odds and ends

A is cramming in Algebra 1; we have decided it would be a great idea if A took a Math class over the summer. A would also like to row, so rowing summer camp is in the works.

I have been busy with the B-M.

I have been reading a lot on the subway, as well. Three weeks ago it was The Secret Life of Bees. I thought it was good. Like the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Or Fried Green Tomatoes. Nothing like a story set in the South, where you understand how sad or promising riding a Trailways bus can be.

The following week, it was The Kite Runner. WHAT a novel. It was heartbreaking to read the first 100 pages, but I could not put the book down. Should I continue reading it? No, I can't. Yes I can. It's a novel, LaMai. Novel. As in, fiction. But no, it's too much. I finished it two days later just reading it on the subway. When suddenly, a man glanced over my shoulder while I read the last 10 pages on the 6 train:

Man on Subway: How is that book? Everyone seems to be reading it.
Me: It's a gorgeous story. Gorgeous, tragic, and...
MOS: What's it about? Iraq? Iran?
Me: It takes place in Afghanistan, mostly.
MOS: Yeah, it's all the same, right?
Me: Well, that's just where we get into trouble. Assuming that it is all the same.

I am glad that I did read it to the very last page. It is a powerful tale of the human ego at its worst, of self-effacing loyalty, and of self-redemption.

Then I read Blink. It was okay. Okay, I thought it was sort of stupid. Mostly because the author attempts to correlate everything with everything. Meh.

A has actually talked about boarding school. I am not against it; I myself am a product of a boarding school education. But it does require a certain rigor to literally live in school. Oh wait: we do that already. Heh, heh.

The B-M

I am offering an open invitation for the homeschooling bloggy readers to attend Alexander's Bar Mitzvah here in NYC on June 10th, 2006.

E-mail me at maitresse@gmail.com and if I vaguely know who you are, I'll reply with an evite and put you on The List. Or if I don't know who you are, tell me why you and your kiddos should attend. Or if you just want to meet me, tell me why and I'll consider inviting you. Note: Tall, dark, and handsome men who are single (please and thank you) should apply in droves.

I can only offer a few spots for the readership, but I promise that it will be, um, educational. Or something.


some more photos...

A does not want me to publish all the photos he has printed. So here are just a few.

From the top:

a. Union Square frisbee toss.

b. Building reflecting off another building.

c. Nappo on the sofa.


Sitar Man

I promised A's sitar teacher that I'd take the dog out when he arrived to teach A's lesson today. Instead, I was an hour late. I was an hour late because my check for my copyediting work was not available in midtown Manhattan, but was waiting for me on Wall Street. And the office monkeys did not know where my check was until I showed up at the midtown office.

Anyway, Sitar Man was due to arrive to teach A around the time I arrived on Wall Street. Sitar Man was bitten on his leg by a German Shepherd named Rita one day while he sat in a dental office.

He has been trying to get used to Napoleon, but his fear has been hard to ignore. But sometimes, things like today happen for a reason.

When I arrived home from Wall Street, Sitar Man and A were seated on the rug in the customary fashion playing their instruments, and Napoleon was chomping on his bone right beside them.

Sitar Man smiled at me. After my many apologies for the delay, Sitar Man said, "He and I are getting along." I'm glad, I said.

It's a huge deal. Sitar Man, like many musicians from India (think: tabla impresario Zakir Hussain, who is related to our Sitar Man), is not Hindu but Muslim, and a dog is not the sort of family member you find in a traditional Muslim home. And, of course, there's the whole issue about Rita biting him on the leg.

But here everybody was, on the floor, entranced by the sounds coming from the strings.

On leaving, Napoleon desperately wanted to play tug-of-war, and waved a toy provocatively at Sitar Man as he left. "Bye Napoleon!"

Smile. Smile. Smile.

Relief. Relief. Relief.


We the (Jewish) People...

...say thanks, but no thanks.

As in, please don't say you'll defend us in case Iran attacks. We don't need that sort of provocation.

Remember when that same question was asked of the Iraqi press guy back in the 90s? It was such an innocuous, albeit odd, question. "Mr. Iraqi dude, will your country attack Israel if the U.S. defends Kuwait?" The sad part was, it was answered and acted upon.

So, please steer clear of making any associations with Iran. How about considering giving homeschoolers some book money instead? Thank you.

This has been a public service announcement. With chutzpah.

It's official

Road Schola is here! Hurrah for L and her family arriving in the South Pacific (so that we may live vicariously through them)!

Conversation with Columbia University SoCE re: homeschooled high school students

I spoke to an admissions advisor at the School of Continuing Education at Columbia University yesterday. I noticed that Laurie Spigel's Homeschooling NYC website mentions programs at Columbia for high school students. Also, if a high school student wants to take a class at his high school but it is not offered, but the class is offered at Columbia, the university will accomodate. For homeschoolers, the availability of classes at Columbia would mean "everything."

I decided to take Columbia up on that challenge. I prefer the front-door way of doing things as opposed to the back-door, so I was open and honest.

Me: How can a homeschooled high school student register for classes at Columbia?
Columbia dude: He can't. We've found that homeschoolers still in high school are unfortunately a bad fit here. Unlikely he'll get in.
Me: Why is that?
CD: The evaluations we get are poor, usually no grades or incomplete information, no standardized testing. We have no idea what these kids are doing. And usually it is difficult to do well as a high school student taking a college-level class at an Ivy League University.
Me: I see. Harvard University's Extension School has homeschooled students, however, and actively recruits them. Might Columbia consider doing the same?
CD: Um, no. No. I doubt the admissions director will allow high school homeschooled students here. They just, um, no.

Okay. I would like to know: who are the students or parents who are f*pking things up for the rest of us with their shoddy applications and no evaluations? True, Columbia may not just want to "deal" with a new demographic of student. But I've been to the SoCE and I've seen what the student population is like. They get students from all over the world, with all sorts of transcripts and situations. Why should homeschool students make it more difficult for the admissions offices?


The Race.

Alex rowed yesterday.

There were three boats on the Harlem River, two boats were filled with rowers who sweeped, and one boat was filled with rowers who sculled. Sweeping you do with one oar, both hands on the oar. Sculling you do with two oars, one hand on each, pulling your left oar over your right. Sculling requires more coordination than sweeping.

When I rowed for the University of Miami, I sweeped.

I followed the boats into position under a bridge on the Harlem River. A's boat was shaky at first, with oars positioning themselves all over the place, simultaneously. Then, like magic, they moved in unison. He was one of the rowers maneuvering the oars into the visual poetry that were the blue blades into the water, and out. Into the water, and out. Oars folding facing up as they came up for air, then slicing the water perpendicularly as they reached to push the boat further down the river.

Sculling. He was sculling. The sport and pasttime of his grandfather's grandfather's grandfathers.

I was too amazed and happy that A was happy to be part of it all.

I AM: Watching Alexander and Nappo sleep.

I SAID: I would never live in Brooklyn.

I WANT: To publish a very personal story so that I may share it with you.

I WISH: We could drive a Kombi all summer long and not have anything else to do.

I HATE: Moving.

I MISS: Miami. And London. When things get too cold or too rude here.

I FEAR: Things that live in the ocean that could hurt me.

I HEAR: The tap-tap-tapping of this keyboard.

I WONDER: If I will ever work for Conde Nast.

I REGRET: Moving to New York, sometimes.

I DANCE: Middle-eastern but no salsa.

I SING: Arias in Italian when I am alone, the Rolling Stones when A is around.

I CRY: When the comedy is just too good.

I AM NOT ALWAYS: Articulate. Or tidy.

I MADE: It to A's boat race on the Harlem River this morning after working in the Conde Nast building until the wee hours.

I WRITE: Less and less on paper, more and more on the computer.

I CONFUSE: Sienna Miller with Michelle Williams.

I NEED: To live in a big city. But I need more money to live in this city. Good grief.

I SHOULD: Drink more margaritas.

I START: Big projects, which I leave once they flourish on their own and cry about it when that happens.

I FINISH: The things that I feel will truly be beneficial to me and my family.

I BELIEVE: There is a good man out there for me somewhere.

I KNOW: That we'll bump into each other one day.

I CAN: Make people smile.

I CAN'T: Work a cubicle-type job.

I SEE: The dark outside my window, before the time The City That Never Sleeps actually wakes up.

I BLOG: Because I can do it in my sleep.

I READ: On the subway.

I AM AROUSED: By the smell of Taeko's incense that she brought me from Japan.

I FIND: Too many Metrocards with "Insufficient Fare" in them.

I LIKE: Looking at Adrien Brody's photo.

I LOVE: Watching A smile. Swooon.


isn't she beautiful?

The new Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. Open 24/7. Click on image for link to Gothamist article.

Happy Birthday

to Joey.

May 19, 1951

Forest Hills, Queens

Donations to commemorate his life can be made to the Lymphoma Research Foundation.


Waiting for Guidance-ot: Act Deux

When we arrived at NYC Dept of Ed 5th floor to meet Guidance-ot, a heavily made-up woman spoke to us. Were not asked, "Is he expecting you?" but instead we were delivered a stern, "Why do you need to see him." Period. Not. A. Question. And a cop sat waiting on a chair in their "lobby." I guess rumor had escaped that we carry molotov cocktails wherever we go.

The heavily made-up woman told me to fill out a form. In pencil. A very little pencil.

And so, the games began.

Guidance-ot made us wait for 20 minutes in the "waiting area." We marveled at the oh-so-up-to-date furniture.

When he called us in, he repeated things like, "truant" and "out of compliance" and "what has he been doing all this time?" and "how could he have been registered in Florida?" after the third time I pointed to the cumulative hours, dates, and content, which Guidance-ot refused to look at. "Why don't you just read the curriculum and the hours I've worked so far?" A said finally. A looked angry. I was angry that A was angry.

Guidance-ot glared at A.

Guidance-ot is one nasty human being. I smiled a lot let him know, we want to work with you, not cause problems for you. I even touched his arm to soften up his demeanor. He shook his head for the 5,347th time. I finally told him,

Look, we have to go. Do you need anything else from me in order for my son to get that Metrocard?
Oh. I see. Now you need to go. Only three minutes after arriving here.
Actually, no. You kept us waiting 20 minutes in the lobby. Do you need anything else?

It was then that he handed us the sign-in sheet for the Metrocard. I noticed that A's name was already filled out on the Metrocard list. I initialed next to his name. Then Guidance-ot handed me the Metrocard and said, "That is all." He did not get up, no handshake, nor did he say "goodbye." I kept smiling until we left.

"I feel sorry for him," said A. "He looks miserable."
Promise me you'll never get a job like that, A.
"I actually have to promise you? Are you kidding?"

on Paul and Heather (and me): an editorial

I've been hearing a lot of chatter about the recent announcement made by Paul McCartney and Heather Mills McCartney. That Heather wanted Paul's money all along. That Paul is needy beyond belief, and just could not go a day without the companionship of a woman. Here are my $0.02, and please know that I do not know either personally, these are just my observations:

Heather had a really sucky life before marrying Paul. I would not want her life. I thought her marrying Paul was compensation for some out-of-whack karma. Some type of survival medal. I do admire the things she has done in spite of her life traumas. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

But perhaps her life traumas have hardened her and made her passionate in some aspects of her life that one wouldn't expect.

Paul has kids. There are reports that Heather "has behaved much like Yoko Ono" and made things difficult between Paul and his kids. Please don't get me started on Yoko. Yes, you, Yoko. You, who turned your back to me at a party, you who did not encourage John to visit Julian - his own son, for pete's sake. You do not talk to Cynthia and you sure as heck don't talk to May, even though you shoved May on John's lap and forced her to live with John for a year as though she were some Geisha understudy from Gion. Yes, everybody knows, My dear Ms. Ono.

But I digress.

I have no idea if Heather was Yoko Ono to Paul's kids.

I do not know Paul McCartney. I know his work. I know his music and his activisim. I, like Heather Mills, would have a tough time with some British papparazzo yelling at my face "you slag! you scum!" just to capture a photo of me looking upset for his paying publisher, as the price for being married to Paul. Okay, maybe that didn't happen to Heather Mills, it happened to Princess Diana. Just know that the British papparazzi and British press are evil. They do things in Britain that are legally impossible in our country.

Truth be told, I would love to be Mrs. Paul McCartney if the job should actually be available. But - I think I would pass. I have a hefty imagination, but 64-years-old would just be too old.

For me.

Or maybe not.

And no, Yoko does not read this blog. At least, I hope not.


This just can't be a coincidence!

from Gothamist -
May 19-26: Tibetan Yak Cheese Week We were excited merely by the title of this event -- an entire week dedicated to Tibetan Yak Cheese, presented by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and Trace Foundation. A week-long celebration of Ragya Yak Cheese: a new artisanal cheese based on traditional Tibetan dairy techniques combined with European gourmet cheese-making expertise. Learn more about the story behind the cheese with Jigme Gyaltsen, a senior monk from Ragya Monastery in eastern Tibet and the extraordinary individual behind the development of the Tibetan plateau’s first yak cheese export. Events include showings of a short documentary film on the project, shot on location; Tibetan Yak Cheese recipes from renowned New York chefs; the exhibition "Thogang: From the Tibetan Plateau" featuring photographs by Lois Conner, and much more. Visit www.latse.org for full details. Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library, 132 Perry St., Suite 2B, 212-367-7380.

Waiting for Guidance-ot

Elements of this dialogue were not taken from Waiting for Godot, really...

An urban household. A phone.

LaMai, sitting on a low chair, is trying to make a phone call. She is using both hands to dial and place the call.

Me: Hello. My name is LaMai and I am inquiring about-
DOE Guidance Counselor: irritably Do you mind if I put you on hold?
Me: feebly Ah, sure, no problem.

[Me on hold for three minutes]

DOEGC: Hi. What did you need?
Me: with exagerrated enthusiasm Hi. I was inquiring about getting my son his Metrocard. He is a student receiving home instruction and we just submitted our forms-
DOEGC: coldly Excuse me. Home Instruction or Home Schooling?
Me: Home Schooling.
DOEGC: What is your child's name?
Me: Alexander the Conqueror.
DOEGC: Oh, that would not be me, that would be the other Guidance Counselor.
Me: Yes, I am aware, but for the past few days he has not picked up his phone nor returned my e-mails regarding the Metrocard. Can you help us?
DOEGC: I can. But what time can you get here?
Me: 2 p.m.
DOEGC: Thing is, see, the other guy has the Metrocard list.
Me: The Metrocard list.
DOEGC: Yes. If I give one to you, and you already have one, the Department will be very upset with me. They want me to check the list. They have rules.
Me: I see. But if you remember, we only just started speaking to you two-and-a half weeks ago. I think if we had a month-long Metrocard-
DOEGC: Oh, no no NO! They're good until June!
Me: Well, if you will follow the logical conclusion here, we've just initiated contact with you two and some weeks ago. We have not heard back from your co-worker, which you acknowledge is possible. And our inquiries include our obtaining a DOE-issued Metrocard, which we do not have. So, could we pick one up?
DOEGC: Why not wait until he gets here tomorrow? He has the list. Because you might already have one...
Me: The list. She broods, musing on the struggle for the List.
DOEGC: Yes. The Department will be very upset if they find out you already have one.
Me: I guess there's nothing to be done. I will wait until he returns.


Is less more?

After posting my rants these past few days about writing my In-Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) for the NYC Department of Education, I received a couple of e-mails from bloggy-reading parents. And they said,

Don't Kill Yourself.

And they also said,

There is a format that we use. Try it.

And they said so in the best way, with the best intentions. Because, let's face it, the paper pushers who sit at the desks at the Dept of Ed are not keen to read pedagogical writing, are they? They are there to check off boxes and move on with their work. Frank McCourt implies this several times in his latest book, Teacher Man.

But underlying the bloggy-reading parents' advice to me (if I interpreted it correctly), was a request to do less because the Dept of Ed shouldn't be in our business, anyway.

My situation is this: I am already beginning to compile, based on my research with U.S. universities, a curriculum that we can begin to reference when A is ready to apply for admission to college. I also take great pride in our choice of books and in my brand of pedagogy. I want the Board of Ed to see what we're doing.

I want them to know that A never belonged in the "dummy reading class" in which his public school teacher placed him. That he is a proficient reader, that yes, he understands the English language, and that he was never reduced to lesser abilities because I checked off "only one parent allowed to pick him up" on the emergency card (don't ask, but I was actually called in to meet with the principal about it for two hours).

That their initial evaluations of his abilities were far, far off the mark.

That we are doing things right. That we are doing things in earnest. That we are studying, debating, drawing, thinking, contemplating, drafting, solving, advocating, fighting, lamenting over, and loving what we learn.

And that they are giving out hall passes.

On the other hand, I want little to do with the Dept of Ed, and feel that several pages of IHIP might fall under their scrutiny for commentary or criticism or worse - the truancy officer.

So is less more? Should homeschoolers stick together and give the Board of Ed a bone, but no meat on it, lest they forget their place?

And yes, I finished our IHIP.


Can I please be 22 again?

Students, imagine if you will...

A cafeteria where the food is plentiful, delicious and, yes, free.

A workplace where dogs are welcome and there's no dress code.

A workspace where the technology sitting on top of it is powerful enough to work through any computational challenge you can devise.

A lunch table where you sit down and learn your tablemate is the world's leading authority on a problem you were only vaguely aware existed – and the guy next to her wrote the textbook you used last semester.

A campus that offers not just free meals but also a gym, an endless pool, a volleyball court, razor scooters, massage therapy, laundry rooms and dry cleaning, and (of course) valet parking.

With us so far? Now's when the fun starts. Working at Google means making a positive difference in tens of millions of lives every day. Do you love to critique the design of everyday things? Do you dream of working for an innovative, world-class organization? Are you looking to work with engineers to create products that improve the lives of millions? If so, Google may have a place for you. We hire exceptional people, at all degree levels, BS, MS, and PhD. We have offices all over the world including Mountain View, California; Santa Monica, California; Kirkland, Washington; New York, New York; Switzerland; India; and Japan, all working on the same cutting edge solutions. The people at Google love to work on innovative products and believe passionately in our mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Link here.


Recommended for the whole family...

Drumstruck. We went today, and it was supreme interactive fun.

Happy Mother's Day

to Calletta, L at MySchola, Jamie Mavie at Modern Mother, Hornblower at HMS Indefatigable, Sarah at Poppins Classical, Andrea at Atypical Life, NYCitymomx3 at Homeschooling in NYC, Laurie Spigel, Princess Ennui, Writing and Living, Becky at FarmSchool, Jill at Lux Permanet, Mental Multivitamin (the super-mama who keeps us on our biblio toes), Heidi, Scrappity Doodah, FlippinSweet (wherever she may be), Itinerary Marlette and Guiseppe (ditto), Lioness Homeschool, Bent Pedagogy, Darby, Dy, Liz, who else who else, oh yes, Classic Adventures, Relaxed Homeschool, everybody else in the sidebar, anybody else who I have not mentioned here, anybody who lurks and who is a mama to humans or anything else worth nurturing, to my mother, and Joey Ramone's mom.



This is me as a cartoon. Thank you, Dream Avatar people. I get to further procrastinate from finishing that IHIP.

Yak butter tea.

If you have ever taken milk with your tea and liked it, and you are adventurous, a taste of Po Cha, or Bocha, might be the thing for you.

Alexander and I went to Tsampa, a Tibetan restaurant in the East Village, last night and ordered Bocha from the menu.

A: I can't wait to try this.
Me: Don't get too excited. It might be one of those "acquired taste" things.

He tastes it.

A: Excuse me, miss? [he motions to the waitress]
Waitress: Yes?
A: Is this made from yak butter?
Waitress: No, hah hah, we can't get yak butter here. We use cow butter.
A: Oh.


A: It's not yak butter.
Me: A travesty.
A: I want it with yak butter.
Me: We will have to climb the Himalayas one day.
A: With a sherpa.
Me: And sleep in a tent.
A: And light candles made of yak butter.
Me: Oh yeah, they do that, don't they?
A: Yeah. And they carve these cool pictures into the yak butter candles.
Me: Maybe the Dalai Lama will visit us.
A: No, we'll have to go to India for that.
Me: What if we entice him with our yak butter tea and yak butter candles in our tent at Base Camp One? He won't be able to resist.
A: Mom. It's the Dalai Lama.
Me: We'll have to settle for company of our sherpa, then.
A: Good. Because he'll have the yak butter.


Just _ it.

A is reading Flush for pleasure.

He is practicing his guitar for his lesson.

He is working on Saxon Algebra and World History.

I am working on the IHIP. Oh yes, the IHIP. That was once my Magnum Opus of teaching.

I can finish this. No, it does not need to be too long, not too detailed, four pages should be enough, but I need to show these NYC Board of Ed people. I mean, really. Poo on their doubts about me. Poo on their doubts about A's learning.

May I should order some butter tea from the Himalaya Tea House. No, it will delay the IHIP. Or facilitate it. Look at the happy Tibetan drinking his butter tea. Too bad the readership here can't see him. They cannot see him because Blogger refuses to upload his picture. People need things to look at.

Just Zen it, LaMai, just Zen it.

Where I'm From

I am from the house across the street from school, from K-Tel Records, and American pancakes.

I am from the Danish furniture in the living room and shag orange carpet and Cuban hands making Swedish meatballs.

I am from the palm trees and mountains of the west, the palm trees and flatlands of the south, and the rains that rain so hard here, but not at all only 20 feet away.

I am from the loud places of the santeria coconuts and goats, the candles of the Scandinavians and the candles of the Jews. I am from Jørgen, from Basílio and from Avraham.

I am from flying the globe in jets to put more colored pushpins on the map at home, and then keeping secrets about what I did where the pushpins were.

I am from "She's gifted but we don't know what to do with her" and going to Marcie's house on Saturday afternoons when no one knew what to do.

I am from the the old building with the faded blue ceiling atop a holy mountain far away, where American tourists in white clothing streamed in regularly and whispered "Zohar," and the old men in peyot did a daaven and dance at the same time. I am from the bomb that exploded less than a minute after.

I am from the Beowulf, the José Martí. From the cafecito and open-faced sandwiches that smell of the ocean.

I am from Manuel, who tried to get to Florida but was met by sharks when he fell off his balsa in the straits. I am from the wails and the crying and lamenting whether democracy is worth the trouble, after all. I am from my mother who went to the U.S.S.R. to find out and came back with lots of Russian lacquer boxes in her blue suitcase.

I am from my dad's sweater. From pictures of my mother when she was happy. I am from a smiling teenager who asks "What's for breakfast? " and quells my doubts every day.


Thank you to Writing and Living for doing it on her blog, and providing the link to the template so that others can do it, too.


Mona Lisas

The publicists for the movie seem to be most creative. Spotted in Union Square yesterday.


"Multiple Mona Lisa's in Union Square, New York City"


That's. Just. Great.

So A is working on his Saxon Algebra and I am on my second hour typing up that Individualized Home Instruction Plan now overdue to the NYC Board of Education, which, if I turn it in now means it will essentially be turned in at the end of the year, and I have typed our curriculum based on what we've done under the recommendations of The Well Trained Mind, what we have yet to do this year, and smatterings of my own creative inclusion.

Then the PC froze. My IHIP Magnum Opus on four pages was gone forever. Alas, the NYC Board of Education will have to wait until I receive divine inspiration to re-type the thing.

I have also learned that I allowed Not Gone Fishing to lapse, because the billing notices went to the club on the Bowery and not to me, and a certain Vladimir Piletsky in the Ukraine is now owner of my domain, the domain under which my work was copyrighted, and I suspect that Mr. Piletsky expects me to pay a few thousand dollars to regain possession of said domain.

Well, that's not going to happen. Because I am moving my writings to Blogspot.com.

In other news, I saved our personal things from being auctioned from storage. Because I had a conversation with the storage people that went like this:

Storage Lady: Sorry, we won't take your $200. That won't even make a dent in your bill. It's now over a thousand dollars.
Me: But the owner surely just wants to know that I will be paying the bill in a timely fashion, no? I'll give you $200 every two weeks until it's fully paid.
SL: We can't accept it. $200 is not enough.
Me: Are you sure?
SL: Quite sure.
[Okay, she didn't say "Quite sure" she said something more like, "Hellz naw weeez takin' yo money" tainted in a severe nasal Bronx accent]

Upon which I hung up the phone and marched myself into a Sephora on Madison Avenue.

Me: I need a makeover.
Sales Lady: What are you looking for?
Me: Angelina Jolie.
SL: Um. Okay. Come over here.
Me: Thank you.

After $178 worth of Becca products from Australia, half of which I had to retrieve from Bergdorf's because the latest Becca shipment from Australia for Sephora was detained at customs at JFK, I was ready to go.

Storage Owner Boy: Well, hello!
Me: Hi. Will you accept my $200? You've got to stop my stuff from being auctioned.
SOB: Well, of course I will! Why would we do that?
Me: Your assistant over there...
SOB: Oh, nevermind her! She's new!
SL: I'm not new...
SOB: You're new, okay?
Me: Will you accept payments from me every week, then?
SOB: Of course, honey! Here. I am writing it in big letters here. See? DO NOT AUCTION.
Me: Thank you.
SOB: So I'll see you next week?
Me: Yes, I'll call in payment next week.
SOB: Erm. Okay. Okay, fine. That'll be fine.
Me: Thank you. That's great. You're great.

Sometimes, you just gotta.

What I am reading for pleasure...

This book.

On forged excuse notes -

The drawer was filled with samples of American talent never mentioned in song, story or scholarly study. How could I have ignored this treasure trove, these gems of fiction, fantasy, creativity, crawthumping, self-pity, family problems, boilers exploding, ceilings collapsing, fires sweeping whole blocks, babies and pets pissing on homework, unexpected births, heart attacks, strokes, miscarriages, robberies? Here was American high school writing at its best - raw, real, urgent, lucid, brief, lying:

Arnold doesn't have his work today because he was getting off the train yesterday and the door closed on his school bag and the train took it away. He yelled to the conductor who said very vulgar things as the train drove away. Something should be done.

His sister's dog ate his homework and I hope it chokes him.

Her baby brother peed on her story when she was in the bathroom this morning.

A man died in the bathtub upstairs and it overflowed and messed up all Roberta's homework on the table.

Her brother got mad at her and threw her essay out the window and it flew away all over Staten Island which is not a good thing because people will read it and get the wrong impression unless they read the ending which explains everything.

He had the composition you told him to write but he was going over it on the ferry and a big wind came and blowed it away.

We were evicted from our apartment and the mean sheriff said if my son kept yelling for his notebook he'd have us all arrested.

They didn't know that honest excuse notes from parents were usually dull. "Peter was late because the alarm clock did not go off." A note like that didn't even merit a place in the trash can.


What A is reading for pleasure...

I know, I know. This is not literary. Just a pleasure book, pulse-of-the-moment, pop culture read, that is all.

Edit: Last night, we had company for dinner, and A mentioned something obscure from the novel, and one of our dinner guests said, "Oh, you're reading the Da Vinci Code?" After which they began talking about historical elements in the book. Any book that prompts spontaneous discussion of history between strangers, and has A imagining our next trip to Europe involving us traipsing through the Louvre and finding evidence of Leonardo da Vinci's codices, merits a little attention.


the first photos! the first photos!

This is A's first gallery of photos on this blog, which he printed himself just today in the photography school darkroom. He has given me permission to upload them for you to see. Copyright of all photos belongs to A. Heh, heh. It feels so good to type that.

Photo 1: the punk kids in the first photo were found totally at random on the Bowery, and it was originally a cluster of about five kids, all bobbing that mannequin head to each other. When we overhead the young girl who was left holding it say, "Should I throw it away?" A stepped up into action and asked to take the photo.

Photo 2: The cube at Astor Place and Lafayette.

Photo 3: A snaps a photo at our local Thai restaurant.

Photo 4: A photography student.

Photo 5: Urban pigeon and sparrow.


When television just doesn't cut it

I have a friend who goes to the theater every single week, and I couldn't understand why. Now I do. Theater is to evening entertainment what dinner at Pastis is to dining. It's fun. You can watch television for your entertainment, and you can go to Wendy's for your meals. In the theater there's a third-dimensionality to what you watch, hear, and feel among your fellow audience members. Plus, you might get to see a favorite actor from television or film doing his or her thing right in front of your eyes.

A went to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with a friend the other night. He liked it. "It should win a Tony," he said. He's right. It was already nominated, last year.

Thanks to our membership in the Theater Development Fund, we will see the Caine Mutiny Court Marshal and Drumstruck this month.

The Drowsy Chaperone offers discounted tickets on lottery. They are $25, show up at 6:30 p.m. at the box office and give your name and standby and pray to the orisha gods or whatever works for you. We plan to see that show, too.
(The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee also offers discounted tickets on lottery. In fact, why not just ask every box office if they have the lottery?)

Ralph Fiennes is appearing in Faith Healer, and Julia Roberts in Three Days of Rain. I plan to see Faith Healer.



This kid. Just. Amazing.

"LaMai, we get it. This week was not only Photos of You Week, but Things about India and Indians and Indian-Americans Week."
Um, no. Honestly, I don't think things through for the blog like that.
"Shut up. Just 'fess up. You pre-plan things ad-nauseum."
And you insert more hyphens than are really necessary into a sentence.
Liar! Accuser!
"Explain the repetition of the India stuff, then!"
Um, look. I just pull things from out of my, you know. I am a homeschooling parent, remember?

Heh, heh.

art, elitism...and thievery

I am happy to report that I stole this article from Gawker.com.

#16 of the soon-to-be famous folk is Kaavya Viswanathan.

art and elitism and what it will get you

Two days ago I spoke with a friend about forthcoming show and the possibility that The Strokes might play.

"What? The Trust Fund Baby Band?"
Oh, you know?
"Yeah. They went to elite schools. What's the name of that Swiss school?"
Le Rosey.
"They suffered for their art, didn't they." [insert deadpan expression here]

See. It's not my imagination. Everybody knows about that school.


Lessons learned from Opal Mehta

I sometimes wonder if Kaavya Viswanathan, who wrote the Opal Mehta novel, feels sorry she is now known to be a plagiarist, or sorry she was caught and will no longer have future book sales. Harvard is immensely competitive, and I envision an admissions coach telling Miss Viswanathan, "Hey, maybe you can write a book before you apply? That'll give you that extra edge!"

I equally wonder if integrity and honor (and the virtue of being truly independently creative) are taught as important in the social structure at Harvard, as they seem to be to students at Oxford and Cambridge in the U.K.?

Am I generalizing something about American education and its need for superficial competitive fluff?

this from CNN...

On our geographic literacy.

What A is doing...

I generally ask that A watch "CNN Student News" first thing in the morning, but he says playing the sitar is much more relaxing. Note part of his Joe Strummer t-shirt peeking out.

temporarily dead

I had a nightmare last night.

I dreamt that the Alexander's Maitresse bloggy readers complained about my uploading two photos of myself on the same page. "What is wrong with you, vain woman?" the bloggy readers said. "No photos of A, but you put two of you?" (Well, if it has not become apparent to anyone, I never put up photos of A, for the simple fact that I cherish the security of my family. Want to hunt me down? Fine. Please do. I'll even dress for the occasion. Hunt my child down, and think of the ending of the movie Fargo. I will not hesitate to protect my kid).

Honestly, I am not vain. I just rarely have my photo taken. Especially by two well-known photographers in one week. Sheesh.

I also dreamt that the bloggy readership held a Mexican party (collectively, and I have no idea how Calletta, Becky, Lynne, Jill, and everyone else managed to do that) and I wasn't invited. That hurt.

There was another segment to the dream about my other blog Not Gone Fishing. I noticed Calletta took down her link to it. That was my snafu, entirely. It will be up shortly. Apologies for talking about a (temporarily) dead blog. I am still posting on TypePad, so there will be stuff to read there.

Zat ees all.



[Blogger has been acting funny, and this is the second time today that I attempt to post here.]

This weekend, I had brunch with The Sartorialist. He took my photo (see below), but I asked him not to post it on his blog. We both people-watched from where we were sitting at our outside table at Coffee Shop. It was actually ridiculous: we would be talking, then our eyes would then suddenly and simultaneously meander off our coffee and onto some young woman or man walking past us in something fabulous, upon which we would agree or disagree about their sartorial choices.

I met with my friend Taeko from Kyoto and we explored the Village (both West and East). We passed a Very Long Line of people in sleeping bags and lounge chairs at Tower Records. "What's the occasion?" I asked. "Pearl Jam," they responded. Tickets go on sale Monday evening (tonight). "Wanna join us?" one mop-haired guy asked.

I took Taeko to the Belgian Fries place on East 2nd Ave. It seems they have a new owner from the Philippines. I know this because when I asked for Roasted Garlic Mayo, they gave me mustard, and I returned it, and a very loud conversation in Tagalog ensued between an older Filipina lady and the guys who do the fries and mayo-giving.

Alexander printed some contact sheets during his Photography class. He is very excited about printing full 8 x 10 semi-glossies.

He had sitar class yesterday and took photos of his sitar teacher. The sitar teacher also brought a lady friend.

We watched Keira in "Pride and Prejudice." Twice. Did I ever mention the story when A was 10-years-old and sent a letter to Ms. Knightly and checked the mailbox for every type of foreign correspondence for six months before giving up?

Napoleon and I went to the park and met up with the Afghan hound. Nappo keeps licking one of his wounds until the scab comes off and begins bleeding again; the vet said it should remain exposed the way it is. I am a total believer in dog saliva healing, but I don't like the way it looks.

Back to reading, writing, and arithmetic...