1. What's something you remember about your high school graduation?
I believe the commencement speaker was John Steadman, a local-legend-type sportswriter for the (now long-gone) Baltimore News-American. Also, I remember who the valedictorian was, because it was yours truly. But the honor was just a designation; there were, sadly, no speech-giving privileges attached.
2. If you were asked to speak at a commencement ceremony this year, what would be the theme of your message?
You don't want me speaking at your commencement. With my jaundiced view of life, I'd either depress the graduates ("Some day you'll realize how very little any of this -- or of anything -- matters") or scare their parents ("Life's short, kiddos, so if there's even one thing you want to do *right this very minute* that you think is less likely to happen should you postpone it for as much as a day, then leave right now and go do that thing").
3. What items in your possession are marked with the name or logo of your high school or college?
The vintage HS-branded stuff includes four yearbooks and (somewhere) a bright purple windbreaker jacket. Oh, and I have two fabric "J"s from lettering in music (once for chorus and once for band), but I never sewed them onto anything. More recent acquisitions include a school-logo'd car magnet (actually on my car!) that came as a bonus gift for joining my alma mater's PTA a couple years ago at the request of a friend who lives in my old town (they wanted my money, not my input). Picked up in the same transaction was one of those ubiquitous silicone wrist bands, also purple and emblazoned with the town/school name.
College logo'd items are equally few in number here. There are the obligatory four yearbooks, as well as a Christmas ornament I bought in the bookstore as a senior for my family's tree, then took with me when I married. Sitting right in front of me is a nice desktop clock sporting the college's name and seal. I'm thinking that I received it as a gift maybe 15 years ago, for ... gosh, I'm not 100% positive what it was for! Possibly it was a thank-you for accepting an invitation to return to campus with various other alumni who'd won national fellowships back in our respective days (mine was a Fulbright) to give advice to the then-current crop of applicants? I know I did that, anyhow. Oh! And I believe I might also have a logo'd mug, purchased in the bookstore during that 17-years-ago semester when I taught a course for my old philosophy department (talk about your strange experiences!).
4. What do you expect will be your next rite of passage?
All right, let's give this a little more thought. I'm approaching 60. Assuming I don't marry again (and that's a very safe assumption), it might be grandmother-hood: one of my kids seems to be on the verge of what will likely be a very traditional, nuclear-family-generating marriage. At the very least, this will grant me mother-in-law-hood, but I'm not sure that's a big-deal change of status.
I am too poor to ever get to stop working voluntarily, so it certainly won't be retirement. It might be applying for partial Social Security benefits as I continue working (though the age for that might keep increasing out of my reach!). Realistically, losing a parent could come somewhere in there, but you'll understand if I'm reluctant to guess when.
After that, yeah, the big D.
5. What's a good movie with a graduation scene, or a good movie with a graduation theme?
That I've seen? Wow, few are coming to mind. As I recall, there was a graduation in Legally Blonde that was satisfying in context. I also recall not hating the middle school graduation scene (though I don't approve in any way, shape, or form of middle school graduation ceremonies IRL) in the movie Crazy Stupid Love. Watch as Steve Carrell's character awkwardly hijacks the depressing speech given by his disappointedly love-lorn son: