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

FullSizeRender (10)

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!!!

Let’s talk about ALCOHOLISM

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset
My grandparents on their wedding day.

Look at that sly gleam in his eye. He was a damn good-looking man indeed. And she, whew!!! She was a FOX!! This is for sure where I got my stunning good looks from. I kid, I kid. I was blessed with not being completely ugly. In fact, the whole of my family missed the ugly branch on the tree.

Both of my grandparents were rather smart as well. My grandfather, Grady Doyle Miller, was a lawyer and would later become a Municipal Court Judge here in Bakersfield. To the best of my recollection, my grandmother was a medical librarian. My grandfather went by Doyle. He and his family came from Texas. Again, this is all from memory. I have my ancestry books somewhere, I will dig them out later and give you all a full description, trust me… it is insanely interesting. My grandmother, Janette Gay Van Netta (Miller), came from Wisconsin, where her family settled when they immigrated from Norway. I used to hate my slanty, almond-shaped eyes. Then I learned that I was Norwegian and my eyes were a trait of my ancestry.

Like I have mentioned before, my grandfather died when I was a baby, so my memories of him are limited. My grandmother did not move back to San Francisco until I was about 6 or 7, so I have some memories of her. I remember that she would tickle my back and my belly upon my relentless requesting. She pulled the flathead needle from my knee when I got it lodged there whilst crawling around under the living room table. My knee was stuck, I couldn’t open or close it, until she pulled that sucker out.

I also remember her love of liverwurst sandwiches and split pea soup. I learned to love green olives from her too. She would pull them out of her drink and give them to me. Sometimes she would mix her drink with orange juice. Vodka. Bottles and bottles of vodka. My mom came home once, there was a fight and a giant plastic jug of vodka was thrown against the wall. It may have broken and spilled everywhere, or it may not have. But for drama’s sake, imagine clear liquid cascading down the wall and across the living room.

One night, she and I hopped in her VW bug to pick up my mother from somewhere (I faintly remember that it may have been rehab). We made it down the street and then ACROSS the major street, through a fence and into a building. There were no seatbelt laws then, so I hit the seat in front of me, luckily I was in the back seat and was not hurt. My grandmother’s face was a patchwork of colors the next day, maybe it was a few days later because looking back, some of the bruises were faded green when I remember seeing her after the crash.

Later she would move to San Francisco. I would visit her once. She developed Alzheimer’s, perhaps it was dementia….a result of long-term alcoholism. She died years ago. I don’t remember when. By then I was living a different life and was rather detached from that previous life.

She was not the only one who suffered from alcoholism. My grandfather was a rather famous drunk. Remember he was a judge. A drunk judge. I have heard stories about how he got picked up for drunk driving, the police who picked him up had to be in court, so they took him with them. Guess who the judge was supposed to be? That’s right. My grandfather. Now this is the story I was given. That’s not the story the newspaper gives. So who knows which is the truth?

I always knew that I had a “predisposition” for addiction. That is such a big word for an eight year old to know. But I knew it. I knew that it was in my genes. I knew I should stay away. But that didn’t keep me from my foster mother’s mom’s wet bar. I would sneak drinks of the tequila or Kahlua, filling the rest with water so no one know that I was drinking. Mind you, I didn’t drink enough to get drunk. I was just doing it to do it. Addiction would find its way to me eventually. More on that later.

As I sit here with my beer…I ponder if I am an alcoholic. I took an online quiz that told me I’m at risk. I have vodka in my kitchen. I think of my grandmother when I look at it. It’s in my genes to be an alcoholic. My grandparents and both of my parents were. Is it possible to have a drink or two and not be an alcoholic? How can we dodge what seems to be our fate? How can we stop the cycle? Or can we? Is it hopeless?