Glass half full Shaw Story

shawbordersLooking at the title of Living in Shaw- As a Senior Citizen, which I discovered via DCist’s more click-baity title of What’s it like to live in Shaw as a senior citizen on a fixed income? I geared up for another paint by the numbers article on gentrification in Shaw. But as I read the piece by Susannah Herrada, I was most pleasantly surprised. The gentleman at the focus of it, Hodge resident, Bernard Johnson, reminded me of my late Uncle Jimmy.

My Uncle Jimmy was a retiree who lived in Queens. He had a saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” He said it like a motivational speaker, and talked about how he would try to get other retirees to make use of all the great senior citizen and NYC city programs available to them.  Men like Mr. Johnson and my late Uncle Jimmy have a certain love of life that we should only be so lucky to have a smidge of.

Mr. Johnson is going to the free wine tastings and is knowledgeable of the happy hours around the neighborhood. Sounds a heck of a lot better than my parent’s regular treks to the Golden Corral. And he’s aware of the free activities available to him in walking distance. He makes use of the wonderful Shaw Library and I suspect he’s going to openings at the Longview Gallery.

Last year the Help and I got a crash course in eldercare with moving his mom to the DC area. I had looked into the Hodge. My pot-headed Korean sister-in-law had a better chance of getting into Harvard than my mother in law into the Hodge. The Hodge is one of several senior citizen residences around. Not as modern is Asbury Dwellings in the old Shaw Junior High School. They never got back to me when I asked about a unit for her. I did not consider House of Lebanon in Truxton Circle because there are ‘issues’ (*cough *S.O.M.E.* cough) in that area. Maybe Chapman Stables might help. Have a senior special at Republic Cantina?

In writing this I was looking for a picture of my Uncle Jimmy and well I don’t have one. But I did manage to find on-line pix of his son, my 2nd cousin Jarvis. Cousin Jarvis is a working actor in New York. If you are looking for a 40-ish bald brown man of medium build with a beautiful smile, hire him. He’s a member of whatever stage and screen guild-union-whatever in NYC, Jarvis Smith (IMDb) (Stage32). Speaking roles, non-speaking roles in the the New York area.

An usual murder in Shaw

As far as I can tell, and I can’t tell much, a man was murdered on the 1600 block of New Jersey Avenue NW. The MPD press release has the 3rd District responding so, I’ll guess it is the even side of the street.

Noe Alberto Gallardo Ponce was attacked somewhere on the 1600 blk of NJ Ave NW and first responders found him in his home? The press release says a residence. What makes his death unusual among Shaw deaths is that a suspect was arrested the same day the victim died, and the suspect shares a name with the victim, William Alexander Marrouquin Gallardo. And as far as I can tell this wasn’t a firearms related death. Actually no cause of death was stated.

MPD Press Release “Arrest Made in a Homicide: 1600 Block of New Jersey Avenue, Northwest

Strong Start Program

Logo for OSSE Strong Start ProgramThere is a disclaimer at the end.

So I had some interest in Bill B22-0203 – Infant and Toddler Developmental Health Services Act of 2017 or Act 22-453, Birth-to-Three for All DC Amendment Act of 2018 when I saw it mentioned on DCist. Perusing through the amended version of B22-203 I noticed a mention of Strong Start, a program Destructo-Baby participates in, so let me give you the low down on it.

Because of several factors (long hospital stay, being a premmie, and some prenatal things) our adoption agency social worker and later a pediatrician suggested the OSSE Strong Start program. So I filled out the application and got our social worker to sign off on it (I could have used the pediatrician). Eventually they got back to me and had an initial interview in our home. This was followed by an evaluation by an occupational therapist and a physical therapist.

Destructo-Baby was about a month under baked, so he qualified because he was developmentally delayed, compared to babies who pop out at 40 weeks. Looking at his report he needed to be 50% delayed or 25% delayed 2 areas. He was 3 months at the time, so he was delayed in everything, because he was developmentally 2 months.

So what did this mean? For the past 10 months he’s had monthly, and early on bi-monthly visits with a occupational and physical therapist. Some of the visits were at our home, but later several sessions were at the day care. At our home the therapist gave us tips and activities to work on to strengthen the baby. As first time parents, those tips became priceless.

Strong Start is a great program and it only costs us our sick leave. Our precious, precious, precious sick leave. I love my son. I also love my annual leave and my sick leave. Those visits at our home were in the day, during the work week, so yeah, that had its cost in leave. That’s why I began pushing more visits over to the day care, who were happy to accommodate whichever therapist.

This program does not (as far as I can remember) consider parents’ income. Which is good because trying to see the developmental specialist through our HMO has been darned near impossible. Destructo’s doctor is aware of this, and isn’t too concerned because he’s been working with Strong Start.

Disclaimer- If we don’t get renewed for the next year, that’s fine. He’s a little behind in a few things, but not so much that we’re concerned. He’s in the system and if things get serious, I know who to contact. This post is just to share our experience.

Pretty Good Thanksgiving- DC Schools

Formerly Frozen Turkey in Road

We had a pretty good Thanksgiving. How about you?

I, the Help and DestructoBaby trekked out to the hinterlands known as Beltsville, MD to have Thanksgiving at a relative’s house.  DestructoBaby was the life of the party. His presence gave us an opportunity to talk about the DC school system and clear up some misunderstandings…. Hopefully.

The Lottery- You don’t have to pay for it. I have no idea where they got the idea that one had to pay to participate in the school lottery. It’s not like the other Lotto where you buy a ticket and hope to get money. As far as I can tell there is no application fee.

Waitlists are a thing. They were amazed when I mentioned the waitlist for Mundo Verde was over 1000.

Charters are free. They know charters are different.  One of my relatives is a retired Maryland teacher, and I know PG County has some charters.  I really don’t know the difference between PG and DC charters, except in DC charters are a big deal. But yeah, charters, like the regular public schools are free to residents.

Yes, Seaton is that school near Shiloh Baptist. They attend Shiloh so yeah, that’s an operating school when they aren’t there.

Aren’t they all out of the way? Okay this one confused me. They know where my house is. They know where Seaton is. I’m not sure why they think it’s out of the way. Despite being able to pick 12 schools in the lottery, I can only think of 5 or 6 we’d apply to and most of those are in walking distance or along the Help’s commute to work. It must have been those stories about kids with long commutes to school.

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 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.


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.