Showing posts with label addiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label addiction. Show all posts

Monday, September 30, 2019

Book Review: Chasing a Flawed Sun by Daniel McGhee

I thought I knew about addiction - how addicts think and behave. I thought I knew a good bit about how heroin is sold and bought in the streets of Baltimore. After reading Chasing a Flawed Sun, I realize I didn't even know what amounts to a single drop of water in a Chesapeake Bay-sized bucket.


Reviewing a must-read book - Chasing A Flawed Sun.


Daniel McGhee put his story on paper for all to read. And I was hooked as soon as I started the Before You Read This Book section:


"I had chosen not to jeopardize the integrity of the stories by watering down the language or vividness of the events that occurred. While reading, keep in mind that there is a happy ending, eventually." - Daniel McGhee

Daniel tells us that he was a small, shy child being raised in the suburbs by good parents. As an adolescent he smoked, painted graffiti, and was attracted to the negative pieces of pop culture. He was fighting, stealing, and by the time he was 15 he was drinking nightly. Daniel goes on to describe troubles that are every parent's nightmares: multiple school suspensions, police involvement, and getting that call to pick up your child from the station after he was involved in a shooting.

The story goes on to describe his transition from crimes and alcohol use to crimes and heroin use. I was completely caught up in this story. I recognized the small towns (Bel Air and Edgewood) where Daniel lived and the areas of the city Daniel went to buy heroin (Poplar Grove, Edmondson, Cherry Hill, Orleans Street). I was astounded at how many people - some of them functioning and holding down jobs - are in the middle of heroin addiction. All around us there are people whose sole focus is how to get their next high. And how after awhile, it's no longer a high. It is only battling off the sickness and getting well again.

The largest portion of the book describes the relentless pursuit of the drug and the things addicts will go through in order to get well. It is eye-opening and not easy to read. It describes Baltimore City and some of the common, everyday sights and sounds of an urban setting.

At the end of the book, Daniel describes how he's doing now. I think this is a must-read for anyone who is using, who loves an addict, or who works with addicts. I think it is also a must-read for anyone who works with troubled teens and pre-teens.





What I thought I Knew about Baltimore and Drugs


When I moved to the Baltimore area, my first job was at an adolescent group home. I worked with males from ages 13 to 18. All of them had stories about drugs. Most began to use around age 11 (smoking weed with relatives or friends) and then beginning to sell for the dealers in their neighborhoods by age 13 or so in order to earn money. They taught me about some of the "ethics" of being a dealer. For example, I once asked two of them, whose mothers had died from overdoses, why they would sell to people who may die. Especially after their mothers had died. One young man was offended that I'd ask if he would sell to his mother. He patiently explained to me that he'd never sell to his own mother. That's just wrong and offensive to sell to your own mother. But he'd sell to his friend's mother (gesturing toward the other young man). And vice versa. After all, they explained, it's about the money. It's just business. But you do not sell to your mom.

With that job, I did home visits and family therapy in all parts of the city including Poplar Grove, North Ave, Walbrook Junction and some areas "over east" that I can't recall the names of at this moment. All areas that some of my co-workers (originally from Baltimore) stated they'd never go and that I was crazy to go there.

I went. Doing my job. The white lady in certain sections of Baltimore. I never understood why groups of people yelled things like "Sheryls" and "new ones" at me. Back then, I thought they were mistakenly identifying me as the police and alerting people to my presence. Thanks to Mr. McGhee, I now know why they were yelling those things at a white woman in their neighborhood. 

Later in my career, I was visiting with a young man as he pan-handled on the corner. He was a young combat injured veteran. He was neat, clean, well-spoken and homeless. Homeless due to complications with his combat injury. I was trying to connect him with services for veterans. I had no clue that he was a heroin addict. Then he disclosed that bit of information to me. He was discharged from the army after his injury with an OTH (other than honorable) discharge due to beginning to use street drugs after his prescribed pain medications were no longer enough. He eventually became addicted to heroin and panhandled daily in order to get enough money to buy his daily fix. This young man taught me about the focus on "getting well", how even gift cards can be pawned, and that clean needles are sold by diabetics who can buy needles without judgement by pharmacy employees. 

But even with this education, I had no real clue about how many addicts are around us. That there are addicts working at jobs and going about their daily lives until the addiction gets too demanding. And that there are many addicts on the beltway with me each day, driving into the city to chase their sun. 


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Monday, March 20, 2017

Is Elvis Alive? Losing Graceland Book Review


Losing Graceland: What Would Elvis Be Like If He Were Alive?


For the life of me, I cannot explain exactly why I read Losing Graceland: A Novel. I know why I picked it up - in part because it is a fictional story about what Elvis might be like if he had faked his death and was still alive and in part because I have always been interested in Elvis Presley.

Of course, you cannot and probably should not judge a book by the cover and in this case sandwiched between the two covers was some content that I was not comfortable with. That's your warning. This book has sexual content that might make you uncomfortable. It did me. And did I mention violence? There is some of that, too.

But still, I read it right through to the end. Something compelled me to keep reading. I wanted to know what would happen to the aging Elvis impersonator (who might really be Elvis) and the young man he hired to help him find his granddaughter. The adventures were entertaining. Along the road there was a fight with biker gangs (and befriend them), a visit with an oracle and a battle to save a hooker from her pimp.

At first glance, this book is a light read but it also deals with two interesting lives: that of an old man whose body is unwell, who has an addiction to pain killers and who lives with an incredible legacy and that of a young man who is heart broken and unemployed.

Reviews of this book are a mixed bag with most people saying they enjoyed reading it. Take one old man with a lifetime of regrets, add a young man with his future before him and what do you have? An emotional story, perhaps a bit too short. If you're a fan of Elvis, the consensus of the reviews is that this is an enjoyable lightweight fictional story. It will make you think about what Elvis Presley might be like today if he were still alive.

Click here to order your copy of Losing Graceland: A Novel from Amazon.

What would Elvis Presley be like if he were alive?


I want to close by telling you about a scene in this book when Elvis takes the stage at an impersonator contest and the crowd really goes wild just as though they were seeing the real Elvis.  A lady faints. A young mother hardly knows her child needs her. Another woman screams that she cannot breathe. Two men have a fist fight. A young girl vomits. Hands grope on stage for Elvis. The crowd screams. The announcer begs people to be calm. Elvis leaves the stage and says to his travelling companions, "Heartbreaker still breaking hearts. You like my show?" I did like your show, Elvis, and I will admit, you gave me goosebumps.

If Elvis was still alive, he would be 82 today. I think that it would be interesting if he were still alive, although not so much if he was in the condition of the impersonator in Losing Graceland. I cannot help but wonder what it must have been like to have seen Elvis Presley in person. What was it like to be Elvis Presley? And finally, what would he be like today if he were still alive?

What do you think Elvis Presley would have done with the rest of his life if he had lived past the age of 42?

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

More Elvis Presley Reading


The Best Elvis Presley Movies
Elvis Presley starred in 31 movies and 2 concert documentary films all of which were released in movie theatres. On this page, we celebrate the three of the films that are considered his best...

Elvis Presley Christmas Duets
In 2008, long after his death, Elvis Presley released this album, Elvis Presley Christmas Duets on which he could be heard singing Christmas songs with some of today's top female vocalists. Learn more...

The Elvis Presley Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich ...
Understandably, residents of Tennessee feel a sense of pride when they think of their home state. There are many iconic things that have come out of Tennessee: the Vols, Kenny Chesney, the 1982 World's Fair, and the Elvis Sandwich...

Copyright 2011 Treasures By Brenda


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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