Sunday, May 22, 2011

Aviva's a Doctor

So last week, my wife finished up her five years at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and is now a doctor - I am so incredibly proud of her. And even more excited about the fact that now, when people write us a formal greeting, they address it to "The Doctors Gaskill", which just sounds awesome.

The celebration for Aviva's graduation actually lasted a lot longer than just the day, as we spent the weekend with Aviva's sister Rachel and her adorable kids Dylan and Joey. We went hiking at Ward Pound Ridge on Saturday, which was great, we walked up to the Leathermans' cave and caught frogs and dragonflies (you can see Dylan and I hunting for more frogs here on the left, and Dylan and Joey playing on the trail to the cave below). And then I went and did the AIDS walk Sunday with my cousin Julia before meeting Aviva, Rachel, Dylan and Joey in Brooklyn and heading over to my aunt Debbies in Long Beach to celebrate my cousin Toby's birthday and take the kids to the beach. The best part of this afternoon was watching Dylan have an incredible time playing with my cousin Amanda's daughter Sarah, chasing dragons all over the house and the beach.

The big day (graduation) was on Tuesday, and we started with brunch at Norma's with my parents David & Peg, Aviva's parents Bucky & Tanya, her aunt Irene, her sister Rachel and our nephew and niece Dylan and Joey. Breakfast was fabulous, I had a incredible duck confit hash that replaced the potatoes normally in hash with duck, making it essentially a delicious mix of duck, peppers and onions ... having said that Tanya's gigantic belgian waffle covered with fresh fruit was unbelievable.

Being together with family is pretty awesome, and just breakfast would have made for a pretty great day - but obviously Aviva's graduation made breakfast essentially an afterthought. After breakfast we all headed up to Washington Heights, to the main campus of Yeshiva University, where we met up with Koffman (who quite thoughtfully brought the flowers which all the rest of us forgot) and my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Steve and we all watched Aviva and a number of the wonderful friends we have made (really Aviva made and I just kind of inherited) over Aviva's time at Ferkauf walk and get hooded. I have to say, I have seen a number of graduations and been in two of my own, and generally they were fairly boring. And structurally this one wasn't really any different from those other graduations, but it was awesome ... I was so thrilled and proud of her that the ceremony was fantastic. Afterwards we all headed over to a reception put on by Yeshiva, where I got to watch with delight as my parents and aunt & uncle mixed almost seamlessly with Aviva's parents, aunt and sister. That (and watching my wife smile enormously as she was hooded) was really the best part of the day for me. We all hung out for a few hours and then headed back downtown, where we visited my parents hotel room in the crazy, modern hotel Andaz with Debbie & Steve before heading home.

While most people went home on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, Aviva and my celebration continued for one more night, as we met up with Tanya and Bucky in the city for an unreal dinner at Nobu. Fantastic sake (YK35 - which apparently means that only the best 35% of the original rice grains were used to make this sake that was so silky and flavorful I didn't believe it was actually sake) and ridiculous sashimi. Incredibly thin and so well flavored, all four of the sashimi that we tried (yellowtail with jalapeno, fluke with ground red miso, tuna in salad with ginger-onion marinade and another fabulous tuna) we just wonderful. And the hot dishes and sushi, particularly the rock shrimp with a tangy kind of orange-spicy aioli and the unagi, were also tremendous - though nothing compared to the sashimi. All together, dinner was awesome, entirely satiating and an incredible amount of fun, as it often is when we go out with Bucky & Tanya. A fitting and wonderful end to a fantastic few days celebrating Aviva's graduation.

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