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My Life Story. By Spencer Bishop. First Years

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my life story

My Life Story

By Spencer Bishop

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First Years

My story begins in a small duplex located in Holladay City. My mother preferred a more natural form of child delivery, so I was born by the hands of her midwife on the living room floor of our little two bedroom home. At nine and a half pounds, with a head full of hair, I was welcomed to the family. My dad was not around much at that time. He was off in his own world, so to speak. I guess he was still a child in a way and exploring his own youth, so he wasn’t ready to be a father. My parents history is very unique . They have been married and divorced twice. The first time they were married was before my brother James was born, thengot their first divorce when Eric, my other brother, was born a year later. They remarried before I was born and got their second divorce shortly after. Talk about dysfunctional, ha ha!That didn’t stop the four of us from leading happy lives! We stayed close to one another and developed a strong family bond.

Since our duplex was so small, we had to share bedrooms. My two brothers were already sharing one room so my mom had me live in the big room with her. Needless to say, I was a momma’s boy. She didn’t have much money but she always managed to get us the toys we wanted. We were CRAZY about Legos. We built anything and everything we could for hours at time. By the time I was one year old, I was cruising the neighborhood on my scooter. I was very adventurous and loved to explore new areas. Winter was one of the best times of year for me. I always enjoyed playing in the snow. My brothers and I would build igloos, tunnels, and play king of the hill. We spent as much time as we could out in the snow until we were so covered in it that we’d have to come in and dry off.

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My dad came back into town occasionally to visit us and I was always excited to see him. My dad’s family is from Pennsylvania so he lived in a small trailer van that he could haul around all over the country. I never wanted him to leave. I would ask questions like, “why can’t dad just stay here with us mom”? “He just can’t sweetie, I’m sorry”, mom would reply. It seemed like his visits were always too short. Much later in life I found out that he couldn’t stay for very long because he was wanted by the police in Utah.

  • We made the best of what we had. My dad never helped us out financially so my mother had to play both of the parental roles in our life, the nurturer and the provider. I know that what happened to me shaped me to be who I am today. You learn valuable lessons from the people around you, whether they be good or bad. I have used my past experiences to create a brighter future.
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Spencer Joseph Bishop

Born September 18th, 1986 at 6:19 PM.

My two older brothers, Eric and James, welcomed me into the world with open arms.

My mother Connie holding me in her arms. Look at all that hair!

I rode that little car everywhere. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

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Childhood

All throughout my life as a kid, even up until my teen years, I looked up to my brothers, especially Eric. He was the man. Anything he was doing, I had to do also. I dressed like him and played the games he liked to play. I would follow him around and insist that I was big enough to hang out with him and his friends. I don’t think he minded too much though. He liked having me around for the most part. My mother told me that when I was born my brothers were fascinated by me. They couldn’t wait to have a baby brother. They both took turns holding me and playing with me.

  • The three of us were a very energetic bunch. I can only imagine the level of patience my mother had to have, who was in her mid twenties, to care for three young boys by herself. Just about the only thing that could get us to sit still was the Nintendo system. We had so much fun playing Mario games. Some nights, well past my bed time, I would sneak into my brothers’ room and we would play for as long and as quite as we could until we got caught.
  • I started preschool when I was five years old, though I don’t remember much of it. I do remember thinking, “why are all the other kids napping all the time”? I guess I was too busy with other things than to let myself nap. After preschool, my mom enrolled me into William Penn Elementary school where I quickly realized that the world was a much bigger place than I had imagined. There were hoards of other children and I didn’t know how I was supposed to act around them. I remember getting anxious sometimes during class assignments, thinking that maybe I was odd for not understanding a certain topic. Around that same time, my mom was
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regularly being visited by a religious group called Jehovah’s Witnesses. She loved talking to elderly people and since the first one to ever knock on her door was a sweet old man that she adored, she agreed to have them come back. Occasionally, she would round the three of us up and take us to one of their meetings. My mom was raised into the prominent religion but she didn’t understand many of the beliefs they preached. She asked questions, and most of the time didn’t get answers that made sense to her. She found it refreshing that her new group of friends wanted to help her find those answers.

When I was about 6 years old, my mom met a man at a mechanics shop, who I will refer to as Robert. Robert soon became my mom’s boyfriend and would come over and have dates with her. I didn’t like it one bit! She was MY mom and he was stealing her away from me. He would act as though he was a father figure to us and try to tell us when to go to bed and how to act. Not long after, my mom decided it was time to move in with Robert. He owned his own business and was going to buy a house for all of us to live in. My mom saw an opportunity for some stability for our lives. Though I was excited to live in a much bigger house, I was reluctant to trust that it was for the best.

  • With our new house, came some new rules. We were to be disciplined more strictly and have more chores to accomplish before we could play. Bedtime was at an exact time of night and if you weren’t in bed by then you were in big trouble. In the morning, when it was time to get up for school, if you didn’t jump out of bed at the first warning you were either thrown out of it or you got water dumped on your head. When you loaded up your dinner plate, you couldn’t leave the table until every last thing on it was gone, regardless of how stuffed you were. On one occasion, as punishment for our actions, the three of us had to trim the edges of the lawn in the front and backyard using only a pair of scissors, even though we had a capable gas trimmer. On another occasion,
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Eric was dragged into the house by his ear for writing on the backyard pavement with chalk that could easily be washed away with the hose. My brothers and I soon found out that the more we avoided Robert, the better off we would be. We would see his Suburban pull into the driveway after a day at work and all go running downstairs to our hiding places, seeing how long we could stay there without being found.

Duringthe first year at my new school, I quickly found some great new friends and tried to fit in as best as I could. Playing basketball was the cool thing to do those days. My best friend was one of the best players in the school. His dad coached the Jr. Jazz team and invited me to join, so I accepted. I played alright when we were just goofing around the school hoops, but once I joined the team I felt a lot of pressure to play well in front of other people. I was shy and not very aggressive with the other players so I didn’t play the same. I still had a lot of fun doing it though.

After spending a couple of years living under Robert’s roof, my mom decided it was time to leave. She knew we were better off without him. My grandparents owned a small house by the state capital building that we could stay in as long as we needed to. When it finally came time to move, my brothers and I were full of excitement. It was the best day of our lives! We got settled in and things were looking up. I had to go to a new school and it was hard leaving all of my friends behind, but I didn’t let it get me down because the trade off was a much better deal.

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There’s my Ninja Turtles t-shirt. They were my favorite.

We spent a lot of time playing with our cousins (that’s me shooting my cousin in the nose with the water gun).

My mom with the three of us (1989-90).

My brother and I with our mother and cousin at Timpanogas Cave (notice the matching Jazz hats).

Me and Eric at the Holladay duplex.

I was an animal lover.

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Teenage Years

Throughout my years in elementary school, I always got good grades. In sixth grade, while attending Washington Elementary, I received multiple educational awards. I never understood why I was any different from the other kids. I think I must have just worked harder than them in school. I wanted to make me teachers proud.

One day, during the summer months between elementary school and middle school, my brother Eric picked up a skateboard and never put it down again. Of course, I quickly followed, making sure I did my very best to keep up with him and his bag of tricks. We skated everywhere. My mom trusted us with quite a bit of freedom. She gave us a curfew but we rarely followed it. We skated to the Crossroads Mall in downtown Salt Lake every day and hung out at the arcade and the skate shop. When I started 7th grade a couple of months later, I was thrilled to find so many other skateboarders there.

Initially through middle school I kept up my grades and worked hard. Eventually, as I kept associating with the wrong people, my grades declined and I slipped into a downward spiral. I was thirteen years old the first time I got drunk. The group of friends I skated with got a thrill from destroying other people’s property. If the police showed up it was a free-for-all getaway. They used foul language and didn’t care who they pissed off. I was still pretty shy at the time, so I was more of a follower.

Later that year, my mom sent my brother Eric to Pennsylvania to live with my dad. She said she couldn’t handle his rebellious attitude anymore. He stayed there for a total of eight months, getting into all kinds of trouble. James and I visited him for the last month of his residence in PA. After the month was over, the three of us flew back to Utah together and I realized how grateful I was to live with my mom. I was thrilled to have my brother back, though his personality had changed drastically.

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A year later, my mom had a new boyfriend and she decided it was time to get married. Once again, I had to pack up and leave my home behind to go to a new one. I had never had such a large group friends at any time in my life so it was heart breaking to have to say goodbye.At first, my mom tried to let me finish out the 8th grade, driving me all the way downtown every morning, but that got tiring and we both decided it was best if I made the switch to the local middle school.

I thought there was no way I was going to get along with any of the kids in my new school. It was a whole different world in Riverton to me, but to my surprise once again, I made new friends and kept busy.

My trouble making years were at their climax. I pierced my own ears in the 8th grade and smoked marijuana because my friends were doing it. My mom didn’t like the way I was acting and threatened to give me a drug test. She knew the two kids that I was spending most of my time with were trouble and suspected they were getting me into drugs. While James and I were busy raising hell, Eric decided it was time to make a change in his life and start going to church again. My aunt would make arrangements to come pick him up and bring him to church meetings. He began to dress, talk, and act different very quickly. My curiosity was sparked by the way he transformed so drastically. Every time my aunt came to our house she would invite me to go with them. I was reluctant at first, but Eric led and I followed, that’s just how it was. I dropped all of my bad habits cold turkey and started regularly joining my brother at church.

After a couple years of my mother’s marriage, two things happened to our family; my mom and my step-dad separated, and my half-brother John was born. We moved to a basement, mother-in-law apartment of the house my aunt was renting. Now it was five of us in a two bedroom home! My mom kept the crib in her room, James and I shared the other, and Eric set up his bed in the office, which wasn’t even wide enough to lie down in and didn’t have any windows.

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Our newest member of the family quickly became the joy of my life. I would always volunteer to be Johnny’s sitter when my mom had to leave the house. I was fifteen years old when he was born, so he seemed so small to me. I had to protect him from the world and keep him safe. I was constantly taking pictures of him and showing them off.

It was the beginning of the 9th grade school year for me and by that time I had been to 8 different schools in my life. That new one was by far the worst. I hated every minute of it there. I couldn’t seem to fit into any of the groups of friends. It felt like I had landed on another planet. My mom could see that I was getting depressed. I would constantly beg her to take me away from that awful place. Finally, she gave in and agreed to let me do home schooling.

  • I was fifteen years old and had a whole lot of extra time on my hands. I got a job at a restaurant as a dishwasher so I could fund my newly found passion in life, snowboarding! Man I thought skateboarding was the best thing ever. Not anymore! Nothing made me feel more alive than snowboarding. I only got to go about once a month at first because it was hard finding transportation and I had to rent a board. After a few months of working at the restaurant though, I was able to buy my buddy’s board off of him. Later that year, I attended a private driving school and got my license on September 18th; my 16th birthday. Life was good. I could drive whenever and wherever I wanted to. I got a season pass to Park City Mountain Resort and was as happy as could be. I decided a year later that I was going to take a shot at the GED test and get my diploma. I contacted the SLCC Community College on Redwood Rd. and set up a time to test. I finished the test in five hours and passed every subject. That was a huge accomplishment for me. I had school out of the way and could do whatever I wanted to with my life.
  • There are many things that happened to me in my late teens into my early twenties, too many to mention in a short story like this. In those few years though, I started to define who I was in life and what my purpose was. It took me a lot of goofing
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off and being a lazy bum to realize that that was exactly the OPPOSITE of what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something important. I wanted to be the best person I could be. I quit many of my habits cold turkey and stopped associating with people that brought me down. My future was starting to get brighter and those feelings of depression were slowly going away.

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Present Day

With years of on and off depression, drinking, smoking pot and wasting time, my life as a teenager felt like a rollercoaster ride. My girlfriend of almost two years who I thought I was going to marry cut me out of her life in the snap of a finger and married someone else a few months later. That was the deepest cut I had ever felt and the scar took a long time to heal. It was easily the lowest point in my life. When life breaks you down, you pick up the pieces and build a stronger you, and that’s exactly what I did. I am a much more balanced person these days and I am so thankful for that. I am able to face my problems as a stronger person and take the good with the bad. I try to take all of the good traits from the people around me and use them as a model in my own life.

There are so many things that I have found that make me happy in life. When I started working at UPS at the age of twenty I met a guy named Sam who taught me how to play bass guitar and offered me a spot in his band. I was finally able to express my passion for music! I learned how to play quickly and it was very enjoyable for me. Later that year, it became obvious that my goals were not in line with Sam’s and I decided to leave the band. I recently joined a new band. They have taught me a lot about music and how to express myself musically.

  • Working from ten at night until four in the morning at UPS startedto catch up to me so I got a job at Salty Peaks Snowboard Shop. I figured it would help fund my addiction. The pay was terrible and to my surprise, the incentives were too. I had to work more and more hours to keep up on bills so I never got to snowboard. That season I spent the least amount of days on the mountain than I ever had before; exactly the opposite of what I had hoped for. I left before my contract was up because I couldn’t handle the
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greedy shop owner anymore. He kept my last paycheck but I didn’t care, I was just happy to be out of there. I applied at Market St. Grill and they hired me the same day.

My girlfriend at the time had a friend who rock climbed and was talking about it with us one day. I thought to myself, “that’s something I want to do! Why haven’t I tried that!?” I picked up a pair of shoes and a chalk bag the next week, drove to Rockreation and bought a year membership. I climbed so long and so hard that every one of my fingers was blistered. I thought I was going to instantly be a “pro” at it but I had to learn the hard way as to how much technique is involved in climbing. It is a delicate art. My determination did not stop there though. I climbed six days a week as hard as I could. I later realized that was a bad thing when I sustained a finger injury due to overuse and couldn’t climb for eight months. Although I was sad that I couldn’t climb, I still had snowboarding to fall back on.

My life, up until recently, has always been about fun, fun, fun. Work was just a means of supporting my recreational activities. I wanted to put in the least amount of hours as possible at my job so I could make time for what was important to me. My desire to achieve a higher level of knowledge kept on growing and growing , until one day I decided it was time to be more responsible in my life and prioritize my time. I realized that while all of those things are important to being a happy person, there needs to be a balance. Enrolling in school opened my eyes to the limitless opportunities available to me. This is my first semester in college and I love it. Now that I’m here I can’t imagine life without it. It has made me a more structured person and has given me hope for my future.

I am currently employed as a Bartender at Market St. Grill. I live with my mother Connie and my nine year old brother John. I spend most of my time with my girlfriend Katie. She was a huge motivation for me to get back in school. I still climb as much as possible, but I take rest days now to let my body recover. I love being outside and exercising. Utah is a beautiful place and I want to

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continue exploring it. I have not yet decided my major but as of now I am leaning towards nutrition. I love learning about the body and the way it functions.

My life has taken me through many twists and turns. I’ve had my lows and highs, a lot of them! I think I managed to turn out pretty good though; I finally have my head screwed on tight. I feel like I was meant for something greater than average and I can’t wait to find out what that is. For now I’ll just keep working hard and try to have some fun along the way.

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September, 2009: Katie and I, along with our manager and tour guide Ted, set out into a remote area of the Four Corners region to explore a handful of ancient Anasazi ruins. What I saw drastically changed my perspective of Indian culture. Ted was involved in FBI and BLM affairs in an effort to preserve the ruins and keep intruders from stealing their gems. The experience changed my life.

Red and White House and the Bulls-eye Kiva.

Anasazi corn stations

The many sketchy approaches to get inside the ruins. They certainly guarded them well.

some of the most adventurous moments in my life
Some of the most adventurous moments in my life

Canyon overlook – Zion Natl. Park

Skydiving!

Late-night backpacking

Double-O Arch – Arches Natl. Park

On top of Mount Olympus

family is important to me
Family is important to me

Johnny is getting so big!

My girlfriend Katie

My niece, Roselyn Giselle

Mom and Shelby