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.

my plus 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5

Do you remember your first?

Seriously, get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about politics. Do you remember your first political experience? How about the first time you voted? And the best personal political experience in your lifetime ever? This weekend I had the opportunity to hear some pretty amazing, smart women, women who when they speak politicians listen, share some of their first and best experiences as we gathered together to talk politics…naturally…and women…and women in politics…and healthcare and politics…and elections…and the upcoming midterm elections…and why a dear friend sitting next to me needs to someday soon put herself out there to run.

I remember my first political experience. I was 13 years old. Mommy Dearest dragged me to a political protest against then Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter because of his non-stance on abortion at that point in his campaign; which was kind of awkward and strange all around since Mom was a life-long Democrat and a self-proclaimed feminist because it was the 70s and because she scarcely could talk to me about periods at that time much less the mechanics of where babies came from. Yet there I was, standing next to her holding a sign declaring that God was at war against abortion. I was thirteen years old. My picture appeared on the front page of the Pittsburgh Press holding that damn sign as Mr. Carter walked by smiling and waving. Mom was standing next to me smiling and waving too. Oh gawd, I was mortified!!! I was thirteen.

My best political experience was the 1988 General Elections. I was in college working towards my nursing degree and taking care of prereqs like Political Science. Since we were just four months away from the General Election, our professor deigned to focus on taking us through the California ballot for that year studying each and every candidate and initiative on the ballot that year so that each of us would be able to go to the polls truly informed and voting as such. I aced the course and yes, I entered the voting booth for the very first time as a truly informed, confident voter. I brought my +1 too before it was even cool to bring a +1. Of course we wore our matchy-matchy acid wash jeans and big 80’s hair because 80’s.

I am so sorry Hollie! Truly.

But I will never apologize for taking you and Zoë and Abby and Jodie and Daniel to the polls.

Then again, perhaps my best political experience were the days Hollie, Zoë, Abby and Jodie all voted for the first time. When our government mucks up things that affect these ladies I love to remind them that my kids care and my kids vote. Yeah, my greatest political accomplishment is my kids vote…my kids think and my kids vote. Okay, fine. Four out of five of my kids vote…for now. Then again, 2020 will come soon enough.

Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to meet and talk to, laugh with and share with some extraordinary women who are committed to encouraging and training women to be leaders in their communities. Breaking bread with some of them we discussed healthcare and politics and what I believe to be a poorly written, tugging at your aching-breaking heart proposition that will appear on the California November ballot.

The biggest takeaways from political suite talks I engaged in this weekend? Politics is indeed personal because politics affects us all… we women…our access to healthcare…our children…our community. We can indeed be part of the change and we can make a difference with our words and our actions. We must. Anything we say or do, no matter how big or how small.we might imagine it to be can and will and does make a difference. Discussing what I learned this weekend with my +1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 I know I am because 4 of them vote.

In 100 days is our U.S. General Election. Regardless of which side of the debate you find yourself arguing, it’s imperative you are part of the process — along with your +1. In fact, your +1 may vote entirely opposite from you but what matters is you are both at the polls on election day.

 

forgiveness for all…except for Monica Lewinsky

Yes, I’ll admit it. I will be reading Monica Lewinsky’s essay in Vanity Fair. What can I say? I’m curious. The Clintons have had their say, to some extent, in the past. Practically every pundit over the last two decades has too. Why not hear what the other woman has to say?

photography by Mark Seliger – Vanity Fair

That’s when the chorus of who cares is heard along with the collective sighs and eye rolls.

Sure some question the timing of it all given the anticipation of Hillary throwing her hat into the 2016 Presidential ring. I mean what better way to distract us all from things like the timing of Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy or whether or not a grandmother is fit for office or Benghazi or the entire history of 1990s ranging back to Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster and a host of other hoary names than to have Monica speak? Is it a Clinton conspiracy or perhaps the Republicans have their hand in this…I know, no one cares.

So why then should Monica be allowed to speak?

No one really cares anymore.

Well, except people like Rand Paul and Mika Brezinzski and Lynne Cheney and every other pundit and media outlet and Beyonce and late night comedians…See?! No one cares what the other woman has to say.

In the course of my adult life, I have known a few couples affected by marital infidelities. Of course there was shock, anger, sadness, some tears and many other emotions in our circle of friends. Eventually, forgiveness was given after apologies and proper penance from the cheating husbands. It helped, of course, that their wives also forgave and the marriages somehow survived the infidelities. But what of the other women? They were the other women! Branded with the “A” on their chests they were shunned and ignored and soon no longer a part of the circle. Collectively, no one cared what might have caused them to commit such indiscretions. No one cared of their pain or shame. Forgiveness? For the other women?

Are you kidding?!

I don’t know.

I honestly don’t.

I do know that I will be reading her essay because just like it take two to commit adultery, there is more than one story after the end of the affair. Whose to say which of the stories deserves to be heard and which ones do not? Who decides that the women in the affair doesn’t deserve the opportunity to share her truth as much as the adulterous man? This time, at least, I will try to listen.

Perhaps I am becoming less judgmental in my middle age. Bear with me…it’s a process.

no Self, you are lame!

#tutusrock is trending today and here’s why:

From Glam Runner’s Facebook page-

Excited to see our tutus in SELF Magazine … but shocked to see that running tutus are classified as lame. Especially considering the fact that this picture is from last year’s LA Marathon when Glam Runner founders Tara and Monika ran together as superheroes … because Monika was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and was running a marathon in the middle of a year of chemo.

Never mind that Self is a few years behind the trend, this BS meter is what’s really lame.

Because runners do run through the city wearing tutus…

and in Central Park.

They even put on a tutu to run their very first half marathon on their 48th birthday. Yeah they do!

Tutus are even spotted running in the mud.

Yes, Self, you are correct. Sparkly, frou-frou skirts don’t make us run faster. We already knew that. But they often make running fun. They empower us. They make us smile. They make other people smile.

 

photo from Glam Runner

The real story behind this photo is not that tutus are a “lame” fad. Despite what SELF Magazine published, it is not that “people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster.”

The real story behind this photo is that Tara and Monika, pictured here, are board members for Girls on the Run San Diego. They founded Glam Runner, a business that sells running tutus, to raise funds for the council. They are dedicated to helping grow the program in their community. The real story behind this photo is that the awesome duo were running the LA Marathon while Monika was receiving chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer.

One of our core values is to stand up for yourself and others, so we are standing up for Tara and Monika, as well as every other runner who has finished a race feeling awesome in a tutu.

Unfortunately, when Self reached out to Monika Allen for permission to use her photo in the April 2014 issue, they didn’t bother to get the story behind the photo, why they were wearing tutus dressed as Wonder Woman and Super Woman. I wonder if they even noticed that it says “Die, Tumor, Die” on Tara’s race bib. But the story wouldn’t have fit well in their mocking and declaration that running while wearing a tutu is lame. Of course that fits in perfectly with Self Magazine’s mission to help us love our healthier, happier, more confident selves; right along with their photoshopped covers.

The thing is, Self, the running community is tight knit, accepting, encouraging and we stick up for one another. Whenever one is down, another one is there to pick them up. Girls compete against each other, women and men empower each other. Rather than poke fun at women (and men) wearing tutus and running through Central Park, perhaps Self should be celebrating the fact that they out there being active, striving for goals that helps them become their all around best. Perhaps when Self contacted Monika through GlamRunner, they should have taken the time to look through their site a little more closely and see who and what they are all about. Then maybe Luci Danziger, Editor In Chief of Self, would have never had to apologize in the first place; because she would have known what Monika has been through. Yes, it indeed was an error, a stupid mistake and it never should have been run in the first place.

That, Self, is what is lame this month!

maybe it’s just me but…

Iowa dad, Alan Andersen, like many other parents, including myself, picks up his kid from school every day. Such a good parent! Still it can be tedious waiting and waiting for your kid to come to the car. I know because my darling son takes the time to say good bye to all of his teachers (past and present) and the cafeteria ladies and the yard duty workers and the crossing guards at dismissal time every day. I try not to complain too much after all because that was something I wished for him a couple years ago when I was fighting for the school district to not move him to yet another school campus. It can also be stressful because as any parent knows the school pickup/dropoff queue can be insanity on any given day. A parent can get rather stabby while trying to wait and navigate this mess that is the school pickup/dropoff. So I usually try to find things to do to keep myself entertained while lined up with all the other parents. There’s always a good book, or emails or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. For Alan Andersen it seems that this is what he does.

For nearly six minutes he video recorded his daughters’ classmates slipping and falling on a patch of ice next to his car. Does he offer assistance? No, of course not because, um, it’s funny? Maybe. Perhaps. But six minutes?! He is recording this and laughing hysterically, mocking these kids with his daughter joining in. “We’re kind of bad people.” , they seem to agree with one another as they continue to laugh hysterically for nearly six minutes. Thankfully, it seems that no one got hurt. I would hope that if someone did he would have put the phone down and got out to offer help.

Hopefully.

Meanwhile the video has gone viral with everyone agreeing that it is hysterically funny watching kids slipping and falling on ice.

Well, except for me.

I agree with the dad that yeah, he is kind of bad people laughing at children slipping and falling on ice right in front of him.

But that’s just me.