How Did It End?

By Viccy Simon

Viccy Simon is a student in Writing Class Radio. She wrote this story in response to a prompt in class. 

It ended in the ICU.

It ended after I’d told my mom all the ways she’d left the world in better shape than she found it.

It ended after I’d thanked her for Halloween costumes, and birthday cakes, and for peeling the hard-boiled eggs she packed in my lunchbox.

It ended after I’d filled up my sister’s voicemail with messages begging her to come soon.

It ended after I’d thanked my mom for teaching me to drive a stick.

It ended after I’d sung all the songs Mom used to sing to me when I was little.

It ended when I was hoarse with the talking and singing.

It ended when I’d texted my sister for the umpteenth time.

It ended when I was sure my mom was sick of my voice because I was sick of my voice. It ended after I pleaded with the doctor to keep her breathing just until morning in case my sister had managed to catch that overnight flight from Arizona.

It ended after the doctor told me that he could give her more morphine but she would die sooner and I opted for later and then regretted it when the doctor had left the floor and my mom started thrashing.

It ended after my sister called from the airport and said, “I told you I’d get here and I did.” 

It ended after my sister rushed in and held my mother’s hand.

It ended before my sister said one word.

For more stories like this one and a lesson or two or three on writing, listen to Writing Class Radio, a podcast that brings you stories from our real writing class and will inspire you to get started on writing your own stories. Check our resource page for writing teachers we love,  contestsplaces to submit and more.

Getting Clean

Hi there, my name is Karen and I’m a recovering drug addict. I recently joined Writing Class Radio in hopes that having a creative outlet would help me better understand and come to terms with my addiction. For the next 90 days, I’ll be taking over the WCR blog and sharing my journey of recovery. If telling my story brings hope to just one other addict who is still sick and suffering, then opening up about my struggle will have been worth it. To protect the anonymity of those seeking recovery, names of people and places have been changed. While the eleventh tradition of Narcotics Anonymous states that we need to always maintain personal anonymity, I believe this shroud of mystery further perpetuates the stigma behind the disease of addiction. Addicts come in all shapes and sizes, but we share one common thread: we suffer from an incurable disease. Yet each new day we are provided another chance to arrest our active addiction and become useful members of society. This is my journey, my process and my story. The essay below came out of a prompt given to our writing class this week: Write about a time you started over… Enjoy.

The Fifth White Chip

By Karen Collazo

Yesterday, I picked up my fifth white chip. In Narcotics Anonymous, we use a chip system to denote how much clean time one has. The chips symbolize that you are gambling with your life when you pick up drugs. They vary in color, as you accumulate more clean time. The first chip you pick up is the white chip. It signifies surrender to a new way of life. It tells all the addicts in the room that you admit you are powerless over your addiction to drugs; you’ve come to terms with the fact that your life had become unmanageable and are ready to take the first step towards recovery.

After I surrendered for the fifth time, I got a huge bear hug from a fellow NA member that I consider a big brother. He always dons a healthy envy-worthy tan and is usually dressed in cargo shorts, sneakers, and a simple t-shirt. He calls me “kid.” After meetings, my big brother hangs around to “fellowship” with the other addicts. He says this is the key to staying clean. Once he stood with me in the parking lot of a church for hours, until the clock stroke midnight, just to help me stay clean for that one day.

“Kid, you did good today. Keep coming back till you get it,” he says with a big toothy grin.

I’ve relapsed four times since I got out of rehab on March 1st. I had 90 days clean when I relapsed the first time. The day I received my red 90-day chip, I got a round of applause from my NA family. On my way back to my seat, I was greeted with warm hugs and congratulated with excited high fives from the only people who have ever understood me. For everyone in that room, I had accomplished something worth celebrating. But inside, I didn’t feel victorious. As great as it was to reach enough clean time that I graduated from one chip to the next, I had arrived at 90 days with many reservations.

Feeling like a fraud, I went out and picked up. I took one bump of coke and was immediately lifted out of my dark foggy depression. Coke has always had a way of putting me on top of the world. Without it, I’m nobody. The problem is it’s never just one bump. Soon after that first twenty, the high runs out of steam and I quickly fall back into the deep well where I am trapped most days. Because it never ends well, you’d think it’d be easy to stop. But my brain doesn’t remember the bad part. It only focuses on the one good moment and chases that dream until I destroy myself.

I’ve played the tape in my head over and over, recounting how I relapsed this last time. I thought I was doing all the right things; taking as many of the suggestions as I could about how to live clean. But there I was, peeling out of a meeting to jump on the expressway and dialing my dealer on the way. They say that when you have a burning desire to use, you should reach out and share where you’re at with a fellow addict. We’re encouraged to get numbers and actually call people. The therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel. But my addiction has been active for over 25 years, way before I even picked up my first drug. That old habit of isolating, rationalizing and giving in to an overwhelming feeling of worthlessness are deeply embedded in me. I’m scared I won’t be able to overcome this pattern I’ve grown accustomed to. I’m afraid I’ll never learn to love Karen enough to give her a fighting chance. They say it takes 66 days to break an old habit. If I do all the right things and work the program the correct way, I should be able to make this the last white chip I ever pick up.  

Why Did Inessa Enroll in Andrea's Writing Class?

By Inessa Freylekhman, a Writing Class Radio student

About 12 years ago, I saw Andrea Askowitz perform stories from her book, My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy on a stage in Hollywood, CA. I couldn’t stop laughing. How could anyone be so blunt publicly!?  I thought: I want to do that!

Years later, I got engaged and moved from Seattle to Miami.

I attended my first Lip Service event (where eight storytellers tell their true stories in front of an audience) and saw Andrea on stage again: all hair and charm and awkwardness. She asked the audience to submit stories for the next Lip Service, and I did.  My story was rejected, but with an encouraging note.  Andrea said she didn’t really know what I was trying to say, but that I should definitely submit again. I’d never thought about what I was trying to say. So, I enrolled in her memoir writing class. In class, I collaborate with like-minded individuals, process my emotions, and make sense of my life through writing and sharing stories. This class has helped me become a better observer and take things far less seriously. That makes life more bearable and funny.

When my relationship hit a roadblock, I wrote about it in class. Then I submitted my story to Lip Service and it got accepted! 

I performed on stage to a room of 600 people. I was terrified to talk about the most private part of my life in public, but afterward, I felt connected to the audience. I felt understood. 

 

Click here to buy  My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy

Click here for more information about Lip Service

allison langer

Allison Langer, MBA, travelled the States taking pictures, later worked for a ski photographer, then took pictures of her friends and their babies. This was the start of a 20-year photography business. She also taught high school photography and entrepreneurship. As her students wrote their business plans, she wrote hers to create a podcast about her writing class, which is now Writing Class Radio.

How a porno novella started Bo's writing career

A couple of years ago a good friend of mine was taking Andrea’s writing class and suggested I join. I asked, “Writing?  What could I possibly write about?”

“You’re always telling stories," he said. “Why not write them down?” 

I thought the extent of my writing had been college research papers and e-mails for work until I remembered Faye’s Fantasies, the porno novella I wrote in junior high.  

I was a scared, very closeted gay kid growing up in the Bible belt. Faye’s Fantasies featured my social studies teacher, Faye, and her gym teacher husband, Jerry. 

At the public library I had recently come across the classic sex manual from the late 60’s, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask.  I appropriated the more bizarre sexual behaviors for Faye and Jerry, who, in my book, engaged in those behaviors with the janitors and the cafeteria workers.

People laughed their asses off when they read it—it even brought me some new-found respect from a couple of school bullies.  But I soon realized that my book could fall into the wrong hands, and that I could get into BIG, BIG trouble, so one day I took it to the woods and burned it.  Not a trace was left, except its memory, which is brought up at my high school reunions.  

Faye’s Fantasies helped me express and cope with anger and frustration in a way that put me in the driver’s seat.  So I signed up for Andrea’s class, which turned into "Writing Class Radio."  

I know I’m no William Faulkner or Ernest Hemingway, but I realize that I don’t have to be.  I just have to tell my stories.  Writing gives me a chance to step out of the everyday grind and tune into my own mind—my memories, my subconscious—and that’s valuable and therapeutic to me, and that's why I continue to do it.  It is also a lot of fun!

How did you get started?

 

allison langer

Allison Langer, MBA, travelled the States taking pictures, later worked for a ski photographer, then took pictures of her friends and their babies. This was the start of a 20-year photography business. She also taught high school photography and entrepreneurship. As her students wrote their business plans, she wrote hers to create a podcast about her writing class, which is now Writing Class Radio.

production is a huge production

hey, it's allison, (i'm not a cap-user, so i hope that doesn't bug you....especially since this is a writing class and one would expect a producer and student to abide by the usual rules of writing) but i feel like it slows me down and my creativity gets blocked. this will bug andrea when she reads the blog, and she will try to convince me to change my ways, at least here, and we will discuss it over indian food and she will win. she always does. she is very convincing...and usually correct. If you are reading all this blah blah about caps, then i may have won this time!

it's been 6 months since andrea and I decided to create a podcast of our writing class. the pilot episode describes why i decided to enroll in andrea's very first writing class at miami-dade college, so i won't bore you with that. we used to play tennis, more before the podcast began occupying our free time, and she always won there too. she played at penn....maybe she deserves to win. but i love the challenge and we loved discussing our favorite things about class that week. we'd attempt to solve everyone's problems...including our own. the themes were universal, love, dating, death, work, and the students were so colorful. we wanted to share them with the world. 

so, 4 episodes in, we now realize that to produce a great podcast, it takes more than great content...it takes patience, more time in the day, a great team (which we have), a LOT of research, and listeners who love our show.

we want to hear from you, so listen to our pilot, which is up on our website, and tell us what you like/don't like/want to hear more of. the big launch on itunes is october 24th. itunes will publish all 4 episodes (if all goes well) with 8 expected in season 1.

we believe that everyone has a story. what's yours?

allison langer

Allison Langer, MBA, travelled the States taking pictures, later worked for a ski photographer, then took pictures of her friends and their babies. This was the start of a 20-year photography business. She also taught high school photography and entrepreneurship. As her students wrote their business plans, she wrote hers to create a podcast about her writing class, which is now Writing Class Radio.