For Six

Thinking of you and, of course, Lu.

Address To The Moon

How sweet the silver Moon’s pale ray,
Falls trembling on the distant bay,
O’er which the breezes sigh no more,
Nor billows lash the sounding shore.
Say, do the eyes of those I love,
Behold thee as thou soar’st above,
Lonely, majestic and serene,
The calm and placid evening’s Queen?
Say, if upon thy peaceful breast,
Departed spirits find their rest,
For who would wish a fairer home,
Than in that bright, refulgent dome?

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Conversation With M

M- Hey mom, I am filling out my sports physical info for volleyball and they want to know if I get a concussion is there a time when you do not want to be contacted? Cuz, you know if your kid gets a head injury you might not want to be disturbed between say 3-6pm.

Me- Actually, I’d prefer not to be contacted at all. There has to be an alternative number they can call.

M- Social Services?

M- Ok, what is your relationship to the student?

Me- Mine?

M- Yes, yours.

Me- Well, lets go with mo…

M- Abusive?

Me- Just thinking here. In order to keep me out of prison, perhaps it would be better if I filled out the form.

M- Perhaps.

My Story

Recently, I received an email from a gentleman who started following my blog after I wrote the Open Letter. He was wondering if I could write my story in one post. He pointed out that in order to follow what happened to me one has to read every post because I never wrote the story in a single post.

I actually get a lot of requests to do this. Every time someone ask me to do it, I think about it. The people always make a compelling argument. Most have read the blog and want to share my experiences with a loved one, but it’s hard for them to get a spouse, a girlfriend, a coworker to read the entire blog. It would be helpful if I could write my story concisely. Each time I explain why I have not done so, I am met with kindness and understanding. The response from this man was no exception.

Here is the problem: as crazy and insane as some of my posts are about that day they are true representations of what I was going through. They tell the story. The fear, the uncertainty, the inability to say what happened. Trying to making everything alright, trying to appear alright, wanting to be alright. Burring my feelings. The anger, the loneliness, the craziness I felt after E revealed the truth. The shame, the guilt, the emptiness. How it came out was authentically how I felt. My story is spread out over several posts because that is how I dealt with what happened…in pieces. There are still many details of that day that I have never written about, many I have only spoken about with a few and some I have never spoke about. I write it either as I am able to deal with it or as a way to help me deal with it.

On the rare occasion I have sat down to write the complete ordeal out, I draw a blank. I can’t find the words. Everything I write seems contrived and sensationalized. I don’t know how to tell my story in that way. I just don’t think it is possible for me to do and for that I apologize. My story is found throughout this blog and for now that is how it will have to remain.

Some ask if I could just go through the posts and organize them on the side bar. That does seem like a good alternative, but I am not ready to revisit them. I didn’t mean for this blog to become anything, so I didn’t tag or organize it, honestly I didn’t know what a tag was, but my poor computer skills aside, the point is, for me to find those posts, I would have to read them and I can’t. I have had several online magazines and higher profile blogs ask me to write my story or send a post I have already written about the mugging, but I never have(the one exception was for Aaron). This blog is a journal of my story. Raw, mostly unedited, authentically me. Much of what I have written here is painful and as I have had the ability to move on I have never gone back and reread any post about that day.

The email exchange ended like this…

Of course I understand,

Just know that your story is inspirational and not just to women. I think I prayed for about 20 minutes after reading it the first time. For protection over you and your family and then protection for mine.

God Bless!

He prayed for protection over me…humbled does not even begin to describe what I felt reading those words. How odd that the worst day of my life has brought me so many blessings. I hate that. I hate that so much and yet, I am beyond thankful for it.




I Fell Off The Wagon

Or maybe back on it, not sure.

Some of you might remember that a while ago I had resolved to face my fears of talking on the phone. I publicly declared my intentions to call several bloggers who I had wanted to call, but was to much of a scardy pants to follow through.

Well, after I vowed to make those calls I did  follow through. I called several folks and had a lovely time, but then life got busy and I went back to my old ways of emailing and texting.

But, yesterday I got called on it, twice.

It may surprise you to know I have never spoke with Arete on the phone. I never call him. When I said the phone makes me uncomfortable I meant it. I am very comfortable around him, but I have never wanted to talk to him on the tele. If I want to talk to him I text him. Have I mentioned how much i like to text? But yesterday I said something he felt warranted a call. When he wants me to “hear” him he usually makes me look him in the eyes(not a fan) or he gets close to be sure I am tracking. I guess a phone call was the next best thing. My phone rings and I see Arete…hum, really? Don’t tell him, but for a brief second I thought about not answering.

I do answer.

Me- Uhh, hellll-o?

A- I called because first I want to make you talk on the phone and second…

The second part was personal and unimportant to this post, but I spoke on the phone for 5 minutes maybe. Impressive right?

The next person I spoke with I made the call. During that whole I am gonna call people thing several people sent me their numbers and said, “Hey call me too.” One gentleman in-particular I did want to talk to and I told him I would call, but shamefully I didn’t.

Wednesday night I get an email from him because he is having a problem leaving comments on the new blog and he wanted to know if I could fix it. He ended with, “I thought you were going to call me.”

My heart sank and I felt like a complete slug, so I emailed back and said I was sorry and I promised to call the next day. Yesterday afternoon I dialed the number and had the most delightful conversation with him

I think I am in love. We talked guns, politics, kids, we laughed, and we got all feisty over the state of some people’s attitudes.Unfortunately, there was some sad news. He informed me that he was sick. He suffers from a disease known as CRS.

I was unfamiliar with this particular ailment, so I asked, “Oh my, what is that?”

Can’t Remember Shit, he said.

I am kind of having fun with this!




If This Is Winning

I often find myself in a quandary. I spend most of my time in terms of safety, focused on myself defense with a little focus on a zombie Apocalypse(although super fun to think about) or a real end of the world, the government is collapsing scenarios.

I am so new to this whole prepping thing that I am never sure how much of this talk is just hyperbole and how much is a valid. When I get done reading some people’s opinion I want to completely stop investing or doing anything other than building a compound somewhere and hunkering in, but I always think well if this isn’t the end of America my kids are gonna be pretty mad I spent all our money on stuff to make homemade bombs.

I honestly don’t know how bad things are or how much I should be worried. I have asked a few people that I think know, but I only get vague answers like, “I’d be ready” or “An AR-15 would be a good idea, but yet 2.” or “It’s coming.” Doesn’t help me. I have neither the experience or the education to truly access the situation, so I keep trying to find a balance between planning for a not so good situation and an all hells breaking loose one.

To be honest I am so far behind, I think what is the point. Is an extra bag of rice really gonna matter? One more box of ammo? Not when you only have 50 to begin with.

Most of the time I try to lull myself into believing that while things are not good, not good at all, we are still a few years away from a total world war or even civil one.

Then I get an email from a friend of mine. She and I were friends when we were kids. Actually, our mother’s were friends, so our families spent a lot of time together. A lot. We drifted over the years due to life, but last year her mother found me and we all reconnected. During one of our phone conversations(I called her, people) we discussed guns and all that. She was not against guns, but the entire idea of guns in her home with her kids was way, way, way to much for her to even process. The conversation on the phone made her uncomfortable. We are hundreds of miles a way and just me talking to her about my gun made her squirm. It was apparent in her voice. We never really spoke of it again.

Last month out of the blue, I got a text from her…”What kind of gun do you carry. I am thinking of getting one.” Of course I had the whole discussion about choosing a gun, what’s it for, and that her needs might be different than mine etc, but that isn’t the point. The point is she wanted a gun. Great.

Naturally, I wondered why now, so I asked. She never responded to that question for some reason other than to day it was for home defense.

Yesterday I get an email from her that says…

Just to have for defense in case the economy tanks or something changes drastically. I am not planning on carrying at this point. Just going to take lots of classes and going to become an ace shot. And pray to God I would never ever need it.

Now, I am worried. A person who spends no time thinking about the economy, the end of the world, prepping, Zombies or guns, is not only concerned enough to start the discussion but is actually taking action. Her and I are not close. We are friendly, we chat from time to time, but I would not say were “friends”. Yet, apparently, I am the only one in her circle that has a gun. Her distrust of her government has grown to the point that she contacted me and bought a gun.

Last month when I got the text,  I was excited. Good for her and good for me that I brought it up all those months ago(I always wondering if I talk too much about guns and bad guys), but then I thought, if this woman, is this concerned and even she is preparing for our government to turn on us, well, that is not a such good thing. That does not feel like winning.

That feels like losing, big time.

A Twist On Training

Arete and I have not been able to get hands on each other for a while. This makes me cranky because…

  • I just like to see him.
  • I love to fight.
  • I currently do not have a single bruise or sore muscle. There isn’t a slash mark to be found.
  • I haven’t learned anything new or added anything to the skills I currently have.

I know my order is all messed up and the last one should be first and the third one shouldn’t be in there at all, but sick or not, I love a good bruise and a knife wound makes me positively giddy.

Since the physical part of my training has slowed a bit I asked Arete if there was anything I could be doing to train on my own. Anything I could be working on to make me a better, more prepared person. He suggested I ask my kiddos to go into different rooms of the house and move things around to test and hopefully refine my observation skills. Usually my house is pretty organized(by pretty organized I mean meticulously cataloged, classified and placed), so I wondered how much of a challenge it would be, but fortunately for me(by fortunately I mean doing my best not to go insane), my house is under construction and in complete chaos which translated loosely can mean the perfect training environment.

My children are beyond thrilled that they can, without worry of consequence, move things I have deliberately placed somewhere. Also the thought of messing with mommy’s mind has them more delighted than when we go Funland. Either we go to Funland too much and they have become bored with it or they share their mother’s sadistic side. Hint: we have only been to Funland once.

As I type this they are randomizing my knick knacks. I will let you know how I do over the next several weeks. Wish me luck. Sending up a prayer that I will not harm any of my children during this exercise probably would also be helpful.

Bad Parenting

After an event like the shooting in Colorado we all stop and think and wonder what we would have done, what we could have done and what we should do now. Those of us interested in personal safety and survival try to look at the events as a learning opportunity. Dissecting it piece by piece to see what we could do in that same situation to either try to prevent it or if that isn’t possible how to deal once we are thrust into it.

This is good, but the problem is sometimes we get off the point. I received emails from 2 people, read 3 posts, had a face to face discussion and a comment left on my FaceBook about how stupid these parents were to let their kids go to a movie at midnight especially this one. Almost all of the people who made the comments are people I highly respect, but still I am not sure this perspective belongs in this discussion.

I do think part of the discussion should be, is this a safe place to go? Is this a safe to take my family, to allow my children to go? About 95% of all my training has focused on avoiding stupid people and places. If it seems dangerous before you even go then don’t go. Most of us carry a gun for the times like the situation in Colorado where we have deemed the place relatively safe, but since we can’t predict crazy, we carry and prepare just in case. Honestly, I think most movies theaters are a place I would consider “safe.” Lots of factors to consider: what part of town is it in, is there a history of problems, who is frequenting that particular theater.

We have 3 theaters in my town. Two of them my husband and I have decided are seedy enough that we will not go or let our children go. They are dumpy and several of the folks that are at the theater often times are not there to see a movie, they are just there loitering. Young kids with saggy pants just hanging around. Yes, I am profiling and judging on appearance and behavior alone. The third one though, we do go there. It is a large clean theater near the mall. The parking lot is well lit and for the most part we have not seen any kind of trouble or anything that alerts us to a problem waiting to happen.

For me even though there is nothing that tells me avoid this place I still go armed, but in my state it is not illegal to take my gun into a theater. It may not be looked upon kindly by some of the theaters, but again it’s not illegal and the worst that could happen is a trespassing charge.

The time one is out and about is another thing to consider. Generally, it is not a great idea to be out after midnight, but there are exceptions. We have not seen a lot of shootings at movie theaters. Yes, those kinds of venues are ripe for exactly what we saw happen last week, but if we stop and think about all the movies theaters in the world and the number of people who attend verses how many people have been shot the number is low enough that I would take the risk to take my kiddos to a movie even after midnight. In fact I have.

We don’t do it all the time, but we have done it. It is a fun experience for my daughter and her friends to stay up late, wait in line chit chatting as teenagers do and feel like they are being rebels. She is 14 and we have never taken our younger kids out to a movie that late, but I have taken young children out well past an “acceptable” time of night.

When my oldest son was 7, he was obsessed with the stars. He got a telescope for Christmas and he wanted to learn how to use it and he wanted to learn about all this planetary, so I signed him up for a science camp. They met on Tuesday nights, in the park at 11pm. My husband was in deployed or on training somewhere and I had 6 month old baby. That baby should have been in bed and not out and about, but I was essentially a single parent and I wanted to encourage my son’s passion, so I packed her up and took her along. The park was in what I considered to be a safe place and we were doing what I considered to be a safe activity, but we know that no place is safe. I lived in California, didn’t have a gun or a even a clue about personal safety, but if I were in the same situation today I would still probably make that choice. Star gazing was an experience for my son and he remembers it to this day. It was a 6 week camp, so for 6 weeks having my baby out after midnight did not seem like a long term determent to her. I don’t know why each of those parents had their kids out at that movie on that night at that time, but even if it was bad parenting, I don’t think it belongs in the discussion of lessons learned and her’s why.

It takes the focus off of who is responsible for this tragedy. Talking about training, awareness, increasing skills etc helps us to be better prepared. Looking at what factors might have contributed to why he and others chose to act out in this manner might be useful, but talking about how stupid a person is for being in the movie theater at night with a 6 month old shifts the blame. No matter how poor a choice is, the one and only person responsible for what happened that night was the shooter. Not society, not Hollywood, not guns, not the internet, not even the anti gun folks who are trying to disarm the populous. It was him, all by himself and he alone should shoulder the blame and the very harsh punishment.

This is coming from someone who was a very bad parent. Up until 15 months ago I did nothing to prepare myself for a bad guy encounter and when the wolf came a knocking I did nothing to protect myself and worse I did nothing to protect my daughter. That is my cross to bare. I must accept the blame and responsibility for my inaction and my irresponsibility, but I still hold to the fact that no matter how clueless and unprepared I was that man had no right to attack me. He was and is the one to blame for the attack. I know that there are bad people and I am patently aware of what harm they will do. Bad guys are bad and they are not going away, so yes, yes, yes, think, prepare, avoid, plan, but lets not get so distracted by preparations that we forget where the blame lies.

However, lets prepare shall we…go here.




Emergency Part Two

One of the things I liked the most about this book was that I could totally relate. For the longest time I felt like I was the only one who didn’t know how to build a bomb out of bubble gum or repel from a 9000 story building with just a container of dental floss(I am not that far into this survival thing, so maybe none of that is possible and perhaps I exaggerate for effect, but that is how removed I felt from the ability to take care of myself), but it turns out there was at least one other person who was in need of serious awakening. Neil Strauss.

Emergency is a very easy, funny read about a guy who although very smart was completely clueless. It’s his journey from being a wimp to self sufficiency.

Page 76…”But, I’d rather live as a wimp than be a dead hero.” “How many baby steps into the abyss would it take before I finally had the courage to climb out?”

I know that it is hard for some people to believe the complete fog I used to live in. Blissfully unaware of anything around me, but I was clueless to most of what went on around me. I did the typical safety things like wear a seat belt, lock my doors, and pay attention when I walked outside, but I didn’t see a need to know anything else.

I had no idea what kind of cars my neighbors drove. I didn’t even know what kind of car I drove. I had no idea how to get from here or there without a GPS. If my GPS failed me I would call my husband and he would figure out where I was and how to get me where I need to go. I always took the same way to a place and from it. It never occurred to me that knowing an alternate way might serve me.

Page 74…”something changed in me, as it did for many people, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. It felt like the day I beat my father at arm wrestling. In that moment I realized, that he could no longer protect me, I had to to take care of myself.”

As I have started to take more responsibility for my safety I have, of course, focused a lot on situational awareness. Not just looking to see if there is a suspicious looking person, but looking at everything that is around me.

A month or so ago, I needed to take my daughter to her friend’s house. The mother gave me verbal directions, but I didn’t have an address or a piece of paper to write the directions down. I told my husband I wasn’t sure how to get there, so as he typically did, he was going to figure it out, but I said no, I can do it. Later that night the mom had emailed me the actual address, but the next morning when I went to put into the GPS, I thought this is nuts. I have lived here 7 years and I do not know enough street names or the layout of my town well enough to get around without an electronic voice telling where to go. I tossed the paper and decided to try to get there based on just what the woman had told me.

Yes, I know this is sad and that driving from my cute little neighborhood to another cute little neighborhood is not exactly urban warfare or all that difficult, but for me it was an important thing to do because I was that far under a rock. I made it there just fine.

After that day I made it a point to drive a different way everywhere and to not use my GPS. This is not risky at all, for crying out loud if all else failed I could just drive in the direction of a freeway and hop on it, but I refused to allow myself that option. Again, this is not about wow how smart and clever I am because what I was doing was not all that smart or clever, but it was about getting out of a habit of depending on other people and things, and engaging my brain.

Page 246…”At times, it seemed there would e no end to the amount of things I needed to do to prepare. learning to survive meant learning every essential skill mankind had developed on it’s journey from Homo habilis to civilized humanity. And I wasn’t opposed to to doing that.

I am like that. What started out as simple a way to protect myself has become a passion of things I enjoy, but it doesn’t have to be.

Several of people I have spoke with have commented that it seems like a lot of work to think about situational awareness. They all have said they couldn’t do it because it would be hard for them to enjoy their lives if they were always looking for exits and counting how many people are in a room etc. We can just skip the discussion on “yeah, but not as much work as fighting off a bad guy” cuz that argument hasn’t worked with them so far.

I try to explain that at first it did take conscious effort, but now it is just what I do and it really takes not thought at all. I now notice things and remember them even if I am not aware I noticed them. It is similar to how I can focus on the road, check my mirrors, look behind me, etc without really concentrating. I aware of what I am doing, but at the same time I have been doing it so long, I am not really thinking about doing it. FYI, I have never been in a car accident or got a ticket(except one when I was 16). Knocking on wood.

Last night when I went to take my daughter to volleyball I asked her if she knew where it was and she said yes. Her dad always took her. I don’t know why, but I didn’t think to pay attention to how she was telling me to get there. I dropped her off and then went about my business else where. When it was time to get her I realized I hadn’t paid attention and wasn’t sure how to get back to her. I could get to the general area, but wasn’t sure what street to turn down. I was driving and every street looked like the one, but none felt right. Then I remembered I saw a Chic-Fil-A on the corner as I left the gym. I kept driving until I saw one, turned and it was there.

Again, this is not some monumental self defense tip and for a lot of people it will be, well duh, but I never ever would have “seen” that before. I just would have panicked and called my husband.

I saw this on The Cornered Cat FB this morning…

Safety tip: Do you know where you are, right now? (It’s amazing how many people don’t.) If you needed to call 911 and give directions to your favorite coffee shop — could you do it? Get in the habit of noticing and remembering *at least* the street name and major cross streets for the places you’re most likely to be.

I used to think I was the most clueless person that lived. I thought I was unique in that everyone else would have fought the bad guy, had extra food, water, flashlight and everyone would at least know what kind of cars their neighbors drove. Sadly, I have since discovered I am unique in no way. I am all too common. When I am outside of this gun blog world, I appear to be the most aware person out there. People have no idea at all how to get from point A to point B. The lawyer I talked about in my post about Maryland, he had to follow us everywhere because he could not remember how to get from the hotel to the range, back to the hotel, to the restaurant. He needed more ammo, but fell apart at the thought of finding Wal Mart. My husband spoke with a waitress at the restaurant we were at and gave the man the directions she had given my husband. The man was a nervous wreck. My neighbor across the street leaves his garage open all the time and when I ask him if he notices the cars driving up and down our street he says, “Uh, no”. “I never notice that.” He is a Marine. I asked a teacher at work once for directions to the copy store and he didn’t know the name of the cross street that our schools sits on. The place he goes to work every single day.

I am knocking any of these people. I was one of them. I am simply trying to show that this not an aberration. It isn’t a deviation from the norm, it is the norm.

Page 248…All my life, I’d never had to do anything practical. If something in my house or apartment didn’t work, I called a repairman or a landlord. If my car broke down, I called AAA. if I was hungry, I had food delivered. If I needed something affordable, I bought it online. If it wasn’t affordable, I used credit. My tools were the telephone and the Internet, which instantly summoned the services of other people.

But as then world of survivalism opened up, I began to realize that I’d been rendered completely helpless by convenience.

If you are serious about being more secure, even if you don’t want to carry a gun(but really you should carry a gun), there is so much you can do to increase your odds of dealing with whatever curve ball life throws at you. Maybe start to think of some of the little things you can do right now, for free to up your odds.


A Little Excitement

Tonight M had volleyball camp until 8:30pm, so by the time we got home it was dark. I pulled into the garage and went to the front porch to fix the chairs. M took the young ones to go into the house.

M- Mom why isn’t the alarm on?

Me- Should be.

M- It’s not on.

Me- Get out of the house.

She and the kids met me in front of the house and I ask her, did you set the alarm when we left? She says she did. We have lived here 7 1/2 years and have maybe forgot to set the alarm twice.

The door leading from the garage inside the house is now wide open, so I decide that if someone was in the house we had interrupted them and they may try to run out of the house, so I moved my kids down the block, behind some trees and then stepped away from them. Our front door is solid glass, I wanted to keep an eye on it, so I could see if anyone ran/walked by to exit the house. I also didn’t want to be to close to my kids if I needed to draw my gun and I really didn’t want to be near them if someone was gonna be shooting back at me.

Odds are that M forgot to set the alarm. Nothing appeared to be broken like a window or the front door and the alarm was off, so that would mean a code had to be put in. I could not think of anyone who would have the code. Even our best friends do not have it. The only possibility would be we have had people working here all week and I thought maybe one of them could have seen us turn it off, but that was very unlikely.

Even though I was 99% sure no one was in the house, I had my gun on my hip and the one thing I am mighty confident in, is my gun handling and shooting abilities I decided not to go in and to call the sheriff instead and here is why…

First, I am not trained in room clearing.

Second, going into the house seemed like looking for trouble.

Third, getting shot or killing someone in front of my kids is something I would really like to avoid.

I did think about going to a neighbor, but they have less skills than me. I thought about calling another person who has skills, but I didn’t want to bother anyone and thought I should try to handle it myself, so I called the non emergency number for the sheriff, explained my dilemma and when the very nice woman on the other end asked if I wanted someone to come check I said “Yes, I would appreciate that.”

Exactly 10 minutes later a policeman arrived. Parked his car and came over to talk to me. I was OC(I had a cover garment in my car, but I wasn’t wearing it because its hot here and I knew I was not getting out of the car. My car was in the garage and I didn’t want to go back into the garage to get it), so I walked up to him slowly and said I do want to let you know I am carrying. He said, “Ok fine”. “What’s going on?” I told him. He said, stay here, I will check the outside first and then go inside.

He did just that. Checked the outside for forced entry, then went inside the house. He announced himself with a very loud voice and then did his thing.

He came back out and said all was clear. He was very nice, very professional and didn’t give a flying flip that I was carrying.

He left, I got my kids settled and called my husband.

Couple of observations…

  • I was calm. I was very concerned because it is odd for our alarm not to be set and we have have had a fair number of home invasions lately, but I was calm.
  • My kids responded to everything I told them without question. My 14 year old was paying attention to what was off. She did not just fling the door open and walk in. She noticed the alarm was not set, stopped the kids from going in and alerted me.
  • E is not great in a crisis. She kept saying, Is there another bad guy? Are we going to be ok? I need my gun. I suspect she will be in my bed tonight.
  • I was prepared to fight.

So all is well once again here in AGirlland.






Progress is being made.

When I took my very first Conceal Carry class another a student in the class, a lawyer, told me neither DC or Maryland would ever, ever, ever change or loosen their gun laws. It looks like he may be wrong about that. Fingers crossed!