She teaches Latin, too...

This is what I did instead of going to Miami. This photo is totally ridiculous.

In other news, A has been walking the dog, chatting up other dogwalkers (one who called A a "fake 12-year-old") and investigating "Mach" speed.


Hollaback Girl.

Cost of 6 plane tickets from NYC to Miami for VMA weekend: $1,950.00.
Cost of shipping photo exhibit of 86 images in frames from NYC to Miami for VMA party: $350.00.
Cost of hotel for 6 on South Beach in Miami during VMA weekend for 2 nights: $3,500.00
Cost of press release and promotions for VMA party goers to get the attention we deserve: $1,500 plus a few cups of Starbucks coffee.
Cost of setting up generators during visit from Katrina in Miami: ??
Cost of cleaning up leakage in Miami hotel during visit from Katrina in Miami: ??
Cost of deciding to stay home in NYC in light of the power-outage and leakage in hotel complications that were called in to our crew of six people just yesterday morning, not inclusive of Tylenol and Motrin-popping: priceless.

And this morning I checked my e-mail to find a Very Long A-List of people you have definitely heard of, confirmed to attend our non-VMA party. More Tylenol, please.


Sit. Stay.

Actually, it was more like, "You can't have what you want."

Napoleon needs some training, so Victoria Wells was back in the picture. I swear, she knows how to talk to the animals. Why can't I do that? Oh wait, I can. Victoria taught me how.


Breakfast with Kant

This morning over our breakfast of Müesli and orange juice, A and I discussed Kant. A likes physics, and is not entirely convinced that philosophy can be science. My guess is that Kant would agree with A. Kant discovered that the scandal of philosophy was that you cannot decide what the proper terms for a metaphysical system are until you have defined the field (something Kant spent much time in attempting to do), and you cannot define the field until you define the limit of the field of the real physical world.

Is there such as thing as a thing that exists in no time and space?
What is reality? (Kant: no one can say for certain)
What is time? What is space? (Kant: they are part of our mind's organizing system)
Is the chair before us real? How do we know?
Is my bowl of Müesli real, for that matter? (remember Mouse in The Matrix and his dialogue about that disgusting porridge stuff...how do we know what we know?)

Then we looked at an Escher drawing for an exploration of the definition of reality.


the NYPD and Charlotte's anecdote (A takes a walk)

A hit puberty last year, and is currently going through growing pains. On top of that, A is already taller than my 5'8" frame.

After walking Napoleon (his imaginary brother now incarnated in the form of a Weimaraner) one evening recently, and after an unhappy conversation with me, A decided to walk out of the apartment. Just like that. At nine o'clock in the evening. In New York City.

A needed a breather. I could understand that. We all need breathers when we are young and figuring stuff out. But not knowing where my child decided to go (around the block? To the deli? Where? He hadn't taken his cellphone with him)...worried me to the point that I called 911.

A was gone all of 15 minutes. La Mai. Please. Chill. Out.

Thank goodness, the NYPD took their time. I had called them back to "cancel" my "emergency" but "cancelling" apparently doesn't exist in the world of the New York City police force.

In the hour-and-a-half it took for the two gentlemen in blue to ring my doorbell, Charlotte rang on the phone.

It's really a gift for me to have a fairy godmother whose son was equally tall at age 12. Strange to "talk them down" when you're looking up.

She offered me this anecdote: Once upon a time in New York, one of her two sons, who I will call "Tallie", decided to have a "sleepover" at his friend M's house. So Tallie left in the evening to sleepover at M's. A little while later that night, M's mother rang Charlotte. She was checking up on her son M. Charlotte understood. M and Tallie decided to hang out somewhere, and told their mothers that they'd sleep at the other's house. Of course, yet another mother rang Charlotte, asking about a third missing boy.

No one knew where the boys were.

Long short, M and Tallie and the third boy knew about an empty apartment, and they decided to go there and have fun. Charlotte knew about the apartment, too, and went there straightaway. When Charlotte arrived, it was dark. No one there. Then she turned on the light in the apartment. "It was like mice, scattered mice running away as soon as the light switch went on." All the boys were there. So were some girls. It was the early 1970s, but who knows what they were up to? (Sorry, Maitresse can't divulge what the boys were doing!!!).

Of course, the moral of the story was, if you won't ask permission to leave, please tell your mothers where you are going!!!

I relayed this story to A.

Then the doorbell rang. It was the men in blue.

Me: "Um, hi. My son is here. Sorry to have disturbed. Maybe I was a bit overanxious and called you guys."
NYPD guy: "He's 12-years-old? He can't be." [shakes his head in that "look lady, you don't have to lie to have us come over, you know?" way]

We said our goodnights and A got it. We mothers just need to know. Or we do freaky things like call the NYPD or use anecdotes like Charlotte's to call them out on it 35 years later.

"Mother, I won't do that again." It was all that this mother needed to hear.


Status. Rant.

My friend Snooky has a husband who is a DJ. We talked about the amount of "bling" in hip-hop videos today. In the latest Missy Elliott video (didn't think I'd do *that* didja?), there are Jeeps and tekkie devices, and of all things a Yorkie. A dog. As a status symbol. As though we lived in Ancient Rome and Caligula were our leader.

OK, I realize that as Americans, a working-class immigrant people gone nouveau riche, we are all rather excited to acquire stuff and things and bling. African-Americans are particularly entitled to explore their cravings for things, too (I chuckle at Chris Rock's rant about spinning rims).

But on reading this entry by Concierge Services, I realize that it is becoming easier and easier for our kids to be sucked in to owning things to prove their mettle. The corporate consumer culturalists get us when we're young and keep us addicted.

American Girl. Reebok, Nike, and Puma shoes. Puma bags. Kate Spade bags. Even Louis Vuitton bags for young'uns. On MTV (a horrible Caligula consumerist show, so far it has deviated from the art that was the 24-hour music video show) "My Super Sweet 16" presents to us a young Los Angeles (Iranian?) girl who insists on having a harem-style Sweet 16 party, flies off to Paris for her outfits, tells her mother she is "having an emergency" on viewing the Versace window, convinces her dad to buy her a brand new Range Rover as her first car, employs about four stud-like looking young men to lift her on entrance to her party, and her mother flips out when the daughter heads off to Santa Barbara with her friends because "that is the last straw."

I thought Jordache and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans were the big deal when I was growing up.

Today, it's attempted or actual murders over Harry Potter books. We relinquish our selves for things to prove who we are. I do think this phenomenon occurs in other places, other countries, other societies...but surely, not to the degree that we allow it to happen here.

Has our society gone insane, or are we the victim of pandemic low self-esteem?


The Friar, the Dalai Lama, and Homeschooling

So last night I decided to have dinner in the East Village with a friend and her friends at Frankie's Pizzeria. One of the friends was a woman from San Francisco, who I will call "K." Somehow, I guess by way of K.'s "where does your child go to school?" question, that for the life of me, I cannot figure out why anyone would ask as a matter of course - except to perhaps find out one's status - the conversation turned uncomfortably to:

We homeschool.
Erm, not for us, no. [And maybe it's summer now so I am forgetting if it's hard, but that's beside the point]
"No, I think that's really hard. How can YOU POSSIBLY MANAGE ALL THAT WORK AT HOME?"
Well, a lot of it isn't even done at home. Homeschooling is sort of a misnomer.

My friend, C., who invited me to dinner, tried to steer the conversation to schools in New York City. We agreed that the public schools weren't that great. C. inquired, "And some schools do specialize, no? I believe there is a visual arts school -"

K: "No, there are no such schools in New York City."
Husband of friend: "No, I think there are. Bronx Science, for example."
K: [silence. Then she notices a picture on the wall of a friar who looked like the photo here] "Is that the Dalai Lama?"

K. then proceeded to talk to me about Catholic school education. "It's a really, really good education."

And a Capuchin monk can be easily confused for the Dalai Lama. Yeah, I'm sold.

Is it me, or does the "Where does your child go to school?" hook open conversation to places that homeschoolers simply do not wish to go? Is it a status question, an empty "what do you do?"-type question, or really a question about what sort of schooling choices we make?


Maitresse, un-armed and dangerous

So I had a meltdown this weekend with Napoleon.

On our way out of our apartment to do a bit of walking and pooping and peeing, Napoleon decided to overpower our neighbor's (smaller) dogs and snap and bark the bejezus out of them. And me. In my attempt to control M. Bonaparte, my middle left finger got caught in his training collar (OMG!) and twisted into an enormous blister. I actually thought that my middle left finger was going to be amputated in a most unfortunate way.

After the ruckus and brief peeing session outside, I returned home and made this announcement:

Napoleon is going BACK TO THE SHELTER. I cannot handle this! GET HIM OUT OF MY SIGHT NOWWWWWWWW!!!

M. Bonaparte spent the entire evening with tail between his legs and head bowed very low. He attempted to make amends with me, but I was not having any of it.

A. was crushed.

In the morning, I rang up Victoria Wells. Things are better now, and I have no idea what demon possessed me to become a *itch and want to return my pooch.



So I have been working with the guy on the right of the pic on the CBGB thing since May. Then last week, Mary Huhn at the NY Post wrote a piece in response to my column at the Metro (and did a little phraseology-lifting to make her point). So the guy on the right of the pic became this guy:

...and wrote this piece in response to Mary Huhn's.

This is fun.

And oh yeah, A memorized the entire periodic table of the elements. Maybe not impressive to some folks, but it's not the sort of thing that I was motivated to do when I was 12.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

...has got A's attention right now. Napoleon has had two mini-walks today and seems to be hankering for more. I am a Weimaraner. You know, Buena Weimar Social Club...?

Funny about the column that I wrote last week. The one that appeared in that daily freebie paper. I figured, my friends will see it, maybe offer me some nice words about it, and then it will be dead. None of my friends noticed. But a writer at the NY Post responded to it (a full one-pager, and she lifted some of my - um - phraseology to make her counterpoint - it's okay Maitresse, you can take it) and then a writer at the NY Times responded to the Post piece.

Hot dayum. People - other writers - are reading my stuff?

Of course, the bloggy audience here has been reading my stuff for a while. Thanks for sticking around.



Napoleon was the leader of post-revolutionary France. He is also the namesake of our new 1-year-old Weimaraner. We adopted him from a shelter in New York City (on 38th and 1st Ave, to be exact). There is another purebred Weim there - a female named Chase - in case anyone in NYC (or elsewhere) wishes to adopt her. E-mail me and I'll give you the info.

Napoleon is Alexander's new protector and guardian. Already fiercely loyal to A, Napoleon takes A on trips to the park. Napoleon also likes to take his soft toy and show it off on the way there. I have a feeling that they discuss things like world conquest and domination enroute to the dog run.

And I wrote a column that was published today in a NYC paper.