Archive for February, 2006

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Untitled – February 12, 2006

February 12, 2006

The conference is over. I am on the plane. I have my ipod on and I am trying to focus on the children of Vashon Island, but I am having a hard time focusing on that. The trip was fantastic. The weather was great. Everyday the high was from 75-80 degrees and the low was in the 50s. I didn’t even wear a coat.

Adam and I left Seattle on a redeye flight to Miami with a stop in Vegas. As we were landing, our decent had us flying low over the city and we could make out all of the famous hotels on the strip. And even at 10:30 on a random Wednesday night, Vegas was alive. It was my first time in Vegas and I remember talking to someone who said they have slot machines in the airport. From that day forward, I knew that if I ever had a stop in the Vegas airport I would have to gamble. I walked up to the first slot machine I saw and I cautiously put my money into the bill feeder. I pushed the one credit button and gently pulled the lever down. My eyes twinkled with excitement. The slots slowly stopped into position, and I see “BAR – BAR – DOUBLE BAR.” I had doubled my money. I should have cashed out – taken that extra few bucks and bought a nice mocha when I arrived in Miami, but I got greedy. I felt empowered by my first victory; I thought I would win my fortunes in the Vegas Airport Lobby. With that empowerment, I hit the “max bet,” and I would lose three times in a row, losing all of my winnings and my original investment. Oh well.

Adam and I arrived in the Miami airport around 6:30 a.m. eastern time. I barely got any sleep on the plane. Whenever I would find my comfort zone, close my eyes and drift away, something would jerk me awake. The conference bus was scheduled to leave the hotel at 8:15, so we quickly gathered our bags and hailed for a cab. The cab ride from the airport to the hotel was beautiful. The sun was rising across the Atlantic and that gave everything a crisp white light. The morning sky was an endless blue as far as I could see. It was 65 degrees at 7:00 a.m. I was shocked how beautiful everything was. We arrived at the hotel only to have them tell us there were no rooms available at that time, and we should check in around 10:30. We were hoping to take a shower before the meeting because I had been in the same clothes for over 30 hours and I didn’t want to make it any longer – but our plan failed. We walked over to this small bagel shop a few blocks away to get a cup of coffee and a bagel. And with that, our day started again.

After we got back to the hotel, we met these two girls from Longwood University in rural Farmville, Virginia. Frannie and Megan were two of the funniest people I had ever met in my entire life. After we exchanged pleasantries with everyone staying in our hotel (it seemed to take forever), we awkwardly stood around a circle in the beautiful Miami sunshine, waiting for the bus. Minutes went by and the bus did not come. The bus was late. I didn’t know it at the time but the bus’s tardiness was just foreshadowing the growing problems the national nonprofit organizing this event.

We arrived on campus and like everything else in Miami – it was beautiful. The architecture was different – new age modernism – I am used to the historic monolithic brick buildings at the UW. After morning work sessions and lunch, it felt like that Adam and I had known Frannie and Megan for months. I played Frisbee with a fellow participant in the main courtyard overlooking a lake, while listening to a local band. I was in paradise.

After the first day’s conference activities, Adam, Frannie, Megan and I took a cab to the Coconut Grove in South Miami – near to where we were staying. In Miami, public drinking is allowed and every restaurant has outdoor seating. We sat on the outdoor canopies along the sidewalk in a t-shirt drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Two of my favorite activities in life. When I meet people for the first time, people generally think I am pretty funny. I tell all my favorite jokes and stories because they are hearing it for the first time. It’s all new material and very funny to new people. It’s like listening to a great cd for the first time. Also, Frannie is the type of person you can feed off to be even funnier.

 Photo of Frannie Stubbs, Adam Grupp and Nick Peyton in South Miami, Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Frannie Stubbs, Adam Grupp and Nick Peyton in South Miami, Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Adam Grupp and Nick Peyton at the Sand Bar in Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Adam Grupp and Nick Peyton at the Sand Bar in “Coconut Grove” in Miami, Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

There was a mutual admiration between the four of us. Adam and I admired Frannie and Megan’s honesty, genuineness, candor and wide-eyed look at the world. And I felt that Frannie and Megan admired the city quality about us. They were not like typical student government leaders. They were not full of it and they were in it to make a difference. That is the exact reason why I am in student government. At the end of the night, it seemed like we had been friends for years. When Adam and I made it to our hotel room around 2:00 a.m., we got our first sleep in over 42 hours.

Photo of Frannie Stubbs at the Metro Station in South Miami, Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

Photo of Frannie Stubbs at the Metro Station in South Miami, Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

The next day we took a cab to South Beach. We put our feet in the Atlantic and it was great. The water was warm the beach was white. We ate dinner along the main street in South Beach. I was in awe with the magic of that place. The energy around us was amazing. The diversity of people was shocking. The high prices at South Beach encouraged us to go to a grocery store around our hotel and stock up on a half rack of Bud Light and we drank it in the open-air courtyard of our hotel, gazing up at the stars.

Photo of Megan Greer, Nick Peyton and Adam Grupp at South Beach, Florida. Photo Courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Megan Greer, Nick Peyton and Adam Grupp at South Beach, Florida. Photo Courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of the Boulevard Hotel in South Beach Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

Photo of the Boulevard Hotel in South Beach Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

After more meetings, we headed out to South Beach again. We went to the beach again and as the blue sky transitioned into a full moon night – I realized how lucky I am. As stars filled the horizon, we left for a wonderful and expensive Italian meal on the sidewalks of South Beach. It was the best gnocchi I had ever had. Being tipsy on wine, we took a cab back to the hotel to repeat the previous night’s activities. The next morning we went to get breakfast for one last hurrah. We promised to write and facebook each other. We decided that we would do a t-shirt exchange because Adam and I wanted to get a t-shirt with the name of their school (Longwood University) because we are children at heart. It is weird to think that I may never see them again. After all the inside jokes and all the good times we had, it is difficult to think about it being the first and last time. At the end of the four days together, it seemed like I had known them all my life. I was sad to see them leave. I wrote in Paul and Kelli’s wedding book that I was glad that I had gotten to know them, even if it was for a short amount of time. That comment reminds me of this situation. I believe people enter one’s life for a reason. And it may only be for a short period – sometimes a year, a month, or in this case, four days. It may sound cliché but at the end of these four days, I know I am not the same. As I sit here on the plane, I cannot help but wonder if these past few days were a dream. It seems to perfect to be real.

Photo of Nick and Adam in South Beach Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick and Adam in South Beach Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick Peyton in South Beach Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick Peyton in South Beach Florida. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo overlooking the moon and the ocean in South Beach Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

Photo overlooking the moon and the ocean in South Beach Florida. Photo taken by Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick Peyton, Frannie Stubbs, Megan Greer and Adam Group in the South Miami Best Western Hotel. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

Photo of Nick Peyton, Frannie Stubbs, Megan Greer and Adam Group in the South Miami Best Western Hotel. Photo courtesy of Nick Peyton.

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Untitled – February 8, 2006

February 8, 2006

The Seahawks lost. I didn’t believe they could win until the interception returned back for 76 yards and when Jeremy Stevens scored a touchdown to make it 10 to 14. Then my hope was dashed and everything fell apart. It’s still nice in Seattle and it makes me almost sad that I am leaving for a trip to Miami. Well not that sad. I am taking a red eye tonight to Miami to attend a national graduate and professional student conference. It should be great. We are going to go to Miami Beach where it is currently 70 degrees, sunny and beautiful. Our host mused that he didn’t recommend swimming because of the “cold front” blowing through the area – the temp dropped from 75 to 70. That sounds like paradise to me.

This will mark my first East Coast trip in my entire life. I am pretty excited. I am trying to get Justin to go with me to go somewhere warm this spring break but we will see. I hope to take a bunch of pictures and post them to my website. Check back tomorrow evening to see if I have posted some pictures. I will sip some tropical drink in honor of all of you still here in Washington.

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Untitled – February 5, 2006

February 5, 2006

Superbowl Sunday!!! It is about four hours from the big game and I am trying to do some homework – but I have been less than successful. First, it is freaking beautiful outside right now. To put this into perspective, yesterday it poured. The wind gusted up to 50 miles per hour and the front window in my apartment leaked – allowing water to gush in. As I look out the window today, there is not a cloud in sight – I didn’t even wear a coat to get coffee this morning.

You can feel the excitement in Seattle. When I went to Tully’s this morning, the place was packed. There was an extra barista and Zoe was extremely chipper. We exchanged our usual witty banter and I got my mocha. Everyone is wearing blue and green. Which is shocking. Seattle is not a sports city. We are white collar. We sip lattes. Play Frisbee. Go hiking. Design and build airplanes. We are doctors and computer engineers – not rabid sports fans. Jay Leno mused that if there were a riot in Seattle, the police would not use pepper spray but a pepper mill.

Maybe it is fate that the day of the Superbowl, we have the most beautiful day of the year. I forgot how beautiful this place is. The Olympics to the west and the Cascades to the east – Mount Rainier towering over the city. These mountains remind how great this place is. I love the way the breeze blows in from the Sound, it brings a type of moist air I have never seen before.

Seattle and Pittsburgh are great American cities. And if it were any other Superbowl, I would be rooting for Pittsburgh. I love Bill Cower and Jerome Bettis. I love the story of Big Ben and how he was a back-up quarterback last year who came in on the second game of the year and won 13 straight. But it is my team that is here. There may never be a team in Seattle this good for a long time. And we may not make it to the big game again for a while. So I will savor today. I will cherish it. I am heading over to a friend’s place to watch the game. I wanted to stay home by myself. I have watched my Seahawks all my life – often times by myself or in silence with my father. Seahawk football is always a quiet Sunday ritual. Always an internal strife. Living and dying by every pass. Let us hope for a win. While I know that God does not care about the outcome of today’s game, maybe this sunshine is a subtle hint that he is on our side.