I legally bought weed today at this dispensary in Milan, Ill. Thank you, Lord

I am not even going to lie.

I’m not sure if ever in my life I have wished more times for the same thing, even if I took a two-year break from it once: “Please God help me to find some weed to calm my mind,” I used to pray.

And now, God has provided in a huge way, as he has in so many incredible ways for me. It’s another blessing that has come out of great struggle.

As of May 22, 2017, I became a Medical Cannabis Registered Qualifying Patient with the Illinois Department of Public Health. I have a very nice card, kind of looks like a driver’s license, and my picture is even pretty good!

How I ended up with the card has not been a pleasant road. A rape and an unusual (maybe doesn’t seem so unusual now) and horrific assault have haunted me the past several years.

But being “arrested” at dad’s memory care institution (you can read about that by clicking here) two years ago and being thrown in the Rock Island County Jail, naked, on no charges at all, for two days (you can read about that by clicking here), is what has left me in my current condition.

And dad’s death of course, only 21 days after the state reunited us. We were kept apart for 108 days due to the memory care institution not allowing me to visit him any longer, even with supervision.

The final two and a half years of my dad’s life were all about elder care facilities, phone calls at all hours of the night, emergency room trips with dad, fighting with my brother over the cost of dad’s care and the fact I could not do it anymore, and a whole bunch of other just crazy stuff.

Living with post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t fun. I don’t trust anybody. But, two years ago I would not even leave my house. I even was having my groceries delivered. So, things are better.

Related post: Still healing from trauma, NYC book trip canceled for cannabis country

I was hurt by people I personally know who I never thought would hurt me. And that’s what hurts the most.

So how does the cannabis help?

For years, cannabis has allowed me to ignore unpleasant memories that play over and over and over again in my head, particularly if I am idle. I began smoking it a couple of years after I moved to Los Angeles in 1992 and smoked it pretty regularly until two years ago, when the incident happened at the memory care institution.

I know I was given bad “marijuana” at least once, and now it seems very likely that it was K2. But I believe it happened a second time too, or perhaps the weed was laced with something.

At any rate, I had no choice but to give it all up, as I had the alcohol before that, the cocaine before that, the meth before that, and the alcohol before that. Because two bad experiences so close together didn’t add up.

When I got sober, after just a few months, people would tell me how great I looked. I would say, “Well, I drank for 30 years. Heavily.”

Related Post: Learn more about the rare brain disease, FTD, that killed my dad

So that I already had a year of sobriety from alcohol under my belt, I was TIRED of dealing with anyone or anything related to my past, especially after I got the bad stuff.

At first, myself and everyone around me thought it was wonderful I had quit smoking pot. But it wasn’t long thereafter that I was on a prescription of as many as 4 mg of Ativan per day. After so long, I found the Ativan actually aggravating me during triggers instead of calming me down.

Anxiety medications are in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which are basically alcohol in a pill. While many would wonder why I ever would be prescribed that, my fear, anger and nightmares had become so bad that it was getting in the way of my work and my daily life. I also have a tendency to raise my voice when I become extremely upset, and that apparently is not a good thing.

Life as a kid in a violent home

So, with the help of my health care team, including my therapist and medical provider, I took my medical records clearly denoting my chronic PTSD diagnosis to Chicago. There, I saw a doctor twice – both times for about half an hour – and also underwent fingerprinting.

All told, it was about a $600 process. And I really don’t think this doctor would give out cards to people who don’t come in with the diagnosis already previously made.

That was way back on April 8. It’s fair to say I’ve been “Jonesing.”

Trauma comes in so many forms for so many people. Mine started early. Due to dad’s rare brain disease, which we didn’t really know (or later, believe) he had at the time, my home was an extremely violent one.

My brother and I, who recently reconciled after finally settling dad’s estate in January, were discussing the violence we grew up with. Once, our mom pinned our dad down and held a steak knife to his neck.

Another time, he took his cane and poked her in the area where her breast had been removed. She was receiving radiation therapy and was weeping and bleeding in the area.

Related Post: How rape, assault led to sobriety

Dad, meanwhile, had just had surgery on his knees. Mom grabbed his cane and beat the holy hell out of both of them.

But my brother revealed to me recently a story I only had heard part of. He walked in once on dad pointing his shotgun at my mother. John, my brother, managed to get the shotgun away from dad. The shotgun was given to my Uncle Don, and that I knew, and I vaguely remember dad being very upset about his missing gun.

My brother was probably 13 or 14 years old; I was maybe 4 or 5.

Hoping to be able to trust, love again

Mom and dad divorced and second and final time (dad never moved out the first time, in 1980) in 1984. Mom got the home – the very home I live in today. She moved a man in about two weeks after she got rid of my dad, and we began to fight so violently I decided to move in with my cousin and pay rent. I was 17 years old making $3.35 per hour at the Quad-City Times, a senior in high school.

And the trauma continued. Mom’s breast cancer, first diagnosed in 1979, recurred many times. We lost her in 1995. She was 53; I was 24. You can read about my mom’s battle with breast cancer by clicking here.

My mom died in the same house I live in today. That’s because my dad, the little rascal, got it back about seven years ago, when he learned it was for sale. I think that’s cool as H.

And although my home was violent, dad and I reclaimed this house during the year we spent in it together. I love my house.

And now I can legally smoke pot in it. Add that to the list of things I never thought would happen, that I am very, very grateful for.

I hope I am able, with access to this new medication, to be able to make friends again, to be able to make eye contact with certain people again, to not be so angry about a past that while traumatic, has produced much fruit.

Going to ‘The Show’ each week recalls QC movie memories, history, milestones


I saw “Passenger” today. It was stellar.

Last week I saw “La La Land.” And despite a rather slow start that leads you to think it’s just going to be just another cliché movie about Los Angeles, it turned out to be very entertaining.

Both movies were intense love stories. I think I need to start watching more love stories. They’re great for healing from trauma, at least for me.

But I would have to say both of the above-mentioned movies probably fall into the category of “B Movie,” a term my dad LOVED to use.

Dad, what are you doing? “Watching some B movie.”

Or we would go to my brother’s for Christmas or Thanksgiving, and John always was thoughtful enough to rent a movie. Dad would say, “What God damned  B movie are we watching this time, Johnny?”

To my dad, everything was a “B Movie.” He never was much of a “glass half-full” person. But he sure did watch lots of movies on TV. I wonder if, just as they are for me, they were an escape for him, and the dreaded disease he always said he had, but no one believed him.

I find myself becoming more and more like both of my parents every day. When I look in the mirror, or gauge how I come off to friendly strangers (or conversely, people who cross me), I see my mother. And let me tell you, she could flip a switch and be two radically different people. My mother was very strong. She was friendly, bubbly (they even called her “Bubbles”). But if you crossed her, she never let you forget it.

Dad, meanwhile, always just seemed to be looking for peace. And I can relate to that feeling, too. I’m finding it at the movies, which I write about a lot these days. Just two weeks ago, I saluted all my Hollywood friends for the hard work they do in this piece I wrote for LinkedIn. I love bragging how my first L.A. roommate, Dale Mayeda, won his first Oscar for “Frozen” last year (special effects). He was renting cars for Enterprise when we moved in together. L.A. really is a magical place for people who work hard.

The Capri in downtown Rock Island: All shows, 99 cents

Another thing about being a born-again movie buff is that it has brought back some very pleasant old memories. The very best memories I have of my mom, dad and I, together, was going to see a movie now and then at the Capri Theater in downtown Rock Island. All shows 99 cents, all the time.

As a kid, I remember thinking, “is Terri Garr in every movie?” Because I remember seeing “Close Encounters” with mom and dad, at the Capri, and really liking it. Then I remember the night we drove up to the Capri, and the marquee said, “Otsi.”

I said, “Otsi. Sounds like science fiction. Let’s see it!”

And dad screams, “Tootsie! Barbara (my mother), it’s ‘Tootsie!’”

Capri marquee “Wheel of Fortune.”

So, we watched “Tootsie.” The three of never laughed so hard, together, in all. Our. Lives. Such a movie was quite groundbreaking back in those days.

Another great movie memory was my friend Shannon Keatley’s birthday party. Her grandma took us to a movie, “Breaking Away,” roller skating at Skate Ranch, and then, Happy Joe’s. Milan was the birthday capital of the Quad-Cities back in the 1970s.

Another unforgettable movie for me was “View to a Kill.” It was my first date. I kissed a girl. I was maybe a junior in high school. I was so nervous. But we had a good time. I won’t embarrass her by name.

Showcase Cinemas, the Memri, the Semri

I remember the Showcase Cinemas in Milan, which is now a Hy-Vee. On the side of the building it said, “Showcase Cinemas 1-2-3-4-5.” Soon, they added a “6 & 7.” I think by the time they shut it down there also was” 8-9-10.”

In the Quad-Cities, we always called seeing a movie, “Going to the show.”

A Showcase Cinemas scandal circulated through Rock Island High School once. Supposedly a guy who got fired from there peed on the popcorn before he left. No idea if that was true or not. Not sure if it made the gossip column of the high school newspaper, the Crimson Crier, called “Herd in the Halls.” Yes, my high school newspaper had a gossip column. No. Idea. How we got by with that!

And who can forget the drive-in theaters. The Memri and the Semri. Supposedly, Memri stood for Milan-East Moline-Rock Island. And the Semri for Silvis-East Moline-Rock Island.

These days, Rave Cinemas 53 in Davenport is “the place” to see movies. Of course, Great Escape (is it still called that?) is on the Illinois side, next to WalMart. But do you know, I NEVER have been inside there. I like Rave so much I just can’t imagine that it could possibly compare. But I will have to check it out.

Rave, to me, is one impressive mega-plex. How many screens do that have in there? Fifteen? It’s a beautiful facility with state-of-the-art everything and the most comfy seats ever. It reminds me of walking aboard a spaceship when I walk in there.

There are so many good movies out right now. I Just love my movie time. It truly is an escape from the troubles of life, if only for 90 minutes or so.

Five famous people who once lived in the Quad-Cities


(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

Our community’s obscure name makes us an easy target for jokes. And the fact that many of us talk through our noses (whether we realize it or not) makes people laugh even harder because of the way “Quad-Cities” sounds when we say it.

But start ticking off a list of our most famous residents and even the harshest bi-coastal residents (who view us as flyover country) will say, “I didn’t know that!”

Here are five famous (or infamous) people who once called the Quad-Cities home.

John Deere. John Deere is a household name not only in the U.S, but around the world. While the global tractor maker was founded in Grand Detour, Ill. in 1837, it moved to Moline 11 years later. Today, John Deere World Headquarters remains in Moline.

Ronald Reagan. Not many people know that “The Gipper” got his start in show business at WOC Radio in Davenport, Iowa.

“Reagan’s first assignment – for $5 and bus fare – was the University of Iowa’s homecoming game against Minnesota,” The Des Moines Register reports in its online archives. “In the spring of 1933, partly because he had covered the Drake Relays so skillfully, Reagan was chosen to become chief sports announcer for WOC’s sister station, WHO in Des Moines.

Reagan, of course, went on to become the 40th president of the United States. He arguably was the most popular U.S. president in my 46-year lifetime.

Roger Craig. NFL legend Roger Craig of San Francisco 49ers fame grew up in Davenport, Iowa. Craig is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. He has three Super Bowl rings.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder. Who’s that, you say? Well, while “The greatest thing since sliced bread” may be a common catchphrase, few people know that Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented it – in Davenport, Iowa, no less. You can’t get much more Americana than that.

John Looney. John Looney was a notorious Prohibition-era gangster who ruled the mean streets of Rock Island, Ill. The home from which Looney controlled booze, prostitution, and illegal gambling, still stands. It is rumored that it connects to tunnels that sprawl throughout the city’s downtown, which is how illegal goods were trafficked. The notorious criminal owned the city’s newspaper and threatened to blackmail people if they didn’t do as he wanted.

Paul Newman played Looney in the film adaptation “Road to Perdition” in 2002, co-starring Tom Hanks.

Some might say that the “less than above-board” (criminal?) style of Rock Island County power-mongering hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years.