September 16, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To College He Goes

Good morning and greetings, rising college cost fans. Well, much like my wedding day, the birth of my children and my first colonoscopy, this is one of those milestone moments, as my favorite son is heading off to college on Saturday. While it will be a sad day for his mother and myself, it should be extremely exciting for Jason, who has been chomping at the bit like Secretariat coming down the homestretch to get his college career underway, as most of his friends have already departed and scattered off to places like Colorado, Massachusetts and the Bermuda Triangle.

Back when Jason was 11, the thought of him leaving one day, like the prospect of the Mitt Romney in the White House, was quite painful. Now that he’s a young man of 18 and on the Selective Service hit list, I am much more emotionally prepared for his departure. I believe it was the philosopher David Lee Roth who said “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

This is a child who I saw come flying out of his mother’s womb, and then for the next hour just stared at him like a mental patient, totally amazed that this little person was now part of us. It was the highest moment of my life since making the Dean’s List at Syracuse. And we knew we had something special when an hour later Jason picked up a John Grishman novel and started reading it before taking a shot at the New York Times crossword puzzle.

He spent his first five years in Southern California along the Strand in Hermosa Beach, a community which doubles as the world’s largest outdoor health club. There, he was introduced to the world of beach volleyball, and along with his partner Nathan Carson, has parlayed this into three tournament wins this summer and a national ranking a few sideouts below Olympic gold medalist’s Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser.

We then packed up the wagon train and moved back to Santa Cruz, so he could be raised in a place where the Shadowbrook, Crow’s Nest and redwoods meet the sea and where he could fine tune his Spanish by ordering a super burrito from every taqueria along the central coast. As Spanish conductor Pablo Casals once tweeted, “The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.”

Along the way, my 6-foot point guard with a 5″9″ wing span achieved academic excellence at one of the finest charter schools in the nation, which has led him to his next destination. Jason could have chosen to go back east but decided he’d like to see the sun while in college, and that the best place for him was on the scholar’s floor in an oceanfront dorm at UC Santa Barbara. He’s on the road to making a difference. Or as Mother Theresa once told me at the Sizzler, “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”

So I won’t be able to walk into his room any hour of the day or night to run by my thoughts on sports, news and sports. Up until now, I’ve had an unobstructed view of his unarrested development. Now he’s moving on to a place of higher learning with cafeteria dining, while I’ll be playing Macaulay Culkin, home alone with my NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, that sweet child of mine Aimee and my golden retriever Summer, who I know will never leave me.

So my neuoscience-majoring son will now be part of the Gaucho family at a major university with its own private beach. We will all miss him, including his younger sister, who will probably get through the pain with the knowledge that his TiVo system is now in her hands. His mother will dearly miss her first born, and will have to figure out what to do with all her free time now that she’s not his personal laundress.

As for me, I’ll miss watching him playing hoops and volleyball, talking sports and feeding him like an iron chef. But what I’ll miss most will be watching him seize the moments of his new found independence and discovering who he is while growing into the man that we’ll all be so proud of. Up until now I’ve had a front seat for the show. Now I’ll have to scalp a ticket. It was the writer Robert Gallagher who once said, “Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”

So my son is entering onto the freeway of the next phase of his life. What routes he takes from here no one knows. Spanish writer Rosilia de Castro once penned, “I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” I believe the final word on this higher road of education belongs to Irish poet Oscar Wilde, who once told a group of IRA terrorists, ‘Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Or as the t-shirt says, “I got my degree in liberal arts. Do you want fries with that?”

So since Jason will be reaching for the academic stars, I thought we would head up into the sky and take a look at a couple of moon rises over Monterey Bay. The first three shots feature the earth’s only natural satellite coming up over the wharf and the Santa Cruz mountains. This January rise featured the biggest moon of the year, and when this celestial body first appeared, it was as exciting as last week’s return of Jax and the boys on the “Sons of Anarchy.”

I took the next three photos a few September’s back with the moon rising over Steamer’s Lane. I never tire of seeing a full moon rise over the water or an episode of Annie Walker’s CIA adventures in “Covert Affairs.” As Van Morrison texted me later on this fantabulous night, “What a marvelous night for a moondance.” Ah, the moonlight on this magical night.

On to some late night humor. “Early this morning in Los Angeles police were involved with a high-speed chase with a suspect drawing a crowd by throwing money out the window. Is it me or is Mitt Romney getting desperate? In Yemen, a U.S. drone strike has killed al-Qaida’s number two leader, the sixth second in command the U.S. has killed. This is one area where Obama can say he definitely is creating jobs. Over the weekend Mitt Romney made an appearance at a NASCAR race in Virginia. There was an awkward moment when he asked a NASCAR driver why he didn’t just hire a chauffeur.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama spoke last night. The speech must have been pretty good because today Clint Eastwood said he was voting for the chair. Did you see the Bill Clinton speech? He killed them with one word: arithmetic. He said Republicans lack skills in arithmetic, which by the way, is not fair to Sarah Palin because if there’s one thing her family has proved it can do is multiply.” –Bill Maher “Mitt, you just keep demanding that Americans answer the question: are you better off than you were four years ago? But just don’t answer it yourself, cause that would mean releasing more than two years of tax returns.” –Stephen Colbert

“We got some bad economic news. The United States has slipped further down the global ranking of the world’s most competitive economies. We’re now #7. Switzerland is number one. Romney said, ‘See, that’s why I keep my money there.’ “The economy is so bad, I saw Mitt Romney at the supermarket buying Lobster Helper.” –Jay Leno “Yesterday, Nicki Minaj revealed that in her new song, she only sarcastically endorsed Mitt Romney. Or as Republicans put it, ‘Wow, you too?’” –Jimmy Fallon “Mitt Romney released another ad that features Hispanic voters speaking in Spanish. The ad ends with him saying, ‘I’m Mitt Romney, and I have no idea what these people are saying.’” –Conan O’Brien

So that’s my college report. On this sweet day of apples and honey, let’s hope, for at least for our children’s sake, that one day the world comes to its senses, and we can watch the national news without wondering what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on. However, I’m not counting on it real soon.

We’ll catch you once again winning the U.S. Open and showing the world why you’re the most dominant female player in tennis history. Aloha, mahalo and later, Serena Williams fans.


  1. A very loving tribute for a prodigal son. But wait, it doesn’t have to end now – I hear UCSB has some great graduate programs – and a Dean’s list too…

    Comment by Eli Manning — September 17, 2012 @ 7:44 am

  2. Now that I’ve wiped the tears off of my ipad, i can type these words of thanks for preparing me for what is ahead of us in 2 months, if Romney gets elected….oh, and about four years from now when my son takes off with his laundry bag. Blessings. Happy new year!

    Comment by Obama Mama — September 17, 2012 @ 8:24 am

  3. You got a keeper that got away. Miss him already.

    Comment by formerstatsgirl — September 17, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

  4. Beautifully written piece, one of your finest efforts. Jason will be sorely missed, especially by his biggest fan. Doesn’t UCSB have a Lifelong Learner’s program or a need for an intramural beach volleyball Commissioner?

    Comment by Dads R' Us — September 19, 2012 @ 8:40 am

  5. We’ve shared a lot of rites of passage together – the first day of kindergarten, changing elementary schools in their last year after a huge two year battle, one year of mainstream middle school, and 6 amazing years at PCS. Now our first borns have flown from the nest – Sarah made it to the East Coast and hasn’t looked back. She also has a view of the ocean from her dorm and classrooms – the Atlantic Ocean! Congratulations to Jason – I wish him well although I know he will do great. And I I hope to see you on the cliff in the early mornings to watch the sunrise, share stories about our kids that are still home and find out how our college aged young adults are faring. I look forward to it!

    Comment by Carrie — September 19, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

  6. As one who has just now started to follow your blogs,and beautiful pictures that capture the area we live in. I enjoyed reading this, as a Grandmother now with my little 2yr old grandson and my daughter making the changes in their lives,I cant help but wonder which path they will go down..What I do know is that your children need love know matter how old they are and support. You always miss them when they are not near you. I wish your son Jason a good year and for you Dad we will catch up during our AM talks. Thank you Elaine

    Comment by Elaine — September 20, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  7. Man, I’ve allegedly been through this before, too many times to count. (Actually, it’s an exciting rite of passage, sort of like finding out who Honey Boo Boo is.)

    Comment by Shawn Kemp — September 21, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

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