Today, I Wrote Nothing - Waiting For Tonight
And this is a story that I don’t really tell that often at this point. And before it came up, accidentally, around a year ago, it’s something I hadn’t revisited in a number of years, and it’s something that I, really, no longer think about on a regular basis, the way that I may have done when I was much younger.
Last fall, I was getting to know a new co-worker, and within the conversation we were having, she mentioned she used to be vegan, and at one time in her life, was an adamant animal rights activist—going so far as to trespass with the intention of freeing animals held in captivity. She, very casually, alluded to this as having gotten her into some legal trouble. “There is a mugshot of me somewhere,” she said, while we were working together on a Saturday afternoon.
Without even really thinking what I would be revealing about myself, I said, “Did you smile for your mugshot? I smiled for mine.”
My boss, Andrea, stopped what she was doing and gazed at me with surprise. “Mugshot?!?!,” she blurted out. “Kevin, you’ve been arrested before? Why haven’t you ever told me this?!?!”
Since we were all on the clock, I believe that I didn’t so much try to back myself out of the conversation, but gave a very condensed version of the events that led to my one moment of very real legal trouble, at the age of 17. Andrea, a regular reader of my often overly verbose music writing and sporadic personal essays, asked, partially in jest, why I hadn’t written some sprawling thinkpiece about this experience.
I told her that I had explored my teenage arrest once, in a short essay1 when I was still writing a monthly column for the Southern Minnesota Scene magazine—and joked that a year from then, in the fall of 2020, it will be the 20th anniversary of those events, and that I better “get started on a thinkpiece about it.”
But this is a story I don’t really tell that often at this point. Not anymore.
Maybe because, now, at the age of 37, it’s mildly embarrassing to recount. Maybe because, now, at this point in my life, it has become one of those ‘you had to be there’ stories—stories that are so specific to a certain group of people, and a certain place and time, that if you don’t even have a rudimentary knowledge of the circumstances, it’s not that funny, or even that interesting to hear.
Maybe because, when I have told this story in the past, and when I did write about it, using a specific conceit to shoehorn it into a piece for the magazine, the way I told the story was the same way I had been telling it since it happened—setting it up as an elaborate joke with a punchline that, as a teenager, I thought was clever, but it is so very obvious, I realize now that just about anybody could see it coming from a mile away.
And maybe two decades later, I’ve realized that joke isn’t funny anymore.
Maybe it never really was.
This is a story I don’t really tell that often at this point. Not anymore.
It’s September in the year 2000; I am 17 years old, entering into my final year of high school.
And in trying to explain the somewhat convoluted backstory leading up to a Thursday evening, when I was arrested, there are a few things about my high school—specifically the culture of my high school—that I should attempt elaboration on.
I grew up in a relatively small town in a rural pocket of Northwestern Illinois—with a population of around 23,000, Freeport had two high schools: the public high school2, and a small, private, Catholic high school, the latter of which is where I was enrolled. To give you an idea of just how small it was, my graduating class consisted of 23 people; there were certainly class sizes much smaller than that.
At the time, the school, Aquin Central Catholic, was, and probably still very much is, hinged on tradition—the two that come to mind almost immediately are how the school, and its culture, lived and died by its football program3; the second is the very bizarre but well meant tradition4 involving the annual junior-senior prom.
There are probably other things, too, that could be considered ‘official’ traditions within the way the school operated, and one of the unwritten traditions, at least at this time, was that near the end of homecoming week, the school’s senior class would throw toilet paper into the trees surrounding the building. And what I didn’t realize until just recently (thanks to an internet search) is that this is, apparently, a tradition for other high schools during their homecoming weeks as well.
I was never popular in high school, but because my graduating class was so small—as was the school itself—there was no way for me to make it til the end unnoticed, or unbothered. I wasn’t involved in any sports, or any kind of extracurriculars, but by the time I was in my final year, I had found my way into some kind of cocky, teenage confidence, and had come out of my shell as much as I was able to at the time, and was a little more willing to participate.
This is a story I don’t really tell that often at this point, and two decades later, there are minor details of it that I legitimately am unable to recall, one of which is how I, shy, overweight, marginally unpopular, became the one to more or less coordinate the efforts to throw toilet paper into the trees outside of the high school, on a Thursday night, during the week of homecoming.
Of the details I do remember, though, of the events leading up to my encounter with the police, and subsequent arrest—I remember that, prior to convening near the school, with a handful of classmates, to begin the process of throwing toilet paper into the trees, I did an awful lot of driving around; more than likely, it was back and forth between the houses of friends, or attempting to find where specific people were, and if they were going to be joining in the evening’s festivities. I also remember that, perhaps partially because I had spent so much time driving around town, back and forth, between houses, or whatever, or maybe because at this point in September, the sun had started to set so early that, even though the sky was dark for a majority of the timeframe these events take place in, it was not nearly as late into the night as it felt like to me.
This is a story I don’t really tell that often at this point, and the events leading up to my teenage arrest, on a Thursday night, in September, in the year 2000, really begin on Garden Street, in Freeport, Illinois, late in the evening, but not late enough.
In high school, I drove a cumbersome, white Pontiac minivan. And in this memory, so much of which is very vivid still, but so many details are unclear, I do not recall if anybody rode with me, in my enormous minivan, over to the school; I recall that I parked on the next street over from where our high school sits—Garden Street—and that another classmate, Sierra, drove an even larger van, and parked behind me.
Of the 23 students in my graduating class, I couldn’t tell you how many of my classmates had convened in the dark, on Garden Street, on a Thursday night.
We walked in a group, down to the end of Garden, up Columbia Avenue, and then onto Empire Street, eventually stepping off of the sidewalk, crossing the street and into the parking lot of our high school. With me, I carried a black garbage bag full of toilet paper. The bag had been given to me by my mother, as I was leaving our apartment, earlier (hours earlier?) in the evening.
There were, of course, signs telling me that we should have waited until later—much later—at night to be doing this, or that we should have been more discreet about our presence. Signs like people out walking their dogs, or people sitting on their front porches, enjoying the pleasant autumn evening air. Maybe it wasn’t even 9 p.m. yet—we, as a group, thought it was late enough to be doing this, though, and brazenly paraded ourselves down Empire Street, then onto the school’s property.
This is a story I don’t really tell that often at this point, and because so much time has elapsed, the details of what, exactly, occurred next, leading up to my teenage arrest, are a little difficult to recall completely, because I am uncertain at what point I either became mostly separated from the group of classmates I was with, or, opted to wander off on my own and attempt to throw rolls of toilet paper from my bag into trees near the front of the school. What I found, in the few moments I was off, mostly on my own, that hurling toilet paper into the air, and properly getting it to catch onto a tree branch, was extremely difficult—or, at least, difficult for an very un-athletic, out of shape teenage boy such as myself.
This is a story I don’t really tell that often, but there was a moment when, after struggling with getting a proper toilet papering technique, I realized that I was alone, and I started to wonder where, exactly, everyone had gone. Shortly after this thought, I saw a car, headlights off, pulling into the parking lot, slowly driving toward me.
This is all happening very fast, of course, but in my memory, the sequencing of my thoughts came very slowly and deliberately. “Now, who would be driving into the parking lot, at this time of night, with their headlights off,” I thought to myself.
Then I looked at the top of the car, and was barely able to make out the ‘emergency vehicle lighting’ in the darkness.
Then I realized that the car approaching me was, in fact, a police car.
Instinctively, stupidly, I, as quickly as my overweight, out of shape, teenage body could carry me, ran—already out of breath by the time I made this move—and crouched down behind one of the school busses nestled where the parking lot met the beginning of the grass leading to the school’s football field.
This is all happening very fast, of course, and crouched down, I began to wonder about the breakdown of the few possible outcomes of this situation I suddenly found myself in.
This is a story I don’t really tell that often, and in the darkness, in the cool, pleasant, autumn evening air, couched down at the front end of a school bus, a police cruiser the bus’ length away from me, with two police officers trying to find me in the darkness—in the moment, my heart already pounding, my breath already labored, I don’t think I really considered all of my options. In retrospect, especially two decades removed, there were myriad other ways I could have handled this situation, but obviously was not thinking as sharply as I could have been.
After waiting just a moment or two, I looked to my right, and saw Columbia Avenue, the street that would lead me away from all of this, down to Garden Street, then to the safety of my van, where I could climb in, turn the key in the ignition, and escape all of this unscathed.
I decided to run.
The Wikipedia entry for the Jennifer Lopez song, “Waiting for Tonight,” the third single (but second English language single) from her debut album On The 6, alleges that it is one of the best songs of her career, citing sources like the Chicago Tribune and Entertainment Weekly. With Latin inspired percussion, acoustic guitar flourishes, and the eventual horn solo mixed in, the song is undeniably relentless in its pulsating rhythm, powered by rippling synthesizers and an enormous ‘dance-pop’ beat.
I had only been a few months into the position I landed as the ‘back page columnist’ for the Southern Minnesota Scene magazine when I was presented with the theme for the upcoming May edition of the publication—music.
This was in the spring of 2014, and the music blog I set up was just a little over a year old—in the earliest days of the site, the posts were exponentially more frequent, everything was drastically shorter in length and far less complicated in the way it was structured. The magazine column I found myself with was about five months old, and I was still stumbling through my voice as a creative nonfiction essayist, or humorist, or whatever we were calling what it was I was turning into my editor. These pieces, too, like the music writing at the time, were drastically shorter in length and far less complicated in structure—in part because I hadn’t ‘gotten there’ yet as a writer, or found that ‘voice,’ but mostly because I had a limit on my word count.
Because I wrote about music regularly for my blog, I was uncertain how to approach the theme for the edition of the magazine.
The flimsy conceit that I wound up shoehorning in was what could almost be considered a footnote, w/r/t music—it was about the Jennifer Lopez tune “Waiting for Tonight,” and how, roughly a year after it was released as a single from On The 6, it was what was playing on the radio when I found myself uncomfortably crammed into the back of a police cruiser on a Thursday evening in September of the year 2000.
This is a story that I don’t really tell that often, but this is when the events of this evening begin to escalate because after thinking, briefly, about my options, couched behind the front of a school bus, a police officer on the other side of it, more or less waiting for me to show myself—I decided to run.
In the darkness, I scrambled out from behind the front of the school bus, hauling all of the, at this point, at least 190 if not 200 pounds of myself, out of the parking lot of the high school, hurtling my body down the street, my surroundings becoming a blur within the night.
I decided to run, and in a story like this one—full of teenage hubris and utter ridiculousness, perhaps the most ridiculous element to it is this: I thought I would be able to make it back to my van, and back to safety.
I decided to run, throwing all of the energy and desperation I could muster from within myself, sprinting down Columbia Avenue; however, because I was overweight, and incredibly out of shape, I had decided to run, but I did not make it very far down the street before it felt like my veins were pumping battery acid instead of blood, and that my lungs were going to collapse into my teenage chest.
Once I had darted out from behind the bus, and into the darkness of the street, I had heard one of the police officers yell something at me, like “Hey!,” or “Stop!,” but because everything was rushing by me so dizzyingly and quickly, I could barely hear anything over the sound of my own labored breathing, the sound of my heart pounding out of my chest, and the sound of my black off-brand Skechers boots ricocheting off of the pavement.
I decided to run, and I don’t think I had gotten very far at all down Columbia Avenue before I realized that I was simply pushing my overweight, out of shape teenage body too hard. I couldn’t fling myself any further down to the insurrection of Columbia and Garden, where I had erroneously expected I would round the corner, and continue this frenetic scrambling until I reached my mini-van.
I decided to run, but shortly after making that decision, I decided to stop.
I put both of my hands up in the air. I try to catch my breath.
The dizzying blur of the night around me slows down, finally stops, and a moment passes—just a single beat—before the police officer catches up to me, firmly plants his knee into my back, taking me by surprise, and forces me onto the pavement, effortlessly. His knee, and the partial weight of his body pressed into my back, he pulls both of my hands behind my waist, and clumsily snaps handcuffs around my wrists. My pockets are searched—“We got a knife here?,” he shouts aggressively, tossing the contents of my right pocket onto the ground, and I try to find the breath within my heaving lungs—I struggle to find my voice in order to say that it is simply a pen, and that in my pockets, I have no weapons—just a chain wallet, a set of keys, a Cross pen, a pack of Trident gum, and a black pager.
In the movies, and in police procedural television, when someone is arrested, there is the somewhat common occurrence that when person is being loaded into the back of a squad car, the officer assists with tucking their head down as they are placed in the back seat.
This doesn’t actually happen in ‘real life.’
While the officer still has his knee pressed into my back, with my face still planted into pavement, the police car that had been in the school’s parking lot glides down the street and appears in front of us. I am pulled up off the ground, and jostled into the narrow, dark, dirty backseat, where I hit my head on the top of the car while being awkwardly pushed in.
It’s nearly impossible to sit down comfortably because my hands are pulled behind my back, and the more I move them around, attempting to figure out how to position myself in the car—which is already moving and I don’t even have a seatbelt on yet, or anything—the more the edges of the cuffs slice into my hands and wrists. I think, at least at first, I wind up wedging my long, teenage legs toward the space behind the driver’s seat, with the rest of my body positioned behind the passenger side.
Once the car is in motion, the police officer behind the wheel asks me how old I am; I tell him I am 17, and if I remember correctly, he implies this will be easier for everyone involved because I am underage, and that it will disappear off of ‘my record’ once I turn 18. We turn the corner, left, onto Garden Street, where there is another police car parked next to my classmate’s enormous van, as well as my own white Pontiac mini-van; apparently I had left it unlocked, and at least one of my classmates had tried to hide in it. The others involved all crammed into the other vehicle, and all of them more or less tumbling out awkwardly onto the sidewalk, a disappointed and irritated police officer looking on, pointing a flashlight over the cluster they formed.
“Why did you run?,” the police officer behind the wheel asks me. “You’re an idiot.”
I opt not to disagree with him.
The car stops in the street, and the officer who has been driving gets out in order to go speak with his colleague, who is busy corralling my classmates. It’s in the backseat of this police car that I convince myself I am having a heart attack—or, at the very least, I am hyperventilating to the point where I am going to die before they can get my overweight, out of shape, idiotic teenage body back to the station. Over the sound of my heart pounding through my chest, I can make out the faint, tinny sounds of Jennifer Lopez coming from the police cruiser’s radio—tuned to the Top 40 station broadcasting from the next largest town over, 97 ZOK, the pulsating rhythm of “Waiting for Tonight” mixes erratically with the frenetic pacing of my own heartbeat.
I am still struggling to breath, and I notice that the officer in the passenger seat has her window down just slightly; I begin to wriggle around with the hopes of propping myself closer to the source of fresh air—not realizing that there is a plexiglass barrier between myself and this officer. I smack my forehead on it, and resign myself to slinking back into the narrow, uncomfortable darkness, “Waiting for Tonight” still broadcasting through the car’s speakers.
Struggling to breath, and slow my heart rate down, in my head, I think of the video for the song, with Lopez dancing wildly in front of a black backdrop, green lasers firing off around her.
Jennifer Lopez and green lasers will be the last things I think about as I die from a heart attack in the back of a police car on a Thursday night.
“Do you think you would be able to roll my window down just a little bit,” I manage to choke out in between heaving breaths. ‘I’m having a hard time breathing.”
The officer in the passenger seat takes a long drag off the cigarette she has been smoking, and as she exhales the smoke out through the small opening in her own window, she tells me no.
She tells me that she cannot do that.
When the police call my mother, at home, who is asleep, they do not ask for her—the Pontiac mini-van is registered under the name of the man she was married to at the time, so the police, when they call, the ringing of the phone presumably piercing through the still apartment on a Thursday evening—when they call, they ask to speak to him.
I can only presume how the phone call between someone from the police department and my mother unfolded, and in arriving at the police station to fetch me, in her haste, when pulling into the parking lot, the passenger side of her car was ever so slightly nestled on the line separating the spot she slid into, and the handicap accessible spot next to it.
As we exited the station, we found a parking ticket for illegally parking in a handicap spot tucked under her windshield wiper blade. Beyond exasperated and fuming at the situation she found herself in a Thursday night, I took the ticket off of the windshield, looked at the amount, and simply told her I would pay for it, because it was, after all, my fault.
By the time my mother was called down to come and collect me from the police station, enough time had passed that, yes, I was still embarrassed and upset at what had happened, but I had been able to catch my breath, and maybe had a moment to reflect on the absolute absurdity of the way the evening’s events had occurred.
By the time my mother came to collect me from the police station, I hadn’t exactly been ‘yucking it up’ with the two officers who were with me in bookings—one of whom was one of the slowest typists, hunting and pecking away into the computer’s keyboard, entering the information pulled off of my driver’s license—but they had roasted me enough that I tried, as hard as it was, to have a sense of humor about it. When my pager went off, rattling across the table in the room where I sat, one of the officers with me asked, “Who is that? One of your idiot friends?,” and tossed the small, black pager over to me. I toggled through the notification and recognized the number, answering, “Yes. Yes it is.”
Toilet papering the high school was not why I was arrested, however, we were trespassing, and technically littering; ‘evading an officer’ was the official charge on my citation—a $75 fine, plus filing fees, that I would have to pay after a court date in early October5.
“So, why did you run?,” the officers asked me again, during our exchange in bookings. I’m not sure if I had an answer for them. I’m not sure if I have an answer now—the very thought that I could haul myself back to my van, and back to safety, is ludicrous at best. But in the moment, at 17, heart pounding, adrenaline coursing through my overweight body, I was believed that I could.
This is a story I don’t really tell that often at this point, but when I used to tell it, one of the points I made was to emphasize that I smiled for my mug shot—one of the last things done before the officers released me. I had calmed down enough, and they had roasted me enough during our conversation in bookings that, as I stood up for the photo, the officer behind the camera told me it was okay if I wanted to smile. I am certain I flashed a shit eating, cocky, teenage grin, and I remember before the photo was taken, I wondered how messy my hair looked.
This is a story I don’t really tell that often at this point, but when I used to tell it, I would set it up as a joke, and this was always the punchline: yes, my mother was disappointed and frustrated when she came to collect her temporarily delinquent teenage son from the police station on a weekday night, but she had also provided me with the large, black trash bag full toilet paper rolls.
Her last words to me before I left the apartment, hours earlier that evening, were, “Don’t get arrested.”
This is a story I don’t really tell that often at this point, when I do tell it, or have told it in recent memory, that’s where the story ends. That’s the punchline—predictable at best, with a set up that takes entirely too long to get through in exchange for what I now can see as diminishing returns.
This is a story that I don’t really tell that often at this point. And before it came up, accidentally, around a year ago, it’s something I hadn’t revisited in a number of years, and it’s something that I, really, no longer think about on a regular basis.
This, though, is a part of the story that I never really thought about, or gave much consideration to, and therefore, this is the portion of the story that I have never told.
I don’t recall a lot about the following morning, a Friday, once I got to school. There were more than likely some concerned and embarrassing conversations with classmates as to the events of my evening once I was handcuffed and in the back of a police car. I remember a sympathetic hug from my friend Brianne. And, though I am not completely certain, there were probably a lot of stern looks from faculty members, with word already spreading about what a fuck up I surprisingly turned out to be.
The part of this story I don’t think about is the conversation I had, alone, in the school’s tiny library, with an administrator—Ellen Slick6.
I don’t remember a lot about Slick; she had short, gray hair, small glasses, and outside of always seeing her sitting in the teacher’s lounge, often wearing a leather jacket, I don’t know if I crossed paths with her. But it was her job, on that Friday morning, to speak with me regarding the trouble I had gotten myself in.
The conversation was as pleasant as a conversation of this nature could be, and she said the school would not be taking any disciplinary actions against me—that I was still welcome come to that evening’s Homecoming football game (which I would not be doing), and I could still attend the Homecoming dance on Saturday night (which I would, actually, be doing.) I think she expressed some disappointment in my choices, and this is the part of the story that I never really thought about, or gave much consideration to, but in my conversation with Mrs. Slick, she expressed her concern, and more or less implied that I was fortunate to not have been shot at in my attempt to evade police officers.
The night before, I had decided to run, and in my decision, as I took off into the night, the police officer chasing after me, shouting something in an effort to get me to stop, there was a moment, a brief moment, with the darkness blurring past me, that I was expecting to hear a shot fired. And maybe, outside of the sheer mass of my body and how I could no longer find the strength to haul myself further into the darkness, forcing myself to stop and throw my hands up in the air, surrendering to my fate, maybe the other thing that stopped me from pushing myself harder and trying to make it down the street and to the corner, was the fear—my imagination running wild with the fear that, at any moment, I would hear a round discharged, possibly into the sky above as a warning, or, possibly, in my direction.
This is a story that I don’t really tell that often at this point.
And before it came up, accidentally, around a year ago, it’s something I hadn’t revisited in a number of years, and it’s something that I, really, no longer think about on a regular basis. And a year ago, after my friend Andrea, a regular reader of my often overly verbose music writing and personal essays had asked me, partially in jest, why I hadn’t written some sprawling thing, with footnotes, about this experience and I joked that in a year’s time, it would be the 20th anniversary of these events, and that I had better “get started on a thinkpiece about it.”
On the desktop of my computer, I have a number of ‘sticky notes’—one of them is for upcoming album release dates; one is for albums celebrating 10th or 20th anniversaries; one is for a projected schedule of writing project7 deadlines; and one is for proposed topics for personal essays—some of which I started, then abandoned; some of which I may never sit down and write.
For the last year, “The time I got arrested in high school,” has been on this list, and perhaps one of the reasons I was partially hesitant to begin working on an essay about this, at first, was because I was uncertain how to approach telling this story now, two decades after the fact—but I knew for sure I didn’t want to, and simply couldn’t, tell it the same way with the somewhat whimsical, shoehorned, and abbreviated way I had told it when writing for the Southern Minnesota Scene magazine.
I couldn’t tell it the same way I had been telling it as a ‘joke,’ or an anecdote with a punchline for an ending.
I had decided to run, and roughly 12 hours after that decision, I was in a short, closed door meeting with a school administrator, and two decades later, in revisiting the events leading up to my teenage arrest, I realize what Ellen Slick, I think, was implying when she told me that I was fortunate to not have been shot at during my attempt at evading the police.
I was fortunate to not have been shot at.
I was fortunate to be white.
If the color of my skin had been different—darker—how would things have ended for me?
If the police officer hadn’t seen a flash of an alabaster face and arms, frantically dashing out from behind that school bus, hurtling into the night, would they have still only chased after me?
Or would that chase have a different conclusion?
This was something that I had never really considered until now—but now, how could I not?
This is a story that I don’t really tell that often at this point.
Maybe because now, two decades later, it is embarrassing to recount, and it has become one of those ‘you had to be there’ stories—stories that are so specific to a certain group of people, and a certain place and time, that if you don’t even have a rudimentary knowledge of the circumstances, it’s not that funny, or even that interesting to hear.
Maybe because, when I have told this story in the past, I set it up as an elaborate joke with a punchline that, as a teenager, I thought was clever, but it is so very obvious, I realize now that just about anybody could see it coming from a mile away.
I’ve realized that joke isn’t funny anymore.
It never really was.
This is a story that is no longer about attempted harmless mischief, or high school prank got awry, or poor decisions on the part of a frightened, adrenalized teenager, escalating to and ending with an arrest. This is, in retrospect, a story about white privilege—now, that is something almost too easy to recognize; it is also something that is incredibly difficult to reconcile.
My mother’s last words to me before I left the apartment that evening, twenty years ago, were, “Don’t get arrested.”
Her last words were not, “Do not get shot by the police.”
This joke isn’t funny anymore.
It never was.
1- Due to a number of botched website relaunches, anything I had written for the Southern Minnesota Scene magazine prior to spring and summer of 2017—which was, actually, around the time I left the publication—no longer exists online, which is too bad that three year’s worth of columns were more or less erased from the internet. I still have hard copies of all the columns, tucked in a closet somewhere, if anyone is really interested in reading it (and has made it this far, to the footnotes.) All of the stuff I wrote for Scene was, at the behest of my editor at the time, short—though less structured around a word count limit, and more on ‘column inches’ when it was laid out on the page.
2- Whenever I tell people I am from Freeport, Illinois—a town that I am surprised anyone outside of Illinois has even heard of—they ask me if I was ‘a Pretzel.’ The public high school in the town was partially located in an old pretzel factory (an additional building was constructed around it eventually) and so the school’s mascot was, of course, a pretzel. I was not a Pretzel.
3- It should come as no surprise to you that I was not very ‘sportsy’ in high school. Despite my heft, which was apparently desirable to the school’s football coaches because I’d make “one hell of a lineman,” I had absolutely no interest in feigning interest in the joining the football team.
4- Just a quick point of clarification that I wrote a long (perhaps too long) and overly ambitious and difficult (maybe too ambitious and in the end too difficult) essay about this in the summer of 2019.
5- So this is something that I discovered while writing this and I was entirely too far into the piece (like 4,000 words at that point maybe?) to try and figure out a way to cram it in, but I guess my arrest disappearing from my ‘record’ after I turned 18 is not exactly accurate because, out of morbid curiosity, I went on the Stephenson County court website and searched my name—I come up twice. Once was for a car accident that I was in, in the spring of 2001 (I guess my senior year of high school found me getting into all kinds of trouble) and the other listing is for the arrest as depicted in this very essay. I was really searching for my mug shot, which I could not find, but was surprised that remnants of my two flirtations with the law, at the age of 17, still exist.
6- Just a quick aside: I remembered her as Mrs. Slick, because when you are in high school you don’t refer to teachers or administrators by their first names. I wasn’t 100% certain what her first name was—so I did a quick internet search with the last name, and the name of my high school, and found a result right away. I also found an old YouTube video from 2012 where she is complaining about the HHS Mandate, because, you know, Catholicism.
7- If you’ve made it through a 5,000+ word essay about something that happened to me as a 17 year old boy, and you’ve stuck around for the footnotes, you maybe are interested in learning a little bit about not so much my ‘writing process’ but at least how I organize writing projects. I had to be deadline oriented when I began contributing to the Scene, and then in August of 2014, I started writing for the newspaper, and that was, as you can expect, very deadline oriented. Even after having left newspaper writing behind four years ago, I still try to maintain structure to both things I am writing for ‘myself,’ and things I am writing for others (magazines, etc) and I try to stagger them out by dates in terms of both how long I think something may or may not take, as well as ‘content generation’ for the internet.