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?