Time Keeps Flowing Like A River


Way back in June 2010, this little guy donned his handmade mortarboard and in a small ceremony in his school auditorium, he and all his other kindergarten schoolmates were officially bestowed the title of First Grader.

So little was he that in order for me to take this picture, I had to crouch down to his level.

Anthony's Graduation 065

To give you a better idea, here’s a shot at my eye level. I may have even had to crouch down here as well.

Anthony's Graduation 054

Look at that “Congrats, Graduate!” button! It’s almost as big as his head.

Flash-forward to last Thursday at the very same school, a day I would not miss for the world and one I thought would never arrive. Not because Anthony is a lousy student but in the world of parenthood, you see and go through a lot. You also think a lot, and my thinking back in 2010 was “Wow, he’s a first-grader. He’ll be graduating in what, 2018? My God, that’s so far away!”

Yet that day had arrived and all the grandparents and his only uncle were there to witness Anthony’s advancement to high school.

And I have to admit I held it together fairly well before the event. But let’s not talk about the slideshow during an award ceremony a few days before. A few months in advance, parents were asked to submit pictures of their students through the years at the school and I added my fair share. It’s when they were put together with music that both Ann and I lost it. It was great to see them over the years but also touching knowing these days were soon to be over.

At that award ceremony, Anthony was given the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award as part of the President’s Education Awards Program.

Photo Jun 11, 8 15 52 AM

I know whose signatures are on it. I don’t care. He would have earned this award regardless of who was running our country into the ground and fiddling like Nero while Rome burned in the Oval Office and if you knew how hard this kid worked this year to bring his grades up to excellent levels, you’d look past that too. It’s something the school believed he rightfully earned and I’m okay with that. It’s now hanging in his room.

Back to Thursday. We all take a seat in the quad and wait for things to begin. Music plays in the background. As the crowd continues to roll in, I stopped in my tracks as Fun.’s “We Are Young” started to play over the loudspeakers. I tried to hold back my tears but I’m human and just couldn’t. That song is one of Anthony’s favorites and I can’t tell you how many times we heard it coming from his bedroom. I realize the true meaning of the song but it’s more or less the hook that really stuck a nerve with me given the circumstances:

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set this world on fire
We can burn brighter
Than the sun

It’s a pretty strong anthem as it is. Adding a personal connection made it so much more meaningful.

Song over. Music fades. Then the Star Wars theme starts and here we see all the kids filing in from the other side of the quad.

Personally, I would have gone with Throne Room myself – triumphant, and it’s the final scene of an epic story. But goddamnit, why is it so dusty out here?

Once seated and we all recited the Pledge of Allegiance and Star-Spangled Banner, it began. A few of the school’s top awards were given and a some students gave speeches. About 45 minutes later they started to call student names so that they could receive their Certificate of Promotion.

It looked like a concert with all those people holding up phones to capture the moment, but this was so much better than any concert we’ve ever attended or would ever attend. I even saw one person FaceTiming the event which I thought was really moving. Some things get to me and that was definitely one.

By then, parents were all over taking pictures and videos. I stood behind the podium on a flight of stairs to capture this shot of our soon-to-be former middle school student.

Photo Jun 15, 8 59 07 AM

I’ve taken thousands of pictures in my life but very few will be as meaningful as this one. A broken ankle, dislocated finger, violin recitals, plays, programs, a little bit of schoolyard heartbreak and the end-of-year picnic, everything he experienced at that school was all behind him now. I have never seen this kid have such a look of relief in his eyes with the smile to match. It absolutely melts me, and I’m sure Dad would have been the same way.

When his name was called, I didn’t clap. I yelled his name and cheered as I took a few more pictures as he was handed his certificate, shook hands with administrators, and made his way back to his seat.

Then, once all the names were called, they were officially declared high school students. We all gave them the applause they so rightfully deserved. I then stood next to where the students were filing out and ugh, I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was for a lot of them and as a parent you can’t help but feel the same way. One of the girls who gave a speech was absolutely broken as she hurriedly shuffled her way out of the quad. Some of the guys – the ones you would least suspect to be moved by this – looked like they had been crying since they got there. I saw Anthony approaching and he looked okay but definitely had red eyes.

I grabbed him, gave him a big hug, told him how proud I was, and took another picture. He then filed out with the rest of the students to the front of the school where things got even more emotional.

More tears. More hugging. Lots of pictures. Did I mention tears? Anthony made the rounds and found as many of his friends as he could and got pictures with them. Afterward, he wanted to go say goodbye to a few of his former teachers. It also gave him one last time to walk the hallways of the school.

Photo Jun 14, 10 23 05 AM

In speaking with them, they all agreed: this kid here was one of the most caring, compassionate, and giving students they’ve ever had. One of them even told him that what you learned here was important but what kind of human being you are is just as important. I can assure you they will miss each other equally.

Anthony is one of only a handful of students who attended Newcomb Academy – a name I’ve withheld from the blog since he started school – from kindergarten through 8th grade. This time includes being relocated to another campus as their school was literally razed and rebuilt from the ground up, which is why things look so different from the first picture.

And note the size of the button now. Not so small, is it? (I told him to look serious for this shot, by the way.) Yes, we still have it and yes, we will make him wear it in four years.

But let’s not get that far. I’ll be 54 by then and I don’t want to think about it. But I do want to say this.

Kid, you made it. You muddled through your share of academic challenges over the last 9 years and as expected, came out on top as you always have and as I always said you would. You’ve doubted yourself but I never did. And being that you inherited your stubbornness from me, I know that you’re much to critical of yourself on many things.

Don’t be. You’ll learn as you get older that it’s not worth it and it just frustrates you. Move on. Just think back on what all of your teachers told me about you on the last day and always carry that with you.

A big, new world awaits you in September and it will be much different from what you’re used to, but it will also be fun. Of course you’ll have some bad days scattered here and there but that’s to be expected no matter what. Hell, I still have them. But just keep this in mind.

Mom and Dad love you and are incredibly proud of the young man you’ve become. And although you’ll be glad when you’re all done with high school, let’s not talk about the Class of 2023 just yet. Let’s take it a day at a time.

Because if these last nine years were a blur to you…

First day of kindergarten

…just imagine how quickly four years will pass.

Last day of 8th grade

Congratulations, son. Set this world on fire. Burn brighter than the sun. A new chapter of your life has begun and we are looking forward to every second of it.

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The Obligatory “Where I’ve Been” Blog Post


Whenever I take any kind of extended absence from blogging, I always feel the need to write a post and justify my leave.

This post is no different.

For one, my little 75-day blogging marathon burned me out and I didn’t want to head back to it any time soon. That’s a simple explanation.

So what else have I been up to?

Flickr. Since Yahoo!’s acquisition of Tumblr, Flickr users had their accounts upgraded to a whopping 1TB of storage space. This trumps the old capacity of a mere 200 images for free users, who had to pay an annual fee for more storage. So what does any of that have to do with my time? I created another Yahoo!/Flickr account and started to store/archive a ton of images to share with family. It’s taking time to upload and tag everything but tagging the images makes things so much easier when searching. It’s like I’m starting over and while time consuming, I’m enjoying perusing images I haven’t seen in ages.

Coursera. I’m trying, yet again, to stick with an online course of a subject of interest (in my case, Nutrition). But no matter how hard I try, I’m not succeeding. I really want to learn about this stuff and although it’s a learn-at-your-own-pace platform, my pace seems to be stuck in Neutral. I’m beginning to think I’m unlearnable (or unteachable, as you see fit).

Job Hunting. Saving the best for last, I’m desperately looking for a new job. I’m tired of the line of work I’m doing and want need to get into something else. This really hit me today when, while proofreading yet another weird language with strange characters, the lines of text started to look as if they were highlighted with a green highlighter – and they weren’t. So not only to I need to do it for my own sanity, I just need to move on and far, far away from the Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Proofreading. I’m sick of it and everything about it. Actually, this job has broken my spirits tenfold not only for proofreading but on other levels as well. The new manager has been promising to transition more of the temps into permanent employees but as of now, only two people have been given the opportunity and one of them has only been there a fraction of the time I have. The job we do is tedious, boring, repetitive. We (the proofreaders) get no kind of word of thanks from anyone while others get the credit whenever we get their projects done. It’s totally disheartening, and that’s not even everything.

So does that justify things? Good. Because I have to go and start looking for another job.

Blogging 365, Day 28: Bad Student


So I signed up for yet another Coursera online course, this one about nutrition.

I’ve only watched one video and I’m already falling asleep.

Guess my days of leaning anything are far behind me…

Back to School


As is the case every year, Ann asked me what I wanted for my birthday (which is today as most friends inside and outside of Facebook know). And as usual I had a blank stare and the equally vague reply of “Nothing.”

But after thinking about it, I decided that I’m not getting any younger and that spending the rest of my days as a proofreader is most definitely not what I want.

That’s why, instead of asking for something physical, I opted for a gift that might benefit me in the long run: a course at our local university.

The CSULB College of Continuing and Professional Education offers a reasonably large course listing that includes Certificate, Degree and Online programs. While the first two are definitely out of the question due to cost and time constraints, I’m all in for the online courses as they are 6 weeks and I can do them at home.

Of course, the question remains: what should I take?

As already mentioned, I’m burned out in my current “career” choice and would like to expand my horizons by taking something completely out of the ordinary or my comfort zone. This is what learning is about and while I could probably gain some useful insight from another writing course, the fact of the matter is that  I simply don’t want to take another one. Creative Writing, English 101, Screenwriting, Technical Writing…I’ve done them all before. While there is a Business Writing course available, I’m really wondering if that would be any advantage to me.

I’m continuing to look at the courses and have still yet to decide which I will take. Knowing how I am, the Spring session will be over by the time I choose.

Too bad they don’t offer one in Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving.