Fathers Day is just another day…

Yesterday was Fathers Day and no I didn’t call or text the Hippy. I thought of him only once or twice but it’s now an emotionless feeling much like I feel for Debbie. August will be a year since we last spoke and I knew when I hung up that phone last August we would never speak again. He said his peace. I said mine. I randomly check online to see if an obituary has been listed for the Hippy or his horrible wife. Debbie has been reaching out to me more. She sent this late night text telling me she was thinking of me and filled with regrets. My response was to ask if she was dying. She said no and we texted some about my dog. One of my girlfriends asked how I felt and I responded with nothing. I feel nothing towards Debbie. If she has regrets that’s on her. I’m not closed off. I respond each time she texts but I don’t have anything to give her nor do I want too. I have had lots of nightmares about the step-monster lately. One of my dreams was the Hippy’s funeral and I took the chance to tell the step-monster all the things I have always wanted to say. I have lots of anger towards that woman. Hate isn’t a strong enough word and she is the exact reason the Hippy and I are not speaking and why we haven’t spoken much since I was 16 and moved out. When I was little the Hippy would come into my room and lean against my closed bedroom door and it was always the same thing. He would ask me (I was 6, 7,8, 14) if I wanted him to leave her and then he would say we would have to live in a small apartment and that I couldn’t attend private school and he wouldn’t be around much to take care of me. He knew I hated her. He knew she treated me like crap and he put all this on his child instead of growing balls and standing up to his horrific wife. I would look at the Hippy who was always tired. Always worn out and he would sit there hanging his head in defeat. Defeat that I hated his wife and that she hated me. Everyone knew it. It wasn’t a secret among anyone. I would always tell him no don’t leave her. Even as a young child I knew the evil I knew was better than the evil I didn’t know as Debbie had taught me that. Every time I would see Debbie she would have a new boyfriend or new friends that I didn’t know and I got used to falling asleep on some random guys couch with the house blaring music while Debbie partied with her friends all hours of the night. The Hippy will never change. He chose his wife over his child and I hope Father’s Day reminded him of that.

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The Hippy turns 66 today…

This will be my only acknowledgment to the Hippy’s 66th Birthday. That’s what happens when you ignore your ONLY child’s 40th Birthday a month prior. The Hippy and I have not spoken since August of 2017 and I don’t expect we will speak again. I occasionally search the obituaries in Houston to see if he has passed away. I think my Uncle Glen will text me when the Hippy passes but I am not 100% sure. Crazy that we are at this place but honestly he left for Jamaica in 1992 and I have maybe seen him 10 times since then. We aren’t close. These are all things he caused and I am 100% ok with this. I find myself wondering if this is the year he will pass?!?…

The Hippy ignored my birthday

Today is the last day of my birthday week for my 40th Birthday. The birthday week was the Hippy’s “creation” and he has yet to acknowledge my turning 40! I am honestly very surprised. My 10th birthday he hired a magician and had a huge party declaring I was a decade old. My 16th birthday he took a half-page out in the Houston Chronicle and posted my freshman school picture and a poem the step-monster had written regarding my turning 16. The Hippy also had my favorite radio station announce my birthday not once but hourly throughout the morning show AND my high school announced it on the morning announcements. My 18th birthday the Hippy flew back from Jamaica to take me and my roommate (remember I moved out at 16) to dinner and at 21 he called collect from Jamaica. 30 he called me but did not attend my birthday party and he wouldn’t allow my Uncle Glen to bring my grandmother to the party either because the step-monster didn’t want to attend because Debbie was at the party. 40 was 6 days ago and nothing. Not a call. Not a text. Not a birthday card. Nothing at all! Debbie did text me but she always does. I can at least count on hearing from Debbie twice a year (Christmas and my birthday). I can’t say that about he Hippy anymore.

Things the Hippy never wanted me to learn…

I was just watching the Blake Shelton video “I Lived It” and it shows “him” as a young boy pushing a lawn mower. I had to laugh as I remembered all the things the Hippy wouldn’t allow me to do. He never allowed the step-monster to teach me how to cook; clean; do my laundry or iron. In fact she ironed my clothes every day until I moved out at 16. I cleaned my room because I wanted to but for some reason the Hippy was deadest against me having chores of any kind. I didn’t learn how to do laundry until I was 17 and living with Debbie (for six months). Debbie can’t cook either (ok she prepares food but it’s hardly edible). My Grandma Jane was an amazing cook but again she never had me come in the kitchen and learn. I wish I could ask them why this is?!? Just strikes me as funny considering I am turning 40 soon and I am lucky that my husband is the cook in our household. Yes, I have a maid but I still am awesome at laundry. I also never had to go to school and was never told to do my homework. It’s like I really was raised by wolves. Who knows why the Hippy did anything…

Give or Not…

I have been in meetings with coworkers lately and the subject of community has come up in regards to some of them wanting to “give back” (not yet defined how) to our local community and then when I respond (I probably sound like a crazy person when I say NOT ME) and they all look at me like I have 3 heads. I know I sound like a crazy person and I am trying to sort out why I have such a strong reaction to this. I fundamentally believe most organizations are flawed and corrupt. I also believe those that really need rarely get as it’s either too hard to get with organizations to receive help or they have too much pride to admit they need help. Also, I hate the thought of giving to a larger pool and then what take a few photos and go back to work? That seems so cruel to be honest. Like you are checking a box called “Good Deed” for the day. I give tons in private (well I’m writing it so it’s not so private) but I give to my “people”. I buy meals for law enforcement every chance I get. If I see a law enforcement vehicle in the drive thru while I am at Chick-fil-A I stand at the counter and wait until it comes around and then I pay (Chick-Fil-A gives a 50% discount to all law enforcement so they are often there in the mornings). Also, I have bought gift cards at Chick-Fil-A and asked the manager to use them for all first responders). When my sister was a kid she often would start school with no school supplies because well Debbie sucks. Once the Hippy learned about this he started buying all Niki’s school supplies and each year my husband and I grab the school supply list for our local ISD and we purchase school supplies and donate them. This way other kids that have sucky parents don’t not have school supplies. My sister called me once (we have done this a few times now) and told me that one of her girls had a field trip and she couldn’t believe how expensive it was per kid ($15). She was surprised it was so much so I asked her to total up the kids and her and I split the cost for the entire class to go. This way no child was left out or the teacher who pays for tons of things didn’t have too. I am always one of the first to suggest putting together a fundraiser when one of my coworkers has a tragedy happen (funds to bury a parent or funds to help pay for a cancer diagnosis). My vet has a fund for wounded animals that are found in our county so they can get vet treatments. I round up when I am at the vet (and trust me I am there a lot with my three dogs) and I give to this fund. I live in a retirement area and next door to one of the biggest retirement communities in the country. I was at the grocery store one day and I had just paid for my groceries but I am one of those people that if I don’t put my credit card back in my wallet I’ll lose it. I was messing with my wallet still near the register when I saw this older woman in a store wheelchair clutching her prescription bag and then a loaf of bread in the other hand and she had that all too familiar look on her face that I remember well. Medicine to live or bread to eat?!? She gave the bread to the cash register lady and asked her to put it back. This was whispered and the checker wasn’t sure if she overheard the woman correctly. The woman was forced to say it louder. I leaned over while getting my credit card back out and said “I’ll buy the bread”. Took me all of two seconds. I handed it to the woman who started crying. I didn’t want to embarrass her so I quickly left. When I hear of a friend or even a friend of a friend in need for some major earth shattering crisis (sadly it’s usually medically related) I give. I give to motorcycle racers that are injured so they can pay their medical bills. See this is my local community. Kids that don’t have a freaking choice in the decisions their parents make. Coworkers in crisis because that hurts all of us when one of our coworkers are hurting. Racers are absolutely my people and I love their passion and skill and willing to risk it all even their lives. First responders because without them choosing a very hard career for little financial reward we would all be screwed and I will not watch someone choose between medicines and bread. Ever. Now I’ll be honest had beer been in her basket and she chose beer over bread I wouldn’t have helped. These are all the ways I am willing to help but I am unwilling to give to organizations who just have people on a list or make them feel like less because they are in a number range and “qualify” for help. The Hippy is one of the proudest people I have ever met. I don’t send him money. He would just send it back. I have no idea how he’s getting his bills paid since he had to quit work last year for all his surgeries and radiation treatments. I also really don’t care either. I stopped caring the second he left for Jamaica and walked away from me. I had a two year scholarship to the University of North Texas that I couldn’t attend because I needed to get my GED so I could work. I have tons of school loans now because I paid for my college when I went in my mid-twenties. When the Hippy would call me from Jamaica it was collect. So his call on my 21st Birthday cost me $50. No thank you. I also spend way more on my grandkids then most would. In fact someone asked me the other day why do we buy clothes and ship them and I told her “so I can sleep at night”. I do help. I’m not a monster. I don’t trust organizations at all and I feel that people that want to give need to take a second and imagine how it feels to get. The worst is when you are on a list and everyone talks about it. One of my companies chooses a family each year at Christmas and it breaks my heart for them. I hate it to be honest. Why can’t we call them family A with three kids? We don’t need to know their names – give them respect and privacy. I still have no idea how I am going to say all this without sounding crazy. I’m all for team building and bonding and giving but I guess I have to believe in the cause and that’s going to be hard to do if it’s to an organization that has to whittle my giving down to pay for the cost to run the organization (I get it I just don’t like it).

A little bit of history…

When asked about my childhood my first response is to say it was terrible and filled with violence. People usually think I am crazy because that’s what I say. I have come to believe people want you to say or mimic what they had experienced in life. People aren’t able to understand what I mean. No one can…unless they lived it. I don’t remember everything from my childhood and I have an amazing memory. Truth is I have blocked a lot of it out. It comes back from time to time in flashes or in my nightmares. In an effort to capture some of the memories I am going to just write them down in no particular order and if you don’t want to read I don’t blame you. I didn’t experience one thing that was overly violent but it was the combination of things. The Hippy ran with a tough biker gang and is and was a drug dealer. Debbie is a drug addict and ran with the party crowd. My Grandma Jane and Papa Dale lived in the neighborhood the Hippy grew up in but during my childhood it was very dangerous and violent. The Hippy and Step-Monster lived in a rough neighborhood as well. I went to private school from 1st to 8th grade (thankfully). The summer before I went to public school the Hippy insisted that I take self defense classes that focused on rape survival. It was always something when I was a kid and I became very jaded to violence. In my adult life I won’t watch scary movies – I don’t like being scared. It’s not a rush of adrenaline for me. I lived it enough. The Debbie memories are shorter and more of a blur so I’ll start with those: I remember when I was 4 or 5 being in a crowded apartment with Debbie and a lot of men. I remember standing in the kitchen and one of the men laughing at me because I wanted a cookie and he thought it was funny to place them down a dark hallway and tell me I had to get them from the Cookie Monster. I was frozen in place. Another time I remember my step-sister / cousin Rachel and I hiding in her closet because her dad was beating Debbie (I was again 4 or 5 and Rachel was 9 or 10). I remember Rachel and I sitting in the dark and her singing to me so I wouldn’t be scared at the noises. I was often terrified of Debbie’s men. I never wanted to spend the night with her but the Hippy forced me to until I woke up one night when I was 7 or 8 and she had left Niki (Debbie & Feats daughter 6 years younger than me) and I overnight by ourselves as she worked at a strip club. I was 7 when my job was to babysit Niki all day as the Hippy and my uncles moved Debbie and Niki out of Feats’ house but the Hippy didn’t arrive until after Feats arrived and poured gasoline all over Debbie’s car and beat Debbie and broke her jaw. Another reason I hated staying with Debbie was her rule that you couldn’t talk to her in the morning until the clock started with 10 (meaning 10 am) I always woke early even as a kid and I would be starving before hung over Debbie would wake and feed me. Honestly as scary as it was when Debbie was married to Ralph it was better for young Heather as Rachel would take care of me and feed me and help me go to the bathroom (I was just a little kid). I also was on my heart meds when I was a kid and they were timed. My Grandma Jane had to teach me to look at the clock and know when to take my meds and then she had to teach me how to get the liquid dosage right so I could take my meds by myself when I would stay with Debbie. I practically lived with my Grandma Jane and Papa Dale when I was young. I was never allowed to play outside by myself as they feared I would be kidnapped (in their dangerous neighborhood). The boy Nextdoor to them was older but he would climb trees with me and we would swim in their pool. When I was 10 Grandma Jane had to explain to me that I wouldn’t see him ever again because he murdered his step dad and was in prison. I spent every single weekend with my grandparents as the Step Monster and I never got along. When I was in the 4th grade the neighborhood gangs took over their streets. My grandparents had a chain link fence and their backyard backed up to the gang hangout. All day long shots would be fired towards my grandparents house so I was no longer allowed in the backyard to play. I remember one night gunshots rang out like crazy. I got out of bed looking for my grandfather because I was scared. The house was all dark and the back door was open. I walked towards the backdoor and I found my grandfather sitting outside in a chair with his gun on his lap and he was just sitting like a statue or I should say like a Marine. He whispered to me to go back to bed. He told me he sits their every single night that I stayed with them to make sure I would be safe. Eventually the police arrested all the gang members and its now a quiet neighborhood but to this day I get nervous driving to their house (the Hippy lives their now). My grandfather was an alcoholic which I was well aware of. He had a rough period when I was 8 and though my memory is foggy I remember my Grandma Jane taking me to Hobby Airport searching for Papa as someone had called her saying he had been there and was causing trouble. I don’t remember much of this but it seemed like we walked around all day and when we came home we found him passed out on his face on the living room floor. He was sober after that incident. Living with the Hippy wasn’t perfect either. I was allowed to play outside on my street when I was younger but when I became a teenager the Hippy would walk outside to watch me walk 2 doors down to my friends house. He would also watch her go home from my house. We had a crazy lady across the street that threatened to kill anyone’s dog that was in her yard so we were always scared of her. The house across the street from us was robbed a few times. My friends house two doors down was robbed several times. I was riding my bike once and the step monster was outside planting and I rode up screaming to get her attention as a male that we didn’t know was leaning over her. I screamed and he ran off. I was attacked by a loose dog once when I was playing down the street. Thankfully I was wearing one of the Hippy’s T-shirt’s and the dog grabbed the sleeve and ripped the shirt but it was too big so he didn’t get me. A teenage boy was working on his car and saw what happened. He scared the dog off; removed his shirt to cover me and carried me all the way home to the Hippy. I was no longer allowed more than 3 houses in either direction after that. My next door neighbors (Rick and Christie) had 4 daughters all around my age (Rick adopted her daughters). We would play together every single day and weekend from the sun up to the sun down. The girls didn’t attend school in our area as they used their grandparents address to attend school. When I was in the 5th grade they moved closer to their school. I still saw them on the weekends and the step monster and their mom were good friends. When I was in the 6th grade the oldest girl and Rick moved back next door (they had kept the house as a rental) and Christie and the three youngest moved to Austin. Christie sat us all down (with the step-monster) and explained to us that she (Christie) had recently developed memories of her family practicing satanism when she was a kid and when she asked her family about it they decided to make her think she was crazy. This is why she fled to Austin with the 3 youngest but the oldest was a senior in high school so Rick and Pati moved back next door to me so she could graduate with her friends. The girls visited most weekends but it was a very scary year for us all. Their grandpa would stand at the front door with chainsaws while we would eat snacks. They would play recordings of wounded animals at night and I could hear it from my bedroom nextdoor. I was happy to have my friends back but I was happy when they moved again too. It was very scary. As I grew older and started going to the mall or Astroworld or the movies or anywhere I either had to take one of my male cousins or had to go with girls and boys. Every time we would leave the Hippy would pull the boys aside and tell them that if something happened to me he would hold them responsible. It was around this time that the Hippy and my biker uncles would grab me and I would have to forcibly get away. Happened everytime I came out of my room to get a drink of water. When I was 3 or 4 the Hippy would run drills around the house and I would either have to get his weapon or hide or both. I grew up with passcodes that I had to know in case something happened to the Hippy and I was to go home with another adult. I was taught to never sit with my back to a door; to never accept stickers or flyers; to never take a flyer off of my windshield or to never park or walk near a van. When I was in the 8th grade the Hippy took me to a seminar with convicted rapist so I could hear what they looked for in victims. When I was in the 9th grade my friend was murdered and I was there. Sadly my little sister had her own violence happen around her as when she was 13 or so she and her friend discovered her friends moms dead body and they found her lying spread eagle on her bed with her throat slit. The girls jumped out of a bedroom window and ran for help. The Hippy moved to Jamaica when I was 16 and I visited him one time and one time only. During the 5 day period of my one visit – we had 4 Jamaicans try to get in his house forcibly on my first night (they had just robbed the first house in the row and his was the 3rd house). I was blocking the tv and it was nighttime. We hear a boat horn sound and the Hippy knew someone needed help. My uncle grabbed me and shoved me under a table. The Hippy did the same to the step monster and opened he door as the Jamaicans tried to get past him but he fought them off with his machete while my uncle stood over me holding his own machete. That was a Monday. On Wednesday I was walking not 10 feet behind my uncle and the Hippy on the beach when someone grabbed me by the wrist and started dragging me backwards. I screamed (as I had been taught) and the Hippy and my uncle chased him off. I was assigned a body guard that day and the Hippy kept him on for the rest of their time in Jamaica (he lived their for 10 years before he was kicked out of the country). On Thursday (day 4) the Hippy’s house was robbed while we were at the beach luckily. My uncle and I left the next day and I never returned to visit them. When I was 19 (a year before my husband and I started dating) I was living in a second floor apartment of a two story building. The complex was old and had an attic door entrance in my closet. While I was in the shower one day I hear noises. I turn off my shower and open the curtain to see my lab puppy trembling. I dry off and enter my bedroom to see attic material all over my apartment and my closet door open and my front door OPEN! I called my step-dad Danny and Debbie who came right over as they lived in the complex across the street. Danny’s brother was a police officer and he came too. We learned that an employee of the complex was up in the attic and came down through my apartment but never reported it. I was released from my lease immediately and I never lived on the top floor again! When I was 18 I lived with my Aunt Terrie and her husband. They had 3 kids (one teenager and two toddlers) and at the time had a very violent relationship. The cops were at our house almost daily. It was just more of my normal sadly. My life changed when I was 20 and began dating my husband. Those that don’t know my past accuse me of keeping my life to sheltered. Oh if they only knew why. I haven’t been to a movie since 2010 (the CO shooting) and I don’t plan too. I cannot allow myself to be a victim ever again. I am happy and content in my normal non chaotic life and it’s that way largely because I don’t talk to the Hippy or Debbie. About 15 years ago Debbie was dating this attorney. They were in Austin once and we all went to dinner but I never get attached or bond with her men. Ever. Sure enough a few weeks later I was talking to my sister Niki and Niki was telling me that her dad (Feats) had just arrived home from a weekend out of town. He had 30 messages on his answering machine all from Debbie that started the Thursday before and that Debbie was calling him as her attorney boyfriend had beat her and locked her in a closet. She remained in that closet until Feats heard the messages on Monday and went and rescued her. This is just the crazy stuff that comes to mind when people ask me about growing up or why I call Debbie by her name or about why I live such a sheltered adult life. I learned to survive as a young child. I remember being home alone as early as 8 or 9 and planning what I would do if the Hippy and Step Monster didn’t come home because they died in a car crash. I had it all planned out. I would call the neighbor to make sure I had a ride to and from school. I never worried about me not having them. I always worried about me because of them. Some people run from their families. I get that. Blood doesn’t mean you have to talk to them and I am happier when I don’t to be honest. I just can’t handle their drama. I have always said having them alive and not caring about me sucks. I don’t care what they do to you everyone wants someone to care about them. It’s not normal to not speak to your mother or father for years. It hurts. No matter what they did they are my parents but I just can’t reach out to them. This is all part of my letting go. I just hope from reading this you will get when I say I can’t chase them or that I know I am better off without them. People ask me all the time why I don’t give back to kids in need or volunteer. The truth is I can’t be around that. I don’t feel the need to give back. I survived. I escaped. I am where God wants me to be. I don’t feel guilt about how I feel either.

Reflection on the last three weeks in Austin

I should start this post with the fact that I live in Central TX and I work in Austin, TX and this week was one of the scariest of my adult life. This week was the finale of a three week terror on Austin, TX now called the Austin Bombings. My husband was out of town for work and his anxiety was high because he was not here. My anxiety was off the charts as was anyone that lives in Central TX. I can’t be the only person that feels this way either. I have never once thought that I should be concerned when I open a package on my doorstep; or check my mail; or walk down the street. I most certainly never thought I needed to learn about the importance of looking for trip wires while walking around. I have always always always remembered all the stay safe demands by the Hippy but NONE of those involved looking for trip wires or worrying about bombs. This week was the worst as it was one thing after another. Let’s go to the beginning. On March 2, a package exploded and I saw about it on Facebook as a news article. I will admit I didn’t give it much thought but I do always say a prayer for the victim and the family. A man died and other than a quick prayer I didn’t give it much thought (I can suck sometimes) but let’s be honest the media only talks about the absolutely worst things! I also doubt this went on past the local Austin news. Then on March 12 I was flying home from visiting with my husband in Utah (he was away for work). We had an amazing time and before I went to the airport in Utah my mind was filled with plane crashes. I had read that three small planes across the world has crashed so I prayed most the flight. My plane lands in Austin and I turn on Facebook to tell everyone I landed safely. The very first thing I see is breaking news that two packages exploded in Austin while I was flying home and this was at two different homes in two different neighborhoods and one person died and two had been hospitalized. Austin was under attack and nothing I mean NOTHING prepares you for that news. Other than being told that all three of these bombs are related and no suspects had been identified no one knew anything. Yes, lots of theories began speculating and going around. Some wondered if it was race related as the victims had all been minorities and all the bombs in East; Northeast and Southeast Austin. This possibly made the Texas news but I am not sure it was national coverage yet. What those of us that are not in law enforcement probably didn’t realize is that three bombings gave law enforcement lots of data. The FBI and I am sure other agencies became involved. In Texas this was the beginning of Spring Break and in Austin it was the annual well known highly trafficked SXSW two week technology; movie and music festival with celebrities making appearances and almost every bar or venue having some sort of live music each night and almost every company in Austin hosting SXSW events. Basically the city is overcrowded with a million events and we have a psychopath trying to blow us up. After March 12th everyone in Austin was talking about it. Law enforcement gave guidelines on what a suspicious package looks like and told everyone to call 911 if they think they have a suspicious package. Parents instructed their kids to not touch any packages. Offices shared messages with their employees on what to look for to determine if a package was suspicious. Coworkers started telling everyone in the office when they expected packages to arrive. Then on Sunday March 18 (after two of the prettiest perfect weather days we have had in 2018) two young men are walking, before dark, along a sidewalk in a large very active and outdoorsy Southwest Austin neighborhood and a bomb exploded injuring both of them. They hit a trip wire and their lives are changed forever. APD; FBI; ATF; TX DPS; TX Rangers; and bomb K-9 units from surrounding cities all arrive. The Calvary is now in Austin. We had over 500 additional law enforcement arrive at the call that Austin is under attack (by Monday the number was 500+). The Travis Country neighborhood was put under lockdown. It was now dark outside shortly after the bomb exploded and law enforcement did not know if this was one trip wire or several. Sleeping didn’t happen for anyone in Central TX. One of my coworkers lives in the apartments next to Travis Country and she received a notification to remain indoors no matter what until given the all clear and to call 911 if she needed to leave and she would be escorted by police. I work in Human Resources and I have 4 office locations in Austin. I immediately start running through possibilities of who could be impacted. Other companies did the same. Schools start announcing closures as Monday was to be their first day back from Spring Break and they wanted their campuses checked for bombs. No one knew what the actual target or plan was as the Sunday, March 18th trip wire bomb was in Southwest Austin in a non-minority area. Now two white males have been injured. This is no longer an attack on one specific person or house or race. This is an attack on ANYONE! Law enforcement starts spreading the message that this is targeting anyone random and we all started to learn about trip wires and that they can be as small and hard to see as dental floss. People in the affected shelter in place area started alerting their offices and others that they are sheltering in place. The first message was to remain indoors until 10 am as law enforcement needed daylight to really be able to check that neighborhood. The neighborhood is close to my office but not really so I and those that could headed into work. The second I exited for the Main Street that my main office is located near I received the shelter in place message. I still went to the office as I knew I would not be passing or interfering with the investigation. My coworkers all received the same message. Not much work happened on Monday as it was very hard to concentrate. Austin bombings now are national coverage. No family called to check on me. Not the Hippy or Debbie or my sister. Not my in-laws – literally no one. My husband said maybe it’s not on the news (but it was). Those that follow me on social media knew I was alive and I called my mother in law several times but no one in my family follows me on social media and most of them don’t have social media but they are all news junkies and they live in Texas so they heard. I was terrified to check the mail at work on Monday. I didn’t want to walk at lunch, which is a normal nice weather break for us, as I was scared of hitting a trip wire. See this bombing was in Southwest Austin and I work in West Austin. The local media had also put out an article sharing that they had driven by the first three locations (the fourth was on lockdown) and they had discovered that all three homes that had been targeted had an even number address…and so does my office and I work in a house!!! I drove home Monday north on I35 and once I hit Round Rock and Georgetown I notice that I see police vehicles parked along I35 before every single exit on both sides of I35! Tuesday morning Central TX wakes up to learn that a 5th (yes the 5th) bomb has exploded but this time it was a package at a FedEx location not far from Austin and the only information that law enforcement was sharing was that it was shipped from an Austin address to an Austin address and that it exploded on the conveyer belt and miraculously no FedEX employees had been injured by flying shrapnel but one woman was injured from the blast (I believe she had a concussion). The bomb exploded around midnight on Monday night / Tuesday morning which was just around 24 hours since the trip wire bomb and that bomb was less than a week from the two package bombs and those were 10 days from the first. This has escalated rapidly by the 5th bomb at FedEx. I am late to work Tuesday as I cannot shut the news off. Everyone in Austin is now in a zombie yet panic state. I am driving to work and all of a sudden realize I am surrounded by FedEx trucks. In my mind I can just imagine them exploding. I haven’t slept since Saturday night as I have started having nightmares from my childhood and wake every hour. Tuesday all we do is have the news up – Facebook feeds; Twitter; watching our phones. Businesses and individuals stop accepting packages. In fact I received an expected package on Monday night via DHL and the driver asked me if I would accept it before he even took it out of the truck. He said a lot of people started refusing them. I wished him to stay safe and thanked him for asking me. Salvation Army announces early Tuesday they are stopping all acceptance of donations. Apartment complexes are announcing they will not accept packages for residents and are locking mailboxes. Around 8 am on a Tuesday a breaking news announcement states that FedEx has found a suspicious package at another warehouse location of theirs but this one is next to the airport which is IN AUSTIN! That’s now two FedEx locations that have bombs. Then around noon (Tuesday) law enforcement announces that the 6th bomb was recovered at the FedEx near the airport INTACT! IT DIDN’T EXPLODE! Everyone in my office meeting felt the first sense of hope at this news. This had to be good news right?!? Around 2:00 on Tuesday; law enforcement announces that both FedEx packages had been shipped from Austin to Austin addresses and that they had both been shipped from a third FedEx location off of Brodie right next to the neighborhood that had the tripwire bomb on Sunday. This news is received with hope that they catch the guy but with fear as this location that received the packages is frequented a lot by coworkers and I have even used this location. It just brings it all crashing around you that this is random and targeted all at once. In fact one of my close friends tells me she was in that third FedEx location the day before!!!! During the course of a one hour meeting on Tuesday all our breaking news alerts go off again. This announcement says that a Whole Foods Store on Brodie lane (close to the third FedEx location) is being cleared and the bomb squad has arrived due to a suitcase being found). No bomb false alarm but everyone is on edge. The next day in Austin (Wednesday) is the start of the Dell Match Play Golf tournament and traffic is historically horrible so we all decide to work remote the rest of the week (and I’ll admit I was very fearful as our office is in West Austin and the media had made an announcement that law enforcement believed West Austin was the next target). Tuesday evening I am talking on the phone to my husband who is giving me his travel plans as he is flying home Wednesday and watching the evening news waiting for an update on the bombings when all of a sudden on live tv news they announce another explosion happened at a Goodwill near the third FedEx location and this is announced as the 6th explosion but bombs 7 and then 8 as they believed a secondary bomb has been discovered. My phone texts start going off as one of my friends nieces attends school two doors down and she needed to talk as this is OVERWHELMING. In less than 48 hours Austin went from having 3 package bombs within 10 days to now the announcement of 5 more in less than two days. On live tv you see the Calvary (APD; FBI; ATF; fire trucks and ambulances) arrive and it was amazing to see. While watching I felt safer and protected but fear and worry at the same time! I also realized at this point Austin is getting way to good at responding to horrible attacks. Not too long later (I had just told my husband that he should call an Uber to drive him North on Wednesday as the airport was south and the bombings are all happening south and west of us) and ATF announces that this Goodwill explosion listed as bombs 7 and 8 is not related. They did say they feared a copycat (later they state that someone had donated old military momentos and it exploded when handled. Not a copycat but at the time we did NOT know that). I did not sleep hardly at all Tuesday night. I always wake around 3:30 am (7 days a week) but my lack of sleep had me waking around 2:30 am. I look at my phone that is filled with breaking news. I turn on the news to the announcement that the bomber just killed himself with a bomb! All the media is reporting live from the location along I35 which is a major interstate that runs north south. The press conference is live around 3:30 or 4 am and I was so proud to see the Austin Interim Police Chief Brian Manley and the Austin Mayor on the scene in Round Rock just north of Austin. These two easily could have held their press conferences later in Austin but no they both got out in the very early hours and drove to the scene to check on their officers and talk to the people of Central TX. It seemed unreal. How could it all of a sudden be over? Interim (we need to drop this and make him Chief) Chief Manley told us that they had the bomber as a person if interest for several days now. However once the 6th bomb (the one that didn’t explode) was recovered the person of interest became the suspect and he was tracked down in Round Rock at a hotel. He then explains how they wanted to take him alive but that while waiting for tactical to arrive the suspect left in his vehicle and SWAT followed (in two unmarked white vans). The suspect is driving on I35 towards Austin and the vans crash into him and get him off the freeway. As SWAT is approaching, the suspect, the suspect sets off a bomb killing himself. A swat officer also fired on him but they believe the bomb killed him. It’s over is all anyone listening hears but then law enforcement (all of them – APD; FBI; and ATF) all say in their briefings that they do not know where all the suspect went in the last 24 hours or how many bombs are in circulation so still be vigilant. So now it’s over but almost scarier as a bomb could go off and we have no suspect to chase. Traffic is insane Wednesday as 135 is shutdown most of the morning. Wednesday afternoon they release the bombers name and he is a 23 year old white male that lives with a black roommate and the roommates are not suspects (so he doesn’t hate minorities). The bomber lived in a small town between Austin and Round Rock called Pflugerville (we also lived in Pflugerville for 12 years). They recovered a cellphone video that the bomber did stating that he regretted going to FedEx that he believed they were on to him and that he planned to go inside a McDonald’s and blow himself up when he believed that law enforcement was getting close. He also said he was not motivated by hate and that he picked the victims randomly and that he intended to do several more bombs and the police found evidence that he was looking up addresses in Austin and Cedar Park (another Austin suburb / town). The bomber did say he is not sorry and he called himself a psychopath. I think we can all agree on this. I am SO thankful to law enforcement for crashing into his vehicle all the while knowing the possibility of him carrying a bomb. Later Wednesday as law enforcement went over all the contents of the bombers home and watched his video confession they announced that he described all 7 bombs and all had been accounted for! It’s over. It’s really over. Now I am so happy to see this city thanking our law enforcement. Businesses are putting “Thank You APD” on their outdoor signage. The Austin Rodeo recently had 50 law enforcement agents attend for a thank you ceremony. A local Austin movie theater is giving all first responders free admittance until April 25th and yet not one member of my crappy family checked on me. I am grateful for every “stay safe message” I received from my BFF and my father in laws girlfriend sent me a message asking me to come stay with them but no one in my family ever cared. I tell you. When you are in crisis remember those that do check on you! You will quickly see who is really in your corner! Thank You to all First responders!

March 4th

March 4th is a crappy day on the calendar for me. 3.4.1994 my friend was murdered and the Hippy lost his mind. I am not sure if it was a teenager dying; or that both of the Hippie’s fathers (he was adopted by his step-dad as a boy) had died six months prior or if it was his birthday approaching (41) and he decided to have a mid-life crisis and change our entire lives on a dime but all those things happened at the same time and was pretty much the end of my relationship with the Hippy as he sold all his businesses; told his 16 year old daughter (me) to find a place to live (he didn’t care where) and told his wife to go or divorce him and he was in Jamaica not two months later. He was gone for 10 years and that’s a different story 🤦‍♀️! Fast forward to 2000 and I am just married (10.10.00) and my 16 year old sister (Debbie and Feat’s daughter) is pregnant. My last step-dad Danny finally divorced Debbie as he could not deal with her drug usage and cheating on him any longer (he held on for 9 years). Debbie and Niki are living in an apartment and Debbie is partying it up (worse than when she was with Danny). Debbie was practically living with her dealer and 16 year old Niki is dealing with a new place to live; Danny gone; and she is pregnant. Debbie wanted my husband and I to adopt the baby and we did talk it over. Ultimately we thought it would be best for Niki to not know where the baby was living and we feared it would be salt in Niki’s wound. I had learned about Gladney (adoption center in TX that’s huge and well known) from my Home Ec. teacher in High school (strangely she comes up again later…). Debbie told Niki she was putting this baby up for adoption and since Niki was a minor that’s how it was going to be. Debbie ships Niki off to Gladney in Dallas, TX and enjoys her kid free life. Niki is not there but a week or two. She hated it. She was miserable and not making friends. Feats (Niki’s dad) rode his Harley from Houston to Dallas and picked Niki up. This is probably the first time he stepped up for Niki. However, Niki was taken back to Debbie and Feats put the fear of himself in Debbie to allow Niki to stay. Actually, it was also because now Gladney was going to pay all Debbie’s bills that got Niki back in the house. Our aunt Terrie also stepped in and helped Niki a lot emotionally and mothered her throughout this process. Niki was due late March 2001 and by the winter of 2000 had picked a family. One day Niki was talking to the adopted parents (Niki wanted an open adoption) and the adopted mother told Niki that they planned on naming Niki’s baby “Suzy”. Niki called me at work crying. She was crying so hard that it took me a few minutes to calm her down so I could hear what her problem was. The second Niki heard the name was Suzy she knew she had to back out from that family. It was a sign to Niki that this was not the right family as I was supposed to be named Suzy when I was born (Suzi Suzuki technically). I tell Niki to call her counselor at Gladney and she did. In the mean time I tell my husband what has happened and he mentions that one of his co-workers has expressed an interest in adopting Niki’s baby (Travis and Yvonne). Travis and Yvonne had no kids (at the time) and had a failed foster adoption in WA (state gave the baby back to the drug addict / jail serving parents) so he only was willing to do a closed adoption. However he was willing to keep the name Niki is giving her which is Audrey Nicole. My husband and I talk about this because it’s not us adopting but we would still know her and see her and maybe that would be ok with Niki. Not ten minutes later Debbie calls me and says she knows a couple that will pay for Niki’s college. I tell Debbie in plain terms (ok they were ugly) that I was not letting Debbie anywhere near this adoption as Niki’s baby is not for sale to the highest bidder. Niki wants an open adoption and Travis wanted a closed one so that conversation ended in January of 2001. Meanwhile, Even with all the above changes in Niki’s life (in a very short time) once she started showing she was forced to change high schools to the one in the district that the pregnant girls attended. Oddly this happened to be the high school I attended and the pregnancy teacher was my Home Ec. teacher (Peggy) and even though Niki and I have different last names and we are 7 years apart, the teacher figured out that Niki was my little sister. Peggy (the teacher) took Niki under her wing and Niki even dates her son Matt while she was pregnant. (The babies’ dad lied to his parents saying Niki was not pregnant with his child and he and Niki broke up early in her pregnancy. They had dated since the 7th grade and Niki is a freshman at this point). Once Debbie finds out she cannot sell Niki’s baby for her interest she kicks Niki out again but Peggy (the teacher) takes Niki in. Niki now is as homeless as I was when I was 16 (crazy). Peggy encourages Niki to reach back out to Gladney. My aunt Terri and I step in to help Niki with her decision as she has less than 2 months at this point. Niki decides that she wants a family not in TX. All she keeps telling me is she does not want to walk the mall one day searching all the young kid faces for her daughter (I was very impressed with my little sisters logic to be honest). Niki picks a family in February of 2001. They live in NY and have 27 adopted people in their family. Something about genetics that they all agreed to only adopt and not have biological children. The father was a basketball coach and worked on wall street and the mother was a teacher (I think). They bonded with Niki instantly and everyone loves them. They flew to TX to meet Niki and my aunt Terrie (I live 3 hours from Niki so I was not able to take off work and attend). They tell Niki they will name her Keri Lynn and that is a sign for Niki (in a good way) as Terrie’s middle name is Lynn and Audrey will still have an aunt Terrie as the dads sister is Terrie. We are not able to know their last names but Niki loves them. Gladney starts the paperwork and they head back to NY. Gladney installed a phone in their home and Niki talked to them daily. They asked Niki all kinds of things about her and her family so they could tell Keri (Audrey) as she grew up. The evening of March 3rd I get a phone call from my aunt Terrie that it’s time. She has Niki back in Labor and Delivery and Niki wants me. I am 3 hours away and we had my step-son that weekend. I tell Terrie I’ll leave at sunrise and drop Garret with his mother and I’ll be there. Niki labors through the night. We leave Austin at 6 am and meet Garret’s mom and then drive the extra hour to the hospital. My father-in-law beat me to the hospital as he adores my sister. We walk in and I walk into a landmine of news from Gladney. They had discovered that Niki was not my sisters legal name. Neither was Nicole Marie which was Niki’s name, or so we thought…you see Gladney uncovered the truth and that was that Debbie never bothered to name Niki so here Niki is in labor with the adopted parents flying in and she is told her name is actually Girl Of. That’s my sisters name! I mouth off with “pick a name then. Let’s do this and you can be whoever you want”. Debbie is furious with me; with Gladney; with the world actually. Debbie leaves as do my husband and father in law as it’s lunch time. I was planning on eating too but the nurse announces that Niki must have been waiting on me because as soon as I arrive it’s time. The door is locked and in stays our aunt Terrie; Niki’s boyfriend (not the baby daddy) and me. Ok and all the staff and Niki of course. I stood at my sisters feet and saw Audrey Nicole enter this world and take her first breath. My aunt and I are crying as we watch Niki hold her baby knowing she is giving her up. The hospital knows this is an adoption and they change their protocols and allow the family in right when Niki is decent and give us time with Audrey before taking her back to be cleaned up. We all held her (well Debbie left so not Debbie). Audrey Nicole was born on 3.4.01. I have a video of all this that Ross keeps under lock and key. TX adoption laws (in 2001) required Niki to keep Audrey in her room for 72 hours and Niki had to leave the hospital before handing Audrey over to the adopted parents. 3/7/01 Gladney took Niki to take photos with Audrey and my aunt Terrie was with Niki when she handed her child over. I again was unable to get off work (I now have a boss that would never put me in a position to work over being with my sister). The open adoption was for pictures on Keri’s Birthday for the first 5 years and then when she was 13 she was to be told by a 3rd party she was adopted and if she expressed an interest in meeting her birth mother they had to make that happen. Also, if she needs an organ or is hospitalized for more than 24 hours Gladney is to be contacted and they will call me. I promised my sister 17 years ago I would never change my phone number. Audrey just turned 17 this year and I pray she has an amazing life. We know she has at least one sibling as a little boy appeared in the yearly photos when Keri was 3. Niki had another baby two years later, Blake and when Blake was 6 months old she and Audrey’s dad got back together. Niki and Billie married 3/17/06 and have three other children together Averi, Paige and Gavin. Niki was finally legally named Nicole when she was 30!

More of the same 2.14

Well 2.14.18 came and went. Last year I put it in my head that if the Hippie could pick a day to pass it would be 2.14. Not because we know that as Valentine’s Day but because that’s his lucky number. He used 214 for everything. Years back he told me he would only pay for my wedding if it was 2.14 so of course on 2.14.98 I almost married a terrible guy but I called the wedding off the summer before. I have huge abandonment issues. I probably have more issues than that because hello, have you read about my childhood?!? I don’t trust people. I am pretty sure I will be murdered in some horrific way (ok yes all murder is horrific). The last ten years or so I learned all these are due to his choices and I won’t chase him and beg for attention. He chose to turn my life upside down when he told me to find a new place to live when I was 16 because he wanted to move to Jamaica and become a full on drug Lord. I cannot tell you how many of my friends’ families took me in. I always had food and a place to sleep but it was a very strange few years. The terrible man I mentioned above was my version of escape but when you are raised with as much violence as I was, then you do not see the signs “normal” people might see. Some people think the step-monster was good for me but she was probably more toxic then the Hippie and Debbie. I once found a diary from when I was 8 or so and I was writing about lying on the living room couch watching the step-monster have a full melt down and she was throwing kitchen knives at my dad and they stuck in the wall. We no longer had a kitchen clock because she threw that at him and it shattered. Yes, with all this going on little Heather is sitting on the couch writing in her diary or reading a book because this was our normal! I don’t remember why she slapped me when I was wearing braces but the wire on my braces came loose and cut my cheek. I had to go to the Ortho to have it fixed and I still have a scar on the inside of my cheek to this day. It took me years to realize that my childhood was effed up because again it was my normal. I have seen the Hippie maybe 10 times since he was kicked out of Jamaica in 2005. I hurt for him because he’s my dad and I know he did the best he could. I know he loves me but he never chose me. He never chose to protect me from the step-monster. He was so focused on someone kidnapping me (ok again in his defense Debbie’s step-dad did make a threat) that he never thought to look at what the violence around us was doing. I laugh when I think back to when my husband and I first started dating. He has a “typical” family even though his parents divorced when he was in college; everyone gets along and loves each other. No drugs. No violence. Ross and I had only been dating six months or so and in this six months my 13 year old sister and her friend discovered her friends’ mothers body after she was raped by her boyfriend and her throat was slit. The girls walked right in her bedroom after being in the house about 30 minutes eating breakfast. Then the day before Valentine’s Day (1999) my sisters dad was shot five times at point blank range (he is still alive). Ross quickly got a glimpse of craziness. Even with this craziness Ross used to push me to interact with my family because simply they are family. Fast forward twenty years and Ross wants them no where around any of us. They are selfish. They are all toxic and still I hurt for the Hippie that he is sick. I cannot go to him. I cannot chase him because in the end he is still going to die and that will hurt me worse if I grow close with him again. If he wants to talk to me he will have to call me.

A year later…

I don’t have a health update on the Hippy as we have not spoken since August 2017. My FaceBook On this Day is currently having me relive all the details of the Hippy’s surgery and recovery. Sometimes it makes me sad that this is all I have. Yes, I could call him but he could call me also. I am sure anyone reading this thinks I am a horrible cold person but I ask you to not look at this through your lens but through mine. I did not have a loving supportive family unit. The Hippy raised me and then kicked me out when I was 16 because he wanted to chase a dream. He missed my high school years. I was not able to attend college right after high school because of his decision to leave and live in Jamaica. He chose drugs over his child. He missed my wedding. He missed my first college graduation (ok he attended the second but for five minutes). He never had a Funeral for my grandmother when she passed away and she was my everything. I regress, here we are a year later and honestly I am cold and emotionless. Of course I wish him well but I also know that having your parents alive and not interested in you or your life makes me long for them to be gone so I no longer feel abandoned each time I think of them. Again, not really an update at all.