Tag Archives: methamphetamine

Ultimate Price

VINCE

Very rarely in my life have I had to deal with death. Most recently, a friend paid the ultimate price in a fiery wreck during the time I was out on bail from my drug charge, back in March of ’14. Most likely she had fallen asleep while driving, as I had done so many times in the past. Unfortunately for her, she was pinned inside the truck and more than likely burned to death along with her dog when the gas tank exploded, as evidenced by the claw marks inside the plastic by the door. I have seen pictures of the vehicle and the body after the accident, and I wish I had not. I have seen a lot in my day, and I have seen a lot of death on the internet. But nothing could have prepared me for seeing somebody I actually knew. I could make out the features, especially the teeth and facial bone structure. It was unsettling, if not disturbing.

I met Christie and Mackenzie (names changed) at a mutual friend’s house in Chatfield in the Winter of 2012. They were both alcoholics and low-level drug dealers (allegedly), and had formed up as a lesbian couple a number of years before I met them and were living together in **. *******.  I took a liking to them right away because they seemed like they were still fun people, a rarity among meth users.  I started selling to them (allegedly) pretty quickly after that, so I would often go to their house.  It is there that I started to see the devastation more common to our kind.

The house was in complete disarray.  Shit everywhere, broken glass on the floor, rotting food on the counters, and paraphernalia abundant.  What I wasn’t expecting was the blatant domestic arguments that would occur directly in front of me.  These women would really get heated.  On more than one occasion I saw bruises and lesions on both of them but they would never come to blows in front of me or anybody that I knew.  It got really uncomfortable for me on more than one occasion, and one of them would leave, or, more commonly, I would.  Over and over, of course, they would come back to each other, make up, and start over.  My guess is that the accident occurred on a morning after the evening of a fight, although this would never be confirmed.

An early Thursday morning on U.S. Hwy. 14 in Lewiston, MN in March of 2014 would be a day any friends of the couple would never forget.  A westbound pickup truck crossed the center line and smashed into a construction vehicle head-on and caught fire, killing my friend and her dog.  I’m not going to provide any more details, but the internet has all sorts of resources, and it would be pretty easy to find.  Just keep the names private please.

What transpired afterward was even worse for me, because her partner went crazy, very slowly, before I went to prison, and she was eventually arrested for robbery, possession of meth with a handgun, and a number of lesser charges.

Christie frequently suffered delusions after the accident, and often accused her friends, myself included, of being responsible for Mackenzie’s death.  Contributing to the  insanity was the lack of sleep that is the result of methamphetamine use, and depression, a result I’m sure of losing one’s life-mate or partner.  She would ramble incoherently and shout at the walls.  She would speak of conspiracies involving women breaking in through cracks in the walls.  She was arrested for robbing somebody of $400 in her own living room at gunpoint.  The person she robbed had reported seeing an earlier robbery in which she twisted somebody’s arm behind her back, accusing her of being responsible for Mackenzie’s death, then took $500 from her purse.  She was arrested three days later and her house was searched yielding scales, bags, drugs, and a loaded rifle on the couch.  She’s not currently in jail or prison that I can find.  I wish her the best.

Mackenzie– I am sorry I wasn’t a better friend. I will never forget your laugh, or your cry. Go be with the angels now.

Out

ANNE

I pride myself on being highly organized, but I lost the letter Vince had sent me that outlined the schedule for the day of his release.  I called the facility and asked what time I needed to be there.  The guy I talked to was very nice, and said Vince was a “great kid” and a “known agate collector.”  It was my first positive interaction with the corrections system.

I found out later that Vince received a demerit because I made this call.

I left the house at 7:30 am to drive up to the little town of Willow River, population 403 plus 142 inmates at the correctional facility.  Here are some photos of Willow River:

photo 1 photo 2

I had dug out a long-sleeved, high-necked shirt from my winter clothes so there would be no chance I could get either of us in trouble.  After all, this would be their last chance to fuck with me in person.  But when I arrived at the facility half the women there for the release of their loved ones were wearing plunging cleavage and skin-tight tights.

We were shown into a gymnasium with a long row of empty chairs in the front facing us.  The warden or whoever she was made a short speech, then the two graduating squads marched in.  The first one was led by a guy who could be a real competitor on American Idol.  There were no cameras or cell phones allowed, which is too bad because he was really impressive.  He lead Hotel Squad—17 guys—into the room, belting out the boot camp slogans in an old timey, spiritual sort of call and response.

Then it was Vince’s squad’s turn—India Squad.  He had told me that someone else had been chosen to lead them out, but there was Vince doing it!  I’m still not clear on what happened to the other guy.  And while Vince wouldn’t make it to the finals on American Idol, I was very moved that he was the leader of his squad.

There were various speeches by the head of the chemical dependency and education programs, which no one could hear because of the crying and otherwise-noisy kids in the room.  Then each prisoner stood up and stated the length of his original term (between 48 and 100 months), what he had learned (patience was the one I recall hearing most often), and who he had to thank for helping him make it through.

All the guys thanked their families and the boot camp staff.  One guy thanked The Lord.  Vince mentioned the boot camp counselors by name but didn’t mention me or anyone else outside of the program.

I knew in that moment I needed to:

  1. get myself back to Alanon; and
  2. schedule some weekends away, by myself.

An hour later, we were on the road back to St. Paul.  It’s no exaggeration that Vince was released with only the clothes on his back, a folder full of papers, and one month worth of medication for his Restless Legs Syndrome.

He asked to stop at a gas station.  “The first thing every one of us guys wants to do is play scratch off tickets,” he said.

“I guess it’s better than buying meth,” I said.  “And I saw a billboard for gambling addictions on the way up so you know that help is available.”  He laughed.

Twice during the graduation ceremony, they had said that this second phase of boot camp–house arrest–would be harder than incarceration.  That’ll be true for me, too.  My first challenge is, now that I’ve made clear my low opinion of gambling, to let it go.  I have a right to state my opinion—once.  Saying it over and over would be an attempt to control and manipulate.

More on the day later, but here are some photos of Vince shopping at Walmart.

photo 3photo 4

Froggie Went a Courtin’

VINCE

I just came back from a lawn mowing where I took the life of an innocent frog.  It was a cold-blooded murder in the most literal sense.  Wait.  Are frogs cold blooded?  Hmm.  I may be wrong but it sounded funny in my head.

I don’t like to kill things, so I felt bad for a few minutes.  I didn’t do it on purpose, but when his (her?) severed head was staring into my eyes, I could still see life and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  Now that I’ve written about it, I can let it go.

I once killed a deer, for meat, and I once killed a deer with a Pontiac Sunfire.  Oh, and some squirrels, which I also ate.

After months of no formal discipline, I got an intervention today.  That is my sixth in five months, not bad.  The guy with the most discipline in my squad has 21 and three Learning Experiences (LEs).

An intervention is basically a military gig, not a rehab intervention like you might see on TV.  Mine was for not sleeping under one of my two sheets.  It’s very petty.  If I do it two more times which I won’t, I will get an LE.

I redeemed myself today for killing the frog.  I saw him/her just in time while I was pushing the Frog Killer 2000 over the grass, and helped him along into the garden.  Oh, yea, there were two of them.  So if I ever kill another frog, I’m even.

We’ve been working lately in CD on the “ripple effect” of our crimes.  Well, most of us have.  The guy who shot at somebody several times but missed still claims his offense has no victim.

I never denied that selling drugs hurt society, people’s lives, families, and of course the children.  I’m sure the money given to me for meth could have been better spent on food, clothing, and shelter.

My criminality has affected my family as well.  I didn’t directly try to bring harm to them, other than stealing some money from My Mom years ago, and borrowing money more recently without, so far, paying it back.  But I see my Mother, now in her 50s, still beautiful, energetic, kind, and unbelievably patient, without a husband, and I wonder if I am indirectly or directly responsible.  Is that where the shame took hold?  Am I such a black sheep that she didn’t even bother?

She’s had boyfriends over the years but they didn’t stick.  I see myself in the same boat.  37 with no wife and kids, no girlfriend waiting for me out there.  Maybe together, we emit a powerful toxic odor that that repels potential mates.  Hmm…I hope not.

The point is, even if I am not responsible for her mating habits, I am seeing that my choices affect more than just me.  And it can ripple a long way out.  I’m not just staying clean for me, I’m doing it for the whole pond.

[ANNE: My heart sank when I read this.  Vince is in no way responsible for me being one of the 7% of American women my age who have never married.  Take out the lesbian women who couldn’t marry, and I am part of a really small club.  I always wanted to get married.  I assumed I would.  I wrote a blog post about dating years ago that demonstrates the effort I put into finding a mate.

Like a lot of things, it’s complicated.  I wasted my 20s and 30s—the years when most people marry—on Kermit and other alcoholics, abusers, and just plain jerks.  Then I took a break from dating to figure out how to stop doing that.  Then came Vince’s lost year, when I was too distraught to think of anything else.  Then, the older you are, the harder it is to meet people.  So it was a combo of bad choices, bad timing, bad luck and yes, Vince was a factor but far from the only one.  Being single is far from the worst fate, so now I claim my spinsterhood as if it was my plan all along.]

Rip Van Winkle

VINCE

India squad (that’s my squad) got to watch a graduation ceremony today.  It was pretty cool.  Every month, two squads graduate, and two squads that are two months away from the door get to watch.  So, now we know what to expect.

It’s a huge deal, being released from prison.  It’s literally the only day most prisoners look forward to.  The big difference for us is that we aren’t leaving through locked doors and razor-wire fences.  Going home for us means the beginning of a new challenge: Phase II.

“Mastery items”: that’s a synonym with hobbies.  You’re right Mom, agate hunting is a good diversion.  So will be running, weight lifting, cooking, and meetings.  All things I enjoy doing.  We’ve spent some time going over our mastery items in treatment and they will be on our daily/weekly schedule that I have to submit before I leave, and every week thereafter.  They don’t want us getting bored out there.

Another batch of new guys arrived less than an hour ago.  They are fun to watch.  They’re so scared, many of them shaking so hard they have trouble buttoning up their shirts.  Four months ago, I was the same.  We started out as squad number 12 of 12.  Today, we are 4 of 12.  And we (most of us) got our blue hats yesterday!  We are now a senior squad.

We can now teach what we have learned.  This is a very dangerous position to be in for some of us as we are held to the highest standards.  Mistakes are punished no longer with pushups, but with interventions (gigs) or L.E.s (Learning Experiences).  Most people that get kicked out of boot camp are blue hats.  I don’t think I will have any trouble.  I’ve been a good boy so far.  I’ve done all I can to show that I’m paying attention here.  I will most likely be the leader of our squad during graduation march.  Some of our squad still can’t call right on their right foot.  Officers will be paying more attention to them now.

[ANNE: A friend sent me a story from the New York Times Magazine: “You Just Got Out of Prison, Now What?”  It follows a couple of ex-cons who volunteer to pick up men being released, then spend a day trying to ease them into a world very different from the one they left when they were incarcerated.

They pick up a guy named Dale Hammock.  He had been pulled over for not wearing a seat belt and the cops found a bag of meth in his car.  Since it was his third offense, he was sent away for 21 years.

Twenty-one years.

It’s got to be overwhelming to walk out the gates.  The volunteers take him to Target to buy jeans.  Have you noticed how many choices there are for jeans?  In 1994 it was Levis, Lees, or Sears jeans.  Now there are dozens of brands and styles—boot cut, skinny, extra long, straight leg, relaxed, low rise, and on and on.  I haven’t been in prison but I feel overwhelmed by all the choices.  The same is true in chain restaurants, which now make you sift through five menus with hundreds of options, and in the grocery store.  A couple times I have walked out of a store without buying anything because I was too paralyzed by the choices to make a decision.

Then of course there is technology.  The volunteer showed Hammock something on his smart phone and Hammock asked, ‘‘Everything now, you just touch it, and it shows you things?’’  God help him.]

Super Best Friends

VINCE

When I was arrested in December of ’13, my dog Willie wound up living with my friends in the Fillmore County area.  He has spent over half of his life there and his dog friends are there, so I know he’s happy, and that soothes me.

The people that are taking care of him I miss just as much.  They were not just a part of my life, but they were my life, for years.  And although we were all pretty good at drinking, we bonded with each other, and I stayed out of legal trouble for many years.  Then, of course, I made a quick decision one night to use meth, and it took only a few months for me to separate from the pack, then leave altogether.

I miss you guys.  I think of you daily.  Not just you, but your families, who were all good to me.

Seth, our trip to Florida to watch [the Minnesota Twins] baseball spring training games was comparable to me to the best vacations I’ve been on.  We had more fun in seven days than most people have in a year.  It was “the crippie.”

Curt, you and I have had conversations that have not, and will never again, happen in this world.  I cherish every minute we spent together.

Sara.  You are a free spirit and a true friend to everybody you encounter.  You taught me how to ride a horse.  I failed to learn.  But that’s because your horses are stupid.

Those three plus me.  We were the “Super Best Friends Group” for years.  I abandoned them like I abandoned the rest.  They belong to the short list of the people I feel worst about.  I write to all of them constantly.  Some reply, some don’t.  But I keep writing.

Vince n Pals

Seth, Vince, and Sara at a baseball game.  It was about 101 degrees.

[ANNE: I made an effort to travel with Vince before he left home.  I considered it an important part of his education—travel itself, different people and places.  We went to Seattle, New York City, and Washington DC, among other destinations.  We mostly got along well when we traveled.

When he turned 30 he seemed to be doing so well—as was I—that I offered to take him on a “big trip” somewhere.  He had heard me talk about my friends who lived in a stately home (below) in the Scottish highlands, and said he’d be interested in going there.  I think he was attracted to the hunting and fishing, the six dogs and two cats, the meat-laden diet, and of course the whiskey.  It was a wild, manly, rural place.  I thought Vince and my friend Lynn’s husband would get on well together.  Maybe Richard would even inspire Vince to aspire to be more.

C2C1

Before I sunk thousands into a trip, I thought I should make sure he was serious about going, so I told him to get his own passport.  I mailed him the form.  It would have cost $75.  I realize that may seem like a lot when you’re a cook making minimum wage.  He said he would do it, then didn’t.  So the trip never happened.  I was disappointed, but relieved that I hadn’t forced it to happen if he didn’t really want to go.

A few years later he asked me if my offer of a birthday trip was still valid.  He wanted to go to watch spring training baseball games in Florida in February with his friend Seth.  I said yes.  I feel strongly that getting out of your comfort zone is vital to personal growth, and Vince had barely stepped foot out of rural Minnesota in years.  Besides, I had enough frequent flyer miles that it didn’t cost me much.  So he and Seth went, and apparently had a good time.  Don’t ask me what a “crippie” is.]

Tweaking is the Best Way to Travel

VINCE

2005 hours

I got a letter yesterday from an old using friend.  I wrote him about four months ago telling him I had made the decision to be sober when I was released.  He was happy for me, but sad to lose a friend.

The letter I got was very sad.  The day before Easter, he fell asleep while driving (very common among meth users) and flipped his vehicle three times.  He doesn’t remember any of it.  He also didn’t remember being saved by the Jaws of Life, but that’s how he got out.

He was air lifted to the Mayo Clinic where he was in the Intensive Care Unit for 9 days.

His collar bone was spider-web fractured from far left to far right.  Femur shattered at the hip socket.  Three broken ribs, two punctured lungs.  Staples and stiches to hold his fractured skull on.

He said the worst part was waking up several times upside down, stull strapped in his seat, and passing out from the pain.  Ugh.

On the plus side, he says, “I have decided that the Good Lord saved me for a reson (sic).  I will go to my grave straight and sober.”  I hope he does.  It’s amazing what a meth addict can survive and keep using.

About 9 years ago, I had left Winona after selling some meth and was nearing the town of St. Charles.  It was early on a Monday morning, during what could be considered rush hour, heading toward the direction of Rochester.

When I woke up, the speedometer said 68 but the road was green.  It took a split second to realize I was in the ditch.  There was no time to react to what was ahead of me.

Out of the culvert I came at a quick pace, but a gradual incline.  I went airborne and cleared the first driveway by about ten feet.  I landed perfectly straight in the next ditch, and up ahead I saw trouble.  I was headed straight toward a 3 foot cement drain pipe.  Speed unknown, I smashed into it, destroyed it, and once again I became airborne, this time I landed on the driveway and stayed there.

During the impact, the airbag deployed which, in tandem with my seatbelt, surely saved me from death and/or serious injury.  If you ever have the opportunity to see an airbag deploy in your face, pass that up.  It’s so quick and loud, it’s like a glitch in an old black and white film.  It wasn’t there, then it was.

To be continued….