writing IN Memory

My daughter’s blog has a header that says “It’s my blog and I can blog if I wanna”.  And, this is my blog and sometimes, I wanna get personal. Like today.

On Friday, my 81 year old mother passed away.  She outlived my grandparents, my dad and cousins and aunts and uncles and she was my mom.  Wasn’t she supposed to live forever?

She was born in little ol’ Grenada Mississippi and was raised there in her first few years by her grandmother.  She was poor, dirt poor.  This is something I only recently learned about her because she never really talked about her childhood.  Nor did my dad who grew up in a different kind of poor, an urban poor in a northern city during the Depression.  They both learned how to make due and how to take care of family but, they never let us kids know about their childhood.  Instead, they gave us a middle class upbringing in Catholic schools and college educations.  Even though I was grown and gone, they were still there for me through a divorce, large and small calamities with my children and all major life events.  Mom believed firmly in marriage and that all women needed men to care for them, but she managed to raise daughters who were confident and independent.  And, she and my dad raised a son who cherishes his wife and is responsible to his family.  Through their example, they taught us all how to be there to raise our children.   No, they weren’t perfect but they were my parents and I am so glad, so proud, so honored to have had them.  Notice how I can’t even talk about my mom without talking about my dad?  They would fuss with each other and had issues of their own to deal with, but to their dying day, they gave whatever they could to their children and their grandchildren.

We’ll be going back home, back to Toledo for final services.  This is one trip I do not want to make.


The Indiana Youth Institute and the Indiana Pacers are coming together to offer Pacer tickets at a group discount price in connection with this year’s Kids Count in Indiana Conference.

The statewide conference will be held on December 2-3, in Indianapolis, and on December 2 the Pacers host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.  Conference participants and all Indiana youth workers and educators can purchase tickets for the game at a reduced price.

Tickets priced between $25 and $85 are available at an $8 discount.  In addition, each person who buys a ticket as part of this group event receives a 10 percent discount coupon for the Pacers Home Court gift shop.

Tip off with the Pacers: http://www.iyi.org/conference

The Kids Count in Indiana Conference, meanwhile, features former high school basketball coach Ken Carter, whose extraordinary life story inspired the Hollywood movie, “Coach Carter.” His inspiring keynote speech highlights an agenda that also includes:

  • Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent Youth Understanding;
  • 60 workshops on working with kids, involving parents and fund raising;
  • free continuing education units from 12 state and national organizations;
  • the Vectren Resource Center with nearly 100 exhibits and a fun raffle; and
  • the updated edition of the Kids Count in Indiana Data Book.

This year only: a special announcement you will not want to miss involving IYI’s 20th Anniversary!

Carpooler Discount: purchase four registrations, and one is free.

Registration deadline: Midnight, Monday, November 17, 2008.

More info: http://www.iyi.org/conference

Let’s buy the Books!!

I received the following email from a co-worker, who also happens to be my mentor.  Knowing what children, literacy and family mean to both of us, I’m taking the liberty of posting this rather modest plea here.  I plan to buy copies, I hope you will, too.

I have been working with a group of teens at school called the “graphic novel club.”  This is a group of students who usually, do not think they are good readers and we incorporate art and literature to help with their reading.  In the last two years, I have gotten at least two students to the point that I want them to publish some of their writing.  It is very difficult to find a publisher for good, clean urban literature.  I found a place to self publish their work.


This is the link to a book I published.  This is actually my book that I wrote over a year ago, with no intent to publish until the need arose for me to inspire others to publish their works.  You can buy a copy of the book, and I would encourage you to not only purchase a copy, but to know that any proceeds of the sale will be going to the second reason I chose to publish my writting.

Earlier this year, my mom’s house went into foreclosure.  This is a personal issue, I know.  But she said to me when I asked why didn’t she tell me sooner, “I did not want to bother you.  You are always so busy with work.”  Don’t we all work to provide better homes for our families?  How could I have sent her such a message?  I want ALL the proceeds of the sale of my work to go to buying my mom’s home where she has lived for 19 years, where she has raised her children and grand children, back from Chase Bank.  I have to sell 16,000 copies to do that, so that is why I am abusing my Frequent Contact folder in my work email.  I am not sending this to everyone- just educators, book vendors, SFC Woodworth, and a few people who I respect as artists.

PS- This is what a librarian does on Friday nights

book review: No Way Home

No way home

by: Carlos Acosta; 200726709201

When my first boxes of books arrived this year, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and read something I wouldn’t typically read.  I went straight for the biographies.  And, that one with the sienna-toned cover was one I could have kept ignoring.  I picked it up, split the book and began reading

Shiiit! I thought.  How the hell did he do that?  He was just hanging in the air?

everyone applauded.  I was trying to work out where the wire was, thinking the muscular guy must have been held up by something.  He jumped again.  It looked effortless.  He did not even appear to be sweating, just smiling as he kept time with the heavenly music.

My spirits soared.  I felt transported.  Perhaps if I worked hard, then I could hang in the air like that.

It suddenly dawned on my why my father had been so tough with me all these years.  I saw it with great clarity.  All he had ever wanted was for me to be able to jump like that!

Of course, his father wanted more. He wanted to keep his son safe from the streets and he wanted him to have a successful career based upon his talents.  Junior eventually comes to this realization, but as the above passage indicates, he often had to experience things for himself first.

This memoir does what any good memoir should:  it allows the author to reflect upon the good and bad of his life while the reader celebrates his accomplishments.  And Acosta has had many!!  While having quite an illustrious dance career, he manages to write a book that makes him sound like just an ordinary guy growing up in Cuba who happens to develop an amazing talent.  Really, isn’t that what any artist is?  And if students begin to realize that, perhaps they will realize how much they too can accomplish in this life.  This gentle memoir is as approachable to read as I’d like to beleive the author would be to talk with.  I think my students will relate to the need to dance, the draw of the street and the irritation cause by the insistent, confusing urgings of persistent parents.

The book is a great read, the body in flight on the cover is a vision to behold!  I’m glad I took a leap to try something different!

What a day


I don’t typically take the time for personal reflections, but a couple of things happened today that I really want to note.

First, I came home today–A day in early November, no less– to find that the daylillies in my front yard had bloomed.  This is not daylilly season!  I’d been eying the buds for days and wondered if they would make any significant progress before the weather chilled out again and it gave me such a sense of hope to see the pale yellow blossoms when I came home today.

That feeling only amplified what I was feeling given the result of recent elections.  We had an election with no signs of shiggedy.  We had an election that allowed a person of color to triumph based soley upon his merits.  This gives me hope that one day, America can truly overcome racism.  This event to me is only a stepping stone in that battle because, you see we still have to mark this event as The First Black President, not as simple the victory as the best candidate.  We have to ask Blacks how they feel about this, but we don’t ask whites, or Latinos or Asians.  So, how far have we come?

We can continue to hope that it racism will disappear (one day) and that Barack will be a great president, we have to have hope.  But somewhere I have been burdened with this nugget of realism deep in my being that tells me he’s just a man, not a savior and that the economy has a natural cycle to it that politicians cannot control decisions will be made with the best of intentions but it still won’t be all roses and grins along the way.

The other thing that happened today was that my Obama buttoned finally arrived in the mail.