What Corey Monteith’s Death Brings To Light

I Don’t watch Glee and before this weekend I had no clue who 31-year-old Corey Monteith was but, nonetheless, his death was sudden and there are thousands of friends, family, and fans who are mourning the loss. A successful young actor with a pretty girlfriend, Monteith had a lot going for him. While it’s sad to hear of his passing, the nature of his death — a fatal mixture of heroin and alcohol — grabbed my attention.

I have almost finished reading Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, a memoir of Sheff’s dealings with his son’s methamphetamine (among other things) addiction. Prior to reading this memoir, I had always thought that heroin was the most dangerous drug out there. In reality, heroin plays third fiddle internationally to meth with “…more than thirty-five million users; [making it] the most abused hard drug, more than heroin and cocaine combined” (Sheff). Cocaine rakes in 15 million international users and heroin sits at seven million.

While the majority of the book focuses on meth, heroin makes an appearance every now and then (especially when Sheff realizes his son, Nic, has worked it into his daily drug regimen). When recounting his own drug use, Sheff recalls having a roommate in college, Charles, who lived fast and partied hard. After years of partying and being reckless with what he put into his body, Charles died at 40 years of age from liver failure. As Sheff notes, “Alcohol and heroin are metabolized by the liver, meth by the kidneys,” which puts abusers of both in greater jeopardy of being victims of liver failure or accidental overdose (as with Monteith’s case).

Sheff includes this tidbit from a New York Times Magazine article by Peggy Ornstein which interviews the co-director of the UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center, Douglas Anglin: “For heroin users with a five-year history of addiction, it may take ten or fifteen years to help them come out of it, but if you start when they’re twenty-five, by the time they’re forty they’re pretty much rehabbed. If you don’t, most of them burn out by forty.” His reasoning stands true with Monteith.

According to People Magazine, Monteith was checked into a rehab facility for substance abuse that lasted just short of a month back in March of this year (People). According to his Wikipedia page he struggled with substance abuse since he was 13-years-old (although it fails to post a reference for this). In previous interviews, Monteith told reporters that he had also been in rehab when he was 19 for substance abuse as well (People). Rather than saying he continued to struggle with this problem, People goes the lighter route of just making mention of  “past struggles with substance abuse.” This isn’t an uncommon way to put it, either. Many articles, no matter the publication, refer to “past” episodes when following up on someone’s rehab stint’s. Rarely do you see reference to a struggle as ongoing.

As Sheff’s memoir as well as Anglin’s statistics make painfully clear, overcoming substance abuse takes a lot more than a month in rehab. When back in the real world, the user is faced with cues that remind them of using and presents them with the desires and urges that may trigger them to pick the habit back up. These urges are even harder to face without structure and appropriate support, often times through out-patient programs and with the help of a sponsor. Not even two weeks after getting out of rehab, Monteith and girlfriend Lea Michele were seen vacationing in Mexico (People). Correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems anything but structured and free from substances. Granted they may have had a sober trip together, but many people associate Mexico with partying, drugs, and alcohol.

However, by all means this may have been Monteith’s first time using since (or maybe even before) his last stint in rehab. Once a person stops using a substance as frequently as they used to, their tolerance is lowered. In turn, this makes it even more dangerous for the next time they decide to use considering most pick up doing the same dosages right where they left off (FOX News)

Another idea is that becoming clean can boost the user’s confidence. They feel they have control over their lives including their using and don’t see the harm in using once more if it’s not excessive. Unfortunately, this often leads to a greater relapse than the user expects. They’re not able to have control over when they stop shooting, snorting, or smoking as they thought they would. As Sheff’s son put it, “”I got cocky. It’s this trick of addiction. You think, My life isn’t unmanageable, I’m doing fine. You lose your humbleness. You think you’re smart enough to handle it.”” 

We might never know how long Corey Monteith was clean prior to his accidental but fatal overdose, nor will we know how much he really struggled with his addiction. I can only hope that his death puts into perspective just how long a struggle with addition really is and how every single day presents itself with new challenges and more obstacles the user must overcome if they want to make it. I also hope that it encourages others to seek the help they need and to continue accessing those resources before it’s too late.

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Don’t Worry, It’s Only [Temp]orary

After quitting my job without having another one in place back in February, I was living off of the left over vacation time I had gotten paid upon departure (as well as my tax refund). Soon, though, I knew I would need to find something. Applying to dozens of jobs a day wasn’t working out for me and I decided to sign up with a temp agency to pick up work here and there so I could eat. Continue reading

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New York to New England Hammered During World’s Largest Bar Crawl

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What started as day drinking between friends has rapidly grown to be much more. From New York all the way up the coasts of New England, alcohol enthusiasts are taking to their local watering holes for some early morning boozing.

Officials say the impromptu bar crawl, comprised of Corey Baker and Martin Wallis of Massachusetts, has gone viral at an unprecedented rate. “All I did was check-in on Foursquare, saying we were starting Friday off with a bar crawl, and posted the check-in on Facebook and Twitter. All of a sudden I see on the news that the whole Northeast is doing a bar crawl too,” explains Corey.

According to officials it took all but 47 minutes for the bar crawl to reach ‘viral’ levels with it showing little to no signs of slowing down. Check-ins at bars have started pouring in from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey with some even popping up further out west; all expressing their interest and support for the Friday morning bar crawl.

Local bar owners are thankful for the business garnered from this trend and hope more will join in soon. “I was debating even opening up today, what with the storm and all,” says local bar owner Anthony Dimetrio. “People began coming in, I told ’em to stay as long as they wanted but they’re doing some sort of bar crawl thing. Seems the people in town are rotating through the bars, though, so we haven’t had a dull moment yet.”

As for Corey and Martin, they are currently “four beers deep walking over to spot number three” accompanied with the hash tag #WorldwideBarCrawl. No word yet on how pubs feel about the branding.

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Unemployment: Day — Who Cares, I’m Still Unemployed

You know that groggy feeling you get after waking up from a nap? Specifically when you take a nap when it’s light outside and then wake up after the sun sets? That’s basically what unemployment feels like.

I’m starting to get nervous, I haven’t heard back from any of the 40 or so jobs I’ve applied to (all of which specifically say DON’T call us, WE’LL call you) and my money is running on empty. I’m contemplating getting a short term position, something to give me oh, I don’t know, money for food until I find a job I actually want to keep.

The problem with that plan, however, is that I’m a wimp when it comes to using people and things. If I get a job, I’d feel way too guilty to just leave when a better one comes calling. If I make an agreement to work for a company then I’m going to stick to it until things stop working out. I’m not in the market for a disposable job, is what I’m trying to say.

So, this brings me to my next idea: do some freelance or contract work in the meantime. Here’s where we run into our second problem, other than making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hanging out with cats…I don’t really have any niche skills. I can’t code, I’m not an artist, I’d like to think I can write and I know I can edit but have no credentials to prove this.

I’m stuck.

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Obligatory NASCAR Post

If you’ve lurked my past posts, you’ll realize I’m a nontraditional NASCAR fan. Today is the Daytona 500 and is the first race of the 2013 Sprint Cup series. Needless to say, I’m pumped. So, since I’m unemployed (day seven) and have nothing better to do, I figured I would blab about my illogical reasoning of what I think is going to happen this season (for those of you who are wondering, the cats are finally getting along). Alright, let’s start: Continue reading

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Unemployment: Day Three

Alternative title: Catmageddon

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Something like that

So, yesterday I went over to my mother’s apartment to help spruce some things up a bit (namely, my old bedroom and her desk). Long story short, I now have two cats! I’d post a picture of Tango, but he’s been hiding both behind and under the couch since he got here.

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Except Tango looks nothing like this

Tango is one of the cats I grew up and lived with for 12 years (he is 16 now). He is overweight, depressed, has non-cancerous growths all over his body, and has some breathing problems due to his size (he grunts). He has always fit the scaredy-cat persona due to being abused by the breeder we got him from and has never been an alpha male.

Jynxx, on the other hand, has always been my one and only since I got him when he was four months old. He has stayed over at other places without me in the past that have kitties and I’m told he’s been quite fine (more playful than anything else). Safe to say that is not the case when a stranger is on his turf.

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Good representation of Jynxx at the moment

I’m glad that he can differentiate between the two situations, but unhappy that he can’t tell that Tango is an old, fat wimp and just needs some cuddles.

This morning, however, things got a little bit interesting. I let Jynxx out of my room since he probably had to use his litter box, and we found Tango sleeping on the couch. Jynxx didn’t like that and started right up with the chirping meow he uses whenever he sees a bird out of the window.

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“I WILL eat you”

Tango resumed his behind-the-couch position and after relieving himself, Jynxx decided it was best to get in Tango’s face and corner him. Here is where I assumed a chase of sorts would start — Tango would be non-confrontational and shy away from Jynxx’s advances while Jynxx demanded he assert some sort of cat manliness to see who’s boss.

Yeah, didn’t happen.

Maybe Tango is sick of being kicked around by an alpha male his whole life, maybe he’s getting a thrill over asserting dominance, maybe he’s even just trying to clear his throat. Whatever the case, Tango is one mean mother fucker when it comes to hissing and growling. It is safe to say I am going to have nightmares tonight after hearing the sounds this cat is making (and it’s only 10am). The hisses and growls Tango is making is causing my alpha male to actually back away, which is confusing Jynxx more than it’s confusing me.

Click through for more action as it happens…meow.

Continue reading

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Unemployment: Day One

Being unemployed isn’t too bad, once you get over the whole ‘not getting paid anymore’ thing. I made the risky decision to put in my two weeks’ notice at my place of employment before getting another job lined up. I doubt anyone thought I was really that stupid to do such a thing but the sense of a challenge excited me. That, and I knew I wouldn’t be serious about finding a new job unless I ended the relationship with my current one.

I spent my first official day of unemployment by applying to jobs (fingers crossed), playing video games (Portal 2, to be exact), and spending quality time with my cat (he was thrilled). However, I now feel like a bum for not being on any sort of schedule and for not leaving my apartment all day (can you hear that wind? It’s COLD outside) and my cat has left my side to seek refuge in my closet (I’m fairly certain he’s sick of me already). 

The concept of unemployment excites me. I feel refreshed and eager to not be at the same glum job I’ve been at for the past three and a half years. I’m almost done with getting my BA and I’m that much closer to finding a career. A job is nice and all but I would love something that challenges my intellect and has room for growth, along with providing me with a sense of accomplishment. I want to do things and make a difference rather than just go through the motions.

I’m excited about all the hobbies I don’t actually have and finally being able to do them. I might even find time to exercise each morning while my cat looks on perplexed. NASCAR starts back up on Sunday and I’m more than pumped about that, even though I still don’t have a television to watch any of the races on.

Despite all of this, I’m still worried. Worried about when I’ll get a job and how my bills are going to get paid. Worried about getting even more depressed after this high from being free wears off. My restlessness has gotten the better of me in this scenario and while I’m totally fine with that, I’m totally not fine at the same time. The thrill of broadening my horizons is amazing until I get scared about what happens if the opportunities I seek don’t come to me.

Stay tuned, and wish me luck.

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Jazz and Ballet

Ballet to jazz music, that’s what I’d like to see. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional ballet set to classical music, I did it for a good number of years as well. There just happens to be a tremendous amount of jazz pieces that I would love to see that flow of elegance and power found in ballet be displayed. They both tell a story, jazz and ballet, and I yearn that juxtaposition. Classical music is fine when it comes to storytelling, but I think the contrast between jazz and ballet would tell a powerful tale as well (and possibly in a relatively unsuspecting way).

For now I shall sit here listening to jazz and choreographing ballet masterpieces in my head, hoping that some day someone will think these thoughts as well and make it happen.

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My NASCAR Love Affair

This is it, folks. Ten Nine more races until the Sprint Cup champion is, well, given the Sprint Cup.

This is by no means a “cup”

In the beginning of the season I meant to put up an introductory post explaining how I got suckered into joining a fantasy NASCAR league run by my boss, but that of course didn’t happen (it’s sitting in my drafts folder waiting for next season). Long story short, it’s a way to win money and I like some friendly competition. I was also amused by the fact that I really had no clue what I was doing and have never seen a NASCAR race before.

I convinced my coworkers that I had figured out an algorithm for the whole thing and they believed me. Obviously I was joking, but I figured that I should probably come up with some sort of strategy, no matter how silly.

Practice makes perfect, right?

I checked out the drivers to see if I knew any, Jeff Gordon being the only one. I didn’t think Jeff Gordon still raced so I immediately started a grudge against him that I hold to this day. If I know nothing about NASCAR and know the name of a driver, it means he’s been around too long and needs to be put out to pasture. Hey guess what! I was right — he freaking sucked this season.

I don’t care if it was only 1992, if your debut race was called the Hooters 500 and that facial hair was acceptable, you’re now past your prime.

Seeing how I didn’t have anyone else to eliminate, I decided on a different approach: if I liked their name, I’ll pick them. First up, Greg Biffle. I mean come on, Biffle? That’s a hilariously great name and reminds me of waffles for some reason (I like waffles). Picked him right away, and might I add he was the points leader for most of the season.

Waffles are for winners….drool

I then picked Marcos Ambrose after finding out he’s from Australia (I like their accents) and his name is kinda cool. So far this meant I had two out of five drivers picked for Daytona. I needed to pick five drivers for each race, so my justifications got a little ridiculous as time went on.

To finish up my Daytona lineup, I decided to go with Tony Stewart because he’s sponsored by Oreo’s and those are yummy, Dale Earnhardt Jr. because I heard he’s supposed to be good and I feel bad his dad died, and Carl Edwards because he looks like he knows his shit (this assumption is based on the one picture I had seen of him).

This is a man who knows how to drive a race car. Back flips have a lot to do with racing. A lot.

I actually didn’t do too shabby! I blame this for getting me hooked. Daytona was merely the gateway race.

A few weeks into the NASCAR season (which lasts longer than a pregnancy, by the way) and I was still in disbelief that it was actually a sport. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually drive myself, but unlike other sports where skill and endurance come into play, driving a car and making left hand turns just doesn’t seem to be on the same level.

Making left hand turns being within inches of other cars while going 220mph? Pffft, I can do that in my sleep!

But one fateful March evening, that changed. I went to a bar with my then-boyfriend for a meetup event put together from members of his gym. NASCAR came up in conversation with one of his fellow gym-goers and I found myself actually having input in the conversation…until I let it slip that I didn’t think it was a real sport. Pro tip: never tell a NASCAR fan that NASCAR isn’t a sport.

You probably wouldn’t want to get into a heated NASCAR debate with the fellar’

About 20 minutes later, I then found a new appreciation for the art of racing. I decided to do some studying about race strategy and what every crew team member actually brings to the table, etc. and was surprised about how much is on the line. Winning or losing a race could depend on whether you decide to take two or four tires at a pit stop. I like strategy, it shows people are thinking and I’m a big fan of that. The fact that anything can happen and things are going at 200+mph just makes it that more intense for the people making those decisions. Arguably that still doesn’t make it a sport, but the adrenaline is indeed running high and it can get entertaining.

As the weeks progressed, I became more and more competitive and was actually doing pretty darn good (always in the top ten and also beating all of my coworkers). It got to the point where if I was ever upset about something, all someone had to do was bring up NASCAR and I’d forget all about whatever it was I was upset over.

There, there now…are you ready for Sunday’s race? Let’s see that smile!

I’m currently the points leader for the week and am first in my league, in case you were wondering. I have to admit, though, I probably wouldn’t have found NASCAR as entertaining if I wasn’t doing good in my fantasy league. It’s really fun to beat people at their own game, especially when they’re my smack talking 40+ year old male coworkers (I work in the service department at a car dealership).

I’m not too sure what I’ll be doing when the season is over in ten weeks from now. Hell, I don’t even know what I’m doing in the next hour. Maybe it’ll involve an intricate plot to become Jimmie Johnson’s mistress.

What a cutie

Maybe I’ll decide that NASCAR isn’t where my heart belongs and I’ll break free from it forever. Hopefully something comes along to fill the void. I’d end this post on a wittier note but my cat is flipping out over some asshole bird and he’s knocking things over, bye!

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Self Portrait

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Self portrait. It’s fun to pretend the blonde mass of hair around my head is actually a swarm of bees.

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