Monday, October 24, 2011

Chapter Fifteen: The Oaks – Camping In My Teens


Chapter 15 of the Autobiography... Letter O, The Oaks.

Chapter Fifteen
The Oaks – Camping In My Teens


   Located about 3 miles south from my family’s home is a small campground on a private lake. This secluded place is named The Oaks. I started camping here with my family nearly every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day every year. We came across this campground around the time that I was twelve or so. In the beginning we camped in a little pop-up camper that my parents bought. It was enough to get us through the weekend in comfort. I remember going exploring all around this place. There was a small sandy beach on the side of the maybe 4 acre lake, a floating raft in the middle of it, and only non-gasoline-powered boats were allowed in it. I wandered all over the place finding a great deal of other kids about my age too. There were some trails located in the wooded area at the back part of the lot too, and at the back of those trails were some kids in a tree house that obviously all knew each other somehow. When I was walking by they got my attention and said hello to me. So I stopped and started talking to them. 

  There names were Jenny, Matt, Steve, and the rest of them I don’t remember so well. But they were all smoking. I thought to myself, “Wow, more kids who smoke like me” and from then on out, I decided to be friends with them. They gave me the grand tour after that. There was a huge “clubhouse” in the middle of the campgrounds. Inside of it was a ping pong table, arcade machines, vending machines, restaurant style booths and tables, and separate sex bathrooms with sinks, toilets, and showers in them. Around the back field where all of the weekend only sites and tent sites were, there stood a thirty foot fiberglass Paul Bunyan statue at the end of the field. I spent so much time over the next four or five years hanging out with my three new friends. I’m still friends with all of them today. There were a number of others who I befriended along the way, but there stays in the campgrounds were usually for a short period of time, so they were forgot about shortly after their stay. 

  Years later, this very campground now sits empty and unused. It has passed through quite a few owners over the years, and none of them seem to be able to get it back on it’s feet and open again. 

  The majority of my early years of drinking and smoking marijuana were at these campgrounds, but these aren’t my only memories from there. I remember the late nights staying up, sitting around a campfire telling stories, talking about nothing in particular sometimes even. We didn’t have a care in the world at this point in our lives. I also spent a lot of time during these years fishing with my Mom and Dad too. There are so many good memories during these few years that I could write a book about them by themselves. Where good memories are though, are usually some bad memories as well. These years at The Oaks were also through the peak periods of my Dad’s drinking also. Thankfully, he put that behind him during this time too. 

  There isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to go back and relive those years again. I had so much fun! Hopefully someday someone will come up with the financial ability to reopen the place as I’d love for my children to be able to have the same experiences there that I did with my family and friends.

Happy Birthday Mom!


Journal entry...

5-20-2011
Day 33 Mom’s Birthday

  Today’s my Mom’s birthday, and to this date I think I’ve missed four of them due to being locked up. It makes me sad that I wasn’t there yet again, but I was happy when I finally got a hold of her on the phone and was able to wish her a happy birthday on the day of it, and that made me feel a little better. She told me she got my card too, so I was glad it got there in time too. She seemed happy when I talked to her and when she smiles it’s infectious. Even if I couldn’t see the smile on her face, I could hear it in her voice. Happy Birthday Mom!

~J. Doe

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chapter Fourteen: Nightmare – My Reoccurring Nightmare


Chaper 14 of the Autobiography... Letter N, Nightmare.


Chapter Fourteen
Nightmare – My Reoccurring Nightmare


  When I was young I started having a dream. I was living in my parents’ new house when I would have the dream, but in the dream I was living in the apartment above my grandma’s still. This dream went on for over two and a half years and woke me up every night. In the dream I would awaken in my bunk bed that my brother and I shared. I would get up and walk through the living room noticing all the details of the d├ęcor at that time. Then I would pass through the kitchen that was as dated at the rest of the place, and out the back door. Beyond the back door was a second story balcony/patio that sometimes held a table and some chairs. I played on it, under it, and around it all the time when I was a child. In the dream though, I would look over the railing that was located to the side of the patio, at the top of the stairs to the ground level. When I would look over the edge something would cause me to fall over the railing coming close to hitting the ground face first, but I would stop just before hitting it. I didn’t wake up at this time but instead for some reason I never came into contact with the ground. When I turned to look back up, my body would start to levitate higher, with no cause for me to be floating. I would continue up so high that I would be just above the rooftops and the treetops in the area. I would turn my head left and my body would spin left. I would turn my head right and my body would spin right. But the second I looked down I would fall at an unusual speed. Just as I should have come into contact with the ground again I would wake up. Only this time I would wake up in my own bed, alive and awake in real life. 

  The dream would shake me so badly that I was afraid to go back to sleep night after night. It became problematic for me once I started seeing a therapist I described the dream to him and got no solid reasoning for the dream. I got a lot of could be’s over the years of what the cause for the dream “could be”, but I’ve yet to come to any definite understanding of it. I wish there was some kind of explanation for why we have certain dreams and what they mean. There has to be some kind of science to explain why we have some dreams.

Chapter Thirteen: Mother – My Mom

Chapter 13 of the Autobiography... Letter M, Mother.


Chapter Thirteen
Mother – My Mom


  My mom’s name is Jo and she was born in Beloit, WI on March 20th, 1959. Her parents stayed married, although her dad is deceased. She grew up in a small house outside of Clinton, WI before moving into town when she was four, and she is the youngest of four children. Ever since my mom was young she was a hard worker, just like her mother. She did excellent in school, getting straight A’s in all of her subjects except for Physical Education. She was a typical book worm. As far as I know, her and my dad were raised completely different and they themselves were of two opposite polarities. She was such a good girl. She never got into any kind of trouble and always held a decent enough job to survive. Not long after high school, her and my dad married in 1978. They didn’t have an extravagant wedding or anything, but instead were annulled at the local courthouse. The funny thing to me is they went to my Uncle’s farm and my dad went squirrel hunting on their “honeymoon”. I still can’t get over that today. 

  Although my mom grew up with her father drinking heavily, she did not inherit the gene that made her an alcoholic. She never drank heavily or got involved in drugs either. She’s always been the foundation to our family. She’s so strong and has so much willpower. She worked full-time at General Motors building trucks from 1986 until 2008 when they shut the assembly plant down. She took an early retirement then and decided to return to school to study in the medical field. While working at G.M. she would also attend all of our school events such as band concerts and she even traveled to Washington D.C. with all three of us kids when we had our 8th grade D.C. trips. When she returned to school she soon realized how much she loved it. She told me how much she wished she had continued in college after high school but she needed to work to help support our quickly growing family. Since returning to college she’s gotten a degree in phlebotomy and has since decided to continue getting her degree in Medical Administration. She is still attending college right now and has two more semesters to go. She’s the type of person who enjoys school so much that she would probably continue attending if she didn’t have to pay for it. 

  When she isn’t attending college she enjoys gardening both in the vegetable garden and her flower garden. Sometimes she even goes to my sister’s house and helps in her garden and to my grandma’s house to help in her garden too. She also spends lots of time with my niece and nephew, her only two grandchildren. I consider her to be the example of the best mom someone could be, and that’s not because she’s my mom. I’ve always been able to talk to my mom about anything and she’s always been there for me. If you ask her for her honest opinion about something she will give you exactly that, her honest opinion. But she’s always been a loving, warm-heart and caring person. No one could ever replace her. I’ve done some pretty awful things in my life and I’ve had a lot of people turn their backs on me because of who I’d become, but she stuck by my side through everything. She has always been there to help me when I needed help.

Self Sufficient

Journal entry...


5-19-2011
Day 32

  My new T.V. finally got here today. I’m glad I don’t have to ask my cellmates about what’s happening on the news anymore. I guess I’ve always tried to be as self-sufficient as I could possibly be. I don’t like asking other people for things, or to do favors for me. When I do, I feel like I owe them something. That’s going to be the hardest thing for me during my recovery, asking for help. I need to learn to be more comfortable with asking for help instead of thinking I can do everything on my own.

~J. Doe

Sign of Accomplishment

Journal entry...

5-18-2011
Day 31

  Today we had a couple of new guys come in for the group that starts next week. To me it was a small sign of accomplishment. Seeing them come in reminded me that a new group will start, then another will end. After that, it’ll happen all over again. Each time it’s almost like a stepping stone to me, signifying the passing time and to being that much closer to completing the program and seeing my family again. That thought makes me as happy as possible right now. I can’t wait for them to really see how much I’ve changed. I feel different everyday, and it’s mostly for the better. I’m gaining some of my confidence back, but at the same time I’m being careful not to be too confident. That can be one of my downfalls, thinking I’ve got everything under control.


~J. Doe

Future Employment

Journal entry...


5-17-2011
Day 30

  In our employment module we’ve been working on our resources outside of here. I’m glad to say that I’ve found a few things that make me a little more confident about re-entering society. There honestly seems to be more resources to help someone just getting out of prison to find a job than there is for someone who was just laid off and can’t seem to find work. It’s instances like this that make me glad I came to prison. I just hope that the resources work out and that hopefully I can get into an apprenticeship too. That would be great in so many ways.

~J.Doe

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chapter Twelve: LSD – My First Charge As An Adult

Chapter 12 of the Autobiography... Letter L, LSD.



Chapter Twelve
LSD – My First Charge As An Adult


  After being released from Ethan Allen School for boys I had the hardest time trying to find a job. I was seventeen years old, had no High School diploma and was a convicted felon. I did my best to apply for jobs in every field and location I could think of, but the one place that gave me any kind of chance was a Cousin’s Subs. The manager there offered me a part-time position to cover for someone who was out of work on a medical leave. I worked there for a few weeks and had been told that depending on if work was available when the other employee returned they may have a permanent position for me. When the time finally came for that person to return to work, the manager told me that they had to lay me off for a while since they didn’t have any work for me. He handed me a paycheck and told me they would get in touch with me if anything came up. I was as devastated as a seventeen year old could be who just lost his job, but I was also determined not to allow myself to go back to being broke again. 

  So I made an investment of my money and bought a small amount of paper LSD with the intentions to sell it. I went back home and prepackaged all two-hundred doses into single dose packages and headed straight out to make some money. It didn’t take long for the word to get out that I was selling doses so my pager rarely stayed quiet. I never expected a drug of this sort to draw such a crowd. I sold all two-hundred doses on the first night and brought home just under two-thousand dollars for my efforts. Not a bad profit for the work I put in. For the next few weeks I continued the sales and my product only got more potent when I switched to selling liquid LSD. I was so paranoid from constantly getting new customers and of course, using the LSD myself. It got bad in the end, so bad that I just wanted out. I didn’t care if I had to throw everything I had left into the garbage and survive on the money I had saved. But of course when I finally lined up a buyer for the remainder of what I had left, my girlfriend told me “It would be smarter to just sell what you have left like you’ve been doing. You’ll make more money that way.” I like a fool followed her directions and was arrested later that night by the Stateline Area Narcotics Team (SLANT) on charges of Felony possession with intent to deliver LSD. 

   After bonding out of jail I fought the case from the streets only to accumulate a number of more charges including four counts of Felony Bail Jumping. I finally was made an offer to plea to one count of Felony Bail Jumping and one reduced count of Possession with Intent to Deliver LSD. I was sentenced to one year in the county jail (no good-time) and four years of felony probation with seventeen-year imposed and stayed corrections. This felony drug conviction became the worst part of my life, and it still is yet today. That changed everything for me. I can no longer get the jobs I would have once been able to get. I can no longer join the military due to these convictions either. I hope to be able to one day overcome the discrimination that is associated with a prior drug conviction so I can go on with my life.

Chapter Eleven: Kitten – My First Cat

Chapter 11 of the Autobiography... Letter K, Kitty.




Chapter Eleven
Kitten – My First Cat


  When I was nine years old I used to attend church almost every Sunday with my family, with the rare exception if we were too sick to attend. At this time of my life we were attending Jefferson Prairie Lutheran Church that was in the country a few miles south of where my house is. One morning the whole family was climbing into the minivan to leave to church when I somehow noticed a sound coming from underneath the minivan. It sounded raspy and I don’t know how else to describe it even yet today, it was unusual. When I looked underneath the minivan I saw a tiny gray kitten. It was curled up near the front tire and might have been killed if I hadn’t looked under in time to get it out. When I picked it up I asked if I could keep it and they told me they would think about it and let me put it inside until we came home from church and had more time to discuss it. 

  After coming home from church I was so excited to just be home to play with the little kitty. Funny part is, that’s what I named her, Kitty. We had her taken to the vet to have all her immunization shots done and to make sure she was an all around healthy cat. She ended up being one of the most interesting cats I’ve ever seen. We had her front claws removed for the sake of our furniture, but that didn’t bother her a bit. She got so good at defending herself with her back claws. She would get right in the middle of a pile of dogs and go to sleep, and would even dare our Rottweiler to chase her around the house. She never got caught, and even if she had been, they always got along great. There were never any serious scuffles between any of them in the many years that passed. She was intended to be a family cat from the start, but like most occasions when we’ve gotten a pet for someone in particular, she ended up favoring me. Most times that I wasn’t around she would make her nest at the very top of my dad’s recliner behind his head. The times that I was around though, she would always be right there to try to make a bed out of my lap. She was supposed to be an indoor only cat because I was always told, “She can’t defend herself without any front claws.” Well, I beg to differ. She was damn good with those claws when she wanted to be. On occasion she would sneak out the back door unnoticed when someone was going through it, but she wasn’t out to get into any trouble. She would wander around in the yard and explore. She never went anywhere outside of the yard and when she got the grass she usually just flipped over onto her back to roll around in the little bit of nature that she had around her. She had one unique trait about her that I never saw with any other cat. She was almost completely mute. She could barely rasp out an almost meow. I could tell it was her because I was so used to it, but she hardly ever made a sound other than that. Unfortunately little Kitty wouldn’t live forever, but it almost seemed like she was going to. After having her around for almost eighteen years, she started having more issues with bladder infections and digestive issues, so we thought it was the most humane thing for us to let her move onto the afterlife. It was a hard decision for me to make since it was left primarily up to me, but I couldn’t stand to see her suffer anymore, and she wasn’t getting any better. I still miss her. R.I.P. Kitty…

Chapter Ten: Jamaica – Cruising In The Caribbean

Chapter 10 of the Autobiography... Letter J. Jamaica.



Chapter Ten
Jamaica – Cruising In The Caribbean


  When I was seventeen I went on a cruise with my family in the Caribbean Sea. It started off when we drove to Milwaukee to board our flight to Louisiana only when we entered the plane I found someone else sitting in my assigned seat. I’ll admit I was a little panicky at that moment, thinking I wouldn’t be able to take this flight with my parents. But luckily the staff was kind enough to let me fly in First Class and gave me a few thousand frequent flyer miles to use later on. After the transfer of our flight from Louisiana to Miami, we took a short shuttle ride to the port where we boarded the largest ship I’d ever seen in person before. We went through the standard boarding procedures where they informed us of the rules. Next, everyone on the ship had to participate in a drill demonstrating the standard procedures of evacuating a potentially sinking ship. That took about an hour then we were under way. It was a five day cruise but it only seemed like it lasted a day or two. I had so much fun that the time seemed to fly right by.

  The first stop we made was in the Cozumel, Mexico. We spent the day on a beach swimming, snorkeling, and jet skiing in the ocean. Later on we toured the city and went to small shops and stores. My Dad also bought me my first tattoo there in an interesting tattoo parlor. It was located in an upper-balcony level above a bar. I’ve never seen another storefront designed anything like this was. After we left Mexico we headed to the Cayman Islands. I don’t remember exactly what city we went to port in, but do remember that everything there was unreasonably expensive. There was a seven mile white sand beach you could walk from one end to the other on, and my brother and I walked a good deal of it trying to get to the interesting part of the city. It seemed like the beach went on forever. My brother and I met a crazy guy riding a bicycle down there. We asked him where we could find some weed down there. He automatically became so suspicious of us, and asked how much we wanted. I said just a little, and gave him twenty dollars but told him we needed some kind of reassurance that he was coming back. He told us he didn’t steal, he killed. Reluctantly he left his backpack there with us as collateral and was sure to warn us that if we looked inside, he would kill us. I’ll be the first to admit, I was a little scared of this guy. I was completely out of my element in this place, so in all actuality, he was calling the shots. It took him nearly an hour to return with two small cupcake wrappers twisted around some buds. He gave them to us, we gave him the backpack back, and we were on our way. Now our problem was how the hell we were going to smoke it. We managed to come across some rolling papers in one of the shops along the way, so we took everything back to the ship with us to smoke later on. I remember the weed being much stronger than I expected it to be, and after smoking it I went searching the ship for some good food to feed much munchies. 

  Sometime through the night I walked into the casino on the ship and although I didn’t have much money, I still sat down at a slot machine and started playing. It didn’t take long before I lost what money I did have. Then I walked around the casino some more, just looking around, when I spotted a guy at the cashier withdrawing money from his Carnival Cruise Card. So I walked up and asked him how it worked. He said I just had to tell the cashier how much I wanted and she would withdraw it from my account and I just had to sign a receipt for it. It sounded easy enough. Well, it was too easy. I withdrew one-hundred dollars in dollar coins to play the slots some more and since I had more money, it seemed to enter the machine even faster. I don’t know how long it took before I was broke again, but it wasn’t long. So this time I went up to the cashier and asked for a few hundred more, but in chips this time. Once I signed for it and walked away, I wandered around until I saw a roulette table running. I didn’t exactly understand the game at the time so I just stood there watching the other people play it until I though I had it figured out. So I started laying money down on the table randomly and of course, I kept losing it. No one told me that roulette was so hard to win. So when I was down to my last few chips, I put them on a number and crossed my fingers. That day I was reminded there was a God, because he stopped that spinning wheel at the exact moment that the ball landed on my number! I don’t remember the exact dollar amount, but in my eyes at that time, I won BIG! So I cashed out immediately and went back to our cabin on the ship and woke everyone up to tell them the good news. I wasn’t able to go to sleep until the early hours of the morning. 
   
   When I finally was woke up mid-morning by my parents, they said we were going to be docking in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in about an hour. So I got up and took a shower and got prepared for my day in Jamaica. The very minute we left the ship my family and I had a few dozen Jamaican guys coming up to us asking if we were looking for any weed, smoke, or sumteen fo dee pahtee. I knew I was going to have a good day. I decided to take care of what I could of the tourism costs and found a decent tour guide/taxi driver. He was a nice guy who agreed for a full day on the island for a set price. He took my family to the storefronts in the village and let them do a little shopping while him and I went on a separate tour. We first got some gas then we headed up into the mountains along a small dirt road he took me to a small shack. Inside the shack was what I considered a personal sized bar. It was about the size of something you would find in someone’s basement. Behind it was a small kitchen too. First thing he did was sell me a huge bag of weed for one-hundred and ten US dollars. Then we went inside and sat down and ordered a couple of beers. We each had a couple of Red Stripes and then he rolled me up a classical Jamaican cone spliff. When we went out back to smoke it the bartender came with us. After taking a couple of hits off this extra potent skunky tasting weed, the bartender asked me if I like chicken. I told him I did of course. Then he responded with, “You pick a cheeken mon” and pointed to a small chicken coop at the rear of his makeshift bar. As soon as I picked out a chicken, he put his hands inside and snatched the chicken I had picked out. The chicken did it’s best trying to fight free of the man’s hands, but in a flash he had broken the chicken’s neck, cut off it’s head and feet, and was gutting it out right there. It was forty-five minutes and a couple of Red Stripes later and I was eating the best Jamaican Jerk Chicken I’d ever eaten in my life still to this day. The cabbie and I smoked one more spliff before we headed back to the town to pick up my family. I made sure we stopped at a store that I could buy sunglasses at, because after that weed and a couple of beers, the sun was brighter than ever. 

  It didn’t take us long to find the rest of my family and have them pile into the cab, then we headed up into the hills on some of curviest roads I’d ever seen. In Jamaica it seems like the cab drivers just go faster to get around the curves faster, so it only scares the hell out of the Americans more. They even passed in the oncoming lane on the outside of a turn, not knowing what is about to come around the corner, using their horn as the only warning to oncoming drivers to not hit them. It was nuts! We made a few stops along the way to take some pictures, but the main stop at the end was the real reason for this part of the tour. They were waterfalls that you could hike up and ride down like waterslides. Unfortunately I didn’t even make it up them to see how it looked from the top. I was distracted by all the little huts placed around the entrance that sold all different types of authentic souvenirs. I bought all kinds of stuff while I was there. I left with bags full of hand carved gifts for my girlfriend back home and to remember my trip by. I will say, that although I don’t remember bits and pieces about this trip today, it comes back to me the more I think I about it.

  This was the most enjoyable family trips I ever went on and I hope we can enjoy another like it while we are still all close. Next time I will be taking many more pictures and thinking about the event of spending the time with my family, rather than partying.

Chapter Nine: Ice Fishing – Cold Winter’s On The Ice

Chapter 8 of the Autobiography... Letter H, Hangover.



Chapter Nine
Ice Fishing – Cold Winter’s On The Ice


  Ever since I can remember I would go ice fishing on the frozen lakes in the wintertime with my dad. When I was young, we would pull the car up near Whitewater Lake and then we would hike out to our predetermined fishing area. We always seemed to catch our limit of fish at these times. As we got older, I remember him pulling his car or truck right out onto the lake itself. We would then get our gear out and fish nearby the vehicle. I had so much fun out fishing with my brother, sister, and dad. It’s been a long time since we have all gone fishing together, but I’m sure we will again soon. 

  Around the time I turned twelve or so, we got a few snowmobiles. So when we went ice fishing we usually brought two of them with us. I recall one winter day while out ice fishing, my dad and I decided to shoot around on the lake with the snowmobiles. Well, what we didn’t notice the open water in the middle of the lake that was made from the geese. They huddle in one specific area on the lake and for some reason the water won’t freeze there. Well, just when we were right about on that area of the lake we noticed the open water and veered off in time to hit an area in the ice that had buckled upward due to the ice expanding. It sent us both flying off of our snowmobiles, along with bending our skis at almost a ninety degree angle. I helped my dad up off the ice and made sure he was okay, luckily the air was only knocked out of him. We did our best to flatten the skis back out before starting the snowmobiles back up and heading out for the day. We’d had enough at that point. After that there had been a long gap that I didn’t go ice fishing for a long time. 

  Then, a few years ago my dad started getting more motivation to go out fishing in the winter time. So we got all the ice fishing gear together and my brother and I both got new snow suits before we went out fishing. For the last few years we’ve done quite a bit of ice fishing and it made me so happy to be able to go out and spend the day with my dad and brother without any other kind of distraction. We would drive to Madison, WI and pull the ice shanty out onto Monona Bay. Once we got some holes drilled into the ice we usually would manage to do so much better than the people fishing near us on the ice. I guess the luck was just with us when we went out there. Someday when my niece and nephew get a little bit older I hope they decide to go fishing with us out on the ice. Some people think it would be too cold to sit out on a frozen lake for most of the day jigging for fish that are sometimes only a few feet below where you’re sitting, but in all actuality, it’s really not that bad. When you get inside an ice shanty the sunlight naturally will warm it up. So it wasn’t all that unusual for us to strip off our super warm snow suit to fish in a t-shirt and jeans while we were inside the shanty. 

  In the last couple of years that I went back to ice fishing we usually caught our limit of bluegills and crappies within three hours of hitting the ice. That’s pretty good ice fishing in my opinion. I can’t wait to get back out there and do some more fishing as soon as possible.

Another letter from Jessica.

Journal entry...


5-16-2011
Day 29

  I got a letter today from my best friend Jessica. It made me so happy to hear from her. I was beginning to think she didn’t want to talk to me anymore. I sort of expected to have heard from her so much sooner and when I didn’t, I just started to wonder. “What did I do to push her away?” Well hopefully nothing and it’s just a misunderstanding. I miss her, her husband (my other best friend) and her kids so much! They were some of the few good influences in my life. I hope we can remain close from now on… I don’t have many real friends left and it’s hard to make new ones who’re going to be supportive of a new lifestyle.

~J.Doe

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Distractions...

Journal entry...


5-15-2011
Day 28

 Found out today that the distributor for the electronics refunded my money for my T.V. instead of exchanging it like I asked. So of course I had to order another one. So, as irritating as it may be, at least something is happening with it. I’m been trying to sit down and type my autobiography, but it seems like every time that I do, someone from the staff needs to use the room. So I have to log off of course. Other times I’ll get into typing something and someone will come and start asking me questions or just to talk to me. I get distracted so easily, so I just save my work and walk away. I have my artistic cover done and four chapters. Not as much as I’d like, but I’m getting there nonetheless.

~J.Doe

~J.Doe

Why am I Here?


Journal entry...


5-14-2011
Day 27

  I got a letter today from one of my best friends who is like a sister to me. Her name is Jessica. I was pleasantly surprised because I hadn’t heard from her since I was locked up. So, getting this letter put a smile on my face, but at the same time she said something that I didn’t understand. She told me she didn’t know why I was in “jail” this time. I don’t know how anyone who knows me couldn’t know why I am in prison. I had been planning to come to prison ever since the day of my arrest. So, I made sure to ask her when I wrote her back. I’m curious why she thought I was here. Is someone out there spreading more false rumors about me or why I’m in here? I’ll find out soon I guess!

~J.Doe

Chapter Eight: Hangover – My First Hangover

Chapter 8 of the Autobiography... Letter H, Hangover.


Chapter Eight
Hangover – My First Hangover



  When I was twelve years old I was spending a little time on my Uncle’s farm near Stratford, WI. One of the days that I was there I had been working in the barn with my cousin and one of the farm hands. I was helping them scrape manure and mucking out the stalls and throwing in more straw while they finished up milking for the night. One of the two of them decided to have a couple of beers and offered me one too. It was an Icehouse and surprisingly it didn’t taste that bad. I’m not sure if that was because it actually did taste good to me or if it only seemed like it because I felt like I was grown up because I was drinking beer with my older cousin. 

  Either way, it didn’t last long. After I finished the first beer he told me to go ahead and grab another for all three of us. This went on beer after beer until the twelve pack was gone. But then of course they came up with another twelve pack, only this time it was Old Milwaukee. I still don’t know today how I managed to choke down that second twelve pack with them knowing how disgusting Old Milwaukee tastes. It must have been the fact that I had one hell of a buzz already. While we drank the Old Milwaukee we went inside and each got showered up. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting prepared for but they mentioned a party at some point. 

  When I got out of the shower they gave me a flannel shirt and a John Deere hat to disguise my young boyish looks to the people we were going to be around. When I left I was with the farm hand, Bud. He’s like family to me since he’s my cousin’s age and has been around since I was in diapers. Bud and I picked up his girlfriend and he asked me if I wanted to go to the bar with him before the party got started. Of course I was all for going out to a place that adults hang out at. So we stopped at a bar somewhere around the area. To be completely honesty, I was pretty drunk at the time. When we got inside I remember them asking me what I wanted to eat because I needed to eat something to sober up. I ended up eating deep friend breaded shrimp and had a beer before we left there. After the bar we went to another bar where someone was having a party and it was all-you-can-drink tap beer for five bucks! I was thinking, who could pass up a deal like that? Well they said the bouncer at the door was carding people but they knew him. So Bud’s girlfriend held my hand like she was my girlfriend and they talked the bouncer into letting me in. When I got inside and got my cup the bartender asked me what kind of beer I wanted and I drew a blank. I didn’t know what kind of beer I wanted so I said Ice House. He told me they didn’t have it on tap, but they had Miller Lite and MGD. I remember picking one of those two and I had a few beers while I walked around this place full of young adults. There were all kinds of people, but they all seemed like they were staring at me, which they probably were. I mean, a twelve year old kid in a bar? I’m sure I was a little obvious. But hey, they never said a word until I was so drunk that I was passing out at the bar. 

  Even then the bartender politely tapped me on the shoulder and said I couldn’t sleep there. He said that either I sat up and drank a beer or I had to leave. So I slammed the rest of my beer, asked for another, told him to give me five more minutes, and laid my head back down. All I remember after that was my cousin or Bud walking me outside and laying me in the back of a pick-up truck where I told them to leave me so I could sober up. I don’t remember a thing after that until I woke up the next day in the guest bedroom at my Uncle’s house. When I rolled over and saw the puke on the floor, I knew I had gotten sick. 

  It was the worst feeling in the world not knowing what happened for the rest of the night. That feeling was even worse than the sick feeling I had in my stomach and the pounding headache I had. I got up and brushed my teeth before I walked out to the barn to find my cousin so he could fill me in on the happenings from the night before. When I got out there all he could do was laugh at me and asked me how I felt. I told him I felt like shit. He said I probably just needed to get some more food in my stomach, and that reminded me that I needed to go back inside and clean up the vomit next to my bed. Even after I had some breakfast I still felt like that for most of the day. My cousin told me I should drink a beer and it would make me feel a whole lot better, but I wasn’t going for it. Either way, I thought I would have learned something from that night, or more so, the next day. But the one thing I learned was that hangovers get better and that the more I drink in life, they stop happening. 

  Not the best lesson in the world. I never would have thought I was fueling a fire that was turning me into an alcoholic.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chapter Seven: Grandparents - My Parents' Parents


Chapter 7 of the Autobiography... Letter G, Grandparents.


 

Chapter Seven
Grandparents – My Parents’ Parents


  To begin, I’d like to start with my Mother’s parents. My mom’s dad’s name is Harry. He died in 1979, before I was born, so I only know what I’ve been told about him. He was a strict father and so old fashioned about so many things. I’ve heard so much from my grandma about how he would never have let this happen or let that happen. I was also told so much about his drinking. Apparently he suffered from alcoholism for a number of years before he died. He went through periods of drinking constantly and even went to the extent of having the liquor store deliver alcohol to his home when he wasn’t able to make it there on his own. This went on for some time before my grandma finally put a stop to it. I also remember being told that his drinking progressed in the ending stages to the point that he would drink anything in the house that contained alcohol in it, including my grandma’s perfume. He eventually passed away after an alcohol related stroke in 1979. I would have liked to have gotten to know my grandfather in person and that is why today I’m aiming to build a closer relationship with my grandparents. 

  Next, I want to talk about my mom’s mom, Elsie. I have called her Nana my whole life, and still do yet today. Her and my grandpa were together until he passed away and I still recognize her as being one of the strongest people I ever knew. She still worked after she turned 80 and is now 88 years old and still volunteers what time she has after her personal hobbies like gardening, sewing, and canning foods. I remember a few years back when she told me how she came about buying the house she still lives in yet today. Her and my grandpa lived in a small house in the country and there was a man who rented a room from them. Well this man was also giving her an additional twenty dollars a week to stay there above and beyond what my grandpa was charging him. Well, my grandma stashed the extra twenty dollars under her mattress until she had saved up enough for a down payment on the house they wanted to buy. She still owns the house yet today. Nana has been there for me so many times while I was growing up. When my parents were both working early in the morning she used to come to my house to make sure us kids were all up and ready for school. She only lives two blocks from my house so I get to see her almost everyday when I’m home. She’s been there for almost every special occasion in my life and I appreciate that about her. We’ve always been so close, and like with my parents, I’ve always felt like I could be 100% honest with her without being judged. Nana means the world to me and I wish I were home today so I could help her in her old age. I like to say that she’s a religious woman too and still attends church every Sunday and any other religious holidays. I plan to attend church when I return home and I hope to be able to attend some with her as well. 

  My grandparents on my father’s side of the family are divorced. I don’t remember when they divorced, but it was long before I was born. His mother’s name is Margaret and she’s 76 years old. I really don’t know a lot about my grandma. My Great-grandmother lived with her for a very long time and passed away when I was in my teens. Every Sunday they would spend hours gossiping and playing cribbage in the dining room at my grandma’s house. My great-grandma always seemed like us younger children were always pestering her, but I was told later on that she was just bothered by young children being around when it was time to play cribbage. I don’t remember much else about her. My grandma on the other hand, I know a little more about. She was once a Supervisor of Probation & Parole in Rock County and she herself also supervised adult sex offenders. One year when I was around the age of twelve, she took me to her office in Madison and showed me some equipment used to monitor sexual stimulation created by choice photographs. It allowed them to monitor the level of rehabilitation in a sex offender. When it was attached to them she would show them photographs of children or rape victims and the machine would show their reactions to the photographs. I was always so interested in what she did for a living but I didn’t learn much more about it until I was knee deep in my own trouble and on supervision as well. On the same trip to Madison, WI that she showed me her office with the monitoring equipment, she also took me to a geology store. I’m not sure what you would want to call it exactly, but that’s how I think of it. They sold all sorts of different fossils, stones, crystals, or anything someone might use while collecting such a thing. In this store was a huge box full of ugly labeled as geodes. They weren’t very expensive and you got to pick one out and show them where you wanted it cut open and they would cut it for you. I picked one of them that had a hairline crack started in it and asked them to cut it open on that crack. When they brought it back to me it had the most beautiful crystals in it, and right in the center was an enormous crystal all by itself sticking out. If they had cut it anywhere else other than on that crack, it would have broken that crystal off inside. My grandma bought me that geode that day as a gift and I still have it today. Every time I look at it in my china cabinet at home it reminds me of her. 

  My dad’s father’s name is Richard. He remarried after he and my grandma divorced. His new wife’s name was Marge, but to me she still was Grandma. When I was young she owned a tavern, but they sold it before I grew up. She had a number of kids of her own and I also looked at them as my aunts and uncles. They were all around for my whole life. Marge always had a difficult time signing my Christmas cards. I asked why she would sign them ‘Grandpa & Marge’ and she said because she didn’t want to make us feel like we had to call her grandma. She still meant a lot to me. I was arrested for my 5th OWI only hours after her funeral last year. She died of complications after she had a stroke. I didn’t have much of a relationship with my grandpa while growing up. There was some tension between my grandpa and my Dad while I was growing up and they weren’t always on the best of terms, so I didn’t really get to know my grandpa very well over those years. In more recent years I’ve become more curious of him as a man. My grandpa has always seemed to be such a gentle, caring, and sweet man in my opinion, but some of my aunts and uncles have always had such strong negative opinions of him and those opinions influenced me for so many years. Now I’ve come to the point in my life that I want to get to know my grandpa better. He’s 78 years old and I want to try to learn more about him, from him. I don’t want to hear about how he grew up from someone who’s judgment is clouded from a stressful childhood. That all was forty years ago. I want to hear about his father and how he grew up. Where he’s lived his whole life and some of the stories grandchildren enjoy hearing from their grandpas. I want to spend time with my grandpa building some kind of memories to hold onto and pass on to my kids. 

  All my grandparents mean so much to me. I never realized how much they meant to me until I finally cleared my mind of all the drugs and alcohol and looked at them for who they really are, my flesh and blood. I hope I still have a chance to spend some quality time with my grandparents and I can make up for some of the time that was lost throughout these last wasted fifteen years.


Homework

Journal entry...


5-13-2011
Day 26

  Well I tried to get my homework out of the way but the area of our workbook that was assigned requires some type of group discussion that never took place. So unfortunately, those pages never got done! Although, I did manage to get all of the other homework finished that was assigned to us and isn’t due for another week and a half. That makes me feel good, but I wish I could feel some sort of relief from the stress of the non-stop homework. I don’t even have much time to socialize or work-out anymore.

 ~J.Doe

Maybe Some Confidentiality Please????

Journal entry...


5-12-2011
Day 25

  While having a one on one with my social worker the other day, I was able to talk about some things that I have been trying to hold back from talking about. There are some things I feel don’t need to be “on the records” so-to-speak. To be completely honest, I feel like the information that is requested by the ERP people and my probation officer is beyond what is necessary for them to do their jobs. There should be some things I can talk about with my social worker without worrying about who else will find out. This makes me reluctant to want to share as much and very selective of the things I choose to share.

~J.Doe

Questionable Dreams

Journal entry...


5-11-2011
Day 24

  I’ve been having these dreams lately that are really starting to bother me. In them I’m still hanging around questionable people and doing things I’ve told myself I wouldn’t ever do again. It really makes me think “Am I really changed? Have I learned yet?” I don’t know what to do… I’m trying my best, but it never seems to be enough.

(Counselor Note - That’s not unusual.)

~J.Doe

Distracted and Frustrated!

Journal entry....

5-10-2011
Day 23

  I’ve been sort of distracted lately. I’m not quite sure why really. Whenever I try to think about anything in particular my mind starts to drift. I don’t feel very productive when I get like this. I’m falling further behind on my autobiography too. It’s like everything I think about is causing me to think about people and things outside of prison. As much as I enjoy thinking about these things, it’s counterproductive to what I need to be doing to complete this program. This is getting frustrating!

~J.Doe