Where Have I Been??

Because everyone will read this and not just those that are closest to me; read the parts that make sense to you and excuse the parts that seem a little too bizarre.  If you want to remember me in a different light.  WARNING READ NO FURTHER.
I have not always been an angel.

After high school I was a boy just kind of drifting along. I washed dishes at Denny’s and ran around. I had no solid college plans. I ended up going to SRJC for a year. I came home early. Probably homesick. I managed to take a few classes at CR and not really pass too many. I owe a big shout out to Tom Owen for forcing me to take my final and Rick Bennett for letting me take tests months after the class was over. I managed to pass a few classes but not very many.

I started working at Stockade Pizza and really was just drifting for a couple years. My Aunt Bev and Uncle Lloyd got hold of me and convinced me to go back to school. For some unexplained reason my uncle thought Sierra College would be the place for me to go. Three years out of high school I packed up my girlfriend and headed to Sacramento (Rio Linda) to stay in my uncles cabin and attend Sierra. I commuted every day and those were rough times as we were always flat broke. I managed to make it through the year and get straight A’s. The girlfriend and I had an over the top break up at the end of the year just before finals. I went crazy. After a few days of being locked up, I decided I enjoy life on the outside with the rest of you so-called normal people. I had screwed up pretty much everything about my life.

I went back to working at the Stockade and just drifting along.  Bob Butler called my Grama’s house where I had been staying and asked if I was coming back to school. I probably wasn’t.  No plans and no real idea where to go next.  I decided to take a flyer and give it another shot.  I asked my friend Mel to give me a ride half way to school and had Bob come meet me in Willits. I went on home with Bob. I slept on the couch for a couple days. I finally rented a bed in an old ladies house a couple miles from Sierra. I was back in school and hanging on by a thread. Tom Hall kind of adopted me and made sure I was going to make it. I found the people in the dorms to be a great bunch and I studied in that study hall many nights before I ever got into the dorms. Well my financial aid came through and a spot opened up in the dorms. I was in U-hall rooming with Bones. I made it through the semester and for once I knew where I was going to be the following semester. Dan Hunt and I became best friends. I ended up rooming with Dan the next semester. I am sure when I started my party binge Dan was a little disappointed. I am sure I did many things to disappoint Dan. I am sure at some point we will square things up. I had some of the most fun I ever had during the days of the Sierra College Dorms. I was just as broke as ever but it didn’t matter we just had fun.

I applied and was accepted to UC Berkeley and no less than a dozen laws were broken to get me into that school. Rochelle and I went down to Berkeley and made an effort for one semester. We never fit in and we lacked the support group. We missed our friends in Sacramento. Rochelle managed to transfer to UC Davis and I managed to just kind of drift and drop out of school once again.

I managed to somehow hook up with my best friend Eric who had started to meet some of the dorm crowd. Eric and I got an apartment in Davis. Remember my little folding cot? The Ivy Town apartment hosted a few parties. Eric and I were pretty much living on the last of ET’s funds as he finished up college and graduated with a BS degree or a B.A. Eric was driving me to school every day from Davis, I had an old blue clunker four door Maverick. What a car!

Eric and I got an apartment in Sacramento not far from Sac State, we had Bob Butler as our roommate. I managed to take a few classes and I even passed a couple of them. I was broke and Eric ran out of money and moved away to New Mexico. That apartment on La Riviera hosted some of the all time best parties and I think one of them was a surprise party for my 23rd birthday. Those are great memories and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I remember living in that apartment one summer when I worked for Terry Sturgis in Lincoln. I used to crash at Bob’s place or with Shane and Michelle. I would commute from time to time. That summer we went up to Di’s house for a weekend. We also went on a camping trip on the Yuba River. I was drunk and I am still not sure what happened on either trip. THE SUMMER OF A THOUSAND BEERS. Things just sort of unraveled the next year.

I ended up going back to Crescent City for the summer and never managed to find a job. I ended up making Pizza again. Stockade and Pizza Hut. I didn’t go back to school in August and truth be known I didn’t register and I didn’t have any money. I was staying with my Grama again and she passed away in October right around my birthday. I was really adrift living at Grama’s place and making pizza six nights a week. I poured my energy into my hot rod car and not much else. I took a few classes in an effort to keep my student loans deferred…read sabotage my GPA by never completing anything. I had an on again off again relationship with a girl I had been flirting with for many years.

One day I showed up for work at the Stockade and David and Valjean Brienke were sitting in the pizza parlor waiting for me to show up. The first week of the Spring semester had just passed and I hadn’t returned to college…I was missing my second consecutive semester. David talked me into coming back. We packed me up that day and I left for Sac State again. I found an add drop form and the school was more than generous in letting me back into school. I have to tell everyone that at this point I had attended two semesters and sat out one and was adding late in the fourth and had yet to apply for admission to the school. Cretia Martinson was the academic advisor to the athletes and I got my file stamped athlete and with that comes a bunch of rule bending. I borrowed everything or David paid for everything. David used to stay up late tutoring us just to get us through school. THANKS DAVE! I pretty much just attended class and studied.

I accepted a job offer from Spink in May 1990 and started working full-time as an engineer. I owe the job to Dan Barnts and Jim Barnts. I went to school at night half-heartedly in an effort to finish my degree. I worked at Spink and roomed with Brian Clausman one of my old dorm friends. I am not sure why but Brian and I went separate ways and I got my own apartment closer to work.

In 1992, I found another job in Chico with an old friend from high school, Tom Dearth. I worked at NSED for a few months and it was a constant party and we were not able to keep the business afloat. I had reached out to Eric Taylor and he came to work at NSED. I have some good memories of those few months of my life.

While working on an NSED contract in Crescent City at the old courthouse, I got a lead on some work at Elk Valley Rancheria. I went back to my old buddy and former employer Terry Sturgis and asked him to help me with work for Elk Valley. Terry and I took the work and for a year or so we had an office in Smith River. I am proud of the accomplishments I made during this time and my growth as an engineer. I began to get serious about powerlifting and I started to compete regularly.

The years were clicking by and I had not finished my degree. I wanted to get my engineer license and I needed a degree and a couple years experience. I went down to Sacramento and spent a day and a half begging and pleading and managed to fill out enough forms to earn my degree by getting substitutions and requirement waivers. Probably the smartest thing I did in my life. I managed to get a few friends to sign for my experience and I convinced the board that I needed to take the test and it was a serious struggle and I am sure a few rules were broken to get me into that test. I passed that test and became licensed. That should have been my meal ticket and of course it was not.

I continued working with the tribe and we built some houses, a community center and a casino. The casino was expanded three or four times. I opened my own office and had an office in the KCRE building on 101 in Crescent City. I never went to my office and I hated working. I worked for a couple different tribes and was involved in five separate casino projects. I was a very good at what I did, I just wasn’t at all reliable. FREE SPIRIT…REBEL

I learned to play poker and it became all-consuming.  As I learned and got better at poker I stopped participating in the rest of my life. These are probably the dark years where I was always in the shadows and a creature of the night. I quit working all together and as much as people tried to get me to work, and God knows they tried, I was just in a self-destructive mode. If you read my blog and keep up with my column you will slowly come to understand this time of my life. I am writing a book about my life and it focuses on these dark years. Yes I was a professional poker player.

A few key things happened to me in 2000. In April of 2000, I tore my left pec while training for a bench press meet. I was benching 475 raw at the time and planned to bench way over 500 at the meet.  The injury was a terrible one and effectively ended my bench pressing career.  That ended my drug problems.  In May, I met my wife at her going away party. She had been a travel nurse at the hospital and was leaving and going back to Clovis. I went to visit her in Clovis and stayed.

While staying with my girlfriend, I was playing poker every day as that was how I supported myself…dating is expensive. I was late getting home one night about day five or six of my visit and found my stuff packed and by the door. In the settlement conference, I agreed to get a job and not play poker. Late May 2000 and I walked away from the felt.

I had actually gotten the lead at the poker table at the 500 Club in Clovis.  A player called Caltrans and handed me the cordless phone and I told the lady I had a license and wanted to work in construction. I went to Kinko’s and rented a computer and filled out an application online. I was hired in 2 days without an interview. I started working at Caltrans in July 2000 in construction in Lemoore.

I became engaged and was married on May 5, 2001 to my lovely wife Dianne. Her family has been great and were more than willing to accept me. Dianne and I bought a house together at the end of 2000.

In the first year I was with Dianne, from when I met her until we were married, I straightened out my life. Paid all my back taxes. Paid my student loans. Paid for a great wedding. Bought a new car. Bought a new house. My credit was still a wreck. Believe it or not I was so hard to find for so long that I almost never heard a word from any debt collectors. I was even going to work like I was supposed to. I worked hard and put in long hours and really wanted to succeed.

In 2003, I came into the office in Fresno and did my rotation through Design and Project Management.  In Project Management I found a family of people who really loved me and I decided to stay in Project Management and transferred from Construction.

My life was becoming more normal and I no longer worked the long hours. I was home and able to spend time with my wife. I actually started to behave like a normal person. No screaming rages where I kill and break the first ten or twenty things I get my hands on.

My health issues started to get addressed and I was taking prescription drugs for allergies and asthma. I was able to get all my dental work done. I was actually starting to lead a good life. I made a comeback to lifting and reconnected with many of my old lifting friends. I mostly dead lift because of the pec tear. I am drug free and it is a good thing. I am not setting any record these days, but I am proud of all that I accomplish because I am doing it the right way.

I was able to get promoted to Senior Transportation Engineer Specialist in Project Management.  I am a Project Manager and I have my PMP certification. I am the leader of PMI in Fresno and I happy to say things are going well at work and professionally.

I have returned to playing poker and with the advent of the WPT on the Travel Channel poker has boomed and become more socially acceptable. I now write a column in a poker newsletter. I am enjoying poker and I have kept it in perspective. I am still a very good poker player and I am proud of my play because I know I am doing it the right way.

Dianne and I live in Fresno in the house we bought and we are very happy.


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One Response to “Where Have I Been??”

  1. Rochelle Davisson Says:

    Aw, Vic! I’m so glad you found Diane, and found yourself again, too. It’s great to read what you’ve been up to. Sounds like you had some challenging times, but fought back to find the life you deserved. Can’t tell you how happy I am to have reconnected. Those Sierra College Dorm days were pivotal in my life, and I couldn’t have survived my semester at Cal had it not been for hanging out with you in the Stacks. Big hugs, Rochelle

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