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College dorm room shopping has reached a new fevered pitch. I spent most of last weekend trying to have my son comprehend that while he will be living in an on-campus apartment, which is pretty cool for a freshman, this is neither a five-star hotel (which I confess that my sons are quite fond of) nor is it furnished like an extended stay inn. It's a dorm. And yes, that does have four letters. In fact, the furniture fancies a minimum security prison (the bedroom) or doctor's waiting room (the living room). I keep telling Greg to look around the house at the things he uses every day like paper towels, toilet paper and kitchen utensils and realize that none of those come with the apartment. I would have used cleaning supplies as part of this exercise, but I am not sure Greg would recognize Clorox Cleanup or Scrub Free. Those were part of the Advanced Housekeeping class he skipped in lieu of taking Lighthouse Exploration and the History of Ocean Liners.

Last weekend I realized that my older son is headed off for college in a few weeks, and we had done nothing to get ready for this. It’s not that I did not remember that he was going to college; the arrival of the tuition bill reminded me all too well of that with its eye-popping balance. It’s just that with my travels I had not whipped myself into the froth and frenzy that typically would accompany this impending move. Instead I bolted up in bed last Sunday (like Allison DuBois pops up on "Medium" when she has one of those premonition dreams of hers) completely focused on…bedding, towels, dishes...and when I talked to him he added to that list: printer, iPod player and laundry bag.

By the time we returned the rental car at Hertz last Sunday night, we had logged 1,002 miles. Every time I say 1,000, the boys say 1,002, which reminds me of when they were 6 ½ or 6 ¾ and every little fraction mattered. I keep playing the refrain of that song in my head, "99 Miles From LA." For the record, I cannot even measure how many switchbacks I drove last week. We did Lombard Street twice, but Cory literally said "ho hum" in the back of the car and this line, "This clearly is overrated!" I drove it the second time hoping he would appreciate it more. No dice. Hah, I guess the turns on Big Sur were his comparison point.

I am writing this note sitting on the curved windowseat in my room at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Outside I can see the hustle and bustle of the city, but here it's wonderfully quiet, save for the sound of the cable cars and the hum of the traffic. My sons, Greg and Cory, are out exploring the city while I work. I have seen the two blocks between here and the Romance Writers of America convention hotel; they have been all over town. Clearly all those hours of watching "Flipper" and learning how to be good brothers that I mentioned last week worked since "Sandy and Bud" have been having a grand old time together this week, with maybe one or two meltdowns.