a tale of two schools

One won't even let us attend its Open House or Orientation ("We're so sorry, it's too complicated right now").

The other paid for our hotel to attend its school revisit. A sat in on three classes.

One insists on having A take a Math test now, despite my affirmations that A will be taking the next (advanced) level Math course this summer at CUNY.

The other school says it will wait to re-test A once he is done with his class at CUNY.

One school has barely any sports teams.

The other invests a lot of money into its sports teams.

One is so far away from the subway, and you have to walk through dubious characters in the projects to get there.

One is a bedroll away from your classroom.


Oh, the guilt is falling away...

Co-worker: Do you know how much the administrative assistant makes?
Me: Dare I ask?
Co-worker: Guess.
Me: $25,000 annually more than me.
Co-worker: Nope.
Me: More?
Co-worker: She makes the most of anybody here. Including the publicists.
Me: How much more?
Co-worker: [insert number that is $40,000 more than I make]
Me: You're kidding.
Co-worker. Nope.
Me: She told you this?
Co-worker: Yep. And I had to swear I wouldn't tell.

[note to everyone reading: don't divulge your salary to anyone!]

Okay. The resumes will rip this weekend.


You're Doing a Great Job!

So said my boss this past Friday.

I know I am doing a great job. I could do my job in my sleep already. I wake up early and put on my smile and have convinced myself that I really *should* be grateful for my job. So I do my job as if I am going on vacation for a long, long time.

I leave no stone unturned.

I asked my boss about my merit raise that was supposed to happen in April. It wasn't even the normal merit raise. It was 1/4 of 4% which would have turned out to be just a couple of thousand dollars.

"Well, we didn't really know how things would play out. You weren't here that long -- so we decided to wait until next April."
I see.
"You ARE doing a great job, LaMai."

Today, while I waited for A to finish his Playwriting class, I stepped into a Barnes & Noble. I read one of those Vault books that tells you how much you *should* be making.

And what I *should* be making is $30,000 more than I am.

Let the resumes rip.


I wonder when Memorial Day became The Day to Put Meats on the Grill and Beat Out All the Other Shoppers at the Annual Store Sale or Go To The Hamptons Day.

We did none of the above. Instead, we spent the day doing mundane things like reading and napping -- mostly "quiet" time. Maybe it was a little somber. I felt the heaviness of what today actually means. Despite that I've lived through a few world conflicts, I think maybe I felt this heaviness for the first time.

I know that I am lucky to have A here with me, to enjoy his smiles and occasional silly humor on any given day.



Sunday, and Manhattan is empty and yet is teeming with people.

Empty on sidewalks normally full -- teeming with people in stores. Uniqlo. Bloomingdale's. Banana Republic. Dean & Deluca.

A and I had lunch in Chinatown at a Buddhist vegetarian place on the advice of our former Japanese neighbor (the origami tie guy). His wife couldn't meet us, as she was sick at home. We ate dim sum hand-shaped like swans. And the taro curd cake with bean sauce was dreamy. Exceedingly good. We visited our Japanese friend's artist studio. We left at the appropriate time (after about the third yawn and when his left eyelid began to close involuntarily).

Mom, what is that called again?
Food coma, hon.

Shall we see Pirates? Yes? No?

We stopped for bubble tea. It had been a very long time since I had had bubble tea. I forgot how incredibly *wide* bubble tea straws can be.

A voice came up behind me.
Do you want handbag? Gucci, Coach?
Handbag? You want handbag? Gucci, Coach.

A looks at me.

Oh. Yeah sure. Handbag. I'll take a look.

The old Chinese man leads us around the block. He looks behind him, directly at us, but not directly at us -- behind us? Maybe 30 times.

We are still walking behind this Chinese man. Another younger Chinese man in a blue shirt is standing at a street corner. They do a subtle eye signal to each other. They think I don't notice.

The old Chinese man finally slows his pace. He dials up someone on his cell phone. He says five words that I do not understand. He turns to the ground and looks below. There is a stairwell in the ground, to G-d knows where, and we are to descend it.
Don't worry, I tell A. It'll be fine. Think: James Bond.
We descend. It is dark. It is a bare, nondescript room. The younger Chinese man in the blue shirt that I had seen giving the eye signal earlier suddenly appears. He takes over, and closes the door behind us.

There is a door in front of us. It has a very big bolt on the door. Blue shirt opens it and leads us in. He tells the older man to stand by the outside door.
Before us are Gucci, Coach and Prada bags. All counterfeit.
After perusing the wares, I thank him, but tell him, no, sorry, not today. We are allowed the freedom of leaving the secret basement store and seeing the sun shine again.

We walked towards Broadway.

Pearl River beckoned. If you haven't been to Manhattan, don't miss shopping on Broadway in SoHo. It's impossible to miss Pearl River. It's a yuppified Chinese-Japanese Pottery Barn/Kate's Paperie/Williams-Sonoma/JAS Mart/Eileen Fisher/novelty-style shop rolled into one.
Mom can I buy this?
Sure with your money.
Erm...I'll think about it.
Okay, let's go out now.
Wait I need time.
I want to go out.
No I need more time, mom.
We can come back another time --- no good to impulse shop. Trust me on this one.

The Scholastic store seduced us and A bought a Garth Nix book. There were lots of little kids in the store. A was embarasssed to be the only teen there.

We used the Scholastic store's loo.

Shall we see Pirates? Yes? No?

It's so hot. I wonder how Napoleon is doing.

Oooh -- the Leica store!

Let's go home.

Today was a good day, mom.

My mother called and informed me she would like to live in Spain.

We are now watching Kill Bill on Telemundo.



I would like a pretzel.

A is studying Zen Buddhism today.

I am listening to the Pistols' "EMI" on satellite radio here at work. Steven's voice on the airwaves sounds the same as in person.

I hope everyone has great plans for Memorial Day Weekend.


a night at playwriting

Young Hip African-American Girl at the Desk: Hi. Are you one of our actors?
Me: Erm...no?
Me: No. I'm a parent?
YHAAGD: Of one of our students?
Me: Yes. I'm A's mum.
YHAAGD: Erm...okay.

I show myself to a chair and wait.

An older woman is checking herself out. She has a very VERY theatrical voice.

Me: Excuse me...are you one of the professional Broadway actors reading for the students tonight?
Older Woman with Theatrical Voice smiles and says: Yes. Are you here to read from their material?
Me: Erm...no. I'm one of the parents.
OWTV: Oh. Which one is yours?
Me: My son's name is A. He wrote a play about two playwrights...there's lots of writer's block and a duel...
OWTV: Oh. [she's nodding a lot now] His material was very good.
Me: Really?

[insert enormous inner smile here]


Tuesday means it will take eternity...

I remember reading in "Under the Tuscan Sun" (the original story which has nothing to do with Diane Lane or being divorced or trying to get a younger Italian boyfriend) that one should not begin big jobs on a Tuesday. It is an omen for uncompleted work.

Today I looked at my very long list of To Dos, and felt that the Tuscan superstition may have a truth that applied to me in Manhattan.


Regarding the incident of a few posts down, in the homeschooling realm, we -- the members of the homeschooling group to which I loosely belong -- are debating how to approach the NYPD and our Homeschooling Coordinator so that everyone is, ahem, educated, and understands that the BoE issues homeschooling kids use Metrocards but not IDs. The NYPD is free to arrest anyone unlawfully using a student Metrocard. If a student does not have ID proving that he or she is a student, as was the case for our Shakespeare-loving homeschooler who was arrested on his way to A Midsummer's Night Dream rehearsal last week, you land in the slammer.

It's a touchy subject. Homeschoolers -- I will elaborate and qualify that -- unschoolers -- do not want to be investigated too much. It is bad enough that unschoolers have to turn in IHIPs to anyone to "prove" that their kids are meeting "standards." To get Metrocards, you must submit IHIPs. Now we -- as homeschoolers in general (if you are late coming into this show, A and I are not unschoolers)-- are worried that our kids will get arrested because the NYPD only seem to believe that students are students if they carry BoE-issued IDs. So we will allow the BoE to issue our homeschooling kids IDs.

Wrap your heads around this. The irony of this should not get lost. We are allowing policing of our kids so that our kids don't get roughed up by the police.


Today, A worked for four hours at his Tuesday day job, then went to Playwriting class. It was a nervewracking day for A, because a group of professional Broadway actors were supposed to read A's 20-page play this evening in front of his class. I would have been nervous, too. But I liked his play when he allowed me to read it. I told him it would be fine, and to enjoy the adrenaline rush while it happened.

Tonight, when I arrived at the playwriting class, the students were on break, and A was surrounded by other students, chatting away. I suspect he did well.


Conversations with my mother.

Mother: I am on the waitlist for "The Secret." I am number 147.
Me: You do not need to be on the waitlist for "The Secret." I have a copy.
Mother: But you need your copy.
Me: No, it's okay. I don't need it. I prefer the film. The book is a supplement to the film.
Mother: What film?
Me: The film that the book is based on. The book IS JUST A SUPPLEMENT to the conversations in the film.
Mother: I don't want the film. I want the book.
Me: Erm...okay. But I can get you the film on DVD.
Mother: I don't WANT IT. I WANT THE BOOK.

Mother's Day. Among other things, my mother gets a copy of the book "The Secret."

Mother: This book doesn't read like a book.
Me: I know.
Mother: This book looks like it is based on a film.
Me: Yep.
Mother: I want the film.
Me: I explained that to you. I explained that the book is a supplement to the film. You didn't believe me.
Mother: You've seen the film?
Me: Yes, mother, I have. Do you want it?
Mother: Okay.


Okay, maybe...

...I am grateful that I have a job at all to complain about. A job that comps my car trips, and magazines of my choosing at the shop downstairs. And occasionally rolls out the red carpet and allows LaMai to walk on it and have a drink or two at the Tavern on the Green. Okay, that was actually fun.

...Even though my colleagues from L.A. had to come here. Dude, they're sooooo different. (please hand her a water)

...I am grateful that the security guard in my lobby at work says "Good Morning" to me and says my name. It really feels good. I always say "Good Morning" back. Yes, people can be nice in New York City.

...I am equally grateful that the same security guard comments that my son - A - "is such a gentleman" whenever A visits.

...I am grateful to meet the people who I get to meet. A few days ago I saw a familiar name on one of the press releases I issued. It was the executive producer for the most-nominated musical. He helped the Campaign for The Rock Club. So I sent an email. "Hey, congrats on your 11 nominations." It felt good to do that.

...I am grateful that even though A got sick last week and I worried myself to bits about his health, it put the whole BTBSA/hs-early college thing in perspective for me.

...I am grateful that Napoleon sleep "runs" and barks in his sleep. And does it while sleeping next to me in bed. Because it reminds me that I am not the only freak who has nightmares like that.

...I am grateful that people think that I lie when I give them my real age.

...I am grateful to be able to sing the Pistols' "God Save the Queen" with A. Because he taught himself all the tabs on his electric Fender Stratocaster.

...I am grateful to have had the homeschooling experience with A.

...and to have shared it with you. Because some of you peeps be the coolest and loyal-est bloggy readers. I am sad that this homeschooling saga will end soon.

as luck would have it...

A has been taking the subway nearly every day to get to his homeschool co-op classes and activities for a while now. Years.

Then I opened this email from my inbox this morning, written yesterday. It was from another homeschooling mum:

"One of the guys in [insert name of homeschool group] Thespians was arrested today because the cops thought he was too old to have a student metrocard and since he didn't have student ID, things got complicated. He's 18, and could easily pass for a college student, so I understand the initial mistake. But I immediately thought of your tall A. If you have anything from the Homeschooling Coordinator that says he's a homeschooler or maybe the letter that came with the metrocard, he should carry it with him at all times. At the very least, I'd suggest keeping the Homeschooling Coordinator's phone number on his cell. They actually handcuffed this kid, took him to the precinct and put him in a cell with three other people. Needless to say, he missed rehearsal."


I haven't blogged in a bit.

I am contemplating leaving my job.

You knew this was coming, right?

It dawned on me months ago that Big Broadcast Network hired me cheap. The amount of work I do is insane, and I do it on a secretarial salary (by NYC standards). I oversee people. I oversee a website. I oversee publicists' grammatical errors. I got into a public office catfight once -- on the receiving end of the claws. I had to do the damage control on a certain radio personality when he got fired. My boss' boss publicly insulted me and used the F--- word on me. And have I mentioned that a security team checks my mail every day by opening it? All my mail gets searched. For bombs, people.

And oh yeah, I got grandfathered OUT of the company pension.

I have been searching the monster boards, CondeNet, Job Recommendations.com, mediabistro, and other sites to see what else I can get, for better pay. And maybe no dubious bomb-bearing mail.

A, on the other hand, my darling teenage boy, has had flu for over a week. He has been pushing himself to get to class and his job while sick -- when I have insisted that he shouldn't. I wish I had his wherewithal.

Regarding A's outer monologues on his school decision, this weekend was, "I am going to school here in NYC. Because I need to study with [insert name of Buddhist monk who defected from China] here."

My mother called today to confirm, "He's going to BTBSA, right?"

Lord help me.

And I have been slow to turn in my Third Quarterly to the Homeschooling Coordinator. What on earth is the rush? Summer isn't here, yet.

I hope all the readers have been well. I have developed a liking for YouTube videos of Rachel Brice (the tribal dancer) and the exclusive Internet community called aSmallWorld. Harvey Weinstein and Paris Hilton are members. So is a friend of mine in France. She doesn't have the rights to invite me yet. Dommage.

Ah, yes, you knew I'd be full of contradictions.