Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kate turns in her enrollment form: a story

Before I left my office to turn in my enrollment form, I looked outside to check the weather. Cloudy but no rain. Should I bring an umbrella? No, it's only three blocks from my work to the SFUSD office. So I optimistically hopped out the door with only Alice's birth certificate, address verification, and enrollment form clutched tightly in my hand.

As soon as my foot hit the street, it started to sprinkle, and then pour. Not my lucky day. As I was crossing Van Ness, the enrollment form tucked under my sweater, a huge gust of wind swept Alice's birth certificate out of my hand. I chased after it and then the light changed and the cars started coming. I must have looked ridiculous, or suicidal, dodging traffic on Van Ness. Finally, I was able to get a grip on the certificate and made it safely across the street.

The remaining two-block walk went smoothly, and I even found a shiny penny en route (tails never fails, right?).

The line inside the district office was short (that's lucky). A woman with twins stood ahead of me. She was in a tizzy about getting her kids into a school where one child could be in immersion and the other general ed. And ahead of her was a man who had only one school on his list: Alice Fong Yu. And when it was his turn, he made this very clear to the man behind the counter.

My turn: The man behind the counter looked over my list. "Oh, you've picked all top schools," he said. "Looks good." I was thinking, do you have a problem with that?

Before he took the form away, I ran my hands over it, trying to transfer whatever luck I might have to that long sheet of paper.

I smiled at him and said, "I hope I get lucky."

"I like your purse," he commented.

What? You like my purse? My $30 fake Burberry purse that I'm carrying because the zipper on my favorite black backpack broke? Can't you say something more profound than that, I wanted to ask?

I momentarily thought about giving him my purse, but instead I said, "It's not real."

"Oh," he responded.

And that was that. Done!

Back outside, it was still raining. I looked for a sign, for a rainbow, for a patch of blue sky, for something to tell me everything is going to work out. When I saw the Grateful Dead outside Vegas in college, it was raining and then Jerry arrived on stage and the clouds parted and rainbows circled the stadium. And when my husband proposed to me at Arch Rock in Point Reyes, a pod of dolphins swam past us. And when Alice was born, the sun shone bright, after a dark, stormy night and a long labor. And here on the day I turned in my enrollment form, I was getting only cold, soggy rain. But as I continued to walk the downpour lightened to a sprinkle. And just before I stepped back into my office it stopped, and I think I saw the tiniest spot of blue, just over the district office.


  1. okay... you're killing me. what was on top?

    my list goes in tomorrow. i just stared at it for about an hour and a half.

    best of luck to you!

  2. Kate, I can't thank you enough for this blog. You really have done a great service for many San Francisco families. We are indebted to you. Best of luck.

  3. So Kate, I bet I'm not the only who wonders what schools you listed. Do you plan to reveal your seven? Did you put Flynn? (I ask because of the man's comment that you put all "top" schools. I know Flynn is on the up and up, but I'm not sure it would be considered a top school yet.) Thanks. And realize I'm being a nosey parker ...

  4. Kate, you're killing us! You must disclose!!! This could be like a thick novel that has had us all riveted for months and suddenly ends with no resolution. What? That's it?! (I suppose that will give us all something to discuss while awaiting the letters in March! "I think she..." "No, I am sure she..." "Yes, but remember when she said..." "No, but she wouldn't have...")

  5. Just got back from 555 Franklin (around 10 am), and surprisingly enough, my wait was only about 10 minutes (about 8 people in line ahead of me and the line went really fast)!

  6. this blog has been really interesting and addictive (and i'm done with this entire process until middle schoo), how am i going to waste time at work now?

  7. This may not be Kate's final list, but FYI, here's what she posted in an earlier post:

    Monday, December 17, 2007
    Hot topic: public school picks

    "By now, many of us are starting to develop a list of our top seven public schools. I've got seven—though I've yet to finalize the rankings and I'm still hoping to visit a few more schools the first week in January.

    Here's my current list:

    Leonard Flynn (Spanish)
    Buena Vista
    Alvarado (Spanish)
    Alice Fong Yu
    West Portal (Chinese)

    I hope to tour Clarendon and Starr King in January. If I lived closer to George Peabody, Alamo, Lakeshore, or Lawton, I'd include them on my list."


    I (UrbanMom) submitted my list on Wednesday, and it wasn't that bad (except for the fact that in my frazzled rush I forgot to bring the supporting documents, so I had to go home and make another trip.

    Our list:

    Alvarado (Spanish)
    Alvarado (gen)
    Clarendon (Second Comm)

    Talk about listing all the popular schools. Yikes. I really wanted to like Starr King but our family couldn't get ourselves comfortable with the location. Our loss, I'm sure.

    I also really liked Fairmount and it almost was #7, but my husband really liked Clarendon over Fairmount. I was torn, but it has to be a family decision.

    Now time to celebrate being done for now (what a relief!). But of course, we have a decent chance of NOT getting any of our picks (we have a 52% chance of getting one of them, according to Adams' spreadsheet). I'll have to stress about that another day. :-)

    Thank you, Kate, for this blog. It has been SO wonderful to have this community. You have done a great community service!

  8. Kate,

    On these posts of public vs private (a different thread) you get very strident against private schools, effectively calling the parents guilty of hollowing out the public schools and doing a disservice to the community. That of course is ridiculous as it is the leaders and the public who vote against tax increases and the AEA that forces consideration of private schools upon us (yes my child goes to a private school).

    Really, shame on you for such logic. It sounds like you are more afraid of the process and this is a defensive reaction.

    Then you carry a fake burberry's purse, meaning you obviously value the social cache of the plaid, yet you are to be admired since you bought a fake (presumably patent infringing knock off?).

    You are not consistent.

  9. Oops.. on the above post, I confused Kate and Caroline - it is the latter that is so strident, so I apologize.

  10. ^^Thanks!!