This funny arrived in my e-mail inbox...

After careful scrutiny, it is our understanding that the student was given credit for the answer, but the board of education has warned math teachers to be more explicit in the future.

*LaMai's edit: switch "blonde" to "anyone reading the instruction."


Sense catastrophe

Sometimes, one of four temp agencies with which I am listed will call me for a copyediting job at a big company, after my daytime work hours. Last night, I received a call for such a job. I left after my work at the satellite radio company to jump a train to a global communications firm in TriBeCa. Or was it SoHo? Anyway, after arriving at the global communications company, which turned out to be an Enormous Loft with Ceilings Up to There, decorated with white chi-chi chairs, white chi-chi curtains, chi-chi roofdeck facing my window, I was told to copyedit everything in British English. Fine. So while drinking my company-offered Nespresso coffee with actual Italian biscotti, I noticed this phenomenon:


As in, Leave of Absense. Absense of copy. Absense of mind. Which appeared to be happening to me.

This can't be possible. Absense? I Googled "Absense." And found this. And that. Okay, academics are using this word? Or do they use the same web administrator?


Fortunately, I found enough word snafus to justify correcting "absense" to "absence." As in, what you get if you are absent in Britain or the United States. Or Canada.


erm, mom?

Me: Yes?
A: Did you sign me up for Photography II for this summer?
Me: Um, I don't think so.
A: Uh-huh.
Me: Why?
A: Because B. at the photography school just told me I got another scholarship. To take the next course.
Me: Oh. Oh, wow.
A: So did you sign me up for Photography II?
Me: Maybe? But I had totally forgotten about it. It was way back in April. The administration told me that they were just accepting you for Photo I.
A: Uh-huh.
Me: And I thought it might be good for you to take a break this summer. But hey, if you won a scholarship, you should take it.
A: Cool.
Me: Yes, it is cool.


Partner. Parent.

Thanks to a bloggy reader here who provided a link to an article about homeschooling recently, I contacted Partners with Parents for homeschooling support. PWP provides in-home tutoring for a myriad of subjects, including - dun dun DUN - Latin! I spoke to our first PWP tutor on the phone today. She sounded so much like me that I nearly laughed about it while speaking with her: "Hi! I'm a Biology and English major! I am teaching a science class to minority girls! I want to be a teacher!" She really sounded competent and sweet.

I also e-mailed Wendy, another homeschooling blogger, about adoption issues. I am considering it, and am happy that I am.

I spoke to my documentary filmmaker friend about someone I met recently at her film screening at Tribeca Film Festival. The person invited me out, but before we even got a chance to meet, he suddenly received some bad familial news, and I never heard from him again. "Send him a follow-up e-mail," she told me. OK. I figured two months have passed, why not? I am getting calls and invitations from men who are really, erm, not my type, so why not e-mail someone who might be more my type? So I took a deep breath, and did. A day passed. Nothing. Another day passed. Nothing. Fine. I'll forget the whole idea. After four days, I hear from Mr. Man. "Things are so hectic on my end, LaMai, I'll contact you as soon as things free up." I took it as a rejection. "No, that's a normal response," said my documentary filmmaker friend. "He's busy filming."

I don't know.

Another Man on whom I bestow a crush, is too famous for me. So I tell myself. My friends have egged me on to contact him. "If he didn't have a girlfriend, it might actually work. Don't you know that?" they say. Maybe I know that. I have his home phone number. I have called, what with some dreamt-up ulterior motive that has to do with photography and...um...saving the integrity of New York. With music. I hear his voice on the answering machine. I hang up.

I did that twice.

Mermaids + Coney Island = Fun

In case you have no idea what the Annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade is about, check out Flickr for this year's submissions of photos. Warning: there are lots of boobies with pasties in the Mermaid Parade slideshow. If you are offended by this, don't click on the link!


Photo I graduates

There were photos. There were speeches. There were "thank you"s. There were drinks, cupcakes, cookies and chips.

And then there were tears.

I did not realize how much the students at ICP bonded until one student -- a not-quite outed feminine guy student, whose sense of humor was hilariously evident in his speech that left both students and parents rolling in their seats -- allowed tears to well up when the students finally had to part at the end of the day. I felt for him. His mother arrived for the exhibit and speeches, but she did not seem (to me) really interested in what her son was doing. She was just there. And let me tell you, the kid's photos were pretty amazing.

Each student had photos picked for the school's archives; Alex had three chosen out of seven. I was immensely proud of him. Particularly as he printed and exhibited photos that I had not even seen before. "He's a beautiful printer," his photo teacher told me.

We had pesto and portobello mushroom pizza for dinner.

A friend of ours in Brooklyn has an enlarger and darkroom kit she needs to rid herself of, that I think we should adopt. It should keep A busy until Photography II this fall.


Photo show

A has a photo exhibit today, along with the students at the photography school.

He went to B & H Photo by himself yesterday to pick up printing paper and spent some time writing his artist statement. It is only one paragraph long, but he took the time to get it right so that it sounded like his voice.

It is really amazing how quickly kids grow up.

Complimentary photo preview for the readership.


because it pays my bills

I have been informed that the same satellite radio station that employs Howard Stern and Martha Stewart has hired me as their copyeditor. Their *only* copyeditor. They are giving me a complimentary satellite radio to listen to all day long.

I wonder if some announcement on Mediabistro will appear? And I guess the copyediting class (remember the gunshots boom-boom-boom and strip club thump-thump-thump) paid off.

Also, one of the above-mentioned celebrities has also interviewed me for a copyediting position. I was really hoping that Conde Nast (read: Vogue!!! Vanity Fair!!!) would snag me first. Sorry, Ms. Wintour. I will be a little delayed. And then I will betray you by taking a job with Carine Roitfeld in Paris. Seriously, that's the plan.

A will be busy this summer, what with rowing, math, possibly fencing, and weekends in Boston, but I feel the ache of taking a day job. Meh.


Sitar Man

I am learning that A's sitar teacher, who performed at A's b-m, is becoming a fast friend of our tiny family.

He is muslim, and he does not mind when we ask him questions about his religion, about his family's flight from Delhi to Karachi when India won its independence, about that other instrument his family created tablature for, the tabla, Zakir Hussain, and of course, our pestering questions about his teacher, Pundit Ravi Shankar.

Then toward the end of the lesson, he announced to A:

"If you keep this up, I would like you to play with me, when I go to my country for my annual concert."

We nearly died, both me and A. We have been talking about India for months and months, and a stop in Pakistan for a performance...good grief. Are we dreaming?

Today, we shared a picnic with some friends in Central Park for a little over an hour. Then A took off for rowing.

Then I found this on Sarto's site, also spotted in the Park, several days ago. Candidate for me? Hmmm?

Just kidding.


Seeing Eye Bitch

This weekend, I was invited to a homeschooling parent's house cooling party. That's right. House cooling. As in, the festivities were held in the house that was being left behind.

The homeschooling mum and I chatted for a while at the party, over margaritas. We had initially met each other months ago at a homeschooling teen meeting. At the meeting, we were visibly unhappy with the weirdos there, because, let's face it-- they're weird, and make life difficult for the rest of us. Exhibit A of weirdness:

Very uptight homeschooling Mama ("VUHM"): "Oh No, No, NO. We should not and CANNOT go public with the fact that we're homeschoolers!"

Me and house cooling mama: "Huh?"
VUHM: "We shouldn't. The truancy police will be after us if we publicize what we do too much."
MAHSM: "Huh???!"
House Cooling Mama: "Girlfriend. Don't you know that those fundamentalist Christians have been blazing the trail for us? Because of them, homeschooling is a fact of life. We're not supposed to be underground. It's time we are out. As in, O. U. T."
Me: "I think we should have t-shirts. It would be a good fundraiser."
House Cooling Mama: "I think so, too."
VUHM: "Erm, I think we should wait."
House Cooling Mama: "Until when? The next millennium?"

Anyway, that is how me and the house cooling mama got to know each other. We demanded respect and recognition for our hard work without wanting to be obnoxious, and we wanted to replace the sense of the "underground" with "legitimacy" instead.

So here we are, doing margaritas at the house cooling. And house cooling mama says:

"LaMai, it's time you find a husband."

And she is right. It's simply time. And I know I am ready because I've been doing all sorts of housekeeping. Getting the life insurance policy in order (I am tweaking a few things here and there), calling the attorney about the trust, ensuring that we are putting money away in a savings to which A will be entitled, and then there is my private worry that I do not wish A to be alone in the world when I am gone. Our family is a little too compact.

So I finished my last margarita at the house cooling and went home. I had much to think about.

The following day, we watched Everything is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber, who we will be seeing this summer Shakespeare season. In the film, there is the running joke about the "seeing eye bitch," a temperamental she-dog which the grandfather in the film adopted to help his blind condition. The dog is in the film hysterical. But what is discovered is that neither dog nor grandfather has anything to do with blindness. It is about finding solutions to loneliness, and filling spaces. A remarked, "This movie makes me less afraid of dying."

Today, as I walked off my train in Times Square to switch to another, I saw a man with a white cane and that tell-tale little red strip on it, accompanied by a black dog sporting a handlebar, standing on a busy stairwell. Bodies and feet ran up and down the stairwell, but the gentleman with the cane stayed put. I am not a rocket scientist. I knew he was lost and no one was offering him any help, or he might have asked, but perhaps could not be heard. "Where do you need to go?" I asked him. "The uptown 1 train. I am not used to this way. Is this the right way?" "It is," I told him. "It's just a different way. I'll take you to your platform. Take my arm." With that, he and his seeing eye dog followed me until we reached where he needed to go.


I am blogging

...from the insanity that is the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, between 58th and 59th Streets.

May I count the number of tourists here for you? The volume of chatter here is Very High. In French, Long Islandese, Texanese, German, Japanese, Californianese, you name it. My eardrums, people.

Toto, we're not in SoHo anymore...


I Heart NY

See Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep perform, for free.

Shakespeare in the Park info here.
Meryl will be performing in Mother Courage and Her Children.

I am getting the goosies just thinking about it.


LaMai writes a few letters

Dear George Soros,

Shalom my Magyarish friend! I hope this letter is not keeping you away too long from your philanthrophy work with Open Society Institute and that, you know, anti-guy-in-the- White House org. So I'll keep this brief.

We need some bucks, Mr. Soros. We had a bar mitzvah that had a lot of goulash and simcha. The amount I need is just a small drop in your billionaire bucket. So do us a mitzvah. Send the droplets our way. I'll get you some really good Gundel pancakes. Or something.

Toda rabba and Köszönöm again!

Yours lovingly,

La Maitresse


Dear Donald Trump:

Hi. I know you and Melania are waaaaay busy, and you've got all sorts of programming going on the television networks. Plus, you've got that Trump University ridiculousness, erm, endeavor. I commend you, Mr. Trump.

So I am asking you to get my son fired up. Yes, fired UP. Send your homeschooled homeboy a token of your Trump affection, and perhaps the American viewing public won't despise you so much. I know, I know, I didn't invite you to the bar mitzvah. But you guys are, you know, sooo high maintenance. You expect me to run out of my party-going to greet you at your limo? Please, Donald.

Be a mensch. Send my boy a chai (that's $18) with a few zeros at the end.


Maitresse (Your "wonderful woman")


Dear Lindsey Lohan,

Hi girl! How is your fabulous self?

Girl, I know you aren't Jewish (or are you?) but you know, you are sooooo Long Island. And being spoiled rotten from Long Island is so cool. It's the new royalty. Or something. So I thought you'd understand why I'd even write to you. Mkay?

We just had a bitchin' party. But we need some help paying for it. Why not send us some of your green kisses, mkay? Maybe I'll help you do some shopping if I have anything left over. So you know, some some extra? We can do vedic pedicures afterwards. How awesome!




B-M is done!

Okay, I am really, really exhausted. But I do remember some guests telling me, "Oh, this is so nice. We've been to so many obnoxious ones. This is not obnoxious." Oh, please. LaMai doesn't do obnoxious. We just did a religious Jewish coming-of-age ceremony in a former brothel (and simultaneously raised money for Kids With Cameras/the Born Into Brothels kids). Folks who I never thought would show up, actually did.

We lifted A on a chair. I've never seen him smile so big.

That is all for now.


Good evening bloggy audience...

My brain is mush.

Mush. Mush. Mush.

Too. Much. Planning. Organizing. E-ticket purchasing. House cleaning. Shopping. Rehearsing. Editing. Re-rehearsing.

May I please be released from b-m duty? Thank you.

Almost there...

I am finalizing the last of the loose ends for A's b-m. I am exhausted. I clearly needed a b-m planner. "Yes, hello, I am having a b-m, and the relief factor after having it should be quite high. How much do you charge?"

I have snagged Zana Briski's help for the do-good portion of it. Again, my life is so weird, if you, dear reader, know the back story. Weirder still is that she was able to contribute in some small way via Kids With Cameras.


- Stage setup with equipment and engineer: check.
- Sitar player: check.
- Punk band with two members from the original Blondie line-up: check.
- Vegetarian food: check.
- Photo exhibits for charity: Half-check (A is still printing photos).
- Off-off Broadway tix for friends from Miami: check.
- Tallit, kippot and normal judaica that goes with the b-m: erm...will do shopping tomorrow. I always leave out the essentials for last. Meh.

Since my mind has clearly turned to mush as is evident by my lack of blogging activity, kindly visit any blogger who is in the sidebar to the right of here, and don't forget to visit Lynne and Road Schola. Her photos from Australia are too cool.


Cafe Society

The other day, A and I stepped off the subway train, exited the platform, and proceeded to walk home. There is a park enroute to our apartment. Sometimes, there are people with nothing else to do all day who sit at the park and just hang out there. And they have what a friend of mine calls "bum wars." We encountered one such "bum war" as we walked past the park. We saw a young woman holding a bunch of sunflowers suddenly scream "Stop! Don't do that! Stop! For the love of God!" A man in his 50s (or 60s?) was lying on his back, face bloodied, and the man who had just done the damage, another middle-aged man who wore a yellow jacket, proceeded to walk across the street and step into a pay phone area.

A bystander old man with a cane murmured to the yellow jacket man, "You'd better leave before the cops get here." It was then that I took out my cellphone and dialed 911. About 20 people now surrounded the man on the ground. He was o-u-t. Some young street kids followed the yellow jacket man and began to harass him. Maybe to buy time.

I felt A want to do something about it. He is getting to the age where he feels he needs to right all the wrongs he sees. "Just go home," I told him. "Go take Napoleon out." He stood beside me. I was worried he was going to confront yellow jacket guy.

While I spoke to the 911 operator on the cellphone, I realized that I was standing in front of a cafe. The cafe patrons were calmly sipping their wine and frappes while mayhem had unfolded before them. I looked at a table of three young men. They smiled at the scene, and at me. "Nice to be entertained while sipping your wine, isn't it?" They nodded "Yes."

"I guess I have bigger grapes than you, then. That man was in need of help. You just sat and watched the man who beat him up walk right past you."

I think the b-m planning has me on edge.


Finding one's space

Today I rode the 1 train downtown and tried to read Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. There was a stop at Times Square, upon which virtually everyone in my train car got off, and it allowed me to move one space down away from a gentleman seated to my left.

Since I was having a bit of difficulty getting through Mr. Ishiguro's novel, I stopped reading and looked around me. I realized how ridiculous my action was. I moved over a seat to allow myself some leg room. By 34th Street, the very next station, more passengers would embark our car and I would be faced with 15 people vying for the one seat inbetween myself and the gentleman from whom I just moved.

And I thought about Alexander in all this in my futile little move-over dance. How we, as parents, make choices for our kids to be independent in life, to find their own space, their own niche, in which they can ride to the end of their lives. Okay, maybe I was specifically worrying about what sort of vocational preparation I might be making for A.

Okay. I have stupid fears that say, "What if I die today? What will A do with himself? What will be my legacy?" I do not think this way often, but I engage in this ridiculous mind chatter so that I keep things real. Purposeful. Consistent. Fruitful.

What are we doing? Where are we going? Does everyone remember this blurb of mine when we lived in Westchester?

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...