The era was 1998 to 2001. She was just a lowly assistant City Attorney working under Louise Renee as the Lead Attorney for San Francisco’s Children’s Protective Services’ (CPS) prosecutions. He was the newly elected mayor who had been a powerhouse for decades in Sacramento.
And me? I was just a gypsy passing through.
See, what happened was really all my own fault but I had no clue. None. I thought it was just an old wives tale, you know, like an urban myth. I’m talking about a gypsy’s curse.
I think the fact I was in my wedding dress weeping when I flung it, howling like a wolf at the full moon — it was a Harvest moon, hanging so close to earth it was like it was mocking me for my fury — oh I just tossed it up in the air like fairy dust oh my my my I still regret those words.
I won’t repeat them here so as to not give them any extra power. I’m pretty sure the simple fact I sewed that dress with its miles and miles of black tulle, that must have added a whole extra – unknown – dimension of magic to rebound on my poor self. To my defense, I really didn’t know a gypsy’s curse was real, nor did I know the thing is like a bloody boomerang. It keeps coming back and will slice my head off if I’m not careful. Yes, indeed, under that full moon November 14, 1997, I let loose an entity all its own self, an enfante terrible, as a 17th century French writer would say.
Let me start at the beginning. A story must.
I am an American-born Scottish Traveller. I’ve lived on wheels almost all my life. My life has been a series of adventures but only one guiding principle: Don’t live in a cemented-down house. They drain the soul of a nomad. At the age of six weeks, my daddy snuck me out of my grandmother’s house in Mansfield, Louisiana and into my mother’s arms in the side-car of his motorcycle. Took off for a pipeline job in Oklahoma. He and my mother liked to brag that I was covered in the dust of Route 66 before I could walk. What a thing to tell a child. But by the time I was three, we’d move to Europe and never stopped longer than three months anywhere. Up until 24, I was in constant motion. A true expatriate.
I fell in love at first sight with Greg Mayon in Trinity, Texas on May 31, 1993. I was 32. He was 41. We had a whirlwind romance, started living together within 72-hours of meeting, and then traveled together throughout the deep South for nearly three years, we just never stopped honeymooning, I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. We were spending 100% of our time together, traveling, playing tourist, camping full-time and living on air. Why stop? It was too much fun to stop. It was like a National Geographic documentary but with no cameras. We lived in a compound of tents, in National Forests, State Parks, and weeks and weeks and weeks on BLM land. Only one child was old enough for school and you would have had to hold a gun to her head to put her in a schoolroom.
Then, upon finding out I was pregnant, adding to the 4 children that I brought with me, Greg made me move out of my beloved tents and into his father’s empty place on a tiny bayou in Belle River where our Merlin was born on March 8, 1996. Smart man that he is, for a birthing gift Greg bought me a thirty-two foot 1979 Bluebird schoolbus, took out the seats, built beds, a tiny kitchen and w.c. and kissed his parents in Lafayette, Louisiana good-bye and we took off to Houston on August 14, 1996 with $10 and a full tank of gas, plus a set of foodstamps (back when they were paper and you could spend them across state lines).
We got to my dad’s in Houston who gave us a hundred dollars and another tank of gas and hooked Greg up with a three-week job in San Antonio (in September with no electricity in the bus). From there we hop-scotched across the desert from the Carlsbad Caverns to glorious Santa Fe (easily my favorite city in America!). We tore across 80 miles of Los Angeles freeways to make it to Malibu in time for the sunset. Greg went into the store to call home for a Western Union wire (there’d been a bet, get there and we’ll wire you $ ….. ….. Ah, gotta love family because what else can you do?!!!?). Sitting there on the steps of the bus, waiting for Greg to come back and take the clamouring kids to the beach, a surfer dude in cut-offs and flip-flops, long blond hair blowing in the wind, he stops and laughs, looking up and down at the bus, dusty from the desert, with a pack of blonde rug rats trying to climb out the windows in the back. He pulls a crinkled-up twenty out his pocket and hands it to me, with a hearty, “Wow, cool, man!” sorta greeting. He then pulls a fat joint from behind his ear and gives it to me before ambling off. Greg comes around the corner just as he’s leaving. I hand him the money and the joint, saying deadpan, “I could like California.” Little did I realize I had just checked into Hotel California and was never leaving.
We spent Merlin’s first Christmas on the side of Highway 1 near San Luis Obispo. The roll of the hills to the beaches plus the town itself was sweet and almost colonial (but in a modern way – – – remember my childhood was spent in Europe but my 1st marriage I lived in Mexico and traveled in South America) but still… too urban. I was looking for something wilder closer to Nature and yes we found it on Highway One. Spent nearly six months living on the beaches outside San Simeon with the sight of Hearst Castle and the sun coming up behind it was how I enjoyed my morning coffee, Greg early out hiking, the kids already on the beach seeing to the ruins of the castle they’d built the day before. It was like that til we got bored and moved onto Big Sir and the magnificent Redwoods and then into Santa Cruz. A million memories.
That’s not the point of this essay. I’m just telling you what was happening and where we were going.
We wanted to get married in Golden Gate Park on a full moon night and then press on up into Oregon where we’d find a place to park the bus way, way, way out in the woods and settle down to have the baby girl I wanted and build the house Greg wanted (he was a carpenter).
We made it into San Francisco on the fourth anniversary of the day we met, May 31, 1997. Living and traveling in a school bus, in Love capital L, planning a wedding, a new baby in my arms. I was in gypsy bliss.
Our first few weeks in San Francisco were magical. How could they not be? Lots was going on in Height Ashbury for the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. We parked the bus on the long stretch that runs between the park and the residential area. With all the hippie happiness from the festival goers (the City welcoming all that cash influx), we had no clue that normally a schoolbus being lived in was an object of scorn and disdain. Because of the festival, there were quite a few multi-colored buses and vans parked around us – we weren’t the only ones but WE were in a bubble. It would burst Nov 13, 1997. The night before our wedding.
We’d been in San Francisco for a few months and then Greg fell ill from a fever that never stopped and thus, we discovered he had Hep C and advanced liver damage. He was, very obviously, at death’s door. Suddenly our happiness was invaded by dire predictions of death and doom. With widowhood whispering at the corners of my mind, I set out to confront it, choosing a Dia de Los Muertos theme for the wedding. Why? Because when I went to buy the lace, thinking it was going to be a cream and gold dress, only to hear the radio announcement as soon as my girls and I entered the fabric shop, that Princess Diana had died.
Thus, on the spot, it turned to black and gold, a Goth wedding. Dia De Los Muertos. I wept from the minute I entered the shop. Everyone in the shop was crying for People’s Princess.
Before I leave the topic of my wedding dress – and what happened the first time I wore it – please note that I have worn it out dancing a time or two but more importantly, I wore it every Halloween to take my children trick-or-treating. It’s been the art in my life that would – quite literally – save my sanity once I got mired up in the consequences of my stupid stupid stupid gypsy curse. The last essay in my 3rd book NOMADIC PROUD explains it better.
For the next two-and-months, fall of 1997, while I nursed Greg, the children followed their older sister (then-16) through the park to all the museums and playgrounds she could find, intent on dragging them away from my grief and the sight of their desperately-ill step-father who could barely get out of bed. I sewed for hours at a time, with Greg silently watching me as tears soaked the lace. It was my mute challenge, trying to force him to live long enough to see me in that dress.
On November 14, 1997 we went down to City Hall, just the two of us, and got (legally) married. We’d planned on having the children join us in front of our favorite tree to witness us exchange vows at dusk. A few friends we’d met in Height were invited. Under a dozen people. We spent the day giddy just from it being our wedding day. Little things come back to me, like stealing extra roses out of the rose garden because I hadn’t bought enough for my bouquet to look as luscious as my dress deserved. The look on Greg’s face that morning when he said “I do.” He looked so happy even the Judge marrying us had to laugh. The girls putting my make-up on. “More, mama, more, put more on, you are so pretty with make-up”. The “Just Married” sign that my oldest made for the back window of the bus (I still have it!). Theses bits of things … just flashes of preparation … that was all the happiness we were to have.
Because the night before our wedding, November 13, 1997, we experienced for the very first time, a thing called a police sweep. It was the most obscene thing that ever happened to me. And since then, I have had to endure them again and again, because to be a gypsy in California ANYWHERE is to be exposed to being treated this way.
Knowing what I know now, how on earth we made it as long as we did, parking a 32′ flat-black Bluebird schoolbus in the Height Ashbury, ground zero for Hate, how we got by free and happy in San Francisco from May 31 to November 13 without a raid is beyond me. Must have been the festival atmosphere kept the police on a chain. Just like not understanding that the gypsy curse is a real thing, I had no idea how hated gypsies are in America’s most tolerant city.
As the years would pass, I’d write about it, eventually crafting the aforementioned book of 13 essays I call NOMADIC PROUD (subtitled “Apartheid is not the same as Segregation and other lessons I never expected to learn in San Francisco”) which you can buy in paper on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble or in an instant download @ http://www.ramonamayon.selz.org plus I have a couple of papers on Academia @ http://www.independent.academia.edu/RamonaMayon My website for the book’s links, plus a rough draft of the lawsuit that I’ve been working on for about a decade now are all @ http://www.nomadicproud.wordpress.com
Well, I can’t put it off any further. Bragging on how I healed myself with writing + self-publishing doesn’t explain what actually happened, now does it?
So night before my Big Day there’s the black tulle ballgown-style wedding dress ready to be worn the next night plus my simple burgundy velvet sheath dress to wear to City Hall in the morning. Greg’s clothes still in the dry cleaners plastic wrap. The children each had a box to keep their wedding finery in. The bus was spotless and ready for travels the day after the wedding. We had decided, because of Greg’s health, to return to his parent’s spare house (where the baby was born 18 months earlier). Greg’s health was still shaky but enough to drive back, if I helped with the driving and we went in slow steady spurts, we’d be back by Christmas. So the bus was ready for a roadtrip as soon as we got the marrying done.
We were deep asleep, no wedding nerves at all, happy we were, the entire family snug in their beds. Before midnight it was or maybe it was three in the morning there’s a ticket on file to document this happened, q-beams light up the house, like daylight but with red and blues flashing it makes you wake up like you are having a heart attack completely stroke-inducing. That alone is a violation of the Constitution (and the Declaration of Human Rights) to treat people like that.
Greg jumps up out of bed in his pajamas, and heads right to them. Good Lord, how naive we were back then. I shudder.
As he is headed around out the front door, a cop opens up the back door of the bus exposing me sitting up in bed, naked. I could clearly see him, and two other men, passers-by, from the q-beam shining in. I could also see my about-to-be husband coming up the side of the bus to see this ugly man in a uniform staring at me. I couldn’t move. I was froze, like a bee in amber. My life going forward, my children being safe, my future marriage, Greg’s freedom itself was counting on what I did the next minute and I couldn’t move. Or breath.
Thank God for the fast wits on my oldest daughter, Serenity, who leapt across me and wrenched the door from the cop. Had to pull it hard too and just in time, as Greg came around the corner saying “How can I help you, officer? Here is my ID.” My husband is from Louisiana and he’d have gone to jail. Instead, we got our first “living in a vehicle” ticket. Like vermin.
Still and all, we, Serenity and I, my maid of honor and backbone of the wedding work while I sewed my frothy tulle dress, she and I foolishly thought we’d missed the worst of it and said not a word to Greg. Instead we just drove down to the other end of the Park and all had hot cocoa on Ocean Beach watched the sun come up and marvelled how none of the younger children woke up from the nasty cop’s visit. A few hours later, everyone still asleep and Serenity happily making the “Just Married” sign with my favorite red nail polish, Greg and I slipped out, caught the train and went downtown and got married in front of a very nice lady Justice. About 4 pm, the girls and I began to get ready for the vows-in-front-of-our-favorite-tree. At dusk, Greg went down to wait for me, so I could put on my dress, which of course, he still hadn’t seen me in.
Serenity went down to the park to check if our guests had arrived. She came back in tears saying the police were there with Greg, stopping the wedding. As I rushed down the stairs into the park, I was sure it was something simple. As I ran across the playground, grateful for enough light to see Greg watch me as I approached the wedding site, it was his first sight of me in the dress. Later, he told me I looked like a medieval queen running across the park to him.
No amount of tears would budge the police car in front of “our” tree. No amount of cajoling would call back our guests as they slunk away from the flashing blue and red lights that suddenly had become omnipresent in my life. And would, unfortunately, remain so.
To make a long story a bit shorter, the police stopped our wedding because living in the school bus defined us as “homeless” and the night before, Mayor Willie Brown had been embarrassed on live TV by reporters who had crawled into a drug den in the bushes of the Park and ran the feed back to the mayor at a dinner where he was supposed to be praised. End result was his decree to empty the park of the homeless. This we found out from the newspaper later. But at the time, it was just us with police stopping our guests (yes, some were actually homeless and living in the park – so what?) from peaceably assembling. You grow up thinking you have “rights” because you are an American. Nah…you only got the rights the Man says you got.
And that is the story of how instead of reciting my vows, I threw out a gypsy curse on the City of San Francisco. In my wedding dress, no less. I am positive what happened for the next three-and-half-years was a direct result of me doing that.
But first, back to our wedding night.
Upon hearing me curse the City for its hatred of people like me, Greg took the boom box already loaded with the hour-and-half tape of the rock music we love. Our wedding song was November Rain by Guns and Roses. Before the night was over, Greg flipped that tape six times as we walked and danced and rested through the park, all lit up that huge, creamy moon that no longer seemed so mocking.
We have two photos of our wedding that Serenity took. The first is me crying immediately after finding out there would be no wedding. The second is the one that she was brilliant to think to take, sad as she must have been to have to (yet again) stay home with sleeping children. She made me look at the camera right before we left to dance in the park. And am I ever grateful she did. I love that picture so much. It’s the essence of who we are and what this marriage would withstand in the era to come. It’s twenty-six years next month, on May 31, 2019.
There is a longer description of our wedding in my (upcoming) memoirs: The Last Dance on Height Street. For the purpose of this essay, it’s enough to say that Greg gave me the best night of my life on November 14, 1997.
Three days later, we loaded up with groceries and water, filled the tank and headed out of San Francisco, with our “Just Married” sign still in the back window of the bus. Right as we got to the last exit before the Oakland bridge, our clutch went out. We crippled off the freeway and into a desolate area known as China Basin. Now it’s a gentrified, high-tech medical zone but in 1997, it was nothing but warehouses on the wharf with a single building in its midst: a red-brick, two-story firehouse.
You know how, as life progresses, you look back and say, if I just had not done that one thing…? Well, for me, I wish I had never knocked on the door of that firehouse.
The era from Dec 22, 1997 to Feb 14, 1998 is under settlement. That means I can say nothing except the lawsuit exists (San Francisco County Court #300155 Mayon v. San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program) and what the civil causes were for. Among the seven allegations was “Conversion” of funds donated to our family from Fox News viewers to repair the engine that BLEW UP on Dec 18, 1997 -incidentally Greg’s birthday – remember we only had a clutch problem when we entered Dante’s Inferno – I mean China Basin – the week before Thanksgiving – the damn thing blew up on a flat street with no strain even though the bus was in excellent condition. That morning, we drove at 20 mph for about 7 minutes then it CAUGHT ON FIRE … right in front of firehouse so naturally the guy in charge called in the TV cameras and turned us into a charity drive.
As I said earlier, the evidence of what happened is under settlement but I will disclose that Greg and I would spend the next six months on a street curb repairing that bus from not just a blown engine but other things that occurred subsequently. We got it running mid-June 1998 and lived it until August 14, 2006 when the SFPD seized it for being an illegal home. It was OUR home. We fought a case on that too, in 2008 self-represented in front of a jury, always a mistake. We lost 11 – 1. Total humiliation, I told the kids, but Merlin, only 11 then, hugged me with tears in his eyes and said, “Mom, you convinced ONE person what the cops did was wrong.” I doubt I could ever feel as inadequate as I did in that hour. I wrote an essay about it in NOMADIC PROUD called “The Half Life of Fear”.
But I get ahead of myself. I just wanted you to understand we repaired the sabotage and replaced the engine and drove the bus out of China Basin all on our own and then lived in it for another eight years. Indeed, as my memoirs will describe, we suffered two more blown engines, each exactly 500 miles from San Francisco. Both happened when we tried to leave California.
Although I can’t say much of anything due to the settlement, I do know I can say that we took their first offer of $6,000 because we were desperate to get their signature on any kind of paper so as to prove to Children’s Protective Services (CPS) that we were telling the truth about what had happened.
What a joke. We were so naive. My second book COLLECTED LETTERS FROM THE ABYSS (for sale on Amazon but here is free look http://online.anyflip.com/gdpn/xrdl/mobile/index.html#p=1 ) is manufactured from the City’s hard paper and it lays out the dozens of lies and pieces of manufactured evidence used by the City Attorney’s office starting July 7, 1998 until June 28, 2001 to hold our young children as hostage.
While you are absorbing the unlikelihood of that being true, let me flip that telescope you are looking at me through and let you see the end result. When Kamala Harris – – – now a senator running for President who will more than likely be considered for Attorney General under Joe Biden since she served two terms as DA and two terms as California’s Attorney General – – – when she left her two-year stint as the Lead Attorney of attorneys who prosecute the City’s CPS cases (I.e. child neglect as opposed to Child Abuse, which is criminal), she ran for DA. Her first public union endorsement was the San Francisco Firefighters Union, who were directly named in our lawsuit against their sacred cow of a charity, the Toy Program.
Besides the fact that Kamala Harris ignored exculpatory evidence as a reason to expose her as she runs for President , I must explain that 85% of the lies and threats documented in my book happened during 1998 to 2000, the Lead Prosecutor (for CPS) before Kamala Harris was Katherine Feinstein. Yes, the daughter of Diane Feinstein. That Feinstein.
Another important fact I would like to point out is that before she came to prosecute child neglect August 2000 to 2003, Kamala Harris was a tough-nose assistant DA, first in Oakland then SF, more accustomed to murder and RICO cases than the tame child neglect at the City Attorney but her political career certainly took off after her CPS stint. She’s never lost a race, in spite of having been the very-much married Willie Brown’s mistress.
Click here for a free read http://online.anyflip.com/gdpn/xrdl/mobile/index.html#p=1 (page-flip style since I am a web designer these days – – – all the sites you find me writing in, I built them) This is my book: COLLECTED LETTERS FROM THE ABYSS about the brutal three years spent with my children and my home and my marriage under the microscope and in the legal custody of a corrupt entity like the City Attorney’s office.
The bulk of the lies detailed and proven in my book were put in front of a complacent commissioner willing to rubberstamp anything they wanted – – – except custody – – – so we never lost physical custody, only legal. And thus, the right to travel, the right to leave San Francisco.
For the purpose of this essay, all I need to show is that under Kamala Harris’ oversight of my motherhood, it was illegal, proven as there was one essential point being made over and over, WRITTEN in several reports, “No actual CPS concerns with this family since the initial opening of this case”. Now, that’s pretty clear, right? Yet Kamala Harris and her team went through a third trial in as many years to keep us under “observation” even though CPS was clearing us in the reports on everyone’s desk, including the Mayor’s.
In spite of all my outrageous gypsy ways, in spite of my openly smoking medical marijuana (got the very 1st letter from the Dept. of Neurology at UCSF) which by the way was the foundation of the case against me as a mother. By that I mean, the law only allows for four reasons that permit the invasion of familial privacy to “observe”. One of course is drug use. They did try to get mental health in there about mid-way through our three-year civil sentence. I agreed to submit to five days of a massive encounter with a very nice lady psychotherapist who apparently gave such a stellar report on me, the commissioner insisted, from the bench, that she be called up, in court, to explain what was WRONG with me. All she said was I was possibly willing to put my kids in danger proving that the City had wronged us. My psych evaluation (the children’s too) are still under seal. If I ever get powerful enough, I’m going to get it, just for a good laugh by my children!
So how did it end? After three (3) years of being made by court order to live in a City that hates vehicle-homes and the people who live in them?
Well, you gotta know we survived. Lived to tell the story.
We have a tiny, tiny hope to celebrate the wedding that never happened on Friday, November 13, 2020 in front of our favorite tree in Golden Gate Park. I plan on sewing a new dress for it, too, as a way to break the gypsy curse, this one in gold and cream, much, much longer … in truth I plan to sew it as long as the steps of City Hall that stopped my forward motion. As long as the staircase in the Rotunda and in the shape of the staircase I used to sit and cry on while PAPER from Kamala Harris’s office pinned me in place for her good friend Willie Brown, like a butterfly pinned under glass. I was a free-roaming gypsy until these political bluebloods stopped the life I was enjoying. They used LIES to do it. They did it to make sure I wouldn’t get back to Louisiana and file on the firefighters’ union about the mail theft.
So if I think 37′ of gold tulle, cream satin, and embroidered with royal honey bees will end this gypsy curse and free me from the amber I’m trapped in, you can’t blame me for trying.
Not a full moon that night, though. New moon on November 14, 2020 but it IS ten days after the most important election of our lifetime. I’m using the next 80 weeks to talk about me and Willie Brown and Kamala Harris. How what she did to me in 2001, she will do in 2021. If that corrupt, politically spoon-fed woman thinks she can be President, well then, so can I.
By Friday, November 13, 2020, no matter who is going to be #46, I’m gonna be feeling like a party. I don’t know about y’all.
Read more @ http://www.the46thpresident.org