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October 3, 2006


A reminder to my dozens of readers from Minnesota: I'll be appearing at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul this Friday with John "I'm a PC" Hodgman, his accompanist Jonathan Coulton, and The Poison Control Center of Ames, Iowa. More information is available on the "Appearances" page of this site. Also, here's a nice interview with me in the City Pages, a fine Minnesota newsweekly.

Now then:

I was sitting at my desk yesterday morning, happily twiddling myself under my keyboard stand, when the phone rang. It was, not surprisingly, my wife.

"I don't want to freak you out," she said, a phrase that always means she wants to freak me out. "I was talking with another mother when I dropped Elijah off this morning. She said the cutoff date is December."

"What cutoff date?" I asked.

"Dude," she said. "He starts kindergarten next fall."


This was a problem. Our lease runs until December 2007 because we didn't feel like moving after only being here for a year. But since Elijah had barely turned three when we arrived, education beyond his immediate nursery-school years didn't really enter into the equation. Perhaps it should have, as our local public grade school is....not good.

Regina and I believe in public education. I used to be more fervent about this belief, for political reasons. Then when I had a kid, my populist leanings took a back seat to my desire not to spend $10,000 a year so my kid can learn how to read. Now I want to send my kid to a public school, just not the one in my immediate neighborhood.

This isn't as callous as it sounds. There's a great public school up the hill from us, way closer to this house than the public grade-school I attended was to my boyhood home. Our house just happens to not be in its district. It's not as though I'm thinking of shipping Elijah out to Santa Monica. God forbid.

So now we're sixth on the out-of-district kindergarten waiting list at that school, where ten people made it off the list this season. And we've submitted an application to a progressive charter grade school for the arts in Los Feliz. A year from now, I don't know where I'll be living or where my kid will be going to school. I don't need that kind of excitement, though I am looking forward to not having to share a driveway with the people who live in the house behind me.

Tonight, as we all goofed around on the couch during an extended session of "family time," Elijah asked a question.

"Are we going to live in this house forever?"

"No," Regina said.

"Where are we going to live, then?"

"I wish I knew," I said.

"I want our house to be orange and blue and green."

"I'll see what I can do."

Since Elijah went to bed, Regina has been sending me rental entries from Craig's List, since buying a house right now is as distant an option for us as buying the Clippers. Many of the rentals look nicer than the place we live. Isn't that always the way? But none of them, as far as I can tell, is orange and blue and green.



In this day and age, who can afford to buy a house in LA proper? (Other than the obscenely wealthy, of course) That's the number one reason P.Pie and I left Pasadena. Well, that and I had a job waiting some where else.

House/apartment hunting tip: this last time, rather than relying on craigslist and westside rentals, we just went to neighborhoods we liked and biked around looking for "for rent" signs. Found a bunch of places not listed anywhere, including our current awesome apartment (in weho). Literally riding bikes around all day may not be practical with a kid, but you get the jist.

Hey Neal...

Just wanted to let you know that we have an AWESOME public school here in Larchmont/Hancock/Fairfax area, just fyi.


As long as we're in L.A. I don;t think we'll ever leave this spot. It's got it all, kinda, plus there's a house down the street that's orange, blue and yellow, which is almost as cool as orange, blue and green.

Plus, we'd love to have ya.

Chins up, Neal. This stuff tends to work out, especially if you don't freak about it. Even if it's easier to talk a good Taoist game than to live it. Try it, though.

There's a small house for rent down the street from me in Mt. Washington (which I assume is the school district with the good elementary school you were referring to in this post). It's on Jessica Dr. I don't know the number, but Jessica is a short street that runs between Division and Cleland. The house is light blue--maybe close enough for Elijah?

Good luck with this. When we moved to our current house back in 2000, we never imagined that we would still be here when our older son started kindergarten last year. So we were kind of panicked about where to send him. After starting him at the local catholic school (for practical, not religious reasons) and finding it incredibly WRONG for him and us, we moved him to public school in the middle of kindergarten and we've all been happy there ever since.

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(THIS IS A LEGITIMATE COMMENT. Do not mistake me for the miss tabletka who is a robot, above.)

As a resident of Ames, Iowa, I am profoundly disappointed that I missed the opportunity to see our own Patrick Fleming and his Center of Poison Control on an actual stage with the esteemed Jonathan Coulton, John Hodgman and of course Neal "Do the Ostrich" Pollack. Oh, what a fool was I to not have subscribed sooner to this electronic newsletter. I shall most certainly fall into a morose humour and perish.

Rob McMahon
Ames, IA

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