She doesnt remember the first time she took hard drugs, or even what drug she started with, but she was around 14.
I think it started with pills speed, stuff like that. And mescaline, she recalls. Wed get it cut with that Nesquick chocolate powder. For years after that I couldnt smell chocolate milk without feeling nauseous.
Soon she was using cocaine, and eventually heroin. Shes done just about every drug there is.
But its meth that has always been her favorite, from the very first time.
It just makes me feel right. I think thats the best way I can explain it, she says. It makes you feel like everything is going to be OK, even if the truth is the exact opposite.
Nanette describes her childhood as rough. One of five children, she grew up in Lake Tahoe and dropped out of school in the 10th grade. Her father was a mechanic and an alcoholic. Her mom babysat kids in their neighborhood for extra money.
It wasnt like they didnt love us, Nanette remembers. But it was really hard to get attention. There was just always a lot going on a lot of other kids around. Kids my mom babysat. Cousins. Sometimes people just stayed with us for a while.
The story of Nanettes addiction is deeply connected to her relationships with men, even if she doesnt tell it exactly that way. The neighbor who molested her as a teenager was the one who started her drinking. At 18 she met a plumber named Billy, an abusive man with whom she spent three years drinking and doing cocaine and PCP. He later killed himself.
And it was her husband, Frank, now eight years into a 10-year prison sentence, who eventually introduced her to meth.
Nanette was living with Billy, whom she had followed to Washington state, when she fell in love with Frank. They met in 1978 at a beef processing plant.
We both worked on the line, Nanette recalls. I winked at him one day and that was it.
They married a year later. Frank was 19. Nanette was 22. She was still drinking a lot then. But she says she wasnt using drugs, at least not heavily. She remembers it as one of the happiest times of her life.
Things changed fast.
A few months after their wedding, Nanette became pregnant with their first child, a girl. She was a few months old when Frank was arrested for the first time.
Nanette was in Tahoe showing off the baby to family when the call came: Frank was accused of participating in a murder. With his brother he had beaten an acquaintance accused of raping their sister. The man died a few days later. Frank got manslaughter and four years in prison.
He watched his first child learn to walk from county jail, Nanette remembers. Id sit outside on the grass and play with her, and hed watch out the window from his cell.
As soon as Frank was out, Nanette was pregnant again, with their second girl. Their third girl came two years later in 1986, shortly after they moved to Montana. A fourth was born six years after that.
Frank was earning their living as a grocery store meat cutter. Sometimes Nanette worked nights in bars and restaurants for extra money. She confesses she kept drinking for years, even during her pregnancies.
For a long time Id have to have a beer every morning, just to start the day, she admits. Id drive drunk, too. There were times when Id go somewhere and when Id get there, I wouldnt be able to remember the trip at all.
Nanette says Frank rarely drank, though they both did drugs on occasion, mostly cocaine and mostly on the weekend. We werent out of control then, she remembers. It was more like we just did it to relax.