Intermission: Imagined and real musings on what we see

Intermission with Hassan/ Mama C and the Boys

We made it through five magnificent songs.


I managed to sit still long enough to make it to the intermission.

I see giant white boards with musical lines on the walls, and markers calling Marcel’s name.

We’re in a big recital/classroom on a college campus filled with college kids to see my friend Hassan play piano.

The same friend who stopped by the night before to invite me to the show. Who came by to hug on me, my brother and mom  during his forty-eight hour visit back to Maine.


The friend who went to this college, graduated with honors, and is a nationally known jazz pianist. The one who looks like you, is taller than an oak tree, and speaks as softly as the brook on the edge of a path he and you are following wherever it will take you.


The pianist is brown. Everyone has come to listen to him. He is captivating, talented, and within my reach. He is a Black man who adores me. I will grow up and be a Black man too.


As a transracial adoptive parent: a  forty-five minute drive to expose them to twenty minutes of completely extraordinary normal is part of my unspoken agreement with his first mom, with their future. This is the investment: twenty minutes that could create exponential reverberations in terms of possibility in their lives.


Thank you to Bowdoin for flying Hassan here (from Cincinnati) to play the show to raise money for the Haitian Student Alliance. Bowdoin college where Sam’s grandfather went to college. Bowdoin College where John Brown Russwurm, a Jamaican native graduated in 1824, the first Black man to graduate from Bowdoin. The third Black man to graduate from a college in the United States.


  1. It is 4AM here. Can’t sleep. So moved by your concert experience. . . . . how fortunate these two little boys are. . . . you are. . . .beautiful.

  2. So wonderful. What I love is that once again what you are doing “for your son,” actually only opens up your own life to wonderful experiences. I love that.

  3. While I appreciate that you continuously want to find ways to show your children people more like them, have you ever thought about moving to a state that is not 98% white? They would have more opportunities to interact and see people who are more like them in a more diverse state. Choosing Maine as your home limits their opportunities.

  4. James–your comment really requires more then a comment box. So, I will put more thought into my response, and consider dedicating a post to it soon. I will tell you that I answered that question in my interview on Mixed Chicks Chat (the pod cast is in my “in print” section). Short answer is that Portland where we live is not reflective of all of Maine. In 2007, the Portland School system was made up of 24% non white students. My cost of living here allows me certain luxuries that the kids benefit from, like frequent travel to Boston and Washington DC, where I grew up. I have lived in New York City, Paris, and London, so I know what we are missing. And yet, now I live somewhere that boasts the 3rd lowest violent crime in the country (2008) and where we can walk to the ocean, the Y, and the Children’s Museum. My son is one of seven kids of color in his kindergarten class. That is almost half of the students.

    Balance. I suppose it is what we are all seeking. Some opportunities are limited. Some are not. Sam is being picked up in a snow plow for a thirty minute tour of Portland, and then dropped of at school. I won that for him in a raffle. Is that an opportunity we’d have as easily elsewhere? The Celtic’s farm team, the Red Claws, practices down the street from us. There might be more to Maine than meets the eye. I work harder for a reason.

    His first mom chose me, and she chose Maine in choosing me. She had her reasons too. It is a great point, and I am pleased you brought it up.

  5. Great post, Catherine. You really inspire me to teach my children more about their heritage which is something I never thought I’d say to a woman that didn’t share my heritage lol.

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