What's Going On?

The question I've been asking myself for a couple of days in a row with regard to the happenings of our country. 

Listen, here's the thing. Whatever your politics, we all need to be informed (objectively, fairly, factually) about the goings-on around us, especially when things are taking place that people have opinions about. Nothing is worse than picking up false information from someone who thinks they know what they're talking about, or having to sit in a group and not contribute to the conversation because you feel uninformed. I've certainly been there. 

Linked throughout this post are articles that you can read to get more up-to-speed, if you so choose. I've read them and they were really helpful for me! And, as always, I'm going to plug theSkimm (a one-page, daily newsletter that informs you on the bare-bones, unbiased facts of the news cycle and allows you to get all you need in less than 5 minutes).

The two major things that are happening: 

1. FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Trump yesterday. This is significant because of a couple of reasons:

-Director Comey is only the second FBI Director to be fired in American history. Usually, the person who holds this position serves 10 years, through multiple (and often bipartisan) administrations. 
- Comey was leading the investigation into Trump's relationship with Russia, so there are lots of folks who feel the timing is suspicious. 

2. The Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing testimonies about Michael Flynn, a man Trump hired as national security adviser and then fired after it came to light that he had been lying about his own relationship and communication with Russia. This is significant because: 

- It is now coming to light that people (including then-President Obama) definitively warned President Trump about Flynn, even going so far as to say he shouldn't be hired. 
- Flynn's dishonesty about his relationship with a country people already have suspicions about while he was working in the White House is leading people to believe that there is lots we don't know about Trump's own relationship with Russia, who, it's been proven, interfered in the election to help Trump win. 


Read up. We've got lots of informing ourselves to do and we can't get lazy, because this sh*t is important. 

Hope your Hump Days are all fabulous. 

Jadarrius Warbington.

When I was growing up, my brother and I would poke fun at our dad for what we called his “jukebox stories.” Those were the stories that we had heard time and again - in certain situations, we could see the gears shifting in his mind, as though someone had pressed “G5” or “A2.” Like a machine, he retrieved the story and told it, just as we’d heard it every time before. Those are the stories that a person crafts to perfection; the kind to which we all make little edits that kick up the drama or the punch line. We tell them so many times that we begin to forget what really happened.

This story is not a jukebox story. To write it means to retrieve what I’ve never told, and what has been gathering dust since 2012.


I remember wondering if I'd chosen the right thing to wear on my first day of teaching. In the gym that morning, before I’d met any students, before I knew what it was to love and lose or to cry from frustration or laugh with the purest joy with those kids, I sat in a folding chair behind our principal and a microphone. To my horror, part of the procedure of the first day of school was that each teacher would be handed a list of their homeroom students and then read it aloud behind the microphone and in front of the entire student body. This would be the first in a long line of surprises that year.

I had never been shy about public speaking, but my list of names included names like Lil’Marvin, Jadarrius, Natarrius, none of which I was certain of how to pronounce. Names have always been important to me as I grew up with a double name myself, and I know I would immediately lose credibility if I stood in front of my students and butchered their names. It was especially important to me that I got it right as I was one of two white people in the entire school - the other being the history teacher across the hall. In a panic, I leaned over the back of my chair as subtly as I could to ask for help and scrawled the phonetic pronunciation of each name in lipliner (all I had in my purse) on my sheet of paper. I got through it, amazingly, without flubbing too badly, and the relief I felt that I hadn’t embarrassed myself or my kids was palpable. 

I walked like a mother goose out of the gym with my 11 homeroom students following behind me, putting on a good show of being well-behaved for the first day of school, most likely wondering who this weird white girl was and how much they could get away with in her class. They took their seats at their desks and began their first activity, making name tents for themselves so that I could see each name with a face and begin to link them. I surprised myself by learning all 80 of my students’ names within a week.

In that first period class was a mixture of strong personalities - a clear trifecta of the most popular, pretty, and socially high-ranking girl flanked by her two best friends - one soft-spoken athlete with a penchant for laziness and one sharp as a tack beauty who was pint-sized, but packed a big punch - once, literally so, through the door of my classroom. These girls were as intimidating to me as if I were their age - I wanted them to like me, to love me, to approve of me, to confide in me...all that would come with time, but on that first day, they made me feel like a middle schooler again.

The gaggle of boys that I taught in that class were oddly placed together. Lil’Marvin, the oldest by a couple of years, was kind, quiet, smart, and dutiful. Tyrone, a small kid with glasses, was clearly the smartest in the class, but held back so as not to be singled out. Caleb was an early favorite of mine and patented his “Super Happy Dance” which included a twirl and three snaps at the end. Antonio, OJ, Braxton and Jadarrius were the clowns - hilarious, sweet, goofy 11 year olds who were always aware of my mood and my feelings, and went out of their way to make jokes with me, especially if the rest of the class was acting up.

There is more to say about that first year than I could possibly write. Lots of it, sadly, I’ve probably forgotten as a result of not being more prudent and noting things as they happened. One day, though, toward the end of the year, sticks out. 


It was late spring and it was hot the way only Alabama can get hot. The dirty hallways of the school had started collecting wet dust as the muggy air from outside filtered into our building. All of the students were preparing to go on a field trip to the McWane Center, a hands-on science museum in Birmingham. This was a big trip for these students, many of whom had never been outside a 10-mile radius of their hometown.

Jadarrius, one of my goofballs from first period, bounded down the hallway to me clutching his progress report and permission slip, both of which required my signature. It was Thursday, the day before our trip.

“Did you see what my report says, Mi’ Mac?”

“I do see that - your grades look pretty good! Except for this PE grade - what’s up with that?”

“Man, Mr. P always be on me.” He grinned. “Did you see what else?” he asked pointedly.

As I looked over the bottom half of his progress report, I noticed something scrawled in handwriting. "Jadarrius Warbington promoted to 9th grade." It was in his handwriting.

“Yup, they promotin’ me to 9th grade. I’m too smart.” The “too” was punched like a sandbag - a habit all of my students had. This was a slang emphasis, “He too fast!” or “Man, they too bad.” It always made me smile. 

“I do see that! Wow, Mr. Wallace wrote that himself, huh?” I asked, smiling back at him. He knew that I knew this wasn’t a real note, and so it became an inside joke immediately. The wit and quickness of my kids always surprised me - not because I was surprised "these kids" were that smart, but because I had forgotten any 11-year-old could be.

“Looks like I’ll miss you next year, buddy. I hate that!” And with a wink, I handed his slips back to him as he took off down the hallway. “Thanks, Mi’ Mac!”


I had been accepted to work TFA’s summer Institute in Mississippi that summer, and there was a staff conference in Memphis we were all required to attend. The day after the McWane Center trip, I made the drive. The trek through Mississippi to Memphis is not a pretty or pleasant one, and I left that Saturday morning feeling sluggish from a long week of school. I remember stopping on the road to get a 5-Hour Energy, which I’d never had before, but felt was necessary to get to Tennessee in one piece.

My cell phone service spotted in and out as I drove through tiny towns with names I saw and forgot immediately. About three hours into my five hour drive, I called my mom to chat and keep me awake. A few minutes into our conversation, my call waiting beeped. It was Amber, one of my first period girls. It wasn’t unusual for my students to call me, but I always answered unless (as they knew) they called after 9. I told my mom I’d call her back.

“Mi’ McAnnally?”

I can't remember exactly how she said it, still, to this day. In the course of twenty seconds, she told me that Jadarrius had been hit by a train and killed.

Because this was middle school we were talking about, I assumed that she had gotten the story second or third hand and that some, if not all, was incorrect.

“Juvares down there with everybody at the train tracks,” she told me after I pressed her as to whether the story was true. “You can call him.”

Juvares was one of my most mild-mannered boys. He was always shy and kept to himself. He had a heart of gold, so I knew I could get a straight answer from him.

When I called his phone, he answered immediately.

“Juvares, it’s Ms. McAnnally. Are you at the train tracks?”

“Ye’ ma’am.”

“Did something happen to Jadarrius?”

“Uh, ye’ ma’am. He had got hit by the train. They backin’ the train up right now to try to get him out.”

A wave of relief washed over me as I hoped for the best. They’re backing the train up to rescue him, I thought to myself. He’s pinned under the train, between the train and the tracks. I had no idea, of course, whether it was even possible for a person to be pinned between a train and the tracks, but that's what I wanted to believe, so I believed it. 

“Okay. Is he alive? I just talked to Amber and she heard he had died.” It seems strange to ask such matter-of-fact questions about something so delicate and serious, but it was necessary to get exactly what had happened out of my kids.

“No ma’am, I don’t think so. I think he dead.”

“Is the conductor of the train or any other adult near you? Can you put me on the phone with them?”

“Ye’ ma’am, hold on.”

I waited, my blood pulsing through my veins like a drumbeat, for a credible adult to be handed the phone.

“Yes, hello?”

“Hi,” I struggled for how to even introduce myself. “My name is Mary Catherine McAnnally - I’m a middle school teacher at York West End. Some of my students are saying that a boy from our school has been killed by a train. Do you know what happened?”

“I know a boy was hit by a train, and they backin’ the train up right now to try to find him.”

No one knew know that his body had been thrown off the tracks by the sheer velocity of the train upon impact. No one know he was lying in the bushes half a mile back, because the two boys who were with him were, I can only imagine, too shell shocked to speak.

“Thank you,” I said. “Will you please have someone call me as soon as you know anything?”

I hung up and immediately dialed my principal. Adrenaline was soaring through my body. It would have been anyway, but because I’d had a power drink to stay awake, my hands were shaking. I was driving through a construction site, and my cell phone signal was weak.

I called Mr. Wallace twice, but he didn’t answer, so I left him what I’m sure was a harrowing voicemail and kept driving, calling my students as many times as I could for updates along the way.

Fifteen minutes later, my phone rang. It was Mr. Wallace.

“Miss McAnnally?” He always began conversations with me this way. He knew I was on the other end of the line, but he waited for confirmation every time.

“Yes, sir.” I confirmed.

“I just got back from the train tracks.”

The next few words spoken are seared into my mind for so many reasons - it was the only time I can remember losing my sense of decorum of professionalism; the only time I can remember having a feeling and feeling it right out loud with no filter or thought of how I might be perceived; and, having never lost anyone in my life, it was the only time I’ve ever gotten this kind of news.

“Is he alive?” My voice cracked and the words hung in the air.

“No,” Mr. Wallace said. But it sounded like, “Naw.” A casual response. Something you say when someone offers you another helping or the access to the remote. Where was the formality? Where was the carefully chosen response? Where was the grief?

“What??” I am sure I shrieked it. I was indignant at what seemed like his complete lack of care or sensitivity.

“He’s dead,” he said.

It would take me years to understand that Mr. Wallace had made these phone calls many times in his life; that his casual tone was survival, and not carelessness. I cried on the phone with my principal, a man thirty years my senior. Hours on an interstate between us, but, as it had always been, worlds between us.


The 7th grade boys held a vigil for Jadarrius the Monday after the Friday he died, and I wasn’t there because I was in Birmingham for a bridal shower I was hosting. I remember feeling so ashamed when I tried, alone, to find the train tracks where Jadarrius had been killed.

It seemed like it should have been easy, to follow a major railway through this tiny town, but it proved nearly impossible without help. Despite the single grocery store and storybook shotgun houses, I had to ask several people for directions to the tracks. The GPS app on my phone doesn’t pick up the back roads of York, Alabama, so the directions I was given were old-fashioned, verbal, “turn-right-right-left-straight-until-landmark” directions. As I wove through the neighborhoods, my heart grew heavier and heavier. Why had I not visited every child at home? How could I have missed their first day back from this tragedy?

I found a strip of railroad, drove across it, and parked my car on the side of the street.

It was only then that I noticed Braxton. Braxton and Lil'Marvin had been with Jadarrius that day, so it was striking to see him standing by the very same train tracks. 

He was standing, half-heartedly kicking a soccer ball, when I pulled up. His mom had taken him out of school the rest of that week, and who could blame her? That made this interaction our first of significance since Jadarrius had died.

“Braxton!” I called out.

“Oh, hey, Miss Mac.” He walked over in black basketball shorts and a red hoodie.

“How are you?” I felt stupid even asking the question, but it was all I knew to say.

“I’m okay.”

We hugged for a long time. He asked why I was here and I told him that I wanted to see the memorial the boys had made.

“I can show that to you,” he said. “Follow me.”

He led me across the tracks, and I instantly felt like I was walking on holy ground. When I’d chosen this spot to pull over, I had no idea how close I was to the spot Jadarrius died. My car was 15 yards or so from the memorial, which was on the other side of the tracks from my car. Braxton and I walked a few steps together, then he stopped, and pointed.

“It’s right there,” he said. This was clearly as far as he was willing to go.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll be right back.”

I walked closer and found a crude wooden cross, clearly hammered by the boys themselves, and made out of plywood they’d found in someone’s garage. On it, they’d painted his name in black paint. The image of child’s writing on a child’s tombstone is very vivid to me, still, and hard to think about - it was such a pure and beautiful tribute to such a horrific and unjust event. Remembering it now, it feels like the moment in Schindler’s List when, in a sea of black and white, a little girl in a red coat appears. A bit of life in the midst of death. Altogether out of place, and somehow perfect.

I stood, looking at the memorial, praying for Jadarrius and for all my students, crying, but also aware that my student was nearby - I didn’t want to fall to pieces in front of him.

When I walked back and stood next to Braxton, I asked him what had happened. He and I were close, and I knew, much like his refusal to go near the memorial, that he wouldn’t tell me if he didn’t want to.

As we walked back across the tracks toward my car, I don’t remember the words he said, or the order of events - I do remember him telling me that the velocity of the train threw Jadarrius off the tracks several yards from the point of impact, and that Braxton and Lil’Marvin’s first job after losing track of him was to search out where his body had landed. He described this to me in a calm, adult tone that I’ve never heard before or since. He wasn’t crying, or overwrought; he was relaying the events as though he was writing an expository essay for my class. First this, then that, finally, this.

The idea that Jadarrius would have been thrown by the train hadn’t occurred to me, and I was processing the thought of my two little boys finding his body while hearing one of them tell me about it first-hand. It was surreal. I was lost in my own mind and still trying to stay present for the sake of this person, this adult, in front of me. Braxton walked a few steps backward, away from the tracks, and motioned for me to do the same. 

“Miss Mac?”

I was jolted from thought. “Yeah?”

And this moment I’ll never forget.

“Don’t you hear it?” he said, putting his foot on his soccer ball to keep it from rolling.

“Hear what?” I asked, genuinely confused.

“It’s coming,” he said.

I turned to look where his eyes were pointed and saw the train, speeding down the tracks, left-to-right, whooshing past us.

How couldn’t I have heard that? I thought. Why didn’t I hear that?

In my life, there have been many moments of joy and sadness, too big to contain in a single heart, that had to spill out through my words or through my tears. This moment, though one of the most important to me to this day, was so other-worldly that it stopped my heart in its tracks.

There were no words, no tears. There was only standing next to my 11-year-old student, enveloped by the noise and horn of the train that had killed his best friend five days before.

A train’s horn was a lullaby for me as a child - a comforting, faraway reminder that someone was always going somewhere, even while I was sleeping. Since that day, a train’s horn has been the toll of a bell, memorializing that someone young and precious died, even while I was living.

It pains me to think that writing this down is selfish; that his life has been absorbed into my own story. By telling it to you now, has Jadarrius stopped being a life of his own? And if I tell it too many times, will the pieces of that story fracture and fly away? This story, crudely told, is offered alongside a cross by the side of the train tracks, name now faded, top board broken off from years of weather damage. Things that will never be enough.

Things that are all we can manage. 

Fetch or Wretch: Met Gala 2017

It's that time again, people. Running down the celebrity styles, because you KNOW they care what we think. 

The theme for this year's Met Ball is Rei Kawakubo/Comme des GarçonsRei Kawakubo is one of (I think) only two designers ever to have been honored in their lifetimes at the Met Gala. As I'm writing this, it's Monday evening and I'm watching the outfits roll in. We should expect, per the theme, to see a lot of architectural and abstract looks. If there's ever a time to get crazy, now is the moment. 

A note: We at DHDG do not feature Kardashians or their spouses anymore. We're sick of them and they never wear anything worth noting. 



Gisele Bundchen

People, this one BARELY made the cut. Not because Gisele isn't a perfect human specimen (she is) or because the dress doesn't knock me out with fit and taste (it does), but because Gisele is one of the hosts of the party this year. And THIS is what she chose to wear on an evening celebrating avant garde designs?? I'm snoring. Next. 

Lily Collins

Now THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT. You werq that freaky goth Barbie ballerina of your nightmares baby doll wig, Lily! Perfect fit, perfect execution, perfect girl to wear it. 5 stars. 

Katie Holmes

Don't worry, I was surprised as you were that THIS name is on the Fetch list. I have had a longstanding, irksome feeling toward Katie Holmes and her stoke mouth-speech, probably precipitated by this bastardization of one of my all-time favorite Broadway tunes. Ugh I just made the mistake of re-watching that and somehow it's even worse than I remember. Anyway this dress is good I can't say any more about her, good job escaping from Scientology, see ya. 

Elizabeth Banks

I will never know if I actually like this or if I've just been hypnotized into believing I do. But for now, I'm so all over this checkerboard nonsense. Pretty hair, pretty makeup, pretty dress. 

Lena Dunham

Another one that I can't believe I'm including in this category, but it is so rare that Lena gets it even in the BALLPARK of right that we need to celebrate her choices. Even if she does look like a Scottish marm. 

Riley Keough

Feel like this would've been better suited for last year's theme, Manus x. Machina, but still. Cool, high-impact, well-fitted, and worn by a freaky girl. Do I know this person? What has she been in? 

Emmy Rossum

That bust line could be just a teeeeeny tiny bit higher to balance everything out proportionally, but that big ridiculous bow is the stuff of Southern girls' dreams. Keeping the styling understated was wise. 

Katy Perry

Okay this is very stylized, insane, almost difficult to look at, but I have decided that I like it. Katy Perry is also hosting the evening, and as I said, if there's ever a time to get weird, it's now. And Katy Perry is weird all the time. And her third eye is looking at you, so don't say anything mean. 



J Lo

Yeah, it's boring, but she's still J Lo and she still looks amazing. 

Tracee Ellis Ross

YES. WEIRD. FASHION, BABY. Could've gone with a different shoe in my opinion, but I also just think Tracee is SERVING. She's had a great red carpet streak lately and it makes me happy. Although if you look at it just right, it looks like she put her coat on backwards. Or maybe even sideways. But no matter. 

Sean Combs

I couldn't care less about that dress over there, so please re-direct your gaze to Diddy, who is literally lounging on the steps in a CAPE.


Don't think about it too hard. Just love it. 

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen

Shhhhhhhh. No sudden movements. What we have here is a rare sighting of two New York specimens, old women at a young age, scary and fascinating all at once. They are THE ILLUSIVE OLSEN TWINS and they believe the camera steals their soul. (Just the one soul.) 

Blake Lively

This is crazy and I love it. Glad she chose something that wasn't too tight. I think this works really well on her and the blue feathers are everything. 

Cara Delevingne

Unlike fake British person Dorit Kemsley (you're either laughing at this reference or totally confused), real British person Cara Delevingne's metallic hair is FABULOUS.

Ruby Rose

Am I crazy for loving this?? Dead on the theme and I love that her tattoos are visible. I think it's cool. She looks great. 




Claire Danes

Let's play word association: sexy pirate hooker shirt from Seinfeld missing eyebrows barmaid. ...none of those words go together, girl. Whatcha got on your body?? 

Priyanka Chopra

I feel like I'm going to be in the minority of people who pan this, but I just...can't. She gets points for drama and impact, but that footwear is just plan wrong and the dress feels like weird cross between flasher and prom dress made by the weird girl at school. And it's a shame because Miss Priyanka usually turns it out. 

Rose Byrne

So close, and yet...not. I LOVE me some Rose Byrne, but this is just unflattering and bad in many ways. Although I am really here for that hair. Seriously. 

Sophie Turner

Off the rack at David's Bridal. 

Hailee Steinfeld

Do you think she looked in the mirror and thought, "YES. Nailed it. Overtly sexy, mildly culturally offensive baby. Exactly what I was going for." 'Cause, you know. that's what she got. 

Kerry Washington

That girl in the background is basically mimicking my exact facial expression. Girl, WUT?  

Celine Dion

Celine is self conscious so she's wearing a t-shirt over her bathing suit. Or, rather, under. 


Okay I wanted to like this so much. I sat here staring at it, trying to make it work. But I hate it. I just do. The puffer coat train is what did it for me. 

Nicki Minaj


Thandie Newton


There's Honey in the Rock.

I actually started this blog post two days ago, wrote a paragraph, and closed the browser. Sometimes it's tough to get through something when I have the seed of an idea, but not the flower. 

Five minutes ago, I watched this Heineken ad and the rest of the post came flowing out of my fingers. 

Am I the only one who got choked up? 

There is no question that the last few months in America have been really hard. Frankly, I've been nervous to share the opinions that I have because I don't want to alienate anyone. I have such a deep love for my people (who come from all walks and political leanings) that it's scary to type out a few lines here or there that could convey offense, lack of loyalty, or, even worse, judgment. 

But here's what I think: 

In these last months, the darkness has been thick. It's felt suffocating, frightening, anxiety-inducing. People have sworn off cable news as a means to protect their sanity; they've stopped checking social media because of the divisiveness and the blindness that we've all shown, at one point or another, toward the other side. The Bad has risen up like twists of smoke, curling around our heads, seeping into our mouths and minds, stealing our empathy, our kindness, and our willingness to listen to one another.

In Christian and Hebrew scripture, honey is often symbolic of abundance and of grace. In Psalm 81, David writes from God's perspective: "...with honey from the rock, I would satisfy you." 

Honey from the rock? 

Goodness, abundance, grace, from an impossible place. 

As it is foolish to try and convey someone else's experience here, let me only speak for some specific experiences I've had - my own goodness in an unlikely time: 

- First, I've noticed a lot of embarrassment and anxiety in my heart. A lot of it comes from the fact that I disagree with and am broken hearted by many of President Trump's choices of words, of actions, and, often, of inaction. (I'd like to say here for clarity that I view myself a moderate voter who has considered voting for a Republican presidential candidate in the past, and that my feelings about President Trump do not reflect my feelings about the Republican party or conservatives in general.) In listening to my friends of color, I now understand that that fear and anxiety is something that people of color, gay people, immigrants, and other marginalized communities have been experiencing for a really, really long time. I'm living a tiny, tiny fraction of it as a straight, White, upper-middle class woman. This has been an education for me, one I'm sorry it took me so long to experience, and, sadly, one that only was realized when things affected me directly. 

- I've watched a very, very close friend of mine, a woman who voted for Trump, fix her "I Voted" sticker to her bathroom mirror. When I asked her about it, she said, "It's to remind me to pray for our country, for our President, but specifically to remind me to be an active citizen because I am on the hook." Her civic activism in showing up and voting in any election - municipal and national - and her fierce commitment to what it means to love America - is something that I can learn from. 

- Friends and family members of mine have risen to action in ways I am awed by: organizing marches, becoming lobbyists, writing articles, and educating themselves on the issues that matter to them - many for the first time. It is not a coincidence that their activism has been motivated by a feeling of necessity. Out of an unstable time, a crop of latent leaders has risen. 

- People are talking to each other. Real conversations. I've had several with people I openly disagree with that didn't end in resolution. No one said, "You're right." But we did say, "I understand." We still disagreed. And we hugged afterward. 

Listen, I find the idea that we needed a low point of national morale and misunderstanding in order to come to a place of reckoning to be as trite and off-base as when someone looks at the mother of a dying child and says, "Everything happens for a reason."

The alternative approach is to study our situation and wonder, "What can be good here?" Sometimes the answer is, "Nothing." 

But these days, the answer is not, "Nothing." 

If a transgendered woman can sit across from a man who has just insulted her very way of life, and if that man can look across the table and acknowledge the woman sitting in front of him, then we damn well better be able to stop hiding people on our Facebook feeds who disagree with us. To do so is the very thin-skinned behavior that got us to this point, where each of us lives in an echo chamber of reinforcement; where dissenting opinions are met with outright rejection instead of curiosity. 

What sweetness there is in disagreement. In learning. In feeling ashamed of what you've just said. In teaching a lesson with kindness. In learning a lesson with humility. We all have something to give and we all have something to figure out. 

And we're sure not going to do it by talking into a mirror. 

Sit with me. Teach me something about what it's like to be you. Help me understand your position. Give me the gift of your explanation, of your time, of your patience. 

I am ready to draw the honey from this rock. Or, if you want, beer.