Here we are once again, gentle readers—Chico State graduation week. In past years this grand event has been, well, a bit of a clusterfuss (note: this is the grad week-appropriate language you should immediately implement). As your leader, I feel it’s my duty to bring order to this chaos, therefore I have sacrificed several hours of my fading youth to sort all of you into the proper categories and compile some relevant advice. Join me, as I tell you how to be!DSC_3504

For the Visiting Parents

Welcome to Chico! You’re going to love our super safe town full of people in committed relationships. There are so many things to do and places to see, and all while showering your little munchkin with cleverly misspelled gifts of “Congradulations!”

As alluded to above, parents of prior graduates have made a few avoidable mistakes, and I am more than happy to help you gracefully step over them like so many steaming piles of dog doo, as you frolic around our various brunch spots and points of historical interest…

Which brings me to one of the most important subjects:


dogA lot of people like dogs, and as a consequence of that like, they bring their dogs on trips. Wouldn’t it be cute to see how happy the dog is to see Jimmy in his graduation cap? Yes, it would. But wait! Dogs aren’t allowed at the graduation ceremonies—or at restaurants, or most hotels, or pretty much anywhere. This leads to people leaving their dogs in the car a lot. It’s looking like this week it could get as hot as 100 degrees, and depending on a few variables, it can take as little as 15 minutes for it to hit 140 degrees in that car. Even if you’re parked in the shade with the windows cracked and a bowl of water on the seat, your dog could still die from heat stroke. Which means somebody is probably going to break your window and/or call the police and report you for animal abuse. I don’t make the rules (or the laws of physics), this is just the way things are.

But there is good news! There are several local providers of pet sitting or boarding services (not to mention slipping $5 to the neighbor kid who really loves dogs), and if you get on the ball early you can avoid the whole situation. Or, you know, you could just make sure the rental car insurance covers broken windows, and start looking for a replacement dog who looks just like the first dog and is willing to answer to the first dog’s name and can also do that adorable thing where he sounds just like he’s saying “I RUV ROO.”

(Note: if you are one of our local window-breakers, stop it! It’s against the law. You should call the police and let them handle the rescue.)

A few places that will watch your dog for you:

Wacky Wags Doggie Day Care Center
(530) 342-9247

Sitter For Your Critters
(530) 774-4995

Valley Oak Veterinary Center
(530) 342-7387

Happy 2B Home In Home Pet Care
(530) 570-3443

Noah’s Ark Pet Sitting
(530) 893-1738

Chico Paws and Claws
(530) 448-9561

Canine Connection
(530) 345-1912


You may be a person who likes breakfast, but around here we only do brunch, and as a result, Chico has a plethora of delicious brunching options. On a good weekend, larger parties can expect a half hour to an hour wait for this miracle-meal of champagne and maple syrup, and this is grad week—the population of hungry people with nice clothes to show off just jumped by about a billion. Avoid the mistakes of your predecessors; make reservations, or designate a scout who can go early and put their name on the list.

10307238_10152322207750219_2866607228613441702_nMom’s—Right off campus, and they have all the familiar brunchy/lunchy foods you love, plus a few creative options. They also have tons of morning appropriate cocktails, so you can feel good about drinking hard alcohol before noon.

209 Salem St
(530) 893-3446

DSC_3469Cafe Coda—On the far end of downtown, serving up a simple menu where all the standards are done up with a bit of a twist. The wait tends to be long, and sometimes they run out of random things, but they have dollar champagne during happy hour, and the food is very good. I recommend the Athens scramble, or the banana nutella french toast.

265 Humboldt Ave
(530) 566-9476

DSC_3505Red Tavern—A bit down the Esplanade, but they seldom have any wait (on the average weekend), the back patio is gorgeous and peaceful, and their food is innovative and delicious. Plus you can buy your champagne by the bottle, and who doesn’t love that?

1250 Esplanade
(530) 894-3463

1391939_743518492332041_1066242072_nSin of Cortez—A couple miles from downtown, with a bigger focus on coffee than any of the other places. The service isn’t known for being fast, but the wait time for seating is, and the food is creative and tasty.

2290 Esplanade
(530) 879-9200

321705_143741785725718_331857102_oRoots Catering—Waaay on the edge of town, but their menu is a quick trip around the world. It can be noisy if you like conversation, but if you want to just shut up and eat some really good food that is nothing like any other fare in town, this is the place for you.

3221 Esplanade
(530) 680 7980 or (530) 891-4500



DSC_3495Most of the time you’re here will likely be spent eating and drinking various things and coordinating the whereabouts of your dog, but now and then you’ll find yourself with a bit of freedom to explore Chico. I, for one, love the cliché touristy stuff, like touring Bidwell Mansion or Sierra Nevada Brewery, walking the campus of Chico State, and checking out the exhibit of old Chico photographs at the Chico Museum. If you’re an early riser, you can rent a bike or enjoy a beautiful walk in Bidwell Park before the day gets too hot, and if you like crowds of smoking teenagers, you can elbow your way through the downtown Thursday Night Market.

Chico also has a lot of great little shops, free concerts in the plaza on Fridays, a lovely farmers market on Saturday mornings, and there is an escalator at the JC Penney.


For the Grads

Congradulations, you did it! 4 – 16 years of hard studying and hard living, and you finally get a piece of paper to hang on your wall. There’s only one thing left for you to accomplish: navigating the sweet spot between how you really live, and how you’ve presented your life to your parents.

Let’s start by sorting the issues that are better resolved through mitigation from the ones that are better resolved through avoidance.

Things to mitigate: Easily disproven lies like the long-term relationship you made up, the safety of the neighborhood you live in, and any inflated expectations of how respectable your friends are.

Things to avoid altogether: conversations about your giant bong, your parents silently ignoring your giant bong, and having to throw away your giant bong.

The first part takes a little bit of finesse, but I believe in you, college grads! Your parents will immediately ask whether your significant other will be joining you for dinner—they’ve been dying to meet him/her!—so your best bet is to have a good story in your pocket, preferably a simple one that requires no proof or follow up. I suggest something along the lines of: “I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want to put a damper on the excitement of the weekend, but we split up. We realized we were never going to get married, and it was better to open ourselves up to other prospects.” The beauty in this story is that it reaffirms how mature you’ve become, provides a reason why you don’t want to focus the conversation on it, and avoids the complications that come from hiring a hobo.

You’ve also told your parents not to worry about all the stabbings they keep hearing about, because something something liberal media. The reality of our small town is that you’re never more than a few blocks from a hot mess. Easily fixed: First, plot a route away from your house that circumnavigates the rougher parts of town, winding through only the nice neighborhoods. Second, plan to leave an extra half hour ahead of time for basically everything.

Which brings me to your friends. You’re going to want to take a similar approach to navigating them as you do the route to your favorite restaurant: pick the people who look clean and well kept, buzz through your introductions so there’s less time for analysis, and steer clear of the ones who sell you weed.

Now for the important stuff: what to do about the bong. You spent a lot of [your parents’] money on it, you have another solid month before your lease is up, during which you’d like to retain its availability for fat rips, and it’s enormous and fragile. Putting flowers in it has been played since the ‘70s (which your parents were around for), putting it in the closet will work only as long as your parents don’t know how to turn a doorknob, and putting it under the couch cushions will result in breakage and reeking, wet butts.

The only option is to send it off to a boarder/bong sitter. I suggest dressing it as a dog and referencing the list printed in the previous section. The cost is well worth the safety of your precious paraphernalia, and it may learn some well needed obedience during its stay.

Oh, Me

I know, I know, you’re not this lying, conniving, party-person I’m painting you as. You’re an academic! A scholar! A full fledged adult who needs desperately to show this to your parents! So what do you really do this week?

First of all, try to pick up the check here and there. Your parents will probably insist on covering it because this is your special time, but it’s what equals do when dining together. Don’t do this when you go to Crush with a party of 10 and it’s way beyond your ability to follow through, but get the coffee, or the tacos, or at least insist on paying the tip (c’mon, it’s just the tip).

Second, make some executive decisions. Choose the restaurant, choose the activity, choose the outfit you’re going to wear, not the one your mom laid out on the bed. This shows them you’re ready to lead and you’re not afraid to make other people feel like their opinions don’t mean anything to you.

Third, wake up earlier than them. If they wake up at 7:00, you be up at 6:00 with hot coffee and a newspaper to hand them. If they wake up at 6:00, you be up at 5:00 with a morning jog and a shower under your belt. If they wake up at 5:00, you stay up all night and make their beds while they’re still sleeping in them, wash the cars, and cook a giant breakfast which you also ate because you didn’t want it to get cold while you were waiting for their lazy bones.


For the Rest of Us

Not everyone is graduating or visiting from out of town, and I recognize that this has been an annoying waste of space in what is normally your favorite paper. I feel for you, and I feel for me… but grad week isn’t about us. We just need to wait it out and keep smiling until the summertime sets us free.



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Managing Editor for Synthesis Weekly. Amy likes to make clothes, plant flowers, and chase butterflies.