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.

Chapter Nineteen: Sister – Being Her Personal Bodyguard

Chapter 19 of the Autobiography... Letter S, Sister.

Chapter Nineteen
Sister – Being Her Personal Bodyguard

My sister was born named Rebecca Jo, on April 6th, 1987, in the same hospital as my brother and I were. She is by far the most important young woman in my life and I would die protecting her. While growing up I spent a lot of time hanging out with my brother, but there was a period of time that I hung out with my sister more too. I always wanted to be there to protect her as much as I possibly could. When we were young and she would be in an argument with one of my parents, I would even do something to draw the attention away from her. They would then be all eyes on me and instantly forgetting anything she may have done. 

  One afternoon while at my Grandfather’s house, we were all hanging out in and around his new in-ground swimming pool. At the time my sister didn’t have too much experience swimming on her own yet. Somehow while alone, she managed to slip out of her floating inner tube and sank to the bottom of the pool without anyone noticing. Luckily a moment later I saw her at the bottom of the pool. So I dove in and pulled her out of the water. She gasped for air a few times and coughed up water, but all in all, she was okay. Beyond scaring me half to death, everything ended up fine that day. All through her life I’ve tried to stay close to her so I could protect her. If she had problems with someone at school she would simply ask them, “Do you know who my brother is?” and nine out of ten times it would stop and I wouldn’t have to intervene. There had been a few other times that she’s called on me to handle some out-of-line person who was disrespectful to her too, but it never ended up being that serious. I’ve always respected my sister’s choice in boyfriends too, but not a single one went without a sit-down with me. I simply would warn them that if they gave my sister problems, they would have to deal with me, and if they hurt my sister, I would hurt them worse than they could ever imagine. She never had any issues with any of them really… She was the heartbreaker. When she met the man who is now her husband, I let her tell me all about him, then I got my own first impression. He never needed to have that sit-down all of her other boyfriends had, because I could tell he wasn’t like the rest. He was respectful, honest, outgoing, caring, and that he truly loved my sister, and her son. When she chose to marry him, I couldn’t even question her decision the slightest bit because I knew they were meant for each other and that he was exactly the kind of man she’s always deserved. Since their marriage, her husband has legally adopted their son Logan who is four years old, and they also have a daughter together name Allyson who will be turning two in July. These two kids mean the world to me and I hope they will learn from my mistakes and that I can grow to be a great role model for them as well. I see so much of who I used to be as a child in my nephew Logan.

Chapter Eighteen: Rooster – Time on My Uncle’s Farm

Chapter Eighteen: Rooster – Time on My Uncle’s Farm

Chapter 18 of the Autobiography... Letter R, Rooster.
Chapter Eighteen
Rooster – Time on My Uncle’s Farm
When I was growing up I spent a lot of time on the farm owned by my Uncle “Butch”. I was always excited when my parents planned to go to his farm to visit. He had dairy cows, beef steer, chickens, and even a goat in his front lawn at one point. As much as I grew up around people farming and whatnot, I still didn’t spend much time on farms outside of his. It was the one time I could go and explore the world on my own terms. I could get on his four-wheeler and take off to wherever I wanted to. He lived on a dirt/gravel road in the middle of nowhere outside of Marshfield, WI. So I could even ride the four-wheeler down the road as long as it was at a reasonable speed. Behind his farm property he owned some wooded land that he used during hunting season, and I would go exploring in during the non-hunting season. I could spend all day out there depending on the amount of gas I had in the tank. Worst case scenario, I’d just ride back and get some more. I got to ride on tractors, four-wheelers, three-wheelers, and even drive a truck once when I was really young. I don’t recall how old I was exactly when I did all of this stuff, but I know I had a great time. 
 My Uncle taught me how to milk a cow when I was pretty young too. That skill just kind of stuck with me and I’m glad for it too. Since then I’ve worked on a couple of different farms and had to milk cows on them too. 
 One summer when I was really young my Uncle told me that if I went out to the chicken coop and caught a chicken, then he’d give me ten dollars. So I went out there and was chasing chickens around for what seemed like forever. When I finally got one of them cornered I started to close in on it and it was hopping and flapping and scratching and squawking and screeching like all hell broke loose. I managed to finally close my hands around its neck, but not until after it had scratched and cut me up from head to toe. After that I took the chicken to my Uncle up by the house and told him I finally caught a chicken for him. He told me to go ahead and just set the chicken down on the ground and he’d pay me the ten dollars he promised. I argued right away that I had spent almost an hour trying to catch this chicken, but he stood his ground and asked me to put it down anyway. When I put it down he handed me a twenty dollar bill. Then I asked him why he gave me a twenty instead of a ten and he replied, “Well, that’s because you brought me a rooster.” Ever since then I paid more attention to the difference between a chicken and a rooster, and during that time, I realized how unbelievably mean his rooster actually was. I’m surprised I still have both of my eyes today. 
 Now, as much as I enjoyed spending time on my Uncle’s farm when I was growing up, I also had one of the worst memories of my life happen there too. It was November 21st, 1997, and my Brother, my Dad, and I were all staying at my Uncle’s for deer hunting season. It was a Friday night and the following morning was opening day. It was a typical “guy’s night out” for those times. We didn’t have very many times that we were all hanging out together anymore since my Brother and I were growing up and had our own friends. So when the three of us would go out for deer hunting season, we would have as much fun as possible. Well this year it included us meeting at a local bar and having some drinks. But for whatever reason my Brother and I had been taking our time with meeting everyone there. By the time we had decided to go by there my Dad’s truck was gone from the bar. Instead of looking for him, my Brother and I decided to just go back to my Uncle’s house and call it a night. Shortly after that we were sleeping in the living room when I heard my Dad stumble into the living room and plop down in the recliner sitting next to me. When I asked him where he had been and he replied with some slurring nonsense, I knew something was wrong. I was dreading turning on the light, and when I did, I don’t think I could have been prepared for what I was about to see. He had blood running down his face, blood on his hands, and blood running down his leg. His pants were tore wide open and the little bit of his leg I could see on the inside was tore wide open. I immediately woke my brother up and then my Dad starting asking me where his truck was. So I had my brother look after him while I ran outside to see where his truck was, but all I could see was his foot tracks through the fresh snow. So I ran back inside and told him his truck wasn’t out there. He still couldn’t remember where it was either. My Brother and I agreed that he needed to go to the hospital so I ran upstairs to get my Aunt, and was surprised to find my Uncle in bed with her also. I had thought all along that my Dad was out with my Uncle and that the truck was wherever my Uncle still was. Now things got confusing for me. I told them that my Dad had walked back to the house and was covered in blood and we didn’t know where his truck was, but I needed someone to give him a ride to the hospital. My Aunt told me she’d taken a prescription sleep aid, and my Uncle had been drinking, neither one was able to drive him. I’m unsure exactly how my dad got to the hospital after that. I think I was somewhat in a form of shock. But I think my cousin came by the house and drove us there while my Brother went out looking for my Dad’s truck. 
  When we were at the hospital they were asking all kinds of questions about how he had been hurt and no one had any answers. No one knew anything about how it had happened, yet. Next thing I knew a couple of Sheriff’s deputies walked in looking for my Dad. I didn’t know what to think at that point. All in all they told me he was involved in a high speed chase with a civilian, had crossed the center line, exceeded one hundred miles per hour, driven through some people’s front lawns and finally ended when rolling his truck a number of times into a corn field. No one found either him or the other man who was originally seen in the truck, until then. By now it was November 22nd, my fifteenth birthday, and I was so scared for my Dad at this point. I didn’t know what was going to happen after that. It became a turning point for my Dad, but unbelievably it didn’t phase me into even considering the least bit that maybe the same thing could have happened to me when I would drink and drive after that. I consider myself a lucky person today and will never forget my fifteenth birthday for the rest of my life.

Chapter Seventeen: 1-800-QUIT-NOW – Quitting Smoking Cigarettes

Chapter 17 of the Autobiography... Letter Q, Quit smoking Cigarettes.

Chapter Seventeen
1-800-QUIT-NOW – Quitting Smoking Cigarettes

 I’ve tried quitting smoking cigarettes a number of different times, but it just has never worked out in my favor. I’ve always told myself that I would completely quit smoking when I got out of jail, but of course, I always went back to it. The few other times that I actually tried to quit smoking while I was outside in the free world and was able to smoke if I wanted to, it all came down to some girl. Why I would do something that I didn’t want to do for some girl I just met, I’ll never know. But I did. I called 1-800-QUIT-NOW just like on the commercials. I sat on the phone with them for hours doing some kind of oral assessment and then was put on hold for a while. When they came back on the phone they had me schedule a follow up appointment before discussing them sending me something to help me quit. When they finally got around to discussing what they should send me I asked for Chantix, but of course the funding for the program wouldn’t pay for a new drug that was so expensive and in it’s early stages of use. Both my sister and my dad used it to help them quit, but I didn’t have insurance to pay for it. Instead they sent me nicotine patches and nicotine gum. The patches helped me but they caused me the irritation on my skin. They gave me a small rash and the skin surrounding it itched so bad. The nicotine gum helped some too, but I had a bad habit of chewing on it way too much. You are only supposed to chew it when you have a craving. When the craving goes away you’re suppose to stop chewing on it, but I just couldn’t. All in all I really was doing this for someone else when I did it. Every time I got out of jail I’d light up a cigarette right outside the front doors, and as soon as I’d get stressed out with the girl I quit smoking for, I’d light one up too. I never saw the benefits of quitting smoking for the longest time. Sure, the smell of stale cigarettes is disgusting, but I never saw the health benefits firsthand. I wasn’t noticing negative consequences to me smoking cigarettes at those times. Now that I’ll have been without a cigarette for a year when I get released, hopefully it will be easier to not go back to smoking cigarettes this time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chapter Sixteen: Police – My First Arrest

Chapter 16 of the Autobiography... Letter P, Police.


Chapter Sixteen
Police – My First Arrest

 When I was thirteen years old I was sneaking out of the house at night all the time. I had a paper delivery route for a few years and I was at that time where I wanted to give it up and pass it on to somebody else. Around this time my parents weren’t letting me hang out with my friend Travis. They thought he was a bad influence on me, but on the last night of my paper route I managed to talk my parents into thinking he wasn’t getting into any trouble anymore and they let him stay the night at my house that night. 

 That night we both went out and stole quite a few hood ornaments off of cars around our town. We didn’t get much sleep that night and had to fold and deliver papers by 5:30AM. I was passing the paper route onto my best friend who lived two houses away from me. He and I grew up together for the last eight years or so. He was a good kid and hadn’t been in any trouble so it was unfortunate that I involved him in what happened next. All three of us went off on the route to teach my best friend the layout of the route. We walked it for the purpose of learning it, but on a normal day I’d fly through and deliver the whole route on my bicycle in less than an hour. Walking it would take up to two hours. When we started walking the route we came across some cars with ornaments still attached to the hood. Some we pulled off, some we skipped by. But when we were nearly finished with the route I was showing my other friend where the deliveries went in the trailer park and I heard a “SNAP!” behind me. The next thing I knew was one of the people that lived there came outside yelling at us like crazy. Apparently he had seen Travis steal the ornament. So we took off running and we couldn’t think of anywhere to hide the ornaments, so I stuck them into my newspaper bag. A few blocks up the street a police officer pulled up next to us and asked us what we were doing. I told him that I was showing my friend how to deliver the papers on the route because he was taking it over. The officer asked us if we had anything on us we shouldn’t have and of course I said no. He looked through our pockets and when searching in my jacket he found an ornament I still had in my pocket from the night before. After that he told me I was under arrest and handcuffed me. I told him there was more in the bag and he took those too. All three of us were taken to the police department but I told the officer that the others didn’t have anything to do with it, that I had stolen them on my own. They took statements and my two friends were picked up by their parents. My parents were called down there as well and they said they were going to investigate it a little further. 

 A few days later I was at a track meet that I was participating in when four officers crossed the field and handcuffed me for the second time that week, only this time it was in front of five different schools and hundreds of parents. They took me to the police department again. This time they asked me if I had anything else I had stolen in my home and I told them I didn’t. They asked me if I had put anything in my attic that I had stolen and I again told them I didn’t. Then they pulled out a box of hood ornaments that I had stolen over the past month. It contained forty-six hood ornaments of all makes and models. I rode in a police car later that day and pointed out each house I could remember stealing an ornament off of a car at. There were too many to remember, and the rest were from cars in a municipal parking lot. 

 I was charged with multiple theft charges and was able to obtain a list of the confirmed victims of the thefts. I wrote letters of apology to all of the people on the list and all but two didn’t reply. The ones that didn’t reply ended up dropping the charges and the two that did reply accepted my apology and said I could do yard work for them as repayment for what I had done. I was still put on probation for something but don’t remember the details of the reasoning. Apparently they found cause to put me on probation, and I definitely needed it. 

 Only, when I was put on supervision they found I had been smoking marijuana, so they started drug testing me. I found out I could drink alcohol and it wouldn’t come up in the drug tests, so that was the beginning of my first stages of heavy drinking. I would drink almost every night for a while, just so I could sleep at night. It wasn’t long after that and I had a panic attack and finally broke down and told my mom everything. She had me see a psychiatrist who eventually started me on some medications that helped very little. But at least they got me started on something and recognized something was wrong with the way I was thinking and acting.