Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer

Looks like Summer is pretty well planned at this point! Tinkerbelle (for the uninitiated - my much younger half sister, lives in Chicago, I never met her until she was 7 and I was 24) has secured herself a full-time job as a camp counselor, which means that she is coming to live with us when she gets out of school!

It all came together really quickly because she really dove into it. She called and emails a bunch of places from home, lined up three different meetings for last Friday afternoon, and came out here to go to those and then visit for a couple days. I picked her up at the airport at about 10:00, she had her interviews at 12:30, 2:30 and 4:00, and she got a call from her first choice at about 8:00 offering her the job!

She is going to be a camp counselor for kids ages 8-12, although the exact specifics will be determined later on. Most likely she will rotate between a couple of different facilities in the city, all of which are easily accessible from the T. She's going to be working from 7:30-3:30, Monday to Friday, making $9/hr...pretty awesome first job, if you ask me.

This will be a big deal for her. Living in a new place, away from her Mom, with a lot more freedom than she is used to. She's gonna have a boss and responsibilities and she is going to have to get herself to work on time and handle all of that by herself. I am not her Mom, and I'm not going to do that for her. But, I think she will do well with the extra leash, I think she will benefit from meeting a bunch of co-workers her own age, and she will certainly enjoy earning some money on her own (right now, it seems like a veritable fortune to her...it will seem less so when she finds out how taxes work:-)).

I think she will benefit from the break from home, too. She's not really a "troubled" kid in the normal sense, but she's had some social issues at school this year that have impacted her grades and her behavior. Kids at that age, especially girls, can be really tough...and she naturally kinda marches to the beat of her own drummer, so I think that leads to some tension with other kids. The good news is that two months is a lifetime when you are 15, so simply going away for a while might create something of a reset. I hope, at least.

It will diminish my own ability to take too many three day weekends at the beach, but that's ok...I can manage for one summer:-). I'll gladly trade that for some uninterrupted sister time!

In other sister news - there is a new tattoo in the works. I'll give you the details some other time when we finalize it:-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Making Plans

It looks like we have school figured out for the girls, and not surprisingly they are going to go to the same school that Munchkin went to. While that means a lot of years of a lot of tuition bills, it made the most sense and it is a place that I know we'll be comfortable with and the girls will do great.

As I mentioned, the public schools in Boston are terrible, and they are not neighborhood schools...you don't go to a school based on where you live. Incoming students fill out a preference form and then get assigned based on requests, a lottery and very squishy rules around "fairness". Most kids get one of their there top choices, but many do not, and many end up with really, really inconvenient assignments.

There were two elementary schools that we would have considered sending the girls to. One is in the South End (pretty much right on the other side of Boston Common from us) that is one of the very few truly excellent elementary schools in the city and would be pretty convenient for us, and one in the North End (pretty much right across Government Center/Fanueil Hall from us) that is also quite good but would be less convenient.

The good news is that they got assigned to the one in the North End. In that sense we were really lucky...those are both highly demanded schools, and the girls were really fortunate to get into one of them. Being twins helps, since they always keeps siblings together, so they both essentially get whichever lottery number is lowest among the two of them.

Now, the bad news. The quality of individual public city schools is very fluid. Because of the way the students get assigned, there are very few of the inherent advantages that tend to make schools good year over year (read: consistently committed parents). The North End is relatively insulated because the universe of people who want to go there every day is kind of limited, but there is really no way to be sure that the school will remain a high-achiever for the next 8, 10 or 12 years. It is a naturally transient population, even among families, and that worries me. I guess it wouldn't be the biggest deal to have to pull them out in a couple of years if the circumstances change, but I'd rather not go through with it.

Also, anyone who has ever been to Boston's North End will quickly remember how difficult it is to get anywhere with any regularity. While the school is just about one mile from our condo, it is a VERY LONG mile. There's a bunch of one-way streets and an awful lot of traffic. It's too long for the girls to walk, at least for a couple years, but there is no easy way to drive there. On a good morning, it is a 15 minute drive. My guess is that there were days this winter that it took nearly an hour and a half. On any morning, it's highly unpredictable, which means allotting at least a half hour for the trip to school and spending a lot of time waiting because we are there early. But still being late some days. In short, it makes just getting to school every day a huge frustration.

So, in the end, we are going to send them to private school, which I am not totally thrilled about and which will cost a whole bunch of money. But, I know the school, I know the teachers and the staff and I am very comfortable with them. Plus, I get to go back to walking to school on my way to work:-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Five

Guess who turns five today?

Yup...five whole years, which alternately seems like about 25 and then ten minutes. The girls opened their presents this morning (a couple toys, some coloring books) and then decided to wear their brand new T-Shirts to school. For MA, that meant a Frozen shirt that sings Let it Go on command. I am not entirely sure that her teachers will find that nearly as adorable as I do...:-)

That's all:-) Scooter rides and sushi for dinner, at the birthday girls' request!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Coming together

Things are looking good for Tinkerbelle on the job front...she called and emailed a bunch of places that I had sort of suggested for her and got all of the details on applications, deadlines, etc. She's got three really good leads on summer camps that hire kids her age and that would work out perfectly (lesson to teenagers...you want a job? Ask. The kid who goes out of their way to say they want it will probably get it.)

All three of them are taking applications and will be interviewing in a couple of weeks, and she already has times scheduled to interview in early May, all on the same day. She's going to come out here on a Thursday night, go to her three interviews (and more if she can get them lined up) on Friday and then stay for the weekend. Honestly, I'd be pretty surprised if she didn't get more than one of the jobs. Unless they are hesitant because she isn't really a Boston kid, which they all know already and seemed fine with, she will probably get to pick from the three of them. Again, when hiring kids at that age, employers are going to be drawn to the kids who seem assured and confident and serious about the job. The one who says "Hey, hire me! I would LOVE to work here!" is probably the one who will get hired.

I'm pretty excited by this...more so than when I first heard the idea. She seems really serious about it, and having a five-day-a-week job will be great for her. She'll stay busy, meet some kids her age, earn some money and get to be a little more grown-up than usual. She's going to have to get herself up, get ready and get to the T on her own every morning, which is kind of a big deal for a 15 year old ("on her own" is maybe an overstatement...I'll know if she oversleeps!) Not that it is exactly rocket science, but I think she will feel like she has some autonomy and some responsibility...hopefully that's good for her.

So, we'll see...but it is looking like my summer visitor is en route!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Penalties

Quick note today...

Emotional day around here yesterday, as the surviving marathon bomber was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including all of the Federal charges that carry the potential of the death penalty. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this...not about his guilt, but about the trial and the penalty phase.

To recap: he admitted to placing the bombs. He admitted to shooting the MIT cop. His lawyers acknowledged in their opening remarks that he was unquestionably guilty of murdering four people. Those charges, taken alone, would have led to his four-times-over guilt of the single worst charges under State law. In other words, four times the maximum penalty. And by most accounts, he was willing to plead guilty to those murders.

The only charges in dispute were the Federal charges, which basically amounted to "Terrorism". There was only one reason to charge him with this: the death penalty. Murder charges are State charges, and Massachusetts does not allow for the death penalty. Terrorism charges are Federal, and carry that potential. The purpose of trying him at all was to convict him of a charge that he was not willing to plead guilty to: the Federal terrorism charges.

I guess I just don't see the point of the trial. Not that it was a huge circus, but it kept this animal in the public eye for two months, it allowed for this bizarre pop-star style fetishization of him, tied up enormous law enforcement and legal system resources and forced the re-living of all of the raw emotions of that day.

And for what? So we can execute him...after we exhaust 10+ years of extraordinarily expensive appeals? After we let that ridiculous fucking Rolling Stone cover be plastered on the news 100 more times every time he is in court for some minor hearing? (Side note: someone needs to put that fourth-rate rag out of its misery already.) So that we can make him a martyr for a cause that he just spent two months claiming he didn't really care that much about..?

The death penalty is super expensive. And it's irreversible. And it doesn't deter crime or, obviously, rehabilitate criminals. The only real argument for it is that some people are just so incredibly horrible that this is the only punishment of appropriate severity. By that benchmark, clearly, if anyone deserves it, this shit does...

But, I dunno...I'm just not feeling like we get much out of this other than a little bit of vengeance. Frankly, sending him to Florence ADX seems a much worse fate.