“Working For What You Want Will Make You Appreciate What You Have.”

The past two months have been a literal flurry of travel and chaos regarding my niece, Stephaney the ever present tornado in my rear view mirror. Her birthday was July 23rd and she is now 34 years old with nothing yet again.

Thank God I stay busy to keep my mind off the range of emotions I have about my niece’s consistent bad choices. She could have been married by now. She could have had a life. But nothing and I mean nothing can change her. She refuses to change herself.

I was returning late from a 14 hour day to TDCJ Holliday and Polunsky Units when a call announced “last phone I’m buying Stephaney” came in. Cindy had programmed the contact into my phone and not knowing this, I was more than a little “taken off guard.”

I never know what to expect on a call from her so I mentally prepare myself for her calls. Often I choose not to answer to be honest with you. I beg Cindy to block these calls. As usual, Stephaney was on something. “I want to come to Texas get me out of here!”

Driving through backroads and exhausted knowing that Wednesday I would be on the road again at least 7 hours to Eastham Unit and being at least 4 hours from home, I responded “you begged us to fly you from San Diego to Springfield. You’ve destroyed this family, our health and cost your mother and I at least half a million dollars in the past 18 years WHILE raising YOUR twin daughters without a penny of child support. I helped your mother raise you and your sister because she didn’t get a penny of child support for either of you. Cindy has raised TWO generations of children with only myself and Steve as well as your sister, Leigh Ann to help her. Help yourself. You ARE an adult. We don’t OWE you anything. By the way that is the last cell phone Cindy or I are going to buy you.” I hung up.

The misery of loving an addict is torture. Pure torture. Their behavior is never their responsibility.

I ignored further Stephaney calls Tuesday evening. I’m sick and tired of coming home angry after yet another “Stephaney ESCAPADE” of torturous, screaming phone calls and demands.

I’m either headed fo meet a client or headed home to a husband that does everything to make me happy which is why I limit taking calls from my niece because Stephaney is a cyclone of chaos. She’s now had a meth addiction 18 years. EIGHTEEN YEARS. For those of you lucky enough NOT to have an addict in your family, count your blessings. I swear it. Count your blessings.

My husband has been a rock as has Cindy’s. Let’s face it they don’t have their own children and married twins. This in and of itself is a very difficult relationship for a non twin. They often feel like a second fiddle. Cindy and I divorced our first husbands for many reasons but ALSO due to the fact that THEY were jealous of OUR relationship.

Steve and Matthew gained cranky teenagers when they married Wendy and Cindy. My son was a teen. Leigh Ann and Stephaney were teens.

At forty years old with husbands 15 years older than us, Cindy and I then then took on the role and responsibility of raising her twin granddaughters after raising our own children.

Bless Steve and Matthew both for not making a “run for it.” They could be living a peaceful life somewhere but married Cindy and I instead. There is no peace being married to us. Cindy has Leigh Ann who wants to live at home although she’s married and her daughter Maddy living at Cindy’s 2-3 months every 4 months. Leigh Ann has been married to Alex for 8 years and pretty much lived with Cindy most of the marriage. Then there’s the twins, they are 17 in September and cranky teens too. Then there’s the fact that Cindy and I both run Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, TDCJ Officiant and Texas Twins Treasures WHILE juggling clients cancelled in 2020 rescheduled into 2021-22 AS WELL AS dealing with my niece, Stephaney.

It’s easy to see that being married to Cindy and I takes very strong husbands. There aren’t any boring days for our husbands. One thing that they both have in common is that they are NEVER bored being married to us. There is always something going on.

My husband is a builder and developer. Matthew grew up in the country club. Steve is a truck driver and grew up fishing and having fun in the country. They are as different as night and day and best friends.

Wednesday while on my way to Eastham Unit I ignored Stephaney calls and instructed Cindy who was doing video jail weddings for Dallas to do the same.

As usual driving to Eastham because I drink so much water to prevent kidney stones, the thought of copping a squat passed my mind. There is nothing and I mean nothing out there.

However the last time I pulled over to pee in this rural area, I wound up in the ER with poison ivy and a hefty hospital Bill. I finally found a gas station. The flies in this area are horrific. You can’t open a door without a million flies getting into your vehicle. My dislike for flies is hefty.

Thursday I had Parker County Jail early then Rockwall County Clerk to purchase a duplicate license since my bride had given an old address. I’m going to go over this yet again… clerks are not cops. They don’t care if you haven’t changed your drivers license. Give your actual address.

My fee to drive to a clerk, purchase and sign a second license and certified copies isn’t FREE to me and it isn’t FREE to you.

My time, my travel and my frustration at this consistent issue of my clients providing INCORRECT INFORMATION to the clerk is at an all time LOW. Use your REAL address.

I moved on to Dallas County to repeat the same thing for yet another client. I now have yet another client in Parker County who “hasn’t received her license.”

The ONLY time ANY of MY clients have NOT received THEIR license is because THEY used a bad address in ALL of these years.

In this Parker County clients situation, I HAD filed the license in person AND purchased TWO certified copies that I sent PRIORITY MAIL to the address ON the license.

I cannot begin to tell you how furious I am that this rampant stupidity of lying about your address at the clerks office continues to occur. I’m now charging a hefty fee to anyone calling me and assuming that I have nothing better to do than run all over Texas to fix a mess that you created.

You were asked BY the clerk to VERIFY your address folks. Stop using old addresses. Stop it!

Friday morning I had 3 clients at TDCJ Robertson Unit and was up Til midnight loading my Sahara. It wouldn’t start. Damn it. Now I had to unload and reload into the Grand Cherokee parked beside the Sahara.

Cindy called while I was sweating moving my inventory and panicking about losing 18-20 minutes moving everything. I was now on a tight schedule. To complicate matters, I was aware of road construction on Ranger Hill. I would need to be really hauling ass to Robertson. I prefer to be 30-45 minutes earlier and catch up correspondence if I have a signal but I rarely do at Robertson. It’s hit and miss. Middleton is located next to Robertson which isn’t unusual. Michael & Coffield are in the same compound. There are many TDCJ facilities where 1 or more Units are located within close proximity. It’s not uncommon for one of my clients who hasn’t been to a Unit to go to the WRONG Unit which is why I send aerial photo’s and instructions via text. Michael and Coffield have one entrance. If you go right you are going to Michael. If you go straight you are going to Coffield. Wedding day ISN’T the day to be at the wrong Unit. If you are unsure, ask me. If you don’t know where to stay and haven’t been to a nearby city, again ask me. I don’t want ANY of my clients traveling alone staying at a seedy hotel. It’s far too dangerous. Don’t guess. Ask me.

My husband was still asleep so I left a note to call the dealership and have the Sahara picked up. Cindy was ALREADY getting “Stephaney calls.”

I know when Steph calls at wee hours of the morning that she’s been on a bender for days. I hate that my sister is miserable about not being able to “Save Stephaney” and not in my suv beside me but the twins are working part time gigs that she drives them to and after her heart attacks and surgery, I’m uncomfortable having her in my suv for 5-7, 8-10 or 12-14 hours. The possibility of a blood clot exists and I’m not willing to take that risk. The possibility of Stephaney upsetting Cindy into another heart attack like she did nearly two years ago and subsequent heart surgery ALSO exists. I need to remove Cindy from the “Stephaney Cyclone.” But with that new cell phone, Stephaney is literally terrorizing us both with a phone and cell service we ARE paying for!

I asked Cindy go on FB and let everyone know that I was driving a black 2020 Cherokee to Robertson rather than a black 2020 Sahara.

I’ve rarely if ever met my clients marrying an inmate and they find me in prison lots by looking for a Sahara, Cherokee, Santa Fe or Outlander.

Next week I will probably be in the Cadillac SUV or Santa Fe. This Sahara situation has me itching a year early to flip out of it and I will. I normally flip all the vehicles every 2 years but once I have a problem, I don’t trust the vehicle. I wonder what that money pit Sahara is going to cost this time since I’ve put 38k miles on it and it’s out of warranty. $3k or 4? I’m going to lean towards $2500. I need to get the fender replaced after the hit and run incident in Wichita Falls and the windshield replaced which will be another $1800-2400. I’m pretty sure I will sell it. I’m not going to continue sinking money into a vehicle I’ve had less than a year AND now have concerns about reliability.

I answered emails and waited on three brides. One at 11 o’clock one at 12 o’clock and one at 1 o’clock. I then called the Chaplain at Robertson Unit to confirm an early check in due to now required Covid testing WHETHER you’ve had the vaccine or not that TDCJ is requiring.

Federal has relaxed their Covid guidelines but TDCJ has stepped them up again.

In fact, walking into the Unit with Sonya, the wait on the Covid screening was nearly 40 minutes.

The lady doing the screening said to me “I have other responsibilities today for end of the month. Go call your other clients so I can screen them at the same time.”

Thinking to myself “why would BOTH of my clients be on site hours earlier than scheduled?”

It was hot as hell in that prison parking lot. I’m a little irritated that the prescreen CO assumes that ALL of my clients are on site and forgot which vehicle I drove to the Unit and walked around like an idiot trying to find the damn Sahara. I finally spot the Cherokee. Damn it. This day just kept getting more and more unstructured and chaotic. I’m also worried about Cindy. Is she taking those calls? Lord I hope not. She doesn’t need the stress. Dealing with the twins is stressful enough. Anyone who had raised teenagers knows what I mean. Try twins! Argh.

I get in the Cherokee and call Tequila and Tomesha. Shockingly, Tomesha was ACTUALLY already in the lot. Tequila was at Walmart.

Tomesha had also found someone to watch the girls and brought her. This prescreening process normally takes 20 minutes at all of my other TDCJ Units but Robertson was a series of setbacks. So much so that it was Tomesha rather than Tequila who was married next. Why? Because Tomesha was tested within about 20 minutes of Sonya and I finally being escorted back. The testing lady had apparently got frustrated waiting on Tequila and left the area.

Walking into the Unit with my first bride, the Chaplain advised us “this is a non contact. He’s G4.”

Sonya was crushed and upset about this. I can understand her frustration. I’ve been trying to get her married for two years. I put my arm around her and walked up to show our ID’s to the next gate guard. Her fiancée was happy to see her behind the glass. Sonya had left her mother at Walmart and driven into the Unit alone.

Due to the hour between weddings, I advised her to go get her mom after the ceremony and that I would call her to find a location for bridal photo’s after my last client at 1PM, Tomesha. There was no time to use the downtown area of Abilene due to the consistent setbacks of prescreening.

Rather than go back and forth to shakedown, I stayed in visitation watching inmates on video calls in the next room and waited on Tequila who had a contact ceremony and had written her own vows.

I asked the Chaplain to bring both Tomesha and Tequila back to save time.

Tequila was scheduled next but it was Tomesha who was escorted back. I wondered where Tequila was and was told “she’s still waiting on prescreening for Covid.”

I knew immediately that my “estimated timeline” at Robertson Unit was going to be by far longer than I had factored and expected. Damn it.

I had told Tequila when I walked out to call both Tequila and Tomesha earlier that the “Covid testing lady is crispy. Get in here and get prescreened. Sonya and I have already waited over a half hour.”

Tomesha had called me the night before while I was at the post office because she couldn’t find anyone to watch her daughters who are teens. No children can attend a prison wedding at TDCJ. No children can be left unattended either.

I posted on all of my social sites that I needed a babysitter at Robertson Unit and had 16 volunteers in less than 10 minutes. Tequila, my 12 o’clock client volunteered first.

Tequila should have been on site and prescreened but wasn’t because Tomesha told me “they waited on her at shakedown but she didn’t come in.” Where in the heck was she? Walmart is 12-16 minutes from Robertson Unit.

After Tomesha’s ceremony, I asked the Chaplain “what’s taking so long for Tequila?” He went back to shakedown to check. I watched visitors flood the vending machines and wondered “how were THEY prescreened SO quickly?”

My clients and I had been on site FOR HOURS. But for reasons I didn’t understand, Tequila was still a no show. Surely she hadn’t left. I had concerns about why it was taking her so long for her to get in there.

Due to visiting Stephaney at Psych Wards and Rehab Facilities, I noticed years ago that prisons and psych wards as well as rehab facilities HAVE one THING in COMMON, the vending machines.

Half the vending machines at Robertson Unit didn’t work. All food must be opened and poured into a bowl.

Visitation started at 1PM. This flurry of activity left very little privacy for a wedding. I was also concerned about being on the non contact side with visitors lined up on phones talking to loved ones while other visitors were banging on the vending machines that didn’t work.

This wasn’t going to be a “peaceful” or “quiet” ceremony with our assigned duty guards and the number of visitors as well as inmates on video visits.

It was now nearly 2PM. Where was Tequila? I watched one mother finally get cupcakes for her son after fighting the vending machine. She looked at me and said “you must be the judge. Today is my sons birthday. I’m so happy I got the day off to be here. I’m really thrilled that I could get him cup cakes from those damn machines.”

The cup cakes looked hard and stale which hurt my heart. Here’s a mother wanting to do something special to celebrate her sons birthday and the shitty vending machines are half empty or half broken keeping money or have stale food inside.

I told her “I’m happy for you too. Birthdays are special especially for mother’s. I rarely celebrate a birthday I share with my twin but we make a big deal out of our kids and grandkids birthdays. I’m not a judge I’m an Approved Officiant. Give your son many birthday blessings for me.”

My heart broke for her but shouldn’t have, I glanced over to see her beaming watching her son eat that cup cake.

Most visitors and a few CO’s call me the judge because mainly judges conduct ceremonies. Their ceremonies are cut and dry. They show up then conduct the ceremony, sign the license and leave. We give our clients a wedding experience.

One father with a Walker struggled to get a cola for his son. I assisted him and found that the visitors complaining about those vending machines were right. Most of those machines don’t work. Most of the food is stale.

Finally I spot the Chaplain and Tequila walking through the hall.

Tequila is wearing a full length sequin gown and rather upset about being held in shakedown for two hours.

I now wonder where Sonya and Tomesha are? The scheduling is now tight on bridal photo’s. Tequila and Sonya both have 4PM visits scheduled.

Walking out with Tequila I advise her “we don’t have time to do bridal photo’s downtown or at Jacobs Dream. Are you staying at a hotel? We will use the lobby.”

Tomesha is still in the parking area outside of the Unit. The CO at the gate advises me “your other client is waiting for you over there.” I thank her and Tequila follows me to Tomesha’s suv. We call Sonya who is staying at a hotel and drive there.

Sonya and Tequila both have visits so I decide to do their bridal photo’s first. All three brides and both children help me unload an entire suv of my inventory.

Tomesha has brought beautiful dresses for her daughters and goes to find a restroom for everyone to change clothes in at the hotel.

After photos, Tequila and Sonya dash back to the Unit. Tomesha and her family follow me to Chili’s where I tell both of her daughters and the friend that came with her “order whatever you want.” I always buy lunch when I have time and had planned to buy lunch for all three of my brides bit due to scheduled visits, Sonya and Tequila couldn’t join us.

I was on my way back to another client from Abilene when Cindy called. “She’s on something and acting crazy again.” The Stephaney Cyclone was in full force. Cindy was gagging to try not to throw up. The stress my niece causes Cindy infuriates me. I called my client and told them I needed to stop by my sisters to check on her.

Our friend, Angela called and told me “Stephaney called Cindy. I think you should go by to see her.” I told her “I’m driving 85-90 on my way there now.”

Cindy was surprised to see me and said “I wish I could’ve gone with you today. I miss being with you.” I hugged her and said “not today. You would’ve been waiting 4 hours at the Unit. It was a hold up due to prescreening.” We talked a few minutes and discussed her not taking calls when we aren’t together. I begged her to block Steph on a phone she had paid for. I assured her that I wouldn’t block Steph. I worry so much about Cindy. Stephaney never worries about anything aside from what she wants but isn’t willing to work for.

Saturday was another jam packed day of clients, chaos and the post office. I mailed all of my brides edited double print photos. Leigh Ann didn’t have time to edit them so I did myself at Walgreens. I then had to priority mail Robertson marriage licenses and photos to all of my clients this week. I spend $120-200 a week on postage ALONE. I only use priority mail. I don’t trust snail mail.

Today I’m back on location and don’t see a day off anywhere in my near future…