By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/6/2020
Posted: 5/12/2006
Topics/Keywords: #MichaelManion Page Views: 2667
Michael graduates for the second time this year.
Michael in his cap and gown.

Michael just graduated from Glendale Community College…for the second time.

The first time was last year. He graduated with an Associate's degree in General Studies, and proceeded to attend Arizona State University to get his Bachelor's.

But, to his surprise, a letter came in the mail from GCC advising him that he'd gotten more credits than he realized…and was qualified for a completely distinct, other Associates' degree in Arts.

Now, most people would accept the additional degree, as Michael did. But Michael decided to attend the second graduation ceremony as well, for two reasons:

  1. He had purchased his cap and gown the year before; and opportunities to wear it casually had turned out to be surprisingly few; and

  2. Last year, we had an attack of camera-itis and didn't get one single photo of the event. After all the work Michael had done to get his degree, not to mention the work I had done supporting him (proofreading his papers, showing him how to work Excel, and so on) the least we should have had as a result was a few photos.

So we went to the second ceremony.

It was just like the first one, except my Mom, who passed away a month or so ago, wasn't there this time. And, this time, we got a couple of pictures.

But it was close. First of all, my good digital camera, the one Michael bought us for our trip to the Western Parks, was down for the count with a bad battery. So I had to use a lesser camera that belongs to my son, and with which I am not familiar.

It immediately got scary when the procession of graduates emerged from the side of the building and I inadvertently switched the camera from still pictures to sound. I could tell I wasn't getting photos, but I didn't know why. Later, when I unloaded the camera's memory, the first few "shots" were audio files of me yelling, "Damn…damn it! God damn it! Fuck!" Meanwhile, Michael was holding up the procession, trying to wait out my apparent attack of Tourette's Syndrome so I could get his picture.

I then tried to photograph the crowd of graduates, seated before the stage. I had this idea that, if The graduating class.I could get a sharp enough, high-resolution shot, I might be able to isolate Michael from it. Unfortunately, the combination of the lens and my falling off the chair I was standing on resulted in this photo, which even when reduced to miniscule size remains blurry.

I should have gotten a terrific shot of Michael actually receiving his diploma. There was a space cleared for family photographers and I was there. But I could tell from the little screen on the back that the camera was misjudging the amount of available light; Michael's face was a white blur and his gown was a black blur. The photographer standing next to me, trying to photograph the person who went up just before Michael, was having the same problem.

"Damn!" he swore.

Michael with his diploma.

"Dammit!" I replied. And we both stamped our feet, but not on the cameras, as my camera didn't belong to me and, apparently, his didn't belong to him, either.

Finally, after the speeches and handshakes and closing music, and with my son helping to set the camera to use its built-in flash, I got this photo of Michael holding his diploma. But, as you can see, it wasn't very satisfying and that's why I asked him to pose for the shot at the beginning of this piece.

I have already advised Michael that, if he wants pictures of his next graduation, he'd better get a degree in digital photography.