"Would you break up with her for me?" she asked.
I stayed silent.
"Don't answer that."
  September 25, 2005

WHO I WANT TO MEET: Miranda July. At a used bookstore. In the theatre section. Her cell phone rings and she says, "I hate these fucking things." I say, "You wanna have some tea?" She says, "Absolutely. Then we'll go to a play. Or see some modern dance." We leave and buy used jackets on the way to the tea house.

...Or someone like her. Same situation.
  So. Here we are. Friends, family, assorted loved ones -- thank you for joining us tonight.

I remember five years ago, back in grade eight, at break and lunch time I would get hungry and always borrow money from someone to buy milk or soup or whatnot. And just to be funny or to make sure I'd have enough time to pay them back, I would always say, "Hey, I'll pay you back before we graduate," because, you know, we're never going to graduate! Uh oh. Well, let it be known I am a man of my word, so, Anita Sahai, [FIVE DOLLAR BILL] I have here five dollars for you.

What I really mean is that we can all take time for granted. Back in grade eight, graduation seemed to be an eternity away. We would think, "Wow! I'll never be in grade twelve!" Now look at us. Standing before you, everyone looking beautiful and all, my friends, are graduates. Graduates? But we just got here! And now you're telling me, we have to leave? Time sure has done a number on us, because just yesterday I was twelve years old. And now, I am seventeen. Just yesterday we entered Gladstone, tiny, impressionable youths, and in the blink of an eye, we will soon leave Gladstone, wiser, smarter, and most of us (not all of us), taller.

The journey has been incredible. Five whole years at Gladstone -- basically one quarter of our lives. We've experienced so much at this one place; we grew up here. Of course, the adventure was not upon ourselves only. There are many people who have helped us in our growth, in our journey. They are the teachers, the people whom without, all this magic would not be realized.

Why does a teacher teach? Of course, it is his/her job -- to get paid. But why would a person want to suffer the agony of keeping young hooligans in line, trying desperately to pound some knowledge and sense into our ever-so-thick skulls, day in day out, just to earn a measly few dollars? I know it goes deeper than that, so I think, what is it then?

Passion. A passion to communicate with a younger generation. A passion to set young people on a solid path. A passion to prepare the ignorant for a world where one cannot survive without some background, some depth, some knowledge. Sure we have disputes with our teachers and yes, we may never see eye to eye, but we realize that we do appreciate your guidance throughout our five years. We do know that without you people we would be lost. So, to every teacher, principal, counsellor, the office staff, cafeteria person (for keeping milk cheap) engineer, every member of the staff: thank you. Thank you for your passion.

One person in particular has great importance in our hearts, and that is Mr. Van Soldt. Franky! Mr. Van Soldt, you were always there when we needed you. You are the one thing that never left us, that remained constant during all these years, from day one. I would never think that a staff member would leave such an impact on our lives. But you do more than just your job. You take each and every one of us with you when you leave your office, and on weekends; I know you worry. And care. About us. About our lives. ...Guidance counsellor what? You've been our friend. Thank you.

You know, often our most profound, sincere feelings never get a chance to be expressed. That is because we assume them to be understood, never needing to be spoken out. I never get a chance to say this at home, so for myself, and for every other graduate who never says what is often kept silent, I am trying to thank our families. Now, our parents are real troopers! I mean, think about what they've had to put up, for seventeen or eighteen years. And they're still smiling! How can we even begin to thank our parents for such an enormous effort? For giving us life, for letting us grow up, for loving us even when we could not return the emotion? Let me say what is never said enough. To our families, and most definitely our parents: We love you.

Now, how about us and our time at Gladstone? Okay, Gladstone is very strong at academics, sports, and arts, but we won't remember all that much about SCHOOL. We will not remember that crazy exam we wrote last week, or that painful essay we had to write two years ago. All those hours that we've spent on homework (and some of us ...all those minutes!!) will be forgotten. I value Gladstone for its most special gift -- it is where we all met each other.

It is the friends we made at Gladstone that we should all cherish and take to heart. I mean, seriously, the government takes little kids from... what is it?... twelve thousand different elementary schools, flings them into one high school, and lets us do the sorting out ourselves. We were all so lost, until we magically made friendships with all those other kids. Then we weren't so lost anymore. We felt needed, and appreciated. And here we are today. Hey guys, let us not forget how valuable we are to each other. [GLASS OF WATER] Cheers to Gladstone, for making us friends.

So. Our time here is almost up. Pretty soon, we will go our own ways and live our lives, for real. But let us take a look back. We've spent five years at Gladstone. Five years of pain, tears, bliss, rage, everything. Five years of growing up. Together. Take what Gladstone has given us: wisdom, experience, compassion, and friends -- all the memories in and outside of school, and let us face our futures with confidence. I know we shall succeed in whatever it is we wish. We are all prepared to face tomorrow. We are all ready to say to the world, with open arms, "I am here." We are all grown up. Let us never take time for granted.

Gladstone Graduates of 1996, thanks for the past, and here's to our futures. And remember, this is not and ending. This is a beginning. So let's celebrate. Thank you.

: Norman Yeung
June 2, 1996
  August 1, 2004

Look at my paintings. Almost none of them have people touching each other. They are so alienated, occupying their own spaces. I should make some paintings where the people are in close touch.
  June 11, 2005

My fear is that someone will accuse me of being a fraud, and be right.
  I miss you most when I'm drunk.