Out of 79 Partners at BigLaw...

...only eight are women. And fewer still of those eight have spouses.

The total number of attorneys at BigLaw is under 500. That includes associates and "of counsel" attorneys. There are more women associates than there are women partners.

Almost all of BigLaw's clients are Big Name Corporations. And the Big Names behind those Big Corporations. Integrity (I hate to over-use that word...it seems to be the new "empower") here is a big deal. Hence, the beds, showers, and in-house cafeteria. No matter what, even if it means people need to sleep and shower at BigLaw to finish a job, BigLaw will finish the job, and to a very high standard.

Despite the demanding workload, there are a few folks at the firm who make me laugh. I've made friends with two Bostonians who overuse the word "retaaahded." And "wicked." And "wicked retaahded."

Memo today: "You can no longer expense your purchases at Tiffany's to BigLaw (to be later taken out of your paycheck). You may pay by credit card and you will still get your discount."
So, previously, I could have walked into Tiffany's and chosen anything I wanted and walked out of the store with it, and BigLaw would have had to deduct it from my paycheck accordingly. Two words: Consumer. Culture.

Going to the Hamptons this weekend. Will blog on Sunday.


The precious....

...and my reward for a week of the most anal-retentive training ever:

and maybe me and A will hang out at this teahouse to relax a bit. 


Aside from my current book read, The Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring, I've been reading Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope All-Story. While I read the hard-copy on the train in the mornings, you can read the short stories online and not pay a thing.  

A got a much-desired (and well-deserved) hardcover copy of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.  So, Treasure Island is taking a backseat for a bit. 

A found out the lyrics to "Bela Lugosi is Dead" (a Bauhaus tune) by himself.  He sings the lyrics and hums the bass guitar riff constantly. 

Ah yes, I see more things on the horizon.

I am afraid.
Very afraid.*

*Just kidding, folks.  Dare I say I feel strangely proud?


"This is the 5-Star Hotel of Law Firms"

...no wonder there are beds and showers here. 

We have been re-learning the English language, the BigLaw Firm way.  "Wilful" not "willful." "Rescission" not "recision." It is a selective carryover of early-American English, when Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant once were clients of BigLaw. 


Should Teresa be speaking?

All the banter about "should Teresa Heinz Kerry speak her mind or not"  (as if we lived in the Hunan Province) seems to be clouding a bigger fear Americans might have:  when Teresa speaks, she speaks with an accent.

And it's not American.

Should Teresa Heinz Kerry be speaking?

Teresa Heinz Kerry is from Mozambique in Africa.  Which is a Portuguese-speaking country (scary!).  Which means her native tongue is not English (scary!).  She also grew up in South Africa (scary!). She also lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland (double scary!).  She was not poor.  And then Teresa Heinz Kerry married a rich American and came to our country to live.  She knows the American story, that of the immigrant assimilating in the New World, firsthand. 

Is anyone willing to publicly say that they simply do not like her because she is...insofar as the post of First Lady is concerned...unsuitable to represent us, as Americans? 

Every single political news article I read seems to address the "Teresa Factor."  This, despite that she has stated to the media that for the post of First Lady, Laura Bush is her role model.  Have we forgotten the outspoken Nancy Reagan?  Nancy on a Bad Day to Raisa Gorbachov, wife of then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov, in front of cameras:  "Oh yesssss.....Nyet!  I know that word!! I know what that means! Hmph!"  [scowl]
I honestly believe the "struggle" about the "Teresa Factor" is about her American-ness.  Or lack of it.   Because the irony of ironies in the land of the Melting Pot, Venti size, is that we Americans are - - xenophobes.

This year, the oldest royal family in Europe, the Crown of Denmark, a Bigger Deal than Principality of Monaco, accepted a foreigner into its fold.  An Australian woman, Mary Donaldson, for whom Danish was not a native language, married Crown Prince Frederick.  Thousands upon thousands of public bystanders were handed Danish and Australian flags to watch the royal wedding procession. 

Danish and Australian flags.  In equal numbers.

If our issue with Teresa Heinz Kerry is the fact that her native language is Portuguese, that she is from Africa, that she has not been an American long enough, what, then, is the flag we carry?

My own politics aside, I personally would like to see a samba* in the White House one day.  I hope it will be soon.

*Samba is a dance of Brazil, another Portuguese-speaking country.  Some samba songs reference Mozambique.



What a long day (my first day at BigLaw Firm).  Looooong day.  What seemed to be a promising day this morning  (Two words:  Lance.  Armstrong.) quickly deteriorated to this:

New Employee from Ivy League School ("NEFILS"):  "My race is not on this form!  There is no box for me to check!"
Human Resources Helper:  "What is your heritage?"
NEFILS:  "Middle Eastern!"
Me:  "From what country?"
NEFILS: "Egypt!"
Me:  "I have news for you.  You are North African."  I want to tell him, "You are Cushite or Berber or Nubian or Coptic or something else, but not Middle-Eastern.  Get yourself a Kingfisher History of the World." [eyes roll]


Ridiculously Enthusiastic Laughing Girl Employee from Miami and Ivy League School ("RELGEFMAILS"):  [directly in front of HR Helper] "Oh, hah hah hah!  After my three-month evaluation, I am sooo back on the beach in Miami!!!!  I will just CALL IN SICK!!!"
[then she and girlfriend sitting next to her proceed to chat and giggle for 1/2 hour]
RELGEFMAILS:   "We're roommates!  And we went to the same Ivy undergrad together! hah hah hah! My feet are so bony!"


One new legal support employee who attended a non-Ivy undergrad is suddenly asking about not one, not two, but three hypothetical examples in which his timesheet hours (called a "diary" at the firm) might not be turned in on time.  Each time he asks a hypothetical, he finishes with, "Will I get paid?"

I am thinking:  You guys.  You get medical and dental and life insurance today.  Those are Day-One benefits.  Free coffee on every floor.  Beds and showers in the offices.  You get car service home after 8 pm. Gym membership at Equinox (the top NYC gym) is almost free (about $30 annually instead of $1,200 anually) if you go at least 3 times a week. And in-house check cashing.  People!  Stop acting like ungrateful spoiled and stupid dorks!
This is what I have to look forward to.  Working with the bright, young, promising minds of this country that are inevitably going to pot. 

I also spilled and dropped a lot of things today.  I dropped my work jacket/blazer that I was carrying with my purse, on to the sidewalk on the way to the train.  My only good work jacket is now lost.  I spilled coffee at the firm.  I spilled soda at the firm.  I dropped papers at the firm.

Sorry about these past two trippy posts.  Feels very Willy Wonka on the boat to the Inventing Room, eh? (I have always thought that scene ranks right up there with clowns on the Scary Meter). 


p.s. There is no spoon

[phone conversation today]

Friend:  "Maitresse, you just make time out of nothing.  I don't know how you do it.  You find amazing things for A to do - that cost little to nothing - that fill up his life and keep him from being bored.  And the homeschooling!" 

Me:  "Erm...?"

How do I do it?  I study, I teach, I blog, I raise a child, and now, I have an actual money-paying job. 

I drink a lot of coffee.  I sell out to Starbucks when there is no Mud truck around.  I giggle often.   I do not subscribe to dogma.  Dogma will give you natural frown lines and low libido.
I watch kung-fu movies.  I read comics.  I notice things like "that aluminum paperclip is a non-magnetic metal and shouldn't be sucked into the tridium/fusion force field" while watching Spiderman 2 and then give pop quizzes for A based on moments like that.  I read the paper.  I quiz A on any given architectural column that we might be walking past (A:  "Doric.  That one's Ionic.  And that one....um...I dunno." Me:  "Byzantine.  Don't worry, it wasn't even on our list.").  I bump into celebrities and pretend not to notice.  I watch more movies.  And then I'll read the occasional book that has nothing to do with a Well-Trained Mind curriculum.  And I give A lots and lots of hugs.

Is homeschooling for everyone?  No.  Have I been O.K. with my role as homeschooling mother this year, all of the time?  Erm...no.  I like to fit in to the mold that is "socially acceptable" to a good degree.  Because in a world of Starbucks, there are very few Mud trucks around.  And it's tough being a Mud truck. 

Which reminds me of a time in my life when I still loved David Bowie but tried - for the sake of "fitting in" socially with my friends - to be a "Bauhaus only" girl.  David Bowie, in that world, was passé.  And then:  My friend in London, Melanie, managed to visit Peter Murphy, the vocalist for Bauhaus - at home.  I can't remember how or why she did it.  But Melanie was wicked brilliant.  She somehow managed to ask Peter if she could visit his Sanctus Sanctonium of Meditation:  the loo.  In Pete Murphy's loo, right up on his wall, the wall of the vocalist for Bauhaus, was a photo calendar of... David Bowie. 

David Bowie!!!

It is okay to do what works for you.  It is what the "socially acceptable parameters" folks secretly wish for themselves.  I will read comics and watch kung-fu movies and bump into celebrities, while I accept the role of corporate slave.  And I am homeschooling, regardless of what anyone thinks.  Because David Bowie is in Peter Murphy's loo. 

Much Ado About Everything (bagels)

A fitting end to an evening of Shakespeare in the Park.  We bought five "everything" and two blueberry bagels.  Thank goodness H & H is open 24/7.

Somehow it escaped my notice that Sam Waterston is in this production of Much Ado.  As I don't care much for criminal law, I don't watch Law and Order.  He plays Leonato.  Sam's daughter, Elisabeth Waterston, plays Hero, Leonato's daughter.  While the casting seems suspiciously designed to induce me into a diabetic coma, father and daughter really do act comfortably as - father and daughter.  It works.

Alexander seemed to enjoy Broadway veteran Brian Murray, as Dogberry, the most.  The audience gave him an acute dose of applause, too.  His acting and delivery remind me of a conversation I had once with Catherine, about how the British care about the cadence in language.  We Americans don't tend to care much for cadence.  Murray's inflections in language, his subtle "umphs" and "aah ooh ohs" that climb to take on a life of their own - are genius.

Kristen Johnston, who plays Beatrice, might be familiar to those of you who saw Austin Powers:  The Spy Who Shagged Me .  Kristen was Ivana Humpalot.   She also later appeared in Goldmember.  Kristen is a Public Theater repeater.  She appeared in Twelfth Night two years ago, a production in which Julia Stiles, disappointingly, was cast.

Midway into the play, a great blue heron decided to fly in and sit on top of a stage prop.   It rained a little during one dialogue scene.  And there were many lucifers in the bushes in the Park outside the theater.

According to the Playbill about this production's period setting:

"Much Ado About Nothing takes place in Messina, in Sicily under the shadow of Mt. Edna.  Earthquakes and volcanoes have shaken the island for centuries and foreign armies have continually vied for its control.  In the wake of the First World War, Sicily is rife with politicaly volatility and experimentation.  The anarchic juvenilia of the Italian Futurists as well as women's desire to vote challenge traditional institutions and norms.  These new ideas feel quite remote from the old world estate of Messina's governor, Leonato, where he lives with his eligible daughter, Hero, and his spinster niece, Beatrice."

OK, well, I missed the summer SitP when Glenn Close and Natalie Portman shared the same stage.   I want the big kahuna.  I can hope for next year.



...the Village Voice has this article this week.  And Patti Davis (Ronald Reagan's daughter) wrote this article.  

I think I'll finish my almond croissant.

Books A has read as a homeschooler this year

Reviewing the "leisure" books that A has read during this academic year, I realize that he has read more books "of substance" as a homeschooler than as an "institutional school" student in the past.  It could be that he has read more books because he is now a more advanced reader, or, that because is he a homeschooler he simply has had "more time" and/or "less pressure" to read.  I do not know.  But here they are so far (in no particular order):

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Esio Trot  by Roald Dahl
Boy by Roald Dahl
The Magician's Nephew, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (as part of The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis
The Two Towers by J.R. R. Tolkien
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Children of Odin by Padraic Colum
Knight's Castle by Edward Eager
Viking It and Liking It by Jon Sciezska
King Arthur by Don Nardo
Atalanta's Race retold by Shirley Climo
Treasure Island (current) by Robert Louis Stevenson

Structured Reading: 
D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
The Trojan War
by Olivia Coolidge
The Children's Homer by Padraic Colum
(Tidbits of) The Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus
Beowulf translation by Seamus Heaney (current)

Wtih Catherine:  Le Petit Prince (in French) by Antoine St. Exupery


A Well-Trained Mind observes the beginnings of some weight gain...

"Mom, I think you've got amphora handles."

True story.

Sound check: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

[Begin by doing a Maori haka like in Whale Rider.  Because this is an Important Poetic Work.]  Then  mentally reciting to the tune of Scarborough Faire so as to remember:

Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Tonight we watched the different lucioles outside.  Some were lighting up in unison, some did a Christmas-lights display (lighting in "waves"), and one bug had a voltage issue where its light didn't altogether shut off.  "If you stay ON the whole time, you'll die before all the others!  Switch it off, buddy!"

Breaking News: Maitresse Hired by BigLaw Firm!*

Could this really be happening to me?  Did I really do that great of a great clean-up job with my reference fiasco of last week? 

"Maitresse, your references, since Reference X of last week, have gone smoothly.  You're hired." 

For those of you who missed a post from last week, which I subsequently deleted ("this post is a very unhappy one," I thought), I did have a reference screw-up.  A former employer who was not on my list of "OK People to Contact For the Purpose of Getting a Reference" was actually contacted.  Yes, well, this proves that HR in the corporate world is generally as sneaky and mean as the big execs at Enron are greedy

The former employer ("Employer X") stated my dates given were wrong (they weren't) and that I never held the job title as I had stated to BigLaw Firm.  I suspect the person giving the mis-information was my former bi-polar recovering alcoholic boss who had a love-hate relationship with me, professionally speaking.  I submitted the current contact information for three former managers who could verify my job title with Employer X (and this job was from five years ago.  Maitresse is seriously into relationship-building!).   I then thanked BigLaw Firm for bringing the discrepancy to my attention, "so that I can personally correct the record with Employer X."

Things could have been worse (I won't explain why, but trust me, they could have been) but I worked very hard to ensure any mistakes on my part were clearly under the BigLaw Firm radar.

Hot Spit.  I got it.  The hours are really good, the firm has a reputation for integrity that is more solid than Ayers Rock, and I still get plenty of time to be with A and my studies. 

Of course, there is a twisted ending to my tale.  Today I got a call from a headhunter for a non-law-related job:  "Maitresse, we have an Elite Real Estate Developer who is interested in you."  Turns out that Elite Real Estate Developer is Donald Trump's #2. 

Daaahnald, too late. 

I am happy with my decision.

*Note:  The job is a support position to the attorneys at BigLaw Firm.  I am still just a student!


Life lessons learned from Spiderman 2

Well, I will not indulge you in spoilers here.   So you'll just have to learn those lessons yourself!
I was glad to see this flick, as a nod to the gentleman who shared an elevator ride with me recently:  Tobey Maguire.  Nice guy, nice manners.  Anyone who holds a door open for la Maitresse when she is not similarly going up a floor to meet with Harvey Weinstein, has got to be O.K.
I would otherwise like to acknowledge my readers around the country and globe.  Well, folks, stop lurking and throw me a comment!  If you hate the site, say so.  If you don't, say so.  If you don't feel like commenting, you can lurk.  But I know you'd really like to comment.  (Man, that Maitresse.  What is up?  She a francophile or what?  And she talks about food and bands and movies and comics too much.  Man, oh man.)  See?  I've known all along what you're thinking.
While you're at it, get your tushie relaxed in that seat you're in, put your feet up comfortably, and browse around.  I'll have the NYC links back on the site as soon as I have a couple of blogging hours to kill.
Repeat plug:  It's summer.  Take advantage of the free kayaking on the Hudson River.  Boat, paddle, life vest provided free of charge.  You can visit Lady Liberty on Saturdays.  Call for info.
It's summer.  Let your friend in the Hamptons know that you'd actually like to spend your weekend in their summer home.  "We've got laahts and laahts of rooms!"  Yes, dearies, it's all about how many guests you can actually fill in your summer house that makes you a Revered Human in the Haaaamptons.  So help your summer east-by-east LI sistahs out.  Vacation in their homes. 
It's summer.  Shakespeare in the Park.  Dominic Chianese.  Brilliant cast.  Brilliant setting for a play in the City.  And this year the production is actually really, really good.  Got Bard?
It's summer.  School doesn't have to go on vacation.  What A has this Friday:  Oral presentation of Robert Frost's Stopping by a Woods on a Snowy Evening


Our bizarre language

"Lucifer" - otherwise known as a lightening bug or firefly. From the Alexanderish derivation of the French luciole given to the same insect. A: "Mom, cool! Look at the Lucifers in the bushes!" Maitresse: [peers out and sees 50 satanic "eyes" in the bushes] "Erm...can we go back to calling them lucioles?"

"Viedllech" - an uttering heard when in Viking mode on the Age of Empires CD-ROM game. Street usage expresses a type of agreement. Maitresse: "Let's eat pork buns on Bayard in Chinatown." A: "Viedllech."

"Cojones" - erm...Default to dictionary definition. Or something.

"Non!" - A negative act or decision to do schoolwork. From the French non. Maitresse: "Time to get to work on your Stanford EPGY math." A: "Non!"

"Subterranean" - From the Latin subterra. An insult. Derived from the Alexanderish realization that Romans at times were pretty nasty people. A: "Romans are subterraneans."
"Manging" - Franglais.  Derived from the French verb manger, which means "to eat."  Maitresse:  "I need to see you manging." 

"eee-ah" and "eeez-ah"- From the Johnny Rotten/Sex Pistols' manner of pronouncing the ending to any word in the English language. Maitresse: "Let's go out." A: "...and get some grocerieeez-ah!"

Strumming air guitar while simultaneously nodding head - A barely-there acknowledgement of anything Maitresse might be talking about. Maitresse: "Do you understand how we derived the circumference of the circle based on arc AB here?" A: [strums air-guitar and nods head]

"Darling-pie" - A totally nonsensical term of endearment. Maitresse: "A, you are my darling-pie." A: [looks perplexed and scratches head]



A discussion on Paganism has emerged on the WellTrainedMindSecular group on Yahoo. It's been most enlightening. It comes, coincidentally, during a time in which A has informed our Reform Rabbi that he believes in Nature, and not in voices speaking from the bushes to Moses. I am not concerned about A's revelation to the Rabbi too much. He is most open-minded. It also turns out that our we have all collectively decided that we will somehow create a Hindu-styled Bar Mitzvah for A. In India, if possible.

I myself have no idea how I define God. Perhaps we are pagan Jews?


Clive Owen?

Yes, please!

Just saw "King Arthur." I had no idea that "Maitresse, salivating" would be on the end credits. I was entertained. The director's historical and creative take on the myth did not impress A. "They made Saxons look too barbaric, more savage than the Romans!" he exclaimed on our exiting the theater. Ah, well. Our barely-there viking DNA screaming for justice.

And about Keira Knightley's clan, I ask, what on earth are Woads? Woodford Operatic and Dramatic Society members? Women toads?


Nihil ago, ludos specto.

Vero, vero.

I was listening to an old Siouxsie and the Banshees song. It is about the Vesuvius catastrophe at Pompeii. Amazing how much education I received from listening to that band.

Water was running, children were running
You were running out of time
Under the mountain, a golden fountain
Were you praying at the Lares shrine?
But oh your city lies in dust, my friend

We found you hiding -- we found you lying
Choking on the dirt and sand
Your former glories and all the stories
Dragged and washed with eager hands
But oh your city lies in dust, my friend

Hot and burning -- in your nostrils
Pouring down your gaping mouth
Your molten bodies -- blanket of cinders
Caught in the throes...
And oh your city lies in dust

Alexander listened to the song. "Pompeii had those symbols!" [giggle, giggle]

Nothing. Watching the game.
True, true.


Hmmm.... Posted by Hello

Would be nice if we could construct one of these on completion of our Beowulf readings...


What A is reading: for pleasure - Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Illustrations by Francois Place (very cool book, tons of artifact photos); just finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (he was a Tolkien man before becoming a Harry Potter man); structured reading - Beowulf, Seamus Heaney translation.

What I am reading: for pleasure - The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien (I know, I know! but better late than never); just finished Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (never did an Oprah read before, and I finished it 2 months ahead of schedule); for school/personal developoment - Copyright Law Fifth Edition, editors Joyce, Patry, Leaffer, and Jaszi.

blah blah, blahblahblahblahblahblah*

I wonder how many homeschooling parents decide to embark their children on the homeschooling voyage/ piratey ship's plank (depending on how one feels about homeschooling) because of the following:

- public schools in their zone are not good enough (not adequately funded, is overcrowded, teachers there are not good teachers, public school officials are not good officials [Exhibit A], "bad kids" go there, provides a "cookie-cutter education" despite the academic inconsistencies from one classroom to the next, not religious enough), or,

- private schools in their area are not good enough (too religious, not religious enough, too expensive, teachers there are not good teachers, "bad kids" go there, or "bad entitled kids" go there), or,

- parents themselves have an agenda (religious, political, cultural, ideological) they wish to pursue with their children and can only do that via homeschooling, or,

- parents feel their children are "lost" in the classroom, or,

- parents want their children to learn faster/more than their children otherwise could in a class of 25-30 other kids.

I am of the persuasion of the last two. However, I am wondering what, for example, is the thought process employed by, say, Ms. Pendergraft of the KKK in deciding to homeschool her kids. Actually, I have a good idea what it is: "Those kids are niggers" and therefore should not mix with her children. And she decides to homeschool.

Can homeschooling be the new secret handshake of the intolerant?

I recently spoke to a young professional couple in Manhattan, and they revealed to me that, with the husband working his medical residency at NYU (residents make ca-ca income dollars) they chose to live in the Bronx, and have their daughters attend a very exclusive private girls school (which I will call "Baggley"), on scholarship. "We would not let our girls attend the local school. Are you kidding?" the young mother told me. No, I would not either. The Bronx area they live in is not Riverdale (where three uber-exclusive private schools are located). Not-so-great town, not-so-great local public school. They had, for a while, considered homeschooling before being awarded the scholarship at Baggley.

Intolerants, in this example - I don't believe they truly are.

We don't want our kids to suffer; we want them to learn. But what? And under what conditions?

I argue that if Ms. Pendergraft's children were in a public school, a moral and societal education could be learned that would challenge that of the schooling they acquire at home.

There are, however, private schools that commit equal damage to a child's moral and societal compass. Intolerant religious schools abound everywhere. I had a friend who attended such a school in the South where "no dancing" and "no race-mixing" were allowed, and where the doctrine that "all Jews go to hell" was taught. There are Catholic schools in the United States that justify the Crusades. There are Islamic schools in the United States where teachers justify terrorism. There are Jewish schools that justify the building of the wall along Gaza.

I am also thinking of the Lincoln-Marti schools in Miami. Remember Elian? He attended such a school for a brief time. Founded by pro-Batista exiled Cubans, Anti-Castro and anti-communist rhetoric is waaaay high on the Lincoln-Marti agenda. I wonder the psychological damage to have to return to a communist homeland, and shake the hand of Castro himself, soon after the young boy began his studies at Lincoln-Marti?

I further do not agree that homeschoolers need to show credentials to a government body in order to teach (the above schooling examples, as they currently exist, should challenge any argument in favor of homeschool teaching standards).

Still somehow, it seems too easy. I loathe to receive e-mails in my inbox from the various homeschool groups to which I belong - full of disappointingly-written messages. One such example that I received recently:

"I'm leavening Molly's** post attached to this one because she really is correct. I lived in Greece for three years. Many of the Greek myth's are tied to the islands. The islands are really only worth seeing if you spending a lot of time in Greece. The best stuff to see is around Athens. Delphi is also worth seeing. The one thing she did not mention is spending time in the Plaka. Some of the best ruins around the Parthenon are in the Plaka. http://www.athensguide.com/plaka.html

I would also recommend going to Athens in the spring or fall, not summer. Athens smells very bad in the summer. All of the cities raw sewage runs down a centralized canal that runs through the middle of the city. You can smell it ten miles away. The automobile pollution in the summer makes the air in the city almost un-breathable. You really can get overwhelmed by the air pollution in the city. I have never observed anything like it here in the US. I am certain that Athens has some of the worst air quality in the world, particularly in the summer. Have a great trip. Athens is great to visit, just not in the summer

Ugh. My mantra: We are as teachers, as we are on e-mail.

Despite the questions I raise to myself about homeschooling, I am happy that I have time with A...for however long it will last...to sit and study the Classics, to discuss biological phenomena, to work the Stanford University software on the computer and later tell the relatives that A is in a Stanford gifted program "so his math standard should be OK," to do "Cinema Club," to run out in the middle of the day into Chinatown to find the absolute best pork buns and learn some Cantonese from the waitress, hang out with Catherine and discuss French politics in French, and to learn music from my friends who can discuss Iggy Pop with A (yes, folks, I hope you spotted the run-on).

What does homeschooling make homeschoolers? Individual? Yes. Inconsistent? Yes. Better than standardized-or public/private school kids? No. Whatever my mission, intolerance is not on our agenda. We like the real world, and don't wish to shut it out. Not want to gyrate to Outkast or Iggy Pop? We'll find a place for "bad kids," bad spelling/punctuation/grammar teachers, dancing, and all.

*credit to Kelly Osbourne.
**Not actual name as originally included in e-mail text.


a Beowulf funny

that appeared in my e-mail inbox this morning from the WTM Secular group...
Beowulf and Godsylla

MeanehwFl, baccat meaddehFle, monstFr lurccen;
Fulle few too many drincce, hie luccen for fyht.
wen Hreorfneorhtxhwr, son of HrwFrowzheororthwl,
Esccen Fwful jeork to steop outsyd.
yhud! Bashe! Crasch! Beoom! we bigge gye
Eallum his bon brak, byt his nose offe;
Wicced Godsylla wFld on his asse.
MonstFr moppe fleor wyz eallum men in hFlle.
Beowulf in bacceroome fonecall bamaccen wFs;
Hearen sond of ruccus sFd, "HwFt xe helle?"
Graben sheold strang ond swich-blFd scharp
Stond feorth to fyht xe grimlic foe.
"Me," Godsylla sFd, "mac xe minsemete."
Heoro cwyc geten heold wiz fFmed half-nelson
Ond flyng him lic frisbe bac to fen
Beowulf belly up to meaddehFle bar,
SFd, "Ne foe beaten mie fFrsom cung-fu."
Eorderen cocca-cohla yce-coeld, xe reol zyng.

A Parody by Tom Weller
from Cvltvre Made Stupid (Culture Made Stupid), Houghton Mifflin, 1987.


Hi. I haven't seen you in...22 years.

A childhood friend of mine - I'll call her Mindy Kapinsky - searched my name on Google recently and found smatterings of my nouvelle existence in the form of legal articles and other online noise.

Mindy was my best friend from pre-school (can you believe it?) until the 5th Grade. We did everything together. We put on musical "shows" at her house (her humongous house in Beverly Hills-adjacent was better than my one-and-a-half-bedroom apartment near the San Fernando Valley). We discovered Hello Kitty together. She introduced me to Chinese New Year...and coached me into eating duck feet. Or something. We did sleepovers. We dared each other to "show and tell." Of course, we did so many sleepovers, it was all old news anyway. Then my mother moved me across the country and away from Mindy. We lost contact. Now Google has reunited us.

She is due on my doorstep in less than 48 hours. She owns a home design business. I am nervous. Alexander is excited.


The sign on A's door

Hwanon ferigeað gē fætte scyldas,
græge syrcan ond grīm-helmas,
here-sceafta hēap?

(Translated: Where do you come from, carrying these
decorated shields and shirts of mail,
these cheek-hinged helmets and javelins?)

And then:


Ah, yes, it's good to be a kid with a medieval mindset. Or something.

*passage from Seamus Heaney's Beowulf