I’ve been busy!!

Hi all!! I will be updating my blog soon!!

Just wanted to invite you to listen to my podcast! Ok, well not JUST mine, but still! Give it a listen. *Parental Advisement for language and topic* We talk about the Turpin family among other abusive and fucked up parents https://thegspotcast.com


IT’S A BOY!!!!!

My first born, Hunter. This picture was taken in 2009, when he was 11 or 12 (I haven’t had enough coffee to do the math right now). I don’t have too many pictures of him. He doesn’t frequent my Facebook posts. Most people don’t know that I have a 20 year old son. Not because I’m hiding him, but because I’m not going to update my Facebook status with “Going to Pleasant Valley State Prison to see the boy today!” “Got a call from prison today!” Don’t get me wrong, those who need to know, know about my son’s story but I share it cautiously. When people ask about my kids- “Oh, what school do they go to? What sports do they play?” My normal response is usually- “Well, Arvy is excelling at football. Nicky hasn’t decided between a doctor or engineer. And Hunter, he’s on his own path right now.” How can I drop the bomb on them with “My son’s in prison.” It’s like “Oh, I have cancer.” Like I’m responsible for how they will take it. Because I don’t want to shock them or make them feel bad about asking. However, lately, I just say it. “My son is in prison.” More times than not, I get to hear about one their kid that has been down the same road, a cousin, a nephew or parent. Amazing what happens when you share  your story. Usually, you’ll find when you do that, the response is “Me Too.”

Hunter has been in prison for just over a year. We were expecting him  to get out either early next year or even in the summer. But it’s official. He’s coming home the day after Christmas. I’m excited and nervous. I miss my kid. I’m eager for him to have a new chance at life. But each time he comes home, it’s like bringing a new-born home. I don’t have clothes for him. Each time he either takes off or gets arrested, he loses everything. So we start from scratch. Will he last longer than a week out of incarceration, like last time? Will my shit get stolen….again? Will I be able to trust him? Will he get a job? Will he stick around and help me? Will this time finally be the time that he’s grown up enough to have gotten past the bullshit? Will the fact that I moved to a nice neighborhood and out of the drug infested area in which we used to live, make a difference? Will my “fancy” neighbors see him walking around the neighborhood and call security (because we live in THAT kind of neighborhood, with security, we’re legit!) saying that some thug is casing their houses? Will the parole agents come to my house and cause the neighbors to talk shit? Will I be able to afford to feed another person? Will my doors actually stay on the hinges? Will that walls stay fist-sized hole free?

So many unknowns. Sadly, my life is relatively calm when he’s jail. I’m not worrying about if he’s strung out somewhere, if he’s going to rob me, again, or if I’m going to get the call that I have to identify a body. Because that shit happens.

So, I start praying. That things will go right. That I will be able to handle this, again. That he will succeed. That we will all get along in the house. That the boys relationship finally be one of love and not hate, because the younger ones have watched Hunter destroy everything in his wake for the last 7+ years.

That I will finally be able to breathe again.




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 🙂

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!!!

Let’s talk about ALCOHOLISM

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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?


Foster Care

I don’t know how long I was in the Jamison Center before my soon-to-be foster mom would decide that she wanted two little blonde girls to take home. It felt like months. I suppose if I looked through the court papers, I could find out but honestly, I have no desire to dig through the court papers. You have no idea how many court papers there are!!! Duplicates even. I don’t know if this is normal or if my crazy mom just wanted duplicates of everything. Who knows?

Terry Thayer came in one day (she’s a she even though her name is spelled like a he), with the hopes of bringing home a little blonde girl. Much like “how much is that puppy in the window?” She came in looking for one “Oh! We have two!!” And left with two. So Cherie and I, who had become friends in the center and often pretended to be sisters, went home to become foster sisters. Terry was a single woman who already had one foster girl living with her. At the time, she was a real estate agent. Later she would go back to school at the age of 47 to pursue her associates and ultimately her MFT (Master’s in Family Therapy). If you know me personally, now you know where I get it from. Though my bio mom, Valerie, was a constant student as well. I went from thinking food stamps were normal to living in a nice house, with nice things, learning how to eat with my mouth closed, don’t bite the fork, cut my food right, say “passed gas” not fart, don’t ask how much money someone makes, how much they weigh and how to say “SUppose” not “I pose so.” I went from never going to school to always going to school. Reading for 30 minutes before bed, doing my homework and going from the bottom 10th percentile of my grade to the top 10th percentile. Can you say “stability?”

At first is was Cherie, Angie and myself as the only foster kids. Then more came and went. Soon it became evident that Angie’s mental issues were going to be too much for Terry to handle, so she was “returned.” Returned may be a bit harsh, but at the time, that is how it seemed to me. She needed more help then Terry could give her. I believe she went to a group home. You see, my story is horrible. There’s plenty I am leaving out of this blog, things I don’t feel comfortable discussing in this forum. However, these other girls and other foster kids have had it MUCH worse than me. Mothers who let their random boyfriends molest their daughters and sons, repeatedly. Kids so traumatized, that they rub their own shit on walls. But me, I was relatively normal. Considering. I was well-behaved. I didn’t talk back. I didn’t run away. I didn’t steal or get in fights at school. So for some reason, Terry decided that I would be the only foster kid she would keep around. Granted, everyone else wanted to go back to their fucked up homes. Some kids do that. Go back to the abuse, the filth, the drugs and the instability because it’s what they know and it’s normal to them.

I had visits with my bio mom once or twice a month. She was taking parenting classes and going to counseling at first. Sometimes she wouldn’t show up for visits. When she did, it was silly and sometimes fun. We had code words like “32 teeth” because we have 32 teeth, duh. So we would say that and it was like we were secretly saying “I love you.” I don’t know how or why but soon, I recognized that I wasn’t going to have a good life if I went back to her. My case came to a point were it was time to make a decision, try to go back to my bio mom or stay with Terry and she would try to get legal guardianship. Court day approached, and me being me, thought it would help my case to write a letter stating how I felt. I wrote it to my case worker who represented me in court because I didn’t want to go that day, I’d rather be in school.

To Susan Gill: Would you please tell the judge that I should, and I want to be in legal guardianship. I understand that it will change the relationship between my mom and I. I don’t want to go home ever in my life. I also want you to tell the judge that I am tired of going to court every six months. I do not want my visits increased and I don’t want unsupervised visits. I don’t want to go through this year after year. I need a home and my home is with Terry.”

Sincerely Sadie Thayer   P.S. You have my permission to show this to my mom.”

It worked. I stayed.



Mommy and Me

Teri Garr


This is my mom. Not really. Really it’s Teri Garr who happens to look like she could be my doppelgänger and since I don’t have any good pics of my mom at the moment so this will have to do. Besides, since Nick Nolte was my imaginary dad, why not Teri Garr be my imaginary mom?

      My mom was the middle of three sisters. Born to my grandfather who was a local judge and my grandmother who, as far as I know was a medical librarian. I didn’t get to know either of them well considering my grandfather died after I was born and my grandmother moved to San Francisco around the time I was 7. More on them later. From what I have been told, my mom was brilliant. She excelled in math. She and her sisters were dancers. She graduated from East High. It was the 60’s so you can imagine what was going on. Drugs. Drinking.  The usual. My sister was born in 1969. I am not sure if my mom was married to her father or not. I just know that my sister’s relationship with her father was as nonexistent as mine. It seemed my mom had a knack for running men off.

My favorite times with my mom were at Hart Park. Years ago it had a water park, peddle boats, the water was clean and the craw daddy catching was good. The weekends there were filled with Harley’s and Budweiser cans. Mom hung with a “biker gang” which shall remain nameless. It’s not PC to call them a gang, now they are “motorcycle clubs.” Ha. Anywho. This is was the norm for me. Bikes. Beer. Tattoos. Oddly enough, it’s still the norm for me, except the bikes don’t have motors. If you know me, you know how true this is.

My mom was constantly trying to get sober. So in later years, I spent many hours at the local Alano Club or the meeting place at 106 Lincoln St that had egg crates on the ceiling, the room was filled with smoke, members served others by serving them coffee. I knew the Twelve Steps, even if I didn’t understand them. “It works if you work it.” “One day at a time.” The Lord’s Prayer. The Serenity Prayer. The time I kicked some grown man in the balls for whatever reason and he about knocked me on my ass. I could bat my cute little eyelashes and my mom’s friends would buy me cookies. They sold Merit cigarettes in the vending machine.

I don’t know how serious my mom was about her sobriety or if she was just serious about trying to find a boyfriend. They came and went. There was beer in the house for most of what I can remember. And if you recall, the night of the fire, I knew she could always be found at The Matchmaker- which was a bar. I remember walking in on my mom doing coke once. I was 7. How I knew it was coke, I have no clue.

When I was older, I learned that my mom had borderline personality disorder. Which is very similar to bipolar disorder but it can be changed with work. She never worked on it. She always had an ailment- sore neck, knees buckling, back going out, invisible seizures, bronchitis. Her house smelled of cats and cockroaches. She could grow plants out of avocado seeds. To this day I still can’t . I’ve tried and failed. She saved everything. Papers, used plastic containers, pictures, notebooks and they all were covered with cockroach shit.

This is how I remember my mom from my younger years. Don’t get me wrong, she was a looker. I don’t think she had trouble getting men. She just couldn’t keep them. One night, she was getting ready to go out. She must have been 36 or 37, she was wearing white pants and a white sweater, taking the hot rollers out of her hair. She must have been having a hard time with it because she told me “sometimes you just have to let your hair do what it wants.” That’s probably the best advise she ever gave me. Actually, many years later she would unknowingly give me the best advise that probably saved me much more pain and possibly my life.

Now that I’m grown, 39, just a few years older than she was when I got taken away, I have the ability to look back at her through adult eyes, through a mothers eyes. I am much more understanding of how she was. She just wasn’t made to be a mom. Some of us aren’t. Sometimes I’m not. But kids don’t see that. Our children think we should have our shit together because we are adults. But we don’t. We are just winging it. Making it up as we go. Faking it until we make it. Sometimes it finally falls together, sometimes it falls apart. Because of this, I have to extend grace to her, just like I hope my kids do me.