Good grades in everything but math and hair

hank grad 3 1990

Right on schedule, I’ve become one of those tedious people who measures the passage of time in varying degrees of disbelief and iPod playlists.

According to reunion literature that came in the mail and which I tossed in the trash, it’s been 20 years since I graduated from Loyola. (Bachelor of Arts — major in journalism, minor in religion.)

Thanks to Mary Degnan, who took several rolls of film of me and so many other people back then, I have pictures like these, taken before baccalaureate Mass on that rainy, frizzy, swampy New Orleans Sunday afternoon — May 13, 1990.

Graduation was held was held the next afternoon at Municipal Auditorium. Martin Sheen, a radical Catholic of the sort who are no longer invited to give commencement speeches at Catholic colleges, gave the commencement address.

hank grad 1990The oh-so-sure-of-himself 21-year-old mugging it up for you here is, in fact, me. In a matter of days, I’d be packing up clothes, cassettes, an Apple Macintosh Plus com-poo-tor, a bunch of books, and making my way to Los Angeles with about $650 in my checking account, to look for an apartment, start a summer internship, and get my officially grown-up life started.

Even now, I still have that cliché anxiety dream, about twice a month, where there’s a class or final exam I forgot about, and I run around in a panic trying to correct my transcript. Diploma revoked! Oh no! The dream usually ends when I accidentally step in front of one of these.

The glasses and the hairdon’t? I’ll just have to own it. Though in my defense I would like to submit to the court a few issues of the old, original Details magazine. I would also like to play Depeche Mode’s Music for the Masses, the Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs, They Might Be Giants’ Flood, and XTC’s Oranges and Lemons for the jury, while also pointing out to them that the No. 1 song on the charts this particular week was “Vogue,” and then see if they’re not with me.

What the kid in this picture doesn’t know about life could fill several cardboard boxes — boxes he doesn’t have room to take anyhow. Long story short, everything seems to have worked out okay.

In that circular way the universe has of bringing it all back around again, my niece and nephew (the twins), who were fussy toddlers at my graduation (sorry for the noise, Martin Sheen), are graduating this week from George Washington University here in D.C., and from Goucher College, up I-95 in Towson, Md.

[Insert tedious and unlistened-to lectures about life and dreams here.]

I’m sure I’ll get a nice long dose of inspirational wisdom this week, between various baccalaureate and departmental ceremonies at both colleges. One of the commencement speeches will be from some lady.


  1. DZ on May 12, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Fab. I skipped my graduation, so I’ve never felt the indignity of the mortarboard. But the sepia tone classes it up.

  2. Nance on May 13, 2010 at 12:13 am

    I think you look cute. And modern.

  3. blathering on May 13, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Ah…Crayola. I have no idea who my commencement speaker was.
    Does Judy know? I thought you were supercool. And I was almost
    run over by a streetcar; I was running to class late in the rain,
    with my umbrella angled down against the rain. I only stopped at
    the last moment & I saw the fear on the driver’s face. Killing
    me would have totally ruined his day.

  4. Judy Coode on May 27, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Sorry, late to the commenting … Our speaker was Theodore Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame. I don’t remember a word he said but my sisters were impressed.

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