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Tuesday, March 21

Deep in the Heart Of Texas

Now that the Koufax Awards are over for me, I am not a finalist, the pressure is off to produce "THE GREAT AMERICAN POST" and I can return to the daily zen of just writing and being read.

It was indeed an honor to be recognized as a good writer and I can't think of an honor more satisfying. Now, I can devote all my ju-ju and mojo to BlondeSense winning Best Group Blog.

My husband and I were taking a break this evening and watched Someone to Watch Over Me. I had not seen it in awhile. My husband turned to me and said, "The moral of this movie is that life is difficult for everyone."

At the risk of indulging my tendency to feel sorry for myself, things are rough in River City now. Our electric bill has doubled since the hurricane. Not just ours, but everyone in this area has an electric bill twice the already inflated charge it was this summer. Electric utility deregulation has brought higher prices to Texas consumers and of course it is all due to the hurricane and not deregulation.

Gasoline prices are up again, too. Twenty more cents a gallon. Houston has no mass transit system to actually get people to work so prices really affect people.

We haven't received a cost of living wage at work in years. Actually we took a pay cut when you consider the price of co-pays and medication increased while we actually pay a more significant amount of the cost of procedures. I had to pay $700 to have emergency gall bladder surgery. Like I have that laying around the house. And analysis isn't covered by insurance but it certainly should be since my overall health has improved.

Life in Houston is ridiculous. It isn't a real city, you can't walk anywhere, there is no mass transit, the big cultural fest is the livestock and rodeo and national touring companies of musicals you didn't want to see in New York anyway, museums that run The Passion of the Christ as if it were anything other than a pornographic snuff film and thereby give it a fig leaf of legitimacy. Houston is the worst of the South. It is unsophisticated, adolescent, and angry. Home of the Bushes and bush league.

Houston will be in the spotlight this summer with the delayed Andrea Yates retrial. She is the poster child for post partum depression. In a fit of paranoid schizophrenia with suicidal ideation, she drowned her five children in a bathtub in their Clear Lake, Texas home. Her husband, the recently remarried Mr. Yates, works at NASA.

He knew that she was seriously ill. She had stopped taking her medication and her mother and mother-in-law had come in shifts to help her with her children. Her father had recently died, her husband had allegedly bragged to others that he had never changed a diaper. She was homeschooling the kids and at one time lived in a bus with them and her husband without electricity or running water. He was at work at NASA when she called police and said, "I killed my children."

Mr. Yates wasn't charged with anything. He knew his wife was suicidal. He knew that she had developed schizophrenia. Most schizophrenics are not violent. He didn't know that she would drown their children because she believed that God told her to do it. She believed she was a bad mother. She had been pregnant five times in the last eight years before she killed her children one by one. There wasn't anything with which he could be charged under Texas law. Believe me, there were women and men pouring over the Texas Criminal Code searching for something.

The State of Texas has a hard-on for Andrea. They aren't seeking the death penalty against her this time like they did in her first trial, but they definitely want her to spend the rest of her life in prison. Mr. Yates divorced Andrea after her conviction and sentence to 40 years in the Texas prison system. If a person isn't crazy when they go in the Texas prison system, they will be after a few years there.

She is being retried because of seriously flawed prosecution testimony. She is indeed fortunate that she did win her appeal to the Texas Court of Appeals because members of that court had said in to their clerks that they should not bring them appeal petitions that sought reversible error against the State of Texas. When that little aside hit the press, the Court certainly had to do something about its credibility problem.

So life in Houston is difficult. More difficult for a woman with no real money to mount a defense against the state which has unlimited resources to use to secure a conviction in the case of a middle class woman with serious mental illness, suburban isolation, no help from her church, who had been a nurse and valedictorian of her high school class, who was raising her children in a loving, godly family.

The moral of her story is she has been indicted by a grand jury for murder and indicted by the people of Houston for her failure as a stay at home mother with mental illness. Her trial is as much about the hideous insanity defense in Texas as it is about life in Texas. Putting her in prison is about her inability to cope with the demands of child rearing alone. Not everyone who brings up their children in a marriage defined by a fundamentalist religion in a city whose culture wants to deny that there is mental illness and that suburban life is often horribly difficult murders their children. Some women leave their husbands, put their kids in day care and public schools and get jobs to support themselves when the bubble bursts and they don't live happily ever after. But Andrea Yates was probably terribly confused as to why if she was doing all she could to follow God's plan she was so depressed and sad and why the voices told her to kill her children.

The State of Texas believes that she should have known that God would never tell her to drown her children therefore she knew what she did was wrong.

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