Jean Schiavo

Jean Schiavo

Born Jean D’Angelo, in Detroit, Michigan,

July, 23rd 1924.

Moved to New York at age four, lived there until age forty-three.

Went to heaven from San Diego,

December 29th, 2003.

I’m reasonably certain the first time I ever saw a palm tree was in Point Loma, San Diego. Within days after moving there from Queens, New York, I was splashing around in a built-in swimming pool (another first for me).

I can’t say I was swimming, because I didn’t know how at eight years old. The only other pool I can actually recall, prior to Pt. Loma, was in Elmhurst, New York, splashing around at my cousin Angelo’s (Jean’s nephew from her brother, my Uncle Jimmy) above ground pool. Our Uncle Tony (Jean’s brother) one memorable afternoon stood waist deep in Angelo’s pool wearing a kiddie snorkel and dive mask, smoking his long cigar.

What a family.

Forty years later, teary Angelo (who I never saw or heard sob before) spoke to me by phone from his Fort Myers mobile home asking, ”What happened to us, we used to be such a big family who knew how to have fun?”

The apartment complex in Pt. Loma had rules and regulations posted in the pool area. One was: ”minors under sixteen years of age must be accompanied by an adult.” While I was ecstatic in 1966 splashing around, Jean sat nearby keeping her eye on me. Truth be told fifty-two years later (when it doesn’t matter) Jean couldn’t save her only drowning son if she wanted to, she couldn’t swim either.

I must’a been having the time of my life, I yelled out, ”Hey Ma!” Jean gave me one of her looks like this is going to be serious; she called me out of the pool, looked me square in the eye and said, “From now on don’t call me Ma, my name from here forward is Mom.”

California was so different than New York in many respects. The answer to Angelo’s question all those years later had quite a bit to do with us moving West.

God, how I love her. I miss you Mom.

I wonder if she knows, since she passed, in my heart, she’s Mommy now. What do you think, Ma, fair compromise?

#happybirthday #mom #nona #jean #angel #heaven #family #memories #childhood #motherandson #famiglia #weloveyou

L’intangible

A few days after famiglia di Schiavo landed in Sicily, I sent out a prayer request to several dear friends. This wasn’t exactly fair of me; I bribed a few friends saying, just because I asked they’d immediately be removed from my general prayers and be put on the VIP prayer list in return.

Mine is an odd personal method of praying. Pushing my prayer pause button (tucked away in the psyche) meanwhile ramping up intention for someone else’s prayer seems to fast track answers to my own personal prayer on hold. When this meditation is effective it’s far more satisfying, for instance, than paying for the person behind me at a cafe, however, that’s merely my opinion.

Before I continue, if you’re reading this: Ann, Banger, Cairo, Charley, Cheryl, Chevas, Chrissy, Doris, Francesco, Kristan, Mary Lou, Nicole, Rosalia and Salvatore, I’m overwhelmed, honored and blessed to realize you took extra moments to think of me in such a profound manner. In case you’ve wondered, I did, in actual fact, create a VIP list, you’re each on board. I’d also report my prayers occur in very unorthodox, yet stunning locations. This morning, amid the crystal clear Tyrrhenian Sea, swimming observing an unbelievable active underwater marine scape through my goggles — I even held a baby starfish.

Of those unfeigned prayers I received, there’s one I’d hope some reading here might save to cut, copy and paste for someone who you believe might benefit a tender nudge in a rather soothing direction, or possibly on hand for yourself, if a delicate day arrives.

Dear God,

Please watch over and care beyond measure for Jehr and his family. I know You are already at work by assisting with your kind earth angels, but help move mountains, keep health well and calm the seas with whatever he is needing aid with.

Thank you,

Love,

Sara

I’m truly grateful for Sara’s angelic prayer; her friendship feels genuine beyond question.

http://www.sarahickman.com

Domenica Scorsa

An invitation to festa della mamma lunch, at the home of friends in Sicily can start as early as 11 am and carry-on until dusk. Silvana, Natale, Francesco and Pamela prepared an outstanding al fresco afternoon for us. Casa Barone-Vallone is situated at the foot of a lush mountain inhabited by assorted fairytale creatures: fox volpe, rabbit coniglio, wild boar cinghiale, and falcon falco. Any movement of the eye on the terrazza is consumed with vibrant flowers planted in an array of weathered vessels.

Eggplant pieces were cut a half-inch thick, soaked for an hour in water, salt and olive oil; Francesco said this takes any bitterness away, a small tip before putting on the grill. As the year progresses eggplants contain more seeds; our melanzane grigliate didn’t have a seed to be detected. While the eggplant cooked, bearing rustic grill marks, each was basted with olive oil, diced mint, oregano and garlic. If I should eat only one dish at my final hour, I’m putting grilled eggplant with olive oil, mint, oregano, and garlic on the top five.

Grilled yellow, green, and red peppers peperoni were also plated with Silvana’s cured olives from their trees, alongside semistagionato, a cheese so sharp it made my cheeks pucker. What’s an antipasto without bruschetta? In Silvana’s case, the topping was blended into a course purée, then spooned onto slices of toasted Italian sesame bread.

Natale and Francesco grilled two types of sausages: one classic Sicilian with fennel, another much darker, made with wild boar salsiccia di suino nero dei Nebrodi, fattier, unusual spices and to die for. The chicken was pounded super thin, seasoned to perfection, grilled three minutes on each side. Soon after, spring red onions wrapped in pancetta came off the grill, along with halved plump tomatoes.

I desperately wanted to eat slowly, except my brain wouldn’t cooperate. The pistacchio and nocciola Vernaci gelato went down far too easy, followed by Panificio Cacioppo biscotti.

Our afternoon was accentuated by the sound of bells worn on sheep who descended a nameless mountain. They graze all day on glorious land; like clock-work the herd passes our host’s home, sometime thereafter helping produce exquisite Sicilian cheese.

Silvana surprised us with a short drive to visit Chiesa Madonna di Fatima, nestled on the mountain’s neighboring ridge. The minuscule church was celebrating its annual Mother’s Day mass which spilled churchgoers outside. It’s almost encouraged to stroke Our Lady of Fatima’s statuette, all public displays of affection felt customary; any prayer though was held in private.

Silvana, Pamela, Jeanette, LouLou and I returned to Casa Barone-Vallone an hour later to catch the sun’s exit behind the mountaintop while birds sang the day farewell, utterly magical savoring Silvana’s closing treat — lemon granita, homemade from her dreamy garden.

http://www.jehrschiavo.com

Pioggia Rossa

Sicily comes into view southwest of Italy, northeast of Tunisia, smack dab amid the Mediterranean Sea.

Most Sicilian occurrences are untamed and pronounced, more so than Italy (if one could believe that’s possible).

There’s an imposing mountain outside our window, its jagged peak often looks shrouded by cloud cover; the opposite windows face the adjacent Mediterranean Sea — essentially we’re sandwiched essentially between two powerful energy sources.

Splotches of terracotta dust appeared outside following a recent downpour in Castellammare del Golfo. The town’s alabaster marble sidewalk slabs became evanescent Jackson Pollock pieces. Relentless Sirocco winds blew north over the Mediterranean Sea transferring rich African topsoil mixed with precipitation.

LouLou, our fourteen-year-old daughter, had this to offer, “Even the rain here has culture.” I believe she’s spot on.

Zio

I should preface this stating: I’ve been clean and sober twenty-seven years this coming Thanksgiving. Having said that, I may have but one bittersweet memory — that of homemade red wine.

It was at Aunt Josie’s dinner table five and a half decades ago; her husband, Uncle Mike sat on the opposite side of the table in their second floor Ozone Park, New York duplex. Uncle Mike was the kind of guy who rough-housed with me; he’d untuck my white dress shirt, pull the clip-on bow tie off, then mess up my slicked Vitalis hair, laugh uncontrollably, hearing Jean, my mother give it to him, “Mike, he looked so nice when we got here, look what you did to him.”

Maybe I was all of five, but still recall Uncle Mike’s jug of Dago red wine stashed under his dining room chair during mealtime. He’d pour me a quarter inch, bop the side of my head, coaxing, “Hava dringa.” I remember his basement brew’s distinct aroma as much as the full-bodied flavor like it was yesterday.

Meandering through Castellammare del Golfo these days I’ve spot countless Uncle Mike characters; although they’re complete strangers, I actually feel I know them.

Nonna

Because my mother, Jean explained just how passionately her mother, Anna D’Angelo conveyed life in Castellammare del Golfo, from then on Sicily sounded utopian to me. Jean heard Anna’s reminiscing during the Great Depression inside an Upper Manhattan tenement apartment on 111th Street shared with six other siblings. When winter became unbearable, Anna warmed bricks in the kitchen oven before placing them in her kid’s beds so they wouldn’t turn into icicles overnight.

Anna arrived Ellis Island in 1917, a year following my grandfather’s arrival. Seeking any American opportunity twelve years later upon the 1929 crisis must’ve had my grandparents feeling their decision to immigrate was futile. Nevertheless, Anna kept her family full on Italian bread and pasta, adding butter as a rare treat. From age five, Jean was comfy in those cramped quarters where family bonding drew close ties.

I presume shattered, my grandfather left Anna for hard liquor and fast women, alongside another heartache, my grandmother’s deep longing for Sicily. Anna sat youngest, Jean on her lap, speaking Sicilian saying, “You should see where I come from.” With welled up eyes, sixty-five years later, Jean told me Anna said, “The water is aquamarine, floors are made of marble, we ate off china and drank from cut crystal.”

I sold my newish Toyota Tercel in 1994 to help gift Jean her seventieth birthday present — a trip to Sicily. Specifically to see Castellammare del Golfo (our first visit) the very same town Anna tearfully waved goodbye to in 1917.

A Day in the Life I ❤️NY

New Yorkers who purchase Metrocards seem accustomed to commuting on the subway. When Jeanette and LouLou join me on trips to Manhattan we Uber or Lyft around town, alongside using either rideshare company from neighboring airports. After checking out of the Sixty LES last month, I popped into the Citibank on Grand Street; thereafter walked a few blocks to Delancey and Essex Street to catch the F train, with four stops until Jay Street in Brooklyn — there meeting the A Far Rockaway bound train — letting me off at the Howard Beach station connecting to JFK’s Airtrain.

Essex Street subway station in the Lower East Side is harsh. An elderly man sheltered there since last November was just as bundled up; his folding shopping cart still overflowing, amid an entire two hundred square foot circumference, pungent of his urine soiled clothing. I held my breath hurrying across the platform toward a neutral smelling area, yet instantly reminded I was in Manhattan seeing a reasonable size rat scamper in and out of the subway tracks.

Fortunately I only had one small bag; there were plenty of seats on the F; the A somewhat more challenging, though managed to fit between a man and woman at the end of our car. There were so many people who boarded at Jay Street, I could barely see the doors open and close feet away. Impossible to sit back, only the tip of my tailbone rested on the bench’s edge. Knowing the farther we traveled into Brooklyn, eventually reaching Queens, one of the two passengers sandwiching me would get off, leaving an actual seat.

Several stops into the Express A train’s progress, a commotion took place at the opposite end of my car. I certainly couldn’t see with so many sardine-like passengers crowding against each other, nor fully heard what was going on. The loud voice came from an older woman who I presumed to be a beggar scrounging for change from passengers who might show mercy. As expected the further we got from Jay Street, the emptier our train became.

This vociferous woman remained standing in place, her ranting drowned out by the train’s screeching metal against metal and frequent braking. Suddenly the A train emerged from the dark tunnel we’d been barreling through, making way to baby blue sky and endless tombstones bordering an undulating Queen’s cemetery. The woman continued, though at this point I could clearly hear she spoke with a strong Caribbean accent. Curious about the exact nature of her bellowing, I waited until the next stop, plopping myself down inches from her stance. A young black guy across from me removed his Beats headset, listening to what I came over to hear. She wasn’t homeless; grandmotherly head to toe attire, well kept, including her fingernails. If I say the whites of her eyes were aglow, I should also report her teeth illuminated as well — a stark contrast to the woman’s ebony skin.

Rather than make direct eye contact I looked every which way other than into her eyes; though the longer she continued, I became even more intrigued of who she was. The woman didn’t hold a scrawled out cardboard sign pleading destitution. Instead she stood, gripping the vertical pole, riding the A train that afternoon with different purpose. I’m absolutely certain by the wealth of memorized scripture, she probably spent years doing the same on numerous New York subway lines. One phrase she repeated between verses, extending her open palm to the A train passengers, “God loves you, you, you, you, and you.” Nobody was excluded; in a sense she offered benediction to each of us. Nonbeliever passengers appeared to ignore her sermon; most riders stayed engaged on their smart devices.

It was time for me to stop behaving awkwardly and make eye contact with her. She scanned the train, then peered down sensing my stare; I nodded, acknowledging her public blessing. She grinned broadly in response, pouring out utter joy; her genuine smile bowled me over with bliss. Seconds later I got off at the Howard Beach station much calmer, happier, and centered than forty-five minutes earlier boarding at Essex Street. I made way across the elevated open air platform, watching the train pass, glimpsing her gritty pulpit move toward Rockaway.

http://www.jehrschiavo.com

http://www.innersanctvm.blog

Seeking Balance

Contrary to a surprising number of comments, famiglia di Schiavo weren’t ever absolutely sold San Diego would be called home. As luck would have it a clause in our six month lease stated we could vacate early by paying a penalty fee. We might have stuck around longer, but for virtually the same expense, going to Castellammare del Golfo and Carrizalillo felt more exhilarating. Traveling to Mexico over two periods would’ve saved us more money, however, Sicily holds an allure that was too hard to resist.

We turn in our San Diego keys April 18th; afterward work in Los Angeles and San Francisco prior to departing April 29th for London, Rome, then Palermo — arriving Castellammare the night after Jeanette’s upcoming birthday. Norma, a friend and culinary genius assured us Outerlands on Judah in San Francisco would be her top suggestion for Jeanette’s birthday brunch before our lengthy evening flight.

Last week I was talking with someone, explaining we’ll head to Mexico after Sicily between work in San Francisco, Dallas and New York so we can detox. Somewhat puzzled she asked, “What in heaven’s name do you need to detox from after Sicily?” I started to list, “pasta, bread, cheese, sweets…” when she interrupted, completely understanding, “Oh yeah, all the things we shouldn’t eat.”

Last spring when local Castellammarese who hadn’t encountered us previously inquired what brought our family there, I bragged, “My grandparents left here for America one hundred years ago.” This year I can say one hundred and one years. Most who live in Castellammare realize they live in an idyllic environment. Bordered by an aquamarine Mediterranean — another side arid mountains formed by sand colored stone — farm produce delivered daily — crisp air — scruffy fishermen selling their morning catch portside seven days a week, all the while several town church bells jog any newcomer’s memory of forgotten centuries.

Two million adult Muslims take part in an annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Castellammare del Golfo has that strong a pull for us. My mother, Jean met LouLou once, six weeks after LouLou’s birth; Mom passed on two months later. Though my mother was born in Detroit, LouLou senses a closeness to her nona in Castellammare more so than anywhere else, including New York and San Diego where Jean lived. LouLou’s familiar steps throughout Castellammare, since her third birthday, places LouLou precisely where Jean walked when I treated my mother for her 70th birthday twenty-three years ago. Families do all sorts of leisurely activities together: some jet ski every spring break on Lake Havasu, others spend weeks summering on tiny Maine islands. Sicily is our tradition — heart-lifting upon arrival, a melancholy quandary leaving, wondering when to return.

I was shocked days ago asking LouLou what she most looked forward to eating there. Apparently she’s fond of the same flavors as Jeanette: homemade ricotta, Sicilian olive oil, Marsala sea salt, vine-ripened tomato, and Cacioppo bread. There’s little satisfaction for us to eat that exact combination anywhere in the United States; each of those stateside ingredients just don’t hold up to their Sicilian equivalent. I’m going straight for sautéed slivered red onions with capers and minced cayenne chili, the last second finished adding anchovies, served over pasta or on crostini, either way I don’t care. Vernaci Gelateria opened their store in March as usual. Pancho serves delicious in-house gelato through October before closing for winter. Pancho, Marisa, Ylenia, Giorgina, and Francesco Vernaci are a close-knit family operation, they keep locals and tourists content from noon to 3 am every day. Jeanette likes modica and coconut, LouLou’s partial to mint and licorice; I’m sticking with my latest favorite, mandola granita.

It would be crazy leaving Sicily’s culture directly hitting Mexico’s soil, however, ten days in the U.S. is generally enough time to neutralize our senses before becoming immersed elsewhere again. There are one hundred and seventy steps descending to Carrizalillo Cove, which really isn’t a big deal; it’s the sunny climb back up from the Pacific that winds us, following an afternoon swim among sea turtles.

While away from Mexico, Jeanette and I frequently crave a Puerto Escondido jugueria’s 32 ounce beet, carrot and ginger juice we each consume for breakfast. Depending what LouLou prefers that morning, she’ll alternate between fresh squeezed orange juice, Mexican hot chocolate, or atole, a warm thick rice drink, reminiscent of horchata. Our last Carrizalillo visit left us short on mango and pineapple, neither were in full swing; this trip we should have plenty on stock — super refreshing midday, accompanied with papaya and lime.

No matter where famiglia di Schiavo plants roots this coming August, my palate will miss the intermittent luxury enjoying authentic Sicilian pastries, or Oaxacan mole, although not enough to hinder me from starting life’s next volume.

http://www.jehrschiavo.com

Going Platinum With Life

I was offered an option starting my Vidal Sassoon apprenticeship in 1977, “Do you want to specialize in cutting or become a colorist?” Wet behind the ears forty years ago, the reason I chose cutting wasn’t because chemical application is harmful to clients and those hairstylists who apply it. My rationale — haircutting had and still does have a rhythm I prefer than applying chemicals on hair. However, through experience determined although one might not like a haircut, it does eventually grow out. Decades of hair chemical application does in fact produce negative effects which more often than not lead to alopecia areata (partial hair loss.) Some clinical researchers argue chemicals used on hair can cause cancer.

46C117EB-2D08-462A-B3BE-448B5E53194C.jpeg

During a recent consultation with a new Manhattan client, I went as far as to say, “No hairstylist in their right mind would nudge any client away from using hair color.” To clarify my statement and soothe the perplexed expression on her face, I explained such an unorthodox comment would reduce any hairstylists income by half, leaving revenue exclusively from cuts. Her eyes instantly widened, surprised by this tidbit coming from an insider.

Vanity is one powerful force that frequently supersedes prudence. The vast majority of obstetricians ask expectant patients if they use hair color; Dr. He or She immediately suggest all mothers-to-be postpone hair color until after delivery before applying more herself or scheduling another appointment at the salon.

Most feel heart-wrenched seeing a present day emaciated polar bear on the brink of extinction taking their last steps across bone-dry land. I have similar feelings observing a client’s front hairline following untold years of using hair color. Many patrons who succumb to a colorist applying highlights or one process color frequently end up with hair feeling less than ideal. It’s inevitable, this client and others similar will in all likelihood experience unnecessary hair loss too, becoming thinner faster than the natural aging process.

My stance opposing chemicals and excessive heat on hair doesn’t waiver. It’s been a custom of mine to preface any initial consultation expressing, “You’re free to draw your own conclusion, whatever your decision is I’m grateful for your Jehrcut patronage.” Finishing on a lighter note, I’ll usually joke saying, “I’m not the hair police, I won’t arrest you.”

823E5E1B-B9C8-471A-81C7-F720361A7639.jpeg

The trillion dollar beauty industry, alongside entertainment’s star-studded bedfellows rarely, if ever, speak out against damage suffered through typical beauty regimes, specifically on hair. Perhaps more significant is an overall unattainable bar the beauty industry places on women, absorbing this information as early as toddlers. A more in depth beauty industry reveal can be found in my nonfiction narrative, Mr. Haute Coiffure.

Bleach blonde Gwyneth Paltrow posting an image of herself on Instagram one random morning without makeup, wearing a tiny $250 white t-shirt and $900 faded low-rise jeans probably won’t be America’s prime candidate to spearhead voice for women calling on drastic change in the beauty industry. Neither Hillary Clinton’s faux blonde representation nor Sheryl Sandberg’s imitation brunette blowout advance change in beauty — both encourage the status quo. Entertainment, politics or America’s premiere women business leaders fall short in this arena: Kelly Ripa, Nancy Pelosi, Marissa Mayer included.

America’s momentous Time’s Up movement shouldn’t be devoted purely against criminal male behavior. This camp should expand being multifaceted and gender inclusive, breaking down any inequity toward women, the beauty industry no exception. Will someone kindly forward this article to Charlize Theron? Okay, I’m flattering myself, though who doesn’t once in awhile? I believe her affiliation with my crusade could be more fulfilling than modeling in picturesque layouts for Christian Dior.

Recently I saw a blacklisted celebrity who resurfaced on the cover of L’Officiel; she appeared stronger than ever. I just might pass Theron’s agent’s invitation to a meeting if Lindsay’s agent emailed afterward. Lindsay Lohan’s struggle was a circus, in spite of previous lows she emerged quite stoic and beautiful. Come to think of it, Judi Dench teamed with Lindsay Lohan would be an astounding coup, a generational crossover advocating inner beauty alongside Jehr Schiavo.

My capsulated mission statement — confidence and radiance exuded through inner beauty. I’m male, hardly an image women would imagine to front an essential battle encouraging an alternative direction from the vapid beauty industry, though how many of us a decade ago would’ve guessed Oprah Winfrey be POTUS in 2020?

E272710F-B7F7-4E24-B1FE-1DCC27C6B1E4

On Bullying (You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up)

Found images by LouLou Schiavo

Such a pity America’s laws protecting us from violence seem terribly ineffective. Law enforcement will not intervene until an actual crime is committed, quite often too late as victims already suffered assault or God forbid worse.

LouLou learned plenty during her first week of school ever, starting February 26, 2018. She graduated nine days later March 9th with flying colors, at, of all places, San Diego Police Headquarters, a block from the Urban Discovery Academy where we, as parents, should not have enrolled her.

IMG_0009

Following nine days being bullied by fellow homeroom students, in conjunction with deflection, denial and defending by UDA’s outgoing principal, Diana Cornejo-Sanchez — counselor, Loreleigh Chung — including several teachers, it became apparent LouLou’s homeroom verbal abuse and physical injuries she braved through outside of class would continue; these incidents turned more severe each day. Started day two with ringleader, N, a fourteen-year-old girl who threatened LouLou firing, “You better watch your back.” Prior day LouLou was on her way to class with E who asked her, “How was class?” LouLou responded with two passing comments about N’s ill classroom behavior, expressing it was “obnoxious” and “she’s kind of an airhead.” E instantly reported back to N, which prompted N’s threatening words to LouLou. Rather than solely absorb N’s threat, LouLou confided in the school counselor inquiring, “What should I do?” Their conversation concluded with LouLou shortly thereafter apologizing to N who responded, “Okay, no problem.” Not true. Soon afterward LouLou asked a question in humanities class; N sarcastically blurted in front of the entire room and teacher, “What a stupid question.” Later, a boy behind LouLou needled her, “I bet you didn’t do anything being homeschooled.”

IMG_0013

 

I wasn’t privy to this abuse her first week; I was out of town working in Dallas, San Francisco and Mendocino. The last bit of encouragement I offered LouLou before leaving,“I have the utmost confidence in you; I’d never ask you to do something you’re not capable of.” A blatant yellow flag (if not red) shot up speaking with LouLou by phone while I was in San Francisco. Asking her how school was that day she casually answered, “Some kids were fooling around with box cutters in class today,” as if this should be a regular occurrence at school. Little did I know four days later LouLou would be ambushed, then dragged against her will into the school bathroom by N’s girlfriends demanding she wash off a Marilyn beauty mark on her cheek. Meanwhile N lie in wait sitting on the bathroom sink watching LouLou struggle in the doorway, reiterating her posse’s order, “You better wash it off.” Five day later, unaware any of this transpired, once at home, I questioned where did the fingernail scab imprint on her arm come from; she immediately brushed it off, “I don’t know.”

During Math/Science period Ms. Bayliss was seated giving directives, for whatever reason LouLou and the entire class were standing. Ms. Bayliss lifted her head to ask, “Whoever is banging something, stop it!” Following three attempts Ms. Bayliss asked, “Can someone please tell me who’s making that noise?” LouLou nearby took the request for face value, naively whispering, “tall, afro” for fear mentioning W’s name. Immediately thereafter students issued LouLou their threats, “Snitches get stitches.”

IMG_0010.JPG

LouLou was in every aspect completely ecstatic about starting school; a brand new experience to broaden her knowledge, while meeting kids her age. The mere idea of losing this dream come true sent her resiliently rushing back day after day believing their ridicule and physical abuse would eventually end. Two days after returning home, Urban Discovery Academy had a previously scheduled quarterly parent-teacher conference. Jeanette, LouLou and I sat across from her homeroom teacher, Ellis Clay (covering Humanities/English) Señora Kennedy (her Spanish teacher) and Melinda Bayliss (for Math/Science). Six of us exchanged pleasantries, all agreed LouLou needed most attention in Math. Conversation then shifted to Clay who inexplicably told us, “it’s a dog eat dog class.” Mortified to say the least, I asked Clay to clarify his comment. Officer Moore, who interviewed LouLou two days later seemed visibly shaken hearing Clay’s poor choice of words. Perhaps more so than LouLou describing the bathroom incident or being hit in the mouth by A’s fastpitch (coincidentally, N’s boyfriend). Even why we were there, to file a police report — LouLou’s four square inch knee abrasions with bruising brought on feeling petrified A might repeat his aggression a day prior, only this day running toward her full speed playing capture the flag.

UDA doesn’t have a nurse. Mr. Carson, an administrative assistant handed LouLou some bandaids, then complained, seemingly impositioned, when LouLou requested more saying, “What do you need extras for?” All he had to do was look at her knees, clearly a few bandaids wouldn’t cover her wounds. Not one employee at her school called or emailed Jeanette to explain: LouLou hit her nose, chin, elbow and removed several layers of skin from her knees on their playground. Astonishingly, no one since has been curious enough to follow-up wondering how LouLou is doing. Accident or not, A didn’t apologize for hitting LouLou’s mouth with the tennis ball. He’s a star pitcher apparently, true to form, A failed to help or offer, “I’m sorry” for the injuries LouLou suffered as a direct result of his hostile intimidation. I’m livid, although try to invite Jesus’ immortal words, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they do.”

IMG_0012.JPG

Walls of education and thoughtful parenting shape what we hope to be a civilized society. Wild conduct condoned at UDA is secondary, parental guidance is number one; ultimately parents too must be held accountable. Now, if Judge C’s daughter, N, had persuaded her three impressionable girlfriends to trip LouLou down the school stairs, making LouLou’s current recovery time a different story altogether (injury of spinal cord, neck or back) who then should be held accountable? Just N’s pliable girlfriends or C’s scheming daughter too? In any event, March 9th’s police report, conducted by Officer Moore, will be public record in a matter of days; maybe LouLou’s transcript will pique a sharp detective’s interest for further investigation. At the minimum this post puts Urban Discovery Academy on deserved notice for their brazen negligence.

Upon returning to class after bandaging her own knees, a female classmate prodded LouLou, “How does gravel taste?” UDA’s outgoing principal, Diana Cornejo-Sanchez, has no skin in the game; she suggested N and LouLou sit down and talk it out. Instead, Jeanette demanded for the third time LouLou change homerooms. Jeanette’s request was denied, “absolutely not” she closed by saying, “The eighth grade would be off balance 30-27.”

I spoke with LouLou regarding the bigger picture: how the world doesn’t always appoint the finest role models we look up to, especially those holding prestigious positions of power. Either Judge C is impartial at home, turning a blind eye to his cunning daughter or conveniently compartmentalizes his sound logic elsewhere — set aside for the United States District Court where he presides.

IMG_0011