\You know how sometimes life just gets so overwhelming that you don't know what to say - all the words stack up behind your cerebral cortex, logjammed and tangled like some sort of insane game of pickup sticks. That's what happens when you're dropping 3 kids and three colleges in 9 days or so. Houston, Texas. Boulder, Colorado. St. Louis, Missouri.
All great schools and a good fit for each of my kids.
Houston // Rice.
Rice had a STEM, celebratory vibe. They did this great things where the kids were rolling up where they all chanted the kids name. Ally! Ally! Ally!
Highlights. The campus. Montrose. The people. Houston just feels like a big vibrant city that people actually live in. Ally had a good time thrifting. Another highlight was eating w Ally's roommates' family at Pondicherry. Also, running with my wife in Memorial Park. Sticky - ran on the mountain bike tracks about four miles.
Indeed, we ate well in Houston, attempting to pack on the freshman fifteen in three days.
Best coffee: Catalina Coffee company, next to the Reserve men's store.
Best meals: Snooze A.M. breakfast burrito and the Hobbit Cafe.
Boulder // University of Colorado
Highlights: Nature. Trail run along Ceran St. Verain Trail. Hiking from Brainard Lake to Blue Lake. The wonderful house we stayed in above Jamestown and dinner with the cousins. We had ten people with the surname Godsil in one place. It had been awhile. Can't wait to go back. We will stay at Scott & Heidis when we go back - Scott will be in Utah, but it's good to have a free place to stay.
It seems like we spent all of our time in Boulder on Pearl Street.
The Bookstore there was great.
Best Coffee: Boxcar on Pearl Street - really good.
It was so good to be back in the west. Colorado University and Boulder just feels like a city of healthy young people. Virgil said that they couldn't remember being around so many people their own age. Will will do well there. He's spending this weekend in Breckenridge at a retreat with other people in the business class. I don't think he needs to play baseball there - what a gift here, but there's so much to do there.
St. Louis // Washington University
The campus is absolutely beautiful. Brick buildings and green quads - archetypically collegiate. A very special place. The home of scholar-champions - they do take the whole 'scholar' thing very seriously. Really glad we aren't doing the Ivy Preppy thing. Everyone was so nice. Our flight back ended up getting delayed there which was a gift - we got to spend an extra day with Virgil/Morgan. She went for the weekend with the Danforth Scholars to a camp on a lake. Great way to get introduced to college.
We saw one presentation by the Sam Fox School. Straight-laced; not really all about the nose ring at tattoo crowd. That's a good thing. Virgil may be a They, but that's not really who we are.
St. Louis had a great coffee shop - Kaldi and the most consistent food. We ate a lot of crepes.
If it's possible, I think that St. Louis out-humiditied Houston but we did get in a great run in Forest Park.
The place we stayed at was sub bar - though the last night we stayed at the Moonrise Hotel, and that was fun.
So that's the bulletpoint rundown.
Lots of excitement now back to the daily grind.
I'm actually just floating on a Pink Cloud. My college experience was such a shit show, a hassle, not well-considered at a all just a box to be checked while I did my nihilistic self-destruct party/music scene thing - this is just so great that the my kids get to do their education the right way. This feels like redemption. My thrills are more than vicarious. I do feel like I'm going to school with them.
Had a brief text interchange with my sister. She asked if I'm overwhelmed. I'm not overwhelmed. Two of my sister's most commonly used words are overwhelmed and relaxing. My sister and I are a lot alike but we have a different emotional vocabulary.
I don't do overwhelmed really well. Work and deadlines overwhelm me. Anything that involves performance anxiety basically.
"Relaxing" - I don't know anything about that. In the past, when I have told my sister we were going on retreat to the Blue Mountain Center, she said "that sounds relaxing." Like it was a spa with a hot stone massage or something. I've been thinking about what to say for over a decade now and how to explain to her that my spiritual practice is about as easy relaxing as climbing El Capitan on a razor scooter, and I still don't know how to respond. It's just not the right word.
But back to the matter at hand.
Mom hugged Ally, and then Morgan/Virgil and then Will and last of all, the awkwardness of Dad. Each of us hugged Ally in turn and I told her that she could never do any wrong, and she could call me any time for anything. And that she was the one like me, the one that makes lists. Like her Granddad building his boats, like her Dad chasing the Atman and/or whatever it is that I do nowadays work.
And she is the one like me. She's intense. An outmoded frame of reference called it Type A.
And then she walked off and joined the group of other kids. The CEO of the playground. She will crush it here. And hopefully, being around 98% super focussed nerds will soften her a bit.
She will come back not so much changed but colored-in.
We let her go 10-15 minutes earlier than the other parents. We're watching the deadline. Not clinging. How could we? We've been working toward this moment for 18 years. Every trip to the bookstore. Every walk across a seemingly random college campus in towns from Vancouver, BC to Princeton, NJ. We are Godsils. This is what we do.
And then all the other parents asking questions like, idk, are they going to have enough toilet paper?
I think it's included peeps.
And then we leave and go to The Hobbit Cafe, and get a table for four.
And that's when it hits - right?
Table for four.
The map hanging on the wall show the coast of Gondor. Outside the lightening crashes like the world is rebirthing itself. I'll have the Tolkien Bowl. Will orders too much food. Tracey orders too much food. Morgan can't help but order too much food but she gets a black bean burger than looks like it came from the mines of Morea and we eat.
And there's no one hunched over, talking to fast, getting food on her face, slinging opinions like webs ...
Table for four.
Next stop, Boulder.
And now she's your problem.
We are leaving her here with you, we'll pin a note to her thrift store dress. Educate her, prepare her for life. This one has a heart of gold, excellent taste in art, music and design, a creative soul and the ambition of a CEO. She has a bright future, and she will glow all the more for the time she'll spent here with you.
So far, Ally seems to be really enjoying herself. She loving the southern, city vibe. We've had some solid meals - I'm still digesting the Breakfast burrito I ate at Snooze a.m yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday, we toured the Rice Campus. By chance, we met the head of the O-Week welcoming committee and even Kyle, the Executive Chef who ensured that Ally and other vegetarians have their own food stream, and vegan and vegetarian options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We had burgers and ice cream last night, and this morning Tracey and I did a four mile run on the winding trails in Memorial Park. Absolutely sweating my ass off. Felt good.
Today, we're meeting Ally's roommates family for brunch at Pondicheri - another fusion restaurant. Everything is a fusion here because the city is a fusion. The north talks a good game, but when it comes to actually mixing cultures, the south does it better.
It's thundering and lightening outside. Very, very frightening. If this were a 19th century novel, something dramatic would be happening. It does indeed sound like the Gods are going bowling.
Today was our last day "in the office" for awhile. Tomorrow, we get on a plane to go drop my 18 year old triplets at college. Our first stop is Houston, Texas to drop off Ally. She will be studying Public Policy at Rice University. We are going to being staying there about 4 days. My wife is a graduate of Rice, so hanging out in Houston is going to be a humid, sticky stroll around memory lane for her. Then we say goodbye to Ally and head to Boulder, Colorado to drop off Will. He's going to be studying business at Colorado University. He's part of the Leeds Business Leadership Program, which is cool. He'll start his college career with a retreat at Breckinridge, so yeah. Not a bad way to go. The final drop off is Morgan, aka Virgil in St. Louis at Washington University. They will be studying Art & Design at the Sam Fox School.
So that's that.
When people used to see me with my cute-as-hell kids when they were little, they'd always say "Enjoy. It goes fast." And guess what? It goes fast.
I used to dread them going to college - mostly the expense. But now I'm just glad to be getting it over with all at once.
I think I would perhaps have a different attitude if we hadn't all been locked in the same house for the last 18 month - but I'm really ready to see them start off on their own adventure. I'm looking forward to visiting them. I'm looking forward to the various projects I have planned.
But mostly, I'm just looking forward - right now, to just getting out of the house, reading some books, smelling some vaguely fart-scented recycled air, choking on my own mask-taste, and having an aching back, stiff knees and if I'm lucky, only mild constipation.
Here's to traveling.
Molly, Eliud and me.
I spent the last two evenings watching the Olympic marathons. August 6th, was the women's marathon and the men's event happened on the 7th - for me anyway. Tokyo is, what, 13 hours ahead of Montclair, New Jersey and so their 7 a.m. is our 6 pm. I saw two thrilling examples of athletic achievement - one, simply stunning because of the surprise and sheer grit; the other amazing because of its transcendent inevitability. One was a come-from-Wisconsin Underdog; the other, the best runner of his generation - the best of any generation, if you're going by the clock. (alright then; cliffhanger! I'm going to finish this post after I go for my Sunday 40-mile bike ride.)
Okay, I'm back. So in the women's marathon, it was Molly Seidel. She did not win, but her bronze medal felt like a victory for all of us. She was the underdog that came out of Nowhere, Wisconsin. The race was run in brutal, humid conditions. By the time I turned it on there were only four women in the lead pack. The attrition was stunning. Two Kenyans, and Eritrean and Molly Seidel. Molly was running only her 3rd competitive marathon ever - which is two less than I've run - and in her words she was just there to "stick her nose in where it wasn't wanted" and see what happens. Eventually, the Eritrean broke and it was just her and the two Kenyans, who were running as partners, sharing water and ice and encouraging each other and occassionally looking at Molly as if to say - what are you doing here?. From the New York Times ... "Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, 27, her grand hair swaying to and fro, budged ahead of her teammate Brigid Kosgei, 27, to win in 2 hours 27 minutes 20 seconds. Sixteen seconds later, Kosgei, the world record holder from the 2019 Chicago Marathon, won silver. And then whoa, 10 seconds after that came Molly Seidel, 27, the Wisconsinite and Notre Dame graduate and Boston resident who trained in Arizona heat with teammate Aliphine Tuliamuk (who did not finish) and wrung a soaring third place from her third marathon ever."
And the wonderful thing about Molly is that she really comes off as down to earth - girl next door - as exotic as a cold Budweiser and as wholesome as a bowl of Wheaties - and that's exactly why she should be on the box. Her transparent joy when she thanked her parents back home and said, "drink a beer for me" was beyond heartwarming. Among many touching Olympic moments, it was right up there.
And finally, her absolute guilelessness in even attempting to do what she did. To get up, eat a breakfast of eggs and toast and "alot of coffee" and go out and run as hard as you can for over 2 hours - four times longer than your normal competitive distance which is the 10k in 86% humidity with people being carried away on stretchers all around you - that's the sort of naivete that you hope a whole generation of runners and anyone who wants to take on the impossible is paying attention to.
I'm not a "real" runner by any stretch of the imagination, though, as I mentioned, I've run a few and I've been running since the my mid 20's when I cleaned up my life, attempted to quit smoking, and said to myself "I'm just going to run down around the reservoir once, which is 1/3 of a mile, and then tomorrow, I'll run around it twice. And I'll keep adding a lap until I get to 3 miles and then I'll just start running somewhere and I'll see how it goes."
I got bored after running in circles the 3rd or fourth day and just started running and I've never looked back. I ran in Seattle and then ran on the beach when I interviewed in LA. I thought to myself, "it's 70 degrees and it's April and I'm not choking on smog. I guess I can do LA."
I used to run around the golf course in Brentwood and then I would run all the way down San Vicente to the beach and back from my apartment at 550 Barrington. That was 7 miles. And then I would jump in the pool at the apartment complex and feel kind of guilty about not showering first but it felt so awesome!
Tracey and I ran our first 1/2 marathon together in San Pedro. After that, we ran the LA marathon, the inaugural Rock-n-Roll marathon in San Diego, The Seattle Marathon, the Vancouver Marathon and the Portland Marathon and the 5ks 10k and half marathons are too numerous to count.
After we moved to San Diego my regular Sunday Long run was 16 miles - from our home in Mission Hills down past the Presidio, along the river and out to Mission Beach. I really enjoyed the challenge and the feeling of depletion.
I know what it's like to bonk, to dehydrate, to wobble, to hit the wall, to experience the beginnings of heat stroke.
So when I watch the marathoners, I have an empathetic connection with the runner. I admire the quick cadence and way that the best runners seem to bounce off the ground. Not that you or I could ever be an elite runner. My personal best marathon was 3'43"; my person best half was 1'35." I was always best on the hills because of my short stride and huge quads.
During the second running of the Rock and Roll marathon - which I did not participate in - I rode my bike down to the finish, and watched as the Kenyans and Ethiopians crossed the line. They weren't winded. The winner didn't even put his hands on his knees. And I realized in that moment as I sat stradling my bike, 6 feet away from this extraordinary individual that I could just as soon train or will my way to doing what he did, as I could decide to be seven feet tall.
Eliud Kipochoge is the ultimate example of this sort of gifted runner. His story, in a sense, was the opposite of Molly's - he was the overdog, the world record holder, the defending Olympic Gold medalist and the only one to ever run a marathon under two hours (aided.)
Watching him was just as inspiring. The runners ran in a pack until mile 18, at which point, he waved to Galen Rupp as if to say, "You've been tailing me all morning, why don't you take the lead - I'm ready to take off, let's go." Galen did not take the bait, and Kipochoge literally took off like he had the wings of mercury on his ankles. He finished more than a minute ahead of the next runner. He's the Lebron of running; that gifted, that superior, and yes he works that hard.
His personal motto is "No Human is Limited."
And I think, yes and no. I cannot be Eliud Kipochoge. But thanks to Molly & Eliud and the rest of the Olympic athletes, I have spent the day asking myself, what limits am I putting on myself?
Bowakawa, poussé poussé
Just finished reading Number Nine Dream by David Mitchell. I loved everything but the last half of the last page. So much to love! I feel like I've lived in Tokyo now and to make it even more impactful, the Tokyo Olympics are going on right now which added context, visual and emotional.
But with the ending, I'm trying to get what the eff he was trying to do. I mean really. What a rip off. Is resolution just too much to ask from a serious writer? Is it just not art if it doesn't end sad?
Eiji Miyake is one of my favorite young protagonists ever. Compelling and real. I've invested part of life with this kid. I'm pulling for him through everything. I'm loving his grit and determination. I'm feeling his pain, the loss of his his sister. I'm falling in love with Ai and the curve of her neck.
And then, what?! An earthquake kills everyone he loves?
Is life really that arbitrary? Do sense need to make sentences? What's the point? Was the wind god still angry for sawing off his head? (I get the tsunami upon his return.) Is he good friends with the Earthquake God? I mean, really - hasn't this kid been through enough? Tortured nearly to death by the Yokuza. Dead sister. Come the eff on.
And it's such a red herring to have this simple, sweet unconsummated love affair with Ai.
I get that life is a dream and it ends with chapter 9 still needing to be written. That indeed, all of Tokyo was a dream for the author, and maybe cities and stages of our lives and our culture has no more substance than a dream in the mind of of whichever God had too much spicy food last night.
I just listened to the John Lennon song. I didn't realize that song was called Dream Number Nine.
Goodness, these self-involved artists.
Bowakawa, pousse pousse, Indeed.
Anyway, highly recommended reading next time there's a Tokyo Olympics. You'll feel like you're there.