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Hey everyone, Murba here. With E3 gracing us with its presence once again, its time to reflect on game series both new and old. Here I will be giving an overview of one of the most successful PC franchises for nearly two decades, The Sims series. I will first be describing how the series origins and how it came to be made, then I will be going over each game in the series along with their respective add-ons. Origins The Sims series was created by video game designer Will Wright, though he had already been a household name for over a decade. This is due to his work in a variety of games that have focused on sandbox-style gameplay that focused more on player creativity and management rather than objectives or reaching an endpoint. One of the first games he had developed was Raid on Bungling Bay where he stated that he had more fun developing the environments rather than playing the actual game. This would lead him to developing his own video game, originally called Micropolis, that focused on building cities and managing their development without end. Later in development, the game would undergo a name change and become known as SimCity, the very first game in the Sim series. Separate from The Sims series, the Sim series was a series of simulation games that placed players in scenarios that fostered creativity and management skills in a wide variety of situations. Beyond SimCity, the series would expand into other areas like farming in SimFarm, hospital upkeep in SimHealth, and business management in SimTower. There were also games like SimAnt and SimEarth that focused not on earning money but creating life and helping creatures survive in the worlds that the player created. Eventually, a game that combined the business and life management scenarios of the series would be released in the year 2000, aptly named The Sims. The inspiration for The Sims came about when Will Wright faced a sudden hardship when his home was one of many structures that was affected by the 1991 Oakland Firestorm. The house was destroyed, and all his possessions were also lost. Faced with having to basically rebuild his life, the tragedy had turned to inspiration. Wright had begun to think of a video game that would match what he had been through; building a home from the ground up and simulating the joys and struggles of life through a virtual family. After shopping the idea around and facing technological limitations at the time, Electronic Arts finally agreed to pick up the project years after the fire and The Sims was officially put into development and the first trailer was launched. Originally, the game was going to feature an open-ended system that was focused heavily on construction and studying the in-game characters behavior. But after working on the social aspect of the game for a time, the developers and Wright found more enjoyment in this and began focusing development on individual characters and the actions they take and relationships they make. Despite the gains in development, though, the game did not elicit much confidence from Electronic Arts and was not properly spotlighted by the time E3 1999 came around. However, the game did gain attention when a demo featured two female Sims professing their love to one another and kissing at a wedding. As same-sex relationships were hardly, if ever, featured in video games, this was a huge steppingstone in many eyes and brought much needed attention to the game. The publicity had successfully highlighted the game and its life-simulating features that many gamers were hyped to play with. Finally, on January 31, 2000, The Sims was officially launched to critical acclaim and overtook Myst as the top selling PC game of all time. Thus, The Sims series was launched with a bang. The Sims The first Sims game revolves around its three basic modes: Live, Buy, Build. The game opens with a loading screen with text implying humorous circumstances that are occurring in order to make the game run properly, a staple that would continue throughout the series. The game then presents the player with a small neighborhood with plenty of pre-designed homes and Sims to play as. Of course, creativity is key in this game and so one of the first things a new player can do is create their own Sims. The creation system in The Sims 1 was a basic system as you could only choose your Sims gender, age, skin tone, head, and body. There is also an option to choose your Sims personality, whether they be neat or a slob, active or lazy, outgoing or shy, etc. There was a lot of fun in mixing and matching the different options and up to eight Sims could be created in one household or family. The next step is to pick a home for the newly created household to dwell in. One could create their own home or pick from the predesigned ones provided. Either way, a home is always in need of furnishings and this is where the Buy aspect comes into play. A large catalogue of items is provided right at the comfort of your own home, eliminating the need to travel and purchase goods. While a whole slew of objects and knick-knacks are widely available, the Sims needs are a priority. Each Sim as eight needs that need fulfilling; these being Hunger, Social, Fun, Comfort, Hygiene, Bladder, Energy, and Environment. As such, Sims need objects like refrigerators to eat, televisions to have fun, beds to regain energy, etc. Of course, if a Sim family is moved into an empty lot, a home to place said objects in comes first. A home could be however big a player wants within the lot boundary and go up to two stories. Terraforming tools are also available that allows players to build steep hills or deep holes and even create decorative ponds to liven the lot up. The game offers a wide variety of options when building a home like adding wooden or spiral staircases, selecting wallpapers that change the texture of the outside and inside of a home, differing types of flooring like tile and carpet, and even adding pools. Each object in both Build and Buy mode is also accompanied by descriptions that can be elaborate or humorous (with one wallpaper, called "Dare Wallpaper" that outright asks the player if they "dare use this wallpaper" without any explanation why. When all Sims are moved in and objects placed and homes built, it is time to live life to the fullest. Adult Sims can learn a variety of skills and form relationships with members of their household and other neighborhood Sims. Although travel is not possibly in the base game, Sims do occasionally stop by and can be seen walking past the homes of your playable Sims. Sims can also take on jobs in fields like education, police, and even criminal and work their way up the ladder earning promotions and pay raises. However, there is no day cycle, so the price comes at having a Sim work every day to make a living. Child Sims have more limited options and need to go to school every day much like an adult working-Sim. Another key aspect of the game was the music that was integrated within the modes. While the Live mode was mostly quiet save for radios or speaker systems that could be installed within the home, the Buy and Build modes were accompanied by a new-age Jazz soundtrack created by Jerry Martin. The Buy mode had a livelier soundtrack that created a feeling of excitement but also relaxation as players bought endless objects that livened up their homes and made their Sims lives easier. The Build mode soundtrack was much calmer and created a sensation that nature and construction were working together to build the home of the players dreams and was the perfect tone for such a venture. Overall, this soundtrack has been lauded by many and streams can often be found on YouTube for many to listen to. As stated before, one of the main draws of the Sims series is the open-ended gameplay that has no objectives or endgame content. However, this does not exclude a game-over scenario. As with life, Sims can experience mishaps and end up dying as a result of accidents like fires, electrocution, or falling meteors (a common occurrence. Low needs like hunger can also cause Sims to undergo breakdowns and endanger their lives further. Children could also be taken away due to neglect or even sent to military school forever if their grades slump in school. However harsh, these scenarios connect back to Will Wrights original vision for the Sims being a simulation of real life and the joys and consequences that follow. Overall, though, Sims that are properly taken care of can live prosperous lives and happy lives. They can have relationships, get married, have children through simply actions like kissing, create wondrous works of art, become a jack-of-all-trades by learning every skill in the game, etc. The Sims, while dated in some respects, provided an infinite amount of entertainment that allowed for players to express their creativity in endless ways and play out scenarios that can go good or bad in many ways. Of course, another staple of The Sims series is the expansion packs and there were many in this game, totaling seven for one game. Some packs like Livin Large and House Party expanded on the actions Sims could so in their homes like having robot butlers clean up their messes, having teleporting staircases take them up the next floor, and throw massive parties to meet Sims and even meet Drew Carrey in the game. Others like Hot Date, Unleashed, and Vacation allowed for Sims to travel outside of the home and go on dates downtown, visit the expanded neighborhood of Old Town and adopt cats and dogs, or take a trip to the beach, forest, or mountains for a relaxing vacation. Finally, Superstar and Makin Magic changed what Sims could dedicate their lives to by letting them visit the new studio lots and become celebrities or become Mages by visiting, or moving into, Magic Town. There was also an online pack called The Sims Online where players could meet with other online through their Sims. Overall, The Sims and its expansion packs would set the stage for the future of the series and be the inspiration for future titles and packs that followed it. The Sims 2 About four years after The Sims was launched, the sequel to the game was released, aptly named The Sims 2. Although Will Wright was attached to the project, he did not provide much input into the sequel and the project was left in the hands other developers. The basic gameplay mechanics stayed relatively the same though there were some big additions that were made for this game. One of the first big changes was the shift from an isometric camera to a fully 3D camera in both the neighborhood and home. All Sims, objects, and homes were now 3D models and extensive detail was given to their shading, lighting, and shadow works to make them feel more alive. The upgraded engine also allowed for improvements to be made to the game modes like increasing the height of homes to five floors instead of two, allowing lots to be placed anywhere in the neighborhood, and giving Sims fully facial expressions instead of static heads. Another change that was made was how Sims could be created. Sims no longer stayed the same age forever and could now age appropriately, introducing toddlers, teenagers, and elders to the system. The creation options were vastly improved as individual tops and bottoms could now be customized and selected, outfits like pajamas and formal wear could be selected, and facial sculpting allowed for complete, if sometimes scary, freedom. Finally, a Sim could have an associated Aspiration tied to their personality. Aspirations like Family, Fortune, or Knowledge would dictate what a Sim was most interested in and drive their focus and goals towards these aspirations. A Family oriented Sim would want to focus on marriage and taking care of children while a Knowledge oriented Sim would focus on increasing their skills and creating crafts with what they have learned. These features tie into the Wants and Fears mode as well as the Aspiration Meter. The Aspiration Meter is a mode that can increase or decrease depending on if Wants or Fears are met. Wants and Fears are mini objectives that Sims may want to accomplish like make a new friend or avoid like the plague like getting fired. Fulfilling these grants Sims Aspiration Points and can liven their mood and be redeemed for special rewards that can make the game easier. Such rewards include a helmet that can boost their skills, a machine that lets Sims change their complete personality, and a drink dispenser that can provide extra days in a Sims life. Overall, the game was fitted with multiple features that expanded on the original game and greatly improved the overall experience. The addition of a weekly system meant that Sims did not have to go to work or school every day. Genetics could now be passed down to children instead of the system being a roll of the dice. The addition of a movie maker also allowed players to film their experiences and share them with friends offline and online. Life states were also introduced as Sims could now become a multitude of different species like Vampires, Werewolves, and even Zombies. The Sims 2 was also accompanied by eight expansion packs that provided features seen in previous packs, but some introduced new concepts. University allowed teenage Sims to move out of their parents homes and live the dorm life, studying for final exams and joining secret college societies that would make or break their educational experience. Open for Business let Sims create their own businesses by selling objects or providing services for other Sims without needing to work under careers. Seasons introduced weather conditions like rain and snow in the game that changed depending on the seasons. Finally, Apartment Life introduced apartment living and allowed for Sims to find roommates enjoy the joys and pitfalls of living by rent in shoddy holes in the wall or luxurious penthouses. The Sims 2 also introduced the concept of stuff packs. Stuff packs were like expansion packs, but they contained little to no gameplay features and instead just provided new objects that Sims could buy. Ten stuff packs were released, and each contained a theme like Teen Style or Family Fun styles. Some packs like IKEA Home and H&M Fashion were commissions by said companies and earned criticism from gamers and reviewers alike. Overall, The Sims 2 was a huge leap forward for The Sims series as it heavily upgraded its engine and allowed for greater player creativity through its characters and build options. The Sims 3 Will Wright had left Electronic Arts after the release of his newest game Spore yet the Sims license remained with the company. As such, the series would end up being developed further without Wrights input and a successor to The Sims 2 had begun development, that being The Sims 3. Right from the first trailer, it is clear that this game was going to be much more ambitious than its predecessors and go well beyond to create a new experience. While there were a multitude of changes made like smoother character models and more skills that Sims could learn, there were three big changes that were added to this entry. Probably the biggest change that the game was trying to advertise was the new open world that Sims could traverse in. Previous titles only allowed individual lots to be played in and travel required driving over and waiting on loading screens for the next lot to load. Now the entire world was seamless and entirely open. Sims could walk to and visit neighbors, find collectables stones and bugs in far off locations, go for a jog around town to build up their fitness skills, everything was obtainable now without any interruptions. The second biggest change was the addition of traits. Previous Sims titles allowed for personality points and aspirations to determine how sociable a Sim would be or how neat they were, yet traits completely overhauled this system. Now Sims could have up to five traits that changed their behavior and unlocked certain actions unique to said traits. A Sim with the Virtuoso trait could sing in the shower and build up skills faster in music skills. A Sim who is Never Nude always swims and showers in a bathing suit. A Kleptomaniac could randomly swipe objects from unsuspecting Sims homes. There was a multitude of traits added that could truly make each Sim unique in their own way. The final big change to the game was the addition of the Create-a-Style mode. Previous games only allowed for a few options regarding the color of objects and clothing and could be quite limiting. This new mode allowed for practically every object in the game to be given a custom color or texture depending on player choice. A couch could be turned bright red and giving a metallic texture. A toilet could be colored gold and given a carpet texture. These were all options that made both the Sims and their homes stand out more in this new world. As per usual, expansion packs would further the Sims experience and they each brought new experiences that the series had yet seen. Ambitions allowed for Sims to actively play out their careers like Firefighter or Investigator rather than having the actions be done off camera. Generations put more emphasis on childhood and elderly Sims by giving them new interactions and options like school dances or reminiscing on the old times. Supernatural brought together many life states like lycanthropy and witches all in one expansion pack aimed at creating a true fantasy world. Finally, Island Paradise and Into the Future sought to gives Sims a new way of living by letting them live on luxurious islands and houseboats and travel into the future and experience the wonders of the new technology that could be found. Stuff packs also make a return in this game and as per usual, they are centered around themes like vehicles in Fast Lane and outdoor spaces in Outdoor Living. We also got sponsored packs like Diesel Stuff which added objects from the official company and, much to the confusion of many payers, a Katy Perry styled pack titled Katy Perrys Sweet Treats which contained candy-themed objects and clothing at a higher cost than most packs. A third type of pack was introduced this generation called Worlds. These were essentially neighborhoods that were available on the Sims online store and retailers, each with their own theme like piracy for Barnacle Bay or outer space for Lunar Lakes. This is also the game that fully utilized the online store and consistently released objects, clothing, and exclusive tools that could be bought with real world money and downloaded into the game. Overall, this was clearly the most ambitious Sims game that has come out. It set a high amount of standards and goals and many players have shown admiration for the steps the game has taken towards achieving them. The Sims 4 With the arrival of the fourth Sims game, this entry has received a more mixed reception compared to its predecessors. One of the key reasons why is because many of the features that were introduced in previous games were either removed or scaled back. This was a game that was meant to appeal towards a larger audience and be able for anyone to play, hence sacrifices were made. The open world was no longer available and loading screens between lots had returned. Sim models were of a lower quality and not as realistic as other entries before it. Features like traits were still present but were scaled back a bit in lieu of new additions. Overall, this was a base game that had a lot of work to do to appeal towards longtime gamers, yet the new additions did help the game stand out more. One of the new key features that was added was Emotions. Previous Sims games usually kept Sims at a simple mindset and anything indicating a change in mood was usually not significant enough that gameplay would be affected. Now the actions that Sims would take, or events that would occur, could now have a positive or negative effect on a Sims mood. Things like objects breaking or getting into fights would sour a Sims mood and this would linger until something was done to brighten up their mood by doing activities that would make them happy. This also unlocked unique options like kicking down trash cans to vent ones anger or play in the bathtub of a Sim is feeling playful. These new emotions made Sims feel more alive and helped them react more to the environment around them. Another new feature that was added was the revamped create-a-Sim mode. A Sims features were no longer reliant on sliders or picking select options but now Sims could now be molded by simply clicking on their body and be changed to the players hearts content. Another feature was that Sims genders were now completely customizable, giving way to options like transgendered or non-binary Sims. This also opened the door for all clothing and hair options to become available for Sims as it was no longer locked to specific genders now. As per usual, the game has had a slew of expansion and stuff packs, with the latter up to fourteen stuff packs and growing. The game has also introduced the concept of Game Packs. These are essentially the opposite of stuff packs whereas those introduced objects without changing the game fundamentally, game packs offered new modes or features that would have been too small for an expansion pack to feature. These include the Vampires pack which introduced the dark creatures of the night and also Spa Day which lets Sims create their own massage parlor and learn masseuse skills. Overall, The Sims 4 has had a rocky starts due to its missing features but it has steadily carved out an identity of its own and become a key part of the Sims franchise. In the end, The Sims series will forever be one of the most influential PC game series to have ever hit the market and one of my favorite games of all time. What are your favorite Sims games? What were your favorite experiences playing the games? What features do you hope will be added? Feel free to comment on your experiences and thank you for taking the time to read this! Sources: The Sims Wiki The Sims Wikipedia Page LGR SimCity Series Retrospective The Kiss That Changed Video Games How The Sims Made New-Age Jazz Piano the Soundtrack of Our Lives.

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Enron Corporation was an American energy, commodities, and services company based in Houston, Texas. It was founded in 1985 as a merger between Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth, both relatively small regional companies. Before its bankruptcy on December 3, 2001, Enron employed approximately 29, 000 staff and was a major electricity, natural gas, communications and pulp and paper company, with claimed revenues of nearly 101 billion during 2000. [1] Fortune named Enron "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years. At the end of 2001, it was revealed that Enron's reported financial condition was sustained by institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud, known since as the Enron scandal. Enron has since become a well-known example of willful corporate fraud and corruption. The scandal also brought into question the accounting practices and activities of many corporations in the United States and was a factor in the enactment of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002. The scandal also affected the greater business world by causing the dissolution of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm, which had been Enron's main auditor for years. [2] Enron filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York in late 2001 and selected Weil, Gotshal & Manges as its bankruptcy counsel. It ended its bankruptcy during November 2004, pursuant to a court-approved plan of reorganization. A new board of directors changed the name of Enron to Enron Creditors Recovery Corp., and emphasized reorganizing and liquidating certain operations and assets of the pre-bankruptcy Enron. [3] On September 7, 2006, Enron sold Prisma Energy International Inc., its last remaining business, to Ashmore Energy International Ltd. (now AEI. 4] Contents 1 History 1. 1 Pre-merger origins (1925–1985) 1. 1. 1 InterNorth 1. 2 Houston Natural Gas 1. 3 Merger 1. 2 Post-merger rise (1985–1991) 1. 3 1991–2000 1. 3. 1 Operations as a trading firm 1. 2 Entrance into the retail energy market 1. 3 Data management 1. 4 Overseas expansion 1. 4 Misleading financial accounts 2 2001 Accounting scandals 2. 1 Accounting practices 2. 2 Post-bankruptcy 3 Insider trading scandal 3. 1 Peak and decline of stock price 4 California's deregulation and subsequent energy crisis 5 Former management and corporate governance 6 Products 6. 1 Online marketplace services 6. 2 Broadband services 6. 3 Energy and commodities services 6. 4 Capital and risk management services 6. 4. 1 Commercial and industrial outsourcing services 6. 2 Project development and management services 6. 5 EnronOnline 6. 6 Enron International 6. 6. 1 Management 6. 2 Projects 6. 3 India 6. 4 Project summer 6. 7 Enron Global Exploration & Production, Inc. 7 Enron Prize for Distinguished Public Service 8 Enron's influence on politics 9 See also 10 References 11 Bibliography 12 External links 12. 1 Data History Pre-merger origins (1925–1985) InterNorth One of Enron's primary predecessors was the Northern Natural Gas Company, which was formed in 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska just a few months after Black Tuesday. The low cost of natural gas and cheap labor supply during the Great Depression helped to fuel the company's early beginnings. The company doubled in size by 1932 and was able to bring the first natural gas to Minnesota. Over the next 50 years, Northern expanded even more as it acquired many energy companies and created new divisions within. It was reorganized in 1979 as the main subsidiary of a holding company, InterNorth, which was a diversified energy and energy-related products company. Although most of the acquisitions conducted were successful, some ended poorly. InterNorth competed with Cooper Industries over a hostile takeover of Crouse-Hinds Company, an electrical products manufacturer. InterNorth was ultimately unsuccessful as Cooper bought out Crouse-Hinds. Cooper and InterNorth feuded over numerous suits during the course of the takeover that were eventually settled after the transaction was completed. The subsidiary Northern Natural Gas operated the largest natural gas pipeline company in North America. By the 1980s, InterNorth became a major force for natural gas production, transmission, and marketing as well as for natural gas liquids, and was an innovator in the plastics industry. [5] In 1983, InterNorth merged with the Belco Petroleum Company, a Fortune 500 oil exploration and development company founded by Arthur Belfer. [6] Houston Natural Gas The Houston Natural Gas (HNG) corporation was initially formed from the Houston Oil Co. in 1925 to provide gas to customers in the Houston market through the building of gas pipelines. Under the leadership of CEO Robert Herring from 1967 to 1981, the company became a large dominant force in the energy industry with a large pipeline network as a result from a prosperous period of growth in the early to mid-1970s. This growth was largely a result of the exploitation of the unregulated Texas natural gas market and the commodity surge in the early 1970s. Toward the end of the 1970s, HNG's luck began to run out with rising gas prices forcing clients to switch to oil. In addition, with the passing of the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978, the Texas market was more difficult to profit from and as a result, HNG's profits fell. After Herring's death in 1981, M. D. Matthews briefly took over as CEO in a 3-year stint with initial success, but ultimately, a big dip in earnings led to his exit. In 1984, Kenneth Lay succeeded Matthews and inherited the troubled, but large diversified energy conglomerate. [7] Merger InterNorth, in its conservative success became a target of corporate takeovers, the most prominent being corporate raider Irwin Jacobs. [8] InterNorth CEO Sam Segnar, in searching for a company to merge with to fend off takeover attempts as a poison pill, discovered HNG. In May 1985, Internorth acquired HNG for 2. 3 billion, 40% higher than the current market price, 9] in order to avoid the corporate takeover attempt. The combined assets of the two companies would create the second largest gas pipeline system at the time in the United States. [10] Internorths north-south pipelines that served Iowa and Minnesota complemented HNGs Florida and California east-west pipelines well. [9] Post-merger rise (1985–1991) The company was initially named "HNG/InterNorth Inc. even though InterNorth was technically the parent. [10] At the outset, Segnar was CEO for a short time, before he was fired by the Board of Directors whereupon Lay was tapped to be the new CEO. Lay moved the headquarters of the new company back to energy capital Houston. The company then set out to find a new name, spent upwards of 100, 000 in focus groups and consulting before "Enteron" was suggested. The name was eventually dismissed over its apparent likening to an intestine and shortened to "Enron. 8] 9] The distinctive logo was one of the final major projects of legendary graphic designer Paul Rand before his 1996 passing. 11] 12] 13] Enron still had some lingering problems left over from its merger, however. The company had to pay Jacobs, who was still a threat, over 350 million and reorganize the company. [8] Lay sold off any parts of the company that he believed didn't belong in the long-term future of Enron. Lay consolidated all the gas pipeline efforts under the Enron Gas Pipeline Operating Company. In addition, the company began to ramp up its electric power and natural gas efforts. In 1988 and 1989, the company began adding power plants and cogeneration units to its portfolio. In 1989, Jeffrey Skilling, then a consultant at McKinsey & Co., came up with the idea to link natural gas to consumers in more ways, effectively turning natural gas into a commodity. Enron adopted the idea and called it the "Gas Bank. The division's success prompted Skilling to join Enron as the head of the Gas Bank in 1991. [10] Another major development inside Enron was the beginning of the company's pivot to overseas that was expanded upon in the 1990s. Starting in 1989, the company received a 56 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) for a power plant in Argentina. Enron Complex in Downtown Houston. 1991–2000 Over the course of the 1990s, Enron made a few changes to its business plan that greatly improved the perceived profitability of the company. First, Enron invested heavily in overseas assets, specifically energy. Another major shift was the gradual transition of focus from a producer of energy to a company that acted more like an investment firm and sometimes a hedge fund, making profits off the margins of the products it traded. These products were traded through the Gas Bank concept, now called the Enron Finance Corp. headed by Skilling. [8] Operations as a trading firm With the success of the Gas Bank trading natural gas, Skilling looked to expand the horizons of his division, Enron Capital & Trade. Skilling hired Andrew Fastow in 1990 to help with this. Entrance into the retail energy market Starting in 1994 under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, Congress allowed states to deregulate their electricity utilities, allowing them to be opened for competition. California was one such state to do so. Enron, seeing an opportunity with rising prices, was eager to jump into the market. In 1997, Enron acquired Portland General Electric (PGE. Although an Oregon utility, it had potential to begin serving the massive California market since PGE was a regulated utility. The new Enron division, Enron Energy, ramped up its efforts by offering discounts to potential customers in California for switching their electric supplier to Enron from their previous supplier, starting in 1998. Enron Energy also began to sell natural gas to customers in Ohio and wind power in Iowa. However, in 1999, the company ended its retail endeavor, only offering wholesale energy as it was revealed it was spending upwards of 100 million a year. [5] 8] 10] Data management As fiber optic technology progressed in the 1990s, multiple companies, including Enron, attempted to make money by "keeping the continuing network costs low" which was done by owning their own network. [14] In 1997, FTV Communications LLC, a limited liability company formed by Enron subsidiary FirstPoint Communications, Inc., Williams Communications Group, Inc. and Touch America. [15] FTV constructed a 1, 380 mile fiber optic network between Portland and Las Vegas. [15] In 1998, Enron constructed a building in a rundown area of Las Vegas near E Sahara, building right over the "backbone" of fiber optic cables providing service to technology companies nationwide. [16] The location had the ability to send "the entire Library of Congress anywhere in the world within minutes" and could stream "video to the whole state of California. 16] The location was also more protected from natural disasters than areas such as Los Angeles or the East Coast. [16] According to Wall Street Daily, Enron had a secret. it "wanted to trade bandwidth like it traded oil, gas, electricity, etc. It launched a secret plan to build an enormous amount of fiber optic transmission capacity in Las Vegas. it was all part of Enrons plan to essentially own the internet. 17] essentially, Enron sought to have all US internet service providers rely on their Nevada facility to supply bandwidth, which Enron would sell in a fashion similar to other commodities. [18] In January 2000, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling announced to analysts that they were going to open trading for their own "high-speed fiber-optic networks that form the backbone for Internet traffic. Investors quickly bought Enron stock following the announcement "as they did with most things Internet-related at the time" with stock prices rising from 40 per share in January 2000 to 70 per share in March, peaking at 90 in the summer of 2000. Enron executives obtained windfall gains from the rising stock prices, with a total of 924 million of stocks sold by high-level Enron employees between 2000 and 2001. Head of Enron Broadband Services, Kenneth Rice, sold 1 million shares himself, earning about 70 million in returns. As prices of existing fiber optic cables plummeted due to the vast oversupply of the system, with only 5% of the 40 million miles being active wires, Enron purchased the inactive "dark fibers" expecting to buy them at low cost and then make a profit as the need for more usage by internet providers increased, with Enron expecting to lease its acquired dark fibers in 20 year contracts to providers. However, Enron's accounting would use estimates to determine how much their dark fiber would be worth when "lit" and apply those estimates to their current income, adding exaggerated revenue to their accounts since transactions were not yet made and it was not known if the cables would ever be active. Enron's trading with other energy companies within the broadband market was its attempt to lure large telecommunications companies, such as Verizon Communications, into its broadband scheme to create its own new market. [19] By the second quarter of 2001, Enron Broadband Services was reporting losses. On March 12, 2001, a proposed 20-year deal between Enron and Blockbuster Inc. to stream movies on demand over Enron's connections was cancelled, with Enron shares dropping from 80 per share in mid-February 2001 to below 60 the week after the deal was killed. The branch of the company that Jeffrey Skilling "said would eventually add 40 billion to Enron's stock value" added only about 408 million in revenue for Enron in 2001, with the company's broadband arm closed shortly after its meager second-quarter earnings report in July 2001. [19] Following the bankruptcy of Enron, telecommunications holdings were sold for "pennies on the dollar. 16] In 2002, Rob Roy of Switch Communications purchased Enron's Nevada facility in an auction attended only by Roy. Enron's "fiber plans were so secretive that few people even knew about the auction. The facility was sold for only 930, 000. [16] 17] Following the sale, Switch expanded to control "the biggest data center in the world. 17] Overseas expansion Enron, seeing stability after the merger, began to look overseas for new possible energy opportunities in 1991. Enron's first such opportunity was a natural gas power plant utilizing cogeneration that the company built in Teesside, UK. [5] 9] The power plant was so large it could produce up to 3% of the United Kingdom's electricity demand with a capacity of over 1, 875 megawatts. [20] Seeing the success in England, the company developed and diversified its assets worldwide under the name of Enron International (EI) headed by former HNG executive Rebecca Mark. By 1994, EI's portfolio included assets in The Philippines, Australia, Guatemala, Germany, France, India, Argentina, the Caribbean, China, England, Colombia, Turkey, Bolivia, Brazil, Indonesia, Norway, Poland, and Japan. The division was becoming a large share of earnings for Enron, contributing 25% of earnings in 1996. Mark and EI believed the water industry was the next market to be deregulated by authorities and seeing the potential, searched for ways to enter the market, similar to PGE. In 1998, Enron International acquired Wessex Water for 2. 88 billion. [21] Wessex Water became the core asset of a new company, Azurix, which expanded to other water companies. After Azurix's promising IPO in June 1999, Enron "sucked out over 1 billion in cash while loading it up with debt" according to Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, authors of The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron. [22] 250 Additionally, British water regulators required Wessex to cut its rates by 12% starting in April 2000, and an upgrade was required of the utility's aging infrastructure, estimated at costing over a billion dollars. [22] 255 By the end of 2000 Azurix had an operating profit of less than 100 million and was 2 billion in debt. [22] 257 In August 2000, after Azurix stock took a plunge following its earnings report, 22] 257 Mark resigned from Azurix and Enron. [23] 24] Azurix assets, including Wessex, were eventually sold by Enron. [25] Misleading financial accounts Main article: Enron scandal In 1990, Enron's Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Skilling hired Andrew Fastow, who was well acquainted with the burgeoning deregulated energy market that Skilling wanted to exploit. [citation needed] In 1993, Fastow began establishing numerous limited liability special purpose entities (a common business practice in the energy industry) however, it also allowed Enron to transfer liability so that it would not appear in its accounts, allowing it to maintain a robust and generally increasing stock price and thus keeping its critical investment grade credit ratings. [citation needed] Enron was originally involved in transmitting and distributing electricity and natural gas throughout the United States. The company developed, built, and operated power plants and pipelines while dealing with rules of law and other infrastructures worldwide. [citation needed] Enron owned a large network of natural gas pipelines, which stretched coast to coast and border to border including Northern Natural Gas, Florida Gas Transmission, Transwestern Pipeline company and a partnership in Northern Border Pipeline from Canada. [citation needed] The states of California, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island had already passed power deregulation laws by July 1996, the time of Enron's proposal to acquire Portland General Electric corporation. [26] During 1998, Enron began operations in the water sector, creating the Azurix Corporation, which it part-floated on the New York Stock Exchange during June 1999. Azurix failed to become successful in the water utility market, and one of its major concessions, in Buenos Aires, was a large-scale money-loser. [citation needed] After the relocation to Houston, many analysts[who. criticized the Enron management as being greatly in debt. Enron management pursued aggressive retribution against its critics, setting the pattern for dealing with accountants, lawyers, and the financial media. [citation needed] Enron grew wealthy due largely to marketing, promoting power, and its high stock price. [citation needed] Enron was named "America's Most Innovative Company" by the magazine Fortune for six consecutive years, from 1996 to 2001. [27] It was on the Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" list during 2000, and had offices that were stunning in their opulence. Enron was hailed by many, including labor and the workforce, as an overall great company, praised for its large long-term pensions, benefits for its workers and extremely effective management until the exposure of its corporate fraud. The first analyst to question the company's success story was Daniel Scotto, an energy market expert at BNP Paribas, who issued a note in August 2001 entitled Enron: All stressed up and no place to go, which encouraged investors to sell Enron stocks, although he only changed his recommendation on the stock from "buy" to "neutral. 28] As was later discovered, many of Enron's recorded assets and profits were inflated or even wholly fraudulent and nonexistent. One example of fraudulent records was during 1999 when Enron promised to repay Merrill Lynch & Co. 's investment with interest in order to show a profit on its books. Debts and losses were put into entities formed "offshore" that were not included in the company's financial statements, and other sophisticated and arcane financial transactions between Enron and related companies were used to eliminate unprofitable entities from the company's books. [citation needed] The company's most valuable asset and the largest source of honest income, the 1930s-era Northern Natural Gas company, was eventually purchased by a group of Omaha investors, who relocated its headquarters back to Omaha; it is now a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Energy. NNG was established as collateral for a 2. 5 billion capital infusion by Dynegy Corporation when Dynegy was planning to buy Enron. When Dynegy examined Enron's financial records carefully, they repudiated the deal and dismissed their CEO, Chuck Watson. The new chairman and CEO, the late Daniel Dienstbier, had been president of NNG and an Enron executive at one time and was forced out of Enron by Ken Lay. [citation needed] Dienstbier was an acquaintance of Warren Buffett. NNG continues to be profitable now. [relevant? – discuss] 2001 Accounting scandals Main article: Enron scandal During 2001, after a series of revelations involving irregular accounting procedures bordering on fraud perpetrated throughout the 1990s involving Enron and its accounting company Arthur Andersen, Enron suffered the largest Chapter 11 bankruptcy in history (since surpassed by those of Worldcom during 2002 and Lehman Brothers during 2008. As the scandal progressed, Enron share prices decreased from US 90. 56 during the summer of 2000, to just pennies. [29] Enron had been considered a blue chip stock investment, so this was an unprecedented event in the financial world. Enron's demise occurred after the revelation that much of its profits and revenue were the result of deals with special purpose entities (limited partnerships which it controlled. This meant that many of Enron's debts and the losses that it suffered were not reported in its financial statements. [citation needed] A rescue attempt by a similar, smaller energy company, Dynegy, failed during late November due to concerns about an unexpected restatement of earnings. [citation needed] Enron filed for bankruptcy on December 2, 2001. In addition, the scandal caused the dissolution of Arthur Andersen, which at the time was one of the "Big Five. the world's foremost accounting firms. The company was found guilty of obstruction of justice during 2002 for destroying documents related to the Enron audit. [citation needed] Since the SEC is not allowed to accept audits from convicted felons, Andersen was forced to stop auditing public companies. Although the conviction was dismissed during 2005 by the Supreme Court, the damage to the Andersen name has prevented it from reviving as a viable business even on a limited scale. Enron also withdrew a naming-rights deal with the Houston Astros Major League Baseball club to have its name associated with their new stadium, which was known formerly as Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park. 30] Accounting practices Enron used a variety of deceptive, bewildering, and fraudulent accounting practices and tactics to cover its fraud in reporting Enron's financial information. Special Purpose Entities were created to mask significant liabilities from Enron's financial statements. These entities made Enron seem more profitable than it actually was, and created a dangerous spiral in which, each quarter, corporate officers would have to perform more and more financial deception to create the illusion of billions of dollars in profit while the company was actually losing money. [31] This practice increased their stock price to new levels, at which point the executives began to work on insider information and trade millions of dollars' worth of Enron stock. The executives and insiders at Enron knew about the offshore accounts that were hiding losses for the company; the investors, however, did not. Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow directed the team which created the off-books companies, and manipulated the deals to provide himself, his family, and his friends with hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed revenue, at the expense of the corporation for which he worked and its stockholders. [citation needed] Arthur Andersen Witnesses During 1999, Enron initiated EnronOnline, an Internet-based trading operation, which was used by virtually every energy company in the United States. Enron president and chief operating officer Jeffrey Skilling began advocating a novel idea: the company didn't really need any "assets. citation needed] By promoting the company's aggressive investment strategy, he helped make Enron the biggest wholesaler of gas and electricity, trading over 27 billion per quarter. The corporation's financial claims, however, had to be accepted at face value. Under Skilling, Enron adopted mark to market accounting, in which anticipated future profits from any deal were tabulated as if currently real. Thus, Enron could record gains from what over time might turn out to be losses, as the company's fiscal health became secondary to manipulating its stock price on Wall Street during the so-called Tech boom. [citation needed] But when a company's success is measured by undocumented financial statements, actual balance sheets are inconvenient. Indeed, Enron's unscrupulous actions were often gambles to keep the deception going and so increase the stock price. An advancing price meant a continued infusion of investor capital on which debt-ridden Enron in large part subsisted (much like a financial "pyramid" or "Ponzi scheme. Attempting to maintain the illusion, Skilling verbally attacked Wall Street Analyst Richard Grubman, 32] who questioned Enron's unusual accounting practice during a recorded conference telephone call. When Grubman complained that Enron was the only company that could not release a balance sheet along with its earnings statements, Skilling replied, Well, thank you very much, we appreciate that. asshole. Though the comment was met with dismay and astonishment by press and public, it became an inside joke among many Enron employees, mocking Grubman for his perceived meddling rather than Skilling's offensiveness. [33] 34] When asked during his trial, Skilling declared that industrial dominance and abuse was a global problem: Oh yes, yes sure, it is. 22] Post-bankruptcy Enron initially planned to retain its three domestic pipeline companies as well as most of its overseas assets. However, before emerging from bankruptcy, Enron sold its domestic pipeline companies as CrossCountry Energy for 2. 45 billion [35] and later sold other assets to Vulcan Capital Management. [36] Enron sold its last business, Prisma Energy, during 2006, leaving Enron asset-less. [37] During early 2007, its name was changed to Enron Creditors Recovery Corporation. Its goal is to repay the old Enron's remaining creditors and end Enron's affairs. Azurix, the former water utility part of the company, remains under Enron ownership, although it is currently asset-less. It is involved in several litigations against the government of Argentina claiming compensation relating to the negligence and corruption of the local governance during its management of the Buenos Aires water concession during 1999, which resulted in substantial amounts of debt (approx. 620 million) and the eventual collapse of the branch. [38] Soon after emerging from bankruptcy during November 2004, Enron's new board of directors sued 11 financial institutions for helping Lay, Fastow, Skilling and others hide Enron's true financial condition. The proceedings were dubbed the "megaclaims litigation. Among the defendants were Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. As of 2008, Enron has settled with all of the institutions, ending with Citigroup. Enron was able to obtain nearly 7. 2 billion to distribute to its creditors as a result of the megaclaims litigation. [39] As of December 2009, some claim and process payments were still being distributed. Enron has been featured since its bankruptcy in popular culture, including in The Simpsons episodes That '90s Show (Homer buys Enron stocks while Marge chooses to keep her own Microsoft stocks) and Special Edna, which features a scene of an Enron-themed amusement park ride. The 2007 film Bee Movie also featured a joke reference to a parody company of Enron called "Honron" a play on the words honey and Enron. The 2017 book Bittersweet Symphony by Rebecca McNutt featured main character Bailey Kane discussing Enron while remarking, in devastation there is opportunity, you know. The 2003 documentary The Corporation (2003 film) made frequent references to Enron post-bankruptcy, calling the company a "bad apple. Insider trading scandal Peak and decline of stock price During August 2000, Enron's stock price attained its greatest value of 90. 56. [22] At this time Enron executives, who possessed inside information on the hidden losses, began to sell their stock. At the same time, the general public and Enron's investors were told to buy the stock. Executives told the investors that the stock would continue to increase until it attained possibly the 130 to 140 range, while secretly unloading their shares. As executives sold their shares, the price began to decrease. Investors were told to continue buying stock or hold steady if they already owned Enron because the stock price would rebound in the near future. Kenneth Lay's strategy for responding to Enron's continuing problems was his demeanor. As he did many times, Lay would issue a statement or make an appearance to calm investors and assure them that Enron was doing well. [40] In February 2001 an article by Bethany McLean appeared in Fortune magazine questioning whether Enron stock was overvalued. [41] By August 15, 2001, Enron's stock price had decreased to 42. Many of the investors still trusted Lay and believed that Enron would rule the market. [42] They continued to buy or retain their stock as the equity value decreased. As October ended, the stock had decreased to 15. Many considered this a great opportunity to buy Enron stock because of what Lay had been telling them in the media. [40] Lay was accused of selling more than 70 million worth of stock at this time, which he used to repay cash advances on lines of credit. He sold another 29 million worth of stock in the open market. [43] Also, Lay's wife, Linda, was accused of selling 500, 000 shares of Enron stock totaling 1. 2 million on November 28, 2001. The money earned from this sale did not go to the family but rather to charitable organizations, which had already received pledges of contributions from the foundation. [44] Records show that Mrs. Lay made the sale order sometime between 10:00 and 10:20 am. News of Enron's problems, including the millions of dollars in losses they hid, became public about 10:30 that morning, and the stock price soon decreased to less than one dollar. Former Enron executive Paula Rieker was charged with criminal insider trading and sentenced to two years probation. Rieker obtained 18, 380 Enron shares for 15. 51 a share. She sold that stock for 49. 77 a share during July 2001, a week before the public was told what she already knew about the 102 million loss. [45] In 2002, after the tumultuous fall of Enron's external auditor, and management consultant, Andersen LLP, former Andersen Director, John M. Cunningham coined the phrase, We have all been Enroned. The fallout resulted in both Lay and Skilling being convicted of conspiracy, fraud, and insider trading. Lay died before sentencing, Skilling got 24 years and 4 months and a 45 million penalty (later reduced. Fastow was sentenced to six years of jail time, and Lou Pai settled out of court for 31. 5 million. [46] California's deregulation and subsequent energy crisis See also: California electricity crisis During October 2000, Daniel Scotto, the most renowned utility analyst on Wall Street, suspended his ratings on all energy companies conducting business in California because of the possibility that the companies would not receive full and adequate compensation for the deferred energy accounts used as the basis for the California Deregulation Plan enacted during the late 1990s. [47] Five months later, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was forced into bankruptcy. Senator Phil Gramm, husband of Enron Board member Wendy Gramm and also the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Enron, 48] succeeded in legislating California's energy commodity trading deregulation. Despite warnings from prominent consumer groups which stated that this law would give energy traders too much influence over energy commodity prices, the legislation was passed during December 2000. As the periodical Public Citizen reported, Because of Enron's new, unregulated power auction, the company's 'Wholesale Services' revenues quadrupled—- from 12 billion in the first quarter of 2000 to 48. 4 billion in the first quarter of 2001. 49] After passage of the deregulation law, California had a total of 38 Stage 3 rolling blackouts declared, until federal regulators intervened during June 2001. [50] These blackouts occurred as a result of a poorly designed market system that was manipulated by traders and marketers, as well as poor state management and regulatory oversight. Subsequently, Enron traders were revealed as intentionally encouraging the removal of power from the market during California's energy crisis by encouraging suppliers to shut down plants to perform unnecessary maintenance, as documented in recordings made at the time. [51] 52] These acts contributed to the need for rolling blackouts, which adversely affected many businesses dependent upon a reliable supply of electricity, and inconvenienced a large number of retail customers. This scattered supply increased the price, and Enron traders were thus able to sell power at premium prices, sometimes up to a factor of 20x its normal peak value. Former management and corporate governance Corporate Leadership and Central Management Kenneth Lay: Chairman, and Chief executive officer Jeffrey Skilling: President, Chief operating officer, and CEO (February–August 2001) Andrew Fastow: Chief financial officer Richard Causey: Chief accounting officer Rebecca Mark-Jusbasche: CEO of Enron International and Azurix Lou Pai: CEO of Enron Energy Services Forrest Hoglund: CEO of Enron Oil and Gas Dennis Ulak: President of Enron Oil and Gas International Jeffrey Sherrick: President of Enron Global Exploration & Production Inc. Richard Gallagher: Head of Enron Wholesale Global International Group Kenneth "Ken" Rice: CEO of Enron Wholesale and Enron Broadband Services J. Clifford Baxter: CEO of Enron North America Sherron Watkins: Head of Enron Global Finance Jim Derrick: Enron General Counsel Mark Koenig: Head of Enron Investor Relations Joan Foley: Head of Enron Human Resources Richard Kinder: President and COO of Enron (1990-December 1996) Greg Whalley: President and COO of Enron (August 2001– Bankruptcy) Jeff McMahon: CFO of Enron (October 2001-Bankruptcy) Board of Directors of Enron Corporation Kenneth Lay: Chairman of the Board Robert A. Belfer Norman P. Blake Jr. Ronnie C. Chan John H. Duncan Wendy L. Gramm Ken L. Harrison Robert K. Jaedicke Charles A. LeMaistre John Mendelsohn Jerome J. Meyer Richard K. Gallagher Paulo V. Ferraz Pereira Frank Savage: John A. Urquhart: John Wakeham: Herbert S. Winokur Jr. Products Enron traded in more than 30 different products, including the following: Products traded on EnronOnline Petrochemicals Plastics Power Pulp and paper Steel Weather Risk Management Oil and LNG transportation Broadband Principal investments Risk management for commodities Shipping / freight Streaming media Water and wastewater It was also an extensive futures trader, including sugar, coffee, grains, hogs, and other meat futures. At the time of its bankruptcy filing during December 2001, Enron was structured into seven distinct business units. Online marketplace services EnronOnline (commodity trading platform. ClickPaper (transaction platform for pulp, paper, and wood products. EnronCredit (the first global online credit department to provide live credit prices and enable business-to-business customers to hedge credit exposure instantly via the Internet. ePowerOnline (customer interface for Enron Broadband Services. Enron Direct (sales of fixed-price contracts for gas and electricity; Europe only. EnergyDesk (energy-related derivatives trading; Europe only. NewPowerCompany (online energy trading, joint venture with IBM and AOL. Enron Weather (weather derivatives. DealBench (online business services. Water2Water (water storage, supply, and quality credits trading. HotTap (customer interface for Enron's U. S. gas pipeline businesses. Enromarkt (business to business pricing and information platform; Germany only. Broadband services Enron Intelligent Network (broadband content delivery. Enron Media Services (risk management services for media content companies. Customizable Bandwidth Solutions (bandwidth and fiber products trading. Streaming Media Applications (live or on-demand Internet broadcasting applications. Energy and commodities services Enron Power (electricity wholesaling. Enron Natural Gas (natural gas wholesaling. Enron Clean Fuels (biofuel wholesaling. Enron Pulp and Paper, Packaging, and Lumber (risk management derivatives for forest products industry. Enron Coal and Emissions (coal wholesaling and CO2 offsets trading. Enron Plastics and Petrochemicals (price risk management for polymers, olefins, methanol, aromatics, and natural gas liquids. Enron Weather Risk Management (Weather Derivatives. Enron Steel (financial swap contracts and spot pricing for the steel industry. Enron Crude Oil and Oil Products (petroleum hedging. Enron Wind Power Services (wind turbine manufacturing and wind farm operation. MG Plc. (U. K. metals merchant. Enron Energy Services (Selling services to industrial end users. Enron International (operation of all overseas assets. Capital and risk management services Commercial and industrial outsourcing services Commodity Management. Energy Asset Management. Energy Information Management. Facility Management. Capital Management. Azurix Inc. (water utilities and infrastructure. Project development and management services Energy Infrastructure Development (developing, financing, and operation of power plants and related projects. Enron Global Exploration & Production Inc. (upstream oil and natural gas international development. Elektro Electricidade e Servicos SA (Brazilian electric utility. Northern Border Pipeline. Houston Pipeline. Transwestern Pipeline. Florida Gas Transmission. Northern Natural Gas Company. Natural Gas Storage. Compression Services. Gas Processing and Treatment. Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Services. EOTT Energy Inc. (oil transportation. Enron manufactured gas valves, circuit breakers, thermostats, and electrical equipment in Venezuela by means of INSELA SA, a 50–50 joint venture with General Electric. Enron owned three paper and pulp products companies: Garden State Paper, a newsprint mill; as well as Papiers Stadacona and St. Aurelie Timberlands. Enron had a controlling stake in the Louisiana-based petroleum exploration and production company Mariner Energy. EnronOnline Enron opened EnronOnline, an electronic trading platform for energy commodities, on November 29, 1999. [53] 54] Con.

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Spiral farm movie online gratis. This looks more terrifying than any horror film. Spiral farm movie online full. Spiral farm movie online torrent. Spiral farm movie online movie. Spiral Farm Movie online ecouter. Spiral Farm Movie online store. Whats going on at 1:14. (I hope I did the "flair" correctly) I am really new to Reddit, and this is my first actual post, so I apologize if Ive done anything wrong. Im not sure if this will even belong here, especially after reading some of the heart-wrenching stories here, but Im going to start here. I have argued with myself about writing this for a couple of hours now, so I hope the internet doesnt make me regret this decision. Ive never sought counseling/therapy for any of this because, honestly, Im afraid of the emotional/psychological loops/hurdles of dealing with a therapist. However, I have gained a lot of clarity about what has happened (in my life) and am able to process it myself and try to soundly work it over to become a better, more whole person. I think I should thank my children for that, because I see in them everything I ever hope to be, and everything I can be for them. I have my parents to thank for that. To make a long story short (I could honestly probably write another five pages on the beginning alone) my mother passed away in 1998, when I was 8 years old (Im 26 now. Theres been speculation around her death, but nothing conclusive, and I know very little about it. My dad insists that she was murdered, while others (aunts, uncles, step-mother speculated that she killed herself. I dont know the actual cause of death, but I intend to try figuring out if there is some way I can look into her medical records and anything else I can find, as well as records of myself. In any case, she was mentally disturbed, and while still living, lost custody of myself and my younger sister and brother (my parents were divorced at this point. My father fought the courts and received custody of us after some time of being in foster care (another messed up time. We moved a couple of times in a couple of years and seemed to be settling in as a family; he actively dated women during this time. The summer before 7th grade began, my dad introduced us to a woman and her two children and said that they were dating. This period of time is kind of all smushed together in my memory, because it got so crazy so fast. She had two children, each two and four years older than me, respectively; one girl (the younger) and one boy (the older. She and my father had met online, that much atleast, my father had mentioned (probably without even thinking about it) to me right before meeting her. Literally before I knew it, we were bringing car loads of stuff to her house when we came to visit, which was becoming an every weekend thing. I remember asking my dad if Angie knew we were moving in, and he laughed and said yes. THIS TURNED OUT TO BE A LIE! It seriously just flabbergasts me to this day, that we moved in to this womans house and it all just…happened. Things STEADILY tumbled downhill. I remember one night sitting between her couch and end table with scissors to my throat, sobbing, because dad was upset that Angie no longer wanted to marry him, and everyone was mad and yelling and I had no idea why. That was the start. That summer progressed, and my dad and Angie made up and got married, and my little sister, brother and I tried to get along with our new siblings... My brother and Angies son hit it off pretty well, both being guys; but Angies daughter was a little different. I felt awkward around her, and she kind of ‘played the field with my sister and I, so to speak. Whoever was of most use to her that day was the one she wanted to be with. We all started going to the pool together and at first it was a lot of fun. Then something happened, Im not quite sure what (I was really REALLY naive and trusting back then. I didnt seem to pick up on the issues that were happening behind the scenes) but it involved Angie and her daughter, Sam. The result of whatever this conflict was, this is going to sound so stupid, I apologize. But, I think about these little things and realize how screwed everything really was) that we girls were not allowed to wear tankinis, bikinis, or anything other than a one piece. I remember this as the start of my criticism toward Angie, because I was turning 13, had just begun flirting with boys, and she picked out the most hideous one-piece thing she could find. It had a padded bra, was too large, half purple and half zebra-print. I protested this thing vehemently, but that only seemed to encourage her. She told me it made my boobs look bigger, that modesty was a virtue, despite the boob comment. and this and that and the other thing, seeming to take some tiny pleasure out of my tears and embarrassment. We girls took to hiding our cute suits in bags and changing once we got to the pool to alleviate this problem; until one day, Angie pulled up and yelled at us through the fence to get in the vehicle. She told us we werent allowed to go to the pool the rest of the summer, and laughed about her ‘network of parents that kept her informed of everything we did. One of her friends had agreed to drive up to the pool to spy on us, and had ratted us out to Angie. More began happening; Sam ‘wanted me to hang out with her and her friend, and they caused a lot of trouble that I wound up taking blame for as well. At the time, I just wanted to fit in with my new sister and brother and mother, since I had never really had a mother before, and because I wanted my dad to be happy-I thought that because he married this woman and we all lived together that he wanted it and was happy. So, I went along with things I shouldnt have, and I didnt question anything. Angie made sure to let my little sister, brother, and I know constantly how lucky we were that our dad fought for custody of us, and how we were spared what could have been with our mother, or in the system. She constantly reminded us that we should thank him, and feel thankful for everything hed done for us. Then she began recanting ‘tales of her childhood. Rapes, molestations, abuse. Everyone and everything in the whole world, it seemed like, had raped, molested, and abused her. I took these at face value for a long time. But then things got worse. I really REALLY hate recounting my tale, because to an outsider it seems like some stupid, spoiled bullshit. One time, early on in our new family relationships, my brother and my dad had an argument. Over what, I have no idea, but my father reached out and slapped him. We had had a belt taken to our butts a couple of times when it was just us and our dad, but he had never ever hit us in the face or anywhere else before. My brother (who is like four years younger than me) burst in to tears and ran off into the backyard. I screamed at my dad to not hit him ever again, and he yelled at me to back off, but I couldnt. Ive always felt like the protector to my siblings, even to this day as they are adults. To see my dad smack him was unacceptable to me, and I was willing to face anything to protect my brother. I ran outside and comforted him, and soon enough, things settled back down. Shortly thereafter, during the school year, Angie had a mishap at work, where she worked as an RN at a nursing home. (Im sorry to say this, but because of her, I hate hearing people say “I know such and such about such and such. You need to do this. TRUST ME, Im a NURSE. ” [I know not all nurses are like this] One time, she brought home needles from the nursing home and said they were flu shots, and that she was just going to administer them at home. I HATE needles, and did NOT want this shot. She forcibly restrained me and stabbed the needle into my arm and injected me. [I was a 100-120 pound something pre-teen. She was atleast 200 + and I was worried about the repercussions of fighting her back. Excuses, I know, but, at the time I didnt think for myself I guess. My arm was bruised and painful for a week afterward, and all she could say was that I shouldnt have tensed my muscles and it wouldnt hurt so bad. Angie gets hurt somehow and has to take leave from work, which leads to disability, which leads to a supposed diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. To their credit, they both sat us all down and tried to explain it in a reasonable way, and explain the changes that were going to happen because of it. She was going to need surgeries and would be home a lot more. All this happened, and things continued on. A little more back-story real quick. When my little siblings and I were just with our dad, we begged and begged and begged for EVER to have a dog. Dad finally got us a dog. Three, actually, all from the same litter. We had our pups for a few months when he met Angie and somehow, miraculously, they all ‘disappeared during our move to Angies. I brought my cat, luckily, but Angie told me that she was allergic to cats, and had to send mine to a farm. (Although Angie had a cat of her own. Her son also had a dog, a weimeraner, and that dog was supposedly poisoned by a bitter neighbor and died, shortly after we all moved in together. Angie had a shitzu, that remained untouched and lived with us for another couple of years before having a heart-attack, or some such. And then the cat supposedly had a heart attack (or something equally insane sounding) and died as well. Both of these incidences happened while Angie was the only one home. She supposedly cleaned up all the blood and mess and buried the bodies (disabled, and gimping, at that) while we were all at school. But, then Angie wants another pet, and so they go to a breeder or a puppy mill or some crap somewhere, and wind up buying two puppies. A cocker spaniel, and another shitzu. The shitzu was born with a messed up foot, and had to have an extra toe amputated. Angie adored him. BUT. We werent allowed to have anything to do with them. (I grew up with an INSANE passion for dogs. I wanted dogs, I wanted to be a dog, I read dog breed books and training books and anything having to do with dogs, cover to cover. Dogs were my LIFE. Angie also made me stop watching Animal Planet and told me I couldnt be a veterinarian after she caught me crying softly to an episode of one of the vet shows, where they had to put an animal down after severe abuse. We werent allowed to pet them, train them, walk them, brush them, feed them, or anything. We WERE allowed to muck up shit in the backyard, where the pups spent a lot of their time because neither of my parents took the time to properly potty train them or walk them. So, since we couldnt have anything to do with Angies new pets, or really share in the excitement of having a pet, we children moved on. Went to the park, tried to make friends, tried to live. Then we werent allowed to go to the park alone anymore. (I think these things center around Angies daughter Sams behavior, and possibly her sons behavior, but they were all so sly about their bullshit that I still dont know the truth. I dont talk to either of her children anymore. My siblings and I were just backsplash, now that I think about it) We had to ask permission, and often, it was a “no”. Then we werent allowed to play in the street (We lived in a tiny cow-town and our street got the occasional 10 mile an hour golf cart from the fancy golf club down the street. Then we couldnt play in the alley. But we didnt want to go to the backyard because it was full of dog poop, and every time we tried to play catch or whatever, we stepped in it! So, then we had to ask permission to go to the backyard. Then she took our computers. (My dad is a total nerd, and built/repaired computers for a company and built me one of my own. Her children also had their own computers) This whole time, my dad is just fading in to the background, letting her do whatever. (As an adult, able to look back on things more clearly and rationally, I realize that all the women my dad has been with have been abusive/manipulative. As Angies illness slowly progressed, she needed more medication. Patches, pills, etc. Her stories got bigger, her rules got stricter. I wasnt allowed to date, and the one person Angie thought would be a good match for me, was someone she admitted had severe mental illnesses due to his mother molesting him. I did not date him, needless to say. The one time I was allowed to go to the dentist, the dentist told me that I would NEED braces, or suffer severe consequences as an adult. My teeth are obnoxiously crooked. They arent rotted, or gross or anything, just really really crooked. I have two teeth growing on top of other teeth, and look like a deformed beaver. I relayed this message, and although my step-sister had braces and was finishing out that process, they told me that they could not afford braces. Despite all my arguments for getting braces, they still told me no, and that I should just accept myself the way I am. And that Im ‘just so pretty when I smile. I dont know how to smile. Not really. (I have never been able to save up the money to get the major work needed to fix them. I now grind my teeth in my sleep because they are so crooked that my jaw wont quit trying to ‘settle them straight. I live every day with shards of molars in my jaw because of this. BUT THEN, as time progressed, angie and my dad bought all sorts of extravagant stuff. They got a new car almost every year, trading each one in for a newer, more expensive one. Then they got this mega huge couch, but we werent allowed to sit on it. They got a mega huge TV, but we werent allowed to watch it. They got themselves a new tempurpedic type bed, and a television, and renovated their bedroom, and their ‘rumpus room in the basement. When I was a sophomore in highschool, our school started integrating laptops to all the students, to use at school and at home. We werent allowed to take ours home. Angie said she didnt want the liability if we broke them. All this stuff made me upset, but I tried to rationalize what they/she said. Then I finally took an art class, and the teacher and I hit it off relatively well. I turned out pretty decent photography on the days we used the in-class camera, and my teacher wanted me to participate in our local art show. Mrs. F let me borrow one of the school cameras to use over the weekend, and I was super psyched. Nobody had ever really expressed an interest or like in any of my artwork. Angie was pissed, though, and took the camera from me, until school came back on Monday, and told me I was not allowed to borrow the school cameras because Id probably break them. F snuck me a camera anyway, after I explained. I do not know if she knew/understood what was going on, but I really appreciated her breaking ‘the rule to help me. I will never forget her as a teacher. Miraculously, my little sister and I were able to leave the house during that week, where I took some shots of her and presented them to my teacher. We took these photos to the art exhibit, where I won gold on two of my shots. Angie didnt seem to put two and two together with the photos, and since the art exhibit took place during school hours and it was a ‘field trip, I was allowed to attend; she did, however, immediately take my medals away. I was NOT to pursue art, or anything I actually enjoyed, because it ‘wouldnt pay well. She told me I should just be a CNA. (Something Ive never done and will never do because of her) Sometime during my sophomore year, my step-brother had a huge blow up with her and left the house for good. Then she instigated a 24/72 hour rule for us. If we wanted to go outside, to the park, with a friend, or whatever, we had to ask 24 hours in advance. If we wanted to spend the night, we had to get at least 72 hours of notice in there. Needless to say, I only ever slept over at one persons house one time, and only ever had one person sleep at my house one time. It didnt help that that person was my then girlfriend, and for some stupid reason, I revealed this to Angie, who told me I WAS NOT gay, that I was ruining my girlfriends life, and that her parents were going to beat her if they found out we were dating. (They werent. Im also not gay, but explaining bisexuality to anyone is, atleast in my experience, has been an arduous task. When I had started to enter highschool (and my two years in middle school in Angies town) I was trying really hard to fit in because Id never been in one spot long enough to make friends. Angie dressed me in the weirdest, goofiest, clothes she could find, and clucked at me for not liking them. Finally, when I was 14, she told me to get a job. And buy the clothes that I wanted. Which was a fucking god send. I got a job immediately (as a child I had mowed lawns, babysat, checked on peoples pets for them, etc. and this was my first corporate job) and loved the freedom it gave me. The pay, however, was another story. I worked very near full time every week after school and on weekends. There were some nights at closing that I didnt get home until 11 or so. My paychecks were sweet, but I was only allowed to have 40 of it, if I had been good. BUT, I wasnt allowed to buy food with my money, or gifts (because itd ruin Christmas for her) and she didnt let me wear the clothes I had bought because they were not modest enough. (They were BELLBOTTOMS! And hot topic shirts. I was allowed to buy a car, and had to pay for all the insurance and all that good stuff, which I didnt care about because I had a car that was all mine. I did all the repairs on it, dumped a fuck ton of money in to it (89 pontiac Bonneville. I loved that car because we had the same birth year and it was a big, metal beast. But, I was only allowed to drive it certain places, and eventually not at all. (Of course. Food was a big issue in our house. Like I said, I wasnt allowed to buy food. And I wasnt allowed to eat food at work. I was supposed to come home and eat the cold crap sitting in the microwave. (This was expected of everyone. angie liked to periodically make us eat crap like a hambone/beans in water with no salt, no nothing, because ‘that was what she had to live on and feed her siblings while she was raising them and being raped/molsted/abused/abducted/blah blah blah for a million years. (Im sorry for the cynicism. We were not allowed to eat except at designated meal-times. We were only allowed to eat what she cooked. We could not have seconds. We could not have snack. I remember one time my sister and I were really hungry, so we were super stealthy and quickly toasted up a piece of bread and buttered it and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on it, and snuck back to my room to eat it. We were so giddy at our bad behaviour that we started giggling as we tried to take a bite and inhaled the sugar and started choking. We can laugh about it now. Another time, I was really hungry and so snuck a jar of peanut butter home and was sitting there in my room nomming it, when Angie bust in through the door. I hurled the peanut butter to the floor and sat on top of it while she panicked and demanded to know what I was hiding. I was in tears, freaking out, and told her I was working on a mothers day present. She calmed down and left me after that. I panicked though, because I now had to come up with something for her for mothers day. (I wound up painting a picture of her as an angel, because she loved angels. She had them everywhere. They were creepy. Steadily, Angie and her daughters relationship degraded. I faded between being on Sams side, and being on Angies side. I didnt feel that either of them were right, but I didnt understand what was wrong, either. One day, Sam did something and Angie wound up ‘beating her. And by beating, I mean, she grabbed Sams hair and shoved her on the bed before losing her footing and kind of falling on top of Sam while smacking her with her gimpy arm. (She was losing feeling in her arms and legs due to the “MS” and “botched surgeries”) I screamed and picked up the phone to call my dad, thought better of it, and set the phone back down on the receiver. Angie was a firm believer in ‘what goes on in this house, stays in this house, so I feared the repercussions of calling for help, if it wasnt really ‘that big of a deal. This all happened before school, and in the middle of the school day, Sam comes to me and tells me that shes talked to a social worker, and that it was my turn. She had scratched her arms all up during her interview. I went in and was surprisingly calm…. I told them I thought Sam was being overdramatic, and that she had been making faces and being obnoxious to angie. I told them I dont agree with everything that goes on in my house, but that there are a lot of people out there that have it worse. They commended me for ebing so ‘mature. Nothing happened for a long time, until one day upon coming home from school, there was a black SUV parked outside. My stomach lurched. It was a social worker………. I knew things were going to get bad. The social worker we had talked to at school was sitting inside talking to Angie and my dad. They were all having a jolly good conversation and getting along. The social worker left seeming to think things were okay, but recommending a family care plan for a little while. We had two women come out periodically to talk to us, but Sam was really the only one who disclosed anything. The woman that I and my little sister talked to was really kind and understanding and patient, but I just couldnt bring myself to tell her the truth. Then, Angie started saying that she had had a lesbian affair. with the other social worker a long time ago, and that it was a conflict of interest, and eventually our case managed to peter out, leaving us alone to deal with our crap again. Sam called the police once on Angie, and again our parents sweet talked them. Sam eventually moved out with a foster family (a teacher at the school who she had convinced to let stay with them) and it was just my little siblings and I. I may mention that I hate Sam. I hate her with everything that I am. She is as cruel, calculating and manipulative as her mother was. She often made mention of her and her mothers bodies (they had large breasts) and offhandedly made me feel like I was not pretty because I didnt have the same…assets. (ETA: they often teased me if I wanted to do my hair or makeup)I was constantly a third wheel while Sam went out with her friend and I and guys, and played like she was this high stakes virgin princess. During the period of time that it was just us three kids, the duty of asking for things would fall to me. I would play the mind games required to convince Angie to let us leave for a little while, or go outside. My brother was able to join sports and spent a lot of his time that way, my sister had Scholars Bowl and other stuff, and I just kind of ran recon around the house when I wasnt working. I remember one time I was having terrible period cramps, and my dad said something really fucked up to me. He asked me if I was having a miscarriage. I wanted to die when he asked that, because I had previously (in a mental ploy to get on Angies ‘good side) confided that I was sexually active and wanted to get on birth control; but I was really safe about having sex, and Angie had told me that I could tell her anything and she wouldnt judge. (LIE) I used to think my dad was a super man, and to hear him be so cruel was heartbreaking. During ALL OF THIS, Angies little shitzu (Billy was his name. The dogs names were Jon-Boy and Bill-Bob) died. Somehow. Again, it was while everyone but her was gone. The cocker still lives today, but he is mutilated (supposedly from a random kid shooting a BB gun) and mangy, despite my numerous attempts at offering to help with him. So she gets another dog. A poodle from the shelter named Suzi. Again, suzi winds up perishing. While everyone is gone but Angie. Then, she gets another dog, same thing, and another dog. SAME THING. This is over the course of years. She went through about a dog a year. (I cant believe I didnt do/say something sooner about this, but honestly, I. t know. When I was an adult and had a child of my own, and a dog, I stupidly let Angie watch my child and dog when I had to go work last minute. She called me at work in tears and I was FLIPPING, thinking something had happened to my daughter. Angie kept stuttering and wailing and saying I was going to hate her. I yelled at her to spit it out, and she told me that MY DOG had supposedly eaten a tulip bulb or something, choked, and died. Supposedly, Angie took her to the vet and the vet did tests and blah blah blah, and Angie said she would pay for it. (LIES) I was honestly just relieved that nothing had happened to my child. (PLEASE, please dont tell me how stupid it was to let her watch my child. My heart races now when I think about it and how stupid it was. Another time as an adult, I had run out of gas on my way to a really important, HUGE job interview, and I called Angie. (The only person I knew to call) She laughed at my situation, and I got mad and hung up. She came, I thought, to maybe help me get some gas [my van shit out two feet too far from the pump] but instead made me get in the van where she took me home and I completely missed my interview and the chance at a good paying job with the company. Sorry, I kind of jumped around there, but Im trying to just get it out before I lose my nerve and delete everything Ive written) During this time I had taken to cutting myself. Although, I hesitate to call it cutting, because it wasnt really deliberate. It was more like slashing, because I would just slash against my wrists and shins to distract myself from my anger at everything going on. It was a quiet way to relieve tension, because if I got too loud or too angry in a noticeable way, I was in even more trouble. One time, I slashed myself so badly that the wound would not stop bleeding for like three days. I was too afraid to tell anyone, so I fashioned a tourniquet and wore it around under my jeans until the third day or so when I thought ‘maybe I should tell someone before I lose more blood…. I did…angie wouldnt take me to the hospital, she just put steri-strips on it and let it heal. I still have a huge scar where that happened. But, afterward, Angie would parade my sister and I around in the living room in just our underwear, to check for fresh cuts. (My baby sister had taken to cutting as well) It was humiliating. (ETA: it has taken me years to be able to sleep in past 630-700am, and if I hear the sound of dishes/silverware clanking I can't go back to sleep. Angie used to get up very early and clang things around loudly or stomp up and down the stairs. When asked what was wrong she would growl that it was nothing or that we should know. After this, Sam re-appeared in my life and essentially started ‘grooming me at work. Shed come in and chit chat with me, let me lament to her about everything going on at home. She started encouraging me to leave, and told me that I could stay with her. My 17th birthday rolled around and I was outside picking weeds as a punishment for something, when I noticed that one of the vehicles parked out backs doors were open and wires were stringing out of it. (The vehicle was my step-brothers, who had parked it there during his deployment. He and my parents had a very tepid relationship, which added to the confusion after everything) They accused my boyfriend (who I wasnt supposed to be seeing) of having done it (no proof. At all. He had never even been to my house) and I got mad. I snuck stuff out to my car throughout the afternoon and when I went to work that night I called my step-sister and told her I was running away. After work, I went to the police station and just flat out told them I wasnt going home. I told them that it wasnt horrible, but that my parents and I dont see eye-to-eye and I cant go back. They called my parents who told them to keep me. JIA came in an interviewed me, and by SHEER DIVINE LUCK, I was placed with my step-sister. They wanted me put in Juvey, but there wasnt enough space, and my case wasnt an emergency. It was pure luck that I went home with Sam that night. (That night I laid on her couch and sobbed myself to sleep because I had made a terrible mistake. I thought about getting up and walking the few blocks back home because I felt like a wretched fool for leaving my dad and siblings behind over something so stupid. I had a dream that the blankets had tentacles and were trying to smother me. I physically wrestled with the tentacles and when I awoke the next morning I had actually moved the blanket across the room. Things quickly spiraled out after that. Sam used me to get back at her mom every chance she got; used me for money (I wound up working two jobs to support her and her new baby, who I was expected to be a free babysitter to. Sam eventually had me taken away because I was tired of paying for ultra-expensive cable bills, tired of watching her baby all the time, tired of her regulating/limiting/bossing me around like her mother had. I went to the ‘good side of the Juvenile detention center in a city nearby. I caught wind of my siblings and boyfriend, and friends all having issues and couldnt take being in the center any longer. I planned all night, and the next morning at dressing time, I put on three pairs of underwear and socks, a couple pairs of pants, and a couple pairs of shirts, and claimed I was cold so I could wear my coat. I waited until dinner feeding time, then asked to get a drink of water, took a sip, and bolted out the back door. I made it far, hitchhiked a ride, made it back to my town where I was on the lam for a good week. Eventually, my then boyfriend turned me in and I was arrested. I went to the ‘bad; side of the center this time. I was in there for what seemed like an eternity. My parents came down for a visit one time. Then ight before they came I became violently ill……bad. But I went with them anyway because I wanted to be out of the center. I sobbed and begged and pleaded for them to please not take me back. I wanted to come home. I was so sorry, they were right about everything, that I was trash…Everything. I have a lump in my throat thinking about that day right now. Ive never felt more helpless than when I begged and sobbed and crumpled to my knees in a heap of snot and tears that day, not caring who saw me, not wanting to be cool, not wanting to be grown, not wanting anything but to come home to my fucked up little world. They said they couldnt. That if I had come home sooner, they could have taken me, but now it was too late. (I later learned that was also a lie. They just didnt want to jump through the hurdles needed to do so. I was finally discharged three months before my 18th birthday, and placed in a foster home. (another messed up time) As an adult, Angie and I still engaged in mental theatrics. but as I became a mother myself, I began challenging her. It may sound stupid, but I didnt feel like an adult, I didnt realize I WAS an adult and could stand up to her. I never knew true love until I had my children, though. I never knew the physical and mental power you gain as you become a mother. I couldnt let her evil seep onto my children. Whenever I didnt play angies games I suffered repercussions for it. (such as my dogs death, or the job) Or she wouldnt show up for her granddaughters birthday, using her illness(ses) as an excuse. As time trickled on Angie claimed to have an extensive list of ‘illnesses-MS, arthritis, fybromialgia, and others that I couldnt even begin to repeat took more and more and more pills, lost more and more and more weight. Her stories became incredible. Everything anyone said, she had a story to top it. She ‘had biker friends that would ‘visit her at 2-3am when nobody else was awake. She was supposedly part of the biker gang, and had names for each of the men. She even, at one point in time, tried to ‘set me up with one of the guys. (I was single, and not wanting to date, so of course she pushed harder for me TO date) By the end of it all, all of us children had left the house before 18. Most of us went to foster homes/transition homes, and my little sister went to a psyche ward because she was suicidal, and then went to a girls home. The last time I talked to my step-brother he called to tell me that Angie was dead. I dont remember the exact date, but I will never forget that day. I was stunned into silence and then started laughing, like, insanely. I asked him if he was joking. He said he wasnt. I was stunned into silence for awhile longer before he asked me if I was okay. I wasnt sure how to project myself to him, and turned it around on him. I asked him if he was okay, and we tried to figure out the details. I still dont know REALLY how he even knew of her death. Supposedly, he heard it from his Aunt, who heard it from our dad. But, when my dad tells it, he says that he never told the Aunt, and then rants about social media spewing everyones personal business everywhere. Dad says the situation went down like this: He works early) He said goodbye to Angie and kissed her forehead. She was still asleep. He got home and she was still in bed, but he didnt think too much of it and showered and all that. When he came back to their room he went to her for whatever reason, and realized she was dead. He says he called the police and waited for them to come while he was holding her lifeless body. He said after all that, after theyd taken Angie from the house and finished with him, that a sheriff pulled up telling him to give his children a call because we didnt know what was going on. (He says he thinks the neighbors spouted the events onto facebook and SOMEHOW these neighbors that we have never met shared it with our aunt and us. Its…, to say the least, but he wont hear anything else. He says that she died of natural causes. I THINK, the situation went down with the only similarities being the start of the incident. I think Angie took a bunch of pills, either as a ruse to get attention and not really wanting to go through with it, or to really go through with it. I think she killed herself. I honestly think my dad knew about it, to some extent, but was so battered that he wasnt going to actively stop it. I wont push him further than I have on that, although I have made my thoughts clear. I think he called Angies sister and told her first, and that information cascaded to my step-brother, which cascaded to me. THATS what I think happened. I didnt even go to Angies funeral. Not by choice, though. I just had nobody to rely on to get me there (I was living 2+ hours away from Angies town at this time) and my vehicle was kaput. Im not saddened that I didnt go, though, it sounded horrible. Sam was there, and they played Nickleback and Velvet Revolver and other music like that that Angie loved (which makes my ears bleed now. Honestly, when I was told that she was dead, a whole world of weight lifted off me…That sounds bad, but I immediately thought of the munchkins in the movie ‘the Wizard of Oz, and their glee at the witch being smashed. I thought I would finally get my dad back, and that the evil that had corrupted us for so long would be cleansed. But, Angies memory still haunts us faintly. My dad and I had a big falling out shortly after her death, and the realization that my dad was a totally pussy coward throughout that time hit me very hard. We are working on our relationship now, but I am really forthcoming and blunt with him, and have no qualms if he needs to kick rocks. I have four children, of whom I found true love. I realized last year that I hardly smiled at my children. That I hardly smiled at anyone; but smiling at your child and not having them smile back is heartbreaking. I took the time to be a little crazy with my very-understanding husband, and have been processing everything and allowing myself to feel what I need to feel. I have major confidence issues. The charisma I once had is gone. I have few friends (and I should mention that those friends are my children and husband. I have no life. But, I am slowly trying to rebuild those things. It isnt easy at all. I sincerely hope any of this makes the least bit of sense. I really can write, I promise; but I didnt want to stop and over-think anything I wrote in case I got cold feet and deleted it. Ive never shared this this openly before, so its literally just word vomit (I left so much out, as well, which is part of the reason for jumping around. This document is already at four pages. I appreciate anyone who actually read through all this chaos and I apologize if I am in the totally wrong forum (the traits describe in the side bar fit Angie to a T. And I know my sister might be on here, or could be on here eventually. If you think this is about us, it is. [Edited to remove my sisters nickname. Edited for formatting and a couple additions, marked ETA.

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