Commencement Speakers of 2008

Oprah was at Stanford. She said, “Don’t just measure success by money; you should do what gives your life meaning” or something to that effect. (Self heard it over the car radio on her way to meet Stella K at Jollibee for dinner this evening, and though normally quite adept at paraphrasing, this one was a little tricky) It’s the kind of statement self will refer to from now on as an “Oprah-ism” — yeah! And, meanwhile, you know, you just know, 89.75 % of the students in the audience are thinking, “To heck with meaning! I’m going to make my first million before I’m 30!”

Gavin Newsom was at San Francisco State. He said: “What is the secret of all success? Winston Churchill, he said it was moving from failure to failure with enthusiasm.” (Go, Gavin, Go!) — Since self quoted the aforementioned from The New York Times, it is 100% accurate.

Al Gore was at Carnegie Mellon (Wow, cool! How did CM land him?)

Jessica Lange was at Sarah Lawrence (It figures) She told the students: “Be present.” (Quote again courtesy of The New York Times)

Richard Serra was at Williams (Oh, that is too, too cool). He said: “The virtual reality of the media, be it television or the Internet, limits our perception in that it affects our sense of space. It immobilizes our ability to apprehend actual physical space. Don’t let the rhetoric of simulation steal away the immediacy of your experience.” (Great, just great. This quote again courtesy of The New York Times)

J. K. Rowling was at Harvard. She said: “. . . rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” (Go, J.K., go! And thank you, New York Times, for the quote!)

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke at Gettysburg College. She said: “The only job offer I received in the private sector on my graduation from Stanford Law School many years ago was a job as a legal secretary.” (Thank you, New York Times, ad infinitum)

The Jollibee at 4th and Howard

Yes, it is just like being in Manila. And who cares that it is friggin’ cold outside, and the flags in front of the Moscone Center (hosting, today, an Endocrinologist Convention) are whipping around in a stiff breeze, and everyone else is in a parka (while self, you hopeless suburbanite, are dressed in only a thin T-shirt and a lightweight cardigan).

From the moment self walked in the door, and gazed on the displayed menu items that included (Be still, self’s beating heart) palabok, spaghetti with chopped sausage, and fried chicken in addition to the regular hamburgers —

From the moment she walked in and saw the pinays behind the cash registers. Pinays with Filipino accents —

From the moment she tasted one bite of that (sweet) spaghetti. And the fried chicken (each serving accompanied with little plastic cups of gravy) that tasted as if it had been marinated in something —

From the minute she partook of the palabok, and had that frozen ube drink with the sago balls —

She was there. In Manila. She was so there.

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