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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Caps, Gowns, and Cookies

So, after years and years of late night Spanish papers and five hour O-Chem exams, a large chapter of my life has come to a close. It has been said that the symbolism of graduation represents the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. This makes sense, especially in a Western culture like ours where there is no bar mitzvah for young men or QuinceaƱera for young women. But if our actions speak louder than words, then maybe--just maybe-- we really don't believe there should be a rite of passage. In other words, the words of the late Peter Pan in Hook said it best when he said "I don't ever want to become a man. Yuck! I always want to be a little boy and to have fun." Where does he get these crazy ideas? you might ask. Let me tell you my story.

So, today, I went with my lab partner (let's just call him Nick Candelaria for now) to pick up my cap and gown for graduation. I walked inside the building and was greeted by a very pleasant woman who told me I needed to wait by a table to be helped (of course she couldn't help me out, her job was to direct traffic, and by traffic I mean to two other people in the room with me). I approached the table and a man told me to wait. What I later found out was that he told me to wait because he was deciding if he was going to help me out or not. He eventually did. I told him my name and he handed me a packet with my cap and gown. He gave me some info about alumni stuff. Out of all of the information he told me about graduation, the only thing I remember him saying was, "..and don't forget to get some refreshments before you leave." Refreshments??? Well, okay Mr. Sir, I will NOT forget. As I walked out of the room, I saw two giant platters with a cornucopia of cookies, waiting to be eaten. So, giving in to my primitive instincts, I placed one of each of the six types of cookies on my napkin and left the building with a smile on my face.

As I was walking back to the lab I began to think of the symbolism of graduation. One thing kept coming to my mind: the platter of cookies; symbolism of innocence, of long summers with friends, of late night snacks and stomach aches, and of Santa Claus; all representations of childhood. Why would there be cookies and not crackers or fruit at this cap and gown pick-up? Were the cookies symbolic of what the university was telling me? What implications should I draw from this sign from the heavens, if one could call it such a manifestation? How do I become an adult while remaining a child? All of these questions plagued my mind. As I entered the elevator that took me back to the lab, I did what any confused child would do: I ate all six cookies. I concluded that the cookies served one of two purposes: 1) they were there to be comfort food for when the graduate became so confused at there being cookies there in the first place the only way to calm them down would be to eat mentioned cookies. In thing way, it was a manifestation of itself. Or, 2) they were just cheaper than fruit (the more likely explanation). In any case I learned a valuable lesson: although the coconut cookies may look tempting, just take another Snickerdoodle and walk away.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Christmas is a time...

If how much weight you gain during a vacation is indicative of how good the trip was, the Christmas in California was one of the best. We had an amazing time. Although it was really hard for us to hold back the tears of sorrow of not having to shovel snow out of our parking spot in 10° F weather for the next 2 weeks, we were able to make the rough trek to the land of sunshine and fog. Yes the trip was long, yes the snow was thick, yes the beef jerky was old and stale, but we were willing to make those sacrifices to see everyone. So, instead of summing up what we did, I'm just going to let the pictures tell the story and just sort of reflect on our 14 days of memories.

Open house and PJ’s:

First, we both thought the open house for Fred (Dad) and Marlene was phenomenal. The only thing that I regret was not stretching my stomach out a little more the weeks before so I could eat more meatballs and shrimp. Later, we went over to Phil and Stacey's (I forgot why) but Keaton showed us his Teddy’s pajamas: chonies (so classic!).

The next few days were full of Christmases (it’s probably more like Hanukah than Christmas) all over town full of visits with close friends and family. The following are just some quick highlights of the trip.

Lunch with G&G Brockmann:

We had an awesome lunch with grilled cheese and onion sandwiches (very delicious by the way) and a tray of brownies. We visited afterwards, heard Jack’s army stories (many which were new to Grandma) and then Jack and I took his virtual airplane for a spin. Had it been one of his real ones, I would have broken the whole collection of them on the landing, or lack thereof.

Boys will be boys...

Christmas #1: Grandma Violet’s house.

In addition to the traditional German Sausage and Ginger Ale, I was one of the very few that night to get some of Trayce’s ABC chips (already been chewed—which actually were not that bad). Afterwards, we had a nice visit with Violet talking and singing Christmas carols.

...and girls will be girls.

Christmas #2: Kent’s house.

So, it opened up with the traditional Swedish dinner (good thing I’m not French. I don’t think the German and French foods would get along so well in my stomach) with Swedish potatoes, coldorma (sp?), Swedish meatballs, and pickled herring (aint nothing like a pickled fish to put hair on ye chest). Dale did an amazing job with everything, like always. We exchanged Jesus Gifts (gave: bows for Ashley (thanks Stace); got: man-pron (like an apron but manly)). We had Christmas #2 the next morning and got our pride and joy addition to the family: deep fryer #1. That morning we had Swedish breakfast and helped clean up the house.

Christmas #3: Linda’s house.

Coming back from a wedding reception, we went to my mom’s house and had a prime rib dinner with yummy potatoes. We opened presents that night and got deep fryer #2, which we later exchanged. My little bro got Guitar Hero World Tour. Needless to say we played that night for hours. Tons of fun!

Hamilton's Birthday Bash: Disneyland

So, being the son of Redondo Beach residents really does have its pluses. Like, say, having your birthday party with Donald and Mickey Mouse! We went to CA Adventure (got soaked on the rapid ride) and then Disneyland (Hamilton loved It’s a Small World). Next day we had awesome gourmet pizza by Alex and brought in the New Year with a bang.

I think when I came home I could only fit into my stretchy pants comfortably. Luckily, we live on the 3rd floor, so I’ve started to put the stretchy pants away. To everyone, thanks so much for such a great time.