“you got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away, know when to run” -Kenny Rodgers.

When I worked at the rehab facility, I can recall numerous time that the clients would ask me what drug I was addicted to? I never really liked talking about my life, because it wasn’t about me. My job was to look after them and keep them safe and on the right path.

My last day there, I had a coming to Jesus with the clients during their lunch. I gave them the opportunity to ask question and get to know the guy behind the title. Well, the first question of course, what drugs or alcohol were you addicted to? I told them that addiction doesn’t always have to do with drugs or alcohol. There’s porn, gambling, video gaming addiction and so on.

I stood there in front of 64 men and women staring at like I was about to announce the winning lottery numbers. I said my addiction is gambling. A few laughed and said that wasn’t a real addiction. I explained to them that their needle or pipe was my slot machine. I explained that the ringing of the machine was a trigger and that my heart will begin to race kind of get the sweats.

They asked when it started and I told them it was right after high school. My grandmother asked me to take her to our local casino boat which I did. Lord, I wish I could have been busier that day. It was the lights and sounds of all the machines that hooked me in, along with actually winning.

Some still didn’t understand the relation of gambling to drug use. I asked them if they have ever stolen to get money for drugs? Yes they replied. I said well same here. I asked if they ever lied to their family and friends because of the drugs? Again, they replied yes. I said you know that feeling when you are coming off your high and trying to figure how you’ll get your next fix? Well, same here.

In 2005 my father called 1800 Bets Off on me and I had to go to the casinos in Iowa and Illinois and ban myself. I did a lifetime ban because honestly, I didn’t know if I could stop myself from going with just a year ban.

Around 2020, Illinois started to allow slot machines in gas stations, restaurants, bars, etc. The apartment complex that I had just moved into was across the street from a stand alone slot machine business. It didn’t bother me because being banned for 15 years already, I really didn’t think about it. One day, I went to the store to grab something and overhead a guy say he one $3000 or so and was excited because it was tax free. I said how the hell is it tax free? He stated that the slots are owned my the location owner and not by the state. The state taxes the business but not the winner.

Damn I wish I didn’t hear that. This is a major loophole when it comes to gambling. Yes, I’m banned from the casino that is state ran, but not from the slots that are business owned. I found a knew “drug” dealer, and it was accessible from morning to night.

“Know when to walk away, know when to run.” That’s the problem. Instead of walking away from the needle, i started to shoot up again. When I go into a gas station and hear the slot machines sounds, it truly is a trigger. My “just a little bit” turns into “what the fuck am I doing”? I wish I can say that I’m “sober” again, but I’d be lying. I’m fighting these demons and even with the thought of my daughter, the demons sometimes win.

I talked to the VA about counseling and they wanted to send me to rehab for gambling addicts. Guess where? Goddamn Las Vegas! That’s like having a drug addict get rehab in a trap house. I literally said out loud to the lady, “what the actual fuck?” Needless to say, I didn’t take the VA up on their offer.

I moved from Illinois to Iowa specially to get away from the slots. How freaking shitty is it that you have to move to a different state because you can’t control your urges? It’s embarrassing and sad really. I really want to get this fixed and get the help I need before I “OD”.

I wish I could say that I have all the answers on how to fight this. I mean if it was that easy, these rehab places wouldn’t be needed.

In closing, I’ll end this the way it started. Hello everyone, my name’s Robert, and I’m addicted to gambling.

Don’t you (Forget About Me)

One of the great songs of the 80s, this Simple Minds song has gone down as a classic. I absolutely love this, I mean honestly, how can you not like it? Little less than a year ago, this song took a new meaning for me.

At the place that i was working, there was a clerk (I’ll refer to her as C) who was so absolutely beautiful. I know it’s kind of cliché to say, but she was just as beautiful on the inside too. In my eyes, C was perfect. She would laugh at your stupid jokes, she would try her best to put a smile on your face. She was always there for our individuals. (I worked in a long term care home) She was honest in the sense that she didn’t tell you what you wanted to hear, she told you what you needed to hear.

As I said, she was perfect. Well, almost I should say. C was married. Now I’m not the kind of person who flirts or whatnot with married women. I’ve been married before and I know C’s husband wouldn’t like that. My supervisor (I’ll refer to as M) and the house manager at the time would tell me that C was not in a good marriage. M would tell me that C and I would be perfect together. Now M was also C’s supervisor, but they were more like mother and daughter. So when M said that C’s husband was a prick and not good for C, I believed her. Why not right?

I got to see first hand how C’s husband was and why C would sometimes have tears in her eyes when coming into work, or after getting off the phone with him. Again, as much as it sucked and as much as i wanted to comfort her, I knew that she was married. Well, one day C gave a hug to one of our individuals and I said something to the affect of, “oh we’re just passing out hugs now?” She laughed and gave me a hug. As we pulled away from the hug, our cheeks kind of touched and lord I wanted to kiss her so damn bad.

Mind you, C and I shared the same small office, so we started to talk more about personal stuff and kind of had a connection. But again kids, what’s the problem? Oh yes, she’s married. About a month or so the playful hugs became more than just playful. There were feelings behind them. And each time, there was almost a kiss that couldn’t happen.

Don’t you (Forget About Me) would play at least 10 times during our 8 hour shift and I would joke to C that she was Clair and I was Bender. One day, C tells me that she has a gift for me. She told me to close my eyes and put my hand out. C put one of her earrings in my hand and closed it. If you’ve seen The Breakfast Club, you know that that scene is kind of iconic. Well, here I am, getting an earring from “my Clair”.

While sitting in the office with C, C turns around and says “i love you”. I’m sitting there in my chair in awe that this beautiful person just told me she loves me. I remember I said “no you don’t” and she smiled and said “Robert I love you”. Now, before the little hearts started floating in the air around my head, let’s not forget one thing. Oh yes… she’s married. A few days later, I told M what happened and M said she knew C cared about me and could tell that I had feelings for C. All I could do was smile.

Some time later, I really can’t remember the time frame honestly, the flirting and hugs and sweet talk lead to something that scared the shit out of me. I was finishing talking to one of my individuals and ended up going back to my office. I believe C had been arguing with her husband on the phone and had hung up by the time i walked in. Out of nowhere, I asked her to stand up and kissed her. After, I remember the only thing I could say was “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, I am so sorry, fuck!” She was in just as much shock as me. But then something weird happened, she grabbed me and kissed me.

A month or two went by and I started to think about 80/20. You look for that 20% you are missing in your marriage. So I asked her if i was just her 20% and she said no. Well kids, C started to treat me different about a week later. I asked her how things were with her and her husband. She said that things were better, and wouldn’t you know it, things got better around the same time she started treating me different. Yes, I was that 20%.

I felt hurt. I don’t open myself up to people, but to her I did. There was no more laughs, no more sitting in the office with me. I ended up putting in my resignation due to some other issues I had with M. My last day, I was upset, or sad actually because i was leaving my individuals and leaving C. C told me that its not like we can’t get coffee sometime. She said your new job is across town, not across the country. C gave me a hug, told me to take care, and went home. I kid you not, when she drove off, this song came on again. I looked at the little envelope that I kept her earring in and smiled. What’s the odds this song would play?

A week later I called C and asked if she wanted to get coffee she said it probably wasn’t a good idea, and that she probably shouldn’t talk to me anymore. I’m assuming it had to do with me filing a complaint against M. Remember, they were like mother and daughter.

C ended up blocking me on social media. I ended up deleting her number. Do I think about C? Yes, more than I should honestly. However, the feelings she or I had shouldn’t have came to fruition anyways.

I sent the earing back to her at the long term care facility. She was not happy about that, and understandable. She said I could have just thrown the earring away. Yes, I could have done that, and probably should have. But it was my way of letting go of something that really wasn’t there.

Don’t you (Forget About Me)

Start of a new Chapter

When my daughter was born, I can remember telling her mom that the hardest part for me was going to be the day she started school. Having to entrust someone with my baby girl. Well, today was that day. Granted, it was only preschool, but the thought of her being out of me and her moms sight, was nerve racking.

As we walked towards the front of the school, I could see on her face that she was a little unsure what was going on. I couldn’t tell if i was holding her hand, or if she was holding mine for comfort. As we walked through the doors numerous kids were scattering around like cockroaches with the light on. She looked up at me as to say “you see this shit?”.

We made our way to her classroom and the teacher welcomed her with open arms. The paraeducator was someone i went to college with, so that was a relief. It’s a bilingual class which i like because she’ll be able to speak spanish unlike me. As her teacher was talking to her in spanish, I just stood there like a deer in headlights.

I walked with my daughter over to the table with little chairs, pulled the chair out for her, and she had a seat. I looked at her as a little boy handed her some of the building blocks. Emotions ran through me. On one hand, here is my little girl, taking a small step forward. On the other hand, I will throat punch one of these little brats if they make my baby cry. Ok, maybe I wont take it that far lol.

I did feel a little better when the teacher texted me a video of Cheech having a snack and smiling. I know that the separation anxiety is going to stick with me until the day I die, I just have to make sure she doesn’t end up paying for it.

Bobby your dad is here

Back in the 80s I was a young buck in elementary school. I went to a catholic school called JFK and like most catholic schools, it sucked.

Now I’m not going to say I was a terrible student, but I wasn’t the best either. I was hit in the hand with a ruler just once by our Nun, but once was all i needed. School in the 80s were different times. Your parents couldn’t just hop on a computer and see your grades on a portal. Teachers couldn’t email or text your parent about your behaviors or being tardy. Hell, the only way they could get in touch with you or your parents was to call the home phone. Hopefully you were lucky enough to get the phone before they did.

Every night my mom would ask me if I had homework. Nope, no homework today. Really, who wants to do homework or study when you could turn on WGN and watch the Cubs with your dad? We weren’t allowed to do anything when we got home except do homework. Again, for some strange reason, I never had homework.. well, at least i didn’t bring it home. So as I’m sitting watching the Wonder Years, staring at my crush Winnie Cooper, in the back of my young mind all I could think of is the homework that wasn’t at home.

Let’s fast forward to parent teacher conferences. While my dad and mom were talking to my teachers, i was at home waiting to hear the deathly sound of the door unlocking, knowing the ass whoopin that was about to come. And come that ass whoopin sure did. Not only did I get acquainted with my dads belt, foot, hand, Nintendo (yes he got me with a Nintendo lol) but i was also blessed by his presences in school.

“Bobby your dad is here” is what i heard as I was coming out of the cafeteria. And wouldn’t you know it, there was my old man, standing in the doorway at the top of the steps. Now for you young kids, parents were allowed to be in the school to handle their kids in the 80s. We didn’t have a “safe space” like you snowflakes have now. Our “safe space” was close to a friend so when your parent wacked you, they would hit your friend by accident too.

My dad sat next to me in class. You’d think that teacher could recognize the SOS i was coding with the blink of my eyes. Nope, this is the 80s, the teachers taught and parents were parents. Anyways, it came time to turn in our homework. I could say that my dog ate it, but my dad would be there to say we don’t have a fucking dog Bob Jr. So as i frantically look through my desk ( the top lifted up to a 90 degree angle) looking for a paper I knew damn well wasn’t in there, my dads lips began to tighten, as he started to bite his lower lip.

Some of you grew up with your parents death stare, I grew up with tight lips lol. My dad turned my desk top from 90 degrees to 180 degrees lol. It was then I turned into Ralphie from A Christmas Story “oooh fuuuucck”. My dad looked at me, and said “we’ll talk when you get home”. lol The only talking was him saying “move your hands, Bob Jr move your hands” The belt hits different when your hand is involved. I wish I could say i learned my lesson that day, nope, my dad was by my side in class a few times.

Now some today would say that’s child abuse. No, that was the 80s. What i learned, or rather understood later in life is that him sitting next to me all those times and giving me those ass whoopins was because he wanted me to do better because he knew I could do better. And what’s better than tough love?

Yes, he really did hit me with a Nintendo lol

Best 4th of July

It’s been a while since i’ve last posted on here, but i figured today would be the best time.  In prior blogs i’ve talked about how my dad had memories of the Blackhawks with my grandpa and how I have memories of my dad. From going to the Blackhawks game at the old Chicago Stadium, to him bringing me Garbage Pail Kids home when he got off work, to him calling 1800BetsOff on me when i had a problem gambling.

Memories are worth more than money. We will always have memories, while money will run out.  Of course one could argue that Alzheimer patients lose their memory but lets not get technical here.

For many years when i would go watch the 4th of July fireworks, I looked around as people played catch with their kids, or had a mini cookout with their kids, waiting for the fireworks to start.  And for many years i could only imagine what that felt like.

Well yesterday, with my daughter on my lap, the first firework went off..then the next..then the next..  I sat there holding her and feeling her little heartbeat steady rising from the explosions.  Not only did i see the explosions in the sky, but felt an explosion of feelings as I sat there holding here.  This little 6 month hold, feeling secure with her daddy’s arms around her…just one of the many times that she will have this feeling until the day I die.

I had my family take pictues of us because i wanted her to have a keepsake of her first 4th of July fireworks.  I told myself I wanted the pictures for her because she wont have any memory of this when she gets older.  But perhaps the one that needed the memories is not her, but me.  I wanted that memory of holding my daughter for her first firework show. I wanted the memory of wanting something for so long, and finally being able to have it.

I can’t the explosion of colors lit the night sky, I sat there with my daughter in my arms, with tears in my eyes.  Her eyes fixated on the sky, not knowing that she’s giving her dad the memories he always wanted.

Just the two of us

Well, actually 5 but for the sake of this blog I’ll just say the two of us.  I’m talking about me and my kick ass little daughter who is 2 1/2 months old.  This little girl is everything I’ve ever wanted in my life. Obviously I couldn’t have this little one by myself, I owe everything to my girlfriend.  For some reason, she figured I’d be a great guy to have a child with and here we are lol. People say that she looks like me, I think she has my eyes and my ears, but she has her moms lips and nose. I can’t wait for her to be able to crawl, walk, and talk but that will come with time.  Right now i’m just taking it all in and loving every minute of it. I look at her and wonder how some parents can purposely do harm to their child? You have this innocent little person who looks to you for food, love, and of course diaper changing. How can you bring yourself to harm them? Shit, she hit her head on my chin and i almost starting crying my damn self cause i felt bad.  I love my little girl more than anything in the world. I would die for her, and best believe, I’d kill to protect her. Untitled-1

2018 the year that changed my life

These past few years have been kinda depressing. One mom had cancer, one had a heart attack, my uncle and grandpa both passed and I got divorced. 2018 though was the year that changed my life and a year that will be close to my heart.  I met by wonderful girlfriend who has brought a smile to my face that I had lost.  She showed me what it was to love again, and love her is what i do.  She not only brought a smile to my face, but she blessed me with a beautiful daughter who was born on 12/19/18.  This little girl, Sophia Kane, is the love of my life and it’s a love that I have never felt before.  I look into my daughters eyes and my heart melts.  Here I am at 39 years old, with my first child. People ask me if im tired already of changing diapers or not getting sleep.  I can honestly say no.  I love every minute of it.  Am I tired?  Sure, but this little person looks at me and I know its my job to protect and care for her.  So now we enter 2019, which is not about me, but about my daughter and my daughters mother.  2019 is about the family that I helped create.