Tag Archives: Aliens

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Crack

VINCE

Saturday night after leaving my A.A. meeting, I was driving down University Avenue when my brand new tooth popped out of its new home in my mouth.  Only two days in, and my new smile was gone.  I had waited so long to be confident with my appearance, and just like that, it was over.

I pulled up to a stop light and spat the jagged plastic remnant out of my mouth and looked it over and had the thought that just maybe, super glue might do the trick.  At that moment I saw a car pull up to the light next to me.  I looked over and noticed it was a St. Paul police officer and I immediately looked back in my hand and mentally said to myself, “Oh, fuck! This looks like crack!”, and quickly lowered my hand out of sight.  The officer paid me no attention, and we both went on about our respective ways.  It’s been a long time since I have had or done any drugs, but the paranoia still exists in me.  Incidentally, all of your teeth look like crack.  So, now you know that.

On another note… While I was in prison, my only goal every day was to get through the day as quickly as possible: one day closer to the door.  For the first five weeks of freedom, I have carried that attitude with me until I had the realization the other day that I really want to enjoy life.  I think we as Americans tend to live by this same philosophy: work, work, work, then it’s the weekend.  Work, work, work, then you retire.  I have wasted so much of my life doing useless things and it seems like everything I talk about now isn’t just 10 years ago anymore, it’s twenty.  How do you stop the time from passing so quickly?  How am I going to enjoy my life while working the American way, 40 hours a week?  Well, I’m going to have as much fun as I can while I’m doing everything that I do.  I have found that in sobriety, laughter has depth.  Conversations have meaning.  And friendships blossom quickly.  I am going to enjoy every minute of every day because it’s all going to go by quickly, and I’m never going to get out alive.  Twenty years from now, I’m going to be talking about things that happened twenty years ago, again.

I say all of that to remind myself that there’s no more time for me to waste.  I think of all of the people I have left behind in prison, some of them never getting out.  If I go back to my old ways of selling/using meth and I get caught with, for example, the same amount I had last time, I would likely get 96 months without the possibility of an early release through boot camp.  I would have to sit for over five years before being eligible for parole.  Then what?  Move back in with Mom, again at 43?  I think not.

I am restricted to three A.A. meetings per week while I am on I.S.R.  If I had my way, I would have done 90 in 90 as soon as I got out.  I am not planning a relapse, but these meetings give me so much more than just maintaining sobriety.  It’s a place I go to get things off my chest and I don’t feel embarrassed about saying anything.  Sort of what I do with this blog, but I get to hear other people and their stories that I can relate to.

So, I apologize for not writing for a few days.  I needed a break.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.  And with that, I pass.

YourPillow

VINCE

I remember the first time I saw a commercial for MyPillow.  Toward the end of the ad the announcer guy stated that they were proudly made right here in the U.S.A., with no outsourcing.  I can tell you that that is very true because I saw them being made in Moose Lake Prison in the same building that I worked in sewing men’s briefs.  Why ship jobs overseas when you can exploit prisoners right here?

I will tell you right now that I don’t have all of the facts pertaining to the MinnCorr industry in Moose Lake penitentiary but I can write about my own experience and what I heard from some of the offenders that worked on the MyPillow line.  They were paid minimum wage which I believe is still at 7.25 per hour, much better than the 50 cents per hour that I made less than 200 feet away.  The catch is, the prison takes half of the pay right off the top for the cost of confinement.  There can be other deductions from F.I.C.A., MN income tax, and federal income tax.  The workers are left with just over two dollars per hour, a pretty good amount for prison wages.  Our saying on the brief line was that we earned our pay within the first five minutes of work every day.  I say that because they sell our briefs back to the inmates at a cost of $3.25.  I could sew together 200 pair per day.  Not all of them were sold to us.  They have big contracts with other facilities like jails and institutions that buy them cheaper in bulk, but, there’s huge profit to be made with cheap labor.

I’m not saying all of this because I’m mad at the prison for what they paid me.  I’m actually in shock from looking at the MyPillow website and seeing what they charge for pillows made by people (prisoner or not) that work hard and will never get a raise, a bonus, stock options, or even a free fucking pillow.  Just for kicks, and because the website is not at all up front with the pricing, I placed a mock-order that finally took me to the checkout page.  It said that for two queen size pillows, my order came to $199.94!!  That’s before tax and does not include shipping.  It also does not include the pillow cases which can be purchased for…… only ……. $49.97.  What a steal!  Or maybe rip-off.  Now I should mention that they did have some buy-one-get one deals but I would have had to enter a promo code which they had no further information on.  I’m sure I could have found it if I was actually interested in buying one.  Even so, those are some expensive pillows.

Is there a point I’m trying to make here?  Meh.  I don’t know.  I enjoyed having a job while I was incarcerated.  It paid the bills so to speak.  And I certainly hope that my work lessened the burden to the taxpayers.  But how come the MyPillow commercial shows workers in a factory all happy and smiling when that is not even where they are made?  Made in America?  Yes.  Made proudly in America?  No.  Actually made most likely by child molesters and murderers.  I guess that wouldn’t have been a good advertising slogan.

In other news…  Today I learned that I am only 36 years old.  For the past 11 and a half months, I thought I was 37.  Somehow I just decided to skip a year.  Now I only get to be 36 for two weeks, then I actually turn 37, which sounds way older.  But not as old as 38 which I thought I would be very soon.  Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind.  Really, I do.  I will stop dead in a sentence and not have a clue what word I was about to say.  It sounds like 38 year old problems, not young 37 (or 36).  That’s all I have for tonight.

Coming up on the next post:  A look back at some of the stranger things I saw in prison.  Things that I can’t un-see.

The Toaster Situation

VINCE

I met a girl.  I actually saw her at the very first AA meeting I went to a few weeks ago ( For that reason and the fact that we already have an inside joke, I will from this point on refer to her as Chelsey Toaster.  (Her pseudonym).  I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.  Somewhat unprofessional in a meeting, but what could I do, I’d been away at camp for a long time.  I couldn’t be certain, but she seemed to either catch me a couple of times looking at her, or she was checking me out too.  (Very unprofessional, Ms. Toaster.)  I shared about my recent release from boot camp, and my struggles with anxiety and how everything seemed to be moving so much faster out here.  When the meeting was over, she came up to me and said that she had also just been released from prison.  I said, “Really?”  And she replied, “No, I wasn’t.  I just wanted to make you feel better.”  Hmm.  A jokester, I think I like that.  And that was all.  Well not quite but the rest was recovery related so I don’t talk about it because it was at a meeting.  Very professional, Vince.
So I kept seeing her at meetings, and I kept my eyes on her.  She is beautiful, smart, funny, charismatic, and I kept thinking about her, and she kept letting me talk to her after meetings, which was great because I was having issues with socialization when I first got back to reality.  I have never pursued or dated anybody in recovery.  It’s not that it’s a bad idea, it’s just that it never happened.  So I asked her for her phone number, which she gave me.  And ever since, we’ve been talking, and seeing each other whenever possible on my limited time out of the house.  We went for a walk yesterday after I got off of work and it was really nice to walk hand in hand with somebody.  And today she accompanied me while I ran my errands.  It’s been a very long time since I have had the company of a woman who wasn’t strung out or drinking heavily.  So that’s my introduction of the lovely and brave Ms. Toaster. I don’t want to rush into anything on many levels, but I have a feeling that many future posts will involve her.

I haven’t had any kind of a relationship in years.  Even before prison.  It’s not that I didn’t want one, it’s that I was a huge piece of shit for so long and I knew it and I knew that any real attempt at securing a girlfriend would probably have meant that I would have to curtail my alcoholism and addictions, something I was not willing to set aside for anything.  And although I’m fresh out of the clink, I believe I’m in the best position in a very long time to, at the very least, see if I’m capable of starting and maintaining a healthy connection to another human being.  So, I have that going for me, which is nice. 🙂
In other news, I went in for an eye exam today.  Thank you Lisa!  You know who you are.  The optometrist told me that my eyes are more football shaped than globe, which she could have just called astigmatism, and I wouldn’t now feel self-conscious about.  I mean, what gives her the right to tell me my eyes aren’t normal other than her being an eye Doctor?  What are her qualifications?  I bet she doesn’t even have her G.E.D.  Well, anyhow, I have contacts now but I still keep pushing on the place where I used to have glasses sliding down.  Now it just looks like I’m pointing at my head.  I’m sure that will go away in time.
And finally, I got to see my uncle and his family today.  He and his wife brought their two incredible children whom I had never met due to my substantial absence.  My mother baked a chicken, and I made roasted garlic and squash soup and a chocolate cake with caramel-butter frosting.  And we sat around the table and caught up.  I’m really starting to like this family thing.  I still feel guilty sometimes, but I know I’m forgiven for my absence.

Next up on the blog: Camp Heartland– An eye opening experience.

Until then…..

Another First Conquered

VINCE

As some of you have read, and are excited to read about today, I started my new job today!  I haven’t said that in three years. I am sore from doing yard work yesterday at my aunt’s house.  It was a great day and I had a good talk with her, something I’ve needed for a long time. But that is all I am going to share on that.  Some things are just for me. and, I have so much to tell you about the job!

It’s not exactly like anything I’ve ever done before but it is in some ways similar to the work I did in the wrapper room at Kemps Ice Cream.  I work at A.M.G. Laminating in St. Paul.  Essentially as the rookie I will be floating from machine to machine learning the different functions, getting my hands caught in huge rolls of plastic wrap, moving palates of various sizes to and from various places, cleaning up, and generally just getting to know the processes.

Today I spent most of my time cutting the extra plastic film between segments of what will eventually be nice, shiny, laminated cardboard boxes for a well known company.  I would transfer them onto a palate and when it was full I would strap them down tight and circle the palate in a dizzying dance of plastic mayhem.  I was taught how to do this by a real cowboy although I suspect he was just a man wearing a cowboy hat.  Either way it was his last day and I was his replacement… Awkward!!  It was very clear to me that everybody thought I was great and funny and amazing at life, at least that’s what my interpretation was.  My very good friend from C.I.P. [boot camp], Mr. Doty, the same man who made it possible (along with my repeated attempts via e-mail, telephone calls, and personal visits) for me to work there, was in the background doing other things but we managed to wave at each other several times.  At one point I attempted to pick up the chair he was sitting in with a forklift but I failed.  He was far too quick.  Mr. Doty is very tall, and he likes it when I make jokes about that.  His lovely girlfriend, Ms. D (Unrelated. (I will protect her anonymity)) came by to visit him for our lunch break and I tried to explain to her that even though the sun is 93 million miles away from the earth, he sunburns faster because of how tall he is.  We all laughed.  Hahahahaa.  Well, you all know what laughter sounds like.  She also brought a foam missile launcher system that she purchased from Rainbow for 50 cents which we all had fun with.  It was a good day.  I had a lot of fun and got a lot done.  Hey, I’m a wrapper!

After work I arrived at home and my mother had made (ordered) an amazing blackened walleye dinner.  It was just what I needed after a hard day’s work.  Thank you.

The plumbers and electricians were here while I was at work today and now in my room I have a three by three gaping hole with exposed plumbing.  I guess it’s actually better than having the washer and dryer in this tiny room which is what I thought would be the case.  It’s all closing in around me here.  I think it’s about time to start looking for a different place to live.  The other morning I woke up to my mom yelling at the kitten. No! No! No!  Over, and over, and over.  She then started clapping at it.  This was all at about 7am.  She’s used to living alone, so I can understand not having to worry about other people.  But I go out of my way to be quiet.  I tiptoe down the halls, barely close the bathroom door because old houses make so much noise with so little provocation.  Ugh.  I don’t know.  I shouldn’t have put myself into this position, I get that.  And I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head, walleye in my belly, and another day sober.  And with that, I pass.

The Job

Vince

Three weeks and a day after my release from incarceration I got a job. I’ve filled out applications and applied online to a number of establishments and businesses, but today I was hired by the first place at which I inquired of employment.  Actually, I had stopped in there a couple times and called a few more, and was about to give up completely when I received a message from my friend that works there saying somebody had just quit.  Then he called me and said I could start tomorrow, which I couldn’t do, but I will on Thursday.  Yay!  Thank you Mr. D.  You know who you are.

Last night my agents paid me a visit around 11pm in which they were finally giving me a little bit of a hard time about not yet finding employment.  They said they weren’t really worried yet, but if I didn’t have some form of employment within two weeks, we would be having a conversation.  Then they asked if I had tried a temp agency, to which I said I thought we weren’t allowed to do that, which is what I remember from orientation, or something, I don’t know.  I have on more than one occasion called into the voicemail system with a relevant question and received no response.  Again, I say, this is the common frustration among us newly released.  It’s all very confusing and sometimes I feel as if things I hear are contradictory.  That’s the way it was in boot camp but I think it was more to see if they could get a reaction out of us there. Out here it wouldn’t really make sense to tell us anything that wouldn’t put us on the right track, so I think maybe I’m imagining a few things because they don’t make sense.  Does that make sense?  I could also be losing my mind.  I do think I should write things down more often.

I had a really bad dream again last night in which I hooked back up with my old drug dealer (who, in real life, is in a Federal prison in California for 15 years) and was holed up in a hotel room with a  huge bag of meth.  I don’t know what kind of hotel it was but it was odd.  I remember a knock at the door, and when I opened it up there were a bunch of high school kids who looked at me as if they were very disappointed in me and then left.  When I turned around I saw the huge bag of meth just sitting on the nightstand under a brightly lit lamp, but I didn’t seem to care.  I noticed that in general, I don’t ever have conversations in dreams.  Or, at the very least I don’t think I ever say anything.  Well, that was the end of the dream, and in real life it was morning time, and I got up.  I can’t wait for my meeting tonight.

Tomorrow I will be spending the day doing some manual labor and general maintenance for my dear aunt Connie.  That I have scheduled from 9AM until 7PM and with a morning run and an evening meeting I wont hardly be home at all, which is something I’m looking forward to.  Connie is a survivor of cancer and a hero to me since childhood.  I have a lot of making up to do in our relationship since I took a vacation for so many years.  She was one of those people that tried to help me out when she found out I had relapsed oh so many years ago.  So, she didn’t make the friends list.  I will work hard tomorrow digging out a tree stump, trimming some trees, and what-not.  But what I really want is the opportunity to talk with her one-on-one, an opportunity I have not had as of yet.  An opportunity for me to apologize, make amends, and move on. And if you’re reading this, Connie, pretend you haven’t when I see you please. 🙂

Coming up on the blog: First day on the job!  Please share this blog with your friends.  The goal as always is to help the still suffering addict, and make me a famous writer in the process!

They

VINCE

Today was my friend’s daughter’s birthday. Audrey turned 10, which officially marks the point at which you can write numbers instead of spell them. Exciting! Anyhow, for whatever reason, a few other people from down in Southeastern Minnesota where I lived for a number of years, were sending me pictures of myself from back in the day, when my main source of nutrition was beer and weed. It brought back a lot of good, fun memories. In these pictures, I wasn’t engaging in illegal activities, and it appeared that for the most part I wasn’t hammered drunk. In  one I was hugging Audrey (the birthday girl) when she was maybe three or four, and she had a huge smile on her face, which she almost always does. I don’t have children, so she is the closest thing to it for me and I was there with her growing up for years. I was around for seven of her first ten years, missing the first and last two.

I miss all of my friends from the Fillmore County area. But with her I feel as if I left her without an explanation or understanding of why I was gone. I left the area because I got hooked on meth again, because somebody I used with many years ago moved to Fountain and I just went for it. It happened so fast. It took six months from the time I first used to stop talking to my friends, get fired from my job, and start selling. I managed to get a job in Lanesboro for one season but I cut all ties with the area once the tourist season was over, and went to work on the road full-time as  a meth dealer. I lost my apartment but I didn’t care, I didn’t plan on going back.

I wrote to a lot of my friends when I was locked up. Not all of them wrote me back as much as I thought they should have. I don’t know why I expected them to after I just threw my life in the trash and left them all without a word, but I did. I wrote Audrey a few times. I tried to explain to her what I had done and where I was in a way that a nine-year old could understand. I don’t know how well I did but it must have been alright because she wrote me back. Twice. And those letters made me feel like I still had a soul.

Every period in my life when I abused drugs, and sold them, something happened to me. A transformation took place in which I was no longer able to care about people. More specifically, my family, or any close friends that would not have approved of my drug use. When my friend died (the one I wrote about in a post recently) I had no emotional reaction to it. I remember getting the call from her partner and my first honest thought was, “Fuck. She owed me $300.” Then I went over to see Christie and when I arrived she seemed quite nonchalant about the situation. She had just come back from the grocery and liquor stores, and she asked if we could get high and we did.

It was not uncommon for a person’s life to be crumbling down around them and have no care in the world. People losing their children, their homes, their loved ones, but continuing to do anything other than get a job to get high. And of course there I was ready to listen to their story and sell them a bag. It took me a while to get over the fact that I didn’t have any morals. Thankfully I worked on it in treatment.  I can relate this in the opposite way to how A.A. works for people. When we were getting high we associated only with those types of people because we could understand each others’ pain. We didn’t do anything constructive about it, but we can now. And we are. I am. And as hard as it is for me to deal with society as a whole right now, there is a small group of people I meet with every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights that understands me just as I do them. I wish I could go to more meetings. But that’s my topic for the next post.

Dreams and Dentistry

VINCE

I woke up this morning to my cell phone ringing. The number was restricted which means that it’s one of my I.S.R. agents calling. Most likely, as it was in this case, they are at the front door needing to be let in. For only a brief moment, I was terrified. I had a dream in which I went on the run because I was scheduled to go to court for violating the conditions of my release. I’m not sure what for, but it wasn’t a using dream, which can be so real that they often carry over into reality for some terrifying moments of confusion upon being awoken.

In the dream I was just about to call an old using friend from Rochester to come get me. I knew that I was going back to prison so I wanted to go get high for as long as I could before going back. Even in the dream I knew it sounded bad, but I made the call anyhow. That’s when I woke up to my cell phone. When I opened the door up to the agent I saw the sealed plastic bag with a piss test cup in it. If I was nervous I didn’t show it. I knew I was clean, but the dream was still running through my mind.

When I went into county jail after my sentencing, I had some crazy dreams. Vivid. Colorful. And absolutely wild. This is fairly common when quitting meth. I had a recurring dream in which I was in a different jail, and friends of mine were on work release and would bring in drugs, cigarettes, and paraphernalia and I would think that I was sneaking them back into my cell. When I woke up, I believed that I had actually been successful and was shocked to check my pockets and find them empty, no matter how many times I had the hallucination. And everything, like the air, the background, was always green. It’s really hard to explain dreams most of the time, but these never went away. For about two weeks I had a hard time distinguishing reality from psychotic dream. And then they were gone. Last night’s dream had a real feel to it, but nothing like those when coming off of drugs. In the end, which was this morning, I passed my drug test. Doing drugs in a dream has never yielded a positive result, just the fear of one.

On another note, yesterday I went to the U of M School of Dentistry Clinic to become a Dentist. But, they said they “weren’t hiring” and that I had no qualifications and that I had no business wearing a smock and scrubs and what was I doing with a drill. No, no, no, none of that happened. I was there for my first dental exam in a decade. A scary thing for an ex meth user, and former prisoner where they don’t let you see a dentist unless you’ve been in for three years, Ugh. Anywho, after enduring an hour of a new x-ray “technology”, I found out that not only do I have really long roots, I have zero cavities! After all of that abuse, nothing. Since I don’t know how to upload photos from my phone to this blog, I will let you find them for yourself on my Facebook page. Well, I don’t know how to add a link either, so if you don’t already know, my name is Vincent Maertz, and I’m an addict. I hope you enjoy my pictures, and my daily response to life via social media. I know I do. My student dentist was awesome. She put up with me and my jokes, and didn’t cringe when I opened my mouth. My teeth really aren’t too bad, but I have a broken front tooth, and I haven’t smiled fully for years. I get that fixed in three weeks. I can’t wait.

Forty words left. hmm. Well, I’ve got the house to myself tonight, and other than writing this, I’ve been watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and am going to watch a movie on Net-Flix tonight. I’ll tell you about it next time!