Nothing special about today. Except for the reminders. The ones that are in front and above my desk as I work remotely.
The picture of me with the cap and grow and two tassels (one for each major). And the smile that could have solved the worlds’ energy problems for the next century.
And then, the piece of high-quality paper with my full name, signifying that I graduated from the University of Oregon.
On June 15, 1996.
Yes. It’s been twenty-five years since I stepped onto Hayward Field, heard Ann Curry give the graduation speech, and formally finished my undergraduate studies. End of college.
But everyone remembers how they got there and everything else that took place. For me, it was a long road, involving another school called WPI, which I still have good memories of. Especially since started my studies there as well as fencing. But college ended years later at UO and my years in Eugene, Oregon during the mid-90s are a big part of my life, as well as some really good memories as well.
A lot of things have changed since then. I’m seeing kids that I knew as toddlers are now graduating from high school or in the process of thinking about college. I took a side trip to Eugene on my way to Vancouver in September 2017. Needless to say, the school has been doing a lot with Philp Knight’s money! New buildings, buildings that I went to renovated, etc.
And I just missed getting the last glimpse of the original structure of Hayward Field before its complete renovation – it was already flattened and cleared when I got there. It’s up and running with various athletics events and more so with next week’s Olympic trials.
So it’s been 25 years. Yes, the world has changed. I’ve changed. I could say that it’s surprising but it’s more about amazement than anything else.
Before (lots of online) conferences and getting a new job after a year and a month of unemployment, I said the following because a lot of people, including me, were feeling this pressure unduly put on us during the pandemic.
If someone asks you “What have you done during the past year?” and they’re putting you down for not doing enough in their squirrelly little minds,
You’ve earned the permission to say “F*** you!” #JustSaying
This morning, CBS Sunday Morning gave recognition to Aaron Copland, who died today in 1990. They showcased the familiar list of works such as Appalachian Springs (1944), Fanfare for the Common Man (1942), and ended the segment with a pianio/violin duo briefly playing Hoe-down from Rodeo (1942). His sound is so iconic that it’s become a soundtrack for America.
But my favorite Copland work is one that is rarely played, even in its orchestrated version – Nonet for String (1960). It’s a slow, tense, yet gentle work, written at the start of his last period of composing. If I were to describe it to someone hearing it for the first time, the best description would be the following:
Imagine Copland writing Appalachian Springs again 20 years later. But instead of the vigor and confidence of the former, imagine someone who has 20 years of experience. A person with less vigor and bits of doubt creeping here and there. Representing an America that has also changed during those 20 years.