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1986

Mercedes Rochelle Glisan, age eight years, was taken into protective custody on January 31, 1986 by Bakersfield Police Department Officer Don Martin. Early that evening, he had been dispatched to the scene of a fire accidentally set by the minor who had been left unsupervised by her mother.

Excerpts from court documents:

Mercedes Rochelle Glisan, age eight years, was taken into protective custody on January 31, 1986 by Bakersfield Police Department Officer Don Martin. Early that evening, he had been dispatched to the scene of a fire accidentally set by the minor who had been left unsupervised by her mother, Valerie Glisan.

According to Officer Martin’s report:

“On 01-31-86 at about 1920 hours, I was dispatched to 5101 Marsha, Apt 116, in regards to a fire which had occurred there. Upon arrival, I met with Captain Gocher (phonetic) for the Fire Prevention and Arson Investigation Division. He stated fire department personnel had just investigated and put out a fire in which Apt. 116 had been totally destroyed. Gocher stated through his investigation , he found that an eight year old female had been left alone at the residence. He stated in talking with the juvenile, she is constantly being left unsupervised by her mother and that the fire started as a result of the juvenile being left alone. I contacted the juvenile, Mercedes Glisan, and asked her what happened in regards to the fire. She told me that she had been left alone by her mother since about 3:30 pm. and she did not know where her mother was. Mercedes stated the power went off in the residence and it was dark, so she lit several candles inside the residence to provide light for herself. Mercedes stated she left the candles on, forgetting to blow them out and she went outside to play and then went out to a neighbor’s house. she said sometime later, she came back and saw smoke coming from the apartment, at which time a neighbor had notified the fire department who was responding to the fire. Mercedes told me that she is always left unattended by her mother as her mother leaves the apartment and goes to the Matchmaker Bar and several other places, and she does not know where her mother goes on these occasions.”

“I talked to Mercedes’ mother Valerie Glisan. She told me the reason she was not at her residence was because she had vehicle problems and her vehicle broke down on California and Stockdale. She stated she then had her vehicle fixed, at which time she responded back to the residence. She stated she does not leave her child alone but then talking with the child, she does state she is left alone numerous occasions. Valerie Glisan changed her story when I asked her again. She stated she has left Mercedes unattended several times but it is not her fault as she is always looking for work.”

Most of this is accurate. But what it fails to tell you is what really happened. My mom often left me alone. She left me alone so often that I rarely attended school and I ran amok through the neighborhood, which was nothing but apartment complexes. This particular night, as she left me, she gave me specific instructions to go directly to my friends house. Clearly, I did not. Instead, I messed around the apartment and discovered a plastic candle holder and mirror which was meant to be mounted on the wall with fake candles. I mounted them, attempting to fancy up the apartment for my mom and stuck REAL candles in them and lit them. THEN, the lights went out. I tried to check the breaker (because at 8 I was already an electrician). After I realized I couldn’t turn the lights back on, I went to my friends house, forgetting about the lit candles.

Some time later, I don’t remember how long, there was banging on her door. A man was yelling FIRE!!! and we all ran out of the apartment. I could see that my apartment was in flames and I panicked. I ran. I ran as fast as my little 8 year old legs could take me. I don’t know who grabbed me or where I was. I remember that someone told me they thought I was in the apartment and they tried knocking the door down to get me. In flashes I remember my mom came running up, it was like the movies, screaming, crying, hitting her knees in fear, anger, terror, all of the above.  I was in a police car being taken away. I was so terrified, I had bitten a hole in my bottom lip.

 

How I met your father

I have been very fortunate to have people in my life to help me when I needed it the most. Most of them came from my church, not my family. Strange isn’t it? I think mostly it was because my foster mom believes in tough love and letting me figure it out on my own and my bio family was in no position to help me either. So there I was, 18, homeless with no idea where to go, what to do and no life skills to even know where to start.

However, my friend Kim and her mom, from church, stepped in and let me move in with them. Kim’s mom, Donna ran an in-home daycare, so during the day I helped in the daycare. I love kids so this was no problem for me, except for the bratty ones, but I even loved them too.

Kim and I had been friends for a while, but living together did test our friendship. She was on the straight and narrow and I was the wild one. I’m not sure how either her or her mom put up with me for so long, but they did and I am grateful for that. I finally got a job at Taco Bell and soon found a one bedroom apartment. Neither lasted long. My apartment was the go-to party pad and I barely had the job at Taco Bell before I walked out on my ten minute break. Somehow I managed to keep the apartment for the next month. During that time, it was one big drunken, pot filled party. I can’t even give a clear timeline of all this. I just remember that it was May or June of 1996, because that is when I met my soon-to-be baby daddy.

I met Tim at a “party” at his house or his friends house, I’m not sure on the details. Now, just to be clear, I think you all have gathered that my decision making skills really sucked at this time (sometimes they still do). I never really thought too far ahead about the consequences of my actions, who I might hurt, or how I might even hurt myself. I also never really thought about the consequences of having sex. I had a skewed sense of love for a long time, having no real role models to teach me how to have a proper relationship. I think in my teenage mind, I thought by having sex with someone, I might get them to love me. We all know that is not how it works. Anyhow, so I slept with Tim that night and a couple times after.

I knew before I even took a pregnancy test that I was pregnant. I knew that Tim was the father, though there was a chance he wasn’t (again, I was not the best at making good choices). Let me just stop for a moment to give you girls and boys some words of wisdom that I have acquired over the years of mistakes I have made. Be picky about who you sleep with. Be careful who you make babies with. You have to deal with them forever, and so does your child. I didn’t know Tim at all. We hadn’t even developed a friendship. I know that he had a girlfriend who was on vacation at the time. Other than that, I didn’t know much.

Again, my church family stepped up to help. Not Kim and Donna this time, but Kim’s sister Tara. She moved me in, helped get me set up with insurance and welfare. Her rule was that I had to go to college and pass my classes. So I did. I took a full load of classes and passed them all, all while my baby was getting bigger and bigger inside of me. I had no idea how I was going to raise this kid by myself. I was only 19. I remember crying and crying about it to myself. I had no help from Tim. When his girlfriend came home from her trip, she of course found out what happened and that I was pregnant. She was still in high school. A month after I found out I was pregnant, she found out she was pregnant too. I wasn’t the only one who didn’t make good choices. Never the less, there we were. Somehow, she and I became friends. Though there have been times when our friendship was strained, for obvious reasons.

On February 18, 1997, the first love of my life was born. Hunter was 8 pounds 12 ounces and 21 inches long. He was absolutely perfect. I swore to him that it would be me and him against the world and he didn’t need a dad because I would be enough.  Looking back, I wish I had let Tim be more active in his life. But I think that we do the best we can with what we have at the time.

Summer of 1995

high school

So how much trouble can one girl get into in just three months? How much can she set her life off course in that short amount of time? I mean look at her!! She’s so sweet, innocent and naïve.

I left my  home on my 18th birthday. I moved in with my best friend. She was quite the partier and troublemaker. She was the one who had the experience with boys and drugs. One would think that she’d be the one who’d find herself in a pickle. Not me. Ironically enough, she grew up to be a hippie dippie yoga instructor that has lived in Hawaii, backpacked through Guatemala and Mexico, married an Australian and lived in Costa Rica. I would take her life in a heart beat. But my life took a different turn.

Of course, I tried alcohol that summer. I don’t recall drinking a lot but I’m sure that’s because I spent a lot of time blacked out. Through my friend, I met more people. People who were a lot more knowledgeable in worldly things. Remember, I was a square Christian girl. The first time I smoked pot was on her roof top. I don’t think I got high that night though. Must have been bunk!

I lost my precious virginity in the backseat of a Honda Civic to my high school boyfriend.I never saw him again after that. I hear through the grapevine that he lives on the coast and spends his days surfing. Again, I’d take his life too!

Somehow my friend and I got mixed up with a group of “taggers.” For those who don’t know, taggers are the people who graffiti our buildings. And they usually come in gangs. So with that lifestyle is the usual gang activity. There were fights, guns and of course a lot of weed. A lot. So much weed. It was huge. The biggest weed ever. Sorry. That was my Trump impersonation.

There were other things too. Like meth. My other high school friend, we’ll call her “Barbra,” gave me my first taste of meth. And that was the end of the story. I was hooked. Though I still smoked weed, meth became my drug of choice. I was already skinny, but I lost even more weight. I got down to a size zero. It was a constant party. Hotels. Meth. up all night. Meth. Called my mom, she asked why I was talking so funny. I said I’ve been hanging out with a Texan, must’ve picked up their accent. Meth.

The day after my wild night in the back seat of the Honda Civic, I found myself traveling to Las Vegas with some of these people I barely knew. The date was June 24, 1995. Just 21 days after I turned 18. That should give a clue as to just how quickly I found myself in trouble. I traveled with these people my age that I barely knew. I had no idea why we were going. I was just a long for the ride. As we entered the Vegas area, one of the other cars in our group stopped to pick up a hitch hiker. An older man. Finally we got to Vegas. One of the guys I was with and I got dropped off outside a hotel. The driver of the car had to go to her dads and we couldn’t come. So there he and I were. Alone. No money. No idea when they were coming back. We went to the Excalibur. They have a buffet there. We snuck in, telling the attendants that our parents were in there. Quickly grabbing some frozen yogurt to eat, we barely had time to sit down and eat it before they caught on to our game. So we moved on. We found ourselves in front of the Luxor. It’s lawn is a nice place to nap.

Eventually, I began to panic. I thought I was stuck there forever. I began trying to call people collect. But to no avail. I imagined having to prostitute myself out to get home. I had a wild imagination. Luckily, somehow our group found us. And we all met up behind the Stardust. Cops had our other friends back there. The hitchhiker was in cuffs. Apparently, he was a wanted felon. The cops made us hold hands and swear not to pick up hitchhikers. And that was my wild trip to Vegas.

Pot. Meth. Partying. Repeat. That was my summer of 1995, before I was supposed to go to boot camp. Flash forward to a week before I was to be sent off. My best friend and I go to a party on a river bed. I barely knew anyone there. I probably shouldn’t have gone, but then I would have missed out on one of  the most pivotal moments of my life. Who would have known that one night would change my life forever?

We weren’t there long. Something hit my friends hand. Like a bee sting. Something hit my neck. Like a bee sting but worse. Come to find out, some asshole had an air pump rifle style pellet gun. The kind that shoots metal arrow shaped pellets. Not the round plastic pellets. No. The kind that get in and stay. So to the hospital we went. Actually just me. She was able to dig the pellet out of her hand. The doctors kept me over night trying to evaluate how they would remove it. They came to the conclusion, that they would have to cut my neck open and dig it out or they could leave it in. It wouldn’t move around, it wasn’t going to harm me. So there it stayed.

The following week, I went up to Fresno to MEPS. I got sworn in. I was ready to go. But me, being honest, opened my big mouth and told the lady “Hey, I have a pellet in my neck.” For those of you that don’t know- it’s cool to tell your recruiter stuff, but once you get in, you gotta keep your mouth shut. She sent me home. So that one week, and the previous events leading up to it, set my ship on a different course.

Imagine one event being a rock thrown into a pond. The resulting ripples go out for quite a while. That’s what I learned that summer. One event, one decision can effect your life for quite sometime.

*side note- I am still friends with a lot of those people from that summer. It’s amazing we survived.

 

 

Sadie’s Folly

On June 3, 1995 a cute little foal was born. It also was my 18th birthday. The owner of the foal named it after me (Sadie) and thought folly would also be appropriate due to the fact that folly basically means fuck up. Sadie’s fuck up.

My whole time in foster care, my mom told me if I screwed up she always had the option to send me back to the Jamison Center. I, of course, never wanted to go back, so I was a fairly well behaved kid. However, on my 18th birthday I had plans to be wild. I had a date and then wanted to go to a party my friend was having for me. My mom told me no, I needed to be home after my date. If I didn’t want to do that, I could give my grandma my house key. So guess what I did? Turned in my key. I can still remember my grandmas face when I handed it over. It was sad.

So I went on the date. I guess. I don’t remember all that, this is what my mom told me a few weeks ago. Looking back, I do remember the guy, I have no idea who he is now, a friend from school. Afterwards we went to Cecily’sbhouse and partied. I never really drank except a sip here  and there. But that night I seem to recall drinking 8 budweisers. And then…there was the goldschalger. To my recollection I drank the whole neck of the bottle. I could be exaggerating. Nevertheless, I ended up with alcohol poisoning. I was sick for a week. Living with my friend. Finishing the last week of school. Doing graduation rehearsals outside, in over 100 degree weather, in black jeans. It was miserable. But not miserable enough for me to go home.

You see. I had it all planned out. I was enlisted in the Air Force. I was due to be shipped to boot camp in August. That was only two months. Two months isn’t enough time to get into trouble and make life changing decisions that would have a lasting impact on my life, right? Ha. Right.

Destinations

 

train

Clearly I am procrastinating writing about my late teens and early 20’s. Those were really horrible times in my life. I was a horrible human being who did disgusting things. I was far from the person I am now. I have forgiven myself of course, but we are our harshest critics. Tonight, I’m not quite ready to rip that scab off and discuss my shady past. So let’s talk about where I’m going.

I am on a north bound train to Sacramento to meet up with some girlfriends to run in the Folsom Blues Breakout Half Marathon on Sunday. It has become a tradition of sorts to participate in either a half marathon or full marathon with these girls once a year, no matter where we are. Last year we ran the Portland Marathon, the year before we ran the Grand Canyon Marathon. We meet up in various stages of our lives. One friend has had major life changing events over the last two years. But she still shows up, with her smile and laugh. This year, she and I  are both meeting the other friend in Sacramento where she lives (or at least in that area). Free room and food. Can’t beat that. She has also had major life changes. Life happens. Good and bad. But you either go on or quit.

About 45 minutes ago, we passed the prison my son is in. He called me last night to let me know he was going to the receiving facility at Wasco State Prison. I won’t get to talk to him or visit him for at least 90 days. No matter how bad he fucks up, he is still my baby and all I wanted to do last night was hug him. Prison is big and scary. That’s my kid in there. But what can you do? “Please, no tattoos on your head or face!!” “Don’t become someone’s bitch!” “Don’t join a prison gang.” He will be in there and I will be out here going about my life. Running half marathons. Riding a train and drinking a beer. Two years from now he will be out. Life will continue as it always does. This time will pass with a blink of our eye!

I think the two glasses of wine I had earlier and the beer I’m having now is getting to me 🙂

Three Years

A lot could happen in three years. Babies can be born. People die. My 13 year old will be 16, my 15 year old will be in college. I’ll be 42. The lease will be up on my Regal. Hopefully I’ll be done with my prerequisites for the nursing program. My boyfriend and I could break up. 

Like I said- three years is a long time. 

That’s what my oldest son will be sentenced to soon. 3 years. It’s not a life time. It’s not 10 years. He’s not getting sent to death row. 

But for a kid (he’s 19) who has spent more of his life since he was 13 IN jail than out, it seems like forever. 

As a mom I have mixed emotions. It’s my son so of course I’m sad. But I’m also relieved because I know he’ll be safe (which is relative in prison). 

It has been an exhausting battle with him. It seems we only get along and grow closer when he is in jail, which is depressing. 

Ah. Motherhood is grand. This is just a little excerpt of what is to come in my story. I know that I broke my storyline by jumping ahead to the present but don’t worry, there’s plenty more to come. 

Good night!

Gotta Have Faith

Mmmmm George Michael. Not to be confused with Boy George…..

     When I was about 5, I was in bed, in my room that was in complete shambles. Box mattress tossed, cotton fluff torn out, clothes, paper, probably filthy clothes- who knows. But there I was looking at a calendar of cats. One particular page had a black kitten. I prayed and prayed to God for a black kitten to appear but to no avail. No black kitten came slithering into my room. So I gave God the double bird and told him “FUCK YOU GOD!!” I not kidding. Who does that shit? Certainly not 5 year olds. But I did. And that was the extent of my communication to God for a while. I visited Sunday schools here and there. A neighbor held a class out of their house one time. We made leather bracelets. 

     Some years after I was placed with Terry, maybe when I was 9 or 10, she met a church going lady in one of her college classes. They struck an agreement that Jenny (the church going lady), would take me to church every Sunday. Terry didn’t go. Church wasn’t her thing. However, it would become my life. Sunday school, Christmas shows, friendships, Hume Lake. I even made two missionary trips to Mexico. 

     I am so grateful that Terry made me go to church. I formed lifelong friendships that would eventually save my life more than once (stay tuned). My foundation in church most likely kept me from getting pregnant at 14 as well. 

     I haven’t been to church in a while. My views have changed a little. I’ve come to see that I don’t necessarily need to be engulfed in church to know God. But lately I’ve been feeling the tug….

     Did I mention that my mom Terry had a black cat? I guess He finally answered my prayer! All in Gods timing right? 

The Wonder Years

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That’s me on the right. I must have been in junior high, so it was about 1989, 90 or 91. That is my cousin Debbie on the left and my grandmother Ruth. This is the family that became my family. I have no idea why my left cheek was so fat and swollen looking…

Be prepared to be bored. This part of my story is very uninteresting. There’s no horror stories of neglect and abandonment. No abuse. In fact, it was quite the opposite. My foster mother, Terry, was a part of a nice middle-class, maybe even upper-middle class family. To me it seemed they were rich. But coming from my background it wouldn’t take much to impress me. After Terry and I moved in with her mother, we all lived in a HUGE house in a fancy country club estate. It’s not huge in today’s standards, but then it was to me. I was an only child now, so I spent a lot of time exploring the trees in the backyard, climbing as high as I could. I read a lot of books. A lot. The bedtime chore of reading for 30 minutes before bed soon became an obsession. I cannot tell you how many books I read. I even tried to learn a new word a day by choosing a word out of the dictionary. And I wrote a lot. Imagine that.

My mom and I (I will refer to Terry as my mom from her on out and my bio-mom Valerie as bio-mom, it may get confusing), moved in with grandma because she decided to go back to college. She was 47. She started with her Associate’s all the way through to her Master’s in Family Therapy. She was a driven and independent woman. That may be one of the better qualities I got from her. There were many times when I would go to school with her. I spent plenty of time in the libraries at both the community college and university. Several times I would go to class with her. I didn’t realize it then what I was learning from her, independence, self-sufficiency, discipline…I didn’t realize it until my 30’s I suppose.

Because my mom had no real experience raising children, she had to wing it and also use what she was learning in all of her psychology books. Needless to say, she was strict. Overly strict. She even admits it now, that she was too hard on me. I went from no discipline to having too much discipline. And fear. She told me more than once that if I didn’t comply, I would go back to the Jamison Center. I hated that place so much that her fear tactic worked. I resented her for it. I hated her for it. But for what it’s worth, I graduated high school with out getting pregnant, so she must’ve done something right.

That is all for tonight friends. I am tired and my need for spellcheck is increasing, so I will bid you farewell!!!