Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA Post 1, Part 1 (Austin)
When I started pre-school as a kid it wasn’t long before I knew something was different and wrong with me. I was broken.
I didn’t know how to talk. I would say things, but people would just look at me, and then my mother would translate for me. I would end up participating in multiple developmental reading programs and I would have many private speech tutors until the 7th grade.
By the 7th grade, the only letter that was still fucking with me was the letter r. I hate the letter r. Fuck r. I love the word kangaroo though. Kangaroo was the first and last r-word that I pronounced correctly during my experience in institutionalized speech therapy. It hasn’t occurred to me until this moment, but I said kangaroo and then I bounced out of that program. Ha ha.
It’s terrifying going through life as a young kid when there is only one person that can understand you. I would talk incoherently, and my mother would translate for me. This went on for years to a degree, but there was slow improvement over time. Very slow.
My mother became the “room mother” for my pre-school class that year and then she assumed the same role at the various schools until my family moved to Georgetown. Then, I was on my own and really, really scared to talk out loud. At my new school when the kids began to look at me funny, I told the other kids that I was from another country. They soon found out that I was lying, but what an imagination for a silent kid.
I needed speech therapy badly, but in order to participate, the children with the speech issues were herded together and removed from another required and fundamental class, like math, reading, or English. So, you have the slight improvement in speech, but now you fall behind in other classes. Now, I couldn’t talk correctly, and I started falling behind my other classmates. FML wasn’t evented yet, but I must have felt the equivalent.
For example, I was too scared to go trick or treating. I couldn’t say trick or treat correctly, and I didn’t want to be made fun of. I skipped a year, but the next year I ended up just growling at people. I could sound like a little monster and growl, so I was one for Halloween. I went as a little monster and growled for candy.
I’m just now beginning to focus on this part of my life and how the process of institutionalized speech therapy, and just having the inability to communicate with others, has correlated with my anxiety, but I think it needs to be done.
Thank you for listening.
My parents never owned guns and that’s why I’m still alive.
My sophomore year in high school was and still is the worst year of my life. Four classmates of mine stole a boat from a house down the river. I saw them in the boat that day and they told me that the boat belonged to one of their uncles. Later that day, I saw someone towing that same boat down the river, but the boat was in really bad shape now, like it had been looted. The person asked if I knew whos boat it was, and I told him that it belonged to my friends.
About a week later the police came to my school and I was interrogated by the police and the principal regarding the boat. The next day I showed up to band practice in the morning and my life changed. My seat was with the other tuba players, but this morning my chair was pushed away from the other chairs and directly on the chalkboard behind me, written in huge letters was the word “NARC”. The kids that stole the boat had told everyone that I had informed the police that they were smoking pot and that in turn, the cops had busted them for weed.
Then it started. The threatening phone calls to me. the sexually violent calls to my mother, the dead cat on my yard, being punched in the halls, slapped on the back of the neck, kids would sit behind me during football games, while I’m holding my tuba and threaten me. It was hell. All my friends left me, I was sometimes even escorted from class to class by an assistant principal and sometimes a teacher, but nothing happened to the children that were doing this to me. The scariest part was lunchtime at school. I couldn’t leave campus and I had nowhere to go to, but I found a place to hide.
I made my lunch every day and then I would open up the band hall door with my knife, by moving the locking mechanism with the blade. I then opened the door, closed it and locked it behind me. I would find an empty up-stairs practice room in the adjacent choir practice hall and I’d step into the choir practice room, lock the door behind me, turn off the light, and hide in the dark shadow, where no one could find me. I felt so safe there. I would eat my lunch in the darkness all by myself. Just me, the narc that everyone hated, alone in the dark shadows of a locked practice room that was not big enough to fit four adults. That lasted for months, but the kids were looking for me and they knew the band hall lock trick also. I would hear them hunting for me as I sat hidden in the darkness eating my sandwich. No chips. Chips make noise.
Then, a band director caught me, and I got into trouble for breaking into the choir hall. I began to miss a lot of school, I stopped marching in the band, claiming a back injury, and I had to go to summer school again. But summer school was in another town and they didn’t know me. I made some friends and having that time in summer school really helped. I was liked again and met friends that were nice, but I had changed and my trust towards people had been altered. I started to drink and experiment slightly with drugs. They made me feel good. Finally, something made me feel good.
Why didn’t I fight back? I was under 5 feet tall and scared. My parents obviously knew something was wrong, but I didn’t tell my parents the extent of my abuse and what was going on, because who the fuck wants to tell their mother and father that they are getting beat up and are too scared to go to school. I’d rather have shot myself in the fucking head. Better yet, I would have loved to have shot those four motherfuckers in the head. I’m so glad that my parents didn’t have guns.
I’d be dead and so would those four other kids.
During my mid-20s I became a real-estate agent. It was the perfect plan. I had just flunked out of college and I was lost, depressed and about 6 months away from my first weekend long coke binge.
This was B.C. (before cameras), so you could get away with murder if you worked in a bar (late night parties until the morning with the doors locked) or in real-estate, it basically meant that you were never going to be homeless, but not necessarily due to personal monetary gain. When I became a real-estate agent they gave me an MLS key that would open the lock boxes all over Austin, of any vacant house that was on the market. I fully took advantage of this.
I had parties in a few vacant homes and met my first big dealer, who is dead now. That was the worst decision of my life, getting hooked up with that dude. That’s the closest that I ever got to being a straight up bad guy. I was right there on the edge of no turning back. He was out of Tarrytown in this crazy house where a local, bass playing legend was dealing heroin in the basement apartment.
I saw kilos go in and out and beatdowns every once in a while. I fucked up once and got beat down in front of about 6 people. I did the last line of coke that was on the plate and apparently that was a no-no. That house was part of my life for about 2 years until the dude got busted. I overdosed in that place once, but I was lucky and came out of it.
Well, gotta hit the books.
The difference between crack and freebase is zip code. I learned that in Austin. If you were using cocaine that way, back then, it was crack on the east-side of town, but in Tarrytown it wasn’t crack. It was freebasing. It wasn’t a crack house. That was a big house with a Porsche 928 in the driveway. Yeah, the one like in Scarface with those fucking headlights that flip around crazy and shit.
This wasn’t crack head central. This was a house with drug-addicted call-girls (heroin) going in and out of the residence for Mike to fuck. This was a house where local musicians or a random local celebrity might be seen at some weird hour. Mike was a weird guy. Mike had been burned over a lot of his body during a misunderstanding involving a mason jar full of gasoline, a match, and Mike. Apparently, Mike had pissed some people off years before. They rang his doorbell and when he answered the door, they smashed a mason jar, that was full of gas on Mike’s head and lit him on fire when he was out cold.
Mike had burn scars on his body that would poke out from under his shirt and reach toward his missing ear. Mike had scars, bitches, cars, coke, and everything figured out. Mike knew it all. I was set playa, I knew Mike.
I’ve never known depression like what I experienced when I flunked out of college the first time. I was a budding alcoholic that didn’t understand the panic attacks, what they were, or even what to call them. I was just crazy.
I would sit in my bed at night and rock back and forth with my eyes closed, but they never really closed. The light always was able to shine through my eyelids. Not really of course, but that is what it felt like. These bright lights going off inside my head while I tried to sleep.
As I was laying still under the covers my body felt as if it was inside one of those parking lot, amusement park rides called “The Zipper!” That is what it felt like. A less violent version of “The Zipper!”, but while trying to sleep and with a job to try to find the next day.
I tried medication, which just made me a zombie. I loved it for about a month or two, but believe it or not the zombie life has its drawbacks. Booze helped a lot if I drank enough, but I couldn’t drink enough and function, plus it didn’t help me with the depression.
The depression was the loneliest time of my life. High School sucked, I had made some friends in college, but fucked that up, and in my mind EVERYONE was doing better than me in life and now the Dallas Cowboys are doing training camp in Austin and throwing another hundred or so well-paid young men in the mix to fuck up the already dwindling possible female alcoholics and soon to be addicts to party with on 6th street.
I was 23 years old and I was just over it.
I was always a Bar-back, never a Bartender. Well, I did bartend, but not for very long and not very well. I don’t perform well when people are looking at me when I’m not 100% sure of what I am doing. I get distracted and so nervous during those close encounters with people.
You wouldn’t think that working on 6th Street would be so stressful, but back then you would generally be working with an annoyed bartender who knows EVERY line from the movie “Cocktail” and sits there practicing bar tricks, discussing the importance of well cut bar fruit, making sure the bar-back had enough Zima stocked or two rows of Corona, labels out, ice topped off in the well, and making sure that the bar-back is in pain by the time that the shift is over. Then you have to worry about the roided-out security guy that wants to play “nut-check” as some type of non-erotic testicular tapping that is prevalent in these jobs. It’s just stupid.
I could make a drink so smooth at home, but if I was on 6th Street trying to bartend I just had such a hard time remembering what and how much went into a drink that I just couldn’t do it under the allotted time. According to the regulation Olympic stopwatch that was usually being used for some reason during a bartender test.
Why do I mention my inability to bartend under pressure? I had just flunked out of college, which is a shame that resonates within the family and spills out of the house into the street for everyone to see and discuss. Loved ones begin doing amazingly fast calculations regarding how much money they spent and wasted in order for the college dream to be crushed by my alcoholism and these panic attacks that weren’t called panic attacks yet. It was called I’m really broken, and I don’t know why. It’s important to emphasize the destruction of self-efficacy. Self-perception and self-efficacy is where “fake it till you make it” can really fuck you up. It’s like a cat pretending not to look hurt, so that it’s not mauled by other animals when it’s assumed weak. If you fake it till you make it when mental health is concerned, the ending can be really fucking bad playa. The end. The inability to bartend wasn’t the only issue.
My first impressions are just awful. Multiple Migs has a better first impression than I do. I now just try to say as little as possible without seeming like a complete douchebag and I’m not doing well at it. I need more practice, but I don’t like meeting people. It’s scary as fuck to me. I have to practice first impressions due to my anxiety.
Then, when the meeting happens things need to be very close to how I imagined it, while practicing it. Everything in its place during that. Nobody just coughed or said something just before I said hello. I have their name written down three places, but now my shirt is stupid and I picked up a snail on the sidewalk outside and moved it to the bushes so that it wouldn’t get crushed, because since I know it’s there and it does get crushed then it’s the same as if I just crushed it, but I didn’t wash my hands before I shook his hand. His hand will smell like a snail. I hope that wasn’t a stinky snail because then he’ll think that I have stinky snail hands. How do I bring that up in a casual way? “You know I actually pick up snails to save them from getting crunched. I’m a good person. That’s why your hand smells like snails.” “Smell your hand. Snail?” “No, I actually asked if you were able to find parking ok.”
Unfortunately, that’s not far from one of my first impressions. It’s just awful.
So, I barely graduated high school, flunked out of college, I’m having panic attacks, ulcers, and I can’t bartend. I’m not smart enough. By this time, I’m just panicking. WTF am I supposed to do? I’m worthless and my first impressions are horrible, which leads to fucked up interviews. I have no chance in life, matter of fact, the only time that I’m cool and fun is when I’m drunk, but that’s only until I pass out. Then I’m just me and I suck. I can’t do anything, and I shake sometimes while trying to sleep. I’m 23 and I just hate everything that there is about being Steven Kendrick. Why did I have to be short, stupid, balding, and without anything in the world that was going to turn it around. So, I just drank every night until I blacked out, until the next day started. Then I would put my dirty Maggie Maes shirt back on and go to work as a barback. There was this girl that I met though, and she knew this dude that would make money taking polaroid pictures of people while they were on 6th street. He sold all types of things.
I want you to know how I got to where I did. How I ended up at Mike’s house and how I eventually became a crack-head (or Freebase Fanatic on the nice side of town) for a few years. Don’t worry, the ending is really good. I end up getting multiple college degrees, but the path is fucked up and scary as shit. I have no idea how I’m still here in this world. It just doesn’t make sense. When thinking back to those days, I’m about to start my real-estate career and perform stand-up comedy for the first time. Well, the second time, but I never told anyone about the first time when I was 19. I’m also about to become roommates with John Rabon and move next door to a one-stop shop of 24-hour drugs.
BTW- I talked with Rabon before I started writing about our time as roommates and he gave me his permission. Yes, I asked for his permission to discuss that time in our lives. John is a great guy and I feel a lot of guilt in regard to John. A lot.