Hello my name is Nick Peyton. Welcome to my website. Here you can read my blog, titled "because i'm asian," it is mostly about the random inane everyday reflections that I have. Right now I average about three hits a day. Thank you to my faithful reader(s). My email address is [email protected].

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because i'm asian

Apartment Fraud?
June 29, 2009

Last Saturday, there was a knock on my door. I answered and it was Gary, the owner of the apartment building, where I live. He asked me if I paid rent for January, May, and June. I said yes. And then he asked me for copies of the checks, front and back. I told him no problem and I would send that to him when I got them from my bank.

One week later there is a note under my door. It says that we should send our rent checks to a street address instead of sliding them under the door of our apartment manager Steve. The following day there is a note next to the mail boxes. It said, "Steve has been committing fraud and stealing rent checks." I got one of the three returned checks in the mail and looked at the back. It was endorsed by Steve and deposited at a U.S. Bank in Portland. Another tenant told me that Steve had requested that instead of making the checks out to Melwood Properties, Steve told him to leave it blank. And he had been paying his rent that way for three years.

What makes this hard to believe is the amount of work Steve put into the building. Always, painting, replacing lighting, doing yard work, cleaning up, and getting rid of trash and the left behinds from tenants. The building was always immaculate. And Steve was always a nice guy. He asked me about my job, always waved and was super friendly when I saw him out and about. I even locked my keys in my apartment and he offered to leave a party he was at and let me in. He told me of modest fundraisers he attended for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

Steve still could be innocent. All I know is that he just signed a check and it was put into an account. I have no idea if it was his account or the management company's. Though the evidence and rumor does sound damning I don't know for a 100%. And I don't think I will ever know. Guilty or innocent, I feel bad for Steve.

If Only We Had the Paella
April 22, 2009

Two years ago on my birthday, I went on a third date with a girl named Kimberley, who I nicknamed Marisa Tomei. We went to this Spanish restaurant named Gaudi. And you can read about the whole experience (of the date, sadly the restaurant review got the short shrift) here.

Fast forward two years later and Paul, Kelli, Kelli?s sister Staci, and her boyfriend Dan want to go out to dinner. They suggest Gaudi. Paul and Kelli have been coming to this place pretty much since it opened and they have explored every nook and cranny of the menu. Which is a great thing. They can suggest the best dishes for us to try. And the meal on Sunday was just as magical as the last time I went on my birthday ? maybe if not more. But what shocked me the most was the Paella. It was unfuckingbelievable. The seafood cooked perfectly. The clams, the mussels, the shrimp ? oh mama. Plus, the rice was perfect. Combine all of that with their garlic aioli on the side and you are in heaven. It was the perfect meal for a perfect Sunday evening. Oh did I mention we had sparkling sangria and I had an espresso with dessert?

This meal got me thinking. I know for sure I made some ordering mistakes when I was there with Marisa Tomei. I nudged us away from the paella at the time because it is significantly more expensive and it is a sharable dish (which after two dates are you to the point where you share food?). To be honest, the only thing I can remember about that meal with Marisa was the Gaudi salad. And that is only because it was completely different than what I was expecting at the time. Now after trying the paella, I truly believe that if Marisa and I had ordered the paella, we might still be together today. My life would be completely changed. That is the power of the Gaudi paella ? it is that good.

The Slow Journey to Find My "+1"
March 16, 2009

I am beginning to wonder if it is me. I have gone on a series of dates that have been bad, awkward or both. There was Kate, my favorite cocktail story to tell, who is married and has a warrant for her arrest. Then there was another girl (who will remain nameless due to her uniqueness of her name) who shared and drank too much - especially for a first date.

Then there was Kristina. Kristina had flashes of potentially being a great girlfriend. She loved LOST, had a masters degree, served a spectacular Syrah, and was working in a field where people are underpaid and unappreciated. Even though we went on four dates, I ignored my personal red flags throughout. She was insecure, shy, preferred to communicate via text, and went on the raw diet while I was dating her. During our fourth date I knew that I would have to end it with her but I still leaned into what would be our first and last kiss. When I let her know that I didn't want to see her anymore, I lied and I told her that I wasn't ready to date but that she was really great.

Two days after my last date with Kristina, I met Teresa for drinks at my favorite bar in my neighborhood. I was really excited about Teresa. She wrote really profound things in her profile and our emails before we dated were awesome. Great rapport. Great insight. I was very excited to meet her in person.

Now, there are no guidelines for what you do when you meet someone in person for the first time. So I always let the girl decide on how she wants to greet me. Half the people give me a handshake, about 40 percent just sit down, and the rare 10 percent give me a hug. Though I prefer the handshake, I cannot help but feel weird about it. It feels like we are about to negotiate a contract.

When Teresa came into Smith, I stood up, received her handshake, and ordered our drinks. The evening proceeded with the usual inquires about family, jobs, friends, trips, music, TV shows, and other inane details of one's life. And I was surprised when she ordered her second vodka tonic because she had mentioned to me that she was only going to have one. This was a good sign. Afterward, we planned a dinner for the following week.

The second date was doomed from the beginning. I found out beforehand that Kelli had planned a happy hour at the same restaurant, an hour before my date. I told her that if she saw me and Teresa, to completely ignore us. Of course, as I am walking with Teresa, out of the corner of my eye I see Kelli in the parking lot, laughing her ass off. I asked her what she wanted to drink - wine by the glass, beer, cocktails, or a bottle of wine. She suggested a bottle of a dry white wine. I ordered the port chop (which I only mention because it changed my life and was the best part of the date) and she ordered the trout. She was drinking her wine very slowly and after dessert (grapefruit sorbet - not very good), which she chose, Teresa still has a full glass of wine and there was wine still left in the bottle. I had been hitting the wine pretty hard because the date was completely awkward and any rapport we had a week prior was gone. So with wine in her glass and wine in the bottle, she says, "Shall we get going?"

I say, "Yes."

Luckily we took separate cars and without a handshake or a hug we parted. I headed to P & K's to talk about the most awkward date ever. All my friends consistently tell me I am a catch. But I am beginning to wonder if they are more like my parents and support me no matter what. I also wonder if the awkwardness is being caused by me. I know I am not in a great space for a relationship but I feel like now is the time to make something happen. Maybe I am projecting. I haven't ruled that out. At the very least, I know I am heading back to the Sandpoint Grill soon for that pork chop - even if it is without my +1.

My Laptop is Fixed
February 25, 2009

For the past two months my laptop has been broken. First the cooling fan broke. After replacing it, it worked. But the laptop continued to shut down randomly. So after a great tip, I put my hard drive in an enclosure and plugged it in. And I was able to get my files off the laptop. Total cost, $20. Good times. Anyway, I am back blogging again.

What I Have Learned This Past Year
December 31, 2008

Good evening everyone, this is my 11th annual New Year's Eve letter and I hope you enjoy. This past year I finished painting my apartment's kitchen. I played tennis in February. I camped at the edge of the Hoh Rainforest. Backpacked to Cape Alava, again. And if there is one important lesson of 2008, it is to never go mountain camping in October. I knew it was going to be a cold night when we rolled up and saw a layer of snow covering the picnic table.

This past year my boss was let go and my officemate quit. And we celebrated our new freedoms. This was the year when I had rabbit at Le Gourmand and a great steak while overlooking Lake Union. This past year I witnessed the total collapse of the Seattle sports scene. But I am looking forward to my season tickets with the Seattle Sounders in 2009. I broke down while speaking at my uncle's funeral, and it was probably the hardest five minutes I ever spoke in my entire life. He was only 63 years old and had his golden years in front of him. This past year I learned about wine. While I rarely correctly match the wines with their description during our tastings, it is fun to be able to tell the difference between a syrah and a merlot, to drink on a weeknight, and to see old and new friends again. And one of these days I am going to find out what a currant tastes like.

This past year I have had some unbelievable examples of uncomfortable or shocking situations happen to me. For example, there is no worse feeling than when you are cat sitting at someone's house and the toilet starts to overflow. You jiggle the handle, you look for the water shutoff valve but in the end, water slowly overflows onto the floor. And you pray for the water to stop. This past year, it happened twice. Or the time I was with the preschool teacher who I had gone on few dates with. And midway through our walk in the park, I tell her that I didn't want to continue the relationship. The walk back to the car and subsequent car ride to my apartment was pretty awkward. Or there was the time when my date leaned in and said "Nick, there is something I should tell you." I never thought it would be worse than what she told me on our first date. But it was. In addition to having a warrant for her arrest for 300 parking tickets she received over the past two years, she leaned in and told me that she was engaged to be married. She let me borrow her iPod cable and I never saw her again.

This past year we had a crazy election. And we almost jinxed the whole damned thing with a champagne tasting on election night. But when Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida were called, we knew the rout was on. In a room full of about 20 twenty- and thirty-somethings, tears streamed from our faces. We knew we were witnessing history being made. Anything was possible. In my neighborhood, people hit to the streets and Broadway was closed down from the masses. Horns honked, people cheered, chanted, and hugged. And even a full week later debris still filled the streets from election night.

More of you had children this past year. My best friend, my prom date, my former co-worker, my prom date's best friend, Janson and Pam, my best friend's prom date (or was that homecoming... it all blends together now), my good friends and neighbors are pregnant, my teacher friend is pregnant, and my best friend's sister is pregnant. And that's just the ones I know about. And I know that one of these days this letter will include some ridiculously-dressed kid of mine.

2008 will be a year filled with great memories. Memories at the Fremont Dock. A stuffed white Tiger. Listening to This American Life. The second year I shared a quiet glass of wine overlooking Seattle and the Puget Sound. Butternut squash soup with my aunt and uncle. Climbing stairs during our break. Frantically transporting a meringue in my car throughout the streets of Seattle. It was also the year that I fell in love. All of a sudden it happened. Not the in the traditional sense but it happened nevertheless. And I will miss her when she is gone. It was the year when the guy on my bus shit his pants. It was the year when snow covered the city and everything shut down. And it was the year when I started my quest to make Almond Roca Washington State's official candy.

This year has gone by so fast. It feels like yesterday when I finished this annual letter last year. But so much has happened. Last year my new year's resolution was to keep fresh flowers around at my apartment. And I hope to continue that into 2009 (and be better at keeping that resolution). I hope this letter finds you well. And if you would like to help me cure diabetes, you can donate online at www.pndri.org/howtohelp/gifts/gift.html. And you can always read more about my daily trials at www.geocities.com/nickoroni.

Remember to live life to the fullest, dream, wonder, and explore because, you never know. To everyone, Happy New Year!

Nick, There's Something I Should Tell You
December 13, 2008

I walked into the Hopvine, a local bar in my neighborhood, and it was packed. My glasses fogged as I scanned the bar for Kate, a girl who I was meeting for a first date. I walk to the back of the bar to look for her and not seeing her, I grabbed a nice window seat that just opened up. Kate arrives a few minutes later. After a couple of drinks, a couple laughs, things are going well. We start talking about cars and I tell her about my old 1978 Ford Thunderbird and she tells me about her old school Toyota Previa van. As she is describing to me about her van, she mentions that it was just towed away the other day. Sensing a great story there, I ask her to tell me why her van was towed.

It turns out the winters in the midwest were rough on the Previa and when she moved out to Seattle five years ago the screws on her Wisconsin license plate were rusted tight. While she got new Washington plates, she never put them on. And as she parked around Seattle, she would get a couple of parking tickets every so often.

Residential parking in Seattle is zoned and you have to have a zone permit to park in certain neighborhoods. She never got that zone permit. So in addition to getting parking tickets for her license plates, she started to get parking tickets for the (lack) of zone permit. She sometimes got two a day. Kate paid them for a while but they kept coming and started to add up. And before she knew it, she had at least 300 parking tickets before her van was towed. "At least." She never knew how many she got.

Then she tells me that she checked online and saw that she has a warrant for her arrest.

But an arrest warrant shouldn't prevent a potential relationship. And we have a second date, and after that, she invites me over for dinner for a third date. The plan for the third date was to have dinner at her place and then go to her friend's party afterward. Dinner is going well. I bring over a nice bottle of wine. We talk about The Wire, music, politics, all over homemade macaroni and cheese. Then she leans in says the following, "Nick, there's something I should tell you."

Whatever follows that sentence is never good. We all know this from TV, movies and sitcoms. I could only sit there and wait for what seemed like an eternity to hear what followed, "I'm engaged to be married."

It's actually not what you think it is. One of her good friends is from a country where they don't like gays very much. And she married him so that he can get a green card. They haven't had the formal ceremony yet. They have to prove they are in love for two years. She told me this little fact just in case one of her friends mentioned her husband at the party we were about to attend. We shared a cab to the party and we had a few drinks, and a few more laughs. We got back to her place and I knew it was over. I wish I could say that we didn't work because of the arrest warrant or her gay husband, but it was more traditional than that. There wasn't a spark. There wasn't a connection. As I walked from her apartment it started to rain and I smiled. Because I knew this would be a great story to tell.

Texas BBQ in Spokane
November 25, 2008

This morning I flew into Spokane, WA for Thanksgiving. It is nice being home. Already, I have watched ESPN, played with the dog, took a nap, and made it to my favorite coffee shop in Cheney (which I come to find out has been sold to Tully's - which besides the barista, I am the only one here). For the flight, I brought my latest copy of the New Yorker with me. And in this week's issue there is an article from Calvin Trillin about Texas BBQ. It is a great article. He talks about Texas Monthly's annual list of the best Texas BBQ places. And the winner of this year's award only serves BBQ on Saturday morning starting at 8, until they run out of meat (which is about noon). Before the Texas Monthly award, they were serving about 250 pounds a day and after it, it went up to 1,000 pounds a day, with a line of people before they open at 8 a.m.

Now, I have been a fan of Texas BBQ all my life. For as long as I remember, my family and I have gone to the Longhorn BBQ in Spokane every time we came up to Cheney. One of my earliest memories is sitting the the booth at the Longhorn BBQ. As you might guess from the name, the Longhorn BBQ specializes in Texas BBQ. I request every time I come that we must go to the Longhorn. One year, I requested that we go on Christmas Eve, sadly they were closed. Even my Grandmother's 85th birthday party was at the Longhorn. A basketball camp I went to when I was a kid was catered by the Longhorn.

Now you wouldn't think that great Texas BBQ could be found in Spokane, WA. But it can. The brothers who founded the Longhorn were from Houston Texas and started the BBQ there in 1946. Soon after they moved to Spokane. We are going to the Longhorn for dinner tonight and I am really excited. But this New Yorker article intrigued me. Am I missing something? Is there better Texas BBQ out there? I have been thinking of a week long trip next year, would it be crazy to go into the heart of Texas to dedicate a road trip to Texas BBQ?

One Last Camping Trip
October 25, 2008

In June my friend Katie brought up the idea of a group of us going camping. After a billion dates were discussed and one rain delay, the group got together for one last camping trip in October. We decided to go to a place 30 miles south of Randle, WA near Mount Adams. While it was absolutely gorgeous (look at the pictures below) while we were there, at 3,000 feet elevation it was pretty cold and we cut the trip one night short. But it was good to eat great food, hang out with good friends and take it easy for a couple days. I am looking forward to next summer already.

Paul driving down to the campsite. Photo taken on October 10, 2008.

Paul driving down to the campsite. Photo taken on October 10, 2008.

Photo of the lake that surrounded the campground. Photo taken on October 11, 2008.

Photo of the lake that surrounded the campground. Photo taken on October 11, 2008.

Photo of Mt. Adams from the campground.  What a beautiful shot! Photo taken on October 11, 2008.

Photo of Mt. Adams from the campground. What a beautiful shot! Photo taken on October 11, 2008.

The Stolen Business Card
October 23, 2008

The other day I had to go to Cle Elum, WA for a City of Seattle Chamber of Commerce meeting. The focus on this annual meeting was on global health and because of that, my work had a booth during the reception. I drove over with my new co-worker Becky and once we unpacked the car we began to set up our booth. Our booth had the standard booth fare - two large displays, annual reports, information on diabetes, a couple of news articles and a basket where you could put in your business card to join our mailing list.

Becky asked me if I had any business cards from people I could throw into the basket to make it look like we had some already. I didn't. Becky looked into her wallet and found a couple of random business cards and threw them into our basket. Having set up the booth, we took a break and began to walk around Suncadia and look at this ridiculous resort in the middle of nowhere.

After a few minutes we walk back to our booth and I stare into the basket. A business card is missing. And I tell Becky of this. She looks in and tells me that the missing card was from a divorce attorney. She looks at me, smiles and tells me to quit fooling around and give the card back. I tell her I don't have it. Then the realization sets in. Someone looked into our basket of business cards, sees one for a divorce attorney and takes it. This was quite shocking. The guest list of this Chamber meeting included the CEO of group health, Melinda Gates, Gary Locke, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, and many other successful business leaders. Who would take this business card? Who is having marital problems of this elite group? I tell Becky that whoever took the card obviously really needed it if they are going to take it from our basket. Well, whoever you are good luck with everything you have going on.

What I Wanted To Say
August 16, 2008

My uncle passed away from pancreatic cancer on June 23, 2008. He died in his sleep with family and friends. He was only 64 years old. Our family is spread out over the Pacific Northwest and the service wasn't until a few weeks ago. My aunt asked me and my father to lead the service for Uncle Don. My dad read the obituary to the graveside gathering of about 30 people. And before I read aloud the letter my Uncle Ron wrote for Don's service I said some words about my uncle. As I started to say the words I had rehearsed in the three hour car ride to Tri-Cities, I broke down. I skipped the end and closed with what I could get out. But here is what I wanted to share:

Don and Jeanine always had something special. I remember being a kid and seeing the love they had for each other and I knew it was special but I didn't understand it. It wouldn't be until I got older and I grew up that I understood that is what a marriage is supposed to be. That is what love is. Don you have shown me that you are the father I want to be and the husband I want to be.

You might think that you will be forgotten. But I will never forget you. You will live on in the memories I have. The scary stories you told me when I was a kid. The lazy afternoon at your house when we were spinning coins. All the Labor Day weekends. The sandwich we shared in Ellensburg. The Fourth of July in Albuquerque. The time we saw Neil Patrick Harris in that mexican restaurant. The first time I rode a horse. Your poached eggs. Our last dinner together - the butternut squash soup. And all the memories I have of you playing your guitar. I will miss your smile and your sense of humor.

Know that you will be missed and that you are loved.

A Brand New Pair of Boots
March 30, 2008

I got a pair of hiking boots and tried them out on Saturday with my co-worker Tia - who has climbed Mt. Rainier. And they worked out well. Here are some photos from our two hikes. The first was Rattlesnake Ledge and the second was the Wilderness Creek Trail on Cougar Mountain.

The view from the top of Rattlesnake Ledge. Photo taken on March 9, 2008.

The view from the top of Rattlesnake Ledge. Photo taken on March 9, 2008.

Photo of me on top of Rattlesnake Ledge. Photo taken on March 9, 2008.

Photo of me on top of Rattlesnake Ledge. Photo taken on March 9, 2008.

Photo of Tia trying not to fall of the ledge. Photo taken on March 9, 2008.

Photo of Tia trying not to fall of the ledge. Photo taken on March 9, 2008.

Photo of of Tia and I at the bottom. Photo taken on March 9, 2008.

Photo of of Tia and I at the bottom. Photo taken on March 9, 2008.

Photo of Tia on the Wilderness Creek Train on Cougar Mountain on a very snowy day in March! Photo taken on March 29, 2008.

Photo of Tia on the Wilderness Creek Train on Cougar Mountain on a very snowy day in March! Photo taken on March 29, 2008.

This is more of a winter wonderland view than a spring hike. Photo taken on March 29, 2008.

This is more of a winter wonderland view than a spring hike. Photo taken on March 29, 2008.

Photo of me trying to look serious for the camera. Photo taken on March 29, 2008.

Photo of me trying to look serious for the camera. Photo taken on March 29, 2008.

One Sentence
February 16, 2008

About a year ago, I found this website called One Sentence. It is a collection of true stories told in one sentence. You submit your true one sentence story to the website and the publisher reads them and decides whether or not to post them. Every so often I submit something to the website but it never made the cut. Until now.

Here you can read my true one sentence story.

I tried recreating searches that would yield my website and my dentist's name but I have been unsuccessful. But she knew everything about my October 2, 2007 entry. At the end of the appointment she asked me if I have since then had a glass of water with ice. I laughed out loud, turned red and simply replied yes.

The Capitol Hill Stabbing
February 2, 2008

With only a few hours remaining in 2007 a young woman named Shannon Harps was stabbed to death three blocks away from my apartment. She was carrying groceries to her newly purchased condo. The police quickly concluded that this was most likely a stranger to stranger killing - making Capitol Hill residents like myself, a little on edge. See my neighborhood is nice. And this random stabbing made me uneasy. Her death was senseless. A manhunt ensued.

From descriptions of eye witnesses on that cold new years eve night they developed a composite sketch of the killer.

After the stabbing, the East Precinct Officers held a community meeting at the neighborhood Group Health Center where they stated that they didn't have the resources to prevent crimes like this from happening. They told us not to walk alone. To be on the lookout for anything. Days after this meeting, I saw the stabber everywhere. He was walking his dog on Pine. He was getting a cup of coffee at Fuel. He was even following me into Safeway. The sketch was meaningless. Everyone in Seattle has facial hair and wears a stocking cap in winter. I didn't feel safe.

A break in the case happened. The news reporters and cameras returned to our quiet neighborhood. A man was arrested. The community sighed in relief. East Precinct officers sent DNA from the man to the lab to compare it to DNA found on the knife. The results came back and the man was innocent. He was no saint but he was no stabber. The East Precinct released the sketch again.

Weeks pass again. And candles for Shannon still burn outside of her apartment. Then out of the blue, officers announce a press conference for Friday afternoon. They caught him. DNA proves it. And he confesses. It turns out the man was not the clean cut slender man in the sketch. But a psychopathic, mentally ill man who has spent the last two years in and out of state mental hospitals.

He has a history of violence - especially toward women. There have been 300 notations about the man from police and correction officers since 2006. His mother died when he was 8. His aunt raised him and by the age of 12 he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. He spent most of his life homeless and spent time in prison when he shot a stranger at a bus stop. Three days before he stabbed Shannon Harps to death he was seen by his probation officer. He evaluated him and handed him a pair of metro tickets and sent him on his way.

Shannon Harps was an avid hiker. She was an organizer for the Sierra Club in Seattle. She was well like by her employees, friends and family. Her family didn't think anything of it when she didn't answer her cell phone New Years Eve. It wasn't until a local police officer arrived at their Florida home early on New Years Day until they realized Shannon was gone.

I walk past Shannon's condo every day to work. And flowers still lay there in memory of Shannon. Shannon's stabbing makes life seems tragic, so frail. Shannon had her life in front of her when it was ended so abruptly. Eventually Shannon's death will fade from my memory but it is our responsibility to lead meaningful lives, to better our community and to make a difference. That is how we can honor her death.

What I Have Learned This Past Year
January 1, 2008

When I was 15, I came up with the brilliant idea to write a year's worth of reflections in an email and send it to all of my friends. My thoughts were filled with all the reflections that one has in high school. All things that seemed to matter then. Inside jokes, basketball games, pep band, McDonald cheeseburgers and prom dates. I can't say that the content has gotten better, but I am very happy that some of you have received these every year.

This past year I truly understood what it meant to be a commuter. I was driving 50 miles a day to my job at Washington Business Week. Armed with a grande americano and NPR, that drive was bearable most days. Then it happened. On a rainy day in March, a black late model pick up truck, driving too fast, took out my 2000 Toyota Camry. My rental car was a laughable dijon yellow PT Cruiser, which I even drove to the coast. But after two weeks, I finally got my 2004 Honda Accord. And in October, eight months later, the accident was finally resolved. This past year I learned that the easiest part of a car accident is actually getting rear ended, the rest is a bitch.

Seattle's Decembers can be brutal. Not in the snowy, frostbite on your special parts way, but with constant light rain, urban flooding, gray skies and that indescribable "wet cold." To top it off, my apartment in the U-District had leaky windows. And when the rain really got going, my carpets would be wet. So in January of last year, I moved. My new place in Capitol Hill was built in 1922. It has hardwood floors, a reverse bathtub, a tiny kitchen, and a den. My apartment manager said in the forties that it used to be home to a lot of military wives and there used to be a playground (where the parking lot is today), where all the children would play until their fathers came home. But most importantly, the windows don't leak, my neighbors are wonderful, and it is in a fantastic location.

I was feeling a little depressed on Thanksgiving 2006. The holidays have a way to do that to someone. And this bout of holiday depression led me to randomly sign up for eHarmony. And for better or worse, I started to go on a lot of dates. I learned from the microbiologist why I should never eat sushi. The firefighter in training couldn't throw a frisbee to save her life. I spent the forth of july with the Montessori School Administrator and after dating for about two months, that would be the last time I saw her. The Starbucks accountant wanted to share a messy pulled pork sandwich at a Capitol Hill martini bar - that still cracks me up. The bank employee was allergic to dairy, among other things. And I had a serious crush on a artist who went to that school where Inside the Actors Studio James Lipton hails from but she never felt a spark after we kissed. I accidentally asked out the ultrasound technician for a second date on valentines day - thankfully she rescheduled. There was a marketing manager from the eastside (kirkland) but the distance would have been too great. I even went out on a date with an enthusiastic undergrad and I learned why you should never do that. All of these first dates have been good. You truly learn what you are made of when you are trying to sell yourself to a near stranger.

In May, my coworker showed me a job posting for a development coordinator position with a diabetes research organization. She told me that it was located a half mile from my new apartment and it was more money than I was currently making. On a whim, I applied. In my cover letter I compared buying a new bed with finding a new career. And surprisingly, it worked. Now I walk to work (though romance of walking to work quickly fades in the rain and the cold), I share an office with no windows (I used to have a private second floor office with a huge window), but thankfully, I have reclaimed these beautiful Seattle summers.

This past year has been another great one. There is nothing like having a glass of wine while looking at the stars above and the city below. Or spending a week with longtime friends in southern california. Or having a first kiss. Or eating a mustard covered, campfire roasted hotdog after a death hike. 2007 will be the year when got a new job, a new car, and a new apartment. It will be the year when I went on my first backpacking trip. It will be the first time I saw a Joshua Tree. Or when my best friend had his first son.

I can't believe how much I have grown up since I wrote my very first one of these in December of 1998. How does one go from loving frozen taquitos to cassoulet in 10 years? Or loving grape soda to loving a dry merlot? Then I think about how little I have changed. I am still loud, crass, and even annoying from time to time. I still love video games and one of my favorite songs is still Semi Charmed Kind of Life by Third Eye Blind. And tomorrow I am going to pack a baloney sandwich for lunch. Maybe we don't change but are circumstances do.

Well I hope this email finds you all well. And if you would like to help me cure diabetes, you can donate online at www.pnri.org/howtohelp/gifts/gift.html. And you can read this entry and more at my old school blog www.geocities.com/nickoroni.

Remember to live life to the fullest, dream, wonder and explore because, you never know. To everyone, Happy New Year!

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That
December 18, 2007

Two weekends ago I found myself at Paul and Kelli's annual Christmas party, or by it's official name the Larsarelli Non Denominational Large-Tree Decorating Party. For the past three years, I have helped pick up an insanely large tree with P & K and then the following weekend they have everyone over to help decorate it. It's actually quite ingenious. Their whole tree is decorated in twenty minutes.

The evening always has some holiday cocktails which always lead to a few broken ornaments. The record in one night is four broken ornaments set by our friend Andre.

Ever since Paul has been in grad school, he has been vetting different business school classmates for douchebaggery. Some of Paul's business school classmates I have never seen again after a first encounter. Which is fine by me. But others made the cut. And those new friends were invited to this holiday party. And some of those new friends were single females. New opportunity.

After their 12 foot tree was draped with ebay purchased ornaments the party really got going. And I started to talk to this girl from the business school. She is a couple of years older then me and from southern California. We got to chatting about my famous guacamole - which she only gave a 7 out of 10 rating and that led to other points of conversation. I was my typical outgoing self at three drinks and things were going good. I remember rambling about my job, net present value of future incomes, statistics, and other areas of conversation that bore the typical girl on a Saturday night but would interest a future mba student. My inappropriate insights to graduate school were well received and all of a sudden I realized that I spent most of the night talking to Maryann.

She left around 1:00 a.m. and I had a good feeling that I would see her again.

The following week Paul ran into Maryann in the hallway at school. She said that she had a wonderful time at the party and she loved Kelli. Then they had the following conversation:

M: And your friend Nick! He is crazy! I mean he is crazy and outgoing and really flamboyant! Is he gay or straight!?
P: Ha! He is very very straight and very single.
M: Wow, he is so funny and outgoing.

Paul relayed the conversation to me. He thought that I would react negatively to the notion of Maryann thinking I was a raging homosexual. But I found it extremely positive. It was like in the movie Dumb and Dumber when Lloyd's crush tells him that his chances with her were one in one million. And he replies - So you're telling me there is a chance. I felt the exact same way. I thought it was positive that Maryann brought me up without Paul prodding - she was thinking about me at least.

P & K thought I should ask her out and that I should just email her. And I did. I wrote a funny self deprecating message to her and I waited for a response. Maryann wrote me the next day. She said that she was flattered by my email message and that she totally would go out with me but that she didn't think her boyfriend would be too happy with it. That's right - the dreaded "B" word. Paul saw her a few days later and she told him that I had asked her out. And she told him that she was really flattered and that she would go out with me if she wasn't dating him. Oh well.

The next weekend I left to visit Justin in Boise. And Justin, a few of his coworkers and I go dancing at a club in downtown Boise. If Boise had a gay bar this would be it. Hip Hop and 80s music blared on that cold and snowy night and we drank vodka crans while dancing the night away. I had been dancing with this girl and I sort of lost track of her. And I felt someone dancing and grinding me from behind. I thought it was her. But it was a dude who was dancing with me. And without panic a just danced off the stage and ran to Justin to tell him what had happened. I couldn't believe that I guy was dancing with me - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Boyfriend Confusion
December 2, 2007

It was 6:30 p.m. and I was starving tonight. Having nothing to eat at my place, I braved the incoming storm and ran to Safeway to pick up things for dinner. I grabbed bread and peanut butter and placed them into my basket before heading into the meat department. I needed to choose between beef or chicken for the stir-fry I was going to make.

As I stood there comparing prices this girl walks up to me, puts a bag of bagels into my basket and says, "Oh you are getting bread?" I look up at her and I say, "I think you have the wrong basket." She looks up at me and turns completely red as she realizes that I am not her man but a complete stranger. She quickly grabs her bagels and runs over to her boyfriend. I see him standing across the meat department laughing his ass off as he realizes that his girlfriend walked up to the wrong person.

It turns out that her boyfriend and I look quite similar - we were both asian, about the same height, and were wearing a black fleece. I saw them later in the dairy department and I flash them a smile. She just shakes her head in embarrassment.

She Didn't Like Her French Fries
October 29, 2007

The other night I had a date with this girl named Audrey. I knew that I would never see Audrey again after our date before I went on it. Audrey is six feet tall. On a good day, in tall shoes, and when gravity stops pressing down on me, I am five-foot-six - though my license says five-foot-seven.

Now height is not a deal breaker all the time. But for most girls it is. We both knew the height difference before the date. But I guess we both secretly hoped that we would have an instant spark where such dramatic differences in stature wouldn't matter.

But there wasn't a spark. Our date seemed forced. And she didn't like her french fries. After the date, I gave her a hug and I never saw her again.

A Beer and a Shot
October 14, 2007

About an hour before the start of the fundraiser in honor of the late Tom Wales, I quickly downed a beer and a shot of cheap vodka. My invitation was the result of Amy and I sharing a small office together - Amy is the daughter of Tom. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney who was gunned down in his home on October 11, 2001 - his murder remains unsolved.

I didn't want to go to this event. It was formal, it was on a beautiful Saturday night, and it was downtown. Parking would be a nightmare. My apathy for the event is the reason for the beer and a shot - get a little loose before I started to mingle with near strangers.

I got to the fundraiser and I saw it was a cash bar. Shit. I would definitely need a drink and I had forgotten cash. I asked a hotel employee where the closest ATM was and he said that he would show me where it was located. I followed him as we cut through another event at the hotel - a swanky auction with notable Seattleites. As we weaved, excused ourselves, and cut through the wealthiest of Seattle folk, I see former Governor Gary Locke walking towards me. I nod at him and he nods back at me. This exchange was missed on the less than graceful hotel employee.

I order a martini, make small talk with my tablemates and enjoy the best piece of chicken I had ever had. I was seated next to a good-looking girl named Ainsley. I had met her before at a political event - she is Gregoire's fundraiser. Throughout the night, she gave me Husky football updates while she checked her BlackBerry a thousand times. Her cuticle was raw from the constant rubbing against her manicured nails - I guess that nervous tick is a consequence of politics and 16 hour days.

After the event wrapped up, I started talking to some Evans School Alums. And then I was introduced to a girl who just started her first year in the program. We started talking about the Peace Corps, past professors, our backgrounds, politics and before I knew it, she asked me for my phone number. Before she asked me for my number, I didn't even see her as anything more than a person I met randomly at an event. After she asked, I saw her as someone who I would like to get to know better. We continued to talk. The event had cleared out and the banquet staff were the only other people around.

As I talked to her, there was a connection. She laughed at my stories, my insight at school, and I found her very enjoyable. The clock on the wall showed that we had been talking for a half hour. The conversation moved on to race and she told me that she was Filipino. That is when she dropped the dreaded "B" word. "Everyone tells my boyfriend and me that we are going to have beautiful children." I honestly didn't hear the next minute of what she said - I was trying to recover from that statement. As we continued to talk and I tried to mask my disappointment. Her ride came back into the ballroom and she said goodbye. I held my hand out to give her a handshake and she said that she we were past handshakes and she gave me a hug. As we parted, she yelled back at me and said that we would have to hang out sometime soon.

As I rode the escalator down of the Sheridan Hotel, I smiled - Because I just realized that her name is Marisa and the irony of that was not lost on me.

An Acquaintance and a Classmate
October 10, 2007

In today's mail, I got the latest issue of my Alumni Magazine. There were a couple of things that struck me as I flipped through the glossy pages. There are some very successful alums from Eastern. I always think I am hot shit and then I read the Easterner and I see someone piloting Marine One. In fact, there is a photo of a girl who I used to know in high school who is doing her peace corps in Gambia - she used to be best friends with a girl who my best friend Brian dated for a few crazy months in the spring of 1999. I got to know her better at Eastern when she lived in the same building as my marketing group mate Tyler Campbell - But I digress.

As I quickly scanned the articles in the magazine, I flipped to the back. And I read the in memoriam section. And I look for my graduation year. And there is a name listed - Ryan Shearer, BAB in Human Resources. Since I got a marketing degree, the name stuck out at me because the department was pretty small.

I had a few classes with Ryan and I could picture him easily. I always thought he was a bit of a meathead. He was big, played hockey, blonde hair and was from Alaska. I saw him at parties and he always had cheap beer in his hand. The note in the Easterner just simply said he died on August 14, 2006.

I googled his name and his myspace page came up. There is a note on there dated February 19, 2006 that said his cancer came back and to pray for his family. Take a look at his profile.

This immediately reminded me of a guest who attended our wine event. Her name is Alison. And she worked for a company that was one of the sponsors of our event. She is the one photographed on the left.

Photo of Alison and her coworker.  Photo taken on August 3, 2007.

Photo of Alison and her coworker. Photo taken on August 3, 2007.

The night of the auction she bought an auction package for $600 - it was the "Be a Winemaker for a Day," package. According to her co-workers, she bought it so that she and her husband could take a nice vacation together. Three weeks later, at the age of 34, her husband dies of a massive heart attack leaving her with a 10-month old.

Both of these people's deaths seem so senseless and random. They were young and had their lives in front of them. It makes me appreciate what I have even more. And not to take things for granted. Life is so fragile and it can be gone in an instant. I felt really sad when I thought about Ryan and Alison's husband - which is strange because I never really knew them.

A Glass of Water - Without Ice
October 2, 2007

First, let me apologize for not writing. I had written an entry about my recent love life. But it was shit. It was dribble. I rambled with no point. I don't know if the experiences were too fresh to write about or if they offered any insight to my inner self. And that is why they remain as an unsaved word document open on my computer. Anyway?

When I saw Dr. Vicki Fidler back in 2005, she told me that I needed to get my wisdom teeth out. During this first appointment, she told me that there was a good chance that I would need root canals on the teeth in front of the wisdom teeth. Awesome.

While at Business Week at Pacific Lutheran University, my right tooth hurt like hell. I thought I had the dry rot from the wisdom teeth extraction. It got worse while I was in Spokane for the program at Gonzaga. With my wisdom teeth extraction, my benefits were maxed. But lucky for me, my benefits at PNRI started August 1 and on August 1, I had an appointment for my first root canal. The pain unbearable at that point. I couldn't chew on that side. Water from the refrigerator was out. So was milk. The anesthetic didn't work very during the first visit and there was times when I could feel the drilling in my teeth. To put it simply, it was hell.

On the second tooth, the Fidler thought she could get away with a filling - this would prevent me from getting a root canal. So about a month ago, I go in for a filling. My tooth wasn't hurting but there was decay in the x-ray and she wanted to take care of it. Well needless to say, the filling made it worse. I was popping pills for pain. At one point over the weekend, I woke up in the middle of the night from the pain. It was awful. I called the Fidler and she scheduled me for an emergency root canal on Monday. And tonight I am pain free.

She wants me back in for two crowns on those root canals. But I think I can handle that. But lucky for me my yearly max in dental benefits has been reached. So she scheduled the appointment for mid January at 7:00 a.m. Bright and early.

Before my root canal, I had dinner with my old coworker Shannon. I told her about my problems and she just shook her head and professed to me that I have "third world teeth." I laughed at her overtly racist comment as I asked the waitress for another glass of water without ice.

A Week of Rest and Relaxation
August 27, 2007

As I alluded in my last posting, I went to Palm Springs. It was a fantastic trip. Filled with relaxation, drinking, hanging out and tanning. I finished a couple of books, read the latest issue of the New Yorker cover to cover and did I mention drinking?

There was an interesting article in the New York Times that said American's don't take enough time off each year. And when I thought about it, before my trip to Palm Springs, I had only taken four days off in the past year. One day to paint my apartment, one day to drive over to Spokane and two days for my wisdom teeth recovery. Europeans have it too easy.

Photo of Justin and I outside our condo in the Oasis Resort.  Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.  Photo taken on August 13, 2007.

Photo of Justin and I outside our condo in the Oasis Resort. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton. Photo taken on August 13, 2007.

Photo of Justin in Joshua Tree National Park.  I believe it was 150 degrees when I took this photo. Photo taken on August 15, 2007.

Photo of Justin in Joshua Tree National Park. I believe it was 150 degrees when I took this photo. Photo taken on August 15, 2007.

A photo of a lonely Joshua Tree.  Scientists say that if current global warning patterns continue they could be extinct in 50 years.  Photo taken on August 15, 2007.

A photo of a lonely Joshua Tree. Scientists say that if current global warning patterns continue they could be extinct in 50 years. Photo taken on August 15, 2007.

Photo of Justin and I in one of the eight pools at our resort.  Photo taken on August 14, 2007.

Photo of Justin and I in one of the eight pools at our resort. Photo taken on August 14, 2007.

Photo of the sunset at Laguna Beach.   While the sun was going down, the night was just about to get started.  Photo taken on August 16, 2007.

Photo of the sunset at Laguna Beach. While the sun was going down, the night was just about to get started. Photo taken on August 16, 2007.

One last photo of Justin, Melanie and I at Laguna Beach.  Photo taken on August 17, 2007.

One last photo of Justin, Melanie and I at Laguna Beach. Photo taken on August 17, 2007.

While in Southern California, we headed over to Joshua Tree National Park, spent a couple days in Laguna Beach and took a tram 8000 feet above Palm Springs. The average high was 112 degrees everyday and at 10:00 p.m., it would cool off to 102 degrees. Despite the heat, it was a perfect vacation.

Check out more pictures from the trip at my picasa album.

The Most Satisfying Delay
August 13, 2007

Currently I am sitting at the airport. My flight is delayed. It was supposed to board at 7:30 a.m. and it is 9:03 with no end in sight. When I arrived to the gate, there were not many open seats. The only other good seat left was a handicap seat. I thought about grabbing that seat but I thought better of it and I squeezed into another seat adjacent to it.

As every flight except mine boarded, a middle-aged man sits in the handicapped seat. He places his bag down and makes some phone calls. After the latest flight delay announcement, he gets up and leaves with his bag still in the handicap seat. I begin to think what a douche he is.

Then out of no where karma strikes. An Alaska Airlines employee wheels up a very elderly woman and asks everyone whose bag is occupying the seat. The Alaska Airlines employee is pissed. After no one spoke up, she moved the bad and helped the elderly woman into the seat. The employee calls out to the owner of the bag one last time, pages the owner over the loud speaker and the man does not claim it.

Twenty-five minutes pass.

The man returns with a cup of coffee and a muffin. He asks the woman next to me where his bag is and she curtly tells him that they had confiscated it. I had just watched the three Alaska Airlines make talk about the man. They looked through his bag and discovered that he is an executive vice president of some company and that he should know better about taking the handicap seat and leaving his bag unattended.

The man walks up to the desk and inquires about his bag. The three ladies at the desk say that it has been taken to security which has it at lost and found. And lost and found is behind the security line. He began to complain bitterly and said that he was only gone for three to five minutes. He even said that he flies on Alaska frequently and is a first class passenger. But the ladies held strong and told him to go out to lost and found to retrieve his bag.

I was hoping that he would miss our flight to Palm Springs. But with the continual delays he made it back in time. But the extra hassle he went through was the perfect karmic payback for taking the seat of a handicap person.

An Amazing Couple of Days
August 3, 2007

If there has been an overarching theme in my blog, it would have to be around change. I started writing this blog at a crossroads in my life. I found myself in Seattle after living in Eastern Washington all my life. And now as I approach my third year living in the city, I am amazed how different my life is now as it was that fateful Labor Day weekend when Justin and I packed everything I owned into a u-haul and headed for the coast.

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. My last day at Business Week was on a Sunday and I started at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute (PNRI) the next day. Whether it was by design or on accident, they threw me into the fire. The annual fundraising event for PNRI was less than three weeks away - 300 guests, a quarter million dollars at stake and nearly 400 bottles of wine. And there was no formal orientation. They asked me to get things done and I had to figure it out.

The girl who I am replacing has worked at the event the last two years. And Tia has been amazing at it. I cannot even describe how much work there is to do for a fundraiser of this magnitude. Every detail needs to be planned and every potential fuck up has to be thought through. The goal is to make the guest have a seamless experience and thankfully, this is eased by the amount of wine that flows during the evening.

If you haven't gathered yet, our annual event is focused around wine. The auction packages include nice bottles of wine and there is a wine tasting game. Winemakers from Woodinville to Walla Walla participate in the planning of this event, pour wine for the guests and they always tell us that this is their favorite annual event. The most expensive bottle of wine during the evening was a mini bottle of wine (I forget the name right now) but it was valued at $200 for a mini bottle.

I was solely in charge of guest registration and payment. And this was terrifying to me. Not only have I never done this event before I was 14 days new to the organization by event night. But it went well. We raised $255,000 for diabetes research. The volunteers were happy. I wore a headset and the guests needed taxis. But hearing the testimonials from parents with two little girls with type one diabetes was heartbreaking. Their father, Ted, was talking about how his parents suffered from diabetes and how diabetes can skip a generation - which it did for their family. Ted escaped the disease but it was passed down to his daughters. He spoke about the survivor's guilt he had and broke down tears while giving making his remarks. It was his remarks that reminded me of why I got into the nonprofit world. Why I wanted to make a real difference. Why I wanted to make change.

I was exhausted after the event. It was 12:30 a.m. when I finished loading my car at Newcastle. Tia, Shawn (lead volunteer) and I took an open bottle of nice wine and sat on the terrace that overlooks the city. From our vantage point Newcastle, you can see all of downtown Seattle and Bellevue. You can see the moonlight reflecting off the sound. The stars shined bright and other than the soft sound of the sprinklers, it was completely quiet. The city looked so small from up there. We sat there drinking wine until a security guard encouraged us to leave at 1:00 a.m. Experiences like these change you somehow. I cannot explain it. So often in our lives, we are caught up in the shit and the drama. And after you finish something like this, you gain perspective. And you realize how much of the drama doesn't matter.

Scientists at PNRI don't think we will have a cure for diabetes in our lifetime. They say there is too much they still don't understand. Too many mysteries. But I know that Ted believes his daughters will see a cure. And I hope they do too.

Final Thoughts from Washington Business Week
July 21, 2007

As you know, I quit my job. It wasn't planned. And I wasn't really looking for a new job but sometimes when an opportunity is this good, you have to have the courage to at least try. Sometimes you just have to ask the pretty girl to dance.

Anyway, I am in love with the new Wilco CD and there is a lyric on track two that always hits home - Happenstance has changed my plans, So many times my heart has been outgrown. And I think that is so true. Happenstance has changed my plans so many times. And the experiences I have had these past few weeks have only reaffirmed that for me.

Because I have been out of town doing programs for Washington Business Week, I have not been updating my blog as much as I wanted to do. But I have some stories that have been rattling around in my head, which I believe are worth sharing. So I present you with three final reflections from Washington Business Week

It's Embarrassing for Me Too
The majority of my responsibilities at Washington Business Week were to raise money and complete projects that helped facilitate fundraising. Whether I was designing the annual report, writing the quarterly newsletter or placing the finishing touches on a major grant proposal, I was doing things I enjoyed and things that required higher level thinking. However, at the end of the day, I am fundraising for an educational summer camp. And when we head over to our various university locations, I am no longer the development coordinator at Washington Business Week, I am one of the camp counselors for a group of 250 high school students.

I never saw myself as a camp counselor until a student talking on the phone to her mom referred to me as her camp counselor. [Excuse me, I have a master's degree] is what I thought in my head. But being a camp counselor has its unique challenges and I found myself in more uncomfortable situations during those two weeks than I did over the course of the past 11 months. But nothing topped the girl who asked me for a tampon.

It was late in the evening, I was working the late shift, and the students have free time at this point. I was in our "office" by myself when this 15-year-old girl walked in. She looked disappointed to see me and I thought that was strange. She walks up to me and I ask her what I could help her with. We had the following conversation.

Girl: Hi, um?
Me: [inquisitively looking at her]
Girl: do you have?
Me: Do want water? [we sell .25 cent bottles of water to the students]
Girl: No? [she leans in and whispers] Do you have any? ?feminine products?
Me: Uhhh, yeah? uhhh? hold on a second.
[I start to dig through the medical supplies looking for our feminine supply box, it seems like minutes are passing while I scrounge through various tubs]
Me: Uhhh? take what you need.

What the girl didn't know was that is was just as embarrassing for her to ask for a tampon as it was for me to go get her the tampons. Ironically, this happened to me two more times over the two programs I staffed and each conversation was equally awkward.

At the Gonzaga program everyone goes on a rafting trip.  Here is a photo right before I fell out of the raft while trying to move it to shore.  Photo taken on July 7, 2007.

At the Gonzaga program everyone goes on a rafting trip. Here is a photo right before I fell out of the raft while trying to move it to shore. Photo taken on July 7, 2007.

A group photo of the volunteers and the staff, after the rafting trip.  Photo taken on July 8, 2007.

A group photo of the volunteers and the staff, after the rafting trip. Photo taken on July 8, 2007.

A photo of me hard at work.  I think I am both angry and sweaty in this photo.  Photo taken on July 8, 2007.

A photo of me hard at work. I think I am both angry and sweaty in this photo. Photo taken on July 8, 2007.

On Friday night everyone ends the week with a couple of drinks at the bar. This was taken at my favorite bar the Blue Spark.  Photo taken on July 13, 2007.

On Friday night everyone ends the week with a couple of drinks at the bar. This was taken at my favorite bar the Blue Spark. Photo taken on July 13, 2007.

My coworker Shannon is giving me a kiss.  After working in the trenches with her, I will miss our bantering.  Photo taken on July 13, 2007.

My coworker Shannon is giving me a kiss. After working in the trenches with her, I will miss our bantering. Photo taken on July 13, 2007.

Huddled for Warmth
It was over a hundred degrees during the entire week at Gonzaga University. Students were getting heat stroke and we had to take some students to the hospital or call 911 for heat related issues. But one of our business volunteers works for 7-11 corporate. And Steve asked him if 7-11 would be willing to donate ice cream sandwiches to our students and they agreed. We ended up with 500 ice cream sandwiches and Steve asked me to run them over to the walk in freezer behind student union building to store them.

The freezer was fucking awesome. You walk inside the industrial freezer after being in the heat and it was so cold. The sweat is immediately evaporated and after a few minutes, your clothes are freezing. Over the course of the next couple of days, I would smuggle people to the freezer and show them how simply wonderful it was. People loved it.

On the last day at Gonzaga, Steve sent Kyle and me to the freezer to collect the remaining ice cream sandwiches and hand them to students. We brought along an ice chest and head over to the student union building. We walk inside and I close the door. We stand in the freezer and take in the sweet relief from the heat. It was awesome. I gather the sandwiches into the ice chest and pull on the door to leave. It does not open. I turn the lock and it does not open. I pull on the door with all my might and it simply will not open. I look over at Kyle and he laughs.

With our breath visible with every exhale and wearing shorts and flip-flops it was bitterly cold in the 20 degree freezer despite being over a 100 degrees outside. Slightly panicked I use my cell phone to call over to the office. I explain to Erin that we are stuck in the freezer and we need someone to rescue us. She sends Steve over. With the promise of help on the way, I begin to look at the lock in detail and then I realize how stupid I am. I had been pulling on the door and the door pushes out. I shake my head, push on the door and we become free from our icy situation.

The heat during my final week at Business Week only aggravated the existing medical conditions that students are afflicted with. And this fact was especially true for a young girl named Felicia. This young girl from Sequim, WA had the worst hard luck story I had heard in a while. She is in foster care because her mother was a crack whore and CPS had to take her away from her when she was about 10. Her father is currently out of the picture but sends Felicia money from time to time. And even through Felicia is 16 years old, her foster parents, now adopted parents, are around 30. Think about that for a minute.

Shannon had to take Felicia to the hospital early in the day because her blood sugar was too high. Felicia suffers from either Type One or Type Two Diabetes (I cannot remember now). The doctors think she got the disease from drinking contaminated water her mother gave her when she was a kid. Shannon returned with Felicia from the hospital with instructions that if she developed ketones in her urine, we should bring her back to the hospital immediately. A few hours go by, Shannon and I are closing up the office for the night, and walks in with the bad news.

So at 11:30 p.m., Shannon and I are headed for Sacred Heart Hospital again. After waiting in the waiting room for an hour and finally getting our hospital room, it was another hour or so until Dr. Apell (pronounced apple - the jokes were quite good around 2:30 a.m.) arrived to see Felicia. The treatment was an IV, insulin and monitoring until she was ready to go.

Very late in the night, Shannon begins to tease me about leaving Business Week. And Felicia very innocently asks me where I am going next. And I tell her that I am actually going to work for a nonprofit that is trying to find a cure for diabetes. And at that moment in the hospital room, we all got a little choked up. Here we all are, all away from home, brought together by coincidence, in a strange hospital at 2:45 in the morning, here because Felicia has diabetes and I just told her my new organization tries to find a cure for the disease that has us all here in the middle of the night. It doesn't sound that profound as I type it now, but on that hot July night I knew that I had made the right decision about leaving Business Week.

Eventually, Felicia fell asleep. And Shannon and I took turns "sleeping" in the family waiting room and checking in on Felicia. Around 5:00 in the morning, they let her go. We take her to get breakfast while the morning sun was low over the horizon and the sky was filled with bright orange. After everything that happened that night, it was an amazing sight.

I promised Steve that I would work on Sunday finishing some lingering projects. Alone in the Business Week office, I began to slowly clean out all my belongings from the place where I had just worked 11 months at. I moved a stack of papers that were recently placed on my desk and a paper fell out and landed on the floor. It was a thank you note from Felicia. I began to read it. She wrote that "foster care often makes one feel unwanted and unloved." She continued, "Helping me gave me the reassurance that there are people who care for others, including me. It's people like you that give people like me light in their future." I was already sad because I was cleaning out my desk but then I cried when I read her letter.

I carried a box of stuff to my car, locked the office and I headed home from Federal Way to Seattle one last time. The next day I was going to start a new adventure. And I was both excited and nervous and I still wondered if I had made the right decision. But when the knuckleheaded shit at my new job takes me down, I will simply remember the optimism and positive outlook of that 16 year old girl.

Breaking Up is Never Easy to Do
June 27, 2007

After a great 10-month relationship with Washington Business Week, I had to break up with her. I mean we had some great times together. The week in Aberdeen. Meeting CEOs of Washington's most successful companies. Writing the newsletter and annual report. And all the great people I met because of this job. But it was time to move on. I know she liked me a lot. And I could have been happy with her.

But it was the little things that began to wear me down: the commute - 55 miles each day; the drive times - 35 minutes in the morning and 45 to an hour in the evening; the tremendous amount of work unrelated to development; the tremendous amount of work during summer, mostly uncompensated.

Then I met someone else. The Pacific Northwest Research Institute (PNRI). Our relationship happened unexpectedly and was very innocent. She has all the qualities of Business Week but less maintenance. She is a half mile from home, same pay, career mentorship, more vacation, a free bus pass, better summers and a great mission (curing diabetes). She asked me out and I said yes. I broke the news to Washington Business Week and she was very disappointed.

The earliest Business Week and I can break our lease together is July 16, 2007. I am going to help her find someone else and then I am going to move my stuff out. Business Week and I talked after I broke the news to her and it was awkward. We talked about everything else except the breakup. We acted like nothing happened. But I quietly broke the news to our mutual friends and they were sad that we broke up. It will be hard for Business Week but she will be fine. She was fine before she met me and she will be even better after me. My life will change greatly with the new girl, but I am excited about the new possibilities and our future together.

We Always Think there is Time
June 17, 2007

With Journey blaring in the background, the screen abruptly turned black and the show that has been compared to the modern day equivalent of Shakespeare ended on HBO. The Soprano's ended with little resolution, conclusion or tidy endings found on other hit TV shows like Friends, Sex in the City, or Seinfeld. And it was perfect.

I have often said to my friends that life very rarely concludes nice and tidy. Tully's Girl moved away one day. I never broke up with Katie. The last time I saw some people was at their wedding. I have co-workers I never said goodbye to. I think the reason we never finish things in our lives is that we always think there is time. Time to tell our friends the impact they had on our lives, time to forgive our parents or we think that we will see people again no matter how unlikely the possibility. Like the ending of the Soprano's, things just end and move on without conclusion. That is life.

This idea hit home hard the other day when I heard that my homecoming date's father died last week. Ken Waller was 53. When the planning for homecoming started to get underway in the fall of 1999, he joked with me that he was going to bring out his shotgun when I picked up Enid. He helped me craft my leadership skills and was a strong male role model when my father left. The last time I saw him was at Lindsey's wedding last August. We exchanged pleasantries and I would have never known that would be the last time I would talk to him. What makes me disappointed is that I never told Ken how much respect I had for him. Even when I saw him at Lindsey's wedding, I thought there was time. Ken died in his sleep. So one late evening in June, he closed his eyes for the last time and without resolution, conclusion or a goodbye, things went abruptly black. Wherever you are Ken, I hope you are well.

Hello My Name is Doug
June 12, 2007

When I lived in the U-District, I never knew my neighbors. My next-door neighbor was an older balding man who always wore white undershirts with black dress socks. He had glasses and always looked surprised to see me in the hallway. He only spoke to me in mumbles and after two and half years, I never knew his name. Those were my neighbors.

When I inquired about the open apartment in Capitol Hill, I asked my future apartment manager what qualities he would evaluate potential renters because there was more than one person interested. He said that it would be a combination of the normal stuff but he would also evaluate on how well the renter would relate to the current community? Community?

In life, you can't choose your family. You can't choose your co-workers. And to some extent, you can't choose your neighbors. By the first week of moving in, I had met most of my neighbors. And they are so cool, but three of them stand out - Ricco, Bethany and Jane. Ricco is a gay fashion consultant who gives me advice on everything from sushi restaurants to date night activities. Bethany is amazingly pretty, even when she is in her baggy college sweatshirt and smoking a cigarette. And Jane is the sweetest most laid back person I have ever met. They make it a community for me. They ask me how my dating life is going. They knew that I got my wisdom teeth out. They know what I do for a living and they ask about my life. I love them.

But something strange has happened with Jane. She thinks my name is Doug. The first time Jane called my Doug I corrected her. And we had a good laugh about it. She said that a guy named Doug moved in the same time I did and she must have gotten confused. Days go by after the Doug name-calling incident and I see Jane again. I was running to my car, late for a date and she was sitting on the lawn chair smoking. As I was getting into my car and closing the door, Jane calls out and says "goodnight Doug." My door closed and it was too late to correct her. A couple of days later we pass on the stairs and she goes "Doug, Doug, Doug." Again, I was running late and didn't have the time to correct her. I told Ricco about my predicament and he said he would talk to Jane. Tonight after bullshitting with Jane about how Seattle is always shitty in June (Kelli calls is "June-uary.") she called me Doug again.

But now I feel like I cannot correct her again. I told her once. Ricco told her once. And now that I have accepted the name Doug on numerous encounters, I have in fact become Doug. It is like the Seinfeld episode where a woman at Elaine's work, Peggy, thinks Elaine is named Susie. Peggy wants to have a meeting with Peterman, Elaine and Susie because she thinks Elaine is a dolt and tells Susie this who is actually Elaine. When Elaine talks with Jerry about Peggy badmouthing Elaine in front of her, he states one of my favorite lines from the show, "The nerve. Talkin' about ya behind your back and right to your face!"

I know that I have to have that uncomfortable conversation with Jane again about my name. I was hoping it would go away but it is not. But at the end of the day what is wrong with being Doug?

I Found Nemo
June 8, 2007

As I starred at the Nemo looking fish in the office of my oral surgeon, I was filled with anxiety. I had not had teeth pulled from my head since the fifth grade. Back then I had a total of nine taken out - five baby and four permanent. An attractive blonde nurse called me back. She reviewed to me how the next 40 minutes would go and asked who would be picking me up. I told her that I had nine teeth pulled before and she asked me if I had the laughing gas before. I replied that I had done it old school - just a local anesthetic.

As I sat in the exam chair while she prepared everything, I began to think about how easily we trust people when they are in some position of authority. In a matter of minutes, two near strangers were going to drug me to near unconsciousness, pull four teeth out of my head and demand $1,200 for doing this - and I was letting them do this completely willingly and without question.

She fitted the mask over my face and told me to breathe normally. And within minutes, I began to float around the room. It was one of the best experiences I ever had. I was pretty high when the doctor walked in and asked me what I did for a living. I told him that I worked for a nonprofit? ?doing fundraising. My voiced sounded like it was slowed down and very deep. I vaguely remember him telling me that he was putting an IV in me for the painkillers. The next thing I remember was the nurse telling me that the top wisdom teeth were gone. And that they were going to drill on the bottoms to get them out. Moments later the doctor was gone, the IV was out and I was holding the hand of the nurse to the recovery room. The whole procedure seemed like it took minutes but the clock on the wall told me it had been an hour.

My friend Katherine was in the recovery room waiting for me. The nurse went over the instructions with Katherine and me and before I knew it, the gas had completely worn off and I was feeling pretty good with all the painkillers in me. I filled out my prescriptions for Hydrocodone (commonly known as Vicodin) and Penicillin. Once home, I took a couple of Hydrocodone pills and basically slept on the couch for the entire day.

Today my mouth hurts to open it. But I am armed with soup, ice cream, movies and magazines, so my next couple of days looks pretty relaxing. I looked into my mouth today and it looks weird in there without my wisdom teeth. But I am glad that they are out now. I originally had this appointment scheduled a year and half ago but I kept on pushing it off. So yesterday, I had my reckoning and now I am up to having 13 teeth pulled from my head.

Why Babies Born in 1994 Will Need to Watch the TV Show Friends
May 19, 2007

I was bored at work yesterday so I was reading the latest blog entry from ESPN's the Sports Guy. He is always amusing. Anyway, he posted a link to the Social Security's website with the most popular baby names for 2006. I was intrigued so I went to investigate.

I looked to see where Nicholas was in the rankings for this year (17th most popular male name). I then wondered where it was in 1982 when I was born (22nd most popular male name). I then wondered if I knew personally a lot of the top twenty girls and boys names in 1982 - since they would be in my same educational cohort for nearly twenty years. And without much surprise, I recognized the leaders in the list for 1982: Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Jennifer, Jessica and Amanda - I know so many people named these names.

I then scrolled to the bottom rankings. And you have what you would expect - misspelled versions of popular names (Kennith, Jermey, Chadd, Cristen, Natosha, etc. But what caught my eye in 1982 was the name ranked at 943rd for males - Chandler.

And with that, I began a journey of nerdom that eventually led to the creation of the graph that you find below. I was curious to see if the release of NBC's TV show Friends had any impact on the name Chandler a year after it aired. With friends premiering in 1994, I looked at the 1995 and to no surprise Chandler ranked 177th. This still didn't answer my question of if Friends had an impact on the name of Chandler - maybe the name was trending to be more popular over the years. Therefore, to remove any statistical bias questions, I would have to investigate the popularity of Chandler over time and compare the difference in change from one year to the next.

As you can see from the below graph (formatted based on popularity, for example, the name Rachel has been very popular over the last 20 years and is near the top.), the name Chandler was in fact gaining in popularity from 1982 to 2006. But the biggest gain from one year to the next, immediately happened after the premiere of Friends. In fact, the greatest gain of popularity in Chandler over two years happened during the first two seasons of Friends, which coincided with the most watched episode in 1996 after the Superbowl.

A graph of the popularity of the names in the TV show Friends.

Why did Chandler gain in popularity? My theory on the rise of Chandler - he is a real-life relatable character. He works for a huge organization and feel under appreciated - who doesn't feel unappreciated at work? He is generally insecure about his confidence in life and in relationships - again, I think everyone can relate. He is flawed - he smokes from time to time and he always says that he is weak - come on, he dated Janice. I think we all can see flaws in our own lives. And he is caring, tries to do the right thing and stands by his friends. We all see ourselves in Chandler and we truly want to be his friend. We want him to succeed and we find him endearing and aren't those the same qualities we want for our children? Thus the rise in Chandler.

However, the graph shows something more peculiar. Something not explained as easily. The rise in popularity in Phoebe. In 1988, Phoebe wasn't even in the top 1000 most popular baby names. When Friends premiered in 1994, it was the 818th most popular baby name. To show you how unpopular Phoebe was, here are some names ahead of it in popularity in 1994: Zana, Stormy, Magdalen, Essence, and my personal favorite, Lizette. But after Friends premiered, Phoebe jumped 234 spots. By the most watched episode, it had jumped a total of 276 spots and at the peak of popularity of Phoebe in 2001, it ranked 388th most popular - jumping 430 spots in seven years. Names around Phoebe in 2001 include Georgia, Virginia, Renee, and Heidi. This is a lot better company than Zana and Stormy.

The thick yellow line in the middle of the graph shows the trend of viewers watching friends. Like most shows, Friends, started from the gate strong and began to lose viewers. The graph also shows another interesting point. When Chandler and Monica first hooked up in London in 1999, the name Chandler began to decline in popularity. I think it is because Chandler became less relatable when he got together with Monica. How often do you hear that of a person that marries your best friend's sister? Chandler grew up and became successful and we still wanted six 30 somethings struggling to make it in the real world.

I think the funniest statistic from this graph is the effect Ross has had on baby names. While it is clear the name Ross been trending downward since 1982, the trend clearly increases when Friends premiered. Who wants to name their child after a character that had three divorces, one child because of a drunken night, has a Ph D. in Paleontology, is overly awkward and was afraid to ask Rachel out for two seasons? Thus the decline of Ross.

Have I spent more time on this project than I should have? Yes. Am I a big nerd? Yes. But come on, I did get a masters degree in public administration. We love graphs and looking at information that explains society. Kids named Chandler and Phoebe will most likely never know the cultural influence that caused their names. They will never know about the comedy on Thursday nights that gripped America with questions like will Ross and Rachel ever work it out, will Phoebe marry Mike and will Joey's spin-off be successful? I wonder what the effect today's TV shows will have on baby names in the future. Will names like Meredith, Sawyer, Susan or Bree gain in popularity? I guess time will tell and I will be ready with an excel graph in hand.

Life After Marisa
May 18, 2007

A week and half ago I had crepes with Marisa. She emailed me and told me she had a coupon to this crepe place up on 65th. I had remembered that I went to a crepe place on 65th with P and K almost two years ago and it was good. I walked through the small entryway and scanned the empty restaurant for Marisa. She waved from a table next to a window.

We had a great dinner and great conversation. We talked about our dating lives and our experiences. Our ups and downs. And for the first time I could see us as friends. And I was happy for that. The next day Kelli asked me what my feelings were and I told her that I was disappointed that it didn't work out, but I was glad that it ended this way.

Life after Marisa has been good. I have been on three dates so far and I have some more lined up tomorrow and next week. I am very excited about the possibilities and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Why Do They Wear Those Hats?
May 6, 2007

Going into the Kentucky Derby yesterday, the only horse I had ever heard of in this year's field was Street Sense. And that was because of a segment on Letterman on Friday. Paul is really into horseracing. And for the last couple of years, we have been watching the three major races, the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont.

This year we added a new element to our horseracing watching - online betting. As Paul was lining up his bets for the Derby yesterday on the computer, I queried him about the legality of online betting in the U.S., and he responded that is it banned but they exempted horseracing - you gotta love lobbyists.

In 2005, we were all rooting for a horse named Afleet Alex. The owners of Afleet Alex learned about a girl named Alex Scott who had an aggressive childhood cancer. At the age of four, Alex set up a lemonade stand to pay for her treatment. With the help of Afleet Alex's owners, she raised over $114,000 from that lemonade stand. But a horse named Giacomo won with odds 96 to 1. In 2006, Barbaro won with a commanding lead at the Derby but as we all know, hurt himself during the Preakness two weeks later.

With an hour to the race, I decided that I would bet $20. As I didn't know, there are many different combinations you can bet on in horseracing. You choose the top three horses. You can bet on the winner. You can bet on if the horse will place in the top three. And there are more and more exotic bets that pay huge amounts. I decided that I would only bet for winners. First, I wanted to bet on a long shot with a lot of buzz. So I put $10 on Zanjero (36 to 1). Second, I wanted to put a modest bet on a contender, $4 on Street Sense (9 to 2). Third, another modest bet on a long shot, $4 on Imawildandcrazyguy and to finish it out, $2 on a long shot contender, Circular Quay (11 to 1).

For that hour before the race, I began to think about if Zanjero actually won; I would have $360 - not too shabby.

Minutes before the start, all the bets were in and we had bets on all of the horses in the field but three. Paul could have been the biggest winner of the day with $50 on Curlin and some other bets that involved Curlin winning it all.

We all gathered around the TV and between the nine of us in the room, we had $250 in on various bets. As the gates opened, out of pure excitement for the race, we all yell incoherently during the start. As all the horses dashed out of the gates, it was clear within seconds why some horses had odds 36 to 1. Within twenty seconds, I knew that Zanjero was going to lose. He was in 16th place and was losing ground. Street Sense was in 19th coming around the first bend. And my other two horses were not going anywhere. I was in trouble.

Then something happened.

Street Sense was riding the inside rail and things began to open up. He got some lucky breaks and as they came around the final bend, Street Sense passed the leaders and pulled ahead 2.25 links to win it all. I was shocked.

With my $20 investment, I won $23.60. That is with Churchill Downs and the website taking their cuts. Claudia had the biggest investment gain. A $2 bet on Street Sense paid her $11.80. With the $250 in on various horses, we won a total of $35.40. It is clear that horseracing is not going to be a viable future for us. Instead of my $360 payout, I won $3.60 - not quite as good. But with money on the line, it truly added a cool new element to the fastest two minutes in sports.

Car Crash Photos
May 1, 2007

Here are the photos I promised in my original blog entry about my car crash. There was $11,000 dollars in damage. It doesn't look that bad but I couldn't open any doors on the left hand side and the main body frames were bent all the way to the front wheels.

Photo of my old, poor, destroyed toyota.  Photo taken on March 21, 2007.

Photo of my old, poor, destroyed toyota. Photo taken on March 21, 2007.

Here is another angle of my car crash.  Photo taken on March 21, 2007.

Here is another angle of my car crash. Photo taken on March 21, 2007.

Ridiculous Sunset
April 29, 2007

I think it is abundantly clear from past blog entries that I am not much of an outdoorsman. This makes sense. I barely have the city figured out, why would I have nature? That is why when Paul and Kelli asked me to go hiking/backpacking with them, I was skeptical. Especially when they started throwing phrases out there like: "Bear canisters," "If you see a cougar?," "Some places make you bury your poo in the ocean," "We'll have dehydrated food the first night," Don't worry, we'll have a rescue whistle."

But they quelled most of those fears for me and lured me in with phrases like, "Custom made trail mix," "Smores," "Easy hike along boardwalk," "Hotdogs," "Sea caves," and my personal favorite, "Butterfly crackers!"

So with the promise of some Pepperidge Farm Butterfly crackers, custom made trail mix and beef hotdogs, I said yes.

Before this trip, I had never been backpacking before. I never saw the appeal of hiking somewhere with all your gear, setting up camp, and hiking out with all your gear. I much preferred car camping, with its unique ability to have everything you would ever need right in the car.

P & K are experienced backpackers. They have been places where you have to poo and bury in the ocean. Where you have to filter well water before drinking it. They have even backpacked on insanely steep trails and paths in Iceland - I kid you not? they have been to fucking Iceland for a backpacking trip! I had heard these stories and I thought I could never roll with them on a trip. But they assured me that the hike to Cape Alava would be easy, mostly on boardwalk and that they have pit toilets - there would be no shitting in the ocean.

Cape Alava is simply amazing. It is located on the peninsula in the Olympic National Park. And with the power of google maps, you can even see a map of the 3.1-mile hike to ocean. From the trailhead, you hike toward the campsites and if you stand still about a mile and half in on the trail, you can hear the quiet roar of the mighty Pacific Ocean.

From the time we got to the Ferry terminal in Edmonds early Friday morning, it rained. Over the Hood Canal Bridge it lightly rained. The drive to the Port Angeles ranger station had rain. As my Honda powered through the tight corners around the beautiful Lake Crescent it continued to rain and it rained while we at lunch at the sleepy little "drive in" in Clallam Bay. But most disappointedly, it rained the hardest the final twenty-one miles to the trailhead. Weather.com had let us down. It was supposed to be cloudy with periods of showers through the entire weekend. Not a steady rain. When we got to the trailhead, it still rained lightly but we decided to press on and hope for the best. Here are a couple of photos:

Photo of me driving in my Honda on the way to Cape Alava.  Photo taken on April 27, 2007 and courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Photo of me driving in my Honda on the way to Cape Alava. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 and courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Photo of all of us at the trailhead. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

Photo of all of us at the trailhead. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

Photo of the boardwalk trail. From the photo you can see how thick the rainforest is.  Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

Photo of the boardwalk trail. From the photo you can see how thick the rainforest is. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

This being my first hike I didn't have the right gear. I didn't have fast drying pants, I didn't have waterproof hiking boots, and I didn't have a completely waterproof coat. So after the three miles through the rainforest I was soaked. But the worst part was the muddy trail to the beach. The last part was filled with slick mud and steep edges. My hiking pole was the only thing from keeping me from falling. I was miserable and I didn't know what I had gotten myself into.

We set up the tent and I quickly got in. I took off my muddy and soaking wet pants and put on my slightly damp pants. I took off my completely drenched socks and t-shirt and put on clothes that were wet from the water that seeped into my pack. My shoes were a complete muddy disaster and they sat under the rain fly to hopefully become less dry. I lay in the tent vowing not to come out until the rain stopped. And I was afraid I would be there all weekend.

I read my book for an hour and half and then I noticed something. It was quiet. The rhythmic pattering of rain against our tent had stopped and it was safe to get out. I put on my wet shoes and headed down to the beach to catch up with the group. And from that point on, it didn't rain again on our trip. After dinner, the sun began to set and something amazing started to happen. The clouds in the sky contrasted against the setting sun and we had the most beautiful sunset. I think this was truly the most breathtaking sunsets I have ever seen. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself.

Photo of the the best sunset I have ever seen.  Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

Photo of the the best sunset I have ever seen. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

I couldn't believe that I actually took this photo, it was so good.  Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

I couldn't believe that I actually took this photo, it was so beautiful. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

The next day, more friends came out and we hiked down the beach to the Ozette River where we had lunch. Along this hike, we saw bald eagles, seals, otters, starfish, sea enemies, urchins and other animals that made you think you were at the Woodland Park Zoo. Paul surprised us all later that night with a bottle of champagne and we passed around whiskey as we huddled around our driftwood fire. In hindsight, Weather.com was truly wrong?for the good. After the rain, we had three amazing beautiful days. On Sunday, the hike was easy and dry. And I was sad to leave. It was so beautiful and the trip was amazing. We missed the ferry back to Edmonds but we weren't in a rush. It will be hard to get back to work tomorrow. I will be thinking of that ridiculous sunset Friday night. Check out my picasa album for more pictures.

Here is a photo of us looking out at the waves crashing against the rocks.  Photo taken on April 28, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.  Photo Courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Here is a photo of us looking out at the waves crashing against the rocks. Photo taken on April 28, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA. Photo Courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Consolation Prize
April 20, 2007

I knew if I hadn't planned an activity as friends with Marisa Tomei (I have decided that this will be her identity in my blog), we would never see each other again. I think people offer the friendship card as a consolation prize to ease the blow of rejection. I know I have done this. There have been times when I never wanted to see a person ever again but I stupidly said lets be friends to ease the blow of rejection.

With Marisa, something was different. I honestly believe that she does like me and wants to be my friend. She is cool to hang out with and we had many laughs over our three dates, so why not give it a try. We made plans for Wednesday evening. We met at 7:30 and I thought the coffee shop closed at 9:00. But it closed at 8:00. So after a quick conversation, I asked her if she wanted to walk through the neighborhood. And we spent the following hour walking and talking on the Burke Gilman Trail.

As we talked, I came to some important realizations - 1) I did get caught up in things. I entered this coffee date with a step back and mild apprehension; And that allowed me to see objectively why would not work out. 2) However, I saw what attracted me to her in the first place. She is smart, funny, outgoing, a little crass (not more than me by any means), sarcastic and very pretty. And on some level, she understands that she is solely responsible for her own happiness and she is not afraid to jump into something, eyes closed, and search for that happiness.

It was almost completely dark when we finished our walk together. Our cars were the only ones left in the parking lot. We crossed the street and there was a medium sized puddle in my path. Marisa walked around it; I decided to jump it. As I jumped over the puddle, my right calves exploded with pain. I landed and began to limp. She told me that we could take a break - our cars were literally 25 feet away. I said I was fine and pushed through the pain. She gave me a hug and by the time I limped to my car and looked back, she was gone. I don't know if Marisa and I will remain friends. We are still in the phase of a friendship where it takes work. Where it is easier not to call, than it is to call. But we'll see. It is hard to make friends in the city, especially away from work and school. So maybe Marisa as a friend is not consolation prize after all, but a new opportunity.

Marisa Tomei Punched Me in the Face
April 11, 2007

The third day when I was in Aberdeen, I drove to the ocean. It was a gorgeous day. And this was truly remarkable because it always rains in the Harbor during spring. There was sunshine in every direction I looked. When I got to Ocean Shores, I drove along the beach and found a place to park. While the sun was out, the wind was unforgiving. I quickly walked to the jetty and starred out onto the ocean. Watched as the waves crashed violently against the rocks. It was remarkable. But between the combination of the wind and the sand blowing in my face, I only stayed for a few minutes. I reached to take a photo of my rental car (a dijon yellow PT cruiser) on the beach with the ocean in the background but the batteries on my phone were completely empty. As the sun was setting across the horizon, it looked like the perfect car commercial photo - oh well. I got into my car and drove back into Ocean Shores.

Here is a camera phone photo of my Dijon Yellow PT Cruiser.  The educator from Aberdeen High School who I had been working with, loved the car when she saw it, so did my Aunt.  I then gave up the idea of buying one.  Photo taken on March 22, 2007.

Here is a camera phone photo of my Dijon Yellow PT Cruiser. The educator from Aberdeen High School who I had been working with, loved the car when she saw it, so did my Aunt. I then gave up the idea of buying one. Photo taken on March 22, 2007.

I decided that I would eat in Ocean Shores. Pick a nice restaurant (within a reasonable price range) and read my book, the before mentioned The Year of Magical Thinking. Couple this with a few beers and you have a recipe for a great night in the Harbor. I pulled into a place that I ate at when I was a kid with my parents. It had been so long ago the only thing that was familiar was the shape of the restaurant - it looks like a deformed octagon tent.

I tell the waitress that I want to order a couple of drinks and then I would order dinner. This surprised her. She so badly wanted to take my dinner order. I just wanted to read and kill time. I finally order my dinner and I get the oven-baked halibut with a baked potato. She asks me if I want onions, sour cream, butter and bacon on my potato and I reply with a big fat yes.

I get my fish and it was perfect. You always hope for great fish at the shore. But there was something different with my fixings for my baked potato. Sure, it came with onions, sour cream, butter and bacon but it came combined together as one spread. One Spread. I kid you not. It was combined as one delicious, mouth-watering spread.

Now I had been chatting with this girl online for a few days. And it was going well. She was funny and I found her very interesting. She studied film in New York and had worked on some TV shows. But her passion is her art. She is does both painting and photography and I should mention that she is really smart and very well read. Anyway, I wrote to her and told her about my fixings for my baked potato and she told me if they sold that in the store, she would buy it by the vat. I was sold.

As I was leaving the Harbor for good on Friday, I had planned a date with her for Sunday. We had drinks and saw a movie and I had such a great time getting to know her that I asked if she wanted to get more drinks after the movie. And we did. We shared a piece of cheesecake and talked for a longtime. It was one of the best first dates I had been on in a long time. She mentioned to me that I should come to her gallery for First Thursday - a Seattle based art walk where all the galleries stay open late on the first Thursday of each month.

Two days after our date, I left the worst message I have ever done in the history of messages on her phone. Here is what I remember of the message to her, "Hi, it's uh Nick and I just want to, uh, say I had a good time the other night. I was thinking on Friday we could have dinner, there is, uh this great Spanish restaurant. Uh, um, I've never been there, but uh, um, some friends I know have and, they, um? said its good. So let me know if, uh that works for you. Also, I would love to see your place? I mean art gallery! So uh, letmeknowifthatworksforyouandgivemeacallbackat? Nick. It literally was like the movie Swingers when Jon Favreau calls Nicki from the bar and leaves a horrible series of phone messages. Luckily, I stopped with one horrible phone message.

But thankfully for me, she saw past that. I went to her gallery on Thursday and we had a great time. I saw her art, which was really cool. We had some wine, hung out with some people from her building and spent the night laughing and eating pizza when I should have been in bed for my early day at work. On Friday, Seattle had a record temperature day. It was 78 degrees in Seattle. And it was a perfect temperature for a birthday and a third date. When I picked her up, she looked fantastic in her black dress and matching heels. The place I took her for dinner was incredible. Great food and great service. P & K's recommendation did not let me down. We had a great conversation over dinner and our waitress even put a candle in my dessert for my birthday.

Before our date on Friday, I told my friend Brian that she was so great and I wondered why she would like me and wanted to go out with me. And I told him that it reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where George finally goes on a date with Marisa Tomei. And Marisa asks George why is a man that is so funny, bald and stocky still single. And George tells her that he is actually engaged and she then punches him in the face. I told Brian that I was waiting for Marisa to punch me in the face.

I took her back to her place and she showed me around. And as I was leaving and hugging her goodbye, we kissed. She walked me down the stairs and I held her hand as I left. She was flying out of town the next day. I said goodbye and as I drove home that night, I thought to myself that I just had a 'top three' birthday.

Yesterday, I left her a message about a date idea I had for this Sunday. She called me back an hour later. She told me that Sunday sounded great but there was something she wanted to tell me. She said that she didn't feel a romantic spark after we kissed. She wanted to tell me on Friday but she didn't want to ruin things - my birthday. I was caught completely off guard. My heart sunk, as I heard those words. Marisa Tomei had just punched me in the face.

Ten minutes later, I called her back for clarification. What was it about the kiss? And she told me it wasn't the technique (a mild victory) but that she simply didn't feel a spark. And I asked her for a second chance and she said no. She said that she really wants to be friends with me and that I was one of the coolest people she had met in Seattle.

Upon reflection, I wonder if I had missed the signals. If I had been so caught up in things that I missed the subtle clues of a relationship not working out. I think about the day in Ocean Shores when I emailed her about my baked potato. That night was perfect foreshadowing of what was to happen next. A beautiful sunshiny day that was coupled with wind and blowing sand. I know there will be other girls, more dates and other exciting and embarrassing stories. But this one stings. It makes you question yourself. It raises doubts and bruises your ego. These past few months seem to point to a new direction in my life and its possibilities makes me excited. So I will remain hopeful and see what new adventure is coming around the corner.

Now Serving Zero Seven Four
April 7, 2007

As I have gotten older, I have noticed that birthdays become one or two week extravaganzas. First, you have family obligations. This can be as simple as a card from your aunt to dinner with your parents. Second, you have friend obligations - dinners, phone calls, text messages, parties, drinks, brunch, more dinners, etc. Third, you have work obligations - cake, lunch and the mandatory "from all of us" card. Finally, as a result of technology and the internet, there is this new phenomenon of myspace and facebook birthday greetings. Random people you have met as friends along the journey of life can now send you a quick birthday greeting because myspace reminds people of your birthday. All of these events cannot possibly take place in one day or a couple of days - thus creating the weeklong extravaganzas. I remember in the first grade my birthday party consisted of five friends (I even invited a girl, quite shocking for that age) having cake and presents at the local McDonalds after a soccer game. A simpler time indeed.

Now that I am officially twenty-five, my weeklong extravaganza has not concluded. I still have a couple of dinners planned, a present from my family and a few calls to return. Well, besides being a quarter-century old, twenty-five marked another rite of passage for me - a trip to the Department of Licensing.

Now I don't remember for sure, but I think I lost my license when I was twenty. The DOL had just shifted from every four-year renewals to every five years. If I had not lost my license, I would have been issued a horizontal license when I turned twenty-one. But that never happened. I lost it and I was issued a vertical license (a vertical license is a quick reference for id checkers for legal drinking age), which didn't come due again until 4/6/2007. I remember looking at my new license in March of 2002 and seeing the renewal date of 4/6/2007 and wondering how much different my life would be five years later. I remember specifically thinking if I would be married, have a "real world" job, where would I be living, etc. Five years later, I have my answers.

Last week, I tried going to the DOL while I was at work in Federal Way. But the wait times posted online said 1:45 minutes. This was infuriating to me. Because I checked the wait times of Seattle, Kennewick, Spokane, Auburn, Yakima and even Aberdeen and they on average had wait times of less than a half hour. Not one hour forty-five minutes. On Thursday, I tried going to the Federal Way location before they opened. And when I arrived, the line was wrapped around the building.

My license expired yesterday. And when I was rear-ended a few weeks ago, the State Patrolman scolded me for not updating my address (it still had the 1918 McMurray St address - my mom sold that house four years ago). So to avoid any possible run-ins with the law, I hopped on the 48 this morning to Greenwood to get a new license.

It was packed when I got there an hour after they opened. I pushed the button by the front of the door and got my number, 074. As I looked for a place to sit in the small office, a computerized voice came on over the loudspeaker and said, "Now serving, zero three one." I couldn't believe it, there were 43 license renewals in front of me!

Because I was riding the bus, I had brought a book along with me. Which saved me from boredom. But I probably would have been okay because the DOL is a great place to people watch: The father who took his son to get his license for the first time. The angry man who said "fuck this shit," to the DOL employee and then apologized to the room for his language as he stormed off. The DOL employees who only give you only seconds to stand up and come over when the computer announces your number - they skip to the next number like nobody's business if you don't come. The five-year old Vietnamese girl who is getting her id card for the first time.

I am reading The Year of Magical Thinking, and it is a great book. It is so great that I got so engrossed in the book that I completely blocked out the computerized voice calling out numbers. As I finished chapter 11, I realized that I had not been paying attention. I panicked. Seconds later the voice called out zero six five. I was safe.

I sat anxiously as 069, 070, 071, and 072 were called and did not show up. They must have decided to "fuck this shit," too. 073 was a middle-aged woman who got the DOL employee who I deemed to be mean. Moments later the computerized voice said the magical words - Now serving zero seven four. I got up and bolted to the station.

I looked at my freshly printed temporary license and I scanned to the expiration date - 4/6/2012. I realized that I would be 30. And I had all the same questions that I did when I was twenty. Would I be married? What kind of job will I have? Where will I be living? What will my life look like then? A driver's license is truly a marker into the past and into the future. It allows you to reflect on your life and dream about tomorrow. You can imagine all the possibilities and laugh about all the memories. The process of getting your license renewed is not an easy one. But for all the reflections and dreams I had while sitting on the 48, it was well worth it.

Everything Changes
April 4, 2007

Friday is my birthday and I have been thinking about my life lately. And thinking how different it is just one year later. Compound the normal life changes (school, work, apartment) with the random fateful things (car accident, eharmony, justin moving away, getting a new drivers license, etc.) and you see how far you can grow in one year. How despite your best laid out plans, everything can change.

Anyway, I bought a new car. I got a 2004 Honda Accord. It is not quite as fancy as my old car was - no power leather seats or a sunroof. But it is pretty cool regardless. I think we will have some good times together as long as Ryan Berg and Light Poles can stay away from my car. Here is a picture of her.

Here is a camera phone photo of my 2004 Honda Accord.  This is my second car from Toyota of Kirkland in less than two years.  Hopefully it will be a long time until I see them again.  Photo taken on April 4, 2007 outside of my apartment building.

Here is a camera phone photo of my 2004 Honda Accord. This is my second car from Toyota of Kirkland in less than two years. Hopefully it will be a long time until I see them again. Photo taken on April 4, 2007 outside of my apartment building.

Come As You Are
March 26, 2007

I am stuck in Aberdeen. That's right, I am in the paper loving, spotted owl hating, rain soaked forgotten town located twenty miles outside of the pacific ocean. The reason I am here in the deforestation capitol of Washington is to run one of our famed programs for Washington Business Week. It is a scheduling fluke that I am here in the 'deen (a team coined by myself and adopted by our staff) alone. Our executive director is in Dallas, the program manager in Moses Lake with our volunteer coordinator and our student recruiter is on the road, recruiting. Top that off with our office manager getting married this weekend, there wasn't that many options.

Driving here on Sunday was magical. It was a perfect day. The sun was shining and everything was great. Even today was a perfect day until about 5:00 p.m. when it began to pour. I have three interns working for me at the high school. I really can't say that they are truly working for me. But they do my bidding without question. Come to think of it, it is like a faux stanley milgram experiment. They seem to do anything I ask without question - make 250 copies, count out stats of 16, organize the markers, get the food from the cafeteria, make ice in the nurse's station and deliver random papers to people.

I went to dinner by myself where I wanted a paced dinner where I could read my book. But by the time I was halfway through my salad; my over cooked new york steak arrived. The review on google said The Bridge, has the best steaks in town. I don't doubt it. But you have to remember, in the land of the blind, one-eyed is king. I think I am going to head out to the ocean tomorrow, have dinner and finish my book. I wrote once that Olympia is a strangely lonely city. But after spending two nights in the 'deen already, I must retract that statement. I have never seen a city as lonely as Aberdeen. There is an interesting wiki article about Kurt Cobain and Aberdeen and the tribute to him as you enter town. I think the last sentence in the article illustrates my point nicely.

This is the photo of the Kurt Cobain tribute sign in Aberdeen, WA.  Photo taken on December 13, 2005 and is courtesy of wikipedia.

This is the photo of the Kurt Cobain tribute sign in Aberdeen, WA. Photo taken on December 13, 2005 and is courtesy of wikipedia.

Ryan Berg Finished What the Light Pole Could Not
March 23, 2007

"Your car is a total loss," is what Kasey said to me Tuesday morning. Kasey is the manager of the Thoroughbred Collision Body Shop in West Seattle.

It was a random Monday night and I was driving home from work. It was raining and traffic was moving slowly. Cruising in the left lane, the traffic by the Southcenter Mall backed all the way for a half mile from the exit. This was unusual and in the six months of driving, I had never seen this. Traffic will slow near the exit because two lanes merge onto 405 and if 405 is fucked, traffic will back up onto I-5. Even if traffic backs up to I-5 the left lane will still move at normal speed.

Except Monday night. This time, traffic slowed all the way to the left lane and stopped quickly. I put on my brake and slowed to a complete stop. I looked into the rearview mirror because I knew how close the black truck behind me was following. And I knew at that moment, I was going to be hit.

From the pictures (see below), it doesn't look like my car would be totaled. It looks like the backend could be fixed and I would be on my way. But there was much more serious damage. The frame was bent all the way to the engine.

With the impact, my glasses flew off my face. My body jerked violently against the seatbelt with such force that it hurt the next day. And I sat in my car shocked about what had just happened. NPR still played in the background. No broken glass. No broken taillights. The black truck that hit me was also rear-ended, flew around me, and came to a complete stop in front of my battered Toyota. The white truck that hit him was smashed pretty good and came to a stop directly behind me. I reached for my phone and called 911.

By the time the operator transferred me to the State Patrol, an officer had rolled up. Ryan Berg who I found to be strangely striking and well cut, got out of his early-to-mid 80s pickup truck and asked me if I was okay. I nodded.

There is no good time to be rear-ended. It is something you never expect. It is truly like those Jetta commercials you see on TV. You see two people having a random conversation and out of now where everything changes. While I was alone in the car, I was listening to an NPR story, thinking about the meatball calzone I was going to eat and mentally preparing myself for the next day. And like in the Jetta commercial, everything changed.

Now four days later, I have a rental car, my loan has been paid off from Toyota and I am looking for a new car. It is not often in life you get to start completely over. And now with my car completely totaled, I get that new start. The possibilities are endless and the excitement of buying a new car is great. Don't get me wrong, I will miss my car greatly. It was my first big purchase. It had leather seats, power windows, a sunroof, six disc cd player and only 63,000 miles.

I cannot help but think it was fate. I mean, if I hadn't moved my car during that windy night in December, it would have been completely totaled from the fallen light pole. It was spared by 20 minutes. My car cheated fate once but ultimately that random Monday night did her in. I didn't get my rental car until Tuesday afternoon and I had a lunch meeting in downtown Seattle earlier in the day. And as it would turn out, this lunch meeting would be her last drive, unceremoniously returning from REI in downtown. They towed her away the next day, with my UW Alumni license plate holder still attached.

This photo is actually posted in my October 30, 2005 blog entry.  After almost two years together, this is our only picture of us together.  Photo taken on October 29, 2005.

This photo is actually posted in my October 30, 2005 blog entry. After almost two years together, this is our only picture of us together. Photo taken on October 29, 2005.

This is another photo taken that day.  Kelli and I were on the Seattle to Vashon Island Ferry to a classmate's Halloween Party.  Photo taken on October 29, 2005.

This is another photo taken that day. Kelli and I were on the Seattle to Vashon Island Ferry to a classmate's Halloween Party. Photo taken on October 29, 2005.

Dayton is not the Capitol of Ohio
March 4, 2007

I was in Spokane again this past weekend - it was my grandma's 94th birthday. And we had a family gathering at my mom's cousin's place (my first cousin once removed). Now here is where the genealogy lesson gets a little intense. My first cousin once removed (Maryann and her husband Ned) have two kids Anne Marie and David. They are my second cousins. Well Anne Marie is married to a man name Paul and I went to their wedding 11 years ago when I was in the eighth grade. Anne Marie and Paul have three children, Kaitlin (4th grade), Makayla (1st grade) and Kellen (3 years old). And for the record, these three are my second cousins once removed. The common link is our great grandparents but in their case, it would be their great-great grandparents. Confused, check out this wiki article for a great chart. Here are some pictures I took with my cell phone camera.

A photo of Kaitlin holding Makayla.  Photo taken on March 3, 2007.

A photo of Kaitlin holding Makayla. Even after a master's degree, Kaitlin is smarter than me. Photo taken on March 3, 2007.

A photo Kellen drinking his juice.  Photo taken on March 3, 2007.

A photo Kellen drinking his juice. Photo taken on March 3, 2007.

A photo all three kids.  Photo taken on March 3, 2007.

A photo all three kids. Photo taken on March 3, 2007.

But during this particular family gathering, I realized something very important? I'm adopted! No? just kidding. I learned that I am no longer in the youngest generation anymore. With the addition of Anne Marie and Paul's children, there is a new younger generation. I came to this realization when I had a glass of merlot in my hand and I was dishing up a heaping pile of mixed greens (my definition of being grown up).

Everyone knows my feelings on pets. I like dogs and cats as long they don't drool on me, I don't have to clean their poo and at the end of the day, I can leave them with their owner. My feelings on children are almost the same. And in both cases, I am generally not that excited to see children or pets.

I don't know if it was the three glasses of merlot or the cold Spoklahoma air but last Saturday night but I had the most fun in a long time hanging out with Kaitlin, Makayla and Kellen. It started when Kellen made weird faces at me. So I made weird faces back at him. And then I asked Kaitlin if she was studying state capitols in her class. And she was. So I started naming states and she named their capitol (as far as I knew). Anne Marie asked me if I really knew the answers and I told her that Kaitlin could say just about anything and I would believe her. Later that night Kaitlin started to quiz me about state capitols. I seriously thought Dayton was the capitol of Ohio. And who has seriously heard of Montpelier? Needless to say I was schooled by a girl who weighs 65 pounds and is in the fourth grade - not that much different from my own fourth grade experiences.

Within minutes, I regressed to the maturity level of child and started throwing pillows left and right. Those three got a few good licks. Especially with their little kid fists, Kellen stepping on my secret no-no place a few times and Makayla doing air attacks from the ottoman. However, the kids were most impressed with my cell phone and wanted to take videos and pictures. They enjoyed the fact that I could touch my nose with my tongue and they liked that I could lift them with one arm. I wish impressing people was always that easy. I honestly don't know if it was me or the kids who were most disappointed when I left.

And thankfully, during the night, I didn't have to deal with any poo and only got drooled on once - so overall, my experience was pretty good. And like my experience with Eiger, my thoughts on kids are changing. And who knows, maybe in four years, when Kaitlin is in the eighth grade, she will be attending my wedding.

I Didn't Have a Steak Knife
February 25, 2007

During a fundraising trip to Spokane last week, I scheduled to see some old friends for business and pleasure. I met Stephanie while in college and she now works for a credit union. And as a benefit, she is dating someone who works for Smith Barney. I suggested that we meet for dinner, catch up and I would pitch them about Business Week - they agreed.

I picked this greek restaurant I always wanted to try but never went to in the four years I lived in Spokane. And it was fantastic. It was great food and great wine. The conversation was good and it was great seeing Stephanie again. Stephanie lived in the same dorm as me and we became friends through a mutual friend I knew in high school. We played on the same intramural basketball team. Through college, Stephanie became good friends with Justin and I and we hung out a lot. But after graduation, Justin and I moved away and Stephanie stayed in Spokane.

Stephanie picked the beef kabobs and when dinner arrived, she asked me if I wanted one of her beef nuggets for a piece of my chicken. A very fair trade. Anyway, the nugget of beef she gave me was bigger than bite sized and I didn't have a steak knife. So I stupidly put the entire thing in my mouth - no problem right. I can power through most food items with out any hassle.

Well there was a major problem. The problem was that over half of this oversized bite of beef was gristle and I didn't realize it until it was too late. So here I am chewing this nugget of beef and nothing is happening. I keep on chewing and chewing and chewing and I am thinking to myself what the hell I am going to do. It was too big of a bite to spit it out into my cloth napkin and what if they see me spit it out. And I am trying to impress them so that they will give me money. Also, with this huge hunk of beef in my mouth, Shannon my co-worker, if forced to carry the conversation. I come to the conclusion that I will have to swallow the entire beef nugget and pray that I don't choke to death. So I swallowed the partially masticated beef gristle and hoped for the best and it worked. Nobody noticed my situation and the evening marched on without incident.

New Tully's Girl?
February 14, 2007

The fun of moving to a new place is exploring the new neighborhood. Finding new restaurants, stores and most importantly, coffee shops. The closest coffee shop to my apartment is called Insomniax and despite its misleading name, it is only open until 6:30 p.m. I walked into Insomniax for the first time today - Valentine's Day. The girl behind the counter wished me a Happy Valentine's Day. I told her that it was pretty funny seeing all the people carrying flowers around. She then asked me my Valentine's Day Plans.

Last week I went on a date. It went well. Two days later, I ask her if she had plans for the following week. I asked her if she wanted to go out to dinner on Wednesday. She said yes. It took me four days until I realized that Wednesday was Valentine's Day but by the time I realized it, it was too late to cancel. A second date on Valentine's Day - there could be worse things but Valentine's Day in Seattle is brutal. All the local restaurants have special menus and they want reservations. It would have been a little awkward having a second date on the most romantic day of the year. But luckily for me, her co-worker got the flu. And she had to cover her shift on Valentine's Day night. We are scheduled for this Monday now.

Anyway, I told the barista at Insomniax my Valentine's Day predicament and she thought it was funny. After getting my coffee, she reached out her hand to me and said, "Hi my name is Anna what's yours?" That was the best way to start in a new neighborhood. Anyway, today I had some meetings in Seattle and I took a couple Valentine's Day photos with my cell phone camera.

I saw this man walking out of a flower shop in downtown Seattle.  I thought it was a good image for the day.  Photo taken on February 14, 2007.

I saw this man walking out of a flower shop in downtown Seattle. I thought it was a good image for the day. Photo taken on February 14, 2007.

Ruffled Feathers, Stonington Beige, Yucatan, and Casual Blue
February 6, 2007

Those are the colors Kelli and I picked for my new apartment. Kelli subscribes to a lot of design magazines and she showed me some samples. After a trip to the Home Depot to match up some colors and to buy some supplies, we were ready to paint. I took Friday off to get it all started.

My new apartment was light pink everywhere. So a new paint job was in order. My new manager is pretty laisser-faire. And my new apartment had not been painted in years. Some fresh paint was needed. I painted the living room Stonington Beige, my bedroom and entryway Casual Blue, and the den Ruffled Feathers with a Yucatan accent wall. It looks great. It is truly night and day in my place. I cannot wait to move in.

Sarah from Seattle
February 2, 2007

I have been meaning to write this entry for a while, but I have been procrastinating. But since I woke up this morning with a little insomnia, I thought I would take this time and write about a girl I met in November.

It was during the conference when I met this girl named Sarah. She was quite pretty and smart and I found her striking in a group of random graduate students. As I worked the room during the happy hour, I ended up talking to her and her friend Amber until the event ended. They told me that they were going to Karaoke and they wanted me to go.

An hour later, I found myself walking down the Ave to the Karaoke bar. At the bar, I talked to Sarah and Amber and laughed at the bad singers - this would be the first event of many in which we spent time together.

Over the next couple of days, we chatted about everything. She said she is a self-admitted "square," a little bit of an introvert and is currently studying classics. And in a random conversation with another person, which I overheard, she uttered the most deflating words a single guy can ever hear, "my boyfriend." I had suspected as much. How can a girl this pretty and smart be single - especially in graduate school? I knew that I must not have been the first person to have a crush on her.

By the time I realized she had a boyfriend, I was already vested in our three-day friendship. National conferences are strange like that. You meet people that have the same interests, backgrounds and face the same problems. But most often, you will never see each other again. It's like having a great conversation with someone on a plane. By chance you end up sitting next to them and you hit it off, but you realize you live in different regions of the country.

But with Sarah, it was a little different, she grew up in Seattle and her parents still live here.

The last night of the conference, I told her that we would have to hangout when she was in town for Christmas break and she agreed. And between the conference and Christmas, we emailed a couple of times and chatted online. She told me when she was going to be home and said that she would call me.

After Christmas and before New Years, I get a random phone call at 11:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Half of asleep, I race over to my phone and in the darkness of my apartment I struggle to find it. I look at my phone and I see "1 Missed Call," and I wait for the message to be left. I listen and I get the following message, "[Loud music and voices in the background] Hi Nick, it's Sarah! Amber and I, with some of our other friends are here at a bar in Capitol Hill, I don't know what you are doing right now, but you should come out." I considered this for a moment, but then realized that I had work the next day.

The next day I call Sarah's phone and I leave a message. I also sent her a quick text message too. A couple of days go by and I hear nothing from her. I call her phone again - nothing. Weeks pass and by this time, I know she is back at school over on the East Coast. And since that phone call, I have never received any communication from her again.

I halfway expected to never hear from Sarah again after the conference. That's how conferences are. That would make sense. What does she owe some random guy she met two months ago? But it was Sarah that called me. She extended the communication branch. Often I try to figure out people's motives. And I cannot figure out why she would call, if she didn't really want to see me. Maybe it is the classic case of a drinking and dialing. Maybe life happened to her on her winter break. Maybe she simply forgot. Oh well. Soon Sarah from Seattle will fade from memory but until then, I will always wonder what happened and always wonder why she called me in that random night in December.

Goodbye U-District
January 25, 2007

Over the past couple weeks, I have been seriously looking for a new place to live. Now that I am done with graduate school, I figured that I should move away from the place I have called home for two and half years - the longest place I have lived at since moving out of my home six years ago. On Monday, I looked at a place in the Eastlake neighborhood. It was almost perfect. Open kitchen, nice deck, one block from the water and very awesome neighborhood. But it didn't work out. So I continued my search and called on a place in capitol hill and I saw the place the next day. This large one bedroom plus den has hardwood floors and a parking spot. It is in one of the best and quiet neighborhoods and close to everything. It is walking distance to grocery stores, bars, restaurants, music stores and other neighborhood treasures. The apartment manager showed me the place and told me that three other people were going to see it and he was going to evaluate me on a number of factors. Two days later, he calls me and I have the place.

Kelli has offered to paint my apartment. She has a great eye for color and loves to paint. She has already picked out some samples and has given me some great ideas. In addition to painting, I plan to buy a new bed very soon.

Like I have said in previous blog entries, I will be sad to leave. I will miss Tully's and all the people who I see regularly there. I will miss my YMCA and all those familiar faces. I will miss the farmers market and the movie theaters. I will miss my friends in the u-district and the University. The church folk and the girl with the classic car. The place where I get my haircut and my Chinese restaurant - chopstick for one. And most strange, I will miss the places I never got around to see. The coffee shop around the corner or the Irish bar down the street. But I guess that is the true irony of life.

I figured that I won't tell Crystal at Tully's that I am moving away. Just one day, I won't show up. A year ago during the summer, I went to Spokane for a month. And when I got back Zoe said that she was wondering where I went. I wonder if that will happen with Crystal or the lady at the Chinese restaurant or my apartment manager. If they will wonder what happened to me after I left.

"You're Ruining My Dinner."
January 11, 2007

The other night I went to dinner with my friend Kelli. It was early in the evening and the small Italian place on 35th and 55th was not crowded. The rain was pouring down. Almost biblically so. And warm bread dipped in olive oil was the perfect start to the evening.

Immediately after sitting down at our table something was amiss. Now let me set the scene. The restaurant is quaint and quiet. Because it was early, more than half of the tables are empty. And very light diner music played in the background. To put it simply, you could overhear any conversation.

The table to our immediate left was empty. But one table over from there sat this couple in their early fifties. Directly behind the couple sat a mother with her daughter. After a few minutes deciding between the pesto and the chicken, we heard the couple begin to argue.

Woman: "I cannot believe you. I am just sitting here while you type on your damn calendar."
Man: silence
Woman: "How slow are you with that thing? I have been sitting here for five minutes in complete silence. I have just been sitting here with no one to talk to."

The woman continues to berate her husband for another ten minutes. The man gets a few licks in but mostly takes her punches.

At this point, I am completely uncomfortable. Which is rare for me. I love a good old fashioned fight - there is beauty in destruction. My parents had some great ones back in the day, but I never saw one that made me this uncomfortable - which is shocking because this couple wasn't even my parents.

With every passing moment, the mother behind the bickering couple was getting madder and madder. And every time the couple raised their voice to trump each other in inane bickering, the poor daughter of the mother looked completely scared. This girl, maybe 5 or 6 years of age, twirled her spaghetti in complete fear.

At this point, the mother was absolutely livid. Her daughter was afraid to eat. And now, the couple were no longer fighting in whispers. She hit her hands hard against the table and turned around to address the couple. "Excuse me," the mother yells at the couple, "you're ruining my dinner." And without missing a beat, the wife of the bickering couple says, "Well, he's ruining my dinner."

The restaurant became completely silent.

Without saying a word, the man got up out of his chair, motioned to his wife to follow him and they left in silence. There must have been more to her anger, than the slowness of his calendaring skills. Maybe it was the rain or the darkness or something about their jobs. But I hope they do find happiness. Maybe they do need to divorce. My parents got divorced and then reconciled? and I have never seen them happier.

What I Have Learned This Past Year
December 31, 2006

In late October of 2005, I went to a Halloween Party on Vashon Island. A friend from grad school lived on a farm out there. A friend and I took a ferry over, drove five miles in and spent the day carving pumpkins, chasing away spiders and eating farm grown vegetable soup. This random October day would lead me to six straight months of complete stress and anxiety.

When it became time to decide on a degree project and I looked randomly at the list of 70 different projects, I immediately became drawn to a small nonprofit called Vashon Youth and Family Services. They needed a student to examine the early learning and childcare needs on the Island and suggest solutions to improve the lives of the children. The idea of helping an Island community was fascinating and since I had a great time on the farm, I signed myself up.

Being 23, single and having grown up as an only child, I was a perfect candidate to discover the Island's childcare needs. I spent six months interviewing parents, nannies, school officials and childcare owners to discover how I could help the poor children of Vashon Island. And in a brief 55-page document, I have all the answers. I quickly learned that the allure of a twenty-five minute ferry ride across the Puget Sound gets old really quick at $18 per trip. I think after the 175th revision of my degree project, I no longer cared about the children and only wanted to turn my project in.

In January and February, I spent most days driving to Olympia to lobby the legislature to give the graduate and professional students of UW more money in the supplemental budget. During session, Olympia is this weirdly lonely city. It is filled with suits walking around and people talking on their blackberries. I would spend time between meetings and hearings drinking coffee in the cafeteria and talking to the usual suspects of higher education. My "friends" became lobbyists and legislators. I testified on a few bills and if you search public records, you can hear the painful audio transcripts of my public testimony. The undergraduate UW lobbyist and I became good friends. And sometimes during hearings I would call him ennis and I whisper in his ear that I wish I knew how to quit him. It is always fun to be wildly inappropriate in our State's capitol.

On September 4, 2006, I had my heart broken - it was Tully's Girl's last day. Zoe left me for the Black Angus. She was my barista for the entire time I went lived in Seattle. She knew my name, my drink, my schedule, my life and she even drew little hearts on my cup from time to time. She sent me more mixed signals than everyone else did and I never did quite figure her out. She frequently dyed her hair and I would always complement her. She was always flattered. After Zoe left, her entire staff quit. I still find that amazing. And what is even more weird about Zoe leaving is that when the new manager took over, Crystal, they completely changed the entire inside. They removed the side tables I always sat at, removed the bar where you could doctor your coffee, removed the bench seating and replaced it with leather chairs and changed most of the seating and layout around. So in addition to losing Zoe, my Tully's was completely different. The only thing I still recognize about this Tully's is the same customers that come in when I do. I guess we are all creatures of habit. I also thought it was quite poetic about the timing of Zoe quitting. I thought somehow it reflected the changes in my own life. Five days before Tully's Girl left, I started my job at Washington Business Week. My life changed drastically and in turn, Tully's changed drastically. I know it is coincidence but on some level, I think it is cosmically related.

During the summer of nick (the blissful time after grad school and before employment), I was planning a national conference for an organization I was involved with called NAGPS (aptly pronounced "nags"). While I was in florida at the previous national conference - I don't know if it was because of the 80-degree temps in February or the humid Miami air but I stupidly signed the UW (me) up to host the next national conference in November. And as November approached, I became a wreck. Emails piled up in my gmail account, the ulcer pain increased in my stomach. Which I believe, was perfectly correlated.

This was a year of transitions for most of you. My high school prom date got married this past year. Congrats Lindsey. My best friend Brian is having a son. My good friends Mirah and Ben bought a new house and are having a child. And Katie and Ryan built their own house. Maybe someday I will leave the familiar university district to seek out a new neighborhood and new adventures.

I have written most of this year's letter somewhat tongue in cheek. But in all seriousness, 2006 has been a great year for me. I had the opportunity to watch the sunrise from the Atlantic Ocean and watch it set over the Pacific. I saw first hand the Rockies and saw fireflies for the first time on the shores of the mighty Ohio. I had a couple first dates and a few disappointments. A few missed opportunities and a lot of laughs along the way. As I finish this annual letter, I am beginning to think about to whom I am going to send it to. And I realize that some of you, I have not seen you in person since your wedding or high school or college graduation or some other random event. But I guess that is life in its truest sense. Friendships weave back and forth along a timeline and you never know when they will cross again but you remain hopeful that they do. I hope this letter finds you all well. Remember to give to your favorite nonprofits - there are plenty of people in our communities who need help. And for more inane random ramblings, check out my blog at: www.geocities.com/nickoroni.

Remember to live life to the fullest, dream, wonder and explore because, you never know. To everyone, Happy New Year!

Twenty Minutes Before Destruction
December 29, 2006

A couple weeks ago, we had the storm of the century - a comment made from our portly mayor. Flash flooding turned streets into rivers, made tunnels impassable and made my already long commute (jammed up from a random home seahawk game on a Thursday), even longer. After the rain completely soaked the ground and the wind blew for hours. Half of Seattle lost power sometime during the storm - I was very lucky, my lights only flickered once or twice.

That night I was heading over to Paul and Kelli's for dinner. And because of the storm, we had a late dinner. When I go over to P & K's house, I always park underneath the streetlamp. Their street is dark and is lined with trees that border the popular Burke Gilman Trail. So the streetlight provides much needed light. And that stormy night, the streetlight shined brightly for me when I arrived.

I had been over at their place for a couple of hours when the wind started to howl. The trees along the trail began to crash against a power line, which was connected to the streetlight. And in jest, Kelli suggested that I should move my car. Just in case, something happened. I walk outside to move my car and I began f around in the wind. Pretending it was blowing me away. I get in, start my car and park it across the street. I head back inside and we continue to watch the best show on television, HBO's the Wire.

Twenty minutes later, we hear "CRRRAAAASSSSHHHHHH" and the sound of glass breaking. The tree pushing the against the power line and finally brought down the entire streetlight. The pole, the live wire and the tree lay in the middle of the street. And had I not moved my car twenty minutes earlier, my 2000 Toyota Camry would have been completely totaled. I took a picture the following day with my cellphone. I apologize for the lack of clarity. But you can clearly see the tree and the pole. I am glad I moved my car with twenty minutes to spare.

You can see the broken streetlight in the middle and the fallen tree is on the right of the photo.  This cell phone picture doesn't quite capture the destruction well enough but it should give you an idea.  Photo taken on December 15, 2006.

You can see the broken streetlight in the middle and the fallen tree is on the right of the photo. This cell phone picture doesn't quite capture the destruction well enough but it should give you an idea. Photo taken on December 15, 2006.

Finding Papyrus...
December 9, 2006

Finding Papyrus

For the past few years on menus, on signs and other random printed materials, I have noticed something completely random? the font Papyrus. This random microsoft font is on most computers today and it soon began to show up to me everywhere. First, it was the font used in a logo for a club I was involved with in college. Next, I saw the font on the side of a restaurant in Seattle. Now I see it everywhere. So I have decided that I will catalogue with my cellphone camera every time I see the Papyrus. In an ongoing series I titled Finding Papyrus.

Finding Papyrus: a photo of a book recommendation at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, Washington.  Auntie's is one of my favorite bookstores.  Papyrus sighting on November 26, 2006.

Finding Papyrus: a photo of a book recommendation at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, Washington. Auntie's is one of my favorite bookstores. Papyrus sighting on November 26, 2006.

A Random Sign
December 8, 2006

Paul, Kelli and I went out to dinner to other night at a place up on 12th and 65th. After parking the car, we walked by a streetlight with a sign that had, "I love you." on it. After dinner we walked by that same streetlight and the sign had been ripped down. I took a photo of the discarded sign.

A photo of a sign that was posted on a streetlight on 12th and 65th on December 5, 2006 in Seattle, WA.

A photo of a sign that was posted on a streetlight on 12th and 65th on December 5, 2006 in Seattle, WA.

Three Stories from the Conference
December 4, 2006

As you know, I planned a national conference. It consumed my life. More logistics than a wedding. And just as much drama. Some people missed their flights. Instead of boring you with a day-by-day recap as I had originally planned, I will leave you with three vignettes from my time.

Vignette One - Eric Sent the Wrong Invoice? three times.

It was a day before the conference actually began. My fellow board members were flying into Seattle in a few hours. I had been to kinkos to pick up the packets, gotten a haircut, and went shopping for the event the next day. I had to drop off payment for the Burke Museum at 11:00 a.m. - I was already twenty minutes late.

Now this was supposed to be taken care of weeks ago. I had been working with this woman named Amy. She was nice and organized and we would talk about every two weeks about our event. Well she went on vacation. I had faxed Amy the contract over in plenty of time and left a note asking about payment. Because she was on vacation, a cute girl named Anna became my new contact. And because Amy is the only event planner for the museum, Anna had no idea about anything. To make matters more complicated, a person named Eric from accounting calls me, without Anna knowing, inquiring about my payment to the Museum. I said it would not be a problem, just send me an invoice and I would pay them. Eric says he is going to send me the invoice.

I check my email a few minutes later and the invoice from Eric is there. I look at it. It is for the wrong group and for the wrong amount. I email Eric back. He apologizes and sends me another invoice.

Wrong again. It is the same one he just sent. I email Eric again. We laugh about it and he sends me another invoice. Again, it is the same wrong one. Eric sent me the wrong invoice three times. This time, I do not even bother emailing Eric; I call the cute Anna again. She apologizes profusely for Eric and tells me he has been working there one week. Well at least we know that the Burke is in good hands with Eric in accounting.

Vignette Two - The Dairy Bitch aka My Conference Nemesis

Conferences are great. You meet people who share your same passions and beliefs. These people can reaffirm the reasons why you spend countless unpaid putting on a national conference. Well this blonde haired girl from Minnesota only reaffirmed to me that some people are just plain crazy, awful and weird. She was so awful that I cannot remember her name - it was either Bree or Suzanne. So for this entry she will be known as "Breanne." Here is a transcription of an actual conversation we had right before lunch.

Breanne - Nick. Do you know if this bread has dairy in it? (we had mini sandwiches, the bread she was referring to was the size of a half dollar, and she only had two pieces)

Nick - You know, I don't know but I can call the caterer (I made this offer knowing that most sane people, yes sane people, would decline my offer)

Well she was insane.

Breanne - You do that. I am allergic to dairy and I want to know.

Of course, my cell phone does not work in the room and I have to find the number of the caterer. I have a million things going on at once, and this bitch wants to know if there is dairy in these tiny pieces of bread.

Phone message of the caterer - Thank you for calling the Bay Laurel Catering. If you have reached this message during the hours of 8 - 5 Monday through Friday, that means all circuits are busy. (Of course, why would the caterer be there when I need them). If you are ready to place an order, you can do this online at [in the slowest and most deliberate voice, the man reading the message proceded to recite the web address] www.baylaurel.com. (It literally took forever. It then went through the list of sales people and mine was list last of course).

Kristi (my sales person) - Hello?

Nick - Hi Kristi, I have a strange question about my order. We have an order of the mini sandwiches and a girl (conference bitch) wants to know if there is dairy in the bread.

Kristi - Well? we actually don't bake the bread. But let me caucus the staff together and see what they think. I am going to put you on hold. [minutes pass]. Hi Nick, well we are 95 percent sure that if the bread is white or wheat that there is no dairy but if it is buttermilk there would be. Also, wouldn't this person know about their food allergies if they have had it all their lives (Great question Kristi).

[I walk back inside and see Breanne]

Nick - Hi, well I called the caterers and they couldn't tell me for sure. [I provide detail on our conversation].

Breanne - [in the snottiest of voices] Well, is there a hospital nearby?

Nick - [I am shocked at this point] Well Breanne, I would prefer if you forgo the bread, instead of risking a food allergy.

Breanne - Well I also have religious reasons why I don't eat dairy. Thanks for nothing.

Nick - (OMG, thanks for nothing!?) [I say the following statement in the nicest way possible] Well Breanne, on your registration form, we had an entire section for food preferences, did you fill that out?

Breanne - No. I didn't know that was there.

And with that last comment, she walked away. Breanne would call me before each meal and want to know the ingredients for dinner and lunch. You would think that someone who has been to graduate school, has a dietary restriction all their life and also have religious concerns around dairy, would be able to lead a life without handholding to eat their daily meals. But I guess I was wrong. What killed me the most was the amount of bread she wanted to eat. It was two tiny pieces. And there were plenty of other options available. If I were allergic to something, I would pass on the tiny pieces of bread. Plus, I think this girl was crazy enough to eat the bread and accept going to the hospital.

Vignette Three - Flying Glass Cuts Her Hand

I am over at the Burke Museum - the site of our last event. Our event starts at 6:00 p.m. and there is a flurry of action. I take a carload of people over to the museum to help me setup. Our keynote speaker, Jorge Cham, needs a projector for his talk. So I run an extension cord from the left side of the museum to the middle of the room. Now the problem with selecting the Burke for the venue of our gala dinner was that the Burke is a museum, not a restaurant. So the caterers I had been in communication with since the Summer of Nick (like the perspective), had to bring everything to the museum. Plates, glasses, tables, silverware and napkins - all the shit you take for granted when you have an event. And this is billed by the dish. Additionally, this was the only event where we had an open bar. So this girl (see below):

Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

Is the bartender. She is pushing eight racks of glasses on a wheeled cart. We planned for 115 people. So there are 200 beer glasses, 200 wine glasses, 115 water glasses, and 200 soda glasses. Remember that extension cord? Well the bartender girl didn't remember. She comes flying out of the back room with her rack of glasses and hits the cord at full speed. The cart tips over and glasses going flying on the hardwood floors. I see the whole thing happen. It was like slow motion. CRASH. Almost every glass breaks on the floor and the ones that didn't were unusable because they had glass shards in them. There is broken glass everywhere. Flying glass cuts our Treasurer on the hand. And much to my surprise, everyone remained calm. The Burke staff ran to get brooms. The caterers ran back to home base to get more glasses. And I began to sweep the broken glass. It was the most awesome thing I saw. There is beauty in destruction.

The conference was a great success. I think I am ready to plan weddings. Here are some photos.

A photo Katie Vahey.  I met Katie in Boulder, Co., when I was there in April.  Katie won the NAGPS President's Award.  She was quite shocked and I loved that she won.  I think this is a great pic of her.

A photo Katie Vahey. I met Katie and her man in Boulder, Co., when I was there in April. Katie won the NAGPS President's Award. She was quite shocked and I loved that she won. I think this is a great pic of her.

A photo of my table during our Awards Dinner.  Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of my table during our Awards Dinner. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of the all of the conference attendees during our awards gala.  Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of the all of the conference attendees during our awards gala. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of the new NAGPS President, Liz Olson and me - why am I getting a neck rub?  Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of the new NAGPS President, Liz Olson and me - why am I getting a neck rub? Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of me at the bar.  Despite popular belief, not all those drinks are for me.  God bless the open bar.  Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of me at the bar. Despite popular belief, not all those drinks are for me. God bless the open bar. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

 photo of me and fellow conference attendee Sarah.  Sarah is orginally from Seattle and now attends college in Philly.  Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of me and fellow conference attendee Sarah. Sarah is orginally from Seattle and now attends college in Philly. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of our keynote speaker Jorge Cham.  Jorge writes a comic strip called Piled Higher and Deeper.  Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

A photo of our keynote speaker Jorge Cham. Jorge writes a comic strip called Piled Higher and Deeper. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton, taken on November 18, 2006 in the Burke Museum.

Happy 10th Anniversary
October 31, 2006

I remember when I was a kid there was a promotion every year at McDonald's where you could get a happymeal and it came in a themed candy bucket - I actually found a photo of it on google (see below). I loved that happymeal bucket. In the lid, there was a small second lid that removed and you could put all your night's booty through. Excellent design. When I got older, I saw that kids were using pillowcases to hold their candy. And soon, greed took over and I switched from the happymeal bucket to the pillowcase. Just today while driving the lonely stretch of road from my apartment to the Way, I was thinking that McDonald's should do that happymeal promotion again. But it is probably too costly now to put all happymeals sold in October in a plastic container like that. Also, it is probably bad public policy to put greasy fast food in a candy bucket. But those were the glory days. What's better than candy and McDonalds?

A photo of the McDonald's Happymeal Candy Bucket.  It is quite possible that this was the greatest McDonald's promotion ever.  Sadly, I think I had all three - thank you mom and dad for my love of candy and fast food.

A photo of the McDonald's Happymeal Candy Bucket. It is quite possible that this was the greatest McDonald's promotion ever. Sadly, I think I had all three - thank you mom and dad for my love of candy and fast food.

I mention Halloween because it has special meaning for me. It is an anniversary of sorts. My best friend Justin and I first hung out outside of school for the first time on October 31, 1996 - when I was a mere freshman in high school. So Justin and I have been bff since then. Ten years. He has stood by me through it all - my parents divorce, my back surgery, college, grad school and we even lived together for a while. It is weird to think about how long we have known each other. Well happy anniversary Justin - sorry I didn't buy flowers, but I hope after ten years, you will forgive me.

I Think I Have an Ulcer
October 30, 2006

I think I have an ulcer. I used to get ulcers when I was an undergrad. Back then I put tons of pressure on myself to perform well in school. To the point where I made myself get ulcers during finals. So the doctor put me on meds and I have been taking four zantac a night since then. Fast forward to now. I have a new job in fundraising. I have tons of pressure to perform. I am planning a national conference and it is less than three weeks away. And I have been drinking coffee and alcohol to help me deal with all the stress. Well human body can only take so much. So I am off alcohol and coffee. I am trying to workout more and eat better. I have a doctors appointment tomorrow but she(?) will tell me everything I already know. I am hoping she prescribes me some good ol fashioned drugs. Anyway.

So this conference has been kicking my ass. If I could go back in time and give myself one message, it would be not to sign up for the conference. There are a million details that have to be addressed at any given time and it seems like I never have time. But now I am ranting. You don't want to hear this. Well since I last wrote, I went on a Farm Tour, see the pictures below. It was pretty fun. I went to a grant writers conference - it seemed like people go to these things seeking validation for their work. Imagine 300 people in a room not quite sure they are in a real profession - that is what grant writers feel like everyday. Lucky for me, I only write grants as part of my duties. I met Mike McGavick. I found myself in Belfair, Washington outside a community center on a random Saturday night and I see this rally going on. It was a McGavick rally. I run up to him calling out his name and he turns around and shakes my hand. It was clammy and I needed hand sanitizer to wipe the republicaness off me.

A photo of me walking through the fog at the WSU Farm Tour.  This is a small Christmas tree Farm outside of Auburn, Washington.  Photo by my friend Katherine, taken October 7, 2006.

A photo of me walking through the fog at the WSU Farm Tour. This is a small Christmas tree Farm outside of Auburn, Washington. Photo by my friend Katherine, taken October 7, 2006.

A photo a stray cat at the WSU Farm Tour.  This was taken at a small Christmas tree Farm outside of Auburn, Washington.  Photo by me, taken October 7, 2006.

A photo a stray cat at the WSU Farm Tour. This was taken at a small Christmas tree Farm outside of Auburn, Washington. Photo by me, taken October 7, 2006.

A photo of two alpackas at the WSU Farm Tour.  This was taken at a small farm outside of Auburn, Washington.  Photo by my friend Katherine, taken October 7, 2006.

A photo of two alpackas at the WSU Farm Tour. This was taken at a small farm outside of Auburn, Washington. Photo by my friend Katherine, taken October 7, 2006.

I feel like I am slowly getting my life into control. I have been going nonstop since starting this new job and it is nice to stay in and clean my apartment. As weird as that is, it is nice. So my promise is to write more and be on top of things and keep my faithful reader(s) reading my blog.

Death Cab For Cutie at the Metro
September 28, 2006

My friend Melissa used to work at the Metro Theater here in Seattle (the nine-plex six blocks from my apartment). A co-worker called her tonight and told her that she just took the ticket stubs from Ben Gibbard and the rest of Death Cab for Cutie going to Jackass 2. Thought I would share.

Anne's Yoga Schedule
September 27, 2006

It is very strange taking over someone's job position. I replaced a girl named Anne. She had been the development coordinator since the position was created two years ago but Anne took a new job in Portland. Every time I introduce myself to someone affiliated with Washington Business Week, I say that I am the "New Anne." Today, I began to go slowly through the things she left behind in her office. Random papers and stacks of files. Diet coke cans neatly tossed into Trader Joe's sacks. A Capitol Hill yoga schedule hangs tilted on the push board.

Throughout the day, I try to make sense of the random notes, phone numbers and business cards scattered throughout her desk. In her old CD player, I find a mixed CD titled "Birthday Mix." I press play. The mix starts with Shawn Colvin and then leads into some smooth dinner jazz. But the highlight of the CD was the three Johnny Cash songs in a row - Folsom Prison, Walk the Line and Ring of Fire. As I sat in my office, with the music quietly playing, I began to think about these random items and how they began to show what kind of person Anne is. What things she liked and did in her free time. I began to think about life. Are we just the sum of our experiences? Was her Yoga schedule just a small piece to the sum of her life? I wish I had gotten to know Anne better to discover the answer.

A Moment to Catch My Breath
September 16, 2006

I am employed. Though I have been working since late August, it feels like I have been on the go everyday. I am working for a place called Washington Business Week. No, they are not a magazine. No, they are not affiliated with the magazine. We provide programs to high students so that they can learn about business principles in a fun and engaging way. We show them how the principles they learn in the classroom have real world application. And my role in this nonprofit is to raise money, one donor at a time.

I am pretty excited by my new job. The people are wonderful. Young and engaging, the office is pretty light and hardworking. There are six other people in my office and we are located in Federal Way. Just over 25 miles from my apartment. I expect good things to come from this job and I know I can make a difference. So, if you see a random 253 area code call you, it might be me, seeking your support.

My Futile Search for a Hand-Dipped Corndog
August 29, 2006

About a week ago, I get a random phone call from my friend Brian. You may know Brian from the wedding photos. Well he told me that he was coming to the Tri-Cities (my hood) to visit Washington and show off his new bride to old friends and family who did not make it to the wedding. This meant one thing - Road trip to Richland.

I was excited to see Brian and Traci again. I had not seen them since the wedding. And to see Brian in the Tri-Cities would be a treat. It was as if the old gang would be together again. Instead of having our good friend and Justin's ex-girlfriend Melanie in the group, we would have Brian's new wife. Subtract a lawyer's daughter and add a Mormon. Good times.

Brian mentioned to Justin that it would be a lot of fun if we went to the fair. It happened to be the last day of the Benton-Franklin County Fair. Now when I was a kid there was two extremely fun parts of August that I would look forward to - buying school supplies at Payless and going to the county fair. All the good times and the memories at the fair. My first random relationship with a girl was at the fair. It wasn't that exciting because her mom supervised us the entire time and she lived in Kennewick and I lived in Richland. That distance at 13 years of age is the equivalent of an East/West coast relationship. I don't even remember her name.

My family went to the fair with two main objectives: Eat heart-clogging food and hear the country music show. We would start with an Our Lady of Lourdes Hand-Dipped Corndog. It was a great value and it was so good. Top that off with a plate full Piggly-Wiggley fries. Then dessert always consisted of an elephant ear and a double scoop ice cream cone. I cannot believe I am still alive. But I always like the corndog the best.

Before last Saturday, the last time I was at the fair was six years ago. And at that time when I went to the Our Lady of Lourdes corndog stand I was horrified. They stopped selling corndogs and started selling salads. I stood there in disbelief. I went up to the counter and asked the lady why they stopped selling the corndogs and she rolled her eyes and laughed. I could tell from her body language that there had been numerous meetings and discussions about it. She told me that upper management gave them problems for this fundraiser - they were a healthcare provider and they should act like one. So they started selling salads. Much to the disbelief of the long-time employees and most importantly, me.

This year, I was secretly hoping that six years later upper management realized the colossal mistake they made and went back to selling hand-dipped corndogs. With Brian, Traci and Justin at my side, we wandered to every food vendor looking for the Our Lady of Lourdes stand. An hour later I found the stand and saw that it was taken over by a Mexican food restaurant. The only remnants of an Our Lady of Lourdes presence was random hand sanitizer stations everywhere. See photo below. From corndogs to salads to hand sanitizer - my heart was broken.

The last remainders of a once great society.  Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

The last remainders of a once great society. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

Despite "corndog-gate," the fair was tons of fun. Hanging out with Brian and Traci was grand. They are a great couple. And spending time with Justin at the fair is always fun - partly of Justin's unwarranted fear of the goats and other barn yard animals. I hope you enjoy the following photos. I took them in black in white to capture the all the nostalgia I was feeling on that random night in August.

A photo of a rather loud rooster.  I think it hated me.  Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of a rather loud rooster. I think it hated me. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of Justin, look how much fun he is having at the fair!  Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of Justin, look how much fun he is having at the fair! Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of a very hungry goat.  This guy was eating a wooden sign in his pen.  Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of a very hungry goat. This guy was eating a wooden sign in his pen. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of the famed ride The Zipper.  When I was a kid a was always to scared to ride it.    Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of the famed ride The Zipper. When I was a kid a was always to scared to ride it. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of Brian and Traci grubbing on a funnel cake.  Believe it or not, this was Traci's first funnel cake.  Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

A photo of Brian and Traci grubbing on a funnel cake. Believe it or not, this was Traci's first funnel cake. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 26, 2006.

The Girl with the Red Shoes
August 24, 2006

Yesterday, I was lying on a blanket, basking in the sun while saving seats for the Decemberists' show last night, when in this stunningly beautiful girl walked up to me. She stood over and looked down at me while her body blocked the sun from my eyes. She had long brown curly hair, blue eyes, a perfect smile, had a pair of very fashionable jeans and bright red shoes. I was stunned. What did she want with me? The girl with the red shoes asked me if the small patch of grass next to our blanket was taken. Blushing profusely, I said something like "Uhhh? um? uhhh? no, not taken, it's? uhhh? all [voice crack] [cough] all yours." Needless to say, I wasn't very good with the communication? maybe she thought it was endearing.

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