Nov 23, 2011

"Boots on a November Beach," Nov. 23, 2011

On a cool-warm morning when the air was apple-crisp, the sky a kaleidoscope, and the impatient waves pushed forward without mercy, I had to get out of my boots and sink my feet into the lovely, clean sand.

Oct 20, 2011

Update: After Tucson, 1/8/11

Keep hope, humanity, kindness, understanding, humility ... in memory of William McQuain, 11, of Maryland. Christina-Taylor Green. Emmitt Till. Four little girls in Birmingham. Matthew Shephard. All the children gone. All the children taken. In wars declared and wars being waged in people's minds. (originally posted 1/16/11)

Oct 7, 2011

One Good Thing About Today

In 1st period, I rushed through our lesson on the Renaissance (European) -- though interesting -- so I could get to Occupy Wall Street. I knew this class would want to talk current stuff. And I dig making the study of history circular, so to speak. That was history then, we are making history now.

"What's going on in the news?" I asked. Someone mentioned the trial of MJ's doctor. Okay ... yes.

"What else?" Steve Jobs died. Ummm hmmmm.

"Anything else? Anybody know what's been happening in New York?"

Uhhhh ...

"On Wall Street?"

A voice over my right shoulder: "Oh, oh, yes .... they're protesting!"

"Right, they are! So, let's talk about that."

I showed them clips from Thursday's edition of Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now."

A college student interviewed said he was $50,000 in debt after only two years in school. This rendered a mixture of disgust, anger, disbelief, and despair.

We talked about the growing wealth gap, why Wall Street is being targeted, how their own future will be affected. One side of the room got revved. "I'm going to New York this weekend!" a female student declared.

Others began to talk: "Let's go! Ms. Matthews-Davis, we should go!"

A group of about eight began to consider what they could really do, how they could do it, what kind of difference they could make. They started talking about Twitter. Someone threw out the name of some other social network, "even better than Twitter, Ms. Matthews-Davis." They all instantly agreed. Definitely, that one, too! I pretended I knew what they were talking about. Never even heard of it. (Geeeeez, just when you think you're up to date.)

Then the "I'm going to New York" girl announced, "I just sent a message on Twitter!"

Me: "What?!! You ... did? On your phone? (Duh.) Well ... okay. Alright." They were so pumped up. I couldn't rain on that fire.

On the other side of the room, about six show-no-emotion boys were watching the video with intense expressions that said, Is this for real?

The hip-hop duo Rebel Diaz sang about "the 99, the 99, the 99 percent."

The bell rang for 2nd period, and my students left the room talking about the unfairness of Wall Street and plotting how they would shake things up. I told them to stay tuned to the news this weekend.

Just before the bell, I had a moment. It was at once a flashback and a dizzy awareness that I was living one of my fantasies. It was outside of my head and actually happening. For a few seconds, it froze me. I had imagined a teaching moment just like this!

If I can inspire my students to question, to take a chance and peek over the wall, to find out where they fit in with all of it, to consider the humanity of others, I have made a minute contribution to their process of self-discovery and growth. Yes...yes!

(Heaven to Avis: "Told you so.")

Sep 21, 2011

Georgia, USA, Murdered Troy Davis at 11:08 Tonight

What's on Georgia's Mind?

I am a big sister. What do I do at a moment like this, as I watch somebody's little brother about to be executed? I cry. I am at a loss. I want to pray. What do I pray for? Save Troy. I must believe that salvation will happen in another realm for Troy Davis. I must believe this. I have nothing else. Troy Davis is my little brother.

Aug 23, 2011

The Earth Quaked

Vulnerable. The Earth moving beneath you. Slipping out from under you. Like that dream when you're falling, falling. What is there to hold onto?
Was in the school library during my planning period. Thought someone was rolling a big dolly of new tech equipment (wishful thinking) down the hallway. Having never had the floor or walls move like that in the 6-1/2 years I've been at this relatively new school, I shifted my thinking: this is ... oh no ... is it... are we having ... definitely.
Stayed in my chair, looked up to see what was over my head, grabbed onto the table, and held on. Students in classrooms began to yell. A book display fell over, just missing a male teacher who ran across the room like a scared little girl.
I was cool. The librarian and I wondered if school would be closed tomorrow, maybe the next day, a couple of weeks?
I called the folks to make sure all was well. It was. My father tells a funny story. My mother was in her car after visiting my uncle at the hospital. She didn't feel a thing. She's disappointed she missed it.
Back at school, evacuation! Outside in the sun and heat for two hours waiting for parents, busses. Bonded with my colleagues.
All is well. God is eternally good.

Aug 4, 2011

When It's Summer

  ... i love garden-fresh tomatoes, mouth-watering cucumbers, and ... big squash. what's to say about squash? oh, tender squash! (how's that?) tuesday, my aunt shirley dropped off the sweetest cherry tomatoes, and the next day my cousin dennis delivered the squash, giant cuc, and yellow tomatoes. so far, i've made a delicious (really!) tomato-cuc salad, channeling my grandmother. yum!

Jul 25, 2011

2:46 a.m., Sunday into Monday

Pulling out my hair …
I need to finish this paperrrrr!!
And I need,
need ...
a boyfriend,
a lover,
a steady, steady, steady.
A sure thing,
a right on time,
a song in the night.
But … not right now.

(When my head is clear, I'm gonna regret posting this.)

Jul 9, 2011

Back at the Lake

Hibiscus along Greenbelt Lake/July 9, 2011. (I took this pic!)

I came back to you,
and you were
just as I needed
you to be:

In your flirty
morning mood,
your slow and
easy sway,
you welcomed
my return.

And with
coy pleasure,
surprised me.
I hadn't imagined
that you would be
more lush than ever.

Jul 8, 2011

God. Me. (No. 2)

God is the song 
that is in my head,
now out of my mouth,
riding the air,
soon to settle on someone’s heart --
just where it’s been pierced.

Jul 3, 2011

America The Beautiful -- Ray Charles

Indeed, God graces the whole Universe. Is there not beauty everywhere? I've seen the mountains of Salzburg and a rainbow across the Caribbean Sea. With that said, I post this song because RAY CHARLES ignores ideology and politics, and he stakes claim to his birthright: to love America and call it his home. The song really gets to me. But, it's Ray Charles! Growing up in our household, Ray ruled the hi-fi!

Jul 2, 2011

God. Me. (No. 1)

Sometimes, life won't let you sink. 
Even after you've stopped fighting the tears,
have stepped into the hole. 
laid down and curled up. 
God says no, and sends 
someone to pull you out. 

I don't have answers now, 
and I want answers. 
But I have God...

Jun 19, 2011

Father's Day

I saw my father's face today, and heard his voice -- talking, laughing, and, as always, advising. Thank you, Daddy.

Am thinking with great respect about some other fathers, too, the often forgotten, rarely mentioned, underappreciated ones who changed diapers, combed hair, organized chores, learned to thread a needle, baked brownies, read stories, went to PTA, saved for college, prayed, listened, wore an armor of steel, pretended all was well, and held things together, when mother was ... absent, or just a little different.
Also, am praying for the fathers who long to know their children but are being kept from doing so. Stay faithful and hopeful.

May 15, 2011

Smart Cookies: Reflecting on Graduation Season

Sat., May 14, 2010 -- Back from Nashville, where yesterday I saw one of my smart girl cousins receive her B.S. in Engineering from Vanderbilt. She's headed to Georgia Tech for post-grad.
While in TN, I spent time with a great friend from college, who last week celebrated her daughter's earning the doctor of dentistry degree.
Today, our family will fest another one of our smart cookies, who earned her J.D. from Howard (cum laude).
I'm also thinking proudly of my favorite high school seniors -- including NM, CA, WI, BA, DA, FD, DF, YA, JH, AB, VA, MW, MJ, and, particularly, DR, who had a baby two months ago, was out of school for six weeks, and is still carrying a 4.0 like it's a piece of cake!
But being a smart human being isn't enough to make you good people. These are good people, some of the best, along with my two nephews and a slew of other thoughtful, creative, kind, and diligent young adults in my family and yours.
With a desire to learn, grow, serve, contribute, build, to be like us and not like us, they have watched and listened to us, as we lovingly said "do this-don't do that." They have allowed us to prod and push them, while awkwardly pushing back as they strove for self-identity. Now they set forth to marry their purpose with their potential, as the future Vanderbilt/Georgia Tech engineer said to us Friday.
I think the rest of us -- I mean we who are not twenty-something or even thirty-something anymore and haven't been for a while -- can begin to relax a little. They've got us.

May 2, 2011

Dear Stevie Wonder: We Need a Human Kindness Day

May 2, 2011 1:15 a.m. -- Yesterday, I posted a message on Facebook about a random act of kindness done by a woman I encountered downtown. Do any other children of the '70s recall Human Kindness Day, headlined in '75 by Stevie Wonder on the grounds of the Washington Monument? Newspaper accounts report that the day turned violent. I swear, I don't remember that. I have this sensory memory of Human Kindness Day, and I remember it as being all happiness and light. Feeling free. I was a senior in high school. Life didn't get much better. Hmmmm.

As I watch folks celebrate bin Laden's death, I feel a need for a Human Kindness Day. Maybe this is that for some of those celebrating tonight. Could it be? Not judging. I know this moment is cathartic for many. I know it's bringing that horrible morning racing to the front of many people's minds. I think about the horror of the Pentagon. Still, human kindness would serve us well now.

Mar 20, 2011

The Kind of Friends I Have

So glad to have women friends
who seek to be honest,
who strive not to 
critique others any more harshly 
than they critique themselves.

Who will admit when they are wrong,
admit that they really don't know,
and admit that they need help.

Who search their souls,
who pray,
who honestly do 
gaze at the stars.

Who value men,

who know the power 
and the beauty
of words and music.

Who seek 


Who laugh out loud,
and loudest of all 

at themselves.

Who know love and
know that love is good.

Feb 20, 2011

Harmony ... or, If You Could Read My Mind This Morning

My uncle's sudden death. The family's heartbreak -- and resilience. Two friends standing at crossroads: one managing to keep his character intact as he goes through a puzzling evolution; the other striving heroically for harmony in his life. My birthday just a day away. God's absolute love. "Desiderata."                  

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant,
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser
persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be;
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

by Max Ehrmann c.1920

Feb 6, 2011


Into the womb
God whispers
some lullaby,
some Ellington,
some Stevie.

Baby quivers,
toes wiggle,
heart jumps.
Now knows love.

cries for,
fights for,
dies for.

Breathes deep.
Laughs long.
Hugs close.
Loves back.
Loves back.

February 14, 2009
Happy Valentine's Day!