...and more conversations...

But Mom, I don't want to go to boarding school. I have a life here. I am staying here.

I have fencing. My tutors. My photography.

I have a job.

I am not leaving.



...with A's rowing coach. We talk about school options, how far A can get college-wise as a rower in NYC. Turns out a few rowing mates of A's have been accepted to Dartmouth, Brown, M.I.T. and Princeton on the strength of their crew experience. I tell Coach about A's applications to boarding schools that have rowing teams. I tell him my fears and hopes.

Coach: "Well, you know, your son is a New York kid. I see him with his camera. He's artsy. He should stay here."
Me: [in total surprise that Coach has said "New York kid" -- when did us Florida folk become "New York" folk?] : Yes, I'd like him to stay here in the City, honestly. What about the racing team?
Coach: "If you need me to make a call to one of the boarding schools, let me know. I know all the coaches there."
Me: Thanks. Thanks, so much. Hey, what about the racing team? For this year? Do you think A can make the cut?
Coach: "Oh, I don't even have to think about that one. He's automatically on the racing team. He'll be a junior racer this year."



Today, BTBSA called me. It was a frantic phone call.

Me: Erm, okay. I filled out the PFS stuff, and...
Me: Erm, okay.
BTBSA lady: "AND SEND ME A .PDF OF YOUR 1040 AND W2s!!!!!!"
ME: Erm, okay.

I sent a .pdf of only my 1040. Because I don' normally have my W2s lying around on my desk at work. That would be weird.


I ring up Left Field Boarding School.

Me: Erm, hi. My name is LaMai. My son's name is A. Do you have our documents?
LFBS Dude: Who are you?
Me: LaMai.
LFBS Dude: Oh. OH, RIGHT. One of our Board members called me about your son...


I am a mad woman.


Our Applications -- A review.

10th Grade Entry --

Public Schools:

No offer from the specialized high schools.

No offer from the "Fame" school.

Awaiting offers from two public high schools which required testing and interview, phs/ec and secondary artsy school.

Private Schools:

WL with the Downtown Progressive School. A firm acceptance will be given if they can award tuition remission.

Rejection from Bucolic Campus School.

Rejection from Wild Card School.

No answer from Dalton. No answer from Collegiate. These schools seem to be "full" and are using the "wait and see" approach in case there is an attrition of their numbers.


Boarding Schools:

Decisions out on March 10.

BTBSA just sent us an "applicaiton complete" card. Their correspondence with us has been pretty regular.

BTBSB sent us a boilerplate letter stating our application was complete. No correspondence until I got "street" with the Email Robot that prompted the Headmaster to personally respond to me.

BTBSC has requested a phone interview with Alex. This after I tried postponing the interview to April during my awful bout this week with flu.

Totally Out of Left Field Boarding School has our application and we hope to hear from them. TOLFB would be my first choice boarding school after reading about it, and learning that it is a mere 55 miles from New York City.

If you ask me...

...hype counts for a lot in New York City. You could have the absolute worst restaurant in the world do exceedingly well in New York City if you create a buzz about it.

What? Don't New Yorkers have common sense to know better between hype and good food?

In a word -- no.

Yesterday, I was minding my own business at the Union Square Farmer's Market when I noticed the pretzel line at Martins Pretzels was longer than usual. I noticed the Zagat review posted right on the stand. A colleague at work swore these were the best pretzels "anywhere." So I decided to buy a bag.

I got half a bag of burnt pretzels, with a smattering of salt somewhere in the bag, and pretzels so devoid of flavor, even Napoleon was hesitant to go near one.

Yeah, it's great that the Mennonite women who make them sing hymns while rolling the dough...erm, I guess I have holy pretzels (okay: this is true. the pretzels have aire holes in them.) I am now severely suspicious of the Mennonite tastebud. There must be a gene lacking somewhere.

I should have known better than to be sucked in by hype. I will stick to food that actually has flavor.

PS - LaMai LOVES the Mud truck. Its hype began organically, but it has not beat that of the big green monster's. Check out the shameless Mudpromotion on the image.



"LaMai, may I leave now?"

My report is feeling as sick as I am. But I am Captain. So I stay.

"Yes, you may leave."

Another report.

"LaMai, may I go home early? I'm sick."

"Yes, you may leave."

I am Captain. There is nobody left on my team except for the gaggle of chickens who are the publicists.


Discussion with Bucolic Campus School.

Admissions Director: "We had only four spots in our 10th Grade class, and when we have so few spots, we consider composition of the class [gender, and maybe race?], your child's academic record, essays, and overall package."

OK -- Academic record? If you're a homeschooling parent, you know what my next question was --

Erm, but my son's grades are mostly all As. And he's already taking an AP course in 9th Grade.

"But his ISEE score wasn't as strong."

She is right. It wasn't. One crappy day of standardized testing determined his admission to Bucolic Campus.

"...And when entering 10th Grade, we really, REALLY want strong students. I hope you understand."

I understand that my son should go to early college and not your stupid elitist school.

sick day

Awaiting emails from Bucolic Campus School regarding A's rejection.

Awaiting possible interview with Totally Out of Left Field Boarding School.

Need to rest.


You, Me and Dubai.

So a colleague at work e-mailed me a link to a career site. "They need people with American media experience." Oh yeah? I said. "Yes. And my friend just got hired and is paid $300,000 annually. She also gets an apartment and a maid."


"And it's like Las Vegas. Not Saudi Arabia. People are pretty free in Dubai."

Sure, except for the lack of porn and alcohol -- right? But I did have that friend in boarding school who was pretty wild. She lived in Dubai.

"Well, just think about it."



Make it stop.

I got this in my email inbox this morning from the Private Ecole Consultant:

Dear PEC,

As you already know, we're so thrilled to learn our precious Sarabella was accepted by one of the best K-12 schools in the country -- Bucolic Campus School! As you said, the lunar Year of The Pig might really be the year of good fortune ! On the other hand, we can't thank you enough for your advice and help along the way, without which we could not have even imagined a day like this would come. I think you have done a fantastic job and we'd recommend your service without any hesitation to other parents out there who would sell their arms or legs to get their children into a top private school in the area.

PEC, you made our dream a reality !

Best regards,

Happy Parents
(and precious Sarabella)


BTBSB Headmaster personally e-mails LaMai.

Some backstory (if this a repeat for you, please press "FF" on your remote):

We received an "application received" letter from Big Time Boarding School B two weeks ago. It was a boilerplate letter. No school prospectus, no request for interview, nothing. The letter basically said, "Standby, yo. We'll make our decision without you. And we're not telling you what we're basing it on. Please don't visit. Don't call US. We'll call YOU..."

This school is very prestigious, has beaucoup dollars, and is well staffed, so I was surprised we would receive such a flimsy acknowledgement. This school rhymes with "RothMiss."

Then BTBSB sends an e-mail to A: "Your decision is coming soon! Here's your login username and password! Make sure you don't check the decision by yourself! You should really have your family with you!"

LaMai, now being an expert in the art of rejection, decided to write a pre-emptive e-mail. My e-mail said (more or less): "Yo, brother, don't bother. We didn't get jack from you people. You think we're stupid? Don't set up my kid for disappointment, kay, player?" Maybe I grabbed my crotch, too. (Okay, this post has been osmotically influenced by DMX. A is writing a report about explicit lyrics in music. I've heard "Up in Here" this morning more times than I care to count).

The Headmaster replied. This morning. It was a very long e-mail. The e-mail was full of "please understand"s and "I look forward to reviewing your son's application."

My answer?

"Thank you for personally responding to my concerns."


Homeschooling Mom Finds Peace In Spite of Terrible Admissions Week!

A went to fencing this morning, and I hit Barnes & Noble Booksellers. I could not help but look at the Dale Carnegie book. No, I am not losing my mind, I told myself. Other people live through terrible news. So will I. And anyway, our status quo is still our status quo. We've lost nothing.

So, in the effort to make myself happy and kick away the worry, I bought tickets to a film today (click on image to find out which one). I highly recommend it for the adults. As one critic wrote, I simply did not want this film to end. It was that good. I also noticed what may have been the director's staging of an inside joke.*

Back at the fencing club, I avoided PEC like the plague. She was just waiting for me to beg for her advice on getting A through the second admissions cycle. I wanted to tell her to stick the private school system, and her exorbitant "consulting" fees, up her arse. What sort of world is it where it is so competitive that you have to hire a, ahem, professional, who charges thousands of dollars to get you through the bulls&*t? And I can't help but wonder how the private schools benefit from these "consultants"?

No. LaMai is done flirting with ManhattanPrivateSchoolandia.

One fencing instructor did chat with me and recommended his placing a call to a school in New Jersey on our behalf. "Very good school," he assured me, "that is a feeder to Princeton. And they have a very strong fencing team." I thanked him and sent him the obligatory "thank you" e-mail afterwards. Let's see if he actually makes the call.

Tonight me and A watched "An Inconvenient Truth." I highly recommend it to everyone, young and old. I also recommend I go live somewhere green. Like New Zealand.

*Anne-Marie Duff appears at the end, on a bench. She played Queen Elizabeth recently for a BBC series (and did amazingly well in that role). There are two other "Elizabeths" in the film - the older one having played QEI in "Shakespeare in Love" and the younger having played QEI in 1998 and now recently in "The Golden Age." Another QE1 who could have appeared is Helen Mirren -- but her film was likely in production at the same time as this one.

LaMai buys chocolate.

After calling the Private Ecole Consultant.

LaMai is convinced that PEC is certifiably crazy.

PEC: Ugh! You're the 52nd parent who has called me today. Nobody got in anywhere! [she asks a bunch of questions about A, then -- ] So where does your son want to go to college?
A: He seems to like Yale so far. And Princeton.
PEC: So why didn't you apply to Horace Mann?
A: Erm...because not all the students at Horace Mann go to Yale?
PEC: But you will get into Yale if you go to Horace Mann!!!
A: Hmmm....there are many paths to Yale. Horace Mann's is not the one we wanted to take. And anyway, he seems to like phs/ec. And it seems he is ranked well there.
A: Erm, my son grew up on a university campus. He misses talking to professors. He'd love phs/ec.
A: Hmmm....No, I think he'll be okay at that school. But I *am* curious as to why Bucolic didn't accept him.
PEC: Call Bucolic on Wednesday. They are very VERY open about their decision making on their admissions committee.
A: Okay.

I hit La Maison du Chocolat and asked for macaroons -- has anyone here had French macaroons? They're not those icky coconut things like you get from Walgreens. They're like little fluffy wafer sandwiches with a creme center.

A loved the macaroons. He asserted that he did not want to go to Bucolic or Wild Card. It's true -- since we visited BTBSA, he has said that he's not interested in local schools anymore.

I cried, privately.


Hard Rain.

Both Bucolic Campus School and Wild Card sent us skinny envelopes.


Answer from Downtown Progressive School

It was a pleasure to meet A during interview...the High School Admissions Committee agrees that A would make a wonderful addition to their community...but we have no financial aid to offer at this time...

Huh? I thought financial aid did not factor into admissions decisions?

We would like to add Alex to our waitlist for tuition remission...

These are going to be an interesting few days.

Waiting for Acceptance-ot

A: I didn't feel comfortable taking that [SSHSAT] test. The place where they held it was so depressing.
Me: I know, hon. Some public schools can be very depressing.
A: I didn't like The Fame school, either.
Me: I'll have to agree with you there.

The Fame school reminded me of a trip I made to Soviet Russia in 1991. There was a Soviet government building that looked just like it.

Me [daydreaming]: But phs/ec doesn't look that great inside, either. Maybe we can get Frank Gehry to make some changes like he did for its parent college?

I see phone calls to Mr. Gehry and a fundraiser on the horizon.

Me: Hello? Is this Frank Gehry?
FG: Yes?
Me: Hi. This is LaMai. And I have a small request. Could you make a public school in New York City -- an affiliate of that school on the Hudson that you worked on about four years ago -- look like that building you did in Bilbao, Spain? We'll need lots of windows, open spaces, and maybe an indoor pool -- you know, a little Disney, a little DG Bank atrium...with a Spanish accent?
FG: Sure. When would you need this by? I only work on so many pro bono cases, you know...

Private school acceptances are out. Fingers crossed.


Our Specialized High School answer.

To get into 9th grade, your SSHSAT score must be 478.

To get into 10th grade, your SSHSAT score must be 494.

There are approximately >15 Tenth Grade spots at each specialized high school available -- with over 2,000 students competing for those >15 spots.

A did not get in to Bronx Science or Stuyvesant.

He did not win a spot at the "Fame" School (which had >5 spots available in the studios to which he applied - hundreds of kids auditioned for these >5 spots).

We are okay with these results.

None of the above-mentioned schools are schools that A actually liked (which may have been a factor in his performance?)


Yesterday and Today


Writing co-op; Math teacher has personal emergency and cannot teach. So A is on his own for a couple of extra hours and scouts out a "really, really cool -- oh my g-d mom, it was SO cool" ... antiquarian bookstore.

Proteins class (field trip to Biology lab uptown).


A has to finish his Powerpoint presentation for Proteins class so he plays hooky from his darkroom job. I am responsible for making up the gastrointestinal malady that is keeping A away from work. I pick up the phone and relay the facts of the gastrointestinal malady to the British accent on the other phone in the darkroom. "Tell him we'll miss him today," said the British accent.

I relayed this message to A via MSN messenger. A's response was "O_o"

A also has to finish the next scene in his play for Playwriting class. He has writer's block. "Sorry, one fib today too many today," I tell him. "Not helping you get out of playwriting." I come up with some techniques to help him overcome his writer's block.

Around 6 o'clock, I get a phone call at work. It's A, his Playwriting class is finished, and all the students are now munching on pizza.

"Hi mom? Is it okay if I go see 'The Color Purple' on Broadway? Our group got tickets."

I am not jealous. I am not jealous. I am not jealous. I am not jealous...

Homeschooling Coordinator Runs Off with Our Kids' Acceptance Letters

I kid you not. This actually happened.

The Homeschooling Coordinator's office received our children's specialized high school acceptance letters around Thursday of last week. And then, our coordinator TOOK THAT PAPERWORK HOME WITH HER. And guess what should happen after she took said paperwork home?

A Life-Changing Event. She becomes a grandmother.

Our coordinator has not shown up at the office since.

One homeschooling parent bothered to show up to the DoE office yesterday, and the DoE Homeschooling Assistant took her out of the waiting room and into the conference room -- so that the parent could yell at her there (the Homeschooling Assistant didn't want to be embarrassed in front of the other parents in the waiting room). "I keep telling OC not to take the paperwork home with her," said the assistant.

When will our Homeschooling Coordinator return? Will our kids be able to accept their acceptances on time?

And...Federico Fellini, where are you when we need you to roll the film?


Acceptance mania

A friend of A's and fellow homeschooler has been accepted to public high school/early college. He is one year younger than A. We're expecting the older kids will be notified next?

Oh, the suspense.


And then this article in today's Wall Street Journal.

Full article here:

Scramble for Edge
In Preschool Wars
Applying Just After Birth
Isn't Enough, So They Send
Flowers, Postcards and Beg
February 12, 2007; Page A1
LONDON -- To get her son into elementary school at age 4, Emma Pliner signed him up at birth. When she went into labor, she took the application forms with her to the hospital.

"I filled in the forms with an epidural in my back," she says.

Then, as Ms. Pliner delivered a healthy baby boy, a courier delivered the paperwork to several elementary schools. The early effort paid off: Little Charlie was accepted at several schools, including Wetherby, the school Prince William attended.

London, like Manhattan, is one of the most extreme examples for preschool admissions mania. At nearly all private schools here, parents must apply as soon as children are born. Some schools grant spots on the basis of those applications. At others, applying at birth might merely win a chance for a child to interview and test for admission when he or she is ready for elementary school at four. Parents who don't apply early or who move to London with a small child are often out of luck.

Competition is increasingly intense here amid an influx of wealthy parents who work in banking, hedge funds and other financial businesses. Rich foreigners from Russia, India, the Mideast, and Hong Kong are drawn to London because it doesn't tax income earned outside the United Kingdom. As more American banks add to their operations here, their families are adding to the throng.

At Wetherby, the boys school near Hyde Park, head teacher Jenny Aviss advises women scheduling Caesarean sections to have them early in the month in order to secure one of five places that the school allots to newborns each month. "If you have the option, don't wait until the 31st, have it on the first and call on the second," she says.

At Wetherby's sister school next door, the Pembridge Hall school for girls, headmistress Elizabeth Marsden says one parent called the school twice a day for six months. Another sent flowers every week. One woman refused to leave the building until her child was given a place. She had to be removed by the police. Ms. Marsden says none of these efforts helped secure a spot at the school, whose tuition is $22,820 a year.

To get her daughter, Charlotte, into nearby Norland Place School, Annette Benigni submitted forms when Charlotte was 7 months old and started calling the school when Charlotte was 3 and on the waiting list. "I called the school like a madwoman," says Ms. Benigni. Charlotte was accepted.

'Polite Harassment'

Norland Place bursar Ian Justham, who fields most of the calls from parents, says the school encourages "polite harassment." He tells families they may phone as often as they want, provided the calls are cordial, but he insists there is no connection between the number of phone calls and a child's ranking on the admissions list.

"It's mainly to give people reassurance," he says.

Parents Katy and Rob Forshaw sent Mr. Justham a vacation postcard from Australia. "Here is a piece of polite harassment from far away," it said. Their son, Cassius, was admitted from the waiting list just before school started last September.

A lot of British children aren't in this rug-rat race. Children enter schools at age 5, when compulsory schooling starts. More than 90% of children in Britain attend schools that are run by the state and don't charge tuition.

Many London schools have required registration at a child's birth since their founding in the 19th century. Most say that such a first-come, first-served system remains the fairest and most practical approach.

More Pressure

Wetherby, a London boys school, allots five places to newborns each month.
At one popular private nursery, the Broadhurst School, mothers sign up even before their babies are born. Headmistress Deirdre Berkery recently got a call from a woman who was five weeks' pregnant. "Every year, there seems to be more pressure for places," says Ms. Berkery, whose school is fully booked until January 2010. It has 500 names on the waiting list. Mother of two Natalie Richenberg registered both her daughters at Broadhurst when she learned she was pregnant.

Lela Bristol, a lawyer currently at home with two children, was too late for Pembridge Hall because she called when her daughter, Xenia, was 3 months old. She also missed a place at a nearby school that selects students by lot. The Bristols are now planning to send Xenia to state school.

"I was hit with anxiety because I was worried that I was ruining her future," Ms. Bristol says. "We're taking a risk sending her to [state] school."

Thomas's London Day Schools, a group of four elementary schools and two nurseries, require parents to register their children soon after birth, and then test them at the age of 3 or 4. Children must write their names, do puzzles and draw pictures as part of assessments.

Group principal Ben Thomas says the schools look for confidence, willingness to tackle new tasks and ability to grapple with new environments. Mr. Thomas discourages parents from tutoring their offspring for the assessments but acknowledges that some do anyway. Acceptance and rejection letters are mailed out in February.

Last year, Clelia Vercueil, then 3, refused to cooperate with the assessment. Clelia, who speaks Italian as a second language, "simply said 'no' to everything," recalls her mother, Ilaria Vercueil. Clelia didn't make the cut, but she was accepted at two of the other five schools her parents applied to.

Write to Cecilie Rohwedder at cecilie.rohwedder@wsj.com


Hits and Misses


From the Agency Director:

Hi Ms. LaMai,

As per our conversation yesterday evening and your e-mail, A’s application has been e-mailed to the Director of Admissions at Bucolic Campus School.

Have a great weekend!


Agency Director

This email made me happy, but I am wondering if Bucolic Campus School received it too late? Their decisions go out next week. In fact, ALL decisions from the private schools go out on February 14.


We received the full list of referrals to boarding schools from the Agency. One referral is a school out in the boonies in Pennsylvania. It is an all-boys' school, where the student population is largely boys from single-parent homes. All the boys receive full financial aid. The education style is modeled after the military. And they used to have a farm with hogs, in which all boys had to work -- and from which the school sustained itself from the sale of the farm pork.



It turns out that ALL public school kids who have taken the SSHSATs already have been notified of where they're going next fall. Our homeschooling coordinator really needs to catch up with her paperwork and tell us where our kids have been accepted!

This is also a time where some parents will tell me, "Oh yes, Martina is a genius, she'll have no problem getting into Stuyvesant or Bronx Science." At which point I want to say, "Martina is a genius, but she may not test well. We shall see."

This week is going to be a very big "hit" and "miss" week. We will likely get rejection letters. Maybe an acceptance letter. But from which schools?


LaMai's Film Picks

In theaters:

Little Miss Sunshine (Inappropriate for young kids, some families. Adult content and humor. Toni Collette is brilliant, again, as another "blah" character)

Night at the Museum

Pan's Labrynth - (mature teens only should go. Very violent scenes coupled with fairytale elements)

The Queen (Helen Mirren, what else needs to be said? However, very young kids run the risk of absolute boredom with this one)


Sherrybaby - (very mature, adult content; I wouldn't let A watch this one, which should tell you something). I cannot rave enough about Maggie Gyllenhaal's performance in this film.

Little Miss Sunshine - on DVD, and in theaters. You get to pick the format you want.

Lady in the Water (I normally don't like M. Night's films; he may have redeemed himself with this one).


SHSAT: The acceptances.

This just in: if your kid took the test for a specialized high school (Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, etc.), and your kid attends public school, you probably already know if your kid has been accepted.

If you, like me, are the parent of a homeschooled kid, you have to wait until the homeschooling coordinator sends you your child's acceptance letter. If your child has not made the cut, please know that there will be NO rejection letters -- you simply will not get an acceptance letter.

Thank G-d.

My school versus yours (erm, you still can't spell, *iyotch).

I think of the the Private Ecole Consultant, and her comment about public high school/early college: "It's no Stuyvesant!" Someone here took the trouble and commented to ask, " 'It's no Stuyvesant!' -- What on earth does that mean?"

PEC seems to like what society dictates is "best" -- whatever that means. Public High School/Early College came on the scene in 2001 -- literally, yesterday. Stuyvesant has been around for a while -- it has an impressive alumni base, and is steadily developing its reputation as a school for budding Nobel Laureates. Stuyvesant is also a huMONGO school, and its ethnic minority base is mostly -- you guessed it -- Asians.

My A would probably enjoy a school like Stuyvesant -- but there is no room for as much individual attention there as exists in smaller public schools or private schools.

So, yes, Ms. PEC has admissions knowledge that I do not have, but I suspect that there is a bit of snobbery involved. Her clients generally want their precious kiddos to attend Dalton or Riverdale (the Bloomingdale's of schools) -- and the public schools they want should be equally "prestigious." Because a group of people (influenced by whom or what?) decided that those schools are the only ones worth anything.

If NYC Private School Society dictates that I should pick a Bloomingdale's, even though where I'd actually go, Alpana Bawa, gives me personal attention, makes me smile more, and therefore, is a better value for me, will make for a very unhappy LaMai who winds up shuttling to Bloomingdale's. But I run the risk of disappointing society. I'd also prefer to drive a Mini Cooper or better, an electric car, than sit behind the wheel of a big 'ol Mercedes.

Then there's this, taken from PEC's website:

"At Big Time Private Ecole Consultants, we honestly believe that EVERY kid is smart, special and great and every single one of them derserves acceptance to the school of his or her parents' choice. We work tirelessly, and nonstop (over 350 days a year!) to make that happen forcountless families."

Derserves? School of his or her parents' choice? I guess the child has no opinion in the matter? And since when is "forcountless" one word?

It gets worse:

"Think about this: if you are applying for preschool, including pre-kindergarten or kindergarten through grade 12 for admission in September 2008. September 2009, or September 2010, you are competing with parents, many of whom are our clients, who have often been preparing or plannning for the admissions process seemingly since their children were born. We should know: many of them are our clients. You think getting into medical school at Yale was hard? Or Wharton's MBA program? Just wait until you try for a top tier preschool in Manhattan: the process redefines the word, "difficult" in every way."

Can you say, nice Bloomingdale's ring around your finger, but can you please spell check?


Financial aid form to the BLANK school sent.

And my heart sank as I mailed it in. In my gut, I know that the BLANK school is not for us. The questions on the financial aid form spell out a culture that is totally foreign to me right now. Not sure that I'd want my son in an environment of privilege, of entitlement, of excess.

I want him to work. I want him to make his way in the world.

A and I chatted about the public high school/early college. I remember what the admissions consultant told me -- "It's no Stuyvesant!" Well, that lady likes brands and labels. Stuyvesant is a brand - I mean a school - which is not our best fit. We're looking for a smaller community, not one in which A would become just a number, or a grade, as it were. Public high school/early college is small enough that A will get the attention he needs. The downside with the school is that it is a full 20 minute-walk from the nearest subway stop. "I can skateboard to school," offered A. And yet, we have no acceptances.

I called up the agency again today. I learned that our paperwork to Bucolic Campus School was not sent, after all. It was then that I asked to speak to the director.

Me: Hi. Thank you so much for sending our paperwork to BTBSA. But could you send our stuff to Bucolic Campus School?
Agency Director: Did you apply to Bucolic Campus School?
Me: Yes. Yes, we did. And we interviewed there, too.
AD: I'll see what I can do.

Yesterday (and yesterday and yesterday) and Today


Writing, Math at the co-op.

Lunch with friends from co-op at their usual pizza place.

Proteins class, UWS.

At home:

Finish play for Tuesday playwriting class.


Work for 5 hours assisting mostly grad students in the darkroom.

Finish play for playwriting.

Playwriting: class, plus pizza, soda, salad. I meet A to pick him up but learn the students have been given tickets to the musical "Wicked" this evening.

A: Mom, is it okay if the show finishes at 10 o'clock?
Me: Of course, hon. Have fun!

Make sure A has earband (earmuffs), hat, gloves, thick scarf, coat totally buttoned up. [I head to burrito bar in the West Village to meet Big Time Publishing House Editor for $3.50 margaritas.]


Physics. 3 Lessons completed in Saxon Physics.

No Proteins class.


Math. 4 lessons completed in Saxon Algebra.


I am Baroque. Which means I have no Monet.

On the Financial Aid form from provided by BLANK School:

- Do you have any knowledge of a bequest or inheritance intended for you or your family members?

LaMai's answer: Erm, no.

- Do you or your child own a horse?

LaMai's answer: Braaay. I mean, erm, no.

- Airplane or antique cars owned:

Are you %$##ing kidding me?

Hello, My name is Prince Carl Philip.

And I am a Swedish prince. I look as handsome as Orlando Bloom but I offer the added perk of having a royal title. Don't you wish you were young enough to date me? Of course you do.


Last night, me and Big Time Publishing House Editor had drinks and dinner. It had been a long time since we'd had a girls' night out, and with Charlotte's passing, we decided now was as good a time as any. Despite the Siberianesque weather hitting New York City, it is also my b-day week, and I felt like going out.

We hit our usual burrito bar in the West Village.

Me: So, a Swedish prince went to the BLANK school.
BTPHE: Wait. Boarding school? Would you be okay with A leaving you if he says "yes" to boarding school?
Me: He'd come home on weekends. That's our plan.
BTPHE: My mother nearly had a nervous breakdown when I went to college.
Me: It's okay. I want A to spread his wings. He can do that here in the city, or if he goes away. Either way, it's a win-win.
BTPHE: But you guys are really close.
Me: Yes.
BTPHE: [stare]
Me: I'll be okay. And plus, I may be able to do some work travel without the worry.
BTPHE: He's so mature for his age. He's 16, right?
Me: [stare] 14.
Me: Which is why he needs his wings. Hey, I'm going to switch subjects here: I've had this story marinating in my head. If I put pen to paper, would you review it?
BTPHE: Sure.

The last time BTPHE reviewed a manuscript for someone on the fly was for a classmate in her MFA Creative Writing class. The girl decided not to let BTPHE's publisher buy the rights to the book (after a lot of BTPHE's editorial work, this is a big etiquette no-no). The girl shopped it elsewhere and got a $75,000 advance.

Me: Do you know who Prince Carl Philip is?
BTPHE: Erm, no?
Me: Have another margarita.


more about applications...

I really am hoping that Bucolic Campus School accepts A.

The school is laid back, seems ready to accept a homeschooler, the students there seem great (albeit a couple of the parents and students I've met are admittedly, erm, interesting) and A could continue living his quasi-bohemian life here in NYC. A life that includes my friends (e.g., Mr. Anti-Hollywood and his wife), photography, his love of blues guitar, plus local fencing, rowing, and playwriting and eating Indian almost every other night.

Today I am seeing the fruits of my relationship with The Placement Agency. We received a letter from a boarding school which was very personalized. It reads,

"Dear A,

Thank you for submitting your portions of the application to BLANK School...

Your essay, in particular, was quite interesting. I can just imagine how tired you must have been after all those 300s! Pacing yourself in order to get so many negative splits in a row must have taken a lot of practice, but it sounds like it was all well worth it in the end! BLANK School, as you may have found out...has a long history of rowing...Our teams routinely compete in the Henley Royal Regatta in England - our boys' first boat and Third Form four went just last summer..."

They go to Henley, too? I thought only BTBSA goes to Henley. I guess I was wrong. The letter was personally signed by someone on their admissions committee who shares my father's Scandinavian heritage. I've noticed that whenever I interact with people from my father's tribe, usually because we radar in on the similarities of our last names, that we then get special attention.

I also noticed that the second in line to the throne of Sweden, as well as the creator of TV hit "Family Guy," were students at the BLANK school.

We also received a letter from Big Time Boarding School B: It was a boilerplate letter, with no reference to my son's essay, and the signature was photocopied.

They have no rowing and no fencing, so I guess they knew not to bother. Unless it's a full scholarship, I will not consider that school.

So I will send in the financial aid form to the BLANK school as requested, and hope that we will have some school choices in about a month.


I am feeling much better about the idea of boarding school.

But I still believe that we should hold out for options in NYC.


The truth. (this post is rated R-ish)

A thinks going to boarding school would be fun.

It's a romantic idea, boarding school -- a society of your peers, who share your same age, where you are free to be you, no parents, surrounded by things you like to do, when you want to do them. Think, Harry Potter.

My boarding school experience consisted of stories of yore of boys at my school being sexually assaulted, molested. Of boys doing things in the classrooms in the off-hours. As a girl, this news did not affect me. But I have a son now. Okay, maybe he's almost six feet tall. But still.

This morning, a colleague at work told me he went to the Fayest Boarding School Ever and gave me tidbits about how most of the masters/professors are "so fay" and cause problems for you if you don't spend personal time with them.

I think this is rubbish, and anyway, gay men and pedophiles are not one and the same.

Then, I want A to have the best opportunities ever -- academically and socially (think: career connections). But I would also see a little bit of A disappear in a boarding school set-up.

And yet, we haven't a single acceptance on the table, and I am here worrying about choices.


Big Time Boarding School A (BTBSA).

So today I took the day off from work so A could interview at BTBSA. I woke up at 4 a.m. to make our 6:23 a.m. train from Grand Central to the little town in which BTBSA is located (although this morning, all references to this location were "I can't believe I ##$$!!!ing agreed to 9 a.m. Am I nuts? I can't believe I ##$$!!!ing agreed to 9 a.m. Am I nuts?...).

Once we were on the Metro-North, it took us two hours to get there.

We arrived at the BTBSA lobby with 10 minutes to spare. A bust of John F. Kennedy awaited us. And an oil painting of JFK. And a few quotes of JFK's were displayed on plaques around the lobby fireplaces. We guessed that this was some sort of veiled attempt to let us know that JFK was a student at BTBSA.

The Admissions Greeter met us and offered coffee, tea, or chocolate? Coffee, thanks, I said.
"So, er, you are here with your brother?"
Erm, no. This is A, my son.
Get out!
No, I am XX years old. And A is XX years old. Really.
[Being told to Get out! twice, when we were actually considering attending this school was perhaps not such a good sign, so I said...]
May I use your bathroom?

I waited for The Admissions Greeter to deliver my third Get out! but she instead showed me the ladies' room.

Tour first, interview last.

A brainiacal East Indian-American student led us around the vast campus (I would call it Bucolic Boarding Campus, but something restrains me from bestowing that label on BTBSA). We visited the facilities designed by I.M. Pei. The dorms. The swimming pool. The tennis courts. The squash courts. The gym. The theater. The arts wing. The library. The dining hall. The wood paneling and moosehead in the dining hall. When we were done, we returned to the main lobby again, where A was whisked away to his interview, and Flamboyantly Gay Student Who Exudes Sweetness (FGSWES) came and spoke to me and another parent. The whole affair was unbelievably well-orchestrated.

When all was said and done, I made a mental note on how I felt about this school. The students are openly competitive. And then, there's the money factor. The Prince of Bhutan was a student here. Ivanka Trump. And of course, JFK. How would my A fit in?

I decided whatever our acceptances, I would want to hold out for Public High School/Early College and Bucolic Campus School in NYC.

As we shook hands with our Admissions Greeter and said goodbye, A quietly placed this gem in my ear: "I have to go here. What do I need to do to go here?"