Artie – a brief history

I originally wrote this five years ago as a sort of therapy exercise and also to someone I had went to high school with who was wondering about such things. So there are notes in this that might not make sense to those of you dare venture and read this. Even though I cleaned up a lot of the punctuation and those types of references.

This is a no thrills, brutal all out honest depiction of my life. I figured I would go ahead and post this since the next post continues where this post leaves off.

A Brief History:

i always figured or at least hoped there would be a day when i would feel comfortable sharing my darkest moment of my life openly. until now I’ve only shared this with very few select people with whom i felt i could trust. after yesterday i realized that there r certain ‘eras’ in our lives and there comes a time with that ‘era’ is DEAD and if your fortunate u can take what you’ve learned in your darkest moment, learn from it, grow, expand, and become your best self. i wouldn’t be where i am right now if it had not been for this experience. more than likely id be in the Midwest hating life and wondering why did God curse me??? i haven’t changed anything in this. for anyone who knew me in high school this will be most interesting.

I feel the only way to really tell this is to start from childhood and work my thru to where I’m at currently. When I was going thru so called professional therapy they get an overall picture and I have attempted to do that here. I’ve never written this out in detail but I feel that by doing so it would be very enlightening and therapeutic to me. I have a tendency to get flashbacks when I’m reminiscing and incorporate these into emails. *Maya Angelou’s poem at Clinton’s inauguration is a perfect example. In 1997 there were a lot of things that didn’t make a lot of sense to me and still don’t. There are some experiences in this that I’ve told very few people or none at all. My philosophy on hugging people being one cause there’s a lot of build up to it and its not an experience I care to relive mentally or try to attempt to tell people without it being a train wreck of emotion. It’s a lot easier to write this stuff out , refine it, and tell it in a way that portrays my intention accompanied by the usual metaphor or flashback that I wouldn’t be clever enough to come up with in a live one on one conversation without it sounding awkward or mentally off the mark. So here it is warts and all a trip down life, death, rebirth, hell, and enlightenment. An insight into the human condition that is mine.

PART I  (1975 – 1994)

I’m a child of divorce. My parents met in high school at a dance. My father was from Milton. My mother from Clinton. When my father was 17 he enlisted in the marines. He served 4 years in the infantry at Camp Pendleton from ’57 to ’61 pretty much between the Korean war and Vietnam. My mother during this time ended up pregnant by another guy. In the late 50’s this was not a good social position to be in. From what I know her mother made her go to Chicago have the baby, then give her up for adoption. So somewhere out there I have a half sister. My father forgave her and they got married in 1961. My sister was born on December 11th, 1962. Because of this my father got a waiver and didn’t end up in Vietnam. He always like to tell me I wouldn’t be here if he’d gone because the unit he was in didn’t make it back. On June 14th, 1964 my brother was born. If I was Neo he would be my Agent Smith. They would not have another child until 1975.

It’s good to know that I wasn’t an accident but their reasoning for having me is something Dr. Phil would have a field day with. My father later told me I was a mistake. From his reasoning this is correct. I disagree on a spiritual level. My mother at this time was 36 and wanted another child before it was too late. My father was not for this. He was a big hunter/fisher outdoors person and gone a lot on trips leaving my mother home with two kids. The marriage was not in good shape. So the secondary reason I was born was to save the marriage. I’m still perplexed by this? In the book ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’ it talks about our pre-earth life and that we actually choose our parents, siblings, even the order in which we are born. I like to think of it as way too much free will in a world where your constantly drunk and high lol.

My mother had a very difficult time giving birth to me. I ended up with a hematoma due to the forceps used when pulling me out. I was in an incubator for a couple of days and almost died. When I was two I crawled out my bedroom onto the porch roof and fell into the bushes. Grandmother examined me and said I was fine. I have 3 theories as to why my vision is so bad but these seem to be the weaker of the three. My mother said I didn’t talk until I was about 2 years old. I don’t know what the average age for speaking is but apparently this is older than the norm. Oprah did a show a couple years ago on this lady who DE-crypted ‘baby talk’ and said that there’s basically 5 or so specific sounds babies make to mean certain things. Regardless of culture. It’s only good for about the first six months. Unless the parents respond correctly to that specific sound the baby continues to do what works. I read that it is has to do with being used to speaking on a higher level and their trying to come down to ours.

By the time I was talking my parents split. They lived in Milton so my dad stayed there and my mother moved to Belvidere where her extended family was. My sister and I stayed with dad. Brother went with mother. I don’t remember much before the age of 5. My sister basically became my mother. She was 16. My father got remarried in 1980 to a woman I’ll affectionately call satans mistress. One of my first memories of her was the day after the 1980 election. That morning she knelt down and told me Regan would be our next president. I remember not feeling real excited about it. 1980 is a time my father would call perfect. It was basically, for me, the beginning of 4 years of hell.

My 6th birthday I remember very well because it was the day of my grandmother’s funeral. At 6 you don’t have the reference point to deal with death. I remember my grandfather crying and me being told that she passed in her sleep. I thought it sounded really peaceful. It wasn’t until years later I found out it was a suicide. She choose carbon monoxide poisoning. I’m not sure why she choose to do that but my guess is she was afraid of getting older. She was in her mid 60’s and I was told that she was quite the looker in her day. She may have had a terminal illness but through the years I never heard anyone mention that being a reason. She was a nurse. My grandfather a was a doctor and had met in their twenties. In WW2 my grandfather was a major in a MASH unit. Came back after the war and started his own practice in Milton. He was the town doctor of Milton until he retired in the early 80’s. I remember him saying he was disappointed in himself for not noticing I had a vision problem. When I heard that I came up with another theory why my vision is so bad. It goes something like this. . .

In 1981 my sister graduated high school and promptly moved out. She did not get along with satans mistress. Satans mistress had 2 boys from a previous marriage. The older one was in the Navy so I didn’t know him that well. He was close to my dad and would call him at all hours talking about his adventures as a Navy Seal. Her youngest son I can only describe as a teenage version of Damien from the movie ‘The Omen’. After my sister moved out I would be introduced to the world of physical abuse. With physical abuse its a progressive thing. This started I believe when i was 6.

I also learned a very valuable lesson either on this birthday or my 8th that I still live by to this day. To quote ‘The Dark Knight’ my father was a drinker. Classic alcoholic. He had a tendency to lecture to me about things I had no clue or interest about. Today when someone is talking to me about moral values and its on a very basic elementary school level it reminds me of my fathers lectures a lot. On this particular birthday he told me he was picking me up at 1 o’clock. As 1 came and went I continued to wait for him. MTV had just come out. I remember watching the video for ‘leave it’ by Yes and ‘mickey’ by Toni Basil. Finally by 4 o’clock he showed and was not exactly sober. I remember getting really impatient waiting for him and told myself that I would never be late for anything and keep people waiting. Back to Damien. . .

The physical stuff started with him wrestling me. Now I’m 7 and he’s 15. In the midst of this he picks me up and pile drives directly on my head. Now you can paralyze someone doing this. Just ask Stone Cold. I ended up with a lump the size of a golf ball on my head. This is where I believe I ended up with my vision problem. The 1st time I noticed it was in the second grade. The teacher re-arranged the desk. Put me in the back of the class and I couldn’t see the board. My grades began to slip but somehow I passed the second grade.

The 1983/84 school year was one of the most difficult periods of my life. Here’s the scenario:

The 1st time I ever heard two people yelling at each other was one day after school. When I got home satans mistress and father were arguing with each other. I was upstairs and heard it through the floor and wondered why are they talking so loudly with each other? It didn’t feel right to me at all. This would become a normal occurrence. My step brother by this time would from out of nowhere punch me in the stomach to where it would knock the wind out of me. He also started being mentally abusive. MTV was playing John Lennon’s imagine a lot and it was a favorite song of mine. A very clear memory for me is coming home from school and him watching Sanford and Son. The theme song to this day still makes me wanna puke. He would berate me to the point of tears. I was going upstairs and all of a sudden he starts singing Imagine and I stopped crying. Its the best example I can think of why music is such a spiritual thing for me. It also taught me a very valuable lesson and I thought to myself ‘this is not how u treat people and I’m not ever going to treat people the way you have treated me’. I read years later that children that have gone through abuse usually end as one of two things. They either become abusers themselves or they become an advocate and help people who have gone through it.

My mother at this point had gotten remarried in 1979. I dont know how familiar you are with Warren Avenue in Belvidere? But there is a pink trailer toward the end of the street. It’s where my mom and her 2nd husband lived. My brother graduated Belvidere High in 1983. I had been doing the every other weekend thing since 1980. Unless satans mistress inter-feared then it would be like once a month for a weekend. I watched ‘I am Sam’ the other night. Dakota Fanning toward the end of that movie reminded me a lot of what I was going thru at the time. So by ’83 going back to Milton was increasingly difficult. I remember telling my mother, sister, aunt, ne1 who would listen that I was getting the crap beaten out of me but 4 the moment I was stuck in Milton.

I was having a lot of problems as well. We did an eye exam and for some reason I passed it. My father had a very Marine core drill Sgt way about him and wanted the perfect straight A student. I was telling him I couldn’t see but he wasn’t buying it. At this point I wasn’t come home from school. I believe there is something instinctual in all of us, going back to the caveman days, that takes over for our own basic survival. I remember not going home till after dark because there would be no one home except for Damien. I would sit on the curb look at the street lights and wonder why are they so blurry? Sometimes I would go to the police station and try to tell them what was happening and they would give me a ride home. One of the cops befriended me. He had a daughter around my age. I remember going to the Milwaukee Zoo by train with him and his family.

I finally was able to get another eye exam, failed it, which convinced my father I needed glasses. The one thing I remember specifically about getting glasses was the doctor asked my father if there was a history of vision impairment in the family and my dad said that there was not. I felt like such a failure to him. I felt the same way when I came down with chicken pox that year. Everyone in the 3rd grade got it. I was just next in line. I finally got the glasses complete with bi-focals. But by that time it was too late to catch up on my grades. I do remember getting special recognition for doing a complete turn-around .

My 1st experience with so called professional counseling was during the 3rd grade. I think satans mistress set it up because she would have so called adults come over to the house and ‘talk’ to me. I would go off to some other room during school and this guy who was completely clueless would also ‘talk’ to me. Two things stand out very clear to me with him. He made me read a book that I read in record time and then asked me what the book was about. I couldn’t remember. I think I told him ‘you told me to read it not remember it’ lol. He also bribed me with a hot wheels matchbox car if i didn’t ‘run-away’ and go home after school. If I could do this for one week I would get the car. I didn’t make the week or get the car. I also remember when Ronald Regan was having some sort of jelly bean collection thing and satans mistress had bought some jelly beans. This was when my sister was still in school. I asked my sister ‘can I have a jelly bean’ she told me ‘later’ and I thought ‘later?’ what does that mean? how much time has to elapse until later is here? I’m still waiting for that jelly bean lol.

By 1984 satans mistress thought I was the demon child. The source of all the households problems and gave my dad an ultimatum. Either he goes or I go. I had been pleading with them for about a year to let me go live with mother. Satans mistress one night was screaming at me about Belvidere is some sort of hell hole and that I would never be able to behave and that your mother doesn’t want anything to do with you. One of the clearest memories I have of her was when I didn’t come home till very late. It was raining out and she said something to the effect of. ‘You don’t wanna be here, then go’ She then made me stand outside in the rain. It was a downpour and I was out there for what seemed like a good couple of minutes.

My father made what I would call a very wise decision with letting me to go to Belvidere. Though I would pay for it in the long run. I had a couple of months left in the school year. I had a calendar and was counting down the days. By summer I was living in a pink trailer on warren avenue and couldn’t have been happier. We would move to the house next door the following year. I spent that summer watching the Olympics and playing with my cousins who lived across the street. Listened to a lot of Judas Priest ‘Defenders of the Faith’ Twisted Sisters ‘Stay Hungry’ came out that year, Scorpions ‘Love at First Sting’ Iron Maidens ‘Powerslave’. It was heaven.

The next 5 years were a very stable home life. School however was difficult.

I got picked on a lot in elementary school. I had to repeat the 3rd grade and was an outcast from the start. When I moved to Belvidere I didn’t realize my mother was struggling financially. My dad sent a letter and asked how I was doing and if I missed him. We didn’t have a phone. My mother said I was ‘good as gold’ and the only thing he misses is the dog. Years later my father liked to say that the order of importance to satans mistress was Damien, her dog, dad was a distant third, and i was nowhere close to being on the list. I would go to Milton usually during the holidays. This was the first time I noticed a very big difference in class status. My grandfather bought me a lot of clothes and things I needed. I was amazed someone would spend a hundred dollars on clothes for me and it wasn’t a big deal to do so. I noticed this more as I went through the last half of the 80s.

My 10th birthday is memorable for the fact that I bought my 1st cassette tape. It was Scorpions ‘World Wide Live’ which I think I still have somewhere. My mother would buy me a cassette tape a week unless it was something like Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ that thing was like 16 dollars on cassette. By the end of the 80s I had quite a collection. I always felt that my mother felt bad for leaving me behind. She said that my brother was jealous cause she bought me things she didn’t buy for him. She said that she couldn’t afford any extras when she first moved there. But I don’t think it was that much more. My stepfather qualified for social security in 88 and she was able to get a check for me as well. I don’t think that this was legal due to the fact that my father still had legal custody of me. But it was a big help.

My mothers financial struggles came into effect when I took the band test in the 4th grade. I had done really well and wanted to be in band and my mother said we cant afford it. I was crushed. But I didnt complain about it. They did rescue me from the pit of hell. More on this later. . .

This is one of the best examples I can think of when I told satans mistress that I could behave if I lived in Belvidere.

In 3rd grade I won 2 sunshine gram awards in the same week. These were awards given out to all the elementary schools and your name would be in the paper. These were given for good behavior. It was supposed to be a boy/girl thing but the teacher, Mrs. Trail, that week thought otherwise. But for Ricky Avilla this opened up the door for some comment about my lack of manliness. It was overheard by the teacher and he ended up on the receiving end of what can only be described as elementary school corporal punishment.

I also had a crush on Shana Fuller that year but coincidence would make this one very short lived. My cousin was in my 3rd grade class and I told her I that I liked her. The next day she tells her and her response was that she was Rafael Avilla’s girl lol. This all changed when Shana got a perm and Rafael didn’t like her anymore. I didn’t feel bad for her because I thought how can you ‘go’ with someone who would break it off because you got a perm? Shana did take an interest in me after that which I was always amazed by psychologically. There’s a scene in ‘American Beauty’ where Ricky Fitts burns Janes name in the ground making him look like an obsessed psycho. And she tells him he’s a freak or something. They then show her smiling and having this look like she really flattered by it. I’ve never understood the pathology of this? (*or why someone from your high school graduating class will not accept your friend request when you asked them out 13 years ago and they’re response at the time was ‘I already have a boyfriend but I am really flattered that you would ask me?)

Now to paraphrase the movie ‘Fight Club’. ‘If I had a tumor I’d name it Jaime. Jaime. I developed a crush on in 4th grade. The 1st time I noticed her was in 3rd the day of the 1984 presidential election. The teacher asked whos parents were voting for Regan and nearly every hand in the class went up. She then asked whos parents were voting for Mondale and the only hands that went up were mine and Jaime’s. This is a pretty good reflection of the outcome from that election.

In 4th grade they did a split experiment thing. All the average kids had a classroom. The gifted ones were lumped in with 5th graders. Jaime being of the gifted me being somewhat sub average. 4th grade was the year of the band test. I did really well on it and wanted to be in band very badly and figured the only way I’d probably ever to get to talk to Jaime was to be in band. But it was not meant to be. And the teacher who administered the test looked at me like it was a major waist.

Tim Clark came into my life during this time. He lived down the block from me right next to Karen White. He ended up being a very bad influence. My mother did not like him at all. I have a tendency to trust people until they give me a reason not to and he gave me a very good reason not to during summer vacation after 4th grade. I was telling him I really like Jaime and he’s saying she really likes you to, she talks about you all the time, call her up. And so I did and asked her if she wanted to ‘go out’ sometime? Whatever that means at that age? She said ‘forget about it’ and Tim laughed at me in a way that said he was making everything up the day before. I learned another lesson from him in the 5th grade. Him and Ray Wood had a habit of terrorizing girls during recess and touching them inappropriately. Since I was ‘hanging around’ Tim and Ray I was considered part of that group of terrorists. Someone had said that they were a menace to the playground society and the next thing I know I’m sitting in the principles office with Tim and Ray wondering what I did? I don’t remember much of what the principle said but this would lead to an incident in 6th grade that still bothers me when I think about it. I still have a feeling I ended up in the principles office due to Heather Hill saying I was involved but its only a feeling. Tim and Ray were laughing because they were as stunned as I was that I had been called to the office with them. Tim’s parents moved away after that school year.

The 6th grade incident had to do with Tony. He was my grade school bully. By the time I was in 6th grade I had all I could take. A person can only handle so much. During recess he was calling me names and berating me and I think I took a swing at him and one of the supervisory adults came over and took us to see the principle. The principle said something of which I don’t remember but I do remember him grabbing me and shaking me very violently. He didn’t do that to Tony. In the Army Drill Sgts have a rule that they cannot touch you unless it’s to save your life. There was an incident with one of the crazier drill sgts when he pushed a recruit against the wall and was brought up on disciplinary action.

Fifth grade was memorable for the fact that Jaime stood up for me when I was getting picked on. Michelle  did the same in 10th grade. Jaime did a speech on The Beatles in 5th grade which didn’t help alleviate my crush on her. She played some songs by them. One of them being ‘I wanna hold your hand’. Everyone laughed at the line ‘I get high’ I felt so bad for her.

Other than that 6th grade was the best year I had had in school up to that point. I had my first man teacher. Mr. Seeber. He was the first teacher to really validate me as a person. This happened during a spelling test with the word stairway. He asked what band did the song ‘Stairway to Heaven’? Of course I was the only who knew and said Led Zeppelin. I brought in a live version of ‘Stairway’ for the class to listen to the following week. I remember Jaime giving me this look of ‘WOW’. I was also the only person to name a song by Hendrix. He would always read us the top headlines in the paper everyday. I remember black Monday in 1987 very well because of this, and the Larry flint obscenity trial lol. I think he was trying to make a point about free speech while trying to keep it at a walt Disney level. So one day he is reading the paper and its the anniversary of Hendrix’s death. He asked who could name a song by Jimi and I did not raise my hand initially. I was interested to see if anyone else knew. Joe Peel tried. Id always thought Jaime had a thing for him so he was basically someone that I didn’t like very much. He must have moved because I don’t remember seeing him around after grade school. I think he was going for ‘foxy lady’ but he seemed hesitant to say it. I raised my hand and said ‘Purple Haze’. I had a cassette tape of Jimi with Little Richard that I copied for him as a Christmas present. He was so excited that he dropped the case and it broke. The cassette was fine the case was repaired. He would do trivial pursuit stuff as well. I remember one of the questions he asked was what Van Halen album had the songs ‘Top Jimmy’, ‘I’ll Wait’, and ‘House of Pain’ on it. Again I waited to see if anyone knew. Josh Feltz went with ‘Live Without A Net’ which is a concert video that came out the year before. Some others tried but were off. I eventually raised my hand and said 1984. I was the only metal head in the class. ‘Master of Puppets’ by Metallica came out the year before and I was getting teased for liking that noise. It killed me 5 years later when everyone loved them.

I was asked out by Nicole Reineger that year but it was a set-up. (* It was a real hit in the gut for me to learn that she had passed away when I read it on the BHS 94 page) The way I remember it Heather  came up with this club and that the only way in was you had to ask out Artie. This is the way I remember it. I may be off but I’m pretty sure that’s what Nicole told me afterwards. So Nicole asks me out and I said something like No, not interested. So either one it was legit and that was her excuse. or it was a set-up and my answer saved me from terrible embarrassment.

7th grade was another good year for being validated. Although the 1st day was one of the worst days I ever had in school. They had this class on how to open your locker. I had been fascinated with combination locks when I moved to Belvidere so I knew how to open one blindfolded. I went to open my locker and it wouldn’t open. All day long books are piling up. I’m getting more frustrated. I went to the office and they said ‘are you turning the dial correctly?’ Mr. Nybo science teacher tried it, Mr. Huffman (I went to grade school with his daughter. I remember her mother being really nice to me) tried it. At the end of the day I left all my books and supplies in the main office. The next morning I come in and they say ‘we gave you the wrong combination’. Sorry. Went back to my locker and it opened on the first try.

The highlight of 7th grade was meeting the other metal heads. I was in science class sharing a table with Jose Aquado and he was talking to some one who must have moved away cause I only remember this other guy only from Junior High. They were talking about how great ‘Master of Puppets’ was and I said yes I agree. They looked at me dumbfounded and began quizzing me about ‘who was the bass player that died’ and whats the last song on the album called. This was the beginning of the crowd that I mainly hung out during the rest of my school years. The last song on ‘master’ is memorable to me because its the first time I ever heard the f-word used in a song. I was listening to it one day and my mother was like ‘what did he just say?’. I said I dont know? It was the first time I noticed it lol. I was always into the music more than lyrics. This was before parental advisory stickers. Tipper Gore just did the whole PMRC thing the year before and had become my anti-Christ in the 80’s. My escape when I lived in Milton was MTV. The videos for Motley Crue’s looks that kill and Def Leppards photograph stand out as being my favorites along with the Clash’s rock the casbah and Michael Jackson’s thriller. So when Tipper Gore wanted to take my music away I was not for it. It felt like she was trying to ban it but it was actually the best thing to ever happen to music. Bands would intentionally go for a stickered album because it meant that they sold more. One of the songs on her ‘dirty list’ was Twisted Sister’s we’re not gonna take it. In 2004 when I actually met her I was wishing that they would play we’re not gonna take it. In the volunteer office we had a cd of campaign songs being used or had been used. When Arnold ran for governor in CA that was his theme song and we had it playing just before the Gore’s arrived. Oh well.

I was walking down the hallway one day and saw this very attractive girl, Megan, crying. I remember overhearing that her boyfriend had broken up with her. Magoo football player? or his brother if he had one? I felt bad for her but she was someone who came across as being in a very different social demographic. It wasn’t until senior year, when I was in A/V club that I actually talked to her.

1989 was a major transition in my personal life. My stepfather passed away from lung cancer. He had been a real savior for me in 1984 when mother asked him if it would be alright for me to live there. He joined the Army when he was 16 to fight the war effort. He was in Normandy on D Day. He then got a dishonorable discharge for punching out his sergeant. During the Christmas school holiday of 1988 he went to the VA hospital for a diagnosis. He was always in ill health. Very heavy smoker. Had surgery in February. They basically opened him up and closed him back up saying there was nothing they could do. They got the records for his dishonorable and left my mother with the bill. This of course sped up the cancer and he passed away in May. After the funeral my mother filed for bankruptcy.

Thanksgiving that year stands out because it was the day my mother met her 3rd husband. She went to the bar and he was the bartender. The first thing I ever said to him was that he looked like a boxer. Very tall guy. His face had a very beat up look to it. My mother had to take him to the hospital once to have a cyst removed. Mother said that he had done the coke thing but now he was clean. I thought thank God its not 1980. They married the following May.

That summer we moved to the country. It was the most boring summer vacation I ever had. Stepfather # two’s parents had a vacant house available. They lived basically right in the backward. Mother didn’t care living this close to them and we moved out just before I started high school.

First day of high school is memorable for the fact that I got thru it. You always hear horror stories about the seniors making your life miserable. But that wasn’t the case for me at all. The most I ever got picked was from 3rd to 6th grade. After that it was a very rare occurrence.

10th and 11th grade school wise is pretty much a blur. In 11th I had subjects that I just couldn’t grasp or get into. It made me realize why people drop out. This was also the year where there seemed to be a pregnancy epidemic. I had never seen anyone in school actually pregnant. The first was this senior in my algebra part 2 class that I felt really bad for. The cousin that was in my 3rd grade class that blabbed to Shana got pregnant. My cousin was held back something like 3 times so by the time I was a junior she was a freshman. She dropped out. Last I heard she had four kids by 3 different guys. That was 7 years ago. She also has 2 younger sisters who did the same thing. Got pregnant dropped out. A girl, that I sat next to in economics class, who was one of the star basketball players got pregnant. A girl that was good friends with my cousin got pregnant. I thought maybe its a good thing I’m quiet and cant get a girlfriend to save my life. Maybe I’m destined for something more? I’m still waiting to find out about the destiny thing.

I started doing mix tapes in ’91. I had received a fisher price tape recorder at Christmas in 1984 and taped everything. My savior stepfather listened to old time radio every night and asked him what is that you listen to when you go to sleep. He told me and I asked my mom for an upgrade my fisher price recorder. I taped a lot of Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, and Mystery Theater. I wasn’t a big fan of Fibber Mcgee and Molly or The Shadow. I remember having to go to this music thing in the 5th grade and didn’t want to go cause Burns and Allen were on that night and didn’t want to miss it. Jack Benny did this really good version of ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre which I replayed till the tape got eaten. I did the basic compilation tapes until I figured out how to actually mix songs together in ’91. I spent most of my non school time doing mix tapes. Trying to figure out what song would mix well into the previous? What dialogue can I incorporate into this song or use to transition into the next. One of my favorite albums is Queensryche’s Operation:Mind-crime and wanted to do something similar. I spent all my summer vacation of ’92 working on a sequel to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. This would eventually get me drafted into A/V club my senior year. A friend of a friend heard it and said I should go to the next level. That being video. I was very focused doing my own thing in high school. Stuff like homecoming, prom, the usual social function stuff was not a concern to me and I never participated. It was very much do the bare minimum to get by so I can go home and continue to work on whatever project was consuming me at the time.

I asked my mother for a VCR for the Christmas of 1989 she said o.k., but its the only thing your getting’ I said ‘thank you but I really cant use it unless I have some blank tapes’ She said ‘ok ill buy u some before then’. First thing I ever taped was the movie ‘They Live’, head bangers ball, and an ‘I Love Lucy Marathon’. I still have the tapes. I have a business associate that was born in 1988 and can’t believe she was only a year old when i taped it. By the time I joined the Army I had about 250 six hour video tapes, some 8 hours, not counting store bought movies and music videos. They say things you own end up owning you. By 2007 this was very true. Most of my things that I’ve collected since 1985 I still have but most of it is in storage now.

12th grade was by far the best year I ever had in school. Being in A/V made the year go by way too fast. I spent a lot of time making copies of things that I was filming. First thing I worked on was a video on how to lock your locker. It was done right after they did an assembly with the football team for a perfect season. Jose Aquado and Adam Grieser played the criminal element. Arnie rent a cop was in it and did the narration. I had a brief cameo. There were 2 cheerleaders in it who I never knew but they sat at our lunch table everyday. I’d have to look at the credits to see what their names were. I learned a lot about video toasters and how to put together a news program. We did a field trip to the local ABC news studio. I remember seeing Heather Pick who was a reporter and the main sports reporter. I don’t remember his name but I remember he said ‘shit’ which I thought was really cool. The technology they had back then I was amazed by. They showed us how you super-impose images and graphics. It would have been the next logical step for me after high school but life happens when your making other plans. I did another video with Jose and Adam where Jose got to pull the fire alarm. There were times in the military where it felt like I was doing something Illegal but wasn’t. This was one of those times in school that I couldn’t believe we were actually allowed to do this.

I had a representative from ITT visit with me that year. We were living in an apartment by this time over by the Belvidere Park, I think Amber Coots lived in the house at the end of the block. The ITT rep came to the apartment and basically told me that I would be the perfect candidate for a career as an electrician. I thought otherwise. He asked me questions like do you know what extravert and introvert means. I told him yes. He then said on a scale from 1 to 10 – 10 being extravert where would u fit on this scale. I told him about a four. We talked some more. He asked how do u feel about dress codes. I said I thought they sucked. Why? I said it had to do with conforming and not being an individual and taking your soul away lol. He said that if he had to guess what my I.Q. was that it would around 135. It went really well but I didnt do the ITT thing. Looking back I think this was a bad decision. I ended up with a 3.5 GPA that year but barely passed English. I got a 59.5% on that one.

Atonement (the band that Brett Whitacre was in) (* This was a band that 3 of my friends were in in high school: Adam Grieser on vocals, Jose Aquado rhythm guitar, Charlie Brown lead guitar, and some other guy I didn’t know on bass. They did two demos which I still have. I have Brett on my friend list and he’s still drumming it up and working on an album in Nashville) did a song a called ‘graduate to nothing’. This is very accurate of what I felt like for the next 3 years after graduation. As for my tumor I called Jaime graduation night and asked her if she would have gone out with me anytime during high school. Her answer was ‘probably no’. I said thanks and have a nice life. I taped the conversation for prosperity.

Part II (Quarter Life Crisis 1994 -1997 – and beyond . . .)

My priority after graduation was getting a job and moving out. I never had a job (mainly because I still had social security coming in) and didn’t think I had the skills to land one. I went to a temp agency toward the end of June and got work in a powder coating factory which I had 4 the next 3 years. These 3 years were a crash course in life experience. Since I did my best to be the good son (I really felt that if I messed up particularly when I first moved to Belvidere I would be sent back to Milton) I wasn’t involved in a lot of debauchery in school. I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and until I turned 21 didn’t do much but spend my money on music and movies and worked on a very elaborate mix tape which took about a year and a half to complete. I got a 1 room cockroach dive for $60 a week at the Belvidere House which I lived at until March of ’97.

I was incredibly lonely to the point of serious depression. I couldn’t get over my tumor.

I didn’t have a car and walked everywhere until I got a bike. I did a lot of recreational riding to get a very needed exercise high. When I turned 21 the first thing I did was update my I.D. I then went to cherryvale mall and watched movies all day. I think I saw ‘The Usual Suspect’, ‘Executive Decision’, and ‘Sgt. Bilko’. It wasn’t till May of ’96 that I got drunk for the first time. I think the name of the place was called ‘Hard Times’ in Rockford. There was a great cover band called ‘Stronghold’ and Jay Leno was playing on TV. They were doing this elongated fun house image of Jay Leno’s face when I started buzzing from the alcohol and thinking this is great. My sister came over to say hi to me. I couldn’t believe of all the places to go my sister would be at the first time I got drunk. It was a very memorable coincidental night for me.

May of ’96 to May of ’97 was what I would call one of serious depression. Alcohol was making me see things in a very different light. Since I lived right downtown I was going to the bar a lot. I’m not a big fan of going to the bar on a weeknight when there is no one there or very few people. I was looking at these people and was beginning to see my life as ending up middle-aged , working a job I felt I couldn’t get out of and never accomplishing anything. I think about that a lot today had I stayed in Belvidere and done the same thing day after day. (*I tend to think about this scenero a lot since I’ve been staying here at the house and had I stayed in Belvidere and kept at that mundane job and conformed maybe I would have my independence now but I would not be the same person or someone that I would probably not want to spend any significant amount of time with.There would have been no military experience or any of the experiences I’ve had after the military which I do believe have contributed a great deal to who I am today and if at the moment the only thing I’m sacrificing is independence I think that’s a fairly good trade cause I do believe and have faith that my current co-dependance state is not a permanent thing)

I always think the beginning of the end of me being in Belvidere was when I saw the movie ‘Trainspotting’. My life felt like it was taking that direction. Being in a downward spiral like the one portrayed in that movie and really thinking that I have to take my life in a different direction. Asking out Heather was an attempt at that. I asked out Heather the Monday after the 96 Olympic bombing in Atlanta. I had a crush on her since the 9th grade but had know her since 3rd. Her response was what I had mentioned earlier with the ‘I already have a boyfriend but I’m really flattered. What I dont understand tho is that almost 13 years after I asked her I sent her a friend a request and it was rejected. I told Rachel this and she said to send her another one since she was new to Facebook so I did and got rejected again. When Vern created the BHS 94 page I sent out requests to everyone that was not on my list and figured Id send her another request but got ignored again. The other day I figured what the hell maybe she read my addition with the in memoriam thing on the BHS 94 page and sent another one. Its still pending) I got contacts shortly after I asked her. I had a bad habit of getting drunk and falling asleep with them still in. I only had them for about a year. I recently had an eye exam and the doctor asked if I ever had contacts and that I have really healthy eyes. I said ‘very briefly and that I wished I could say the same thing about my vision being as healthy.

I ran into my tumor between the week of Christmas and New Years of ’95 at Mcdonalds. I was so polarized with fear that I didnt talk to her. I swear her sister said ‘he’s really cute’ though I have no idea if she was referring to me or not. I went for a very long walk that night.

I’ve heard that that there is a very fine line between brilliance and insanity and I definately walked that line during the months of May through July of ’97. There are things that I did that I dont understand or why I did them during this time period. I hit a bottom that Tyler Durdon from ‘Fight Club’ would be proud of. Me not so much. But I’m greatful for going thru the experience.

I made the decision to join the Army in April of ’97 shortly after my 22nd birthday. I had spent my 20th birthday at work thinking there is no way I can do this job for another 10 years let alone another day. Two years later it finally hit me that if I wanted to get out of Belvidere the Army would be my best option. If I survived the Milton years I should be able to at least mentally survive the military. And the fact that I didnt have a car and didnt smoke I was in fairly decent shape. But there would be two things that had to have in my life or I wouldnt enlist. The first being that I had to be 21. I was fiening comraderie and friendship and alcohol is a vital part of the military bonding process. The other was I could not be tied down into a relationship. I had to as single as anyone could ever hope to have a nightmare about. I told the power that be at work that I was enlisting. I worked there for another month but then abruptly quit out of the blue one day. I was in a position that I could quit so when they asked me to do some slave labor work thing of which I dont remember I ‘flew off the handle’ and quit. I had taken the military written qualilfication test and had done really well on it but I still had to take the physical. And then I fell off the face of the earth.

They say love makes you crazy. This sums up the following two months for me very well.

I started to get this overwhelming feeling that everything in the universe comes back to love and that everything is created out of love. I got fascinated by the most mundane thing and wondered what it meant in the grand scheme of things. Years later I would read a lot of books about this. And how it all comes back to the law of attraction. But I never heard of the concept at the time. I felt like I had stumbled about this universal truth and wanted to tell as many people as I could. When I turned 22 I also felt like I had stopped growing that I was stuck and that I would not progress. I was a sane person in an insane world. I’ve always ‘respected my elders’. Figuring that they have the life experience to know what they’re talking about. I’ve found that with my brother Agent Smith especially that this is not the case. He may be 11 years older than me but I feel that he hasnt aged past the age of 14. My sister who found the right winged republican Jesus in the mid-eighties would say that during this period I was delusional and I respected her opinion at the time. Since she is 12 years older than me I figured that she knew what she was talking about. Now that I’m at the age she was when I was going thru this transformation of spiritual enlightment I still respect her opinion but I dont take much stock in her organized religious beliefs on the nature of universal truth.

I got obsessively focused on contacting my tumor. I called her parents house at 3 in the morning. This initself is a good example of mental illness. I think her sister answered. I said I need to contact Jaime can u give me her number. She said no and hung up. I called the next morning left a message on the machine. Something I’m sure that was ‘out there’.

Then things got weird. My sense of fear completly disappeared. My confidance sky rocketed and my quietness was gone. Thats when the coincidances started happening. An example of a coincidance would be like the other night with the insominia and both of us were up and online. Then I watched the last half of ‘I am Sam’ on TNT reminding me of my own childhood and got me thinking of how I wanted to write this out in a way that I would actually get something out of it through the writing process. (*recent examples would be todd telling don that he looks like charles manson and acts like he’s 15 years old while I’ve thought these for years but have never actually said them outloud)

I kept calling to try get Jaime’s contact info. I talked to her dad about some things that I dont remember. I’m reminded very much of the movie ‘Walk the Line’ where Johnny Cash does all that walking to get June and not giving up. I felt her dad saw me very much in this light. Her mother was very much the opposite. It would have been a lot easier had they just given me her number so she could just tell me to go F-off and that would have been that. But going thru these hoops and sounding more and more off mental balance, combined with a new sense of spiritual enlightment was not a good combo. There is a scene in of the episodes for ‘Sex and the City’ where Charlotte is given a number to call some guy and keeps getting the machine and leaves a series of messages. She continues to call and everytime she’s more frustrated to the point where I think she calls him her future husband. She gets a call back and the guy sais he was out of town, just heard the messages, and of course wasnt interested in meeting her.

After two days of trying to get Jaime’s contact info. I decided to rent a movie and go home. I had just moved into a studio apartment which I hated. It really felt like after 3 years this is all I have accomplished. Some studio apartment where I’m still being hounded to turn the music down. When I got to the front entrance these two guys come up to me accusing me of being a cop. I told them no your mistaken and then got sucker punched. My glasses went flying. My instincts took over and I ran bllindly across state street to the belvidere house and told them to call the cops. I called Jon Farrey and told him what happened. I really felt that I had made friends with him and trusted him even if I was never going to get near Jaime. The cops showed up and asked me ‘when’s the last time you took a shower?’ I had done so much walking the past 2 days I had blisters. I couldnt sit still. I swear I walked from one end of Belvidere to the other and back home. They said they talked to Jon Farrey and then asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said yes. They asked me if I wanted to go St. Josephs or St. Anthony’s. I said St. Joes.

When I got to St. Joes. I got cleaned up. Told them what happened. And then I broke down. I had hit what I thought was bottom and realized that no matter how hard I try to contact my tumor it was fruitless. Never going to happen. And I gave up. I think the reason I broke down was that growing up I never gave up on anything that I believed in and that I was going to see it through to the end. I told them about my recent spiritual awakening which was a mistake. I couldnt shut up and I was not articulate enough at the time to convey what I was feeling without sounding like a crazy person. When christians talk about Jesus dying for our sins I’m amazed that they sound and look so sane saying it. The mormon church takes this stuff to the extreme but within the church they are the sane ones. The rest of us are the ones going to hell if we dont convert and live by their leave it to beaver values. Not theres anything wrong with that it just to me feels like a prison for your soul to me. And I already have one called the physical body. Though if I’m to believe what the book ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’ sais then I choose to be here, picked my parents, and siblings and cant blame them for anything because I choose to go thru certain experiences that I wouldnt have had had I not opted to live on the physical plane and that I was born into a specific situation to learn specific life lessons. In retrospect I think I may have choosen the fast track. This can also be said about the people you meet during your lifetime and that they come into your life at a time when you need them most. And that its all part of a life plan you wrote out in the pre-earth existance. Hence there is no such thing as coincidance. So when I get back to the spirits home land I am a more enlightened entity and can live in a better neighborhood lol. The theory on reincarnation works in a very similiar way. In that we can come back to learn things we werent able to in previous incarnations or on other inhabitated planets of intelligent ilfe. Sylvia Brown wrote in a book that we live in the insane asylum of the universe. Feels about right to me. Anywayz, like I said, crazy talk in the hospital.

After I broke down and got my life lesson on futility I talked to a lady that was from mental health services. I didnt know this at the time. She basically told me I have to leave this Jaime person alone and stop bothering her family. She made me sign a piece of paper saying I would do so. She then said to wait out in the lobby which I did for about an hour. The front desk said there was a cab for me outside. I said o.k. When I got in the cab I asked where we were going. He said Janet Wattles. I never heard of the lady. I figured maybe it was a friend of Jon Farrey and that I would be meeting him and maybe even Jaime there. He dropped me off in front of the rockford police station. I couldnt see anything due to the fact that my glasses flew off my face when I got hit. Janet Wattles office is next door to the police station. I somehow made it to the front desk of what I assume was the police station. I said I’m here to see Janet Wattles. They escorted me to the reception area. I then recieved a call from her dad. He said ‘I thought you were going to Saint Anthony’s we were waiting for you there. I told him the cops gave me a choice. I figured it would be a lot easier to walk home from St. Joes. He asked me how I ended up there and said I really dont know? He said ‘stay on the line’ while he talked to the receptionist. I swear this happened: I cant remember a thing that was said but I do remember his voice changing like Linda Blair did in ‘The Exorcist’ into some demon sounding entity. In hindsight there are 3 explanations for this:

1. I was being set-up

2. Something supernatural was going on

3. I was imagining the change in voice very much like a schizophrenic

but i know what I heard. Just wish I could remember the words. Another cab came and they took me to another place. This was about 1 in the morning and I just wanted to get some sleep. I spent the next hour talking to two staff members. They took me thru my whole life getting an overall profile. When I talked about my Milton upbringing I started to really feel that I had some serious mental damage due to the experience and wanted to get to the root of it and what affliction I was suffering from. I also talked about my newly found spiritual enlightment and how there were no coincidances. I felt so strongly about this I couldnt shut up about it. I also made the mistake of telling them I thought I was a psychic at least on an intuitive level. I’m no John Edward or James Van Praagh but I do feel that my intuition and empathy level is a lot higher than the norm. One of the ladies kept saying I’ve seen you somewhere before. She wouldnt let up about it. I kept saying no. I could barily see her. They put me in a room with a couple of beds and went to sleep. It was around 2 A.M.

They woke me up at 6. I had some crappy cereal for breakfast and a banana. I remember the banana because it was fresh, organic, of the earth. Best banana ever. I had an urge to call my grandfather but they wouldnt let me. They said it was because it was 6:30 in the morning. The sun was shining brightly by this time and I said ‘the weather said it was supposed to rain today, I’m going back to Belvidere’. They told me ‘you’re not walking to Belvidere’. I wasnt going anywhere. A mini-van came around about 8 o’clock and took me to some small office where I waited in the lobby. Some guy walked out of the office when I proceeded to follow someone cut me off and blocked the door. I was then escorted to a police car. Got in the back where I was driven to Singer Mental Health Center. I didnt know I was being taken to a mental health hospital. I honestly felt that wherever I was going. I was going to meet Jon and Jaime. It started raining heavily on the way there. When I got out I remember feeling that I’ve never felt rain like this. One of the residents told me that day that she hadnt either and that it was beautiful. Then again I was in a mental ward. Still couldnt see anything. When I got to the front desk they gave me a brief orientation of where I was. It still didnt register that this place was for mental health. All I had to do is sit through this and then I would go see Jon and Jaime and the family and live happily ever after. Ugh. The next thing I did was fill out paperwork. It took about 45 minutes. I kept signing my signature but I just wanted to get it over and done with. I noticed that everytime I had to sign my name I would get more frustrated. Everytime I exhaled in frustration it would thunder. It was like someone up there was pissed I was being put thru this.

I was then showed where I would be sleeping, took a shower, and tried to figure out where Jon and the family were. Jon did call that day. He asked me how did you end up there? I told him about what happened after our last phone call. He then said that ‘we need to get you out of there’. I said o.k. This would be the last time I would speak to him. Maury Povich was doing a show that day about 911 calls. I felt it was sign from the universe saying to me call 911 if you wanna get out of here. So I did. The staff said dont call 911. I was definately stuck there.

The ward was co-ed. I spent the day learning the rules. They didnt tell me the rules. I dont remember getting a rule book. So I didnt know what a rule was until I broke one. After my shower one of the residents gave me a can of soda. I said thank you and proceeded to drink it in the room that I was in. One of the staff saw this and said your not allowed to drink soda in the rooms but since its your first day go ahead and finish it. The next rule I broke was going into other people’s rooms. The next rule I broke was stepping over the threshold into the womens side where they’re rooms were. I also remember taking communion that day with the hospital priest. He asked me if I would like to partake and said enthusiastically yes and thought maybe there is something to religion. My experience being in this place would completly kill my belief in organized religion. I felt that the main reason I was in there was because of new found spirituality and that I was too young to fully comprehend it. And that the job of the staff was to completly eradicate it. I had no interest in eradacting it just understanding it and this was not the place to do that in. I was interested in getting over my tumor and wondering why I was so obsessed with her?

Lights out came at 10 o’clock. But I had no interest in sleeping and being in a dark room. I wanted to be with the light. And the only light that could be near was in the locked cells. These cells were basically what prison would call the hole or solitary confinement. I asked the staff to be put in the cell. I needed light. They wouldnt at first but I insisted. Eventually this was a mistake. I was not thinking clearly at all. I didnt like being locked up. I would have been if they would have left the door ajar and the light on but it wasnt not meant to be. I couldnt handle it. I thought about being on my own for the 3 years after graduation and wishing I had that freedom back. I wondered how did I end up in here. In a locked cell that I cant get out of. It still hadnt registered that I had committed myself earlier in the day. I pounded on the door and told them to let me out. One of the staff opened the door and said go to sleep. I said to let me out and I would. She said no and I said you dont deserve to wear that white shirt. I had gotten in the habit of interpreting the meaning of colors and how that represents a persons personality. It was one of those things were I was trying to find meaning in the mundane. Eventually I went to sleep. I had officially hit bottom.

I’m reminded of the movie ‘Midnight Express’ about the true story of William Hayes. He got busted for smuggling hash in Turkey and ended up in prison there. He spent a number of years in there slowly losing his sanity until he managed to escape.

I woke up on my own. I remember the sun shining in but the window of the cell was glossed over so you couldnt see outside. I wondered why no one woke me up and had this feeling like the apocolypse had come and I was spared. When people claim to be the messiah I understand the reasoning. One of the great benefits of this experience is being able to see and understand mental health quirks in other people. I banged on the door. I honestly thought someone was going to come by and shoot me in the head. It was a staff member who wanted to take my vital signs. I didnt think she knew what she was doing and had other motives. I didnt trust anybody. I asked to go to the bathroom. But couldnt go because the orderly guy wouldnt let me out of his sight and I have bladder shyness issues lol. They took me back to the cell. A female doctor of middle eastern descent told me to ‘take this’. It was some liquid. I said no. In my state of my mind I was thinking Jim Jones and thoughts of Jonestown and the Middle Eastern people had taken over. She said it will help you sleep. Great same thing Jim Jones said. I said ‘why would I want to sleep? I just woke up?’. She then made a gesture and wiped her eye like she was crying. I thought the appocolypse did come and it was useless to fight back. I’ll take this liquid. Go to sleep and that will be that. I took the liquid. And waited for death.

V for Vendetta is one of my favorite movies and in it Natalie Portman goes thru a similiar experience of mental death and rebirth.

I’m not sure if I slept or not? They let me out of the cell. I wasnt sure if I was in the after life cause my body felt like a major burdon, a very heavy weight, and that it had been through hell. One of the residents shook my hand as I walking back to my room. It was the weakest hand shake I ever gave in my life. I realized I wasnt dead but when I saw ‘The Sixth Sense’ I wasnt so sure lol.

That day a lawyer came by and said that she would be representing me. And that we would be in court the next day. Due to the fact that I had been on lockdown I was now on the medication list. It was haldol and cogentin. Its basically the prescribed meds for dementia. But all it did for me was knock me out, make me sleep all day, and make me more depressed than I already was. So by the time I got to court the next day I couldnt stay awake. I thought both sides presented their cases very well. I dont remember much of what was said. But I did nod yes that true a lot with the prosecution. My lawyer said to stop nodding. The judge said that I would be at Singer for a period of 30 days or less. I focused on the less part but it was not to be. I was assigned a case worker who didnt do anything for me till the second to last day I was scheduled to get out. He basically took me to his office where I made plans to stay at the belvidere house after I got out. I had a little bit of money left from my job and I was still focused on getting into the Army. Though I was concerned that my current predicament would be a deal breaker with them.

The 3rd day I was in there was the start of getting used to the routine that is Singer. I knew that the military had a strict schedule for basic training and a routine that they dont deviate from. Being in Singer was actually helpful in this regard. There are a couple of memorable moments to this day that dont make sense to me but here’s what they were. I woke up and sat down in a chair listening to the morning news. When I got up my legs completly gave out and I fell to the ground. Its the only time in my life that this happened at least sober. The next thing I remember is that I had spilt a little of my skim milk from breakfast on my hand and it felt like it burned the crap out of me. It might have just been really cold. I was starting to think I was possessed. Fortunately it never happened again.

I remember one resident in particular. Her name was Brianna. I dont know what she had done to get in there but she must have been about 19. My guess was that she was a hellraiser for her parents. About two weeks into my stay there I was doing the sleeping all day thing. Thats the one thing about depression. You get your rest. It also helps if your all smacked out on haldol as well. She was at the door of my room and asked me ‘do you want to fool around’. This is the first time in my life this had happened been asked of me. I thought several things. The first one was Jaime. I hadnt heard from Jon and for all I know he hadnt been able to get thru to me and Jaime was still a possibility relationship wise. Ugh. So I told her no and that she wasnt supposed to be down at this end of the ward. Its the only time I’ve ever been givin the cheating test and it wasnt even legitimate. I also thought it might have been a set up.

One of the staff was a very attractive college girl who handed out the meds. She was wearing a skirt and talking to another staff member about getting in the habit of crossing her legs. I still hadnt learned how to shut up and as I was waiting for her to give me my meds I blurted out. ‘You’re really cute’. She stopped cold and as I walked away I shook my head wondering why I would just blurt that out. It didnt make any sense. After this I was receiving my haldol in pill form. When Brianna asked to ‘fool around’ I always wondered if the cute girl made her do it just to see what my reaction would be? The cute girl must have read my file because toward the end of my stay she asked me ‘do you still hear voices?’ I said ‘no, not really’. What I thought I was hearing was God talking to me very saut-a-lee on an emotional and empathetic level but not wise or experienced enough to interpret what I was feeling from it. Apparently during my interview overview they must have asked me if I hear voices and I said yes.

My family came to visit me during the second week. My grandfather brought fresh strawberries and talked to the staff about working in a similar place in his early years. My aunt cried.

My stepmother understood. My father had gotten remarried in 1989 to an angel. She’s worked at Beloit College ever since she graduated there. Her father was a philosophy professor. After I moved to Belvidere the problems in the marriage did not dicipate and they got a divorce 2 years later. He met his 3rd wife the same year. He was doing boat outing thing and the boating rules said that you had to have two people per boat. He couldnt get anyone to partner up with him. He asked Angel Stepmom and she said sure. She was the typical nerd type in school and had never been in a relationship. She was in her early 30’s at the time my father was in his later forties. She didnt like him when they first started dating and wrote him a letter that said she would be crazy to be in a relationship with him. My father said she wouldnt let him kiss her goodnight till six months after they started dating. They married in 1989.

There are three things that stand out with my father when he visited me. The first thing he did was shake my hand. He said ‘thats a really good hand shake. I always felt that you can tell the (strength, or quality, or dignity, something to that effect) of a man by their handshake’. While we were talking he said that he was crazy but that I was committed. Again this felt like I had let my father down. I was making an attempt to get better but it felt like he was saying society is not going to view you as ever being a mentally healthy stable person. The 3rd thing I remember is that he had somehow gotten a hold of my last check from work and woudlnt give it to me. I told him that I would be out in a couple of weeks and that I would need it. He said I should do at least another month there. I felt myself tearing up and that he was never going to understand me as a person or reach a level of enlightment anytime soon. My stepmother convinced him otherwise.

I asked my father if there had been a history of mental illness in the family he talked about uncle Francis who I never met. It was such a cop out. Years later I would find out more about my parents marriage. I’ve always felt that my brother inherited my fathers alcoholism and took it to a level that my father never reached. My sister found the Jesus. And I wound up in a mental institution. It was not what I wanted or needed to hear.

My sister was able to get me glasses during my second week at singer. She had brought me my contacts during the first week and the staff never gave them to me. I think it had to do with the Artie/Richard thing. I was born Richard Arthur Holmes, Jr. After my father. My father called me artie bug as a baby and it just stuck. He was very close to my great grandfather whose name was Arthur. Great grandfather passed away when I was around 4. I have a memory of sitting on his lap but thats it. Anywayz when I got the glasses they mentioned that they had some contacts but they didnt know who they were for. I was a little upset that they had my contacts sitting around for a few days. I had a coincidance with the cute girl when I got the glasses. She was wearing her glasses the same day I got mine and they were the same exact frames. She didnt wear her glasses after that.

My mother visited and said wondered what she had done wrong raising me. I thought about not being able to take band in the fourth grade. My brother came. If anyone needs to be committed its him. But thats a story for another time. If my tumor is ‘Schindlers List’ my brother Agent Smith is more like ‘Saving Private Ryan’. My uncle Cork came. He was wearing a very impressive looking suit and gave me 20 dollars. It was from my grandfather. I had a major disdain for money at this time. I thought it was a major evil and a big reason why I was in here. I gave it to Brianna. Maybe it was why she wanted to ‘make out’ I hadnt really thought of it being a reason till know.

On a coincidental note my Uncle Cork passed away this year. He had three daughters that I didnt know very well. His oldest daughter is only 2 months older than me and we were very close till I moved to Belvidere. His youngest daughter had a baby this year (*last year) as well. It was on the same day that her father passed away.

Half-way thru the second week I started going to classes. There was a schedule and I wondered why I wasnt in any of the sessions? I figured they assigned them like the medication. My so called case worker said that you have to sign up for them. I felt like saying ‘I wish I coud have know that a week ago’. When I wasnt sleeping I was going to classes. I remember doing very well in them. We did a class that was about our plans for what we were going to do when we got out. We did another class about breathing techniques and dissapating negative energy. I mentioned the power of using affirmations. The Counselor looked at me suprised that I even knew what the word meant.

I had a moment in there were I actually thought I found my half-sister. I was still messed up about the coincidance thing and reading way too much meaning into things. This girl is talking about her life story and that she was trying to reconnect with her birth family. I looked at her cause it felt way too close to the mark and looked at me like yes your my half brother. Everytime I hear the song ‘my girl’ I think about her. We were doing a kareoki thing one day and sang it with her.

Another resident hit something so on the mark it was chilling. He asked me out of the blue when I was going to do another mix tape. I said I wasnt sure. He told me that I should cause they’re really good???????

I went to my only AA meeting during my time at Singer. It was a round table thing and the counselor started talking about a higher power. I didnt know a thing about AA or their philosophy. A lot of people walked out of the meeting. I stayed but I was a little more peeved because I felt like I was in there because I certainly believed in one. When I read the manual it seemed like they had the whole higher power concept down to a tee.

The last week I was there I was told how well I was doing. I was really just adapting to rules and the environment while spiritually dying.

The last day was one of those days that put me in a mindset that would last till 6 months after I got out of the military. It’s what I call the hugging incident.

One of the counselors had come to say goodbye to me. She told me congratulations for getting out. I never felt so consciously dead. I was in much worse shape that when I had gotten there. I was developing a serious case of chronic fatigue syndrome and not motivated to do anything. The one thing I really needed was a hug. I never realized until this moment why people need to be hugged. I asked her ‘can I just get a hug?’ She told me it was against the rules. It summed up the whole 30 day experience.

We live in a society made of rules. If you know the rules you can function within that society. If you dont you’re going to have a difficult time. Jerry Maguire comes to mind. When I was denied a hug it was like telling me I’m not going to be allowed to be the person God intended me. I went back to being quiet, keeping my thoughts to myself, and playing by the rules.

My sister picked me up and I stayed at her home that night. She has two boys. She had them in ’86 and ’89. We went to pick up her oldest at camp. I remember the scenary being beautiful and that she had a killer headache and saying she needed to go the hospital to get a shot for it. I had just spent 30 days in a mental hospital and didnt want to spend any time in a physical one. It was a very long hour waiting for her to get her shot.

The next morning I woke up and the first thing she tells is to take my meds. They gave me quite a bit of haldol and congentin and a follow up appointment which I never went to. The last thing I felt I needed was meds. It was the last time I took them. I got back to Belvidere and stayed at the Belvidere House for a couple of weeks. My first priority was finding a job. I went to video goldmine to fill out an application. The lady said ‘where have you been? We thought you died?, I said ‘so did I’. She said I had a 30 dollar late fee. When I got sucker punched the movie I had rented flew out of my hands fortunately someone returned it. I paid the late fee. I had applied there right after high school but didnt land the job. Heather worked there for a number of years. I always thought the reason was that the manager had her dog there. The dog was laying right next to the door and when I went to open the door the dog let out this horrific yelp. Kara Rollins was filling out an app as well but didnt get the job either. I didnt get the job the first time right out of high school and didnt get the job the second time either. Always felt I may have been overquaified combined with a look that didnt look very dignified. I did land a job at franklin wire works but it only lasted a week. They said that they were cutting back. I felt like I wasnt making rate.

I called my recruiter to see if the Army was still a possibility. He asked me what happened. I told him that I thought I was in love but had been mistaken and ended up at Singer. He told me that he had that happen before with other recruits lol. But that if I didnt mention I was doing some mental time it wouldnt be an issue. My main concerns with getting in the military was my arm and the content of my urine. I had broken my arm twice as a child and the bone never reset correctly. I was a pretty clumsy kid. I had also taken up a THC habit the previous April (*I never smoked until a month before I decided to join the military). When I did the initial paperwork in May I told my recruiter and he said that it would take about a month to get clean. (*ugh) I stopped cold turkey. By the time I got out this wasnt an issue. But I thought the meds I had been taking would be.

I went to Chicago to do the physical. The only difficulty I had was with the urinalisis. I have bladder shyness issues lol. There were about 50 guys doing the peeing in a cup thing but I couldnt go. I was the last one left and they told me to go to lunch. Halfway thru lunch I finally have to go but I would have to wait another half hour. It was torture. After that I had to go every 10 minutes for the rest of the day. Too much water. I passed the physical and they told me I would be on my way to Oklahoma August 26th.


Army Highlights:

I was part of a team that won best rocket artillery fire direction in 214 brigade 3 times in a row. One of the evaluators had to diagnose me with carpal tunnel. I had to ask what that meant. He said that you’ve lost the use of your hands for the rest of the day. Up to that point I always thought carpal tunnel had to do with tunnel vision lol.

The funnest detail I ever had in the army was six weeks of funeral detail. The irony. I had dreaded getting on the list for a couple of years for fear of messing up big time but this fear especially was a waist of time and energy. It was the closest thing to being in a band that I’ve experienced. A lot of traveling. We covered every post from Oklahoma to Tennessee. You know you’re in the military when your with a bunch of guys in civilian clothes carrying their M-sixteens to their hotel room and getting looks of WTF? We tried to be discreet but you cant help people coming out of their room and hoping that they don’t have a heart attack. We even got special recognition from our post commander and I received my fourth army achievement medal for a funeral we did in Arkansas.

I missed my sergeant rank by about 25 meters. I got a bit dyslexic on the land navigation test. I kept getting 2 out of 4 points. I took the test 4 times and it’s a four hour test not including the practice tests and the night group test which did not count. It was also the end of July in Oklahoma. I never sweated so much in my life. I ruined my map because I kept sweating on it.

Top 4 fun places I been to while in the army were:

Austin Texas

That street down by the capital building. I think its called sixth street. Its where zz top and Stevie Ray Vaughn were discovered. I got picked to go to fort hood to play what can only be described as one huge elaborate video game. I was there during the Lewinsky debocal thinking we were living in decadent times and this is the time to really live in extreme excess. Bush was the governor of TX at the time and I wondered how in the world did he beat Ann Richards? This later evolved into how do u lose an election and still become president??

Las Vegas

I went there when I went to Fort Irwin California. Fort Irwin is known as the national training center. They do 30 day rotations and simulate as close as possible the experience of going to war. I however along with 2 officers and 5 other guys did not have to go to the field. We worked in the star wars building with civilian contractors making up the war and coordinating fire missions. we worked in 8 hour shifts but the officers wanted to go to Vegas for a night which as u can imagine is not in the rule book when your going to war. We did double duty shifts so four of us could go one night and the other four could go on the second night. Driving into Vegas I remember thinking ‘this is why I joined the army and that I’m a long way from Belvidere. I went on the first night and didn’t gamble anything. I went to virgin records (one of the forum shops at Caesars palace) and bought DVDs. Sid and Nancy criterion version, Rock and Roll high school special edition. I’ve never seen these DVDs in any other store since. S&N I’ve seen but its not the same copy just the movie with no extras. I also remember being able to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes anywhere u wanted to, getting handed an escort pamphlet, watching street performers, and seeing a show with a group that reminded me of ‘the temptations’. We got back about 6 in the morning. I remember running out of gas and the officer we were with running to get fuel. Thankfully he only had to run a couple of miles. The second night when the other group got back talked about sighting Spielberg and that kid from the wonder years (not Fred Savage or the one that people tell me is Marilyn Manson but the fat kid who co-produces that show with Scott baio on vh1 about former teen idols whos heads have exploded with ego). Needless to say I was a little envious.

Beale Street in Memphis

This was during a funeral we had in TN and went to the hard rock the night before. I remember ‘no doubts’ video for ex-girlfriend being played, pizza being sold on the street, a religious guy handing out pamphlets talking about Jesus as savior, and listening to a really good version of hotel California on piano being accompanied by acoustic guitar.

Pettawawa and Ottawa (or whatever the capital of Canada is?)

When I got back from Christmas exodus (as its called) 2 weeks into the new century we were told that we would be going to Canada for a month to do cold weather training. Our battery had been picked due to kicking major ass in the brigade competitions. It was basically a paid vacation where we went skiing, snowmobiling, making defense positions and shooting the crap out of them, walking in snow shoes, ice fishing. We learned how to shoot with the big guns instead of rockets. We arrived on a friday night so Saturday morning we were given our orientation and the Canadian way of doing things such as when we get back from the field we go to the motor pool and drink beer. They gave us a get of jail free card since we were foreigners. It basically said we were guests of the Canadian military and to call so and so. We spent Saturday going to a collegiate hockey game and going out to a club that can only be described as ‘off the hook’ . we went to the capital for a weekend. We were left to do whatever we wanted to do as long as we got back to the bus pick up point by 1 a.m. I was with a group of four other people and the first thing we did is go to the hard rock for shots and mixed drinks. The cool thing about Canada is you only have to be 19 to drink alcohol. I remember seeing Bowie’s guitar from his Ziggy stardust days and listening to the backstreet boys (????? at the friggin’ hard rock cafe?????). We spent the rest of the day going to parliament, museums, clubs, and the American embassy (Hillary had been there the week before). we were allowed in the lobby but no further and only because we were military.

In 2000 I bought a webtv. This was basically internet for your TV. I met my one and only relationship that I’ve been in in a Rockford based chat room. I don’t know if you remember a Mike Prince I think he was in our class. (*actually I think he may be the 93 class) My ex-girlfriend was the sister of his girlfriend that he met out of high school. They’re still together amazingly because they were having major problems when I knew them in 2000. My ex’s brother was in a band called ‘One way ride’ at this time. The had just gotten to signed to MCA records the year before and had just gotten national airplay with their song ‘painted perfect’ almost at the same time I met my ex girlfriend. I thought it was a heck of a coincidence. (*I was able to get her bro added to my friend list but as of yet have not chatted with him. not a big facebooker person)

25 years old for a first relationship is freakin’ old. but as far as being sexually healthy it was good. fantastic really. plus when the woman cant have kids cause she already has 3 of em and is 8 years older than you what could go wrong????

apparently when your desperate to be in a relationship A LOT. her oldest was bound and determined to be a father before he was 20 years old. i was only off by 5 months on him being a daddy. now he’s got 6 kids a good sized heffer of a girlfriend and probably still does not know how to spell the color blue. but that’s life. Artie fails miserably and this guy gets 6 kids? wheres the justice in that? i don’t know either?

so my first relationship this is where a lot of friction came from. well that and it was long distance since i met her in a Rockford based chat room on my webtv. those things were really genius. i miss that box. i was with the girl for a year. of course her relationship history was one of going from one abusive guy to the next to the next to the next. and along comes an Artie.  so u ask why the pattern? if you said because she was sexually abused as a child? yes u would be correct. and boy did that fuck up a lot of potential toward a successful relationship.

i didn’t know this then but i know it now that when your in a relationship all your bullshit will come up cause of the patterns ingrained in you from childhood. with her it was only knowing love from an abusive perspective. so the only way she knew what love was was from boyfriends who abused her.

????? well unfortunately me being this wussy wimpy guy that wasn’t possible and when she told me that she did not want me living with her after i got out of the military i broke off the engagement. this was in may of 2001. i was out of the military 2 weeks before 9/11

this is how i ended up in south beloit for the next 9 years
my sister graduated high school in 81. she lived in belvidere for a time. she and my step mother (satans mistress) did not get along at all. somehow she met her future husband who folks lived in beloit 1983 hold a lot of good memories for me as far as being with my sister and her new boyfriend. they married in 85 and in 86 had their first kid. in 89 they had their second. in 91 they got divorced. my sister still lives in beloit with her 2 kids who are now 24 and 21. yes they still live at home.

they’re awesome. their father unfortunately he died of a stroke in 2003 right after my father died of cancer in 2002.

so lets go to the forgettable year that was 1997.
that was the year that had to dispel my tumor for my own sanity and ended up on the meds in that place where they do not hug. the first night i got out of there i stayed with my sister who by this time got her own trailer home in south beloit. little did i know i would occupy this home for 6 years after i got out of the military.
after i broke up with my girlfriend cause i felt i could not be the manly man abuser she needed me to be  i was stuck wondering what the hell am i going to do. the plan was to re-enlist then it changed to get out get married live happily ever after, then it was calling up my sister and asking if i could stay with her till i got a job.
i get out in august of 2001 and looking back i should have enjoyed it more and not stressed out as much. smoked a lot of pot. moved into the trailer my sister still owned in October of 2001. she had just got a house that last December and things were really good up till losing my job in December of 2003. they were moving the jobs to Cambodia or someplace of such likeness. and wow was i stressed. fortunately 6 months of unemployment was a lifesaver. thank god for no kids and no relationship.

I remember Josh Feltz had said the my tumor was in the belvidere paper a lot for various accomplishments in high school. So I went to the Belvidere paper website where they had a search box and sure enough when I typed in her name the web page for where she went to music school came up along with her email address.

I sent her a message that I was a mom with a kid interested in taking lessons. She sent me back a long email that detailed her daily and weekly schedule along with her phone number and home address. It was all the information I was so desperately seeking in ’97. I felt bad for being dishonest but it was a big help with truly getting over her.

I did send her a message about a year and half later saying that I had come across her email and asked if she would be interested in corresponding with me. I never got a reply back and my tumor was gone. It was October 11th, 2001.

(*I recently came across her blog and the best way to describe it is a serious overdose of baby pictures and whats happening with the kids. It has a very Mormon leave it to beaver flavor and a lot Jesus is lord and savior stuff. I don’t know what her denomination is but she would make a great Mormon. To me I couldn’t believe I spent so many years ‘in love’ with this girl. To pristine and too perfect. Not that there’s anything wrong with that I’m just not a big fan of the leave it to beaver religious version image of the American family. It just reaks of fakeness to me)

 (I didn’t realize how freeing it would be writing this out and I literary dropped 10 pounds of weight since and have not been able to get it back. They pay you by the weight at plasma and I’m in a very aggravating pay zone and cannot for the life of me stay above 149. So it was literally a major weight lifted off my subconscious. I thought it would be therapeutic but before I wrote it out it was more of instinctual feeling. Before I wrote it out it was very difficult for me to talk about the singer experience in any kind of detail but now I don’t see it as much of a big deal compared to books like ‘escape’ by Carolyn jessop or ‘stolen innocence’ about the fundamentalist Mormon church. Thanx for taking the time to read this.)

To be continued on the next blog post which was posted previously . . .

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