Carpe Annum!


Happy New YearSome of the most captivating and memorable events that occurred in 2014 involved unimaginable acts of violence that sparked hundreds of thousands to mobilize, fearing that perhaps there’s enough truth to the suggestion that our generation is irretrievably lost. Moms, dads, friends, lovers, and  strangers held hands and vigils. Their protests came in screams: “Bring Back Our Girls“;  and in deafening silence:  “I Can’t Breathe!”

maya angelou photo from webAs we mourned those close to us,  the number of obituaries associated with “notable deaths” seemed to swell like the crowds at tbe World Cup games.  When news came of Dr. Maya Angelou’s passing, friends flooded the Internet with photographs and profound quotes. Other famous names that made the 2014 list, included: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alvin Auber, Juanita Moore, Robin Williams, Larry Speakes, Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall, Joan Rivers, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and many, many more. Most of us did not know these famous people; we mourned anyway.

How long did we hold our breath as the search went on for the Malaysian Airline flight that disappeared over the South China Sea? We stretched hope to its limit. We wanted good news about the hundreds of victims who left behind thousands of family and friends. Just last week another plane plunged into the sea, carrying 162 people—an infant among them. Our hearts bleed for the victims and their families.

For countless families worldwide, Christmas 2014 was anything but merry; yet, Christmas Day and the days after it were warm and easy as springtime.

Thomas PolermoThe mild weather lasted for so many days that on the 27th, a friend’s 41 year-old husband decided to go for a bike ride.  I had wanted to do the same, but laziness forced me back on the couch with a book I’d meant to read ages ago. Our bike routes would have been considerably different, but it would have been nice to enjoy the outdoors before the dreaded arctic cold comes.

The 41 year-old husband and father, Thomas Patrick Polermo, would not return home from his bike ride. Within the hour they would identify the hit-and-run culprit, but what difference did that make? What do you say to his wife on New Year’s Day?

The Polermo family spent January 2nd receiving those who would never grieve as deeply as the young widow and mom of two of the cutest kids you will ever know.

Inside the funeral home, interminable lines formed and inched toward relatives who seemed paralyzed by the unfurling reality.

The memorial service took place on the third day of the New Year. As I prepared to leave the house to attend Tom Polermo’s funeral at 10:00, a sister-friend informed me that her own mother passed away less than an hour before. I was too stunned to react. She’s in shock. We’re all in shock.

This is only the third day of the New Year. Yes, joy will come. So far, however, the days are as dark as the midnight that precedes them.

I pray that joy finds its way into the lives of those who are starting the New Year without the Happy part. I send out prayers, light, and love to people in every part of the world. We may not be able to seize the year, considering we’re granted but one moment at a time. I wish that we do seize as many of those moments as we can. Starting………………………… Now!

Also, if you know someone who drives a car on a public street, please remind him/her to share the road with cyclists. That is a matter of life and death.

Yours truly





Students in Haiti reading Fabiola

A Wonderful Gift Idea

Students in Haiti reading FabiolaExpect great things from a publishing company built with the children of the world mind!

One Moore Book is dedicated to providing literature that educates and entertains children who live in marginalized countries. These books are filled with characters who are much like the children who read them. The plots follow the lives of ordinary school-aged children thriving under extraordinarily harsh conditions. Children love these books, because they see themselves in the characters; they are represented.

OMB’s debut series, written for and dedicated to the children of Liberia, continues to receive praise. More importantly, however, the Liberia Series is currently in the hands of children who remain out of school due to the Ebola outbreak. While we work and pray for a resolution for afflicted Liberia and neighboring regions, there is a dot of comfort in knowing that One Moore Book had the vision to supply the world’s most desperate children with a means of escaping bleak realities–if only for brief moments. The illustrations are attractive and vivid, contributing to raising comprehension levels by beginning readers, fluent ones, and non-readers alike.

One Moore Book’s Haiti Series features native born writers, as well as Haitian-Americans: Ibi Zoboi, Michele Jessica Fievre, Maureen Boyer,   Edwidge Danticat, Sybill St. Aude, and Katia D. Ulysse each contributed one book: These six amazing books have brought priceless smiles to countless adults and children in Haiti and in the Diaspora. The books are for everyone who wants to learn a little more about Haitian culture. I have heard from people as far as Scotland who value these books for the lessons they teach in fun ways.

This Holiday season, One Moore Book has partnered with an education foundation–Free the Slaves –to give copies of “Fabiola Can Count” to all children who not only deserve to see themselves validated in literature, but need to know they are not alone in their plight. (Fabiola Can Count is about a little stay-with girl who learns to count, using the few resources available to an indentured servant).

Stay-with  children, as benign as the term sounds, is a long-established condition that too often translates to enslavement of powerless children–some as young as five years old.  Although there are those who prefer to deny the existence of Stay-with children, finding evidence is easy and well-documented. To be sure, this phenomenon is present in most cultures throughout the known world. Children are made to care for entire households of adults and other children much older than the servants. This phenomenon is slowly declining in Haiti. Those would might have waved dismissive hands are now willing to hold conversations on the subject. The fact that modern day slavery persists anywhere in the world is tragic.

Fabiola Can Count, written in Haitian Creole and in English, provides children with beautiful illustrations and an engaging story that promote first language literacy and English language learning.  This holiday season, One Moore Book is ready to give Fabiola to every Stay-with child in Haiti. We need your help.

Here is the message from One Moore Book. I hope you will support this effort. It is heartwarming and necessary. What a super opportunity to bring joy into an unsuspecting child’s heart! This offer will end 1/30.

Happy Holidays!


Christmas is an incredible time of year for many children around the world, but not all. In Haiti, a child who is a modern-day slave is called a restavek–a term which means “stay with.” This season, every time you buy Katia D. Ulysse’s incredible book, “Fabiola Konn Konte”, a counting book about a young restavek girl from the OMB Haiti Series, we will match this and donate a copy to a restavek child through a partnership with the Free the Slaves organization and Fondasyon Limyé Lavi in Haiti. 

This giving program will end on January 31st.

Pictured: Children read One Moore Book’s Fabiola Can Count by Katia D. Ulysse at the Innovation Hub in Port-au-Prince,



Notable Lives. Notable Deaths.

Jean-Jacques-DessalinesFollowing the only successful slave rebellion in the history of the world, Jean-Jacques Dessalines–one of the Haitian Revolution’s fearless leaders and founding fathers–became governor-general of the independent nation. Later that year (1804), Dessalines decided he wanted to be Emperor instead. The coronation of Emperor Jacques I took place on October 8. I would be born on the same day, exactly 96 years later.

Becoming emperor did not win Dessalines too many admirers. On October 17, 1806, he was ambushed and assassinated. Dessalines was so loathed that his killers threatened to punish anyone who might have been inclined to bury the mutilated body.

Ms. Bazile

Défilée carries Dessalines’ mutilated body from the street.

Of course, it was a woman–an equally fearless woman–who ignored the threats and rescued Jean-Jacques Dessalines’ body from dogs in the street. She did what no one else dared: She buried the desecrated remains of a fellow human being. For this, she ought to be considered a founding mother. Wasn’t she as brave?




Nearly two hundred years afterwards, a disgraced man whose seemingly diabolical decisions did not win him too many fans in Haiti and in the Diaspora also died. Ironically, this was the same disgraced man whose father purged the Blue from our nation’s first flag–Dessaline’s Blue and Red flag–in exchange for black. (Dessalines’ Blue and Red are once again the colors of our flag). The disgraced man has gone the way of the ancestors, too.

Catherine Flon, Dessaline's goddaughter- sews Blue and Red to create an independent Haiti's first (and current) flag

Catherine Flon, Dessaline’s goddaughter- sews Blue and Red to create an independent Haiti’s first (and current) flag

The deaths of those famous men are considered notable. One of          the two’s life  will be commemorated each year with heartfelt appreciation and pride. The other will be remembered perhaps with great disdain. Either way,  nothing will alter the fact that in death and in life the two men (and myself) have one thing in common: October. Nothing will alter another undeniable fact: Once upon a time, they and we were all just a bunch of cute little babies with big bright eyes that gawked at God only knew what.

Notable Lives.

antique cradleSome of the people I know dreamed for years about becoming parents, long before the babies came. The ones whose babies came as complete surprises cried the same tears of joy as those who planned. And when these sons and daughters arrived—via the foster care system,  adoption agency, or mommy’s belly, most babies are met with adoring looks, gentle kisses, and applause. New parents take and share thousands of photographs of their adorable little ones; they are proud to show off these tiny beings now their very own to cherish, care, live, fight, and—if necessary—die for.

The moms and dads I know are of various shades and nationalities. They call God by different names. They serve different food for dinner, they swim in different oceans, but they have one thing in common: When it comes to protecting their children, these very nice parents will switch from sweet to dangerous in a fraction of a second. At the slightest whiff of danger, moms and dads who can goo-goo and ga-ga with the best of them morph into enraged animals. Touch one hair of the head of their children, and God help you.

Having taught in some of the toughest schools in Baltimore, City, I’ve met parents who teach their children to respect themselves, their teachers, and the school where they spend huge chunks of their time. I’ve met parents who look the other way when their children cheat on tests and steal from teachers’ wallets. I’ve met parents who care so much about their children’s education that they spend hours volunteering in the classroom, helping crazy-busy teachers meet everyone’s needs. I’ve met grandparents who are committed to raising children orphaned by drug-addicted or incarcerated parents. I’ve met parents who come to school high as run-away helium balloons to complain about someone insulting their kid. I am moved and inspired by all of them. I know people who work in adoption agencies who pray every day for the children to find loving (and permanent) homes. No matter what the circumstances are, most parents can agree on the fact that babies are just plain precious. And innocent.

Of course, many of these precious babies grow up to be hardened criminals, but the majority does not. They lead productive lives. Notable lives.

Have you ever heard a three year old say he/she would grow up to be a dictator, a murderer or a junkie? “When I grow up, I want to be hungry and cold. I want to live in a cardboard box under a bridge.” What child would say that?

The parents I know want only the best for their kids. Even when the good babies turn into bad adults, they remain precious to someone. Every felon in jail, every evil-doer, every dictator was somebody’s cute little baby once.

This year, as with the other hundred Octobers before it, I told myself I would have a party. I hadn’t had a birthday party in two decades. This October would be different. I would not feel guilty about having a big cake with my name written on it in shimmering curlicues. I would enjoy blowing out the candles. Champagne glasses would sparkle on the table. There would be laughter. Music. I love to throw parties for other people; why not show myself some love. I would celebrate being above ground one more day. Every breath is a gift. I am here. Alive and grateful for it. Why not celebrate my own life?

My birthday came and went as the others. I didn’t have a party—for the usual rationalization. I will have a small celebration before 2015 comes; I hope. After all, I could have been one of the many people who passed away during October 2014.

Somebody’s precious babies we were once. No matter what we’ve done or haven’t done, someone somewhere loved and cherished us; perhaps not our own parents–Lord knows it takes more than giving birth or fathering a child to earn the titles Mom and Dad. But someone cared enough to wish us the best.

Felicie Montfleury 8/15/1921 - 4/1/2012

Felicie Montfleury 8/15/1921 – 4/1/2012

Everyday the newspapers make special  mention of those whose death are considered Notable. These notables tend to be politicians, former presidents and dictators, movie stars, musicians, famous authors, sport figures, scientists, technology geniuses. What about all the other deceased people whose pictures don’t make the front page? What about the ones who cannot afford a few lines in the obituary section? Are their deaths not notable?

photo by kdu

photo by kdu

To all those born in October, Happy birthday to YOU! And to those who have died: May you rest in perfect peace. To surviving family members, you are in my prayers. And even if news of your loved ones does not go viral, please know that they will not be forgotten. Someone somewhere will remember their names. Always.

Yours truly,







We are Beautiful and We Are Here