Friday, May 1, 2009

Let the challenge begin . . .

So today's the first day of the "Blog a Day in May" challenge that will be won by yours truly. I always felt that I'm a better writer than speaker, spelling doesn't count, so there will be many interesting topics in the days that come. I could easily list the topics that I plan on writing about, but I want to keep my captive audience of 5-6 people coming back everyday wonder what's coming next.

Today's entry will center around graduations since today is the day we bid a formal farewell to the Higher Ed grads at FSU. The informal farewell will come when they actually leave the office, all of ours will be around a little longer so the tears of sadness to see them go will have to wait.

Looking back at my history of graduation, I don't think that we ever had a cheesy Kindergarten graduation or anything closely resembling a ceremony leaving elementary or middle school. High school graduation was fun, I remember most things other than the actual ceremony. There were speakers, but I don't remember a word they said. I do remember that night and the next couple of days were filled with parties and receptions thrown by various friends and their families. Needless to say, I ate well for a 3 day period.

I was able to talk my way out of "walking across stage" when I graduated from college with my Bachelors in exchange for agreeing to go through the formal ceremony two years later for my Masters degree. I instead was able to talk my parents and extended family into have a barbecue in Nashville. That was the first time in 5+ years where that many people in my family have been together in the same place for any reason. Family members who wouldn't have been able to make the trip to Knoxville were able to be at the cookout so it was a huge success.

The graduation that sticks out in my mind as the most memorable and humorous was for my Masters. It was an entertaining day to say the least. Not only were my parents and a couple aunts a little later getting into town, but I also believe that my brother's plane was delayed a little bit too. My program was having a special reception for graduates and families before the large university ceremony. My parents came late to this, which was fine, but the fun started with my two aunts having to go to the airport to pick up my brother. I told them how to get to the airport from the hotel, but little did I know there was major road construction between the two places (Funny moment #1). Oops, sorry about that.

Once they finally made it to the airport and picked up my brother, he was hungry and wanted food before getting to campus and if memory serves me right, the three of them got lost around the airport looking for food and not knowing how to get to campus. They had to call me as I got to the large university ceremony and I had to point them back in the right direction because I guess the signs pointing them back to Knoxville confused them (Funny moment #2).

Everything seemed to be going ok at that point in time. All of us from my program got checked in a realized that we had 30-45 minutes to kill before we had to do anything. In an attempt to find something to do, one of my cohort friends told us that her brother had a case of beer in his car in the parking lot. Problem solved, I don't think that I need to explain how we spent the next half hour (Funny moment #3).

We get back to the ceremony, it starts, we march in, sit down yada yada yada, etc, etc, etc . . . Much like high school, I know there was a speaker, but can't tell you the gender, message or anything relevant like that. All of us from my cohort were allowed to sit together so we all talked amongst ourselves the whole time trying to figure out who was going where to dinner afterwards and trying to find our families in the crowd. Since my brother (forgot to reiterate earlier that we're twins) arrived late, I was trying to point him out in the crowd to my cohort who wanted to see how much we didn't look like one another. My friends must have been tired (or maybe buzzing from the beer) they couldn't count up a certain number of rows and pick out the guy I was pointing to, so I took matters into my own hands. In the middle of the keynote address, I pulled out my cell phone and called my brother (this was before texting was the thing to do). He admitted that he thought he was seeing things when he saw me calling in the middle of my graduation, but he answered and I asked him to wave because so my friends could see him. He did with a little hesitation, my friends were happy (Funny moment #4).

When it was my college's turn to walk across the stage and shake the Dean's hand, I was hoping to do it without much fanfare. Sure enough, as my name was announced, I walked across stage and the only thing I heard was my brother yelling "Yeah Billy!" To my memory, I was the only one called out like that all night. I'm sure there were others, but I don't remember. According to my family, you could see me turn red with embarrassment from all the way up to where they were sitting (Funny moment #5).

The rest of the ceremony went off fine as did dinner with the family. After dinner, none of my cohort friends were doing anything other than hanging out with their families, so that became the plan for all of us too. It took about 2 minutes to decide that my brother and I should go get some beer and take it back to the hotel for all to enjoy. We got the beer and headed back to the hotel, but my brother didn't feel right walking in the front door with only beer in his hands. He asked me to go to the side stairwell door and let him in; if this doesn't bring back college memories for some of you, I don't know what will. Here we are, two 25 year old acting like we're sneaking beer into a hotel which is 100% legal to being with. (Funny moment #6).

Needless to say, that was a fun evening. To all the Higher Ed grads, good luck in the future and we will miss you.

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