surrounded yet alone as the world goes on


I’m still here. Don’t be afraid. I promise I’m here and hanging on…barely, but hanging on. And meanwhile, the world does go on as it should…even when it seems to be a big shit storm happening like it has this past week in the news.

I forced myself to go to a small gathering the other day and pretty much as soon as I got there I thought to myself that it was a big mistake. It’s was not because of anything or anyone there. Not at all. It was me. It was the oppressive black cloud that lately has become all the more dark and oppressive in my heart and my mind. Sitting there surrounded by acquaintances, celebrating good things, I forced a smile on my face and the occasional laugh while thinking the whole time of that quote from World’s Greatest Dad that everyone is sharing all over social media because Robin Williams and depression and suicide.

I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.
~Robin Williams as Lance Clayton in World’s Greatest Dad

My life, my world, my reality, my story right now. There’s so much more going on in the world around me that I should be worried about, that I should care about, that I should want to try to understand and to change:

  • The “serious” homeless problem in Manteca especially the scourge in Library Park…yes, the same Library Park where the homeless actually helped Abby and her friend to clean up in and around the gazebo before Hollie and Ben were married there four years ago.
  • The fact that there isn’t a homeless problem in the town of Ripon, just 7 miles south of us if I am to believe a local reporter’s opinion. Never mind there isn’t a problem because those who are homeless know that the police will pretty much chase them out… I learned that the last time my brother, the one who is homeless, visited here. It was amazing how he knew through “networking” where one could go and where one should never go…courtesies or no.. Ripon was on the don’t go there list.
  • Two recent drive-by shootings, one in the middle of the day literally in front of a friend’s home in the “good” part of our city and police won’t comment on whether or not they are gang-related or even related to each other.
  • Michael Brown and Ferguson and the police and race relations and who is affected and who is not and white privilege.

Don’t forget Gaza and the Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak…

Is it any wonder no one else is as depressed and nearly panicked as I am right now?

The homeless problem here in Manteca is indeed a real thing. It’s real pretty much everywhere else…except Ripon. I’m not so sure if it as serious as what I have witnessed in San Francisco or San Jose or Chicago or New York. I do know that there seems to be a lot of assumptions made…drugs, crime, danger to us good citizens who have a roof over our heads and no longer feel comfortable to use the restroom in Library Park or walk along the Tidewater Bikeway or hang out at the Historical Plaza at Spreckels Park. Some of that is real but then I recall the 5 homeless men who offered to my daughter and friend to pick up in and around the gazebo and then remained sitting quietly in the background as witnesses while we celebrated Hollie and Ben’s wedding. I think of my brother and his friends who regarded their lifestyle as adventure traveling from job to job, town to town, state to state. Listening to friends discuss how serious this is here in Manteca and how awful they all are in plain site, I can’t help but think this is a problem that won’t be solved anytime soon especially with this perspective.

The same is probably true with regards to Ferguson. I tried to follow the story this week when I had the energy beyond just getting up. I’ll be honest, I don’t understand. How can I really? I am a white woman raised in a white privileged world…yes even growing up on Food Stamps and Welfare living in a single wide in a trashy trailer park I still enjoyed a certain amount of white privilege. I can try to sympathize with what has been happening in Missouri this week but I won’t understand. It’s not my world. It’s not my reality…just as being homeless is not. That point was driven home in a big way this morning reading what a friend shared on Facebook of his experiences 30 years ago as a young, educated, hard-working BLACK man being pulled over while driving his nice car TWELVE times and handcuffed SIX times with no probable cause. Being the positive, thoughtful man that he is, he continued to share that he would like to think that things have improved over the years but it hasn’t…perhaps it is worse…perhaps it will get even more worse.

I just can not imagine.

Nor can I understand the way that this reality has affected brilliant people like Karen.

It’s all part of this “burden” of white privilege that really isn’t a burden for me or my daughters or my son unless I don’t school myself and my family about it and its reality that is our reality and not the reality of people of color in the ghetto and in the “good” neighborhoods. We must become aware of how racial privilege and our unconscious bias perpetuates a system of injustice. No, I don’t pretend to understand completely now. I can’t imagine that I ever will because I am not a black man or a black woman or a woman who has given birth to a mixed race baby or a mother raising a black child. But I do know that my eyes were opened a little bit more and I listened a little bit harder.

it’s still raw


A year later….a year after a friend and colleague, and her husband were so suddenly, cruelly, violently taken in such a shocking manner, it is still raw. I didn’t think that it would be. Like everyone else who knew her, I’ve hitched up my big girl panties. Yes, cried sometimes. Laughed sometimes too imagining what she might have said or done. Cried a little when it seemed that she said hello at work that one time. I still catch my breath and gulp back a tear or more when I see her garden outside of Room 3 when I get to work…when I get to work.

A year later we remembered because I can’t imagine that we will ever forget someone so remarkable. We all remembered and honored her and her husband in our own ways. We all were not together but we all remembered still. Some of us gathered with her daughter tonight and remembered.

God that was hard!

Her little girl’s physical, emotional, spiritual, psychic pain was so real, so raw. I just can not imagine. I don’t think any one of us could ever understand, ever know unless we too lost someone we have known and loved our entire lives taken so violently away from us. The mommy in me wishes I could take that pain away from their daughter. The mommy in me prays none of my children ever know that pain I witnessed today.

Those of us who gathered with their daughter stood together in Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank before the tree planted in their memory with a plaque placed before it. Dwarfed right now by 14 trees in what is known as Bicentennial Grove, it will soon enough someday catch up to their towering grandeur as it guards the entrance to that beautiful grove here in the Central Valley.

It’s a place to pause, to sit and reflect. A place for us to remember. A place for anyone else to just take in the cool of the shade these trees provide, the green-ness all around, the sounds of nature and families at play and the occasional startling rumbling overhead from the trains passing on the bridge nearby. It’s a place where I am reminded that we “hitch up our big girl panties“, as Janet would often say in some of the most stressful times in the NICU and we do that which we must do…we don’t forget, we don’t let go and we don’t stop.“…as her husband’s business partner reminded us tonight.

It’s still raw. It’s still so real. We don’t forget. We won’t let go. But we also don’t stop living as, I would imagine, our friend and colleague would expect of us all.

and after the show


Nothing shows more birthday love than some “Man-Cake” maple chocolate bacon cupcakes from Christina’s Cupcakes.

Am I right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah…just hurry up with the “Happy Birthday” song so I can enjoy my chocolately, maplely, bacon man-cake goodness.

All kidding aside, my darling husband did enjoy his day of moving furniture for his first-born, magic compliments of Alex Ramon, tri-tip dinner with his noisy family circus gathered round followed with some delicious cupcakes and ice cream because it is also National Ice Cream Day

coincidence?

I think not.

 

birthday #newmagic


Your darling husband is turning 51 and you really want to gather the family circus to do something fun with him when what do your wandering eyes see but an old (not really old)  magical friend is coming to town with new magic to share.

Yes.

Perfect!

Our family circus first met Alex Ramon when he was performing at the “Zingmaster” for Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey presents Zing Zang Zoom Circus. Like every one else, we truly were mesmerized as he made an elephant disappear, levitated members of the audience and transformed a man into a tiger right before our very eyes. But more importantly, we never forgot our conversations backstage before the show where he shared with us his love and enthusiasm for magic and the opportunity to come back to his home in the Bay Area and perform. Three years later, Jodie and I ran into him in Tahoe where he had been performing in his long-running show, Illusion Fusion, at the Horizon. It was there that my darling daughter literally ripped Alex’s heart into pieces which he magically (of course) pieced back together. With the closing of the Horizon Casino this past Spring came the opportunity for Alex to go on tour with NEW MAGIC with first stops in Northern California because you can go home again.

With only one performance in Modesto today, six members of our circus were guests of Alex’s including my darling husband, the birthday boy…

…who perhaps was a little too enthusiastic in locking Alex in shackles leaving marks on his wrist. “He said put them on tight.“, Bill argues.

Yes, he did. Still Alex got out of those shackles…several times.

#NewMagic is absolutely fun, family-friendly, audience participation entertainment that will not fail to hold you spellbound as you watch illusions performed that make you truly wonder if this is real or a dream.

Northern California readers be sure to catch Alex and the lovely, Meghan in the next few weeks at Vacaville on July 27, Livermore on August 10, and Marin on August 17.

Go.

See.

This.

Show.

I promise you that you will be as mesmerized as we were this afternoon. After the show most definitely take the time to stop and say hello to Alex as he is waiting after the show to say hello to you too.

Be sure to tell him the Scarborough Family Circus sent you.

The above review of #NewMagic is my own opinion. I received no compensation other than tickets for my family and me to attend the show. My thanks to Alex Ramon and Gallo Center for the Performing Arts for the hospitality and the magic today.

I’ve got 99 problems


…but the drive home ain’t one of them!

We are home, after an 11 hour drive, home from Vegas. According to navigation, it should have been an 8+ hour drive…you know, without traffic, road work, potty training 2 year olds and distractions like that.

We made a few stops.

Stopping in Jean, Nevada, we discovered where old slot machines go to die. They comp gas but they don’t sell Dramamine…for your information. Goldfish crackers, plenty of water, perhaps a little bit of antihistamines and frequent stops along the way helped deal with that motion sickness problem. Frequent stops including a stop at the Phillip S. Raines Rest Stop near Tulare. When I learned last year that my photograph was part of the display at this rest stop, I knew that I had to stop there and see it for myself in all of it’s glory.

There it is!

Courtesy of me!

Yeah, I’m kind of nerdy in my excitement over seeing my work on display at a rest stop on CA99 just south of Tulare, California.

So glad we stopped.