Deciphering the truth in a culture of false.

Pistol Packing Mamas Unite

I keep looking down at a scratch I have on my palm because it reminds me of my friend’s deep funky scar she has in the same place.  Well her’s is almost a scar, a barely closed wound really; still healing from trying to block the knife that stabbed her.

Let me just say that if you have any best friends that you have not gotten in touch with in a while, I highly recommend just calling and saying hello because the chances that they may need you are great.

What I thought was going to be a lovely Sunday evening reuniting with one of my old friends turned out to be a very rude awakening for me.  This friend is one that I consider one of the best and one I know I’ll always be friends with no matter how few and far between our visits are.  You meet few people in your life that hold this ranking, but you know them when you meet them.  They’re like your friend soul mate.  It was lovely, don’t get me wrong.  It felt very good to make the face to face connection again, but what she told me I had missed over the year completely rocked my world.

As things often go, my friend and I don’t get much contact anymore in that we’ve moved on to different cities and started families, etc. etc. So it’s not unusual when one of us goes MIA for a while.  We just get busy and after a while get together on Facebook or email and catch up.  Add the fact that most of my family and old friends live in Houston which is a place I rarely visit anymore and well, you tend to miss some things.

If you must know why I don’t like Houston, being that I was born and raised there, I don’t like it because well, Houston is getting to be a dangerous shit hole. Not to put too fine a point on it.  I don’t mean the whole place is a cesspool of crime by anymeans, because that’s just not acurate.  There are some fantasic parts of Houston that everyone wants to be in.  Austin has it’s share of daily tragedy too.  Every big city has them, but let’s just say Houston is very big and has a lot of room for crazies.  I used to feel so safe when growing up there.  Now?  Not so much. Hey, check the history books.  Even Sam thought it was a shit hole.

Okay, obviously I didn’t always feel this way about my home town and obviously I’m completely spoiled living where I live now, in typically safe west Austin.  While I’m in danger of being accused of being a snob for feeling this way, I really can’t help but make the connection between Houston’s crime rate and the ever increasing tragedy that is recently plagued my friends and family as of late.  I could go on and on about the horrible things that have happened of late in and around Houston, mostly because of drugs, but not necessarily.  Things that you would maybe expect in New York or LA, not the subs of H-town.  I actually saw my grandparents’ house featured on the reality show The First 48, which is a reality show about gathering as much information about a murder in the first 48 hours of an investigation. The 20-something year old that lived across the street had her head nearly completey severed by an angry ex-boyfriend.  Seriously, people, just as a conscientious observer looking in from the outside, I can tell it is not the town I used to know.

To put it in perspective for you, I got my first real job in the Woodlands and spent many a late college night on the backstage security staff of the Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion. Me, 115 lbs. me…on security detail.  That’s about how much people were afraid of getting jacked in the Woodlands.  At that time, my worst and only fear of living in Houston was that I had to drive on I-45 every day.

But a decade (or so) later, just the other day a woman was shot to death in the Woodlands just taking her baby to the pediatrician. Probably where my mom used to take me.  Some crazy person decided (with the help of another crazy person no less) that they wanted a baby and that all they would have to do is take it.  So they stalked the woman, and when the timing was right the person grabbed the nine day old right out of his mother’s arms.  Of course the mother fought like hell so the crazy lady shot her dead and drove off with the baby.  Hours later the criminals were caught and the baby was rescued thank God.  They really had no plan other than taking it and going home.  How on earth did they think they would get away with that?  What are the chances of having two crazy people taking so much uncalculated risk?  Is the desperation per person in Houston higher?   Maybe, but my best guess is that the environment of crime and the prevalence of it being so high in such a large population, aids psychos in thinking: Hey, what the hell.

When I go everything kind of looks familiar, but there’s just something that’s not quite right.  Kind of like nephews and nieces you haven’t seen in a while.  The last picture you had of them they were so cute wearing their little soccer uniforms and the next thing you know they’re all hairy and joining the military.  The change is unnerving to say the least.  But to those who have grown up there and plan on staying there, I swear it’s like they hardly even notice anything but the traffic.

I guess it’s one thing to have a home where you feel safe and quite another to be a visitor having to stay in a hotel somewhere off I-45 where the pimps keep their BMW’s running out front, no matter how long they plan on staying.  The fact that I’m also a writer which makes me a little paranoid and reclusive by nature doesn’t help my uneasiness.

I know my friends and family don’t feel the same way because they’re used to it.  Of course it seems like a harsher more superficial perspective I have as a “visitor,” but as someone who did live there most of my life, to me, it seems like the old friendly Texan environment is gone and I just don’t think it’s worth it to ever go back. Usually, like Stevie Nicks I keep my visions to myself because I know I’d hurt their feelings by dogging our hometown.  When I bring up moving away from Houston they just sigh and tell me they’re husbands will never move, they share custody with an ex-spouse who will never move, they’ve got a good job in this economy, what have you.  Then I sigh and think: well, if they’re used to it then that’s good, because most of them are never going to have a choice.  They have put down roots.  I respect that so I back off.  There is usually no more to say, but the events that have recently come to light regarding my loved ones and my home town have made me rethink everything.

I don’t know why it’s worse there than in other towns, but the crime is bound to touch you in one way or another if you live there.  It’s touching me lately, and I don’t even live there.  The thing is, it’s not the town.  It’s the people and the times we live in.  As much as I want to blame Houston, that really doesn’t help.

First of all, Houston being Houston is not the reason violence happens to good people.  There is tragedy and crazy people everywhere, but that’s exactly why I am specifically saying this to women no matter where you are no matter what your situation.

Imagine you and your best friend and why you are best friends.  It’s probably because you tend to have very similar goals in your lives, similar personalities, maybe even the same strengths and weaknesses, that including men.  I know my best friends tend to be pleasers like me.  We have trouble saying no to people we love and have even more trouble dealing with the guilt on the rare occasion that we do.  Now imagine you two going through similar situations; getting married and each having a child.  You both have beautiful little girls that look just like you.  Now imagine one of you having marital problems.  That’s not too hard to imagine; everybody has those.  Now it gets a little tricky.  What if those marital problems were caused by him having a mental health problem like bi-polar disorder?  That’s common enough, could still be you.  What if those health problems were exacerbated by drug abuse?  Why not? We’re close enough to that around here with our beer and coffee habits.   I can see that happening to me.  So far, maybe you are exactly in the same boat.  But one day, something sets you apart without you ever knowing it’s even happened.

At a certain point the anguish becomes too much and plans have to be made to get out of the marriage without setting off any mental explosions.  This would have to be done quietly and without the knowledge or help of any friends.  As fate would have it, the husband who has mental health and then drug problems goes to jail for a while, making an easier exit for the wife possible.  A divorce is finalized and a bit of relief begins to set in.  There’s a hitch though.  The “changed man” who never has been physically violent wants to see his daughter; supervised of course.  This still kind of sounds like a pretty typical divorce these days, does it not?  After a while of witnessing truly rehabilitated behavior the wife is ready to let her guard down just a little, for the sake of being civil and for the sake of the child’s relationship with her father.  For the sake of gas mileage, I can honestly say, I’d had let the father of my child know my address.  Especially if I truly thought he was not a violent person and no longer on drugs.

So which one of you would you choose the next set events happen to?  The father comes to help the mother paint their four year old daughter’s room.  Together they paint it a beautiful shade of violet.  Then they clean up putting the little girl to bed, exhausted from an exciting day with mommy and daddy again for the first time in a long time.  Happily ever after is just a beer clink away.  She kneels down to pick up something off the floor when she feels the cold of a knife to her throat.  Only when she hears the vicious words hissing out of his mouth that he’s there to kill her does she recognize that it actually is a knife.  She fights for her life waking everyone in the house and nearby neighbors with her blood curdling screams.  Her four year old little girl comes running in and watches in horror as her father stabs her mother five times aiming for all her major organs.    As a student of anatomy there is no question he knows what he is trying to hit.  Somehow although now starting to black out, she is able to fight her way to the handgun he had no idea she had and she shoots him… and kills him.

My friend says all she could think about was not passing out and getting to that gun because she knew he would kill her daughter too if she failed.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I can no longer identify at this point and my guess is neither can you.  The words are going in, but no comprende’, you know what I’m saying?  The absolute truth of it all is that there is no reason that it couldn’t have been me or you.   Hell, she and I met because of our involvement with a crazy guy we once dated and between the two of us, we didn’t really date all that much.  It could have been me in that situation and I hate to say it, but I don’t think I would be able to get to my gun.  Then I realized I would have been a victim of my own Pseudos.  I heard them when I bought the gun that I really would have to own the fact that I would have to kill someone if ever I had to use it.  I believed them that it was absolutely the way it was going to be, but I never understood or felt the gravity of that until now.

Social psychologists say that upon hearing about a tragedy in general we try like crazy to see/find out who it happened to so that we can identify with the victim in some way.  (This is their explanation for rubber necking.) Then shortly after that, the second thing we want to find out is what exactly happened and every little detail about how because we want to rule out any chances that the scenario could ever happen to us.  In essence, we then desperately try to UN-identify with the situation.  Basically it’s nature’s way of calming us down when we are not in any immediate danger. But I tell you, I’m having a hell of a time “un-identifying” with this one.  I don’t see how any of us can.  I don’t see how any woman can hear this story and not want to get a gun and learn to use it.  If you can, let me just add one more thing. While my friend was lying there bleeding to death on the floor having just shot her husband, and desperate just to let someone, anyone, know that she had life insurance in case she didn’t make it, 911 put her on hold.  That alone is evidence enough to know you can’t count on anyone to come save you.  I don’t know which is more disturbing.  That Houston’s 911 can put you on hold in a situation like that or that they are so busy with crisis in that city that they have to put you on hold in the first place.

If you happen to be like my friends and family and have deep roots in a shitty town, I wish for you to be aware that just because you’re “used to it” doesn’t mean you are prepared for it.  While many get used to being unprepared and will never be comfortable defending themselves because of how they were raised, I mean no disrespect.  You are not a weak person by choosing not to own a gun.  I’m mainly talking to the ladies out there who go the lengths of getting a gun, but never touch it as the thought of ever having to use it seems too intimidating to fathom.   I’m guilty of this and I admit it.

We convince ourselves we’ll never have to use it.  We have it “just in case” but we never want to think about “the case” in which we would have to kill someone.  We walk around as mothers thinking we can do anything if we put our minds to it, but because most of us refuse to think like men, we become victims of them more often than we have to.

Now I’m going to get in all kinds of trouble for saying that, but my point is that men are wired in ways that we don’t want to comprehend.  They think of scenarios women may think are extremely violent or vulgar, but in their minds are just simply scenarios…possibilities.  None the less, we can’t think like them and seriously, we shouldn’t want to.  Maybe that is why we tend to put an emotional price tag on everything we think of because that’s how we get hurt the most.  Physical pain isn’t something we are all that afraid of or foreign to, but something we don’t seek out either.   Subjects like guns and how we’re going to blow someone away just aren’t something we typically fantasize about.  But this I’m sorry to say, puts us at a disadvantage in an ever increasingly violent environment.  What can we do but take certain precautions?

The fact is it’s not usually the strangers from the bad environment you have to be worried about.  It’s the people you surrounded yourself with voluntarily and care about who inadvertently are influenced by the bad environment and end up hurting you.  After what I heard last night about my girlfriend’s survival story, I can assure you, now is the time to get paranoid.

Ann Coulter said recently that everyone should get a gun.  I’m going to second that motion, but I also want to add that if you happen to be a woman, you should especially get a gun and learn how to use it well.  Ninja training is a little difficult, but if you want to do that, I think that might be the only viable alternative.  If a man is out to murder his wife, the cards are stacked heavily in his favor.  If you take away the fear of getting caught and going to jail, as in a murder suicide situation- the likelihood of a man being able to carry out his wishes is fairly easy.  Add an environment where there are about 290 murders/homicides a year happened and you’ve got a reason to get a gun and know how to use it well. Out of those I found there were at least 20 murder suicides and attempts in the area.  You know how many there were in NY City NY? Try six.  Crime on the decline? Ha!  I think maybe 10 less people were murdered last year than the year before.  Congratulations.  You did better than Afghanistan.

I’m about to get in trouble again but I’m pretty sure this is true. We women are forever suckers when it comes to the father of our children and they know this, deep.  There is just something inside them that knows that if they are really patient and concentrate on how, they can make us believe anything.    We want the happily ever after no matter what we have to go through to get it.  The phrase “I’m a changed man” should be a red light to every woman, because we all know “deep” that it’s impossible, but we ignore it anyway.  We love so deep and become so dependent on our spouse when we have a family even if that dependence is a hindrance to our health.  My point is we never know who will hurt us the most or how far someone will go to hurt us until many times it’s beyond our control.  And when this person happens to be a man, and maybe even a man who knows your particular weaknesses, what are you prepared to do to save yourself and possibly your children as well?  How many scenarios have you gone over in your head about just what you would have to do if you needed to escape a male attacker?  Have you ever thought of what you would do if the attacker was your husband?  I know I for one, I don’t want to think about that.  Honestly, with a gun I don’t have to give it much thought.

If I am trained well enough with my gun, I know where it is and I know I can get to it in an emergency, I don’t think about who I’ll have to shoot or why.  I just know I can and that I will if someone comes after my babies.  I am no longer an ultra-vulnerable, uber-trusting wife.  I am now a force to be reckoned with and I have no qualms about reminding my husband of that every chance I get.  Not that I think he’d ever do anything to harm me, but it serves like a reminder of the fact that I can take care of myself if he’s not around; either physically or mentally… if you know what I mean.   Look, it’s not any different than leaving out the tampon box in the bathroom around your period.  It’s just a subtle reminder to the man that he needs to leave you the hell alone.

I can only say this.  My friend and her daughter are alive today because she had a handgun and she used it…well.  After all the time she spent planning and lengths she went to in order to just stay away from the danger, the one moment she let her guard down  was the one moment evil took advantage of.   She was able to save herself with nothing but shear will power and that gun.  At some point she felt her husband or an intruder would be more of a danger to have around than a gun and for that correct decision she is still alive today to watch sailboats, talk about the Cure and drink red wine with me.  My friend isn’t any different from us, well, other than the fact that she is an absolute hero.

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