okay, folks, it's showtime...

that is, off this blog. This entry was previously entitled, "Affluence and the homeschooled child who isn't" but I've decided to scrap the entry, and instead, I am taking a hiatus. Not the Hollywood kind, where I know exactly when on the calendar I'll be back, but the kind where I just don't know...until it's time.

I am managing three (3) other blogs while maintaining this one, and am working on a few things, including NaNoWriMo, a start-up magazine (no kidding), getting another legal day job, figuring out what schooling will work best for A in a pond full of affluent, spoiled kids who don't know jack from the classics, and, well, some other maybe momentous or not-so-momentous stuff.

If you're interested in following my other "worlds" in the interim, drop me an e-mail to Maitresse@gmail.com, and if I have heard of you before, I may clue you in to what other blogs I am inhabiting.

Kudos to the readers of this blog. You are a special bunch. You really are.

See you soon. Hopefully.


...and he sleeps...

in. Because I overslept and did not get him on the school bus.




My article proposal to a local paper in New York City is actually moving forward...dare I say that I am pleased?

The Picasa for Blogger is not loading on my computer for some reason, so forgive the hiatus from the normal Maitresse aesthetic.


Nurturing "other"ness

Last night I met up with some old friends who we (me and A) had known in Miami for several years. Their son attended the same French school as A, and was A's best friend. They have just returned from assignments in Spain and Belgium and landed - surprise, plunk - in our Westchester village.

Mondo piccolo, I say.

We talked about our sons' "otherness" over the years - lack of materialism, Alexander's homeschooling, our boys' interest in the dynamics of world relations (we had been actively discussing the dynamics of the U.S. involvement in Iraq with our boys over the past year-and-a-half), and how our sons are oddities in otherwise pop-culturesque classrooms.

Our boys are "deep" - and as inward-thinking kids, and do not hold title as "upwardly popular boy", as may be acceptable by some of their classroom counterparts. Indeed, our boys have suffered a bit with our travels in addition to their parental influences about the world.

Friend Returned from Europe: "I know we're not supposed to talk about adult things with our kids, but we can't help but want to discuss what is going on the world with our Alex."

Me: "I do the same. If it's not too over-the-top for them (and who better to know than we parents), I think it's okay to go ahead and see where the deep conversations take you..."

Not exactly a hermit, my son likes video games and rock music.

But the choices he makes with them have been interesting. Parappa the Rappa ("I Gotta Believe!"). Beatles (what young people avidly - really avidly - listen to the Beatles today?). The Kinks.

and tonight, on the iPod, this:

A: Mom, listen to this!

"I Don't Want To Be"

[Me listening]:

I don’t want to be anything other than what I’ve been trying to be lately
All I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind
I’m tired of looking ‘round rooms wondering what I’m trying to do
Or who I’m supposed to be
I don’t want to be anything other than me

It put last night's conversation in perspective. A already nurtures himself, his otherness, and he knows who he is.

I don't want to be anything other than me. Take that, peer pressure.


ungrateful landlady/I am an idiot

I deleted this post! Sorry but I hate grumpy posts...


as a Chasidisher rebbe once said...

...do we believe that by switching the dial on the radio to "off" - that the music we were just listening to on it, has altogether stopped playing from its source...?

Our second dog this year has passed away. Neo, a beautiful black rescued ex-racing greyhound, died in Florida after his last seizure. He was 10 years old.

Alexander wanted to "talk" to Neo, so we did, for a while, in the comfort of our living room in New York. We wished him peace. We wished Ricky, our Yorkshire Terrier who also died this year, to keep him company. We wished to see him again someday.

And tonight we took a nice long walk in the darkness and finally saw the Big Dipper, as well as Orion's Belt, and the Little Dipper.


des petits questions pour Les Blog Readers of Alexander's Maitresse...

- Do your kids study from the Writing Strands curriculum?

- If so, are you happy with Writing Strands? If not, what writing program do you use?

- Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Is/are your kid/s?

- Would you help your children participate in an annual writing competition where word count were the only determinant of success?

- Have I been too trippy as of late?

I thank you for your time.


to top off an entirely bizarre week...

...it seems that RoboDate of old has found my blog. I didn't think he would, but lo and behold, it is possible that a doctor who holds NOT JUST an MD but a PhD as well, just has TOO MUCH TIME ON HIS HANDS to not check out what possible blogs I might be inhabiting.

How long did it take you, RoboDate? It is true, I used that photo in my profile. But as you know, I am camera-shy. Modifications to follow.

And I bet you are surprised that I didn't divulge to you that I am a parent as well as an educator; thing is, RoboDate, when single women like me go out on dates with utterly uninspiring folk like you, we are disinclined to divulge more than polite dinner conversation. We are careful. Protective. Guarded.

Quite frankly, I was surprised that I even went to see Spiderman 2 with you. You dissed Spiderman. That did you in.

Je regrette, cherie.

This is my blog. Hear me roar.


ah yes...

You Are a Snarky Blogger!

You've got a razor sharp wit that bloggers are secretly scared of.
And that's why they read your posts as often as they can!

plus que ça change, plus c'est la même chose* (v.2)

OK: edit this section!

I can devote some more time to homeschooling!


Where are we headed? v.2

Arguments for homeschooling full-time:

"The kids at school don't know about Socrates, Aristotle, quantum physics, or even about the Seven Years' War."

"Science isn't as fun as last year" [when A did his internship at a science lab on the Hudson River]

"I don't have as much access to the teachers as I did with you as my full-time teacher"

"The kids at school only care about the subjects they teach at school." (not otherwise intellectually curious)

The Spanish teacher at the school does not come from a Spanish-speaking country. For me, as a Spanish-speaker, that does not impress me a whole lot. I think I could do a better job teaching A. So could his abuela.

The Math teacher bites. [check out the older posts here]

A's lust for learning has been watered-down in almost every subject but Social Studies...he has a really good teacher in that class.

I would get to spend more time with A. A would get to go to the River Project again. And spend time with Catherine.

Cons of homeschooling full-time:

*I* have to do it.

hah hah hah


forecast: expect scattered posts this month

due to the arrival of that westerly wind called the NaNoWriMo...

In other news, A and I are discussing/debating the very real possibility of homeschooling full-time this year. I am making arrangements with "our people" from last year. I will have to make adjustments with my work schedule; I think it will be okay in the end.

Will keep everybody posted on that.


More NaNoWriMo...

OK - I have set up a blog where NaNoWriMo writers - that includes Calletta, Darby, Lisa, Lynne, Sarah (if you are doing NaNoWriMo?), Staci and anyone else who cares to join, can and get/give support from/to each other. Lurkers, if you are writing your novel, you can out yourselves, too. Post your email in the comments section of this post (or e-mail me at Maitresse@gmail.com if you are shy), and I will send you a team member invitation. The blog name is Fellowship of the NaNoWriMo.


don't think about the voting count!

Because Chris Baty has written this to you NaNoWriMo folks...

Dear Writers,

And so NaNoWriMo begins. Thirty-three thousand writers from two dozen countries.
The largest literary force ever unleashed upon the unsuspecting month of

Over the course of the next thirty days, we'll produce more prose than many
professional writers manage in an entire year. And we'll emerge from the month
with a not-horrible manuscript, heaps of novel-writing experience, and the power
to charm and impress attractive strangers in cafes with passing references to
our literary masterworks.

If your brain is anything like mine (distractible, easily confused, prone to
fits of procrastination), it's going to love the upcoming high-velocity workout.
And you'll be absolutely astonished by the things your imagination comes up with
when you put it on the spot. Bookish plots will appear. Complex settings will
materialize and expand. Listless characters will rise up, steering the story
towards twists and turns you never could have anticipated or planned.

It sounds too good to be true, I know. But I've seen it happen to thousands and
thousands of people. Because it turns out that writing a novel doesn't take a
great idea, or a miraculous gift for pacing or dialogue. It just takes
dedication. And a deadline big enough to injure a water buffalo.

As we face that whomping thirty-day deadline together this month, I hope you'll
keep two things in mind:

1) You are awesome. Whether you recognize it or not, you are a tremendously
powerful literary force. Currents of creativity run so deeply through the human
condition that the central problem of writing is not a shortage of inspiration
but an overwhelming surplus of it. Make writing a daily part of your life in
November, and your novel will take care of itself. No sweat.

2) We're all in this together. This month, let's take care of one another, and
go the extra mile to keep other Wrimos around us motivated and on track. Whether
you spread some friendly encouragement on the forums, in local groups, on in
one-on-one writing sessions with friends or family, be sure to reach out with
kindness whenever someone is struggling. And should kindness fail, reach out
with a sharp stick or other prodding device.

Whatever works, really, to make sure that all participants experience the
spirited highs of Week One, as well as the face-squishing lows of Week Two. To
ensure that everyone get the opportunity to gaze out on the pleasant, verdant
slopes of Week Three, and experience the champagne-drenched, finish-line mayhem
of Week Four.

We could walk alone to that finish line, sure. But the real joy of the journey
comes from tackling the challenge together. In spending time writing loudly,
sharing our weird plot developments, character epiphanies, and noveling
breakthroughs. And -- after one long and productive month -- raising our voices
in a mighty, combined roar as we celebrate on the far side of 50K.

So let's get writing! November is upon us, and the great adventure of NaNoWriMo
2004 is officially underway.


Yes, Maitresse is blogging the novel. I'll "out" the blog at some point, but not yet...

And yes, I voted yesterday. In case you are wondering, I live in a blue state.


Where are we headed?

I am not at the voting booth.

A is not at school, but at home studying from his Kingfisher History of the World.

Should I admit that I went totally cuckoo after the math teacher revealed she really had no idea if A did his work or not...and then send A back to school? Should we step into our old routine, full-time? A doesn't seem to care either way, except for his friendships at the school. "I prefer learning at home," he keeps repeating.

These are times that I wish I was married, and had manly voice to which I could hand over the phone to folks like the Christopher Walken lady math teacher, and say, "Here is my husband. Listen to his manly, deep voice. Now shake in your boots, missy."

Or at least, someone with whom I could discuss these decisions and then maybe later get a much-needed backrub.

picture is of A walking home.

Yes, I was very



Serenity Now (again)


Alexander is at home today from school after being brought home on the white horse called Central Taxi. It was an intervention action. I am fed up. And I told the school so, as well. Maybe I am overreacting.

What precipitated Maitresse's drastic action today?

[phone rings]

Maitresse: Hello?
Monotone lady with Christopher Walken voice on phone: Hi. This-the-math-teacher.
Maitresse: Yes?
MLWCWVOP: Your-son-has-not-done-his-schoolwork-when-he-was-out-sick-and-missed-a-couple-of-problems-on-the-test-today. I-am-not-surprised-that-he-missed-the-problems-because-he-did-not-do-his-work.
Maitresse: Excuse me. He *did* do his missed schoolwork. Did he not hand it in to you? You know, he had a test today, so maybe he GOT WRAPPED UP IN THE FACT THAT HE HAD TO TAKE A TEST and it slipped his mind to hand his work in to you. By the way, what was his score?
MLWCWVOP: I-don't-know.
Maitresse: I see. You don't know, yet you called me.

Then I said, "You know, I don't mind resuming teaching him at home if it's too much for you to ask him for his work, after he was sick for three days with flu, and he was so preoccupied during his test-taking today that he simply forgot. But I understand the pressures on YOU. I'll send a cab over right now and relieve you."

I know. I was rather...RICH. Or something that rhymes with it. But it's the third time this woman has called me since September, and the lowest grade A has earned is an 85%. I mean, good grief.

Before leaving, A handed in his school work to MLWCWVOP.

*photo taken next to our train station in Westchester.

Day One of NaNoWriMo: Compose first, worry later...

an excerpt from The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes:

Before he even reviewed notes for an article, Calvin Trillin wrote a predraft - what he called "vomit-out" - of anything that came to mind. Sometimes Trillin wouldn't even look at the vomit-out, and he was terrified by the thought that anyone else might see it. Trillin found this document so embarrassing that he tore it up as soon as possible. Its composition was less a search for usable material than simply a way to kick-start his literary engine.

Like Trillin, working writers typically give themselves a lot of latitude in generating a first draft. Frank O'Connor said he composed short stories by writing "any sort of rubbish" until an outline began to emerge. Using a similar tactic, Christopher Isherwood tried to trick a good topic into rising from his unconscious by irritating it, "deliberately writing nonsense until it intervenes, as it were, saying, 'All right, you idiot, let me fix this.'" Raymond Chandler took this tactic one step farther. To start a new novel, Chandler first babbled into a tape recorder, then had a secretary transcribe his babbling for him to use as a rough draft.

Gail Godwin suggested approaching a difficult piece of writing as if it were a letter, telling your "correspondent" what you intended to write that day. That's how Isabel Allende wrote novels: composing them as letters to her mother. Tom Wolfe used a similar tactic to do a spectacular end run on crippling writer's block early in his career. Wolfe had gone to Los Angeles to report for Esquire's managing editor. The next day his editor called Wolfe to say that they were going to publish his memo untouched. It ran as "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby." The manic voice that Wolfe discovered this way has since reappeared in his many epoch-defining articles and books. With the proceeds from these books, Wolfe developed a taste for hand-tailored suits. That had two distinct benefits. For one thing, the fittings such suits required provided a welcome respite from writing. At the time, Wolfe had to write in order to pay for the suits.


So...Maitresse's question to you is...is there anything you want that your writing check in the mail would cover nicely? Compose first. Worry later.