I thought my queue at the online public library was empty but then yesterday I got the email telling me The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls had been added to my Kindle. Imagine my delight!!!
I am only 25% through but absolutely enjoying this tale of a nomad family with two very eccentric and dysfunctional parents. I don’t think the intent was to be funny but already I have read some laugh out loud moments that make me want to know this family personally. The story gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow, touches on the American dream and familial bonds that are as deep as the ocean. One can’t help but root for these underdogs.
Pony and Wise have been married for five years today! We wish them continued happiness and togetherness through thick and thin with whatever life may throw at them. Yeah and that sounds really romantic doesn’t it?!??! Truth that life will do just that; throw curve balls. And fielding those curve balls is all part of the romance I guess.
Without further ado, here’s a little ditty about Pony and Wise, two adorable kids doing the best that they can … (paraphrasing John Cougar’s lyrics).
They met at work. Not sure who asked who out first but they started dating. Somewhere along the way, he started sneaking her into our house at night after we’d gone to sleep. My parents, his Grandpa and Gran would be rolling over in their graves but yeppers, that’s what went down. We did eventually figure it out and in true form, Billy and I automatically accept with unconditional LOVE our first born’s soul mate.
They decided to get married; started planning, scoping venues, etc… and then uh oh, Pony lost his job. While it was a crappy retail job, with crappy hours, losing it still changed everything. The brakes went on and plans changed. Wise left her job first. She said she wouldn’t stay at a place after they did what they did to Pony. Now what they did is a story (not mine to tell, so moving along). Finding another gig was always their long term plan anyway.
They moved out of our place and were staying with Wise’s fabulous mom. Pony was still looking for work and in short time, he followed Wise. They became co-workers again. Little different this time; they now both had good jobs with benefits at the same company but different department.
Hmmm. Does any part of this sound familiar?? My getting a good job with benefits was sort of what helped Billy Bob and I decide to get hitched. Anyway, fast forward to almost a year to the day from the originally planned wedding date and Billy Bob gets a call that goes something like this …
Pony: “Hey, uh, the wedding is back on”
Billy Bob: “That’s good, we figured as much”
Pony: “Yes, Monday at Wise’s dad’s house in New Braunfels”
Billy Bob: “What?!?? Are you serious? Why the hurry?”
Pony: “No reason. We just got to talking. Realized we’d be celebrating our one year anniversary if I had not lost my job. So here is the address, if you want to see us get married, then be there by 7pm”
Shocked but not really shocked if you know what I mean. And of course we’d be there. A regular day otherwise, work for us, school for Lulu. That evening … go to a wedding. At least we’d get to be there. They could have eloped. Talk about your stress free wedding. And talk about keeping costs to a minimum. Their continued wedded bliss is proof that a big elaborate affair does not guarantee long lasting love.
The witnesses were their sisters and that in and of itself is VERY special. The minister was a hoot. She was also the photographer which may explain why we never got anything more than proofs hacked off her website when she failed to come through with the actual photos. MoMo had her 35mm and we had our camera too.
I must admit, a small piece of me wanted to be the mother of the groom at a fancy shindig and dance a mother son dance. But oh well, I am not the sun and this was never about me anyway. And now we have this unique story to tell and if there is anything you have figured about me yet readers is that I love to tell a good story. And their story … why their story is one for the memory books.
Here are some pictures by which to remember the occasion.
I’m off the weight watcher wagon, dragging Billy Bob down with me. Ha! In the spirit of YOLO and why the hell not, we were very very bad! Bad as in good! Footlong chili cheese coney combos from Dairy Queen. With a large onion ring to share. Added mini blizzards since only $1 with the combos.
I said I wouldn’t feel guilty as this is not an everyday thing. But I guess I kinda do… feel guilty that is. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.
The day is here! So here are a few rules/tips to get the most out of the Meet & Greet this Halloween week:
Leave a comment with your favorite Halloween memory you have, of either your childhood, or your own kids? Any fun traditions or costumes?
Leave a link to your blog, or a specific post. Write a little something explaining what your blog tends to be about.
If you have a link of someone else’s blog or post, feel free to share that in the comment as well.
And share this post! Re-blog, tweet, pin, whatever you feel like doing! The more visitors there are, the more participation there will be, and the more exposure there is to all of these great bloggers.
And last, but not least, check out these great posts from fellow bloggers!
Our little orange twig snap reminded me of this photo. Taken several years back and appropriately named “Blue Bonnets Grow Through Asphalt”, here’s another picture worth a 1000 words. I hope you enjoy.
The thesaurus may not agree with me, but I’m 99% sure that “Halloween” and “Edgar Allen Poe” are synonymous. After all, the best time to read the Tell Tale Heart is obviously in chilly October, and the Raven is always spookiest when leaves are coming down. So it only made sense to go Poe in my pumpkin […]
WARNING: Graphic images are contained in this blog.
“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, we’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside.”
Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Oh but HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a story about a random act of violence perpetrated on my family during the afternoon of October 30, 2006. The story has been re-told multiple times but has never been written down before now. Just like the telephone game you may have played as kids, this story was whispered down the line. What came out at the end was completely different from the story told to the first person. The changes were not intentional, just how the human mind works.
This writing seeks to set the record straight and perhaps provide a cathartic release for those who experienced that awful day and weeks that followed. In the end, triumph over the bad, an experience though gruesome was as it should be. Thank goodness for hindsight and life lessons. So … Are you ready? You have now crossed into the twilight zone.
The day was like any other … A Monday yay! Work for me and Billy Bob. School for Pony Boy and Lulu. The day before Big B Squared had gotten a new cell phone with a new number. He didn’t have the patience to set everything up so the phone was left on the kitchen counter where to this day, he leaves his phone for charging. Pony Boy was glad for the upgrade because he inherited his dad’s old phone and number that went along with it. You’ll see why this tidbit matters later.
I took Lulu to school as usual – 2nd grader at Sinclair Elementary. Her cousins were there too. HB in 2nd grade, different home room and GB in 1st grade. They were excited that the next day would be Halloween. Pony Boy was taking classes at SAC – his first semester in college – that we forced him into. You can lead a horse to water but … that is a story for another day.
I loved my job! At the time I was a frontline employee; real-time Underwriter and we had an awesome team – people who to this day I still have in my life either in person or virtually. We had a standing unit meeting every Monday. On that fateful day, when I got back to my desk after our meeting, I saw the red light on my phone, signaling voice mail. Thinking nothing of it, I listened to the messages. Remembering them now gives me chills. With increasing volume, they went something like this …
Pony: “Hey, mom, call me” (my thought bubble, he is skipping school!)
Next message – Pony: “So mom, I guess you’re on the phone, call me when you hang up though, okay?”
Next message – Pony: “Mom not sure why you are not checking voicemail, CALL ME BACK PLEASE!”
Final message – Pony: “Mom, forget the call, come home NOW! When you hear this message, just come HOME!”
Of course, I called him immediately, I didn’t just go home. I was pissed and had an attitude. When he answers and before he can speak I ask “why aren’t you in school?” Then he proceeds to tell me the horrible story. Our house was broken into. He got the call because PoPo was trying to call dad but Pony had dad’s phone. He left class and now he cannot un-see, what he has seen. He gives me gruesome, horrible details. I tell him “it’s not even funny, what you’ve said! STOP joking!!” He says “I wish I was joking mom but I am NOT! You need to come home”
My boss was in a follow-on meeting so I told my senior and very dear friend that I had to leave right away; that’d our house was broken into.
I was fairly calm, yet still in shock as I made my way across town. Nothing could have prepared me for the feelings I got when I saw the scene playing out in my backyard and driveway. Of course, no one can reach Billy Bob, his phone was left at home and the new number had not been given out yet anyway.
The deputy tells me what happened and PoPo repeats a similar version of events as well. Weeks pass before all of it was pieced together. I won’t delay though, I’ll give you the entire sordid story now.
Sad Guy #1, out on parole, took a job driving materials from San Antonio to Austin. His employer Good Guy #1, let Sad Guy have the truck over the weekend so that he could get an early start to Austin that Monday and maybe make two or even three trips that day. Unfortunately (yes that word has to be in here somewhere), Unfortunately Sad Guy made some poor choices over the weekend and went on a bender extraordinaire. He and his buddy Sad Guy #2 and two shall we say “ladies of the evening”, holed up in a motel room, tweaking and whatever the hell else drug addicts do.
Sad Guy #1 is a no-show for work on Monday and Good Guy#1, being the good guy that he is, doesn’t call it in … you see that would have put Sad Guy back in jail for parole violation. Good Guy #1 just wanted Sad Guy to have a chance at a new life, he believed in the goodness of humanity BUT, he did want his truck back. His truck had GPS so the boss self-tracked his rig … he almost caught up to the merry band but he was always just a little too late. He had been tracking the would-be marauders for the better part of the day.
As the employer is hunting for his truck, the foursome are aimlessly driving around … high on a toxic mix. In the driver’s paranoid state, he passes our finest China Grove (CG) police … who pursues the group. The driver tries to make a run for it … but his buddy is having none of it … he jumps from the moving vehicle AND another unfortunate event – CG police stops his car and chases after the guy who ran off on foot. Broke police protocol I am told … he should have continued pursuit of the vehicle. If he had done this, there was a chance to avoid what happened next BUT that was not as it should be. At least CG police radioed for back-up and Bexar County Sheriff’s department got into the chase.
Did I mention it was a day like any other day? Well it was … and PoPo was feeding his birds as he did every day (and still does). While sitting on his back porch relaxing, he notices two women (okay crack whores, they were crack whores) walking up the path that connects our properties. He is surprised, this is a private road, no through traffic. He asks if he can help them and they tell him they are looking for New Berlin. He says “well you’re a long damn way from New Berlin … do you need a phone?” And that is when they hear it. A shot-gun blast. One of the women says, “I cannot believe he did it but he said we was going to do it. I guess he blew his brains out”. MoMo screams “What??!!? That’s my son’s house!!” PoPo tells MoMo to “CALL 911!” The women try to leave but he tells, them “NO, you’re staying with me”.
911 figured out Bexar County was already in pursuit knowing CG Police radioed them for back-up. The dispatcher told MoMo, someone was already on the way. PoPo and the women walked over to our house.
While trying to outrun CG Police, the remaining trio barreled down our road thinking they could cut through to Foster Road. When they realized a dead-end, they tried to turn around and go back out the road they had just come down but instead they spun out, lost control and hit our back porch. Sad Guy #1, jumped from the truck and said he was going to end it all. He broke through our kitchen window and climbed in our house. The women went on their walk to the in-laws where they were intercepted by PoPo. Sad Guy #1 went crazy inside the house, roaming from room to room. Blood gushing from the cuts he received while smashing in the kitchen window.
Best we can tell, he went to the family room first and then he turned back to the kitchen. Good thing too because in the corner of the family room was the arsenal (had he noticed, police/sheriffs might be dead). We’re a family that hunts (or we used to be) and the high-powered rifle in the corner … gives me shivers to think what might have happened. He went through the kitchen to an empty dining room, spraying blood everywhere as he went down the hall to Pony’s room and was digging in Pony’s closet, looking for a gun. Nothing there.
He went to Lulu’s room. If this picture of her room that follows does not chill you to the bone, you are steel. Her room had the least amount of damage. Best guess is that even in his state of mind, the purple, stuffed animals and girly décor made him realize there’d be no gun there. He closed her door (can be shown by later analysis of the blood spatter).
Sad Guy moves across the living room, ruining our couch and my grandma’s chair. In our bedroom, he found the ‘rat’ gun – used for snakes and that season we had several snakes so it was easier to keep the gun out. He shot into the ceiling for what reason we will never know. It was likely that he sees himself in our bathroom mirror and thinking it was another person, he shoots into the linen closet right next to the mirror.
The Sheriff Deputies are outside and they think he has a hostage – he was crazed, drug fueled and making all kind of noises, the varying pitch of his voice making it seem like more than one person was inside. They had to take precautions just in case. By this time PoPo and the women are there and they tell the deputies, no one was home … and no one else was in the rig … it was then that the deputies decided to use a battering ram to knock down our back doorand go in to stop him.
Sad Guy surrendered peacefully enough but they made him climb out the window he broke to get in. He voluntarily disclosed his Hepatitis C status. Extra care was taken going forward with the crime scene. The truck owner showed up. The rig was not driveable so it was towed away. Pony shows up – he got a call from PoPo thinking he was calling Billy Bob. Pony was told to just stay at school but he didn’t listen. He was not there for all of it thankfully but he did see the culprit, sitting in handcuffs on our back porch. And other awful things which remain in his memory.
By the time I showed up, the perpetrator was gone –hauled off to jail on his 3rd strike. The two women were still there giving their statements to help create the timeline. After that, they simply walked away; leaving their drug paraphernalia in the yard. I personally think they should have been arrested too but what do I know? Don’t get me started on our judicial system, the inequities in treatment are in abundance. The guy who fled on foot was never found.
Billy Bob meanwhile, is driving home like normal after a day’s work. He sees the scene from Highway 87. Our house … all the cop cars. I cannot even imagine what went through his mind … coming upon that scene. At least I had a warning.
He told me later he was almost sick but his mind would not go there. This could be fixed … to him … always … hard work fixes anything. Ever so slowly he drove up the driveway as he imagined the worst and then feeling relief to see us standing there.
Not too long after Billy Bob arrived, his buddy from high school showed up. Lifelong friend who just happened to be a deputy. He had heard the name over the radio; not his case but he came to see if he could help. And it did; his being there helped immensely. In the chaos that ensued, PoPo had called co-workers of Billy Bob’s trying to find him. Those co-workers, they came over to the house too. Friends who to this day we can count on for anything. As I think back, everyone … especially law enforcement (even CG PD) did an exemplary job that day. Though harm was done, it could’ve been worse. For being able to believe this, I have to thank you daddy!
Next we called crime scene clean-up … check the yellow pages … there is such a thing y’all. They would be there the next day. House was boarded up and we went to the in-laws … well after going to Target to get the bare essentials such as clothes to wear the next few days. Lulu was kept from it all until years later. At the time, she only knew that we had to stay at her grandparents. MoMo had picked her up from school and brought her to their house … Lulu didn’t understand why she could not go home to get her costume for Halloween.
We tried to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible. Kids went back to school the next day. They stayed with Aunty B and went trick or treating as if nothing had changed. Billy Bob and I both called out of work … for however long I can’t remember … maybe just that week though we’d be displaced for months. How unfortunate … We lost almost everything!!!!
Insurance covered it all though (silver lining) … considered vandalism and malicious mischief … not likely the adjuster had dealt with something just like this before … well she said as much … didn’t even want to come to the house until 3 days later when faced with no other choice. She had to wear booties and a mask, we all did as a precaution. Though I let Billy Bob take the lead. I mostly stayed away except for the mountain of paperwork.
We had two adjusters, one for dwelling and the other for contents. The dwelling was a much smoother process despite the hesitance of the adjuster to come see everything up close and personal. Estimates, transferred payments and work commencing … right away. Anything porous (fabric sectional, Grandma’s chair, cloth recliner, carpets, pulled up and out, window treatments taken down, clothes … those sorts of things) were treated as medical waste… cut up into little pieces and put into boxes for very specific disposal before being carted away … 12 trailers full. There is a special kind of cleaner that they use on surgical floors and that was used to clean the non-porous surfaces.
The contents part was a nightmare and I believe they have changed the way they now handle these things. As if we had not already been through the wringer, we were subjected to nitpicky questions as we inventoried our belongings. I understand why POO – proof of ownership is needed and I did that quickly, not too bad really, the checklist was nice. But this was a total loss. If at all possible, the items that could be repaired were salvaged. We did not try to get more than what we lost. I get tense when I remember how the inside adjuster questioned everything. Why do you need a coffee pot? Well, let’s see, ours was ruined when a crazy meth head / crack addict broke through our kitchen window. And dishes, weren’t the dishes in cabinets and therefore spared? Well, not the ones from breakfast that we left in the sink because we were in a hurry that morning. We were not asking her to replace a service for twelve. We just wanted damn cereal bowls and spoons, two coffee cups, plates. The 10” skillet used that morning for the fried eggs.
This was a lifetime of ‘things’. I scoured the internet, checking prices and filled out spreadsheets, faxed documents that would sit and sit until I’d call and ask for a status then miraculously, the fax just came in … We didn’t even claim everything, it was too much to remember, too overwhelming. Then we’d be told, we used up our shoe allowance and you cannot interchange shoes for shirts or shirts for pants or belts for purses … WTH, they are all apparel & accessories … I thought I was going insane.
I still regret the choices of replacement furniture, paint color and flooring. We were forced to make quick decisions that were not the best ones. They were the hurry up choices so we can get you back into your house decisions and for me; I am a thinker, a plotter and this was not supposed to be happening. I needed MORE time. To this day, for this reason, I HATE to shop. Not even hate is a strong enough word. Loathe … I loathe to shop. Hate and loathe are synonyms but loathe sounds so much more … well so much more descriptive! We went minimalist after this because nothing matters, not really … so screw it! Do I like nice things? Sure, who doesn’t? But are they worth the trouble, the cost, the head ache? Not any longer, at least not to me …
Instead of using our loss of use coverage for a hotel room or motel/kitchenette, we stayed on the property in a travel trailer and showered at the in-laws. That way getting Lulu to school and everything else that needed to be done was that much easier. We were not too far from the norm. Billy Bob was also able to supervise the restoration. We were displaced until December 22, 2006. That year, we still hosted the annual Christmas Day dinner. It would be daddy’s last. We were bound and determined to show that in spite of what happened, we had survived.
I use the word survive loosely. PTSD is real. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Despite outward appearances, some ghosts linger. They whisper but never quite make it to the forefront. Oh who am I kidding?!?, some days the ghosts come out full board. People would ask if we were afraid he’d come back? Well no because Sad Guy was back in jail; the nice deputies made sure we knew how that part turned out. We’d even get an occasional, how are you holding up? phone call. Also, lightening doesn’t strike twice right?!?! What are the odds of this happening in the first place, let alone happening again? ZERO.
Some may wonder, what the hell Jill? Why are you telling us this? Part of me is not quite sure why but here are some potential motives. I write this not to excuse behavior but to explain behavior. I am fascinated by the psychology of it all. I write this not for sympathy but for empathy and understanding. We need MORE empathy and understand in this world. I write this to say thank you to everyone that helped us through this unfortunate life altering event. I can’t remember if I ever did … give a proper thank you. Time was a blur so now better late than never – THANK YOU! I write this to SHOUT from the mountain tops that there is always HOPE and MORE good than bad in life. I write this because I am a blogger now with a forum to get THIS whatever THIS is off my chest. I didn’t have this outlet 10 years ago.
I’ve been told my attitude is unbelievable. “Jill how can you be so positive?” And my answer has always been, “what else can I be?” This is not MY choice, this is my mind using self-preservation. After the initial, “we are moving and I will never live in that house again!!!!!”, I moved on toward acceptance. I hold no ill will to Sad Guy. I thank God that I do not have to live his life.
I do stop short of saying I would do it all over again. I wouldn’t. In our alternate universe, where this never happened, other bad things did not happen either and it is a “Leave It To Beaver” episode. Yet, I am thankful for the experience. Yes, you read that correctly. I am thankful! This was a life lesson my family needed to learn. We now know what we are made of; we know what we can withstand. Material things have lost their allure. For me, well my head is on straight and my priorities have been altered in the best way possible.
Thankful or not, there are times I think that all of THIS could have been avoided IF Good Guy Employer called the cops to report his rig stolen, IF Good Guy got there before what happened to us happened, or IF CG Police had not broken pursuit. Et cetera … That’s a lot of what-ifs! Ultimately, that is not how things should be, so that is not what happened. IF any of those other things had happened, maybe just maybe the outcome could have been EVEN worse. My realistic friend K G told me “just think about it this way Jill … if he had not hit your house, maybe as he was trying to out run the police, he would have crashed on the highway into a school bus full of children”Delusional thinking … I think not. This unfortunate event NEEDED to happen to us to avoid something worse happening to someone else – simple fact. When a butterfly flaps its’ wings … a tsunami blows across another continent.
Now at almost 4000 words, six plus pages long, I think I have covered it all. Happy 10th anniversary of this most unfortunate event and Happy Halloween Eve to everyone. J-Dub’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events is FIN. Not the blogging … that I will continue until … well until I am dead. My superstitious nature thinks I may ward off ALL future unfortunate events by getting this out on virtual paper but nope, I know better. I am not sure what it is like for any of you who may have made it down the rabbit hole to the end of this macabre tale but for me this is such a long overdue release. Akin to FREE therapy.
I hate to shop … didn’t always feel that way … tomorrow I’ll spill all my reasons for why I HATE to shop… they are good reasons too. But for now, I must figure out a plan B.
I wait until my wardrobe is starting to fray, fade, split and otherwise fall apart. I dread schlepping from store to store and trying things on. However, today I thought why not?!?! I REALLY didn’t want to organize my office. The lesser of two evils was shopping so I start out on my trek. The choices were simply ridiculous … too many for starters. But I managed to find two pair of shoes and two pair of pants for just under $100 total. I will NOT pay full retail price for anything. Sale only, wash and wear or I won’t even try it on. Dry clean is not for me. You see I learned from the best since my mom was a garage sale shopper.
Born in 1932, during the Great Depression, the youngest of six children who lived on a rural farm in Runge Texas, she didn’t have much growing up. Her mother made all their clothes and took in work sewing and ironing to help make ends meet. Rarely was anything purchased new. The family was the epitome of waste not want not. Traits she carried into our family and demonstrated every day. Daddy too, very much an example of frugality.
I have a funny frugal memory of standing in line at Shopper’s World to get Shasta soda. The price was 10 for a dollar but there was a limit of 10. That meant everyone in the family joined in. All five or six of us; standing across three check-out lanes; each with our $1 ready to go. I thought I was so special and grown up to be able to pay for my own. I remember selecting all of mine to be the cream soda flavor simply because I liked the color of the can. My parent’s couldn’t pass up the bargain plus we’d be stocked up for our camping trips. I also remember wanting an astro-pop but being told no, you don’t need any candy and it’s too expensive.
Oops, I forgot to warn you I was veering off the path. Anyway out of the rabbit hole and back to this regularly scheduled program.
When I was growing up, I wore uniforms to school. I’d wear the same non-uniform outfit after school everyday for a week. I would get a box of hand-me-downs from my cousins in Galveston twice a year or so. That was a bonanza to me, just like shopping and I LOVED opening up that big ole box. Surprise, last year’s fashion and all for FREE. My Grandmother would make me a new dress for my birthday.
Because of this, there was not a lot of retail therapy in my life. Mom would hit up garage sales and she always found some gems. I was in 6th or 7th grade before I remember shopping in a retail store with her. And that is more than okay; I didn’t need a lot. I still don’t. I’m too busy collecting memories. Some days I wish there was a fairy godmother though who could shop for me … then I could spend even more time rambling. Alas, I’m not springing for a personal shopper. That would have my parents spinning in their graves.
And what does this have to do with anything??!? De nada, just musings and rambling on this absolutely beautiful Saturday.