[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.