Trick or Treat

You asked for news. Here is some.

I've been so slow on the new blog, and for that I apologize.

The beau and I have been commuting between Toronto and New York...ad nauseum. We are ready to hunker down and do The Deed. After asking me about 500 times, I think he is ready. So the engagement will end and become a marriage somewhere in British Columbia in summer 2009. (It's true, HMS Indefatigable. We're doing the shindig near you.)

A is doing great at BTBSA. He is also no longer taking Chinese as he was finally recognized for his French skills and placed in an AP-level French course (Whew - darn newb teachers).

I am glad we homeschooled. I am so glad. While the quality of teaching he gets at BTBSA is probably superior to what he received as a homeschooler, everyone at BTBSA comments on A's maturity. He can rely on himself. He's autonomous. Those skills, he acquired from homeschooling and not being coddled while being homeschooled. I accepted that he had wings, and I let him fly.

I have been offered a director's office at The TV Network, director salary to come at a later date. Right now, The TV Network is looking to cut expenses and chop heads. I am grateful to have new office digs at all.

I am, however, open to the idea of living in the North Country. So we shall see.

NaNoWriMo...aaaah yes. The first Write-In in Manhattan is at Cosi. I am planning on being there, but I am going to break the rules and attempt to finish a story I already started. The way I see it, the whole point is to get the word count. To turn off the editorial function in your brain and Just Do It. To have follow-through. So that is what I am going to do.

Happy Halloween!


on hiatus!

OK - here's the update:

We don't know what A is doing this summer.

I don't know if I'm going to stick with my job, but apparently, the CEO likes me. That is good news. LaMai is not getting thrown out on the street yet.

There is a new blog, I just need to populate it with more stuff.

A comes home on Saturday.

Love the bloggy readers. See you later.


future plans

So A got very serious and sort of excited that way that he gets when he is about to pounce some news on me.

"I think I know what I want to do as a career."
Oh yeah? Tell me!
"I want to be a war photographer."
Oh. Oh wow.

Of course, I remembered that A admires Robert Capa's work, as we had been to the Robert Capa exhibit at the International Center of Photography. So this was on me, really.


No. I didn't say that.

I talked to my colleague who works down the hall from me who is responsible for this photo.

"No way. He shouldn't do it. It's not what it used to be."

Okay, coming from the guy who took that photo, I took his feedback to heart. But then, I wondered, was my colleague talking about war, or war photojournalism?

I am hoping A will figure out he is a great guitar player and consider being a musician for his career.

A also interviewed for a China trip (with financial aid) -- I am hoping he gets some sort of acceptance. If he doesn't get it, he'll likely attend the summer CUNY math and science program which is free, or take another photography course and do math and science home-study.

In other news, A won the lottery for a single room at school for next year. No evil roommate surprises, thank you very much.

His play is being showcased next weekend. Can you say Max Fischer?


Doors that don't revolve

I get regular job opening updates via Mediabistro's Revolving Door newsletter. But the MB newsletter of late, instead of being that fabulous "wow, there's an opportunity" lightbulb-prompter, is making me scared.

Nina Garcia at Elle was fired. For those of you who watch "Project Runway," this news is HUGE.

The Wall Street Journal chief, erm, resigned [COUGH Rupert COUGH Murdoch COUGH]. Or something.

The New York Times, in its 156-year history, for the first time will soon be laying off around 30 editorial emloyees.

Besides the MB news, the network where I work has laid off a bunch of employees.

My mother emailed me last night to tell me her job's office was closing indefinitely, next month.

A few months ago a private car driver told me, while driving me home, that a bunch of Citigroup execs thought she didn't overhear them clearly state that massive layoffs at that corporation would begin in March. This proved to be true.

These are unsettling times.


conversations with Claw

Claw: A performed on his own?
Me: Yes.
Claw: Wot, on the guitaaaah?
Me: Yes.
Claw: At the coffeehouse thing theah?
Me: Yeah, at the coffeehouse.
Claw: Wot, in front of an audience? Just him? On the acoustic?
Me: Yes, yes, him and the acoustic. And he played slide guitar.
Claw: Bloody 'ell. That's nervewracking. Congratulate him for me.

Claw used to be in a band, on a label, and used to jet set around the world in business class on tour. I am happy she can appreciate A's performance-in-front-of-an-audience milestone!


Chag Sameach


Of course, I'd throw the curveball of Sister Rosetta Tharpe to y'all right before Passover. Who was Sister Rosetta? She inspired The Beatles ("Get Back" lyrics), Bob Dylan, and countless other Big Name (guy) musicians, but she never became a big name herself. A clip of that historic performance was also in the film "Amelie."

A received a blow in Crew this week -- based on his erg results, he was placed in fifth boat, which outed him from this week's race. It was BTBSA's biggest competitor. He was totally bummed. We had decided he wouldn't come home for Passover because this race was so important; Friday, his coach had the rowers erg for places in the race. A was one-tenth of a second behind the last available seat in Fourth Boat. I wanted to punch the coach, but what can you do?

That's right. You go to the annual coffeehouse.

Coffeehouse is an event where students at BTBSA perform musically, read poetry, etc., just like in the Beat coffeehouses in New York and elsewhere. A was nervous before his performance time and opted out a the last minute. I told him to go, anyway. Then I got the call. "Mom, if I don't perform here, I'll regret it all year long." So he ran back to his room, grabbed his acoustic guitar, ran back to coffeehouse, and performed "Death Letter Blues." When A introduced the song, one student actually shouted out, "A song by Son House!" How do these kids KNOW THAT? Dude, I only knew about the stuff that was on the Billboard charts in my day.

I am so proud of A.

And it happened on Passover, no less!

*Image of the old Gaslight Cafe in the West Village. Click on the image of the Gaslight for Son House performance.



The Spring Playwriting Festival was featured in this week's edition of the school paper. And A is mentioned in it! Woo-hoo! I'm so proud of him. A's Cirque du Soleil photo is in the same issue. Doubly fierce!

A got an invitation to join one of those worthless high school honors organizations (the one headed by that Nobel guy--believe me, it's only puffery with a price tag). I promptly sent in the application for the worthless membership. If all the other kids at his school are going to do it, I figured A should, too.

I can just see the admissions officer at XYZ University:

[Scene inside at a building made of brick, covered in ivy, white-like-ivory belltower in the not-too-distant distance; An Admissions Officer (AO) sits at an oval mahogany desk with four other AOs]

AO: Hmmm...all 849 students from BTBSA have the Puffery Honors. Except this guy. Maitresse's Alexander.
AO the second: How veddy strange!
AO the third: How veddy absurd!
AO the fourth: Horror!
AO the fifth: Erm...I kind of like that he didn't buy that pufffery thingy with a price tag. And Maitresse is a nice name. Who is she?
AO: What say you all?
AOs one through four [in unison]: Automatic reject!!!!

See how it works?

Also, A got an invitation to some one-week leadership conference in the summer. I found out they offer scholarships. So I've applied for one for A.

I broke the news to my long-lost best friend in London (who I will call Claw) that we are not going to Henley. She thought that was a very "hooray Henry" idea, anyway. Claw's idea was to take us to rock concerts and go shopping on Denmark (read: guitars) and Carnaby (read: clothes) Streets, and have us check out Abbey Road Studio where the Beatles recorded. So I'm trying to entice Claw to come to New York again. You need a new camera? Erm...the British pound is really strong against the dollar. Why not buy it here? Like, in August?

Claw has two original Gered Mankowitz photographs. You know the famous Jimi Hendrix ones in black and white? Those. Mankowitz hand-printed them especially just for Claw and her mum.

A has a race tomorrow. The boys on his team are really into supplementing with whey protein and creatine. I don't think it's a bad thing, as long as they do it in moderation. It's certainly better than 1) taking steroids, 2) going out to the woods and dipping (the boarding school code word for chewing tobacco) or 3) smoking mary and jane. You want creatine pills? Sure. The GNC is around the corner, and I'll pick up a bottle for you. No problem.

I have to work on a food idea for Sunday brunch. It's a pot luck. Fortunately, I went to Bar Americain this week (Bobby Flay's joint) and got a little inspiration! Savory corn bread with shallots, anyone?



A made it to the varsity level on the Crew team. At first, he was placed in third boat; now he is in fourth boat. It's still varsity. I am happy for him. The team has decided to not go to the Henley Royal this year, though. I am not sad about this news: It's an expensive trip, and I learned that A would likely not qualify to make it into the 8-seater that would be entered in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup. So, he's on varsity, the current senior boys will graduate and A will probably move a boat or two up next year.


He reported to me that he got a 90 on his latest Chemistry test.

His first photo is being published in the school paper this week. It is a photo he took during Cirque du Soleil's "Kooza" show.

The band that performed as the Irish band in "Titanic" (the movie) will be performing on his campus; he has been appointed as gig photographer.

I bought tickets to the Black Keys for A and me. A doesn't know that he will be going -- and it's a band that he likes; I only know about them because A got really into their music. I can't wait to spring this on him! I plan to rent a car to get to the theater. [note to newbies here: we live in NYC - cars are optional].

I am really, *really* looking forward to summer. Because A will come home from school and he will be mine...ALL MINE! MWAH HAH HAH!!!

Okay, maybe I've turned a little psycho since he went to boarding school this year. : / I just miss him.

I've been invited to a brunch in Harlem with friends this weekend.

I may go to the horse farm on Saturday to finish some work I am doing there. Oh, cool/weird/Tim Burtonesque thing: There is a horse with a missing eye at the farm. The eye is totally gone (previous owners were just a little neglectful) -- just the socket is there now, no eyeball, an empty socket over which his fur has grown in. But the eye socket area is itchy to the horse, and he "asks" whatever human happens to be around to give him a good scratching there. Then there are Willie and Nelson, the two mustangs. And Rain Man (who answers with a hearty "NEEEEIGH!!!" if you call out "Rain Man").

The horse farm cracks me up.



A applied to, auditioned for, and was rejected from his school's arts concentration program today. He wanted to specialize in photography if accepted.

He knew the rejection was coming. "The audition didn't go so well," he said to me that day.

Today, I called up a photographer friend. "When did you start photography?" I asked. "Not until college," he said. "I went on a trip to Israel in the summer, bought a camera in the duty-free shop, and began taking pictures right there in the airport and on the plane. I haven't stopped since that day."

College, huh?

Annie Leibovitz didn't start photography until around her college years, according to Wikipedia.

No idea when Bob Gruen started. But his famous John Lennon-in-New York City T-shirt photo didn't happen until well after he left high school.

Ansel Adams learned photography as a teenager on a trip to Yosemite National Park. His father gave him a Kodak Brownie camera for the trip and Ansel started taking photos. No special arts program there.

"You know what, A?" I said to him on the phone. "The greatest photographers didn't do the arts concentration program in your school. Some didn't even begin until college. You'll be okay. You're in good company."

I swear I could see him smile through the phone.



So this past weekend I visited A at school. I brought him a new camera case from B&H photo for his digital camera, some printing paper for his film camera, some film, lens cleaner, and negative archival sheets. Plus, the latest copy of MOJO magazine. With CD. And the protein powder he asked me to bring to help him bulk up for Crew.

I also helped A move his stuff from his old dorm to his new one. And found out that all of A's stuff was put it in a pile that did not exist the last time he moved stuff out.

Hmmm....how did that happen?

It was then that I decided to exchange words with the roommate. He claimed his parents moved my son's items. "Oh, really?" I said. These are the same (divorced) parents who will not be publicly seen within 10 feet of each other. Suddenly, they join forces to move my son's stuff into a pile.

"Well, if it really was your parents, they were wrong to do that. It was wrong to touch A's belongings without asking. Do you understand?" I then realized that child never had a day of discipline in his life. He did not care what I said to him, he just raised his eyebrows as if to say, "So what?"

I ignored this and tortured the ex-roommate by having a normal, respectful conversation with my son.

While A moved his things out, I loaded up a load of laundry in the laundry room. This took me five hours to do due to the school having eight washing machines for 800 students. I now understood A's complaints over this. We should sign up for the laundry service next year!

I folded, stored, and put his laundry in his closer and generally tidied up his room. I enjoyed doing this for him.

I learned that A is obsessed with The Black Keys (a new blues rock band). I've looked at their tour schedule and found out that their Boston show lands on a Saturday. Boston is only a couple of hours away. Hmmm...

Back at home, I learned that a certain program that goes to China in the summer is actively trying to recruit A. They've emailed me about seven times this week, and called me. They have financial aid for their ridiculously expensive program. So I'll submit the application.

No idea if A will do Henley or do enrichment math or science classes during the summer.

I am getting tired just thinking about summer.

I miss A.


Real Housewife of New York

Anyone watch the Real Housewives of New York City on Bravo? It's mind numbing but good. I know, I know, I am not supposed to be watching T.V. (because I said I don't watch T.V.). I only watch three shows: Top Chef, Real Housewives of New York City, and Project Runway. And guess what? They're all on Bravo.

So, anyway, I think I am sometimes like Alex, the pretentious mom who lives in Cobble Hill.

She and her husband named their son François, for godsakes. And their other kid? Johann.

Like that Bach dude.

Of course, Alex is from Kansas. The hubby is Australian.

On tonight's show, Alex said something to one of the other housewives over martinis that sounded like something I might say and not realize I sounded soo puffery-like: "Well, we do this thing where we taught our son to sing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' in Latin. And oh yeah, we taught him it in French, too."

Alex also insists that the au pair is teaching the kids French.

The funny thing is that as much as Alex's au pair tries to teach the kids French, the au pair's job is to *take care* of the kids, and maybe have a little life herself, too, while in New York. Alex's kids don't want to speak French. Also: Alex and the hubby are not reinforcing the French so much on their kids in their critical tender young age-- so the struggle that the au pair has is pretty transparent.

Then, over martinis, Alex says she *speaks Italian* to the Countess LuAnn who appears on the show. I have met people who say they speak a language...but have very minimal knowledge in a language (but perhaps are so excited, they tell everyone they know that they speak it, anyway).

Anyway, the Countess actually spoke Italian to Alex. So Alex's attempt at Italian sort of... fell short. But, I give Alex props: she laughed off her shortcomings.

Scene cuts to Alex and her husband who assert meeting people like LuAnn will help them move into "higher and higher circles" in New York society.


These things are good to watch. They are a reality check for me. And they make me wonder if I am trying too hard with Alex's schedule next year. He is taking lessons in two instruments. He rows. He is learning Mandarin ... takes French on Saturdays. Is applying to the school Arts Concentration Program and may drop his science scholarship completely.

He cannot be everything. I am wondering if I set him up for frustration?

My kid needs a major break from this nonsense. It's competition for competition's sake.

Sometimes I wish he were just home...like the "old days" when we homeschooled. When he actually had time to read literature for himself because he wanted to.

I plan to visit A this weekend...and just be with him. Just enjoy what he has to tell me about his life.

Of course, I will bring my voodoo dolly of the ex-roommate and dip it in chicken blood before I go visit A.

Just kidding, people.



I am bored at work.

So now that I will not be pulling A out of BTBSA (I actually registered with the NYC DoE to keep his spot at High School/Early College School), we are planning for the future.

In the future, there is college.

I am looking at his course options for next year. Next year is the key year. The best-face-forward year. The Registrar suggested that she make a few possible schedules for A to consider.

A has a scholarship from BTBSA for summer science research. A is now leaning toward Humanities studies, and has recently said that he is interested in screenplay writing. I cannot say that this is bad news; the summer science research scholarship bears the last name of his former (bully) roommate [I'll wait for you bloggy readers to have that lightbulb moment on this].

So we have: Decent grades, decent PSAT (with a re-take coming next Junior year), he's on the Crew team, he is pretty good at Photography, got picked (as one out of four playwrights) for the school's Spring Playwriting Festival, and is applying for the Arts Concentration Program at school. Still plays his guitar, and he might be forming a band at school. Started a "Middle East Peace Club" on his own with another student. This summer, he will be taking enrichment classes in math and science.

Yesterday, A tells me he might be interested in writing a screenplay.

I guess it's appropriate that his college tour this fall is a California college tour.


smooth sailing

The sordid details: The roommate locked A out of his dorm when he needed to study. The roommate blasted music when A needed to study. The roommate gave A grief about conversations we would have (the roommate made it a point to listen in on our calls). The roommate asked A for money too many times (sometimes after talking about his father's hedge fund).

A quietly told me he felt things were unbearable.

The roommate told A he didn't think A should be at BTBSA.

A quietly told me he was going to sleep with severe back pain. His body was now reacting to the stress of the roommate.

Over the course of five months, I talked to A's house dean about the roommate. The house dean did not satisfactorily act.

I made a stink.

LaMai making a stink is not a pleasant affair. Both faculty and staff were upset. I did not care.

Then A went to Miami for pre-season Crew training. The roommate, who is also on the team, also went to Miami for pre-season Crew training.

And in Miami, the roommate drove an oar into A's back and caused a welt.

I took a photo of the welt.

A asked me not to show it to anyone.

Maybe I broke a promise about not showing the photo of the welt to anyone.

A now has a new single private room at school.


We're fine

The Good Stuff:

A is in Florida where he just spent a week at his grandmother and great-grandmother's home (those gals live together), and now is training for pre-season Crew with the BTBSA team, also now in Florida.

I have picked up another cause -- and may be picking up yet another. The first involves me and an equine organization, for which I will be talking to Barbaro's owners next week (yes *that* Barbaro -- I am truly excited) to do some major PR work for the org. Willie Nelson has contributed his time and song to the org (Yes, there *had* to be a music connection. Y'all know me, right?).

The second cause involves helping a much-loved American musician be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. I feel very strongly about this latter cause. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

The Bad Stuff:

Several weeks ago I fell ill -- for the most part, I am better. My co-worker at the Tiffawneee Network did the superhuman task of making sure I got to the hospital and hooked up to an IV bag. I am forever grateful to her for that. So if you are reading this, Miss CEO-speechwriting CoWorker, and are wondering why I didn't mention anything over margaritas and burritos, please know it was because I was still not myself. Big Ups to you. I raise the glass.

And now A is experiencing issues at BTBSA. The bully roommate situation did not improve and BTBSA has been reluctant to act. So I threatened to pull A out of school until it's resolved. "But you can't do that," said a Dean to me, "Your son *must* attend classes." "I've already explained that by spring term, this had to be resolved," I replied, "And I am his mother. It is my responsibility to make sure he is not harassed."

So that is that.

But -- the Form Dean told me on the phone that *I* had been bullying *them.* I nearly dropped the phone when he said that. I rarely call the school -- but I did up my demands (which were originally requests) that the roommate problem be resolved. I am still in shock that they can equate student bullying to my asking them to respond.

Anyway, I have much to blog about...but need to muster some courage and time to write it. I will spill every sordid detail.

In the meantime, I need to spill some sordid details on my manuscript pages.

I will return soon.


Daily Green tip (from my son's school Web site)

Eat less meat

Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.


a last note from Mr. College Tour Man

"Dear LaMai,

Thanks for your advisement regarding the confusing nature of the language on our posting for the impending college tours. We have changed the language on the website significantly and hope that it will make the registration process of other families seeking to register their children for travel a simpler process. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Best regards,

Mr. College Tour Man"

The College Tours

Dear Parent,

The Placement Agency is pleased to present its College Tour 2008 for the first time as a national initiative. There are three trips this year: a Northern tour of the New England colleges, a Southern tour of the Mid-Atlantic and Southern schools and a California tour.

The total cost of the trip is $700. The fees cover the cost of chartered bus transporation, two meals a day, hotel accommodations, an amusement park trip at the end of the week, tour materials and a few surprises along the way. Your $200 deposit is due immediately, another $200 is due in one month, and the final $300 is due May 15.

We would love for your child to join us. Please submit the registration form as quickly as possible so that your family doesn't miss out! If you have any questions, please contact me, Mr. College Tour Man, at XXX-XXX-XXXX."

"Dear Mr. College Tour Man,

There were no dates given for your California, Northern or Southern tours. In fact, there were no college destinations provided, either. I'd be happy to provide a check if I know we can actually coordinate a trip within my child's schedule, and if we know which colleges are in store.

Thank you.



"Dear LaMai,

That information is conveniently located on our Web site.


Mr. College Tour Man."

"Dear Mr. College Tour Man,

Thank you for directing me to the Web site. Unfortunately, I am now more confused. The application states there is a 'Northern Tour,' a 'Southern Tour' and a 'California Tour.' The Web site states that the 'Northern College Tour' only includes Southern colleges. The 'Mid-Atlantic/Midwest College Tour' gives New York and New England college destinations. The 'California College Tour' does show California colleges on its itinerary, so that seems correct [should I give you props for that?].

I would appreciate clarification of the college tour destinations.



"Dear LaMai,

The Northern College Tour is for students in the Mid-Atlantic. The Mid-Atlantic College Tour is for students in the Northern regions. I hope this clarifies what we mean by Northern College Tour and Mid-Atlantic College Tour.

Mr. College Tour Man"

I think I could use a martini now.


if you don't already know her...

Here is a performance worth watching.

As one commentator wrote: "Without WORDS."

She writes her own music. She is our modern-day Janis Joplin.

Self professed... profound
Till the chips were down
...though you're a gambling man
Love is a losing hand

Though I'm rather blind
Love is a fate resigned
Memories mar my mind
Love is a fate resigned

Over futile odds
And laughed at by the gods
And now the final frame
Love is a losing game

Thank you!

For the birthday wishes.

I think the highlight of my Saturday was finding out that my 96-year-old grandmother trekked on foot to make a $25 deposit into my bank account, at the Miami branch. I couldn't believe it. I asked her how I should spend it. "How about a beer?" she said. I laughed and took her up on it.

I wound up going out to dinner at a Spanish restaurant downtown with my friend the tightlacer (because on this night, she revealed to me that she once broke a rib under the stresses of a 19th-century corset...I had no idea), my homegirl from Maine, and their boyfriends, and the random guy they threw in to even out the numbers. We drank Sangria, no beer. I did report our choice of mixology later to my grandmother and she approved.

The candle in the flán, however, she thought was ridiculous. :)

Karl will be dodging politic--errrmmm---fashion questions at A's school today.



"I never heard my guitar ring so loud and so long and so clear as it did there in them high-polished marble halls. Every note was ten times as loud...People had walked hushed up and too nice and quiet through these tiled floors too long. I decided that for this minute, for this one snap of their lives, they'd see a human walking through that place, not singing because he was hired and told what to sing, but just walking through there thinking about the world and singing about it."

--- Woody Guthrie, exiting Rockefeller Plaza after declining a job offer, in Bound for Glory


child of trauma in the workplace

I wanted to post something positive and happy and educational today, particularly since it's my birthday (!) in two days, but this post needed to have it's marquee time so that I can be done with it and let the Greek Furies have it.

I am a child of trauma. You can call it "child of divorce," "child of verbal abuse," "child of physical abuse," "child of racism and No, You Cannot Live Here, We Don't Take Your Momma's Kind Said the Leasing Landlord," "child of a bad 'hood," "child of marital abuse," etc., fill in the blanks. You get the idea. I am a survivor. Fight or flight, I'll do both, but usually flight is my preferred choice to save my kid and my wits. I got out of the situation I was born and married into -- alive, educated, and for the most part, content.

How does being a child of trauma translate in the workplace? Well, let's see.

I've been "let go" more than once (did I mention that I live in a hard town?) and this has perhaps conditioned me to check out my bosses' reactions a little more acutely than most employees. I will do a mental check: Did she smile? Did he like my work? What is being said about me? I do not ask myself this every day or every week, but if I sense something is severely "off."

And I do it not for vanity. But to survive.

My boss mentioned something in passing about an enormous amount of people being fired at a certain division at our company. I, in turn, mentioned something in passing later in the day to my co-worker while we were getting coffee yesterday, something that went like, "Well, I just hope I don't get fired," and she rolled her eyes. Just like that. "You've got to stop being so paranoid," she said. I realized that this was a conversation that I brought up more than once and genuinely annoyed her.

The thing is, I'm not paranoid. Jobs are transient. We're in a recession. My kid, however, isn't a transient and I intend to keep him that way. I need to provide. If the poop is going to go down, I'll pack my bags and look for something else to feed and clothe my child (and feed my dog). But timing is everything...I like to hit the ground running, and I am a bit of a super-preparer (can you tell by reading this blog?).

Today, a person in our legal department (who I will call Morisa Fockauer, or MOFO for short,) called me.

Me: This is LaMai
MOFO: Yeah, I'm really disappointed with you. I'm going to have to give your name to my boss and everyone, including the CEO.
Me: I beg your pardon, MOFO? What is going on?
MOFO: You f&*&d up the filing of our 10-K.
ME: [Wondering why the Traveling Ingratiator lassoed me into this project in the first place -- oh yeah, so he could go to a vacation spot in South America for a week] Why do you say that?
MOFO: You were supposed to edit the entire copy of the mobile division's entry.
Me: Erm...no, I have in my notes here you wanted the site metrics for the online radio show. Your quote: "Online radio show's metrics. Provide edit to sentence." I did that and sent it to you.
Me: You need to talk to the mobile division's press person, Princess.

Oh SHE DIDN'T hang up on me? (The conversation made me sufficiently nervous that I began to reach for a stash of yarn and a pair of knitting needles that weren't there.)

And did I mention that my position garners the least respect with the most amount of workload? I am not in a position for people to suck up to me, unless they want a signed t-shirt from that late night T.V. guy.

On closer inspection, coupled with the above daily dysfunctions, I can say with confidence that my job has NO up side. Top this off with the fact that I am a child of trauma. Do the math.

In the end, I sometimes wonder if I should only have friends who are children of trauma, and who are also parents, so I can avoid people suddenly rolling their eyes at me as if I've said something insignificant or flippant or stupid.

For me, stability and family are everything. Right now, I have both, and I intend to keep it that way. MOFO or no MOFO, job or no job.*

*I still have my job. I'll report on this next week. :)


That terrible sinking feeling in my heart

I dropped A at the train station today after his long weekend at home in NYC. I really do try to be blasé about the whole thing, but I miss him terribly when he goes back to school. :(

Still, my personal growth has been doing better than a box full of VitaGrow. Amazing what sheer boredom can do when your kid is away at school.

This weekend, we saw "Persepolis" -- a brilliant animated film, and I recommend it -- for the teenage/adult set. It has political and mature content. If you are studying Iranian/Middle East history and culture, it may open your eyes a little bit. Most people in our audience stayed until the credits were completely finished.

We also saw D.A. Pennbaker's "Dont [sic] Look Back" at Film Forum (stop! if you're reading this and live in New York and love Bob Dylan, Pennebaker himself will be at Film Forum tonight! Go, puppies, go!).

And then we saw that film by the Coen brothers. Can LaMai tell everyone that LaMai thinks the film requires some replay but is brilliant? Yes, LaMai can say so. Even my best friend in London (see: rediscovered childhood friendships thanks to MySpace) said it was "slow moving but really good." Good film on which to talk philosophy -- the major themes touched on in the film are fate, predestination, chance and free will. And who you believe to be the main characters turn out not ot be so. The dialogue was just brilliant and the suspense/fear factor was more about what you don't see than what you do. I recommend it for adults only and very mature teens.

Last night A worked on his school Wiki entry on the French Revolution. I found a French Revolutionary song for him to upload (which I used to sing with him when he was little). Yes, it's "Ah, ça ira!" I know the lyrics are horrible, especially since they're about hanging aristocrats from lampposts (I must have been singing the Edith Piaf version). But they add a dose of realism to the Wiki entry.

We listened to Dylan songs. I didn't grow up listening to Bob Dylan (he had long since done the motorcycle crash and took a hiatus before reappearing in the mid-late-70s), so he is my "new" favorite musician - up to 1966 and maybe up to the Basement Tapes.

I have also started reading Charles Bukowski. How did I not know Bukowski before?

Anybody reading this blog who is also a writer? Do you have any writer's block exercises you'd like to share?


[harpsichord plays in the background]

I have an upstairs neighbor who plays the harpsichord. He has two in his apartment. Each is worth $35,000. That is a lot of money. He is playing on one right now. I am glad he is.

I need to hear the melodic sounds of something ancient (to me). Something less "today." Because today, I had a Day at work.

Alex is coming home this weekend; it's another long weekend. The transportation is all arranged. I'll pick him up after I meet with my career coach after another long day at work.

We plan to see "There Will Be Blood" because Daniel Day-Lewis is in it. [harpsichord plays in the background]

We also plan to see "Persopolis" if we can find a cinema that is still showing it. [harpsichord plays in the background]

And finally, something to totally dull the senses. I choose "Cloverfield." [harpsichord plays in the background, flourishes]

Alex took up piano at school because BTBSA refuses to teach harpsichord to anyone who doesn't have a year of piano. [harpsichord plays in the background]

It's so very logical.

Especially since the harpsichord preceded the piano. [someone suddenly breaks out in a soprano voice. Who is that?]

I guess that's what happens when one makes a point about harpsichords.


Just Say No to Karl

So, as you all know, my son, A, as of this year, is at boarding school. And guess who was invited to speak at his new school's commencement? That's right. Karl.

It's a controversy that's been picked up in all the media.

You see, Karl is said to have outed a covert fashion designer (who I will call Valerie Plain) because Plain's fashion critic husband wrote an article questioning Karl's...erm...claim that another designer obtained African-made couture zippers that were made of uranium and dangerous to the fashion-wearing public. So Karl-darling outed Valerie Plain which was sort of a fashion security disaster (she is no longer covert, and is working on a fabulous fashion book deal with Anna Wintour).

Of course, nobody can prove that Karl outed Valerie Plain. But it's sort of hard to ignore that all the fabulously baubled and manicured fingers point to Karl.

Then there's the other stuff that Karl has done that LaMai will not discuss here.

So a bunch of sartorially-inclined students at BTBSA decided to put on their fashionista best and challenge Karl to a catwalk at their Commencement. Karl must have gotten hot under his French-made collar, because he has since declined the invitation to speak at Commencement and will instead talk fashion in two weeks with the students.

In any case, if you've figured out what the heck I am talking about here, you can Google it. It's just so exciting.



Remember that entry?

From 11.21.05

These things tend to make me reflect.



Be The Change

If you click on the photo here, you will be able to view the entire slideshow of never-before published photographs of the civil rights movement. We remind ourselves that this happened because, besides knowing that our great country was known for some not so great things, we do know that we can be the vehicle for change. For ourselves (yes, I am looking at you, homeschooling parent, black and white, who labors every day to give her kids a better education) and for our communities.


Girl's Financials, Interrupted (Fabulous!)

My financial forms to BTBSA are late. I started the online financial thingy then stopped. I am now eight days late.

I am secretly hoping this means that A will have to pay full tuition, then I will say, Pffft! You're homeschooling from now on! But somehow, I know, the BTBSA endowment monies will cover it all.

Yesterday at work I had a headache with cold, and left early, but I had the presence of mind to head to the yarn shop before going home. I bought six balls of Debbie Bliss's Baby Cashmerino to finish the sweater I am making for A.

I noticed a fabulously-attired woman (read: money) sitting in the shop with her Henri Bendel bag, with a load of fabulous yarn on the table in front of her. "OMG. Where did you get that fabulous yarn?" I asked. "Oh my goodness! Isn't it fabulous?" She said. We agreed the yarn was fabulous. I have an inkling that her friends probably thinks she shops Henri Bendel and Bergdorf's but, her clothes are all made while she sits in the table in that yarn shop. She took me to the Fabulous! Yarn section. I bought one ball of Fabulous! Yarn. It cost me $21. In the yarnosphere, this is not cheap. Consider that I will need about four more balls of Fabulous! to make the Twinkle Best Friend Cardigan (sans those ball thingys that look like a part of the woman's anatomy I shall not name here), the amount of money that Fabulous! will run me will indeed leave a Fabulous hole in my bank account.

Then at home, I shopped at Chic Knits and bought three patterns and more yarn. This time, I did good. Peruvian wool in charcoal (ah, yes, I am sooo adventurous with the palette), cheap at less than $3 a ball. I bought 10.

I discovered Phildar. I logged on to knitty.com. I visited all the knitting blogs on knitty.com. (while I was sick, I did take my over-the-counter meds and drank my Kombucha).

I tried to get back to filling out the financials form for BTBSA, I really did.

But with so much fabulous yarn everywhere, looks like this girl's financials will be temporarily interrupted.


So I'm walking home from work, and now the grocery store, and two teenage street punks who were walking past me in the opposite direction, threw a bottle at me on the street. The bottle barely missed me.

When I turned around, I saw them running, and they, turning around to see me.

So I changed my direction and followed them...walking like the Terminator, serious with intent, my grocery bags in hand.

I walked.

They ran.

The two street punks ran into a Chinese restaurant across the street. I spotted them hiding on the customer bench, and I walked through the traffic, across the street and straight to the restaurant. They got up, dashed out and turned a corner on the block.

SUCK MY EGGS, they yelled.
"No. Suck mine," I said and reached for
my just-purchased eggs from the grocery store.

They saw the white oval in my fist, and as I aimed for them, they ran away too fast to waste the yolk.

I yelled out a few token things about boys running away from girls with eggs.


"You Are Awesome" Day

"Dear Students,

You are the most awesome students anywhere. Have the day off today.


The Headmaster"

Of course, there was a Nor'Easter headed toward school today, but nevermind. My A is sleeping in as I type this.

I wish my boss could send my team an email like that.


Sunday D and other myths

A: "Hello, Mom?"
Me: "Yes, hon?"
A: "Um...I got Sunday detention."
Me: "How did that happen, A?"
A: "For missing winter running on Monday. I guess my absence meant detention. It's okay, though."
Me: "But *I* told you to miss winter running on Monday."
A: "I know."
Me: "I told you to miss it because the antibiotic that the school doctor gave you was making you nauseous that day. You called me, said you felt like throwing up again, so I told you to contact the coach about it and not go."
A: "I know, mom. It's okay, I'll just do the Sunday D."
Me: "You called the coach and told him why you missed it, right?
A: "Yes, of course, mom."
Me: "And doc knows, right?"
Me: "Then I don't think that's fair to you. You were just following my instruction. And for heaven's sake, you were sick."

Eleven e-mails later to the Form Dean and school doctor and winter running coach, the school doctor e-mailed me this:

"I think we can get rid of the sunday detention.....

If he hasn't heard from the dean regarding the sunday detention, he has
my permission to miss it....and if for some reason the deans
are adament about it....he can make it up sometime in the future....but
I think I will prevail.

thanks, school doctor"

I told A he owes me. Just kidding.

Back to knitting that WWII patterned sweater.


A Blog With A View

I admire a lot of edu- and personal blogs out there, and I've admired Poppins' blog for a long, long time. Okay, maybe Poppins intimidates me with her astonishing will and resourcefulness to try new things - constantly, and with ever-increasing momentum, until the new things become new projects, new skills, new ways of life. I think we started knitting around the same time (she beat me by a few months, and it must have been pure zeitgeist that I tried it at all; I had no idea Poppins was doing it as I had dropped off her blog for a bit). She was running around the same time I was doing my morning runs in the park. Then she started the secular homeschooling community site. No surprise that in typical Poppins fashion, I now plunk myself on her blog and see "Triathlete training log" thingy that she has created for her husband in her own watercolors (Flickrized) and in special font, no less (a little 70s nostalgia in the font?), a few more knitted duds with technical level up to THERE, and the kids are now sporting home sewn duds in fabrics too cool to find in a store, and they are climbing entire mountains (or something). Somehow, amidst all the fun, I figure she manages to feed her kids, and not the Dunkin' Donuts variety of food. AND -- and this is the big AND, because it's sort of "the proof is in the pudding" that she enjoys doing what she does -- Poppins looks great. Her whole family looks great. Nay, Poppins family is the hotness.

Like, mercy.

I don't wish to mention the sorts of projects I intend to attack with Poppins-like vigor (let's be honest and call it "Maitresse-like" vigor, because "Poppins-like" is a marathon, and I'm a sprinter...but darnit, my 5 seconds of doing whatever can yield pretty darn good results!). Let's just say the manuscript is on the desk, with edits, and this is looking pretty good to me right now. Plus, the other night while I was sitting in The Bitter End with a friend, I heard there's a big bluegrass contingent in Connecticut. Zeitgeist?

Also reading Poppins blog, it reminds me of how unnecessary living with the kid problems mentioned here should be. If Poppins suddenly was given a 500-American million-dollar check that didn't bounce, I think her crew would be doing the same things they are doing now. Only picking out more stashes of fabric, yarn, and traveling to more places to do their watercolors, and finding more projects to do. In the snow, and out. Still, the kids would know how to clean up after themselves and make their beds.

I could be wrong, but it's on a good hunch that I would be right.


The Republican Debate According to a 9 Year Old

This is good. Click on daily kos

* * *

The Republican Debate According to this 39-year-old (me, LaMai): click here .

John Taylor Gatto

Whoever controls the image and information of the past determines what and how future generations will think; whoever controls the information and images of the present determines how those same people will view the past.— George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

Read John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education (and thank you, Princess Ennui, for featuring the link on your blog).


The Freewheelin' LaMai

It's 12:53 PM. Do you know where you kid is?

I don't. I've called the dorm, called the cell phone, no clue where my A is.

Last night, he called me at 10 PM to tell me, "Mom, I love you." Then he informed me he was heading off to a friend's dorm to study Mandarin.

There is a possibility that he will be heading to the Royal Henley Regatta this summer. If he does, it simplifies our summer plans...a LOT. We'll stay at my friend's London home the days before, perhaps jump over to Paris for a bit, do Henley, then head home so that A can either 1) hit that science research internship or 2) his beloved Calculus class. Then we'll go sailing.

And somehow, I have to get rid of my current job in order to do the above. That's okay, I think it's already in the works.

Bitter Enabler who Verbally Attacks and Likes to Yell ("BEVALY," formerly known as "Friendly But Disgruntled Executive Assistant Who Could Never Say Anything Really Nice To Me") to Big Gorilla Boss-Slash-Crazy Boss-Slash-Boss of My Boss-Slash-Laziest Boss is making my life and work less than productive, as she's apparently been given the green light to toss verbal grenades my way within earshot of my co-workers:

LAMAI to BEVALY after yet another stupid office incident: "I'm not going to re-hash this."
BEVALY: "YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY TO ME? You better SAY IT TO MY FACE. STOP YOUR MUMBLING. I'M NOT PLAYIN'. Go ahead. Talk to my (Gorilla) boss. GO RIGHT AHEAD. I DON'T CARE. What do I care that you're a [insert my position here]? WHY SHOULD I CARE?"

I later heard her use the word b*tch when referring to me to another co-worker.

Things like this affect me profoundly.


How will you choose?

As educators I often wonder how we teach and convey ideas to our kids. However small or mundane, what we convey to our kids, families, and friends can have an impact.

Exhibit A: This morning presented the idea of "weather." It snowed lightly as I headed out to my train to work.

Me to neighbor, Phyllis: "Good morning and Happy New Year, Phyllis!"
Phyllis: "Ugh. This weather is awful." [I kid not, that was her actual reply.]

Mother and young six-year-old-looking child walking on sidewalk:

Mother watches child carefully, uses right arm to shield child's head, uses other arm to tie scarf tightly around her neck, and burrows her brow.

Child escapes mother's guarding arms, runs toward the falling snow, and sticks tongue out.


Looking back to get forward

So A put on a brand-new H&M suit with silk tie and showed up for the orientation/workshop at Mordor Stanley, I mean, uh, Big Time Global Financial Services Firm. A learned how to shake hands while holding a drink, what food to order during a business lunch (spaghetti is a no-no for businessmen who are, apparently, sloppy eaters), and how to network.

Well, I'm glad A learned something about networking.

Before starting winter break, Alex dug up his play from his involvement in last year's playwriting group and submitted it to the BTBSA Playwriting Festival committee for consideration. Four plays get showcased in the spring, and possibly a big name playwright (and former alum) shows up to give the playwrights individual feedback.

"Just submit it," I said.
"Why?" A said.
"Why not?" I said. "You've already written it, so you have nothing else to do but email it to the committee."
"Sigh," A said, "Okay. But I don't think it'll get picked."

Did I mention that A wrote his play while part of a student group founded by Steven Sondheim?

A's play got picked.

Also during this winter break, A discovered the musical greats that are Leadbelly, Otha Turner, Son House, John Lee Hooker, and other Blues musicians. He began downloading their music immediately. A's radio playlist includes Leadbelly's original "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" alongside Nirvana's MTV Unplugged version of the same song.

We also re-discovered Bob Dylan by watching Martin Scorsese's "No Direction Home" and Todd Haynes's "I'm Not There."

"Mom, you know when Dylan would...transform...on the stage?"

LaMai asks: How many musicians can you say actually "transform" on stage? Is this a dying art? The last of the Siberian zoo tigers? When I see a musician so sublimely possessed, to me, it is a wonder to behold. I'd pay money to see non-fake stage transformation/possession any day.

A few Dylan tracks covered by Sonic Youth and The White Stripes are also on A's latest radio playlist.

What gives me hope when learning about the oldness of American music is that it affirms to me that nothing is completely, entirely new...we do, in fact, return to a tried-and-true foundation of something deeper, and wiser, than our foolish young minds would like to believe is too deep or wise to have been there first (it's often an arrogant..and reckless...way of thinking that I encounter often among my younger friends, particularly in Gotham City). Sort of reminds me of how a certain Johnny Ramone insisted that his band was about a "pure white -- not black -- rock and roll."

We looked at guitars at Manny's on 48th Street (out of towners: DO NOT miss Manny's if you love music and happen to visit NYC; the original Jimi Hendrix receipts are tacked right on their wall). Alex tried out a L'Arrivee and a vintage Martin. Martin is an older company, but the Larrivee sounded good enough for me to want to buy.

A and I have talked about summer options, and it looks like he'll return to the summer Calculus program he participated in last year. I'll probably help him regurgitate his play to submit to yet another playwriting competition.

A has a new Canon EOS digital camera which I gave him for Hanukkah. "The exposure is weird. I never have these problems with film cameras." For the Need It Now media/photography industry, digital is great and is now the standard. For art photographers (I have specific names in mind), digital is not yet there. A's new digital camera fills a need -- he can do photojournalistic/sports shots for his school paper or learn PhotoShop in a cinch without first scanning film prints. I personally believe the film photography industry moved a little too quickly when it eliminated certain types of papers entirely from the market. But my kid gets to participate in an activity that requires the speed of digital, and he gets to participate in a social scene at school that is new to him.

And me? I am knitting a sweater for A in merino wool from a tried-and-true WWII pattern. While A plays a WWII video game on his Macbook.