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December 15, 2002

(written February 8, 2003. VERY late again.)

Dear Friends and Families,

This is one of several diaries that seem like coming from months if not years ago. I guess it's been less than two months but still, forgive me for not offering news. For us, these are records more than notification anyway - and Gabby's Graduation is certainly worth memorializing.

Graduation was Friday the 13th. Not a good date selection but it was all good luck for us. Marianne had gone out to California a week early to visit with family and old friends. The friendships are old, not the friends! Gosh, they aren't any older than we are.

I showed up on Thursday, the 12th. It had been a long, but pretty uneventful flight. Marianne and I both commented that getting to the States from Frankfurt is much easier than the Kiev-to-America trip. There's just something non-threatening about a single-leg flight, starting in a big airport. We don't even have to reserve a taxi at this end because we have both an airport bus stop and a taxi stand almost at the corner of our apartment building. It's like catching the ride to work.

However, security getting into my work is nothing like security at the Frankfurt airport. I went through four separate checks, three of them with long lines. I was glad I'd allowed more than two hours for the process - and had remembered to carry-on only what might be needed: nothing sharp! Nevertheless, everyone in the lines seemed comfortable with the process. We all prefer delay to something far worse.

Marianne and her mom met me at San Francisco airport and we crawled down the freeway to our San Jose hotel. After our time on German autobahns, California freeways seem pretty slow: no Mercedes and BMWs zooming past at 120 mph.

That evening, we drove over to Santa Cruz to have dinner with Gabby's boyfriend Jeremy's parents. Gabby's grandmother was with us. I remember this first meeting of the almost-in-laws as a very nice dinner and evening, despite my 24-hour day. Waking up in Frankfurt and having evening dessert overlooking the Pacific is nice, but I wouldn't want to do it every day.

Graduation day started with a very pleasant breakfast in our hotel, the St. Claire. Our day would be pretty relaxed since the graduation was not until that evening and this suited my jet-lagged mind and body just right.

The monsoonal rains showed up just in time for us to head over to San Jose State. Our plan for a pleasant 20 minute walk changed and we grabbed a taxi, picked up the graduation girl and got as close to the graduation hall as we could.

Inside, the theater was filling with friends and families of the winter graduates of the San Jose State School of Journalism and Mass Communications. SJS is big, over 20,000 students, but graduation is broken down by majors. Consequently, this "off-season" graduation had the feel of a small school. That was nice. We also noticed that the graduates were mostly more-than-four-years from high school and the enthusiasm of both graduates and the audience showed that this was the completion of some long struggles.

The ceremony went about as well as can be expected. Speeches were made, and quickly forgotten by all but the most earnest. Names were mispronounced. Tears were shed. Whoops and hollers disturbed the gowned decorum. Everyone was proud of their graduate, and none prouder than us.

On Saturday, the rains continued but so did the celebration. Our friend Barbara graciously opened her home and allowed us to fill it up with friends and family. Gabby managed to hug babies, babe-friends, and the boyfriend. She worked the room like the journalism professional she'd trained to be!

But we all enjoyed the day, crowded inside out of the rain, catching up with people we see all too seldom. We only hope to see some of these folks in our German hometown in the upcoming months.

The party ended at about the time jet lag caught up with me. I had another plane ride scheduled early the next day, to see our new grandson. But that's another story.

Take care. Stay in touch. And remember, when she's reporting for CNN or the Discovery Channel, her name is pronounced "noon", hard for a professor but easy enough for the rest of us.

John and Marianne.



















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