​This post is not about wine. I apologize in advance. That being said, I just want to call attention to the fact that my daughter, Maria Gabriela Gaiser, is now a college graduate (cue marching bands, dancing bears, and general celebratory mayhem). For Maria, it’s the end of a very long nine years of school that started with four challenging years at Lowell High, San Francisco’s best public college prep high school where the students say, “your best hasn’t been good enough since 1856.” Follow that with two years in the foggy wilderness of San Francisco State that combined 8:00 AM classes with a part time job bagging groceries with all the other pirates at Andronico’s Market. 

After two years in the black hole that defines the California state university system and learning that any kind of a degree would take at least five years (longer for her major), Maria applied to four out of state schools: North Carolina, Michigan, Washington, and Colorado State. She was accepted almost immediately by UNC and offered financial aid. Late summer, she packed up and moved 3,000 miles away into a radically different culture, something I never came close to doing at the same age. 

Three years of the quintessential college experience at UNC followed, with dysfunctional roommates, scads of primitive but well-meaning young men, and long hours of studying, papers, and exams. Carla and I visited Maria often and we quickly found UNC to be a remarkable school and Chapel Hill to be a beautiful small town. But three years quickly flew by and Maria finished up the first week of May. She’ll be returning to Chapel Hill to work part time this summer and will take a break before applying to graduate schools. So Maria, congratulations–I’m incredibly proud of you. You are destined to do great things. 

Finally, on a completely different note, I have two thoughts I’d like to share. First, it occurs to me that with increased class loads and AP classes, the one thing our modern school system does perhaps better than anything else is making sure our kids master the art of being completely stressed out of their minds by the time they’re 21. We’re not talking about the, “I’m really worried about tomorrow’s exam,” kind of a thing. It’s more like kids experiencing sleep issues all the way to full on anxiety attacks. I’m convinced that this increased academic pressure is not making them better people in either their careers or adult lives. But they’re definitely getting proficient at experiencing stress and anxiety–two of the worst aspects of adulthood.

Second, I have a theory I’d like to put forth. I’ve begun to believe that short women, as in shorter than 5’5,” change the world. It doesn’t seem to be premeditated on their part; they just do things and don’t make a big deal out of it. I call them mighty mites. I’m married to one of them. Maria is one of them. I work with them (Madeline Triffon, MS and Melissa Monosoff,  MS). Be on the lookout for them. They’re everywhere quietly going about changing the world without strings attached or forcing personal issues on the rest of us much less the universe at large. Here’s to the mighty mites. And here’s to my Maria.