Oct 29

From Drugs to Selling

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After my first experience with taking Ecstasy, I could not stop.  I am not sure what made it so addicting but, I could think about nothing else during the week.  Forget “Duty, Honor, Country” I just wanted to go back to Alexandria, hit the club and pop a “tab”.  The rest of the weekend was usually just dancing and this delusional belief that this was all there was to life.  Friends, fun and an escape from reality.

Monday mornings I was back to the barracks ready for early morning physical training and regular daily duties.  No one knew what was going on except for a select few.  A couple of Infantry guys, a Medic , a Mechanic, and a couple fellow Scouts.  This was my circle of weekend buddies.  We had to be careful.  Sometimes the entire company would have to do a mandatory drug test, always unannounced.  I knew of some fellow Scouts that were smoking marijuana but, they always seemed to have a way around getting caught.  I believe that the drug I was taking was not testable at the time.

The problem was, this high was only temporary.  I think the first couple times, it lasted about 3 hours or so.  It started to wear off a little sooner each time.  At this time I started drinking.  Not to get drunk, because I was already messed up from the “X”.  I just downed whatever someone handed me.  I don’t even know what I drank but, it had no effect on me that I could tell.  I never had a hangover.  I would just come down and feel a very deep sense of desperation when not on the drug.

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I needed to take more.  I was paying about $20 for each “tab”.  I started to invite some of the other guys I knew were “cool’ to participate in the weekend fun.  I knew who had the “X” and so I would collect the $20’s, go get the pills and then hand them out.  I started to get free hits for the business I was creating and because I was diverting attention away from the dealer, “Jane”

I got to know Jane and was invited to go to Houston, TX with her and some of her group.  Houston is where she bought her supply and then would bring it back to Ft. Polk and Alexandria.  We went to a couple clubs that were much better that the ones in Louisiana.  The next day I was introduced to a former Ft. Polk soldier who was Jane’s supplier.  We drove to an apartment and she gave him the money about 10 mins later he came out with a whole lot of “X”.  This encounter opened my eyes to how everything worked.  I am surprised to this day, how trusting these people were.

We took the stuff back to Ft. Polk and I was “fronted” a number of pills.   I sold them on Post during the week so there would be less handling in the club on the weekend.  I was able to keep some of the money and some of the drugs.  Jane knew of a couple other soldiers, that were waiting for a trial because, they had been busted for using or selling “X”.  She told me to be careful because, when someone is caught they snitch to lower their sentencing.

Shortly thereafter, a soldier I met a couple times came into my barracks with a “friend”  someone I had not seen before.  I was supposed to sell to the one but was not expecting the other.  It did not feel right, I got spooked and told them I did not have anything.

Someone had set me up….

Oct 23

From Army To Drugs

PFC Mike

I went through US Army Basic Training at Ft. Knox, KY in late 1987.

My advanced training was mixed in with the basic and so I was there for 14 weeks.  It was easy in some parts and hard in others.  The hardest part for me was the physical training.  I some how evaded Physical Education through my entire high school career.  At 5′ 10″ 105 lbs.  the things they had us doing wrecked havoc on my body.  I was constantly in the lowest scores with the weakest soldiers.  I did not want to be recycled through the whole program and so I kicked it into gear, exercised in what little free time I had and got my scores up.  I gained about 20 lbs. which still was not much but a lot for me.

Cavalry Scout

Cavalry Scout

At this time I was learning to work together with others, be a part of a team, and serve my country.  However, I think that God was so far back in my mind that I forgot about Him.  I went to the Post Chapel on Sundays but, mostly to get out of doing crazy duties they would come up with for non-church goers.  So the only thing I remember about attending the services there was, feeling a little nostalgic about being away from home, especially during the holidays.

Airborne

Airborne

I graduated as a Cavalry Scout and was sent to Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA.  I was going to learn to jump out of planes for an extra $100 a month.  I was going to go the the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, NC, just as planned.  While I was running in my second week there, I heard a snap and a sharp pain in my right leg flared up.  I did not want to stop running because if I dropped out two times, I would have been kicked out of the program.  So, I ran the last mile and a half through the pain.  After the adrenaline wore off, I realized I needed to go to the hospital.  My legs had stress fractures from Basic Training and the intense run cause one to break all the way through.

5th Infantry

5th Infantry Division

I got a cast on my leg, a drop from the program and a reassignment to 5th Infantry Division, Ft. Polk, LA.  Not my plan.  I cut the cast off with a saw before I arrived at Ft. Polk because I could not sit on a toilet and showering was a nightmare.  I settled into my Scout Platoon  and made a few friends.  They say that Ft. Polk is not the end of the world but you can see it from there.  Not much there to do at all.

On the weekends I began to go to the night clubs in Alexandria about an hour away from the Post.  I had never even taken a drink before so I thought this type of fun would be manageable.  The music, the night life, everyone seemed so nice and happy, having a great time, living the life.  One night a friend said try this and I took some sort of pill without thinking about it.  It seemed like an impulse.  Shortly after that, a euphoria took over my entire senses.  I could feel my eyes roll back involuntarily, waves of warm but shivering convulsions rolled through my body from head to toe.  I remember gripping on to my chair for dear life.  I don’t know how long that lasted but as the intensity waned, I began to dance.  I did not know how to dance and so what ever had taken over, really had taken over.

I had taken ecstasy and my life was never the same again.

Oct 08

Does Electric Shock Cure Bed Wetting?

River

Does Electric Shock Cure Bed Wetting?

In my dream is a running stream that slips over and around smooth stones.

As it travels along it grows to river size  and picks up speed and crashes in to larger sharper rocks.

Large white caps appear as the water churns turbulently.

At this point, it’s course can not be altered as it heads for the sheer drop.

As the rushing river spills over the edge and cascades into the pool below…

Niagara__Top_of_Horseshoe_Falls

I awake and realize, I have wet the bed again!

This was a common recurrence during my pre-adolescence and, OK some of my adolescence.

I was a DEEP sleeper, like the ocean deep.  Whoops another water reference.

My parents did not know what to do about it or how to fix it.

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To make it worse, during my stint in second grade, I was afraid to go to the bathroom (Number 1) by myself.

I would sit in my chair and hold it until finally just wetting my pants right there in my wooden seat.

I remember standing on the side of the school building while my classmates would play at recess.

I was too embarrassed to join in with my wet pants.  No Billy Madison in my class to save me.

My teacher eventually had to send a note home to my parents.

I was removing the varnish from the chairs!

It might have been because of this fear, that my parents probably thought I was wetting the bed on purpose.

What a dilemma!

They tried all sorts of things that never worked.  I constantly peed in my bed.

I vividly remember my mom putting diapers on me before going to bed and I was not sleeping in a crib.

I remember watching a movie on TV, called “The Loneliest Runner”

The 13 year old John Curtis would run home after school everyday.

This was because his mother would hang his wet bed sheet out of his window.

He would have to get there and take it down before anyone from school would walk by his house.

He became so fast that eventually he became an Olympic marathon, gold medal winner.

I could relate to this story, but my parents didn’t do anything like that.

When I was about 4th or 5th grade, my parents paid for a machine that was the bed wetting cure.

It would condition me to wake up when I had to pee.

It had a large wire mesh rectangle and a teal rubber mat that was attached under the mesh, to keep my bed from getting wet.

The wire mesh was attached to a large black box.

The box had a toggle switch, a red lamp that would illuminate and also an alarm that would sound when any liquid hit the mesh.

The idea was to drink a bunch of Kool Aid.

Did I just say drink the Kool Aid?

Go to bed naked and wet the bed.

Cue Niagara Falls!

Toilet

One drop of liquid and the crazy, loud annoying buzzer would go off with the red lamp staring at me saying,

“GO TO THE BATHROOM! ” 

This only took a few times and my body was conditioned or retrained to wake up, BEFORE I wet the bed.

Cured!

Where does electric shock come into the story?

I told my wife about this childhood situation and I don’t think I gave her all the details, or I mumbled them out.

She would probably say the latter.

However, she came home one day to gain some clarity on the story because, one of her salon clients was unsure that my parents would actually use shock therapy on a child to control bed wetting.

She had it all wrong.

She thought my parents paid to have the pee shocked out me!

This was of course not the case since there was no shock involved.

It was just an alarm…..

Wait a minute!  “You tell your clients that I peed the bed?!?!”

What embarrassing childhood situations have been revealed about you?

 

Oct 02

Soldier

Grandpa Charlie

Grandpa Charlie

Growing up I wanted to be a soldier.  It is the only thing I wanted to be, besides Indiana Jones.  In a toss up between Indiana Jones and Rambo, the latter won out in my mind as the job of choice.  I  had some ancestors fight for the Union in the Civil War.  One of which was captured and held for nine months in the infamous Andersonville Prison Camp, run by the Confederates.  My grandfathers were in the Army during WWII.

Grandpa Eustace Mike

Grandpa Eustace

 

Grandpa Bill

Grandpa Bill

 

I grew up as an Air Force Brat (a kid with a parent in the AF).  My father was drafted in 1968, and he decided to join the AF before his number came up.  He married my mom and 9 months later I was born.

Dave and Gail Mike

Dave and Gail Mike

I got to travel and see lots of places and experience many things.  I lived in many several states and two other countries.  Faith was very important to my parents, we spent a lot of time at a Baptist church in South Carolina for most of the 70’s.  I might have not been paying attention to the true message there, so I felt most of the time that God was watching my every move.  If I stepped out of line, ZAP!  Lightning strike.  “Don’t smoke, drink or chew, or hang out with girls that do.”

I was surrounded by military people my entire childhood.  I met so many interesting people with all their stories of things and places you only read about in books.  I met Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, former POW Colonel Bobby R. Bagley, and even a WWII German Ace Fighter Pilot, Adolf Galland.  I was awestruck and mesmerized by all things military.

During my Freshman and Sophomore year of high school, I joined the Marine Corps JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps).  I learned how to be a miniature Marine.  I even spent a week at Marine Basic Training Parris Island, SC and a week at Marine Basic Infantry School, Camp Pendelton, CA, during the summer breaks.  Highly motivated, truly dedicated, Sir!

Junior Marine

Junior Marine

I moved to Germany before my Junior year started and so my last two years of high school I was in the Air Force JROTC program.  I got to ride in a helicopter, fly in a refueler, and fly a jet simulator.  Cool stuff but, I had my heart set on joining the Army.  I wanted to be an Airborne Scout.  And so at 17 years old, I had my parents sign me in because you had to be 18 to sign up on your own.  I was ready to leave home, be a man, and a soldier!

During my Senior year, some changes were going on.  I started to become enamored with the New Wave and Goth scene.  This did not set well with my dad and also with my JROTC teachers who were constantly reminding me that “that hairdo” was not in regulation.

Unauthorized Hair

Unauthorized Hair

I was starting to develop an underlying rebellion.  It was subtle but evident.  I was beginning to make poor choices and also to bend and break the rules and training my parents were trying so hard to enforce.  As the first born child I believe my parents were trying their best to make sure I turned out “right” and that I would enter the world on my own with success.  And also that I was “right with the Lord”.

I became reclusive to my family and isolated myself from them.  I felt smothered and constricted and was ready to leave.  My mom says that when I got on the plane to leave Germany, I never looked back.

 

Sep 24

Napoleon Dyna”Mike”

When I first watched the movie Napoleon Dynamite, I laughed so hard. It was such a good movie and clean as well. Nothing in there that you could not show your kids. But, as I watched a second time I realized that I related to the movie a little too closely. All of a sudden I noticed that this movie was like watching a clip from my own life. I guess I was (am) a nerd.

Reasons I realized, I am Napoleon DynaMike

 

Napoleon Dyanamite

Napoleon DynaMike

Disclaimer: I looked more like his brother Kip however, to this day I can not grow a sweet mustache.

I was 4’8″ and 85 lbs. in 9th grade and I never took Physical Education in all of high school. Playing a contact sport would be like playing Russian roulette with five bullets and one empty chamber. Or like wrestling with the Grim Reaper, take your pick.

I had a Trapper Keeper! One of the coolest things about the Trapper Keeper was the sound it made, and that it matched the sound of my Velcro wallet!

Marine JROTC

Marine JROTC

I took JROTC classes because I knew that I would be instantly cool in that military uniform! Girls would be hanging off of me. Until that day I tripped up the stairs in front of the entire lunch room! Homecoming anyone?

I played tether ball by myself, a lot. My brown 70’s style glasses broke three separate times. Man, that ball could get out of control! We took them on base to be repaired. All they had were the black pieces, from the infamous military BCG’s (birth control glasses). At least it was just my glasses, my brother broke his wrist once when the chain wrapped around it. Sorry Darren.

I played Dungeons and Dragons. D&D if you were serious about it. All those different dice, the thrill of hanging out all weekend rolling them. Seeing how my character would fare, in the dangerous world the Dungeon Master (my friend Mike) had crafted for us. How many pieces of gold would it take to buy a sword? What would happen if we lost a torch? How many hit points would I lose if attacked by an orc? Yesssss!

I could not get my locker open my entire Freshman year of high school. It was a spring loaded combination lock handle with what must have been NORAD like security specs. So I carried every single book for every class in my bag for all of 1983 and 1984. (This included my Dungeons and Dragons books because you never know when you might need to update a character on the fly.)

I owned a wooden Samurai sword. It was not exactly a bow staff, but just as effective. I could hurt myself trying to master either one equally. Oh, don’t forget the throwing stars. The fence in my backyard never had a chance. All those hours of training, watching Ninja movies really paid off.

I played with GI Joe figurines. Well, play with them is a loose term. I mean they might get dirty and then, what would they be worth in the future. Maybe they were just better off in a display. I ended up giving them to my brother when I joined the Army…. I mean when I was younger.

I wrote a girl a note in 10th grade, it had the Yes or No check boxes. After using my Ninja like reflexes to get it into her hands, I ran away as fast as possible to avoid the face to face rejection. Great strategy right?

I had an imaginary girlfriend. (Much easier than a real one.) She was not from Canada, she went to church with us. We had front row seats since my dad lead the choir. I would prop my jacket up next to me in the pew and put my arm around her neck. Nothing like cuddling with nothing.

The Real Napoleon

The Real Napoleon

On that note, how many of you felt like you were looking in the mirror when watching “Napoleon Dynamite”?

Crickets….Uhhh Gosh!

 

Sep 18

Oh No, What Have I Done?

USDB

USDB

Oh no, what have I done?….

If you know me in person, or if you have read my previous posts, I generally tend to be more lighthearted.  My dilemma is that because of my past, I have to shift gears completely to tell my story.

The posts related to this particular life event will be of a more serious nature.  Being a Christian and from a career military family, you can imagine the guilt and shame that would follow such a mess.

This post is not to glorify my past but to reveal it.  This is the beginning of a true story about my life.  For years this story had been told in passing and in pieces.

I have finally come to the point in my life where I feel God wants me to share it.  To quote Max Lucado “This is the kind of mess God can use for good.”

I hope you can bear with me as I  become authentically transparent.  Thank you in advance for reading.

October 1989, Alexandria, Louisiana.

A friend of mine came in to the nightclub and told me that he overheard some cops in the parking lot saying they were coming in to get me.  I told people that if I ever got caught, I would consume everything I had on me and go out in oblivion.

For some reason the day before, I put one hundred Ecstasy pills in one by one inch plastic zip lock baggies that I normally used for LSD.  This prevented me from taking any.

Two Sheriffs, walked in, creating no exit for me.  As one of them grabbed my arm, I simultaneously dropped my jacket containing all of my drugs on the floor.

Outside, I was slammed up against the wall and told not to move by the Officer who was pointing his gun at me.  I was searched and they only found ten cents in my pocket.

This made them angry because this was supposed to be a legitimate bust.  I think if they had noticed the jacket, this would have all been worse for me.  I deserved it but, I have to say I am glad that they never found it.

I was cuffed and shoved into the car, and at that point the gun was holstered.

As the metal door was locked shut, I realized that this was for real.  I was not getting out of this one.  All the running, drugs and freedom was over.

 My stupidity and bad choices led me to this point.  I was in jail.  My head still numb from the Ecstasy I took before they grabbed me.

My wrists still sore from having the handcuffs on in the car, and while sitting in a chair as the Louisiana State Police interrogated me.

I asked for the smacks in the head because, I was either smart mouthing, or not telling them what they wanted to hear.  They were talking about my, having polluted their community with illegal drugs.

As I lay on the steel bed, in this dark cell, I knew that the “God, if you just get me out of this” prayer was not going to work.  I was only 19 years old and I had seriously screwed up.

I think I cried.  I am not totally sure, but I think I did.  I thought of my family living in Germany.

My parents were probably going to be glad I finally was caught.  At least they would know where I was.

I could never really let them know because my dad was in the Air Force and if he knew, he would have to turn me in, or be charged for aiding a military fugitive.

I was AWOL.

About six months prior to this night, I had run away from the Army.

I believe God was with me but, I was not with God.

Oh no, what have I done?….

Sep 10

Things Kids Are NOT Allowed To Say.

Things Kids Are NOT Allowed To Say!

Growing up we lived in a fairly strict household with many rules and procedures.

There were things that we were allowed to do and things that we could not.

We were absolutely not allowed to say the word….

FART!

You probably thought I was going to say something else but no, the word we could not say is FART.  I am not sure why my parents would not allow us to say it.

We had certain phrases that we were allowed to use to describe this incident.  We could say, “passed gas”, ‘tooted’ or when my grandmother lived with us she introduced us to “let a corker!’.

In the UK it is called having a “case of the wind”.  They must not be able to use the “F” word either.

One of our children coined the phrase “excuse me from my bottom”.  Kind of like burping out the other end, which is gross, but it’s cute when a little kid says it.

It really is a funny word for a strange bodily function.  I wonder what God was thinking when he created this phenomenon.

It is the thing that I laugh the hardest at during a movie.  It is the thing that women say they never do but, men really know that women would be exploding all over the place if this were true.

I was a little nervous to talk about this word because I did not want this post to define me as a writer, but just this morning I heard Jeff Goins say on a podcast, (click here to listen) that when dating his wife he was so nervous that he would fart.

So if Jeff can do on a broadcast, I can blog about it.

Unintentionally, we must have passed my parents tradition to our children.

On two occasions, our daughters came home from school very distraught.

They had overheard one of their friends say the “D’ word and another friend say the “S” word.

Bracing ourselves for the worst, and with a pained look on our faces, we said “Go ahead tell us…..” They replied,

“DUMB and STUPID”

What!?!

These are what our precious little daughters thought were the “D” and the “S’ words?

Oh you poor sheltered little Mike girls.

Have we been to protective?

Have we made the difficult decision to keep you from the dark forces outside our front door too long?

How will you ever survive high school?

I suppose, if this is the worst failure of our parenting, we must be doing okay.

I mean they will eventually hear other versions of what can be behind these letters, but not out of our mouths.

And if they hear those words, they had better not call the offenders dumb or stupid.

Oh, and can you imagine the excitement my parents felt, when we moved to Germany and started to learn German from reading road signs…..

 

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The German words for “Entrance” and “Exit” are “Einfahrt” and “Ausfahrt”.

What were the things were you told you could NOT say growing up?  

Or, how about your children?  

Careful, my kids read this blog!

Sep 04

Nailed It!

Disney Face Paint

Disney Face Paint

Nailed It!

The last time we went to Disney World was in 2007.

My two daughters and my nephew, Sam, are much younger in this picture than they are now.

However, the face painting experience you see here, really raised the bar of on their level of expectation.

Real Italian flags.   Taken by David J Mike  (my dad)
Real Italian flags.
Taken by David J Mike
(my dad)

We attend the Local Italian Festival here in Omaha, NE every year with my wife’s family.  It’s a lot of pizza, pasta, sausage, fried dough, music and socializing.

That’s for the adults anyways, the kids look forward to the face painting.  I think it’s the only reason they come with us.

This year the ladies doing the painting were in a wide range of ages, maybe 80 to 8!

I believe in equality but when it comes to face painting… I don’t think so.

Ok, I guess.
Ok, I guess.

This is Milina, she is eleven, her butterfly is not too bad.  She got one of the “Old Ladies”.

Eye makeup
Eye makeup

This is Anika, she is three.  People politely asked her, “What is on your face?”  Which she would reply, “Eye makeup.”

Lydia, my thirteen year old got the eight year old artist to do her metamorphosis.

Butterfly inkblot?
Butterfly inkblot?

Nailed It!

Have you seen the “Nailed It” pins on Pinterest?  We have a contestant!

I knew she was unhappy with her artwork because, I watched her demeanor go downhill as soon as she looked at her reflection in her iPhone.

We were all trying to look normal at her as we were holding in the horror of a portrait of a butterfly that had been splattered on a windshield.

As she was finally coming around or should I say, coming to terms with her situation, I overheard Milina say to Sam, “Make sure you get the old lady!”

Lydia chimed in “Yeah, cause if you don’t….” and then with a constipated look on her face she points to her struggling butterfly as if to say, “You might look like this!”

What’s the dilemma?

Choose wisely?

Keep your expectations low?

These are things to think about however, I think we learned that sometimes we will be some times be disappointed.

We need to be able to laugh about it because, that is more fun than sitting around worrying about a dead butterfly sitting on your face.

And yes, we did laugh WITH her…

Sam
Sam

Sam went the safe route.  Well-played Sam, well-played.

What disappointments have you been able to laugh about?

 

 

Aug 29

Never Trust a Man with Two First Names.

Mike

Never Trust a Man with Two First Names

“Never trust a man with two first names.”  This is usually what I hear when I introduce myself.  What does this mean?  I’m still trying to figure it out.

My last name is Mike, first name David.  This has been a source of confusion my whole life. Who has Mike for a last name anyways?

It’s kind of unique, kind of weird.

Great-Grandpa Mike
Great-Grandpa Mike

My Great-Grandfather, Giuseppe Antonio Michele, made the decision to leave Italy to make a better life for himself here in America.

As is the case with many immigrants, the agent who processed him either could not understand his accent, or just wanted to Americanize his name and changed it to, Joseph Anthony Mike.

His decision to move here, not only increased our quality of life but, also gave us the opportunity to play the name game.

 

When I was younger I tried to tell people that our last name was really Skullnelly.

Mike was just the last name given to us when we entered the witness relocation program.

Mike just couldn’t be a REAL last name.  Not sure anyone ever actually believed me.

If you see the picture of me in my youth, you understand that I needed all the cool points I could get.

David "Skullnelly" Mike

David “Skullnelly” Mike

Over the phone, when asked for my last name, and I say Mike, the usual response is “I said your LAAAAST name.” (Emphasis intended).

After reassuring them that I understand questions presented to me in English, the usual comeback is, “Then how do you spell that?”

Seriously!

And those poor telemarketers that ask, “May I please speak to Mr. Mike David?”

“Well sorry, he doesn’t live here.”

During Basic Training the object is to avoid the most pain, suffering and humiliation from the Drill Sergeants.

You try to blend in and not get singled out for any reason, from all the other shaved head, camo wearing individuals.

No luck there… “You, two first names, get over here…”

One of my favorite comments was, “Hey, why do you get to have your first name on your uniform?”

At my current job as a Cosmetology Instructor, I go by Mr. Mike.

It seems as if the Mr. part just gets dropped off after a while by our regular clients.

It is just, “Hey, Mike!” , “Isn’t that right, Mike?” or “Go get Mike, he knows how I like my hair cut.”

After finding out that my first name is David, they usually say, “You don’t look like a David, you look like a Mike!”

Well I am technically, sort of ish.

 

With three daughters, the Mike girls will not have the last name curse follow them after they get married.

Unless they make the guy change his last name to Mike, or what if his first name is Mike?

 

I really do like my last name and I am used to all the comments.

This is a good thing because they will probably never stop.

By the way, you CAN trust me.

My middle name is Charles which triples out the two first name thing…

Is anyone out there with me?