Jesus X. Fucking Christ in a gypsy cab, I am tired tonight.
Last week I drove to The University of California at Santa Cruz for the graduation ceremony of my goddaughter. If you’ve only heard about godfathers in reference to Mafia bosses, be advised that a godparent is supposed to be responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the child if something happens to the bioparents. Due to a warp in the time-space continuum, I was picked to be a godfather twenty-four years ago. Luckily, nothing happened to the girl’s parents, or else by now she would probably be a Hong Kong call girl. Regular readers will know that I am a deeply spiritual person, but during her formative years I was, shall we say, otherwise occupied.
The girl grew up to be a pretty good young woman, but I was never convinced that she would graduate from college. Frankly, I didn’t think she wanted to. A few years after I myself finished college I had a lot of friends who were still attending. Most of them never accomplished enough to trigger a graduation ceremony, and some of them are taking classes to this day, with no graduation in sight.
I thought that would be the path my goddaughter would take. I mean, when she traveled to Spain to study, it was only a matter of weeks before she moved out of the safe boarding house arranged by the university and into god knows what dive. Then she stopped going to classes, and instead joined an itinerant street theater troupe. When I got the news that she had broken her arm falling off the table she was dancing on in a Madrid bar, I was pretty sure I’d never be attending a graduation, and, spiritual guru that I am, I became one with that.
When she returned to the U.S. and enrolled at Santa Cruz, the Hippie Campus, I still felt I had nothing to worry about. I mean, the school mascot is the banana slug. Need I say more?
But life has its twists and turns, and eventually she found a calling and not only earned a degree, but with honors, and a job offer to boot. And the whole procedure took less than seven years, which is less time than my friend Mike took to pass English 1A. (Note: I am jealous, because I am still looking for my first job offer related in any way to my major, which was Semantics.).
Since it costs the same to fly to Santa Cruz from L.A. as it does to charter a jet to Antarctica, I decided to drive up there for the big weekend. So I had a nine-hour drive the Friday before last, including three hours of traffic jams in the middle of fucking nowhere, which is what central California looks like. I don’t know why there would be traffic jams when we were so far away from anything that we could see the curvature of the earth, but there you go.
To add to the fun, all the rooms in Santa Cruz and environs were booked, so I had to be smuggled into someone else’s motel room for the weekend. The last time this kind of pajama party/sleepover was actually fun was Cub Scouts. But I was 35 then, and a lot of things were more fun in those days.
The town was alive with freethinking and strong coffee, and I got very little sleep, except during the graduation ceremony itself. Governor Schwarznegger, our answer to Jesse Ventura, did not speak at this affair, which took place in an open meadow, so the quiet drone of the various valedictorians and faculty members combined with the hot sun and a lazy breeze to create the perfect nap time, and I nearly fell off my folding chair three times.
Following the ceremony there was a forced march several miles up a steep hill to some sort of quad, where we attended a reception, which, I think, was mainly a chance for our rather large group to get separated from one another over and over as we kept telling ourselves that we were leaving as soon as Uncle Jack (or cousin Mildred) came out of the bathroom, or got back from the food concession, or had their picture taken in one previously untried permutation of relatives, graduate and friends.
When we finally overcame this inertia and got the hell out of there, we had to wait for a shuttle bus to take us back to the parking structure concealed some miles away in the redwoods. When the bus arrived, there were too many people at the bus stop, but we all got on anyway, and the little tram got as crowded as a municipal bus in Baja. I must compliment the manners of the students who were on that tram, however. One of them actually stood to let me have his seat, although it is possible that he was influenced by my Crazy-Eyed Killer stare. Still, he got out of my way, and that’s what counts.
Then there was a drive to another small town nearby, a dinner at an Italian restaurant with heavily accented waiters (no Mafia bosses, though), several toasts, a session of gift-opening, a great deal of earnest after-dinner conversation and a drive back to Santa Cruz where I was re-smuggled into the room for a refreshing four hours of sleep before getting back on the road for Southern California.
You’d think that sitting in a comfortable car seat for eight hours would be easy and restful, but there is nothing like hurtling down a freeway in a vibrating steel box at ninety miles per hour, a hideous death only seconds away if you lose your concentration at any time. There is nothing like that to get you all stressed out and fatigued, which is what I was by the time I got home on Sunday night (the Sunday before last).
It was a wonderful weekend with great sights, the electric buzz of young brains and a pretty coed who wanted to discuss Linguistics with me, and I can have no complaints, but jeez, the driving and the eating and the speeches and the not sleeping, well, it wore me out. And I was only halfway through the graduation festivities. The following week (this past week) I had another graduation, this one right here in my town, with me acting as the host for out-of-towners and throwing a party for the graduate and her rowdy teenage homies.
But I see that I have been typing so long now that probably no one is still reading, so I will just say that I have survived two graduations in a row, I am thoroughly burned out, and I am thankful that I have no dad and I am not myself a dad, or else I would have had a Father’s Day thing added on. Luckily I started back to work today, so I will be getting some much-needed rest there.
As always, my heart overflows with tender joy and bittersweet affection.
Remember, tomorrow is the first day of Summer, so the deadline for the revision99 Protest Song UnContest looms. You still have time to submit lyrics and song ideas to vent your rage against The Establishment (or whatever pisses you off). Details can be found here and here.