It’s the Last Monday in August!

Hi y’all!

Man, what a time I’ve been having as of late.  Yes, we’re 23 days removed from the mass shooting here in the city, and as far as I go, things seem to be back in order.  So much has been happening lately that I don’t even feel like it’s only been those 3 weeks since I was paralyzed with fear.

To catch you up with some things in my life, thanks to one of my best friends and bandmates moving back into town after 6 years gone, our band is back in full swing of things.  We have our first return gig in over 6 years booked at a bar I’ve been to a lot of times (that sounds bad, right?) and each practice we’ve had we’ve sounded better and better.  I’m really looking forward to September 6th and going back on stage to perform in front of a crowd.  There’s nothing like that feeling.

My personal life is still a fun little wreck.  I wish I could really express everything I’m feeling, but I don’t even know how to, honestly.  I just try to take that part of my life day by day and take the good with the bad and pray for more good than bad.

Speaking of good things, I don’t know what the heck came over me last week, but I had the inclination to clean and organize my dresser in my room and also to rearrange my drum storage area in my room too.  It’s odd when one wonders why the hell they keep the things that they do sometimes.  I had been holding on to some stuff that I should have thrown out a long time prior, but I just never did.  This is one of my weird quirks.  Considering that I get ridiculed for my meticulous cleaning, it’s odd that I let things like that slip sometimes.  I’m super clean, tidy, and organized, but even my organization just slips by the wayside sometimes.  It felt good to toss out the things that I needed to and to put all of my books onto one place and see everything neat and organized again.  I didn’t even stop there.  Since I moved into my place over 3 years ago, I had some of my mom’s things that my dad’s wife had originally wanted to throw away just put into plastic bags on the shelving in my bathroom.  I had everything else kinda clustered there on my shelves as well as I just didn’t put emphasis on organizing those things.  That was until I decided to after my dresser fun.  I ended up throwing a few things out that I was keeping too, organized my travel bag, and everything else, bought some plastic storage boxes and completely rearranged the shelves.  MAN!  What a difference that made!  Doing those two little projects just made me feel so relaxed and happy.  Hell, I’m forgetting about a forced cleaning that I had to do on my kitchen as well that happened last Thursday!  I was reminded that mixing ice and 375°F hot vegetable oil do not mix well.  About 1.5 liters of said oil overflowed from my deep fryer onto one of my kitchen counters where I keep a few cool beer and liquor bottles I’ve collected over the years along with my knife block, and also spilled down the side of some of my kitchen cabinets AND the floor, so I took about 3 hours out of my Thursday afternoon to deconstruct that area, clean everything up, and rearrange my bottles and knife block and ended up with even more space than I had before as well.  Even though that was a forced cleaning and rearranging, it brought me a lot of satisfaction to have that clean and organized.

So now that brings me to my everlasting battle with my fitness.  For as much jump starting as I seem to do all the time, I also do an equal amount of “yeah, how about no.” to that as well.  What the heck, right?!  Each week it seems to be that something else is hindering my goals to get back to the gym and lose the weight.  I’m hoping that maybe now with things getting back to normal yet again, this can be a possibility.  I’ll be honest, it’s getting tiring fighting this battle and I know I can’t give up, but dang it is a pain in the ass!  Slow and steady wins the race, though, right?  I just hope so!  Wish me luck on that front, my friends!

Here’s to hoping that this Monday brings forward renewed energy!

Talk again soon!

Saturday in El Paso, Texas

As of this writing, it’s been 48 hours since a 21 year old kid drove 9 or so hours from the northern part of my state to my city to kill people like me.  Hispanic people whether or not they were born here in the United States (like me) or whether or not they crossed over from our sister city, Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico… either way this maniac wanted us dead.

It was a normal Saturday morning for me.  I was trying to enjoy my one day a week that I don’t wake up to an alarm and get my day started.  The plan for the day was to get up to make breakfast, clean the kitchen up, get a list of things to buy across the street from me at Target for my trip to the DFW area this coming weekend, go to the gym, hit up said Target, then get back home to shower and catch up with Netflix and Hulu as much as I could.

In the middle of cleaning the kitchen up and watching something that I already forget that I had on just as background noise, one of my bandmates started up our group chat on Facebook messenger saying “Hey stay away from the Cielo Vista area…there is an active shooter at the Walmart”.  It was about 11:15ish or so.  Yeah, I was getting the day started a bit later than I wanted to, but my initial reaction was something along the lines of “damn.  Maybe some person just either specifically shot at somebody else or they accidentally fired a gun or something.” Not what was actually going down.  Shortly after his message, however, more information started flooding in.  I turned my cable box on (yeah, I still have cable.  The apartment complex provides it for us, so I use it for some channels) and switched it to the local news stations.  KTSM was first.  Nothing.  Just a message scrolling along the bottom of the screen saying that the message my friend had sent and that they had a crew heading that way.  KVIA had nothing yet.  KFOX and KDBC had nothing either.  So more reason not to kinda worry.  And I say kinda worry because to put things in perspective, the Walmart where this went down is THREE MILES from where I live.

To be honest, I never go to that particular Walmart because it’s just too damn crazy all the time and it’s an older model store that doesn’t have the same layout as the newest versions of their stores are.  As I’ve said a few times here, my introversion drives me away from really crowded places like that, as it’s always an adventure just trying to find a parking spot there, much less to get through their isles to try to find the things I need to get.  I go to one that is 2 miles further away from me, but is newer and has a little bit more breathing room for me to navigate through.  It’s still chaotic, mind you, but I’m used to that chaos.  Same goes for the location by my dad’s house that I’ll go to sometimes.  Oddly enough, I actually DID go to the Walmart by my dad’s house on Friday night because I filled my gas tank up at one of the stations in his neighborhood because the prices are routinely 10-25 cents cheaper than ones near me.  Those cents add up considering I’m filling a 32 gallon capacity tank.  Anyway, after thanking God for making it to the gas station, as I was running on fumes, I drove the 3 minutes up to the Walmart, got critical groceries (since I just got paid that day and kinda live check to check most of the time), then drove back home to put the stuff up, then hit up the gym.

Back to the point and back to Saturday morning 11:30ish AM…

The group text goes on saying that it was on Fox News.  I tuned the TV to that and it was on commercial, so I switched it to MSNBC and that’s where I saw the headline on the bottom about it being a mass shooting and dozens were hurt and dead.  WHOA.  Word starts to get out even more and I started getting messages that there were multiple shooters and were going to target multiple locations.  El Paso was going to be a warzone starting NOW.  Next place in line was Bassett Place.  Bassett Place is a mall with two large anchor tenants on either side of the mall.  Costco is on one end and Target is on the other.  As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, Bassett Place is essentially across the street from where I live.  Stupid me, not really thinking about it then, or whatever… I don’t know… go outside to throw an empty gallon of distilled water container in the dumpster about 25 feet from my door.  I can see the main street, Montana, from there (sorta) and I saw flashing emergency vehicle lights and heard their sirens.  They were probably going to Bassett.  Again, at this point, the fear or whatever didn’t kick in.  I don’t even know why not.  So strange right?  Best thing I can think of putting into words of what I was thinking at the time was “Heh.  Nah, man.  Nothing’s happening at Bassett right now.  Units are probably rushing up from the firehouse and stuff on Chelsea or something going to Cielo Vista.” And I walked back inside.  I got a group text from my dad including my sister about this point too, making sure we were ok.  That’s when another moment of heart dropping came into play.  For two reasons.  First of all, there could have been a very slight chance my sister could have been there.  She’s closer to the one I go to as well, but you never know.  She could have possibly gone there as I remember she has said she has before.  Secondly, what could my dad have been thinking?  He knows both of us are early risers and that we shop for groceries on Saturdays sometimes.  I can’t even imagine the terror he felt wondering if one or both of his children were dead, or if one or both of his grandchildren were dead.  I reply right away that I was home cleaning up the kitchen and my sister replied a few minutes after saying that they were safe.  WHEW!!!   Shortly after that, I get this message on my phone:

Active

Shit got REAL then.  “ALL El Paso City/County residents are asked to shelter”?  My dumb ass was just outside throwing away something that could have waited and I put myself in harm’s way.  I saw the damn emergency vehicles!  I’m right next to another potential place of harm where bad people could run toward to try and escape, and there I was… walking out there.  HELL NO.  I tuned it to the local NBC affiliate, KTSM, who by then started to broadcast.  Multiple reports started coming out, messages were flying from friends.  Horizon City was next; Bassett was next, this was a coordinated attack by a large group of people.  I was in the line of fire.  Even if it was just one person, that one person was 3 miles away from me and could very well be heading my way. I was just frozen, I guess.  I didn’t think about this until later on in the night, but if for some reason somebody was going to spray bullets at my apartment unit… there was little in between the wall and me.  Just my new 4K UHD TV that wouldn’t stop a bullet and that was about it.  Even if I were to somehow fly over my couch, that’s just wood, suede, and foam.  Still not enough to stop bullets.  People started messaging me or commenting on my Facebook posts to stay inside and don’t leave my house.  HELL NO!  DON’T HAVE TO TELL ME TWICE!  I’M STAYING IN!  I started checking the police department twitter feed as that’s where the information was coming through and I see this:

Tweet

Holy smokes.  Multiple reports of multiple shooters?  THEY are confirming it!  So, I blast out the screenshot of the emergency text telling people to not open up their doors if anybody knocks unless it’s the cops.  At this point, I think my nerves are starting to kick in.  I was flipping channels between KTSM, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News trying to find the latest news and all they were saying and showing at that point were people coming out of Cielo Vista Mall but nothing about Walmart.  Then word came out that the shooter had been apprehended.  EPPD was still securing the situation and verifying if there were any more shooters.  At the time, they believed there was only one, but still be vigilant, they said.  Okay.  So, by 2 or so, it was confirmed to be all over.  The wild reports of possible things in different places were dying down.  KTSM had a screenshot of the killer at the front entrance, gun on him, ear and eye protection on probably about to shoot people as seen from the security camera.  Same description as what an eye witness said she saw of a man shooting at people in cars walking along the road.  Same description of a man, El Paso Police took into custody without incident on Viscount and Sunmount streets.  It was really over, but that was just the beginning for me.  I was glued to the TV.  I didn’t want to even go outside.  What for?  I was on social media scrolling my timeline on twitter catching updates from the local reporters I follow, checking the EPPD twitter feed that I follow too, but wasn’t getting messages on for some reason, checking Facebook and doing something I thought I’d never have to do… mark myself safe so that everybody could see I was still alive.  Businesses started posting that they were closing for the day out of respect of the situation and out of the safety of their employees.  Honestly, I didn’t even want to be out anyway.  Then again, when do i?  But even more so then.  Friends started sharing their stories and the focus of the day shifted to starting to repair our lives.  It wasn’t without incident for me, though.  My nerves were shot and I was on edge.  Sometime around 4 or so I heard a snap outside my door like the snapping of a piece of paper or one of those snap firecracker things and I immediately jolted.  I was still traumatized.  I stayed glued to the TV until about 9:30 or so when I took a shower, turned the TV off, and went to my room to pray and try to get some sleep.

I was worried about what Sunday morning would bring.  I was going to fulfill my Sunday Obligation and go to Low Mass at my FSSP apostolate downtown like do every Sunday, which is heading away from the massacre, but all the while I was wondering who was going to be there.  Were the pews going to be overfilling with people coming to seek comfort and/or get back to God?  Or were people going to stay away in fear?  It was pretty much a normal Sunday.  I saw the usual congregation that attends the 8am Low Mass.  Father O’Neil started off his homily with us all reciting an Our Father and 3 Hail Mary’s then intertwined his already prepared sermon with the tragedy that unfolded Saturday morning.  I still needed to get those things for my road trip to Dallas this Friday and maybe something to make for dinner, but I didn’t want to go to a store.  It just didn’t feel right yet, respectful yet, to carry on less than 24 hours after probably the worst day in El Paso’s history like nothing happened.  I talked to a few friends, and one like me, was too afraid to go out.  Just sad and depressed.  All of the people I talked to were.  I offered to go pick my friend up that needed groceries, but she declined as she was going to go to her parents’ house and swim with her daughter and her daughter’s friends.  I had made up my mind to not go out either unless it was to help a friend, so I just stayed inside.  I didn’t know how to feel at that moment.

Coming to work today was the same thing.  Just the unknown to deal with.  We had a town hall to start the day where management told us that it was ok to feel however it is that we feel.  Some cried, some felt anger, some just felt sad.  I’m in the sad camp, but I’m writing this out now because writing is how I rid myself of negative thoughts.

So, El Paso will start to pick up the pieces.  This kid drove 9 hours to our community to try and break our spirit and our love, but he didn’t and could never.  We’re probably closer now than ever before.  This picture below here may depict how we feel.  Amigo Man (the official El Paso mascot), Chico (the El Paso Chihuahuas our AAA Baseball Team mascot), and Paydirt Pete (UTEP’s Mascot) are all crying, consoling each other, but we’ll all pull through better on the other side.  Hug your friends and family whenever you can.  Tell the people that you love that you love them, each chance you get, because something like this can happen to you.

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