INTRODUCTION.
Welcome to My World #4. The card on the front is The Emperor. It corresponds to the sign Aries. Coincidentally the bulk of the writing in this issue is about a Woman who was an Aries. I say WAS an Aries because she is no longer alive. Which is what this issue is all about. See quite a while ago I walked around Oakland/Berkeley with two friends. We went from one abandoned house to another removing the various obstacles(locks, plywood, etc.) that keep people from living in them. I personally opened the upstairs door on this one house by 60th and Whitney. A few months later some friends moved into it. It was right at the same time I got clean and sober. I moved in a couple of weeks later. We had house meetings to figure out which drugs were OK to allow in the house. When it became evident that I was the only person who wanted no drugs in the house, I left to live in a different abandoned house. They made rules about some drugs being OK and others not being OK. It didn't work. People who did the "banned" drugs saw the other people doing the non-banned drugs and rightly called them hypocrites and proceeded to do whatever they wanted. Later on once there was no rules a girl overdosed and died in the house. Her name was Lauren Kimberly Bryan (she called herself Blythe Friedman). She was fifteen years old. After awhile I found out that the story that was told to the coroner was the only one that was told to the girls parents, and they didn't even know what really happened. I wrote them a letter. I wasn't really sure if they would want to hear from me or if they would call the police on me or what would happen. But I have a child and I thought they deserved at least the truth. I got a call from her mother and talker to her and she eased all my fears about prosecution. After awhile I asked her mother to write something for my zine, and she was gracious enough to oblige. I added the piece about aids because it goes along the same life/death issues as the rest of this magazine. I put all this together in hopes that some of you (the reader) that happen to be addicts or alcoholics, can hear one voice that isn't a teacher, cop, parent or TV commercial tell you the truth about what drug addiction/alcoholism is all about.

I found that somewhere along the way I lost control of whether or not I used, I found myself doing things that went against my values(not societies values), I found my self compromising every part of my life in the never ending pursuit of using every day.

I put together the contents of this magazine in hopes that if you are already on the road of daily use, that you might see that that road leads to a grave; in hopes that you might find yourself important enough to pick up the phone book and the phone and find yourself a detox or a withdrawal program or AA or NA or Rational Recovery or Secular Organization for Sobriety or write to me or find somebody you know who is clean and sober or whatever might work for you. No matter how many times teachers, parents, peers or cops have told you your a worthless piece of shit, you don't have to believe it. It is a LIE. You deserve a life that you don't need to escape from.

You can write to the people who wrote stuff in this magazine by sending it through me at: My World

Since I never know if the police might end up reading this zine I need to clearly state: EVERYTHING IN THIS ISSUE MAY OR MAY NOT BE FICTION.

SOME THOUGHTS FROM LAUREN'S MOTHER
Lauren Kimberly Bryan, also known as Blythe Friedman, was born April 12, 1979. We thought of her as our special birthday present that year because her dad's birthday is April 13th and mine is April 14th. Although Lauren was our second child, she was an only child because our first daughter, Allison, died following heart surgery when she was only seventeen months old. I am convinced that losing a child is one of the most difficult challenges which a person can experience. After being a full time Mom for nineteen years, I find myself with no children.

There are so many things I would like to tell you about Lauren. She was extremely intelligent and had many interests and talents. One of her earliest interests was her love for animals - not only the cute, cuddly ones, for she had a special attraction to reptiles. We have had many pets - cats, dogs, rabbits, a lizard, a tarantula, and even a pet snake - a ball python named "Sam the Snake", which we still have.

From the time Lauren was very young, she loved to read. As you might guess, many of her books were about animals. In fact, friends often called her when their pets were sick or when they found an injured animal and asked her what they should do. For most of her life Lauren said that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She would have been a wonderful veterinarian, and this occupation would have given her a great deal of personal fulfillment and satisfaction. I have learned much about animals from Lauren - not just facts, but a true concern for there welfare. This is a special part of her which will always be an important part of who I am.

Lauren had a lot of athletic ability. She spent several years taking ice skating, and she skated competitively. Some of our favorite family memories were spent going to competitions to watch Lauren skate - or attending performances by the famous Olympic skaters.

Lauren also played tennis, which was something she and I enjoyed doing together. Lauren didn't start playing soccer until she was in the 8th grade, but she loved it and thought it was great fun.

Lauren was very creative and loved to make things. When she was thirteen she discovered pottery and loved it (She even said that she might want to be a potter instead of a veterinarian). Lauren made many beautiful pieces of pottery, and they are very special reminders of her. Lauren was fun to be with, and people liked her a lot. Her friends especially liked for her to entertain them by telling funny stories. One of Lauren's best traits was that she was a true friend. If she was your friend, she was your friend for life. I often told her that I hoped her friends were as true to her as she was to them. When Lauren died, her friends proved just how true and caring they were. Several traveled to Atlanta from Baltimore and Washington D.C., to attend her funeral. It meant a lot to her Dad and me to meet Lauren's friends and learn how much they truly loved her. In addition, four of Lauren's life long friends offered to speak at her funeral because they wanted everyone to know what Lauren's friendship had meant to them.

Another of Lauren's strong qualities was her determination. If she was ever determined to do something, she would figure out a way to do it. This proved to be both a good characteristic and a bad one - as in her determination to do drugs. Lauren's friends told me that because she had such a strong will, she decided she could will herself not to become addicted to the drugs she used - even heroin.

All of Lauren's life she seemed to have to learn things the hard way. When she was younger and I would say, "Don't do that cause you'll get hurt" - she would continue until she got hurt. I would like to think that if she had almost died from a heroin overdose, but had lived, perhaps this close call would have given her the reason she needed to try to get off drugs.

By the sixth grade, Lauren was determined to be "cool". She decided that being a teenager meant to experience everything that any teenager has ever done.. In addition, Lauren's impulsive nature caused her to often act without thinking of the consequences.

At the beginning of Lauren's 8th grade year she was smoking cigarettes, marijuana and had tried LSD for the first time. This may not sound serious, but she was dead within 2 1/2 years due to a heroin overdose. Lauren always enjoyed being the first in her age group to have a new experience. She seemed to enjoy the attention she got from doing things which her friends had not yet done. However, I know that she did not plan to be the first of her friends to die.

Being addicted to drugs, and to the lifestyle that accompanied the drugs, caused Lauren to do some things which the 'Real Lauren" would have never done. (1) She began stealing from her friends, and (2) she shared needles.

The last time we heard Lauren's voice was three days before she died, when she called to tell us that she was in San Fransico. She sounded so happy and excited to be seeing another part of the U.S. She ended the conversation the way she always did - "I'll call again soon. I love you guys." The last thing I said to her was, "Take care of my Lauren, I love you, too."

Three days later, a call came at 3:00AM from the Berkeley Police to inform us that someone by the name of Blythe Friedman was there due to a drug overdose. At first I didn't realize that he was telling me she was dead. I envisioned myself getting on an airplane and flying to California to be with Lauren in the hospital. I planned for this to be the turning point which would motivate her to decide to face her drug problem. However, I soon realized that my daughter had actually died due to a heroin overdose and that she wouldn't get a second chance. The autopsy showed a heroin level of 18 - a level of 8 is considered high! If Lauren could come back today I believe that I know what she would want to say:
(1) "I didn't want to die. I wish I had a second chance."
(2) "Drugs are not cool like I used to think they were."
(3) "If a friend offers you drugs or tries to get you to take drugs, they are not really your friend."

LAUREN'S POEM
They follow me wherever I go
Corrupt things that few people know.
They weigh me down like a ton of lead
As I lie here all lazy and fucked up in bed.
When I sleep, they wait there restlessly
So when I wake tomorrow, they'll be ready for me.
Pounding against the sides of my head,
Some days I think I'd be better off dead.
A stupid thought, I seem to think-
One of the many that cause me to sink.
Just when I think I can take no more
I see the light, I open the door
To a new way that appeals to me;
Where I don't feel so damn crazy.
No more burdens - no more troubles -
Just tiny, delicate boiling bubbles.
In my spoon, but not for long.
In my veins they sing a song.
People seem to condemn me for this,
But I have something they have missed.
A good thing inside me that seems to grow,
Something that only the heroin knows,
But slowly it starts to lose it's galore.
Day to day I'm becoming a whore,
Stuck in a gloomy confinement
Of a capsule I thought did represent
The happiness I once yearned to feel.
Fuck, this wasn't part of the deal!
Back in my head I go again,
Just the way it was back then,
But now I got something else after me,
To get rid of it won't be quite so easy.

This was written by Lauren Kimberly Bryan, who died on March 26th 1995, due to a drug overdose - 3 weeks before her 16th birthday.

Lauren's parents share this poem with the hope that it's message will reach others and may play a part in helping others to have the courage to face their own personal issues and substance abuse.

LAUREN
I look back in my journal, two, three months ago. to a page of a drawing of a girl and a door, drawn in fading brown marker. There are many hastily written words on the journal page, but the most hastily written on the top:

"A dream about seeing death on my front door step - and the door was see through - I saw death at my front door - could see it coming".

I think back to almost a year ago, to the first time I had thought this dream was about the wrong person. I know now that the real persons name was Blythe, or Lauren, which ever you prefer. Now I can fit this name into the dream as I wrote it:

"The last scene was walking up to the front door from the inside. No runes, it was dark, the door was closed and a smaller door - to view someone at eye level - was opened. It was raining out. It was dark. Blythe was slowly, heavily, walking up the stairs - or had been; on the way from the steps to the door she'd been stabbed in the back - her killers shadow was receding back from her down the steps. I knew this because she was wet, leaning against the outside of the door, and her face was at the smaller viewing door. The door was invisible, is how I knew - I was rushing to open the door - it had just happened(the stabbing). It was too late, though; I knew by her eyes, sweat, and the way her body leaned toward me, she was going to fall in at me when I opened the door, dead. Her killer's shadow, blue, purple, brown, split down the stairs."

I wrote this in the earlier part of January, 1995. I was living in a squat in Oakland on 60th street. Two months later I was living in the same squat. On my birthday, March 19th, I had been up for three days on methamphetamines, and I decided to sleep. A very dear friend of mine from Austin, TX, came to visit me later that night or the next day, I don't clearly remember which. I was severely depressed(go figure) and he thought it was the speed. We both agreed not to do anymore. Five days later I got out of bed. I hung out in the common space downstairs(I lived upstairs so this venture was supposed to be social) and I watched three men who were older than me smoke crack, none of whom had a room there.

A guy and a girl walked in, on their way to the front room, which was the living room. A guy from New York, a guest of someone's, and some girl, young, punk, with big round eyes that I seemed to recognize. We looked at each other and giggled. I introduced myself, shaking her hand. She introduced herself, and we laughed at our formality. Her name was Blythe she said. I said I'd see her tomorrow, and we'd hang out. She nodded and smiled, and went into the living room.

Ten or fifteen minutes later I heard a sound coming from the front (living) room; I couldn't figure out what it was. It sounded grating, rhythmic, like coughing, or a sore throat, or harsh breathing. I asked what the noise was but no one in the room knew, so I went in the living room to see.

The girl I had just met was laying on her back with her back pack under her head, her mouth open, asleep, making this strange noise.

"It's the girl," I said,

"What's wrong with her? She sounds like a dog with kennel cough."

I dunno - nothing, she probably has allergies or asthma or she's sick or snoring or something - that was the response I got from the people in the room with me.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

They were sure.

I looked at her, such a young girl, I thought, she was so tired that she just passed out asleep on her back pack; she must be SO tired. The next day I was gone for the entire day selling stuff at the Ashby flea market with someone. It was the first day I'd gone out of the house for six days. It was Sunday March 26th.

I returned to the squat between 9 and 10 o'clock PM. There was this guy who said his name was Chaos, he later changed it to Joel, and God; he said, "you gotta see this girl in the living room; she overdosed on heroin, but she's fine now; she's just sleeping."

He said this as we were walking to the living room(through the kitchen, the hallway, the common room). I was pretty confused as I followed. There were quite a few people there, just doing what looked like normal social things. In the living room Blythe was laying on the floor. She didn't look all right to me; Her color looked all wrong. She was pale and her lips looked like porcelain.

"She doesn't look 'FINE' to me." I said as I knelt down to check her pulse.

"Oh, no, she's fine. We already took care of her and she's just sleeping now." said Joel/Chaos/God.

But I found her pulse; it beat three times and then it stopped. I was in a panic, I was in shock. I felt her pulse STOP. I told Joel and we looked at each other for a second and I knew that we should give her CPR but I couldn't think clearly. Instead I ran downstairs to the basement to get help from someone.

"--------", I started to say his name.

"I know, the girl in the living room; I already helped her and put her in the shower." he said, responding to my fear.

"But her pulse just stopped. We need to do CPR. Will you help?"

We ran upstairs. Joel was still there. The other guy started to do CPR and looked in her bag. He found an asthma inhaler and used it to help her with the CPR. He told me to lay down next to her, keep her warm, hold her hand.

I did. I layed in the blanket with her. I held her hand. I tried to give her my body heat. She was cold. I put my most special ring on her finger and told her in my mind that I did that. I kept telling her that if she wanted to come back she could come back, to please come back, that it was alright.

"If you want to come back, come back; PLEASE come back, if you want to come back, come back, please come back, it's alright, just come back." I saw a wooden scarab beetle laying on the floor near her things. I grabbed it and put it between our hands. Her hand was cold; there was no return of heat. It seemed to me that I could feel her spirit traveling. It seemed to me that I could feel her fear, that it was because she was starting to realize how far out of her body she was, it seemed like she was afraid that she couldn't come back. I held the scarab beetle between our hands and told her that the scarab beetle was for travel between the worlds of life and death. That it was alright, that she could come back if she wanted to. That she just had to want to.

The CPR worked enough to get a faint pulse. It kept coming and going. Her color wasn't coming back. By then there were a few more people around. An older drug dealer, a friend of mine, looked concerned. "I didn't know she was so bad. We could shoot her up with salt water. I've seen people come back from worse than her."

"We need to do something. We need to get her to the hospital." I said.

"We can call an ambulance," someone else said. The idea had time to pass through my head of an ambulance, and cops in our squat, and how many people would get busted, and that I was the oldest girl there, and that there were lots of older guys that would probably be held responsible for a lot of the minors there. That our house would be closed and at least thirty people would be homeless again, all because we couldn't be more resourceful than to call 911.

The answer was strongly NO. Someone suggested that we go ask people at a nearby house, who had been friends of ours, to drive her there. We had used these people for food, showers, laundry, everything we could. They were a little older than a lot of us squatters, and they really provided for us.

I got upset that none of us could think of what to do for ourselves, that we only had a way of putting our problems on to someone else to be taken care of, like we were babies. I asked why we couldn't help ourselves, why someone else always needed to help us. I thought of a friend of mine that lived less than a mile away. She had a truck, and, although she'd seen me go downhill on speed, she'd still been my friend, enough to get upset about it, enough to question me, to tell me I was just turning into some one who did speed, not being my special self anymore. I offered to go get a truck, take her to the hospital emergency room and leave, if someone would stay there to see what happened and divert the cops from our squat in case of emergency.

Joel/Chaos/God said he'd go to the hospital and do that.

I left to get my friends truck with my older drug dealer friend. We walked so fast we were at a slow run. I knocked on the door. She answered. I told her I was in an emergency situation, I couldn't tell her what happened, but that I needed to use her truck, and that when I brought it back I'd tell her why. Amazingly, she gave me the keys, and I left.

I got back to 60th street and parked in front of the squat. I ran inside. The guy from the basement was laying on the floor next to her, smoothing her forehead, comforting her. I put her pants on her. She'd been thrown in the shower earlier and was wearing a shirt and underwear, still a little damp. I put her socks and shoes on her. We wrapped a blanket around her. The guy from the basement grabbed her bag and reminded us to bring it, so that when she woke up she'd have her stuff. He looked at an ID. On it her name read BLYTHE FAIRCHILD. He looked at me. It was chilling. Joel/Chaos/God looked at her address book and said, "oh, she's from my home town, Atlanta, GA." The other guy made sure her address book was in her bag. He picked her up and carried her out to the truck. We put her in the middle, on another blanket, and I began to drive to the Alta Bates emergency room.

I was scared that by trying to help her I or anyone else involved was going to be held responsible. I suggested to Joel/Chaos/God that nothing be said about the squat.

"It's all right, everything will be fine. I'll stay. I'll tell them we found her somewhere, just me and you under a tree or something. No one will get in trouble. It'll be fine." I was really afraid of getting in trouble; I helped to make the story sound more realistic and vague. There was silence after our conversation, during which I felt fear. Something in me was already doubting that she'd come back. Something in me was saying that she was DEAD already, but I was trying to replace that voice with an invitation for her to come back, to come back if she wanted to, to PLEASE COME BACK.

I parked the truck a block away from Alta Bates. Joel/chaos/god helped me get Blythe from the car, I carried her for a block to the hospital. She was so limp, so heavy in my arms. My whole body was supporting her, but she felt entirely still.

Inside the emergency room lobby was well lit, flourecent, busy. I walked up to the automatic glass doors to go back to the hospital part and said to the nearest nurse,"We've got an emergency here."

"You can't just say that! You've got to tell us what's going on, what happened!" the nurse yelled. She was loud and abrasive, but I think I looked scared.

"Okay," I responded, "I think she's had a heroin overdose. There's a needle mark in her arm."

And there was a wheelchair to put her in and people wheeling her away. She was past the glass automatic double doors, down the hallway. It had only been about ten seconds.

"My ring!" I said, as I started going towards her, receding in a wheelchair. Two people stopped me. They said I could get it later. I think I was scared to leave her; I perceived it as leaving her alone. But I turned and ran. I was worrying about my friends truck, my friend who had helped me without asking why. I was so paranoid. I thought we'd all get in trouble because Blythe shot drugs in our living room. I got out the door. Joel/chaos/god followed me. He grabbed my arm; I stopped. He reassured me that nothing would get back to the squat. I was a mess.

"I gotta go give back ---- her truck. Get my ring back OK?" I asked. That was at 10:45, or a couple of minutes earlier.

I returned the truck to my friend. On the way I saw ---, my older drug dealer friend, who'd gone with me to get the truck; we dropped the truck off together and I told ---- why I needed to use her truck. She was sad and disgusted. ------- and I walked home.

"She'll be fine Elvijo, don't worry." he said as we walked.

I tried to empty my brain. I occupied myself with someone who came to visit until Joel/chaos/god returned. That was sometime between 2 and 3 o'clock am. He came to my room. He told me and my friend that she'd died; She was pronounced dead about ten minutes after we brought her in, he said. That was at about 10:53 pm. Later that night, alone in my room, I was scared. I wrote in my journal:

"I'm scared to be alone right now. I want to, I think I need to, feel other life around me.

Some girl

-I saw her, eye to eye on the avenue, I met her face, face forward to hers

-Blythe was her name, she shared it with me and I shared mine with her and we were in the same home

-OURS

Not many words

but there wasn't time, is all.

I was sure we liked each other, looking at her, smiling; she smiled back,Then walked into a room and sounds like comia(a dog I had for 1 week)with kennel cough

-It was her, breathing. What a kid, I thought. She passed out on her back; so asleep, so high; we didn't know-I didn't know- what those noises meant

but tonight she was still asleep -MORE,

She OD'ed

I held her hands gave her my ring, my life force. She was BLUE, COLD, STIFF, DEAD.

ALIVE.

DEAD.

ALIVE.

DEAD.

I took care of her with Joel and ----- and I couldn't say what I felt.

I was scared for her to be alone. I took her to the hospital. She was DEAD ten minutes later. And I'm scared to not feel life around me,

I'm just a little girl.

Not word or anger, just warm bodies instead of cold. It's about life and death and she's dead and I'm alive and we were both HOME; and now I'm in my room, fighting feeling alone because if that's all I am, I'm so afraid of her cold body. Because we have had close enough lives not to say all as if it were our last, but it was hers and I am so sad, SO SAD my place to live was hers to die, and no one can share their warmth with me when I think I need it. Life is so full and death leaves it so empty. And it's pain, and it's so sad, and I didn't die with her but did I? D

id I fail in fear?

I'm crying now,

I'm glad I'm crying.

I'm glad for it all, if only we can join and feel life in us,

But I am only joining with myself, and my courage is dying 1,000 times each moment...

And WHAT IFS, and the ANGER-

I see through them into the NOTHING, because she shared her death with me and I DIDN'T DIE.

I'm still alive and it hurts and I'm just a little girl, or am I a woman?

Is this so great to live for NO.

But it's something, if only I could share and be glad for how clear she made me feel.

But I just feel it, ALONE, SCARED(beat, beat, beat....)

I can't say GODDAMMIT, now - "God" really does.

My silence is empty, not full, not shared.

This changed my life, it ended hers, and no one is here to feel the truth settle into me, so sadly and softly and solidly

And I'm dying inside but she died outside

Oh LIFE, please comfort me in the face of death, death didn't scare me -it was the failures to cradle life in it's face and after it's swoop that scares me.

How close we all are, and how different it is, and what a calling out

A SHOUT TO REJOICE IN LIFE

Life is to die for.

Life is to scream out of every single pore, cell, air molecule

It is so loudly quiet.

There were more things that happened to me after these events, but I find the ones I've written to be the main force of my EXPERIENCES with BLYTHE or LAUREN. There is one other thing I wish to share. 3 days after she died, March 29th, tuesday, I was laying in my room and a yellow pillar of light, like a greek column, entered my room through my door. I was scared, but I thought maybe it was a ghost from the house that wanted to leave. I told it loud, "If you want to go out the window, you can go out the window." Instead it moved in back of the door, exactly the area I stood in to paint. I said, not knowing what else to say, "Peace be with you." The yellow column started to disappear from the bottom up, and looked like a stalagtite, and was gone. It left a heavy presence, a huge feeling of peace. I was very sure it had left this plane, that it died. I am very sure it was BLYTHE's spirit, finding rest and leaving this place.

TO THE FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL THAT I NEVER MET.
Not like a light bulb, no it didn't happen that fast. More like a candle drowning in it's own wax, the flame sputters, it gets faint, it flickers and goes out with a hiss, when your not looking, a little tssst and it's all dark. Sometimes things go out when your not looking, sometimes things go out when your not paying attention, sometimes they sputter and hiss and die. Sometimes when your caught up in your own thing, life, hate, anger, mistrust, sex, trust, magic, love, blah blah blah the small things they die out and become nothing. I saw it coming, noticed the flame was dimmer,saw it flicker and wave, making shadows move up on the walls. I just didn't have the courage to blow it out myself, get it over with. You have all been teetering along on candlestick legs. Concrete is so hot I know and you've melted some of you up to your genitals before noticing the pain, before noticing the flickering, the faintness of the flame, before hearing the final hiss. She went slowly, like a candle, not like a light bulb which can be turned on and off at will and can be replaced. I know it must have been terrible for that girl, but you play with fire and you get burned, you melt, you sputter and die, hiss. I could bitch about irresponsibility but I would sound like your father. I could whine about being inconsiderate, but I'd sound like your mother. I could suggest that you take more care but I would sound like your grandmother. I could mumble that you might want to watch out, but I would sound like your grandfather. I could order you to do what I want or put you away to think for awhile or tell you that your all completely sick. Not only would that make me a bitch it would make an incredible understatement. Because you let it come to this, there will be more dead candles, you let it come to this, turning my home, your home into a fucking toilet that isn't even safe enough to piss in. You let it come to this, because you would not look, would not take responsibility, would not be considerate, would not take care, would not watch out, would not do what was asked, would not think and you make me sick. A fifteen year old girl is dead. If I were her or her parents, my hatred and disgust would be huge. For a bunch of people who pretend to live there lives under a pretense of caring about things, you sure don't impress me a bit. She is dead, did you know that. She is dead, or didn't you notice. She is dead, have you heard. Keep sputtering around like candle sticks and never figure out how to not melt yourselves. Be careful it's hot, when you play with fire you get burned. She's dead did you know. She's dead, did you notice. She's dead did you hear, did you hear the hiss. This is dedicated to the fifteen year old girl who died of a heroin overdose on Sunday March 26, 1995 after being asleep on and off for an estimated day and a half. She was found blue and dead sometime Sunday night. She was eventually brought to the hospital and was dead on arrival. She died in a house where nobody cared. She was run away from Georgia. I was also told her bag was scavenged after her death. It disappeared at any rate. I blame many if not all of the people living at the house, myself being one of them. People wanted to keep thier needle drugs allowed in the house. People wanted to be able to let anyone who wanted a place to crash, stay there in the house whether these people knew them or not. I disagreed, but to make rules against anything would be an infringement on peoples freedom. It's my fault too because I didn't fight it. And now because no one knew the girl and heroin was allowed in the house a little girl is dead. Her own decision is the one that killed her but prior decisions made by people in the house allowed it. Rather than give up the house after her death simply for the fact that someone died there, along with the sanity of the home, no one reported how she died or where, they said they found her under a tree. Her parents will never know the truth, but I do and now all of you listening do. People have painted over the walls which were graffittied with messages about her death and are going on with things exactly as they were, not feeling, not caring, not giving respect to her, or her family by letting it at least be remembered and learned from. Nothing. I want to tell those people that no matter how many coats of paint you put over it, it wont cover it up, no matter how hard you keep your fucking smiling lips smile clamped together, by not talking about it, it won't be forgotten. Not by me or you or that little girls family. Keep on pretending that your OK, that everything's OK. You'll all fade out of existence too, one by one, and the only thing I'll ever remember you for is how your selfishness and your ignorance aided a fifteen year old girl in ending her life, before she even hardly got a chance at it. And you call yourselves the Revolution, the people who have open minds and big souls, your bullshit makes me sick, your bullshit kills people every day.

CHARLENE
Charlene was a friend of mine. She was an Aquarius woman. She was roughly the same age as me. She had sexual abuse issues just like I do. She was very angry like I am. She wanted personal and social revolution more than anything, just like I do. She was in a lot of emotional pain, just like I am. She used chemicals and alcohol and other unhealthy things to medicate her pain, just like I used to. She dabbled in multiple partners and the depression that accompanies multiple broken romances and a broken heart and past sexual abuse. She had one major relationship with a guy that ended. Then he sent her things in the mail indicating that he was going to kill himself and that it was all her fault. Then he threw himself in front of a subway train in NYC. She seemed OK, but I guess we all do on the outside. She kept using the chemicals from time to time.

I was in a frame of mind where I knew that I was going to have to quit using eventually. I put it off with rationalizations like "I'm young so I got 10-15 years of using left". Charlene was a little younger than me. She did some heroin in the city. It was too strong. It killed her.

My system of denial slipped into the other world with her.

I never told her that I thought she had a problem, I was too busy trying to convince myself that I didn't have a problem.

She died and then I didn't have to.

I keep writing these stories about drugs and death because I hope to affect your consciousness. I would hate to think half the kids are going to have to die just so the other half can get clean.

STOLEN.
I thought I might make a short list of what alcohol/drugs have stolen from me (what I've sacrificed to them would probably be a better way to look at it). It's just another rebuttal from me, to the idea of addiction/using being a victimless act.
My health
My teeth
My ability to retain body weight
My lungs
Lots of friendships
Lots of time wasted on what I thought were friendships
11 years of my time and energy
A relationship with my daughter
Relationships with other relatives
My honesty/Integrity/Values
My ability to have a romantic relationship
My ability to respect Women and other people
Any and all money I came by in the 11 years
My ability to eat, sleep, relax and be calm
My natural sense of being connected to the rest of the world and it's contents
The trust and respect of my peers and family

NOT TO MENTION: Wasting the time, energy, love, caring, nurturing of everyone around me.

AIDS.
Lately I've had a lot going through my head about the plague we call AIDS.

I have noticed a few things wrong with the way the TV and the medical community deals with AIDS transmission prevention.

1. On many of the pamphlets about cleaning needles they explain how to bleach needles, and about how you shouldn't share spoons/cookers. On countless occasions I would fix dope with a group of people. Once I got the drugs in my arm, I would pull the needle out of my arm. I would then stick it in a glass of water and suck some water in my needle and squirt the last remnants of the dope in my mouth. What I didn't realize is that the needle went from my arm(with my blood on the out side of the needle) into the glass of water. That glass of water would then be contaminated with my blood. After the needle was cleaned with bleach, it went to the next person. The first thing he/she would do is suck up some of the contaminated water from the glass and use it to break down thier dope, and then shoot it in thier arm. The little booklets we got from the clinics and the government never mentioned this as possibility for transmission. So use your own glass and your own water. Or empty and bleach every item that is shared.

2. To me it seems like the majority of our information on sexual transmission comes from TV or local clinics. I have two problems with the TV information. First, the news broadcasts seem to dedicate 1% of their time spent talking about AIDS on the fact that it can be gotten from any (homosexual/heterosexual) sexual activity; and about 99% of their time spent talking about how much lower your chances are of getting if your white, heterosexual and non-IV drug user. It's not that their facts are inaccurate, it's just that you basically left with the impression that if your not in a high risk category it's almost impossible to get it, so don't worry about it. The second problem I have with the TV information is the condom advertisements. They have an obvious economic interest in making you think that condoms will solve all the problems. Don't get me wrong, I think that condoms are absolutely essential if your sleeping with a bunch of people or you don't know if you trust your partner or yourself. But please remember that CONDOMS BREAK sometimes. There is no power in the universe that is going to come and take AIDS away from your blood stream just because you tried to prevent transmission. Transmission of the virus is only dependent on whether or not the virus is carried from ones bodily fluids to an others body fluids, not whether or not you wore a condom. The information that I have a problem with regarding local clinic publications has been sort of a recent development. In my area(SF Bay Area) the free clinics have started dividing up behavior into categories like high risk, moderate risk, low risk, no risk. They have moved unprotected oral sex into the low risk category. I find this totally disturbing, here's why.

In the situation of someone giving oral sex to a man we all know that some semen will almost always seep out before ejaculation. Which means you have direct contact between body fluid and cuts/abrasions in the mouth(which are present constantly whether felt or not and whether large enough to be seen by the naked eye or not).

When a person is giving oral sex to a woman she may be menstruating at the normal time of month for her, or at an abnormal time of month. This is the same situation as above, blood to mouth contact.

I think the idea of stratifying the levels of risk into different behaviors is about as responsible as saying some people's lives are highly important, others are moderately important, etc.

Please remember that "Safe-Sex" is not the following:

"well I hope the condom doesn't break"

"well I pulled out before I came"

"well we didn't have intercourse, we just...."

"etc"

CREDITS.
Some thoughts from Lauren's Mother was written by her mother, Dana Bryan.

Lauren's Poem was written by Lauren before she died.

Lauren was written by Elvijo.

To the fifteen year old girl that I never met was written by Jen.

Picture of me and Charlene was created by Keirsta.

Pictures of Lauren are by her family.

Illustration by Rachel.

Stolen, Charlene and Aids were written by me.

THANKS.
I want to express my gratitude to Dana Bryan for her help in making this issue possible and my admiration of her immense courage in the face of losing both of her children.