319 R Street the plan

319 R St NW, 20001Okey dokey. The fugly, and I’m gonna call it fugly, ’cause it was a plan of ugly of freaking magnitude, plan of replacing the top level of 319 R St NW with a meh 3rd floor and an out of proportion dunce hat is no more. The Historic Landmark application, killed that.

So the developers played chicken, lost and looks like they’re gonna try to recoup their money by selling it, unimproved, for $1.05 million. Unimproved. I don’t think the plans are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But that’s just my opinion.

So what’s the plan? Go down.

New plan for 319 R St NWThere will be three floors but you’ll have to go down, into the basement. Have they dug the basement? I don’t think so, so there is no guarantee of anything. If they haven’t, you could hit water. Anywho. The top floor is a rooftop deck of sorts, because you can’t change the top anymore. Because of historic stuff. If they just left the damned turret alone, like 210 P Street NW, they would have had more freedom to put on a 3rd floor.

210 P St NW Open House
Turret on 210 P St NW.

But, noooooo. They had to plan to destroy the original turret or threaten to tear down the building. Now they expect someone to pay over a million dollars for the mess they made.

When your own ethnic group can be oppressive

On this miserable morning I found myself on an unfamiliar bus, standing near the front overhearing a conversation between another rider and the metrobus driver. At first I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about when they were talking about seeing “them” out in this weather with the cold wet slushy snow. The first snow of the season.

When they mentioned running I figured out the ‘them’ were joggers, white joggers. If people like the driver and rider did such a thing, they agreed, they’d catch pneumonia. Supposedly, we, African-Americans don’t jog, which is a lie. I don’t jog but I have witnessed black men and women jogging around Shaw and Bloomingdale.

This reminded me of the negative talk that floats around in my ethnic group that, I believe, keeps us down and back. Growing up I heard Black people don’t swim, play tennis, play golf, or any of those things, which is fairly harmless. Unless you’re a Tiger Woods or Williams sister. I also heard that excelling in high school was ‘acting white.’ That phrase. That mindset. How many young Black men and women have been kept back because of the fear of ‘acting white?’ So many minds, gone to waste.

In DC, in the arguments about bike lanes and gentrification, I’ve heard black people don’t ride bikes. This came from a blind fool who apparently ignored all the drug boys rolling around the neighborhood on bikes. I’ve also heard hints that we, as a people, only go to certain types of eateries that serve unhealthy Southern fare. My parents and older relatives like to prove this point often in their love for places like Cracker Barrel.

So I’m happy to be one of 2 or 3 black customers, the only customers sometimes, of the Protein Bar waiting for breakfast. We can eat healthy. We can live healthy. We can have strong minds, and good educations. Provided we push against, or ignore, those negative voices within the community.

Amazon- F*** me pumps

When you walk in the bar
And you dressed like a star
Rockin’ your F me pumps

 

Upon the announcement that Amazon decided to split its HQ2 between NoVA and somewhere in NYC, and all the local news, I couldn’t get Amy Winehouse’s song outta my head because of all the whoring local governments engaged in.

You’re more than a fan
Lookin’ for a man
But you end up with one-nights-stands
He could be your whole life
If you got past one night
But that part never goes right
So, hopefully, whatever bl*w job incentives DC promised to get Amazon, we’re not under any obligation to fulfill because the District got nothin. Sorry to be so crass but the whole HQ2 circus was so undignified that it just seems applicable. I’m so glad it is over with, its worse than a sports franchise or the Olympics. No, that’s wrong, Olympics are 10x worse.
But the area got it, and I guess that’s what matters. Like our area football team. The Skins can stay in Landover as far as I’m concerned, and Amazon can sit in the cultural wasteland that is Crystal City. Maybe that area might gain a personality.
So what does this have to do with Truxton Circle? In DC? We’re Yellow line adjacent and the Yellow Line goes to Crystal City/Capital Landing. We’re co-mingled with and next door to Mt. Vernon Sq. On weekends and off-peak, the Shaw-Howard metro gets in on some yellow line action. I’m sure some of those future high salary Amazon workers may already live around here. That’s why Amazon picked this area, the talent is already here.

The TruxtonCircle.Org website

Ran into THE Scott Roberts at one of the last few Sundays left for the 2018 Bloomingdale Farmers Market. He mentioned the Truxton Circle history site. Yes, the date says 2014. I haven’t updated it for various reasons. Here they are:

  1. Data Clean Up: How. I knew there were some problems with the data. Part of the biggest problem was figuring out how to deal with it. I know the best way to eat an elephant is to start with small bites, but the question is how to cook the dang thing. My 1940 data was split into two different tables, because 2 different people worked on it. Because they didn’t transcribe in the same way, that has taken some time to fix. And I wanted to put all censuses into one monster table. I haven’t done that, because the fields change from census to census.
  2. Data Clean Up: Who-What? Another problem with the data is that it contains incorrect and incomplete information. I’ve explored this with my Black Home Owners of 1940 series and the post United States Census- People Lie. I have come to a stop because I don’t know what to do about a man listed as a husband and homeowner when he is neither. When the land records show that his supposed wife is the owner and widow of another man. I’ve stopped before with other challenges, only to restart it when I’ve completely forgotten about them… until I look at my notes….
  3. Data Clean Up: Documenting it all. In my last attempt to clean up the data in the 1940 census, I would document each change in a separate worksheet. So if I found the address was wrong, I would have a line saying on this date which lines and which fields were changed from what to what. It is tedious. My natural habit is not to leave good notes for myself which later winds up biting me in the rear.
  4. Time. I ain’t got it. I got a baby. Destruct-O-baby has eaten up a lot of my time in ways I did not imagine. I thought I knew what I was getting into with adoption, but I didn’t. I am also too cheap to hire a sitter so I can sit down and work on it.  The only reason I’m able to post this is because Destructo is napping.
  5. Wo-Manpower. It’s just me. Back in 2012 I was able to hire two people with the DC Humanities grant. But that was just for a few months. The Help has his own pet project he’s been working on for over a decade. He doesn’t pull me into his project, I don’t pull him into mine. I also did my own website design and maintenance. I am way behind on this, and when I do update TruxtonCircle.org I’ll have to hire a professional to go in and clean it up…… but after I’ve cleaned up the data. Or at least the 20th century data.

319 R St NW

319 R St NWI ran into a neighbor who apparently went to the last BACA meeting. I stayed home because of a sick kid. He’s fine now, thanks for asking. Anyway, she informed me of what is going on with 319 R Street NW.

For those of you new to the story, here is the Cliff Notes version of the 319 R Street NW saga. The property was sold by a Korean Presbyterian church to a developer. The developer wanted to chop off the roof and turret and make a fugly building. There was some pushback by neighbors and the developers threatened to demolish the building as a matter of right. The developers, and other people, forgot that 319 was on a block built by celebrated developer Harry Wardman and a majority of the structures on the block were Harry Wardman originals. When it looked like the developers were going to be able to get their fugly building with a dunce hat of a turret, someone submitted a historic landmark application for the whole damned block. The submission and the approval meant no changes could be made, so no ugly 3rd floor or dunce hat, but unfortunately a bunch of innocent homeowners got caught up in it like dolphins in a tuna net.

Anyway……

The developers got permits to make changes (but not the fugly building) and plan to sell 319 R with the approved permits. They played chicken and they lost. Depending on how much they sell the building, a talented developer like Ditto could turn it into a two unit, million+ property.

Transracial adoption

November is National Adoption Month. So I’m posting about our experience.

So I tend not to think of ourselves as transracial parents, as the term applies to parents whose adopted children are of a different race or ethnic group than they. I’m African American, the Help is white. Destruct-O-baby is half white, half, maybe black. During the time of Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry, and how she identified herself, made me realize my son and I were different. He’s bi-racial, I am not.

The typical transracial families I’ve seen and know are white parents, with black (domestic), Asian (international), and Hispanic (both) kids. Each comes with its own challenges, but I’m more familiar with the white/black combo as we know a couple of those families. Hair is a problem for white mothers of little black girls. Then there are the identity ‘hey you guys don’t match’ issues. We’re lucky in that when we’re together it looks like Destruct-O-baby is related to us, but sometimes we’re mistaken for grandparents. I have no idea of how things are when the Help and Destructo are out together.

I have found the work of Angela Tucker, a transracial adoptee and filmmaker, informative. She did a couple of videos talking to transracial adoptees. Below is a video of Ms. Tucker chatting with DC area transracial adoptees. I found her videos and her film Closure, because I was looking for perspectives of adult adoptees. That was before we adopted Destructo. Post-adoption, people we know have let us know they too were adopted, so the adult adoptee narrative is diverse. That may be another post for another time.

Some DC Homeowner Tax Hacks

319 R St NW, 20001Yes, I know it is a click-baity title but bear with me, I got some good stuff.

1- Get your property taxes deferred. Single? Do you make less than $50K a year? Then you may be able to get a deferment. Unfortunately this doesn’t look like the same deferment I had. Those were 5 wonderful years of not paying any property tax, then one year, I made about $500 too much, and that was the end of that. It looks like you fill out the second (1st half is for old people) part of form FP-110.

2- Are you 65 years or older OR do you receive SSDI? Pay less on your property taxes than those suckers with just a Homestead Deduction. Go to the forms page, fill out FP-100.

3- Did you for some odd reason not take the $5000 if you bought during or before 2011, the 1st time homeowner tax credit? Really? That was just free money. Since there can’t be too many people that qualify for this, I’m going to move on.

4- Do you make $20K or less? You don’t have to be a homeowner for this, renters can qualify. On your DC state income tax, fill out Schedule H, you’ll get a credit.

 

Adoption- Dear Birthmother

November is National Adoption Month, so I’m writing a few posts about our experience.

Let’s hear it for the birthmom’s because without them, some of us would not be parents. We tried and failed to have a biological kid of our own. Miscarriages suck. I only had one and that was enough. But I came to appreciate that brief moment of pregnancy when an adoptive mom said that I at least was able to get pregnant. I’d like to think I’m a realist about our ages, so IVF would have been a waste of money and moral and mental energy. So adoption was the logical choice, and there can’t be adoptions without birthparents deciding to place their children with strangers like us.

I am incredibly grateful for Destruct-O-baby’s birthmom and her decision to let the agency pick us. Mainly because that let us re-name him and until then no birthfamily wanted us, like never getting picked for the parent team.

On some level I get that deciding to make an adoption plan to place (we don’t say ‘giving the child up’) a child is very difficult. We had to read the book “Dear Birthmother” and trying to understand the birth families’ perspective was a major part of our adoption classes. The agency continues to champion the side of the birthparent in the seasonal magazine we get from them. One issue talked about the challenges one mother in forming romantic relationships. So guys, if you’re dating a gal and you really like her, and she mentions she has a kid out there in the world being raised by other people, don’t be an ass about how you respond. You’d be doing me a huge favor.

Holy Crap this is close- ANC 5E-05

Holy Crap!

Seriously.

Holy F’ing crap. Just a 2 vote difference. Your vote may be a drop in the bucket in citywide elections but it means a lot in ANC races.

First. Is this even legal? Ms. Robinson-Paul appeared twice on my ballot. She ran against Kenyon McDuffie, the current councilman for Ward 5 under the name Joyce (Chestnut) Robinson-Paul. That I expected, as it was in the Voter Guide that was sent out. But I was taken aback when I saw her name again when I went to vote for my ANC Bradley A. Thomas. I was under the impression Bradley was running unopposed. Was this mentioned at yesterday’s BACA meeting (I was home because the kid was miserable and I didn’t want to abandon my spouse for a meeting)?

Second, WTF?

Foster Care- Alternatives

November is National Adoption month and I have a few posts in mind for that. But there are a few personal stories I want to share about avoiding foster care. It is great that foster care exists, because in some countries in the world, it does not. However, of the options that exist for kids it isn’t the best, and we forget, there are other options.

Back in the mid-1970s my mom had her 1st nervous breakdown due to post-partum depression. I was pre-schooled age at the time and I was sent off to stay with various relatives while my mom recovered. I’m not sure what was going on with dad (maybe discovering the joys of alcoholism). This happened again when my parents were separated and mom was hospitalized for mental health issues. Grandma, my aunts and uncles and their spouses took over and returned us immediately and the state was not involved. If they weren’t there to help, my sister and I probably would have gone into foster care. I am grateful that they stepped up.

Decades later, my sister was a single mom with two kids living in subsidized housing. Something happened that I’m not going to talk about and mom convinced her to send the kids to stay with her retired brother and his wife. The kids returned to their mom after a month or so. My nephew and my uncle formed a very strong bond. So when my then 2 year old nephew regressed developmentally after his return to his mom, he went back to our uncle. Long story short our aunt and uncle adopted my nephew. This sort of thing was normal on my dad’s side, which makes trying to do a genealogy annoying. On my dad’s side there is a paranoid fear of the state taking away kids, so the family gets involved before the local government does.

So those are personal stories and this next story, I heard from Bethany, the adoption agency we used. There was a single mom in Texas with 3 kids and for reasons unknown to me, she decided to look for a new family for her kids and reached out to an adoption agency. She found a family in Maryland who agreed to adopt all three, keeping the siblings together. I can guess at the various reasons why she did what she did (terminal diagnosis, 10-20 yr prison term, degrading mental illness) but I want to applaud her decision to keep her kids out of the foster care system. In the system there is no guarantee that the kids would stay together. There is no guarantee the kids wouldn’t be moved from house to house and out on their own the minute each one turned 18. Twenty percent of foster kids become homeless after turning 18, and the stats for foster kids is frickin’ depressing. In this case there is a family who will be there for them and their various milestones and provide a home to boomerang back to when they become adults.

Lastly, I am thankful the foster care system exists, it’s better than the institutional orphanage system. In the short term it is a lifesaver for kids in crisis who have no other options. Long-term, eh, there are problems, no simple solutions, and it could be better. If there are options to get kids out of the system or to avoid the system altogether, they should be considered. Family members should step forward and intervene early or the parents should consider being pro-active and find an adoptive family for their kids.