Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chapter Twenty-Six: Zoo – Henry Villas Zoo

Chapter 26 of the Autobiography... Letter Z,Zoo

Chapter Twenty-Six

Zoo – Henry Villas Zoo

  In Madison, WI there is a Zoo called the Henry Villas Zoo. I’ve gone there on a number of occasions over the years including a few “first dates”. I have a lot of fun every time I go to the Zoo. It makes me want to move to some exotic location like Australia. I’ve always wanted to at least go to a place like that for a short while. So when I go to the Zoo, and aren’t being distracted by a new girl, I fantasize about being in a country that naturally has those types of animals. One day when I’m married and have kids I’ll get to take them to this Zoo. The best part about it is you get the same experience you can get at almost any other zoo, only it’s free at the Henry Villas Zoo. It’s a perfect place to take a girl on your first date with her too since you’re not wasting any money getting to know her a little bit. By the time I leave the Zoo with her I know if it’s worth my money and time to have the date continue with movies or dinner.

Chapter Twenty-Five YMCA – Swimming at the Y

Chapter 25 of the Autobiography... Letter Y, Y.M.C.A.

Chapter Twenty-Five

YMCA – Swimming at the Y

  When my brother, sister, and I were all much younger, we spent quite a bit of time at the YMCA. We would mostly be to swim during open swimming hours. My mom would always take us there. I remember my mom couldn’t swim and that was so interesting to me. My brother and I could swim like fish though, so we had a blast. This is where I learned to swim so well. I remember, to swim in the deep end or use the diving board, one needed to swim the length of the Olympic size pool twice. It always scared me to take the test because half of the pool was ten feet deep and I was afraid of drowning of course. The first time I slipped over the edge into the deep water is all it took for me to learn though. At that point it was just like the old times, sink or swim. I made sure I swam too. In the beginning it was mostly awkward splashing, but I got much better at it over time. 

  My brother and I would go all over inside the YMCA at those times. Though our passes restricted us to some areas, mostly due to our age, we still managed to explore the weight lifting gym and the racquetball courts. At the end of every day that we spent in the YMCA, all three of us kids were so exhausted that I don’t remember a single time that any of us managed to stay awake for the whole ride home. As we got older the crime increased at this location and it got to be sort of ran down. Between those issues and scheduling problems we didn’t continue going there. I still miss going there. I was always so active and had so much fun. Maybe one day I’ll purchase another membership and return there for my workouts.

Chapter Twenty-Four: X-Mas – Christmas With My Family

Chapter 24 of the Autobiography... Letter X, X-mas..

Chapter Twenty-Four

X-Mas – Christmas With My Family

  Every year the plan is usually the same. On Christmas Eve we all gather at my Grandpa’s house (Dad’s Dad) and we spend an hour or two there. We chat for a short while and the grandchildren usually end up in the basement where the pool table is. I come from a family of competitive pool players. I never spent a whole lot of time in the past actually visiting with my grandpa on these nights. It always seemed like I was putting on a front for the rest of the family. After leaving Grandpa’s house we would head to my Grandma’s (Dad’s Mom) where the rest of the crazy bunch were located. 

  Her house is significantly smaller and they always try to stuff twenty to thirty people inside. It’s so crowded that it makes me feel claustrophobic. I usually stand in the kitchen the whole time. It’s breathable and it’s within close distance of the backdoor that everyone stands outside of while they’re smoking. Some years we spend more time there than others, but I’ve found myself wanting to be there less and less over the years. Mostly because of the people and how they act while I’m there. It always seems like a big bitch session (sorry for those of you who are reading this, I’m just being honest). 

  Before eleven that night my immediate family usually takes off from there, heading to their respective homes. I usually spend the night out with my brother on most years. We find some Christmas party to go to, or some bar that’s serving. The next morning everyone eventually congregates at my parents’ house. My cousin Mike has spent Christmas with us ever since I can remember too. We never start opening gifts at the time we plan to because my brother is always fashionably late. My brother, sister, and I still get stockings that my mom fills with the smaller gifts. We’re allowed to open those before the main gift opening comes when everyone gets to the house. When we start opening gifts though, we try to spread them out so everyone gets to open one at a time. No one person gets piled on with a ton of gifts at one time then. Dad takes lots of pictures as he’s always been interested in photography and has a great camera. The little ones Logan and Allyson have more fun opening the gifts than they do with the gifts themselves it seems like. After we clean up the wrappings and pile up each of our gifts then the table gets set for dinner. 

  We generally have an early afternoon dinner because most of us are so exhausted from the usual holiday stress. It’s not uncommon for a few of us to fall asleep after dinner for a mid-afternoon nap either. I like how we spend our Christmas Day at home with our family. I hope we can continue doing this for as many years to come as possible. This time of year has been a big deterrent of me moving too far away. I’m afraid I’ll miss my Christmas with my family. Now here I am in prison where it is impossible for me to spend Christmas with them. I hope that changes and I can spend the rest of my Christmases with my family too.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chapter Twenty-Three: Washington D.C. – Visiting Our Nation’s Capital

Chapter 23 of the Autobiography... Letter W,Washington D.C.
Chapter Twenty-Three

Washington D.C. – Visiting Our Nation’s Capital

During my eighth grade year in school we have a scheduled trip to Washington D.C. that we take during the summertime. The year we were to go our class almost had ours cancelled due to our behavior in school. We would have been the first class to have our trip cancelled for any reason, let alone for our unruly behavior. Kids had been fighting on a daily basis, people were continually starting food fights during our lunch period, and people were outright disrespecting and disobeying teachers and other staff. They couldn’t allow a group of eighth grade kids that act like that go to Washington D.C. without their parents. So I think it was much to the relief to some of the staff when my Mom decided to take some vacation time from work and go with as a chaperone. She also went with my brother and sister’s classes too, but I think it was in my best interest that she went with me. I’m not sure how badly things would have turned out if she wasn’t there to keep me in line.

So on the day of the trip we went to the Milwaukee airport and flew to Washington D.C.. We had been warned about a number of things that we normally would never have experienced in our neck of the woods. They said, “Don’t give money to the homeless people”, “Don’t buy from vendors on the streets and expect the items to not be knockoffs”, and “Don’t keep too much cash on you, and if you do have cash on you, keep your wallet in a secure pocket. There are a lot of pick pockets in this area”. So right away I’m thinking, “Where the hell are they taking us?” I can honestly say I had a great time. I know I was thinking at the time that having my Mom there with me was going to ruin my trip, but looking back, I really think having her there made it more enjoyable. If I remember correctly, I think I went through 12 rolls of film all on my own. I had my parents’ camera which took excellent pictures. So I was always asked to take the group pictures of everyone. While we were there we visited places like the Washington Monument, the White House, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, and went shopping at all the little stores in the Union Station. We stayed in the Hilton Hotel, but I was sort of surprised, it wasn’t as elegant as they show it on T.V. At night they would put masking tape over our doors and had a security guard sitting in the hallways to make sure we didn’t sneak into the girls’ hotel rooms. Who knows what would happen if one of the girls came home from D.C. pregnant. We toured all over the area. I would have to go back through all of my old photographs to remember more about the trip. I just know I had a blast and would love to go back there with my family again someday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chapter Twenty-Two: Video – Becoming a Movie Star

Chapter 22 of the Autobiography... Letter V, Video

Chapter Twenty-Two

Video – Becoming a Movie Star

  When I was nine years old I wanted to be one of the greatest magicians that ever lived. I would purchase magic trick supplies with almost every penny I had. When my family asked what I wanted for a present, of course, it was always a magic trick of some sort. I had hundreds if not thousands of dollars in magic supplies at one point. But when I was nine I think it was my peak of my infatuation with magic. I talked my parents into letting me borrow their video camera and making a video of myself doing all kinds of neat-o tricks. After I performed my show I was kind enough to go through each any every trick and show the viewers how I performed the trick. If someone wasn’t there to teach people how to perform magic tricks, then there would be no magic. At least that’s what I thought at the time. Later of course I learned that a magician never tells. My parents still talk about that video. They say it’s the last proof of my innocent years. It shows who I was before I changed a couple of years later. That video is of the child every parent dreams their child would be. I wish I had never changed, even though deep down inside I know I’m still that kid.

Chapter Twenty-One: Under The Influence – Drinking and Driving

Chapter 21 of the Autobiography... Letter U, Under the Influence.

Chapter Twenty-One

Under The Influence – Drinking and Driving

  During my life I have driven under the influence thousands of times, but I want to focus on the five times I was caught. The first time I was arrested for OWI was in April of 1999, when I was sixteen years old. I was on supervision for a burglary I committed while stealing alcohol from one of my neighbors’ garages. The night of my OWI though, I had been out with some friends and we decided to hit up a party. While at the party I had consumed a couple of beers while I was there. I had been gambling with some older guys at the party and I took the majority of their money. So I offered to give them a ride to a bar on Main St. in Janesville, WI. After leaving the parking lot I headed back up Court St. to go back to the party. My friend Wes was sitting in the front passenger seat and we were listening to some music. I admit I was driving a little fast. But when we got to the top of the hill the street gets a whole lot darker and there is a five-point intersection. When approaching the intersection I noticed an SUV coming up to the stop sign to the left pretty quickly so I hit the brakes. Only the SUV continued through the stop sign and plowed headfirst into my front end.

  I was immediately knocked unconscious. My friend Wes got out and chased one of the passengers in the SUV because they tried to flee the accident. When he returned he and another witness helped pull the driver’s door open to get me out. I eventually had found out I had injured my elbow pretty badly, but at this point the police just wanted to make their arrests. I was revoked from my juvenile supervision and sent to Ethan Allen School for Boys a month later.

  On May 16th of 2005 I was leaving a festival in the area near my home where I had been drinking heavily for a few hours and I had car troubles when slowing down for a curve. At the same time there was an officer who had another gentleman pulled over for a traffic related offense. When he heard my engine rev to the limit, he immediately jumped into his squad car and chased me. By the time he pulled up behind my car which I had already exited and was at the passenger door pulling out a case of beer. He put the case of beer back and told me he wanted to give me a field sobriety test because he though I had been drinking too much. After failing the test he took me to jail. I was on adult supervision at the time for Possession with Intent to Deliver LSD and Felony Bail Jumping, so they immediately put me on a Probation Hold. I eventually was released six days later and was only sentenced to five days in jail (time served) and a fine. I lost my job due to not being able to call in while I was in jail.

  Almost a year and half later on October 12th 2006, I had been working at another job and while out with a couple of co-workers I had a few drinks at the bar. Around 1:00AM I decided to head home. I didn’t even make it out of the city of Beloit before being pulled over for not making a complete stop at a stop sign. When he approached the car he noticed an open bottle of beer in the center counsel. I once again failed the field sobriety test, but since I was doing as I was told and I wasn’t making any problems for the officers, they drove me up the street to the hospital so they could draw blood. After drawing blood from me they called my father to come pick me up.

  Later on September 4th of 2008 I was tubing down Turtle Creek with a few friends of mine. We brought our own tubes along and left a pickup truck at the bar where we planned on exiting the creek. The trip took quite a few hours as the current was moving quite slowly. So we managed to drink all of the beer we had brought along. By the time we exited at the Shopiere Tap I thought I was most likely the soberest one of the group so I opted to drive. When coming into the town limits we were all loaded in the front and back of the pickup truck and the police officer saw me driving of course, and he knew I didn’t have a driver’s license. So he attempted to pull me over, but I wasn’t going to make it that easy for him. I shifted down into first and gunned the engine, kicking rocks all over his windshield. He wouldn’t give up and I didn’t want anyone getting hurt so I just drove to my friend Brandon’s house and pulled into his driveway. He just so happened to have been in the front seat next to me. The officer got me out of the truck and told me I was under arrest. When he decided to give me a field sobriety test I told him I refused. I had three prior convictions and was clearly under the influence, so we could just skip the BS and go straight to jail. He in turn was generous enough to take me to the hospital I went to for the last blood draw and have them draw my blood again. Since he was headed back to my town he was kind enough to drop me off at home then. My parents signed for responsibility of me and as soon as the officer left I walked out the backdoor and went back to Brandon’s to drink some more. 

  The last time I was arrested for an OWI I had just attended my grandma’s funeral. After the funeral the whole family went to my aunt and uncle’s house and had dinner and drinks. After having a few drinks I left in my car. When I came to a four-way stop at the same time as a city bus, I waved the bus driver through. When he started heading up the hill much slower than I thought he should have been, I was closely behind him. Apparently close enough to draw the attention of the officer in the car behind. A minute later he pulled me over, and of course, once again, I was under the influence and was restricted by an absolute sobriety law. He eventually took me to jail and booked me for my fifth OWI, which is a felony, and I later was sentenced to eighteen months in prison and twenty-four months of extended supervision.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chapter Twenty: Tubing – Relaxing on the Sugar River

 Chapter 20 of the Autobiography... Letter T, Tubing.

Chapter Twenty
Tubing – Relaxing on the Sugar River

  So many summers of mine have been spent tubing down the Sugar River. We would start in Albany, WI and pay for our tube rentals there and then get in the river right behind the rental place. The water is usually less than six feet throughout the majority of the tubing area, so it tends to stay pretty warm in the water. Most summers I would go tubing at least a half dozen times and at the peak I was going three times a week. I had so many good times with a number of different friends while tubing down this river. 

  Amongst all the fun in the sun while tubing there were also some bad times as well. The thing about this tubing adventure, as some may call it, is the biggest share of the people come there to get obnoxiously drunk while they float down the lazy river. I haven’t had problems on most occasions while I was there, but where there is alcohol there is usually trouble. On one occasion I got separated from the friends I was tubing with and at one point even lost my tube while I was searching along the sandy beach halfway down the river. When I dove back into the river to try to catch my escaping tube, it managed to get some distance between me and it. I tried so hard for the next twenty minutes to catch up to my tube, but it was no use, it was going faster than I was. Then I came across a fishing boat that was tied to the bank of the river, so I jumped in it. I needed to make it to the exit point somehow. When I got in and untied the boat I realized it had an outboard on it so I fired it up and took off up and down the river a few times to try to find the friends I originally came with. After a few rips up and down the river I gave up and pulled off the side of the river next to the exit point and tied the boat to a tree. I laid in some tall grass at the top of the hill until I heard a bus coming. Then I realized I was a little ways away from the exit point. So I had to run through this field to get to the exit point before they ended up leaving me there. I crossed a few electric fences in wet shorts while getting to the bus. It wasn’t a very pleasant feeling, but I managed to get there just in time. Luckily my friends were all there waiting for me too. For a while I thought I was going to miss my ride home too. That is the last time I went tubing on the Sugar River. Hopefully I can still enjoy hot summer days floating down the river once I find sober people I can go with. In the meantime I think I’ll have to stick to fishing or something else like that.