this is the story of a girl
for your fyi, about four of my five test preview readers said that reading this basically dissociated them, that they experienced something very much like the disorientation i experience when it happens to me. that i conveyed that. so. be careful.
"Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the announcement of a new policy would have no immediate practical effect on the military because the Pentagon is obliged to continue to recruit and retain transgender people in accordance with current law."
you know, for when you need everyone lookin...g away from the sprawling criminal investigation closing in on you
Content warning: some dark and gory (but necessary) shit is about to be dropped.
Since March second when the first bomb went off and took the life of my neighbo...r, Stephan House, I have retold my side of the story well over a hundred times. Each time the story changes ever so slightly, not because of lies or exaggerations but because recollecting what happened in detail is extremely difficult and painful. Images flash in my head. Bits and pieces of the story come forward that I didn't recall before. Hell, I am not even certain that I remembered giving him two rescue breaths to get him breathing when I told the story on the first day. On day two, as soon as I remembered that fact, I could instantly taste Stephan’s blood in my mouth and that is a sensation that will never evade me.
My thoughts always come out more clearly through my fingers than my mouth, so I decided I would write everything out as part of my own personal healing so that I can fully process it. Then I decided, fuck it, I will share it in its entirety here so the people that care about me can know exactly what I went through, what I am still going through and what I make of all of this.. [Edit: I started this just a few days after the bomb and worked on it sporadically ever since. I am just now finishing it the day after the bomber was stopped]
The morning of Friday, March 2nd started just as any other weekday morning. My alarm went off at 6:45, I got up, woke the kids and went downstairs to wait while they get ready for school. At approximately 6:50 am, I heard the loudest, most shocking noise I have likely ever heard. I can only describe it as sounding like a mac truck had just hit a trash dumpster.
I immediately ran outside to see what it was. I looked to the left and saw my next-door neighbor, Stephan, (who also happens to be the father of my daughter's best friend) standing, covered in blood, with shrapnel lodged all throughout his body and his hands nearly blown off. His face had a large gash on the lower side, it looked as if he was hit with an ax. He had a glazed over look on his face, but his eyes were open. Within five seconds, he looked at me and collapsed onto his side.
I ran to him and couldn't tell if he was breathing so I gave him two rescue breaths. I couldn't do chest compressions as his chest was full of shrapnel and I feared I would lodge it in further if I did. I assume my rescue breaths helped as he gasped as soon as I did them. I repeatedly yelled his name, but he was totally unresponsive. All around me, the neighborhood was in utter chaos, but I heard not a sound other than the sound of his gurgling blood. Meanwhile, there were screaming neighbors, and worse, the screams of "My daddy is dead! My daddy is dead!" coming from his little angel who saw him like that.
I put him in the rescue position to try and keep him from drowning in his own blood before calling 911. I followed their instructions until EMS arrived approximately two minutes later. Simultaneously, but unnoticed by me at the time, another neighbor grabbed his daughter from inside the house and took her to his wife and his home.
The first EMS person to arrive looked at him and said: "Is he even alive?". I responded, "Yes, he is breathing! Now, why don't you keep it that way?". After EMS took him and I answered some questions to the fire and police agents that were there. Then, I went back to my house and tried to go on with my day. In retrospect, I realize now that I was in complete shock at that time. Somehow, amidst all the chaos, I still managed to get the kids to school on time. They had heard the explosion, but our nanny was fast acting and kept them inside and had them get ready for school. On the ride, I explained that he was in a bad accident. I wasn't lying because, at the time, that is what myself and the neighbors assumed. It HAD to be an accident right? Who would even begin to think someone would be murdered with a bomb in boring ass suburbia? My shock also had me convinced that he stood a fighting chance of making it. Looking back, I realize that was far-fetched optimism, but when I told my children he was in bad shape but should make it, I genuinely meant it.
I told my daughter if she had a chance to, she should make a nice card for her friend because she would REALLY need her to be there for her. She told her teacher that her neighbor had been in a bad accident and she wanted to do something nice for her friend. Her teacher had heard the explosion from the school campus (over a mile away) and put two and two together so she called me. By the time she called, I knew he had been murdered and told her that, but asked her to let me break that news to my daughter. She offered to have her talk to a counselor which I happily agreed to.
Jumping back to when I first came home from taking them, I pulled in and there were a few more emergency crews there. Within ten more minutes my street was overtaken by FBI, ATF, bomb squad, APD, dozens of news reporters, fire inspectors, arson investigators, postal inspectors and more. Every house within four houses to either direction of his was forced to exit their homes. There was another layer of police tape blocking off the ends of the roads where reporters tried desperately to get the story.
As I mentioned earlier, a neighbor ran into the house while I tended to the victim and grabbed his 8-year-old daughter. By the time he got her out every neighbor was outside of their homes. One nice lady was a professional counselor and offered to keep Stephan’s daughter distracted in her home with their infant daughter. As soon as I found out where she was, I went to check on her. At the time, she was happily watching Captain Underpants and playing with the baby. It was FUCKING SURREAL because she seemed to be calm and happy. I didn't even know she knew what happened until I heard about her screams from the neighbor that got her out of the house. Everything was calm and normal inside of this home, even though the street out front was complete chaos. Then I looked down and realized my pants were covered in his blood, as were my hands and I certainly didn't want her to see any of that. The neighbor was nice enough to let me wash my hands, so I scrubbed them to death. Apparently, I didn't do a good enough job because I found his blood under my nails hours later. The bloody jeans, on the other hand, wouldn’t be dealt with for many more hours.
I realized no one had informed the victim's wife of what had happened. So I began the process of figuring out how to do that. I asked Stephan's daughter if she knew her mom's number. She said, "No, I always call her by saying 'Ok Google, call ___________' ". So my dumb ass runs right into their house to try to do that. I made it about three steps in before a bomb squad guy grabbed me and said "We haven't cleared that house yet. No one is going inside until the dogs and robot clear it." So I went back to the house where Stephan's daughter was an asked her if she knew what school her mom was a teacher at. All she knew was that the school's mascot was a dragon. So I jumped on Google, figured out what school it was and called it. No one answered, so I left a rather panicked message on their voicemail. I assume no one checked it because I never got a call back so I kept trying until someone eventually answered (over an hour later).
I asked the receptionist who answered if they had a teacher by her name. She confirmed they did. I told them that the teacher's husband was in a bad accident (I don't recall if I knew it was murder yet, but either way I stuck with an accident for the call). She took my number and said she would have her call me. Stephan’s wife called me back within five minutes and then I had to deliver the hardest news I have ever had to deliver.
At this point, all I wanted in life was a shower and some clean pants. Unfortunately, it would be several more hours before I was allowed in my home to get either. Myself and the other exiled neighbors were camped out in the front yard of the first house outside of the police tape. Someone brought out chairs and drinks and we just hung out like that for hours. Most of the neighbors were fairly calm and even somewhat humorous. It was at this moment that I realized I was traumatized. I thought to myself, "How are these people making small talk? Why am I the only one that is sitting here shaking?"
As the day went on, a strange calm came over me. I talked with the neighbors, I called my shop and let them know I wouldn't be in that day. I called my dad and let him know I was ok, in case he saw the news and recognized the street. I called my wife, Rianne. Hell, I probably called her seven times that day. In between phone calls and neighbor talk I was grilled by every agency imaginable agency. I told my side of the story over and over and over again.
I was even grilled as a suspect once or twice:
Agent: "So he was the president of the HOA, we hear. Did you ever have any problems with the HOA?"
Me:" I got two warnings about leaving my trash can out over the last four years. Not really enough to kill someone with a fucking bomb over."
After several hours of that stuff, we were FINALLY allowed back in the house. I took a shower and left pretty much immediately after. Shortly thereafter, I had to get my kids from school. When I dropped them off that morning, they knew that Stephan was hurt but not that he died, much less the fact he was murdered with a goddamn bomb! Rianne was on speaker phone in the car so that we could deliver the news together. As soon as I picked up Cali, she asked how he was…
Nothing will ever prepare a parent for the moment they have to explain to their young children that their next-door neighbor, who is the father of their friend, was murdered in cold blood with a bomb less than twenty yards from our house. I suppose we are fortunate to live here and not somewhere where children are all too familiar with deaths caused by bombs, but at that moment I sure as shit did not feel fortunate.
For the next several days I genuinely thought I was fucked for life. I am a person who has been clinically dead twice. I have lived a ridiculous life and seen a ton of shit. Nothing has ever phased me to the extent this did. Perhaps, it is the level of gore I saw so close and personal. Perhaps it was the fact it wasn’t an accident, it was caused by Perhaps it was the fact that I had just recently reached a point in life where I choose to face my feelings rather than repress them.
Regardless of the "why", this event has affected me more than any other in my forty years on this rock. Over the next few days, I LITERALLY saw a bloody face in a hot sauce bottle, I had vivid flashbacks of how Stephan looked and other moments from that day. I would freeze up or jump at the slightest noise. Even worse than my immediate reactions was my reaction to those reactions. I felt weak and lost. I hated the fact I was unable to control my reactions.
As the days progressed and things started to get slightly better for me BOOM! another fucking bomb, then a few short hours later...yet another. The police assured us that the bomb that killed Stephan was targeted and an isolated incident. With each additional bomb, I grew not only more fearful but more guilt-ridden for believing any of the crap that the police fed us.
Aside from being sad and frightened, I am also quite pissed by so many things that went on the day of that bomb and in the days since:
-I am angry at the police for implying they were confident that it was a targeted attack. That not only painted Stephan in an awful light, but it left the entire city with a false sense of security.
-I am angry at the police for not having someone immediately there to take care of his daughter. She ended up at a neighbor's house and, fortunately, they were great people who I now call friends...but at the time, she didn't know them, nor did her family, nor did anyone from my home. Those neighbors were amazing, but what if they weren't?
-I am mad at the police for not putting the daughter and her mother into protective custody. If it was a targeted attack, as the police insinuated, wouldn't it be proper protocol to put the immediate family into protective custody, at least for 24 hours? That safety net was never offered to them (which has been confirmed by the family, that is not an assumption on my part).
-I am mad that with all of those agencies there, that I had to be the one to do the legwork to find his wife AND be the one to deliver the news. I wondered “how is there not someone in an office somewhere who is responsible for such things?” I later found out there is, which makes it even more infuriating that the task was left to me. Regardless, if it was me in? Stephan’s place I would damn sure want someone to step up and find my wife, so I am glad I was able to do that for them.
-I am mad at the media who used Stephan's DMV photo. Rarely does anyone look like a good human in their license photo. Sure, it was the only picture immediately available but the family provided a picture within 24 hours and some media outlets are still using that damn DMV photo three weeks later!
-I am mad at the internet warriors spreading misinformation. Every single time, I stepped in to correct one piece of false info, another would pop up.
-I am mad at the idiot conspiracy theorist who labeled me a "crisis actor" and said the whole situation was made up.
-I am mad at the idiot who called a bomb threat into a SXSW show in the midst of real bombings.
-I am mad at the person on Reddit who claimed to be the bomber but obviously wasn't once more details came to light.
Now that the bomber (and I REFUSE to give him the respect of using his name) has been stopped, a lot of people have asked me "are you glad he is dead?"
The answer to that is a resounding NO. The bomber had the opportunity to write his story, from beginning to end. He got to choose when and how he died. Stephan and Draylen did not make that choice, he made it for them. A life sentence would have been a far worse and juster fate for the bomber. In a blog post the bomber said he was pro-death penalty and explained it by saying:
"Living criminals harm and murder, again executed ones do not."
I am always anti-death penalty, not only because I am anti-killing, but because it cost taxpayers a FORTUNE that could be spent on deserving citizens rather than convicted murderers. Knowing he was pro-death penalty, just makes that life sentence option sound even better. Unfortunately, justice will never be served because he got to end things on his terms. Because of that, we may never know why he did it and how can the victim's families, their friends, their neighbors and the community at large begin to move forward without an answer to why?
The media has portrayed the bomber as "a challenged young man". How was he challenged? He was educated and lived in a nice neighborhood. Before the police had a suspect they referred to the bomber as skilled for the fact that his bombs were so successful. Sounds like he had a lot going for him to me. Certainly, he had challenges in life, but so does everyone and yet the vast majority of us manage to deal with those challenges without senselessly murdering people.
The bomber is a hate-filled monster, plain and simple. That is the only description that works for me. For example, in one of his blog post, he compared homosexuality to beastiality. That viewpoint makes homosexuals out to be immoral and disgusting. When someone is raised to believe those that are different than them are immoral and disgusting OF COURSE they will see the world as an ugly place. Friends and family described him as “church going” as if that makes him a good person? Had he been Muslim, most Americans would be quick to bring his religious upbringing but because he is Christian, the dominant religion in the free world, it is viewed as a good thing. All Muslims aren’t bad, nor are all Christians or any other religious group. However, when the religious teachings go to the extreme of teaching hate rather than love, that is a fucking problem.
A child isn’t born judgemental, they are taught those judgments. The deaths of Stephan and Draylen, the injuries to the others, the loss to their friends and family the stress and cost to our community ALL OF THAT lies on every single family member, church member, friend or anyone else who taught this monster to see other human beings with hate instead of to love. I am sure most of them would say “we would never condone killing” and I genuinely believe they would mean that. Regardless of their intentions, they contributed to giving the bomber a hateful worldview that manifested into some of the scariest violence we have seen.
Here is the headline I would like to see:
23-year-old conservative Christian turns his hatred and judgments into a murderous bombing spree.
Two good men died, let’s not let their deaths be in vain. Let us learn from the bomber that we can not teach our children to hate and then act surprised when that hate manifest into violence. Let’s teach them to love and see what that manifest into instead. Let’s expand our friend circles to include the loners, the sad and those just different than us. Let’s take a few moments to meet and connect with our neighbors because one day they might be the ones attempting to save our lives. Let us forever remember the names Anthony Stephan House and Draylen Mason and let us never speak the name of the bomber.
Edit: Lots of people have asked permission to share this, so please take this as blanket consent to share this (or any other public post I make).
“The Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction”
we're good so far, although i think we've already got this covered
“that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman”...
ooops, that's a particular religious viewpoint from a particular branch of religion
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
having the state protect one particular religious viewpoint observably means that those holding (or acting as though they hold) that viewpoint have favored treatment from the state on the basis of the religion they have chosen to adhere to, even where that adherence harms others in the course of their lives, lived according to their own sincerely held beliefs and convictions; i.e., the "wrong religion" (which is any religion but the "right" one), and its tenets.
here's what the Human Rights Campaign points out:
"Following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex married couples are entitled to all federal spousal benefits regardless of where they live. Under FADA, however, individual businesses could run roughshod over the civil rights of these couples and deny them the spousal benefits they have earned and deserve."
Allow me to add, "without reprisal, with full support of federal law."
"Executive Order 11246 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors. However, under FADA, the federal government would be required to continue to contract with a non-profit business or organization with a record of discriminatory employment practices against LGBTQ people if that employer cited their belief that same-sex marriage was wrong as the reason for the discrimination."
Allow me to add, "without reprisal, with full support of federal law."
"The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance that shelters receiving HUD grants must not discriminate against same-sex married couples. An organization could cite FADA and provide their religious conviction against same-sex marriage as a reason to put a same-sex couple back on the street."
Allow me to add, "without reprisal, with full support of federal law."
this sounds like a law that is somehow freakishly redundant, while also being unconstitutional, so it's no surprise that the catholic church is all for it, because, why not, who cares about reasoned secular law when you could just have white jesus say it's okay for you to be a bigot, instead, and then get a big ol' high-five from white america
“The unfortunate error which occurred was neither intentional, nor is it a regular or acceptable occurrence in the delivery of our services. As a group of professionals we at VITAC are resolutely serious in our commitment to provide accurate, essential accessibility services for the deaf and hard of hearing community and we are embarrassingly disappointed that we failed to do so today.”
this is corporate "i'm not racist, my blackface is reserved for halloween"
"I wasn’t a celebrity but I was robbed of my privacy just the same."
This is what I mean when I say that #girlslikeus don't have the luxury of privacy. This is why my life is as on display as it is. This is why I livestream meeting Jared in person for the first time, and as much as I can, in general....
i have ended my call with centurylink. my service downgrade went into effect this morning, but the upload speed is lower than i thought it was by a significant amount. this means no more live streams for a bit.
while looking into solutions for this, i found i could restore my old service package for about the same price, or have a significantly improved one for about $10 more, with a "price for life" no-contract condition. as long as i live in this apartment... and don't make any changes to the package, it wouldn't cost more.
so, on #s43e350 between 9a and 1p, some kind of cable person is supposed to show up and make with the cabling. and some time after that, my streams will be going out at 10mbps, instead of 5, and download speeds will be roughly doubled as well.
i felt frustrated by having had my morning stream rendered inoperable, and annoyed that centurylink (and corporations in general) are content to let existing customers get shuffled into pricing that's nearly double, for the same service, rather than, i don't know, caring about humans and their lives. to just take money because someone doesn't notice that you've started charging everyone else less for more. poor form, i think. but, this is why i don't run a company, i suppose.
taking on $10 more in expense each month feels like some kind of daring or wildly irresponsible thing, and it simultaneously feels like a positive move in support of my intentions heading into summer (to work more deliberately with my own music). it seems like this could plausibly lead to $10 a month in income of some kind.
thank you all for supporting me, and making these difficult decisions even a possibility for me to consider at all.
we'll see what i can do around these limitations through the weekend and part of tuesday. i can still upload video, just not stream it live, and it will take awhile to do. perhaps i can still aim for a song video demo a day, and just do it that way.
regular people internet