
Meet Chad compiled by Ranya Oâ€™Connor | photos by Sarah Powers
Chad sells The Curbside Chronicle on the corner of May Ave. and NW 39th St. in Oklahoma City. On the following pages, Chad talks about his long-term battle with addiction, living in a motel for four years, and how incredible it feels to regain his sobriety. Chad recently got certified as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist and is now serving as a Peer Support Specialist at OCARTA Recovery Center. Chad is determined to use his sobriety to help others coming out of addiction too. 24
Where are you from? I was born in Houston and moved up here with my mom when I was five. I’ve lived up here for pretty much my whole life in the Mid-Del area. I went to school at Townsend and Kerr in Del City. My childhood was happy. I was surrounded by love and support.
What was school like for you? I did pretty well in school. I’ve always been wellread and a decent student. I did have some troubles growing up legally, and by the time I was fourteen, I was expelled from school for a year.
My junior year, I started experimenting. I was drinking and smoking weed. And then I got plugged into some harder drugs and started selling. I dropped out March of my senior year to sell cocaine. School interfered with my money. Four months later, I was a full-blown drug addict. It was many years before I admitted it to anyone else, but I knew before that summer was over that I had a serious drug problem.
Why’d you drop out of school? I didn’t think I needed school anymore. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I was going to be this drug lord and everything was going to be okay. Little did I know…
How did you get into selling cocaine? There were five or six of us that all smoked pot together and hung out. Then one of the guys got plugged in with someone a little higher up, and he started giving him cocaine. He needed help selling it, so he recruited us as hustling partners to help get clients. I was about 16 years old. I made enough money that I thought everything was going to be okay. Little did I know that just several months later, what I was doing as social would turn into an all day, every day thing.
qa Chad’s desk at OCARTA Recovery Center, where he works as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist.
Why’d you start using drugs? It started with liquor. My first experience with drinking was when my buddy and I figured out how to steal beer. We were just doing it to be cool because the girls would get a kick out of it. And that’s how it started. I was about 14 or 15. When I felt the sensation of alcohol come over me, it relaxed everything that felt like those general teenage pressures. It was a gate, and it opened up. And I learned by using a substance, it could alter my mindset. I got addicted to anything that would alter my mood. And then when there were no repercussions and we got away with it, I thought there were no consequences for my actions.
Little did I know that just several months later, what I was doing as social would turn into an all day, every day thing.
What was life like after you dropped out of high school and started selling? I didn’t last long selling because everything I had in my possession was going up my nose. I went from 180 lb. to 108 lb. in 90 days. I was going weeks upon weeks without eating more than a cracker or two. I’d started using crank and there’s no eating on crank. I was broke out from picking at myself all the time. It was a sad existence. But I didn’t know how to stop. By the time I was 19, I overdosed. My heart stopped. They had to use the paddles on me, and even that wasn’t enough to stop me. I got out of the hospital and the following day, I was using again.
... everything I had in my possession was going up my nose. I went from 180 lb to 108 lb in 90 days.
After a while, I started stealing stuff. I’m writing hot checks. I was doing anything I could to make money. I went and opened a bunch of checking accounts and got signature loans. I destroyed my credit trying to feed my addiction. Then I got introduced to some guys and started doing a little driving for them. I’m taking these guys out to do burglaries in the nighttime – unoccupied buildings. We’re not trying to hurt nobody. We’re taking items out and we’re trading them or selling them for drugs.
Did anyone ever get hurt? It was all nonviolent. I wasn’t trying to hurt nobody. I was just trying to feed my addiction. There were times I brought guns in and rope and duck tape. And I prayed on those nights that nobody would be in one of those buildings. But I also knew I wasn’t going to stop.
I had no conscious for anything I was doing. I didn’t understand that I was robbing people of their sense of security. They get this little glass door and twist a lock and think that they’re safe. And I was taking that from them. I didn’t understand that. When I was in the height of my addiction, I didn’t care what I did or what I took from people. None of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was feeding that addiction.
Were you ever caught? Eventually, things caught up to me, and I served five years for burglary and possession charges. Then I got out and went to prison a second time. I’ve served close to ten years incarcerated now.
When did you get out? I get out in 2010 and am living in a sober living home to change my life. Then I start doing door-to-door sales for a community builder and a roofing company. I was doing really well. I had put down a chunk of money to do a rent-to-own, but I did it with a private homeowner. There was no financing with a bank or anything. I gave him a chunk of money and was going to pay him every month for about eight years until I paid it off. Then it would have been mine. But I end up in a wage battle with my employer and about two weeks late on my house payment. He takes it back from me, so I get evicted. I stayed under a bridge for a little while in Midwest City. And then I start living in motels. I was in a motel for four years altogether.
Chad stands in front of OCARTA Peer Recovery Center.
The lounge area of OCARTA Peer Recovery Center.
What’s it like living in a motel? On average, it’s 50 to 60 dollars a day, just to have someplace to lay your head. And we’re not talking about nice motels. Somebody got killed on my porch at one of the motels I lived at. My door was part of the crime scene. It wasn’t uncommon to see gang fights and prostitution. It’s a rough life. You’re constantly using all your money to afford shelter for another night. It’s really hard to save for a deposit to get out of the motel.
And the money is due by 11AM or pack your stuff. I had to earn trust. I stored my stuff in the front office for two months. We literally had to pack up an entire room every day and bring it down to the office while we tried to get enough money for another night. After several months of this, they eventually let me leave my stuff in the room.
What was the hardest part? The privacy. My mom had left an abusive relationship and was living with me at the time. And there were times I wanted to come home and just be alone. I’m a 37-year-old man. I don’t want to live in a room with my mother.
How did you get involved with Curbside? I had been panhandling for four years. I didn’t want to panhandle anymore because panhandling was part of my usage. I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I was tired. I was tired of living in a motel with my mom. I was tired of having no privacy. I was sick and tired of every facet of my life. And things started to make sense to me. If you want your life back, then go out there and get your life back. I realized I needed a job, so I came to Curbside.
What happened after you joined Curbside? Since I’m selling these magazine and I’ve got a job, I want to get my life together. I decide I need to get myself in a recovery center. And I start going to OCARTA for recovery. That’s when my life started to change at a super rapid pace. I chased my recovery like I used to chase dope. And when I did that, my life changed. I look great. I feel great. I’m happy. Curbside and OCARTA changed my life.
What’s recovery like? OCARTA takes a holistic approach to recovery. We offer yoga classes and anger management and strengthening families and parenting. If you can get each area of your life well, chances are you’re not going to go back to drugs and alcohol. And that’s really what’s worked for me. My mentor was good at meeting me where I was. He had twelve years sober, but he was able to talk to me like he was two months sober. He asked questions that made me think about what it meant for me to recover. To me, it is more than just staying away from drugs and alcohol. It’s about helping the broken person I am inside. Learning how to be honest, how to live with integrity, how to be responsible. Learning how to be persistent and consistent. Those two words are the backbone of my recovery. If I can’t be consistent and persistent in what I do, I’m going to fail.
I chased my recovery like I used to chase dope. And when I did that, my life changed.
How does it feel being sober? I have seven months sober now. This is the longest I’ve been sober. It’s better than any high I’ve ever had. I’m very grateful. I was so scared about what would happen. I didn’t know what it was like to not live with drugs and alcohol. Drugs were my life.
There was no end in sight living in a motel. To be presented with opportunities. To be given the benefit of the doubt when I’m not the guy who deserves the benefit of the doubt. For the first time in my life, I’m doing what I said I’d do and when I said I’d do it. To live with integrity. I don’t know how to describe how good it feels to feel like a normal person again.
What are your plans for the future? I just got certified as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist and am working as a Peer Support Specialist at OCARTA now. I can only see things going up from here. My plan is to go back to school and get a bachelor in psychology and a masters degree in drug and alcohol counseling. I want to help people like me. By helping other people, it helps me in my own recovery. I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m by no means finished. This is just the beginning of my journey into sobriety and living healthy. For me, this is my chance to give back. I’ve taken a lot from my community, but I’m not a bad guy. If you read my rap sheet, you might think I am. But I’m not the same guy I was in the past. I want to be a positive role model for other people. I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
What advice do you have for those struggling with sobriety? The dope game is completely refundable. They’ll take you back at any given time. So what do you have to lose giving it a try? You can regain your life, your family, your self-respect, and your dignity. And if that’s not for you, it will take you back.
You recently moved out of a motel and into your own place with your mom. How’s that been? I love our apartment, but it was a rough transition. After four years of homelessness, we get into an apartment on a Friday. On Tuesday night there’s an apartment fire and we lose our apartment. It was hard. It was like being given a taste of freedom and having it taken back. I had my own room and could shut my door. It almost felt like a cruel joke. I thought maybe it wasn’t meant for us to have an apartment. It was discouraging, but I didn’t get high. There was no reason to. After a couple weeks, we were able to get into another apartment. Now we have a full set of furniture. We have a real home now. We’re starting to talk about decorating for Christmas and what we want to do for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a family dinner, even though it’s just my mom and me. It’s exciting for us to get to talk about cooking a turkey. My mom and I’ve been talking about some of my late grandma’s recipes to try. I feel like a kid again.
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Mr. Mysterio is not a licensed astrologer, a trained sherpa, or an adopted Doobie Brother. You can follow Mr. Mysterio on Twitter @MrMysterio.
by Mr. Mysterio
Thanks, Scorpio! I heard Thanksgiving was coming up, so I thought I’d start giving thanks right away. You can have that one. Thanks! Whoa! That one just popped out. It is a great time of year to start expressing your thankfulness. And it turns out it’s super easy. Just start throwing those puppies around wherever you can find space for them. Oh, and thanks again!
The Pilgrims were an interesting bunch. They were some of the first Europeans to really make a go of it in North America, and I guess that took some doing. But what’s always impressed me most about the Pilgrims is how they put buckles on absolutely everything. Buckles on their hats. Buckles on their shoes. They were really big bucklers. It’s a reminder, Sagittarius, that even if you feel underprepared for the coming winter, you can still buckle-down and give it your all.
Gustave Eiffel is best known as the guy who made that big tower in Paris. He’s second-best known as the guy who helped design the Statue of Liberty in New York. Two big monuments. One little guy. It’s enough to make a Capricorn like you feel underappreciated. Listen, just because you haven’t built your monument yet doesn’t mean you aren’t doing memorable work.
A recent study indicated that people who sing for at least nine minutes every day are happier than people who do not. I’m not sure if this study shows that singing more makes you happier or that being happy makes you sing more. In any case, it couldn’t hurt to put in your nine minutes on the way home in the car just in case.
They don’t call it “stuffing” for nothing, Pisces. I mean, I guess they call it that because it’s traditionally stuffed inside the turkey, but I was going for more of a “you’ll be stuffed” after you eat a bunch of traditional Thanksgiving foodstuffs thing. The point is, Pisces, sometimes we all indulge in too much of a good thing. That’s ok. Just be honest with yourself about whether it’s a once a year stuffing, or the twice a day kind.
I’ve heard this story before, Aries. You were just looking for some light reading, so you picked up something from the Young Adult section. Just a little post-apocalyptic sci-fi romance to keep you distracted. Then you bought the next book. Then the next. Now you’re camping outside a movie theater in a costume at midnight so you can get a decent seat for the premier of the new movie based on the books. Don’t look so embarrassed, Aries. There’s no guilt in guilty pleasures. Enjoy yourself sans shame.
The holidays are all about family, Taurus. But, then again, so is The Walking Dead. It’s just the simple and touching story of a father and son walking through a hopeless deathscape with nothing but their strength and ability to compromise to keep them safe from the living corpses that surround them. So, I guess it isn’t too different from the scene at your Thanksgiving dinner table, Taurus. If holiday meals are hard for you, just remember that if you can just make it through one more, you get a long break.
Pumpkin spice is so divisive these days. Some people love it. Some people get really mad at people who love it. Some people probably hate it, but that doesn’t seem to play into the discussion much. Personally, I think it’s great, but we all need to admit that pumpkin spice is merely a way of paying tribute to something that is indisputably great. That, Gemini, is pumpkin pie. Indulge in the real thing this week.
You’ve heard it said that you must be kind to each person you meet because “everyone is fighting a hard battle.” That’s true, Cancer, you never know what other people are going through. This week, though, I want you to take it one step further. Be kind to yourself. You are fighting a hard battle and there’s no room right now for beating yourself up.
I’ve heard you complaining about how you don’t have enough time. Your time is all taken up with important things and that’s why you don’t do the things you really love. Well, that’s one way to tell the story, Leo. But what about the time you spend getting all caught up on that TV show you don’t even really like. What about time you spend clicking links to open articles you never even finish reading. That could be your time. Cut out the fluff and do what you love.
What could be easier to handle than a balloon, Virgo? All you have to do is just hold the string and they float. So why are you having so much trouble with yours? Well, I guess the balloons in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade often take as many as 90 trained handlers to keep them on course. Maybe it’s not that you’re doing it wrong. Maybe you just need a few more sets of hands on the ropes.
First it was all about Viktor Frankenstein – the brilliant and obsessed genius who only wanted to create life. Then we obsessed about the monster – the lonely, half-formed nearly-man who just wanted somebody to love. Now everybody’s talking about Igor–the sidekick lab assistant with a tragic flaw. I think we’re running out of characters, Libra. Find a hero this week. If you can’t find one, be one.