Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who am I kidding?

An extended break from both reading blogs and writing on my own is about as likely as me walking out of the Antiguan sea looking like I did here almost twenty years ago.

I so appreciated your kind send-offs, your prayers and well-wishes, but I honestly only intended a week-long break.  It turns out, though, that blogging -- reading your blogs, writing my own, using my own writing as a jump-start for the offline writing I do -- well, it's essential. And that doesn't even take into account the essential community that has grown up here -- I missed doing it each and every day and I have to say that it might be one of the most positive, mindful experiences of my life right now. And it's not an addiction like smoking or alcohol or drugs. It's something good, something for which I am grateful.


Sophie started a new school this week, an all-special education campus, and I'll put it mildly by saying that it's been one of the worst decisions I've ever made in her life. I'm withdrawing her tomorrow and putting her in our local high school which is like a mini-version of Los Angeles -- not for the faint-hearted but must be better than the alternative. I'd write more about the special education school, but I'm sort of afraid to, afraid to unleash my emotions regarding it, cognizant of their complexity but also their strength. And since she only went for a few days, well -- I'm going to pretend like it never happened. But, if you're so inclined, and want to hear more about it (especially those of you who are contemplating the regular ed versus special ed campus thing, feel free to ask questions, and I'll answer them in another post. In fact, I think a dialog about this would be great!

 I also started my fellowship with a program called LEND -- Leadership Excellence in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. It's an interdisciplinary program, a sort of training academy for leaders in all areas of disability. It's through the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.  It was a privilege to be awarded the fellowship, but I've certainly got my work cut out for me over the next nine months. Early in the week I was running all over town, ensuring that I got all my paperwork in correctly -- vaccination evidence, TB exposure, questionnaires, etc. etc.. I wondered more than once why in the hell I was embarking on yet another "thing" but when I went through the first session, all day on Wednesday, I realized that it was going to be very cool. More on that later, too...

Henry and Oliver started school for real this week, too (their first full week), and Henry is now on a different campus, a very old building that is in the middle of Koreatown (and feels a bit like 14th Street and Broadway in NYC) and right across the street from the colossal $600 MILLION dollar public school that used to be the Ambassador Hotel (the place where RFK was shot that sad and shocking day). Despite our school being a wonderful one -- a charter school with very progressive values and incredible teachers and family involvement -- the new middle school campus faces this:

It's a little disheartening, once again, to see luxury and glamor trump education, but, hey, this is the oligarchy we live in now, right? The school was funded by a bond measure passed by voters, years ago, and those of us who live in CA know how cockamamie that system is (think 30+ pages of initiatives to vote on, etc.)

At best, the place will serve well the 4,000 or so disadvantaged children it was built for, and then I'll be skinny and glamorous, walking out of the Antiguan Sea.

Right back to full circle, right?


  1. Sometimes a short respite is all you need--maybe. Whatever, I'm glad to see you back. My children are through college but I'm not through being annoyed by the educational system in my area. I can only imagine what you're going through with finding something to meet Sophie's needs while advocating for the boys as well. I'll be awaiting a new photo of your sea exit! I assume you'll be wearing the same bathing suit?!


  2. I am glad you are back
    The educational sytem can be so disheartening at times

  3. Unfortunate about the special ed school experience. We have one in our area that is fantastic. They have swimming, job training,dances.....the parents love it. One of my kids went to summer school there once and it was the happiest summer of our lives. I'm glad you are back as well. For me blogging and blog buddies are tha catharsis that i need to purge the crap du jour.

  4. Glad you're back. Love that photo of you looking like a Bond Girl. Always reserve the right to take a break and do it. People will be there when you get back.

  5. Gorgeous picture, distracting only slightly, from the sexy, provocative mind of the woman in the photo. I have found that a good mind gets sexier and more provocative with age.

  6. Well, you were missed, and I'm so glad that you're back, but am sorry for the fact that Sophie's school was a disaster. At least your recognized it and acted quickly - but I'm sorry for the trouble.
    Cannot wait to read more about your fellowship and whatever else you are thinking! Much love to you and all.

  7. welcome home.
    h o m e.

    you are always in my heart...


  8. I do want to hear about why you removed Sophie from that school...really, really do.

  9. Although you weren't gone for long, you were still missed, you know.
    I like hearing about your very, very full plate.

  10. I'd like to hear about Sophie's school and removal, when you are ready. What a momma lion you are.

  11. Welcome back...I am sorry Sophie's school didn't work out but how wise of you to pull her out. Only a parent truly knows what their child needs.

  12. I was thinking you meant it to be for a week ;)
    Sorry to hear that the special school did not work out - I shudder to think that might have been us after our potential major move. It's always hugely disappointing (not to mention stressful) when something that was supposed to be great just tanks. Anyway, glad you're back, and I hope you enjoyed Antigua ;)

  13. Ah,so very proud to be an Angelian ...

    Love the picture and love that you are back.

    I am in this weird blogging mode as well, as you know.Not sure if anyone would even care if I was absent ... you,after the comments,I have read,should now know differently.

    Hoping you find the right fit for you sweet girl.I know you will.

  14. You are a stunner, and I'm sure that not so much has changed over the twenty years since this photo was taken.

    I can't say much about special education services for those with disabilities as opposed to going main stream, but my instincts tell me that by and large being part of the ordinary and normal of life must be important.

    To be sequestered with a group of likewise disabled souls could not inspire in the same way as variety and diversity might. But I have no authority in this, just my instincts.

    It's good to have you back, Elizabeth.

  15. I'm so sorry that the special education school didn't work out for Sophie. I think mainstreaming and specialized schools have their strengths and weaknesses, and individual students have particular atmospheres in which they tend to function better.

    As Elisabeth mentioned, mainstreaming can parallel the real-world experience. On the other hand, specialized schools can educate children with special needs more efficiently, as well as provide a relatively "safe" atmosphere for them to be able to express themselves, which could translate into greater confidence outside of the school. Such a jumble of choices.

  16. you're funny
    and gorgeous
    and smart
    and wise
    and I'm glad you posted

  17. So glad you're back! :)

    I would like to hear more about the special-ed school, even though you were only there a few days.

    Ben is at a special-ed school (for kids with mild intellectual disability, but he's in a class for kids who are deaf/hard of hearing -- they also have kids with more physical disabilities). They don't seem able to integrate kids like him into regular high schools here.

    I remember one school person saying to me: "How's he going to do in physics?"

    How do they integrate students like Sophie in your regular high school? Are they taught in a self-contained classroom? What kind of interaction do they have with the other kids?

    I hate segregation. Here it seems to happen whether you're in a "special" school or a regular one.

    Waht is your first project with the fellowship?

    Happy you are back with gusto!

  18. Katie is in a special ed program but it is housed within a public high school. The classrooms are segregated but she spends some time with the regular students. Not too much time though, she seems to find regular teenagers kinda loud which makes her anxious.

    Katie's eighteen now but she is allowed to stay in school until she is twenty. Her program reminds me of a preschool, highly structured with a strong focus on skills of daily living.

    Hope things work out better for Sophie. Take care. Deb

  19. I appreciate your perspective. I hope Sophie's new school is wonderful for her!

  20. I'd like to learn what it was like at the other school. The hallways, the kids, the interactions, the spoons.

    Since you asked.

    Reading other parents' experiences and decisions really helps me - I've only been in this 5.5 years and have a lot to learn.

  21. 1. Glam photo.

    2. We missed you, and I know exactly what you mean about blogging being a positive, mindful experience.

    3. Was it the Litttle Red Schoolhouse that didn't work out? I'm sorry.

    4. Glad the fellowship is going to be cool, if challenging.

    5. You're still gorgeous.

  22. You're doing LEND?! Oh, you're in for an amazing year!! I had a LEND fellowship last year at the University of Wisconsin, and it was a rich, rich experience. (My bloggy output related to LEND can be seen at

    I have been waiting to hear about Sophie's new school, and am so sorry it did not work out. I hardly know where to begin to ask the questions... any storytelling that you want to do, I'll want to read.

  23. oh, elizabeth, i am feeling for you, mama. hope things get better and a little easier. a break can at least shift things and change your perspective. xoxo

  24. writing is maybe like the snorkel you're holding in that picture ... you can breathe

    still thinking of Your Mermaid Girl - no matter what school she's at

    I thought that 600M school was really the equivalent of 6 schools - misinformed? but so glad it's not in BevHills

  25. When I looked at this photo all, I thought was "When the heck did Elizabeth find the time to swim." You are this lovely at all times.

  26. You're doing LEND! That's fantastic. I'm so sorry about the school debacle. I'm thinking of you.

  27. I'm sorry the school didn't work out, it seemed so promising when you wrote about your (first) impression of the place!

  28. Glad you are back!!!! That school must have been something else if you decided to remove her --- what happened?

  29. Soooo happy to see you back in action. Do you know where I might find some awesome red Pope shoes? Ideally I'll need a matching purse too. xo

  30. OMG, i stayed away expecting a long hiatus from blogging and then i just clicked back here to see if mayyyyybbbeeeee.... and there are like 2 billion posts! lol! well, sometimes even taking a break for a few days is a break! you were an every day poster (unlike myself) so that is a lot :). ANYWAY, time to catch up! SOOOO glad your break wasnt long. i was missing you :)



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