Words of Advice from a Two-Time College Dropout

Graduation Cupcakes!

High school graduation parties can be cool, but what if life seems all downhill from there?

Like anyone with a working Internet connection, from time to time I find myself completing online surveys about various companies or products, whether for fun, for freebies, or in hopes that the survey will include an essay question that you can use as a soapbox to unleash a thousand-word tirade about the last time their services ticked you off and ruined your day. “That’ll show ’em!” you think to yourself as your carefully crafted vitriol is forwarded to the survey company and assimilated into the results database containing hundreds of thousands of other surveys, someday to be skimmed by a distracted HR rep who might raise an eyebrow at your poison-pen screed, if you’re lucky.

Every such survey has the obligatory section whose questions are designed for demographic pigeonholing of your results. I don’t mind revealing my ever-advancing age, blissful marital status, or conspicuously dull bloodline. My least favorite question is always, “What is the highest level of education you have completed?” It sounds simple and uncomplicated, especially if you earned a degree. Sometimes I wonder if those who attended graduate school and/or who hold multiple degrees receive a little bonus from the survey company in return, to thank them for bolstering the results with certified demographic classiness.

Mine is the humble ignominy that requires me to check “Some college”. It’s always a multiple-choice question, never a write-in field, so you can’t fall back on the standard glib answers such as “school of hard knocks” or “school of life”, joke answers such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” or “Hogwarts”, or even obscure answers such as “School of Fish”, in hopes that someone in the survey company will agree how cool a song “3 Strange Days” was. Every time I spot the bland, undecorated phrase “Some college” on a survey, I wince for a second and have to shake off the reminder of a young adulthood that wandered astray.

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2016 Ain’t Nothing But a Number

2016!

Muhammad Ali. Prince. David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Patty Duke. Garry Shandling. Nancy Reagan. Abe Vigoda. Raymond’s mom. Frank Drebin’s boss. Grizzly Adams. TV’s Schneider. The Phantasm guy.

For these names and others you’d recognize, 2016 has been a bad year. Whenever three or more well-regarded famous people die within the same year, that year’s name is mud. Everyone curses its name and declares it Worst Year Ever. Add in one or more horrifying wide-scale tragedies, and that year will never be allowed a moment of recognition for all the good it hosted. 2016 isn’t halfway over, but if it were an internet user, it would already be receiving daily death threats and getting trolled into oblivion by millions of typists blinded by fury at all the implied promises broken by that stupid backstabbing jerk Baby New Year 2016. Remember in January when Ryan Seacrest invited us all to welcome that baby with open arms and hearts and hopes? Now WE HATE THAT BABY SO MUCH. THANKS, SEACREST.

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Fleeting Moments on Graduation Day

Eighteen years of life, thirteen years of schooling, and countless evenings of coaching, admonishing, encouraging, lecturing, applauding, tolerating, and loving all led up to a single day that required tremendous coordination and patience to align all the pieces just right for the series finale. Though today felt about three hundred hours long, its unique centerpiece will seem fleeting when viewed in retrospect years from now.

Today was my son’s high school Graduation Day.

Graduation Day, Class of 2013

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