My mother called me from Miami.

My son, apparently, is quite the "caballero." He fixes Cuban coffee for his grandmother, gets the glass of water for his great-grandmother before she asks for it, visits my uncle in the nursing home and pushes his wheelchair.

He treated my mother to Chinese, as well.

But he is bored. So he is reading his AP Biology book --the same version I studied in [Cough, cough] college, Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, Ernest Heminway books, and just plain 'ol playing the acoustic guitar on the family porch.

Today A was in Little Havana on the express mission to take photos of old Cuban men playing dominos.

"Ese es un caballero," says my grandmother. Of course he is. Between good parenting and home education (and now almost full-time home tutoring, because I just don't "get" or "do" that level of Pre-Calc, Physics or Biology anymore, sorry), the domino effect produced just what I expected.

Un caballero.

The New York Magazine article (in case you didn't copy & paste it) from a few posts ago.

[In my best Jan Brady voice:]

Dalton, DALTON, Dalton...


Unschooling article in the NY Times

You know what to do with the image. [Click on it.]


Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

For me, it's discovering the "How to Sleep in Class" class. Just kidding. Those PPSI students study way too much.


Shout Out

To Unschoolers blog, which has linked my blog to theirs (and I have reciprocated!).


Today is my first day at the New Job. I am excited, nervous, and ready to leave skidmarks as I walk out of my front apartment door to the subway. Wish me good thoughts. Yes, that means you, bloggy reader!

A is in Miami for the week. Most, if not all, of his classes were cancelled, and my 95-year-old grandmother kept calling me to say she misses him, so we thought, "Why not?" We surprised her. He has been eating Cuban food since his arrival.

He has several school-related things to do while there: rehearse his guitar audition piece, and read his Biology book. And I forgot -- take photos!

PPSI recently had classes for its annual SPLASH! event. Copy and paste the link below to take a look at the "How to Sleep in Class" class. You will need to choose Powerpoint or Keynote or PDF. Copyright belongs to the PPSI students who created the class. It made me laugh A LOT this morning.



Congratulations, LaMai. Have some Bolly.

I finally landed a gig from which I can retire. Unfortunately, it is not at CN, because they took too long to process my stuff. Fortunately, though, my new job IS at a network television corporation which everyone knows and loves, and I am a notch higher on the executive ladder there than I would have been at CN.

Ironically, on Friday, the last day before my first day at work at the new gig, my freelance agency called and asked if I could work for that magazine that sounds like "Brogue" which is all about fashion, and is at the CN building in Times Square. And this is what my day was like:

10 a.m. Arrive at my desk. Get coffee from the break room. There are martini glasses in the break room.

11:15 a.m. There is a Closet here. Which is an office, with brand new shoes that reach up to the ceiling. They are all color-coordinated. I am looking at the red ones right now. I love Jimmy Choo.

12:20 p.m. Oh. My. G-d. Anna W.'s office is around the corner from my desk. Oh. My. G-d.

1:30 p.m. I have been offered a cupcake. I eat it, because none of my skinny counterparts will.

2:47 p.m. What's with all the stuff in the Laura Mercier bags?

2:58 p.m. Gay men in tight jeans move a clothes rack past my office. I want the clothes on the rack.

3:22 p.m. Fake British accent walks past my office and says "daaaaaahling."

3:24 p.m. An employee tells me she is going on Thanksgiving holiday to Marrakesh. I say, "Oh, cool. You've picked a cosmopolitan part of Morocco." She says, "Er...cosmopolitan? No. I don't think so!" She has never been to Morocco and I look up the adjective "cosmopolitan" on Merriam-Webster online, while she is in my office. I leave the screen on for a while. Definition #3 is in full view. She notices.

4:40 p.m. Morocco girl has difficulty with the clock on her computer. She complains it is a few seconds too fast.

5:00 p.m. My "Brogue" supervisor has given me a glowing review of my work, which is summed up by my having noticed that Calvin Klein's name is not spelled "Calvink Klein" and that em dashes should not be replaced with double hyphens.

5:00 p.m. Fiddle around with the Macs. There is no security for the G4 or G5 laptops, but there is a security guard standing over the Jimmy Choos.

5:55 p.m. Visit Anna W.'s corner again.

6:00 p.m. Go home. Look forward to working at a new job on Monday, that has nothing to do with waif skinny co-workers, Jimmy Choo shoes, or Anna W.


Photo Slideshow from A to you.

What kids will do when they're bored. Or inspired. Or something.

The two "heads" are Jim anti-Hollywood Jar-schmothing and Luc the historian excavating the now-gutted rock club. All photos were shot, developed and printed by A in NYC.

Photos are --

1. Rower painting oars.
2. Friends.
3. The papparazzi at "Marie Antoinette."
4. View from a fire escape with rain.
5. Subway platform.
6. NoLiTa church.
7. Lower East Side cafe.
8. Lower East Side shop.
9. NoLiTa cafe.
10. Olympic rowers on the t.v. at the boathouse.
11. Oarsman.
12. Jim and Luc looking at the rubble at See-Bee-Gee-Bee.
13. Buskers, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
14. Fencing Club.
15. Fencing Club.
16. Union Square girl.
17. Subway platform and train.


I Don't Feel Like Dancing

It's my new favorite song. For those of you who, like me, grew up on ABBA, Elton John, and the Bee Gees, this song, by the Scissor Sisters, is for you. And yes, that's Elton on the piano. And yes, they're from New York, but getting No. 1 airplay in Europe before we in the States get to know how fabulous they are. And yes, the lyrics are ironic.

Too many interviews and applications to take care of (both A's and mine) to blog today.

I Don't Feel Like Dancing!


Learn If You Want To.

"Well, just keep this in mind," said my filmmaker friend when I discussed Wild Card School with him, "there was this dinner with the Wild Card Head of School. And the parents sang a song in parody to the tune of Old MacDonald, totally in jest to the Head of School, but the lyrics were, 'Learn If You Want To.'"

"I see," I said. My heart sank.

"Do you understand what I'm saying?" he asked.

"I do. For the parents to have collectively gotten away with that, there was an agreement that Wild Card School is not so...er...academically rigorous," I said.

"Okay, so you get it," he said.

His wife went to the Wild Card Lower School. "But I still like the school," I said. "More importantly, A likes it. I'm not going to buy into that nonsense. Anyway, it's probably a rumor started by Dalton parents. Please tell me you wouldn't prefer to send your kids to Dalton?" I asked.

"Of course not. The system at Dalton sucks," he said. "The parents at Dalton suck. And the school expects you to donate about $15,000 annually after tuition." Filmmaker friend lives in a multi-million dollar apartment on the Upper West Side. He can afford Dalton, although he insists he cannot.

"Well, you know Dalton treated me like [insert expletive for cow-poo here] during their Open House," I said.

"Of course they did. You're the charity case," he said. "Why not try Collegiate? Your A would do superbly there."

I forgot about Collegiate. JFK Jr. went to Collegiate. Is there still time to apply, I wonder? How would a homeschooler tackle the oldest private school institution in New York City, let alone the New World?

This article is in the current issue of New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/news/features/23783/index1.html
(I am still learning how to add linky thingys when using a Mac).


Interview and tour at the Wild Card School.

"Mom, this school is great."

It was unseasonably warm today, and we had a very smooth start at the Wild Card School. It has had an Upper School division for 15 years. It otherwise has no history, no celebrity alumni roster. Apart from its impressive list of college schools which accept Wild Card students, I think that I should call it The Clean Slate School.

The security guard was as friendly as a doorman (maybe he IS a doorman?), he directed us to get our nametags and to the coat rack, and we were quickly met by the Admissions Associate. She offered us an executive breakfast (coffee, juice, water, muffin) before we commenced our interview. The walls of the interview waiting/meeting/breakfast room were covered in photography art by the school students. OH MY G-D, I thought. We FORGOT the photography portfolio at home! A gave me a weird look. "Chill out, Mom," said A's look. Of course. I grabbed a cup of coffee. Then A left with his very young, very handsome History teacher young interviewer.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with New York City private school admissions, the "interview" is when your child is ushered away to his/her interview, and then you, the parent(s), are ushered to a separate room. Because you, lucky thing, are interviewed, as well. My interviewer seemed very hip, despite the Oxford button-down and tie. He collects cartoon/anime figures. They were strategically placed around his office.

"We will need writing samples, grades, transcripts, that sort of information, to better assess your son's qualifications," he said. I understood, and told him that grades were not a problem. All of A's teachers and tutors have been instructed to give grades to A's work, for school admissions purposes. "I'll send you our curricula, transcript, and grades and written evaluations right away," I told the interviewer. He seemed pleased. We agreed that A needed work with Chemistry. "All our students integrate Biology, Chemistry and Physics each year," the interviewer explained. And then there were some tricky questions, which included. "Why did you decide to homeschool? Why are you applying now, which is not a normal entry point?" [In New York City, Kindergarten, 6th, and 9th Grade entry are normal entry points]. I think I fielded the questions okay.

Meanwhile, A was given an essay to write. He was given a choice of three famous quotes on which to base his essay. A chose a quote by Gandhi. And he noticed his interviewer had a book by Noam Chomsky on his desk.
"You go to PPSI on weekends?" he asked.
"Yes," answered A.
"You know that Noam Chomsky is at PPSI?"
"Yes, of course," answered A.

A liked his interviewer.

We were reunited in the meeting/breakfast room, and the School Tour commenced. There was a Sikh grading student papers. There were African-American students and other students of color, and diverse faculty. There were hipster kids, nerdy kids, a kid with fire-engine red hair and jeans so tight that Sienna Miller would be jealous. One student looked like our friend Godlis, the photographer. There were smiles. In fact, most of the kids seemed to exude the "happiness factor" in some way or another. I was truly amazed. I saw A's interviewer, in the common room, with the Noam Chomsky book on his desk. I looked at A. "I love this school," is what his facial expression seemed to tell me. Diversity was not just a word in this school's brochure.

Then our school tour guide (a school senior) whisked A off into their darkroom. I talked to the Photography teacher for a few minutes. We talked about ICP for a bit. He mentioned their lack of diversity.

We toured the cafeteria. More student photos were exhibited on the walls. It was apparent that Wild Card takes their Photography program very, very seriously.

All in all, A was happy. And maybe I have "Diversity" stamped on my forehead. I don't know. But the Wild Card School made us feel very, very welcome.

We handed our nametags back to the front desk, got our coats that we would not put on, and as we exited, we enjoyed the view. It was Central Park, and the fall leaves, directly across the street.


Friends with Money (and maybe some celebrity) referred me to your school.

Bucolic Campus School:
Q: Who referred you to our school?
A: Jim anti-Hollywood Jarm-Uh-schmothing. And maybe Sofia Coppola. Like, the wine. Not the person. Because I am drinking some Sofia now that I am filling out your application. I need it.

Little Pinko Schoolhouse:
Q: How did you learn of our school?
A: Susan Sarandon. [Erm, maybe someone told me that Susan's kid goes to your school.] And come to think of it, Adam Horovitz. Because I am listening to some Beastie Boys right now. I need to fight for my son's right for entry in 2007-08.

Q: How did you learn of our school?
A: Sean Lennon. [this is actually true, but you guys dissed me in person during your Open House]

Q: How did you learn about Trevor?
A: I dunno. You guys are a wild card.

Q: Who referrred you to us?
A: Um. Becky in Alberta. She's a blogger. And alumna of yours. Be proud. She represents, yo.

Q: How did you learn about Friends?
A: I thought Susan Sarandon's kid STILL went here. But no. He switched to Little Pinko Schoolhouse.

Concerto in G.

ISEE, SHSAT, Bard test, LaGuardia audition, SSAT this Sunday, possibly re-take the ISEE, school interviews and tours start tomorrow morning at 8:45 a.m. ["And your son goes to school where?" "He's a homeschooler. Privately tutored," I say, to up the "elitist" factor, depending on the school], but the Physics tutor needed to reschedule today to tomorrow, talking on the phone with Eva Rado at Dalton and pretending their teachers behaved perfectly fine with me on Open House day ["Where does your son currently go to school?"], and I am calling boarding schools on the west coast that let you keep a horse while you are there.

I am not frazzled. No.

But I want my mommy.

If I could provide the mp3 link to Concerto in G by Roger Neill, I'd offer it to you. It coincides perfectly with my madness. You can download it on iTunes.


E-mail from CN

Dear LaMai,

I thought you were very impressive and want to hire you. If you're still interested I'll talk to [Guy at HR] again. Thanks for coming in. Let's try to make it happen.


Anthony at CN


In other news, Lance Armstrong ran over our bridge during the ING New York City Marathon today! Okay, we don't own the bridge, but it's a short walk from our home, and I've walked that bridge more times than I can count.

Viva la Lance!



The new Almodovar film is a total treat, and a very, very good story. Penelope Cruz is amazingly good (I am one of many American moviegoers who had no idea how good of an actress she is; thank goodness she left the shadow of Mr. Cruise). My only pet peeve about the film is that they dub Cruz's voice for a singing solo -- I have no idea if she can sing like a gitana, but I nearly giggled in the theater when an audience member clapped at the end of her song.

Dude, she was dubbed!

A had a school interview today. The interview required that he wear a tie. Silly me, I went to H & M last night to buy one, NOT the clip-on kind, because I figured he could figure it out with the help of one of many HOW TO TIE YOUR CRAVATE websites. After 45 minutes of HOW TO TIE YOUR CRAVATE, he gave up, and so did I.

We phoned a neighbor.

A: "Erm, hello, Atsushi? Sorry to bother you, but I have an interview and I need your help."

Atsushi is our downstairs Japanese hipster neighbor. He came up to our apartment. With methodical precision, lasting 30 minutes or so, he demonstrated the art of tying the tie. I felt like we were sitting through an origami class. The point was to help A remember, and not ask for his help again. I was worried we were going to be late to the interview.

So, when we arrived at 1:20 p.m. and not 1:00 p.m. to A's school interview, our excuse was, "We had to learn to tie a tie, which was a requirement for this interview. We had a Japanese origami-errr-tie artist show us how."

I am hoping that that earns me single mom points. Or something.


NaNoWriMo: A Blessing in Reprise

I don't need to tell you what NaNoWriMo is.

I am going to adopt the corporate slogan and say: Just Do It.


Y & Y & T


A edits a narrative for Writing Class.
Attends Math Class. Math Class instructor forgets recommendation form for A's school entry application.

Did I mention what work it is to chase down teacher after teacher for these darn recommendations? Hello!!! Mr. "Always-Reminding-My-Kid-About-Looming-Deadlines"-Teacher? Our rec is due NOW!!! What? You say you do not mind personally delivering the thing to the Recommendations Acceptance Office? Oh, you're too kind! Thank you.

DNA class.


Free day (which means Rehearse Audition Piece All Day), until evening.

Halloween Parade in the Village.

Random Conversation at Halloween Parade, while me and A and every human being within 10 feet of us gets crushed like the garbage disposal scene in Star Wars Episode IV on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Ave:

Modelesque Woman: "Um, excuse me. Do I know you? Have I done your makeup before?"
Me: "Um. Oh My G-d. Yes you did."

Crunch. Push. Shove.

It is the woman who did my Angelina Jolie makeover to save my stuff from being auctioned from storage (Long story, it's around May or June in the archives).

Modelesque Woman: "I'm at Bergdorf's now." [Crunch.]
Me: "Oh, really? " [Push.]
A: "Bergdorf's." [Shove.]
Me: "May I have your card?" [Someone knocks me in my rib.]
Modelesque Woman: "Of course." [Hands me her card. It reads BERGDORF GOODMAN. MEREDY P.....S. COSMETICS CONSULTANT.] [Push. Shove. Somebody screams, "Help ME!" and I witness Meredy stepping over the undidentified body of a 70-year-old woman, crushed by the masses.]
A: [Points to neck.] "Bergdorf's."


Miranda, our Fabulosa tutor, arrives to teach A Physics.
Lunch break.
French at the Alliance Francaise.
DNA class.

In the meantime, I drop off a Personal Recommendation by A's rowing coach. Only, the rowing coach didn't write it. I did. This is why.

[Ring, ring]
Me: "Hello?'
Coach T: "Um, Hello? LaMai? It's Coach T. Um, I haven't finished A's recommendation. Do you mind writing it for me?"
Me: "Erm...sure?"
Coach T: "OK, great. Sorry, it's college applications time, and I've got about 20 of these puppies on my desk, all due yesterday. Your kid is great. He's a tough kid, picks up the broom and sweeps the dock without anyone asking him to, totally gets along with the team. He's a team player" YADDA YADDA YADDA. I transcribe everything, and sign off with Coach T's blessing.

A grabs 4 pizzas at an undisclosed UWS pizzeria.
Guitar class.
Ride home on train with guitar teacher.

Evening: Discuss "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley.