Archive for August, 2006

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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 Tracis 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.

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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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Goodbye Tully’s Girl and Summer of Nick

August 19, 2006

This week has been the most stressful week of all summer. Let us just say the summer of nick is over. I still haven’t finished those books, I haven’t worked out everyday and my apartment is far from tidy. The job situation is by far the most stressful part, it is so involved and complicated that I don’t want to even talk about it. I will once it is all resolved and I have a feeling by one week from now it will be all clear.

But my job troubles are not what I want to focus on. I want to talk about Tully’s Girl. I have talked at length about Tully’s and Tully’s Girl in my blog. Tully’s is my coffee shop. I have seen so many people leave: David, Andie, and Andrea just to name a few. They were some of my favorites. They always knew what drink I wanted and they knew about my life. They knew what days I was heading to Olympia, they knew when I was studying and they knew when I was heading for class. They were the first smiling face I would see every morning. But David got fired for showing up late, Andrea took another job and Andie went to school. But I always had Tully’s Girl. The one constant in my coffee life for the past two years.

It is easy to compare ones life to chapters in a book. Some chapters are longer, others shorter. Some of the characters remain and you meet new ones. The locations change and so do the situations. And the challenges are different. But the main character is a constant, traveling through the story, growing and developing. And it is clear to me now that a chapter is about to end. The chapter around graduate school. I am no longer taking classes. No longer walking to campus. The people I saw everyday are gone. Either moving away or taking jobs throughout Seattle. My routine is slowly changing too. I even promised myself after graduate school I would move to another neighborhood. But lately I had resisted that idea.

For all of the faults in the u-district, it has become my home. I walk to the YMCA and work out. The people there know me by name. The lady at the Chinese Restaurant knows I always get the chow mein. And there is Tully’s Girl. The girl who I asked out on a post it note. The girl who made me more cups of coffee than anyone else. We always had good banter. And she was always there. It is weird how sad I felt when Jake told me that Zoe had taken another job and her last day would be September 4. He whispered it because he didn’t want the other customers to know. That is how much Zoe meant to the community. I saw how other patrons interacted with her. How she always made them smile. She once told me that she knew the drink orders for over 700 people. She didn’t always know their name but she knew their drink. I walked out of Tully’s in a daze and quietly drove to work. I thought to myself how sad I felt about a girl who I didn’t even know her last name. Then it hit me. It wasn’t Tully’s Girl that made me so sad, it was the realization that everything was about to change. Realizing that I was reading the last few pages in a great chapter of my life. Everything will change in the next few weeks and months. I will have a new job – hopefully, I will have a new apartment and a new neighborhood, and I will meet new people in my life. I know this next chapter will be good but I am sad that this one is over.

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48 Hours in the Tri-Cities: Snakes, Bistro Man, and the Wedding

August 8, 2006

This past weekend I went to the Tri-Cities for a wedding. I had not been home in over a year. It was nice to go back where it all started for me. Here is a log of the events that transpired:

Friday Morning

9:04 a.m.: Quick hello to Tully’s Girl and a mocha to go.

10:31 a.m.: I begin thinking about how boring this drive is. “Tumbleweeds to my right and dust to my left. Man this lady is driving slowly.”

10:32 a.m.: The slow lady in the crappy Ford Taurus Wagon almost pushed me off the road. I love honking at people.

12:15 p.m.: I make it to Justin’s. Hey, Melanie is there too. We head over to a small bistro to grab lunch. The waiter at the bistro is overly friendly and we tease Melanie to ask him out.

1:30 – 6:00 p.m.: We play foosball, get ice cream, walk around the park, play X-Box and I complain about the heat. I come to the ultimate conclusion that there is nothing to do in the Tri-Cities.

7:00 p.m.: I ask Melanie and Justin to take me out to a fun bar to have a couple of cocktails before we have dinner. I thought, in the six years since I had moved away there might have been some chic new bars that have opened up. Melanie and Justin cannot think of any place. Then Melanie says that we could go to Red Robin. RED ROBIN!? Choosing Red Robin for cocktails is like if you are in New York and you want pizza so you go to Sbarros. Not authentic at all. We instead decide to go to Jackson’s – a local dive bar with cheap drinks.

9:00 p.m.: We head to dinner at Atomic Ale Brewery. I love this place for three reasons. 1) The pizza is phenomenal. I love brick oven/fire roasted/gourmet thin crust pizza any day. 2) The beer is great. They brew their own. This is quite the rarity in the Tri-Cities. 3) It still has “Atomic” in the title. I love this. For those who don’t know the Tri-Cities’ economy is based on the clean up of nuclear waste from the weapons plants in the forties. Back in the day, all the businesses referred to the Tri-Cities’ nuclear days. The minor league baseball team was named the Atoms. The local bowling place was called Atomic Lanes. The car repair place was called Atomic Auto and Bodyshop. And probably the most offensive, the mascot of Richland High was a mushroom cloud. But that all changed with time. Now, the baseball team is the Dust Devils, the bowling alley is Fiesta Bowl and Richland High stopped using the mushroom cloud as a mascot – probably for the best. But, Atomic Ale Brewery has not relented. We walk into the brewery and who do we see working at this place, it is the waiter at the bistro. He works evenings at this place. How weird is that? He is super nice again and gives us free drinks and food.

10:30 p.m.: We watch Bend it Like Beckham and celebrate Melanie’s birthday.

Saturday

4:30 a.m.: I receive a text message from my friend and she wants to move our coffee appointment to 10:30 a.m. She explained why she needed to move it, but it was quite clear from the time she sent the message.

10:30 a.m.: She is late. I am not surprised. I have very few female friends who are on time. It has become something I expect. We catch up. I had not seen her in forever.

12:45 p.m.: I head over to the church – Central United Protestant – commonly known as C-U-P, which I thought was funny when I was a kid. Hell, I still think it is funny.

12:46 p.m.: Oh my God! Look how people have changed. Now I have gained a few pounds in my journey from high school to the graduate school, but these past six years have not been as kind to others. To protect the innocent, these people will remain nameless.

12:54 p.m.: Wow not that many people from high school. I am one of the few. The wedding I am attending is for a girl whom I have had a long history with. We went to a couple of dances together. We all were in band together. And I am ashamed to say this, but there were times in high school where I imagined this day, but I had a much different role.

1:05 p.m.: The wedding is starting late.

1:07 p.m.: The procession begins… Cue Canon in D – how cliché is that? Oh, here comes the mandatory stand up and stare intently at the bride.

1:10 p.m.: The pastor makes a bad joke about turning off cell phones. My pastor will not make any jokes during my wedding. He will be a means to an end.

1:10 – 1:45 p.m.: [wedding mumbo jumbo]

2:00 p.m.: Here come the uncomfortable time when nobody knows what to do and everyone is awkwardly milling around the hallway. Here comes a lady that knows what she is doing. Man I could use a beer!

From left to right: Anna Galvin - Maid of Honor, Max, Lindsey, Holly - Lindseys mom and Gordon - Lindseys dad. He reminds me of Gerald McRaney from Deadwood. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

From left to right: Anna Galvin - Maid of Honor, Max, Lindsey, Holly - Lindsey's mom and Gordon - Lindsey's dad. He reminds me of Gerald McRaney from Deadwood. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

Time to eat cake. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

Time to eat cake. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

A good looking kiss after cake. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

A good looking kiss after cake. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.: The reception happens. Now I love wedding receptions. They have beer, toasts, hot girls, food, cake, good conversations and dancing. Well this reception was missing all of that except cake. I was shocked. No alcohol. No food except for the smallest bowl of nuts – by the time I got to the nuts there was like one Brazil nut left. No hot girls – the average age was much higher than mine. This is strange because the bride is a year younger than I am. No dancing – which may have been a blessing because there was no alcohol.

There was no good conversation. I was stuck talking to this man about the snake problem in Louisiana circa 1962. I don’t care about snakes in 1962! I almost asked him if there were “mother f***ing snakes on his mother f***ing plane,” but it wasn’t appropriate for the wedding. The coffee was so watered down it looked like tea. The reception was bad. Additionally, they did the cake immediately after the ceremony. If you went to the bathroom between those two events, you would have missed it. After cake, the bride and groom leave for an hour for pictures. This is inexcusable. They are the glue that is keeping this random group of people together. Once you exhaust the conversation about how you know the bride and groom, you have nothing left and you end up talking about mother f***ing snakes.

 A photo of Lindsey and Maxs wedding cake. You know I have no idea what flavor it was, I had a piece from the back up sheet cakes. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

A photo of Lindsey and Max's wedding cake. You know I have no idea what flavor it was, I had a piece from the back up sheet cakes. Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

I did a quick tour around the room and talked to people I knew. The mandatory how you are doing, what have you been up too, can you believe your daughter is married and my personal favorite, is it weird that I was invited even though I haven’t seen the bride in four years. Through it all, I had a good time. I hope I see some of these people when I eventually get married. But I will make sure that I have the essentials to have one hell of a party.

A photo of Anna and her two-month old son Miles. When did little Anna have time for children? Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

A photo of Anna and her two-month old son Miles. When did little Anna have time for children? Photo by Nick Peyton, taken August 8, 2006.

4:00 p.m. – 11:45 a.m.: Nothing much happens. I hang out with Justin. We play some soccer, some X-Box, get coffee, drive around and get breakfast. I leave Justin that morning and head up the lonely Highway 395 to Spokane with the thoughts of snakes filling my head.

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“Yep, You Need a Car to Open It”

August 2, 2006

My trip to Ohio was quite exciting. There was a lot of stuff that went down. But the trip was so exhausting; the mere thought of blogging about it made took the life out of me. Therefore, this will be the fourth and final entry about my trip. I promise.

On our last day, we took the boat from New Richman to Cincinnati. Normally this little jaunt by boat takes 45 minutes. And on that beautiful July day, it did. This would give us an hour to get back to New Richman, 30 minutes to shower and pack, and allow us to drive to the airport with an hour before our respective flights.

With the historic buildings of Cincinnati insight, the boat stopped. Jim tried to reset it and nothing. He pulled up the engine cover and worked on it for a few minutes but still nothing happened. We could not go faster than the idle speed. At that speed, we would never make it back to New Richman to get our bags before our flights left. To put it simply, we were screwed. Jim and I thought about our problem for a minute – the three other girls were sleeping or tanning in the back of the boat and it seemed like they could not be bothered with this inconvenience. We eventfully came up with the idea that our co-host in Cincinnati, Colette, would pick us up at the closest marina and drive us back to New Richman. The plan was fool proof. Jim called Colette told her the location and he dropped the three of us at the dock of the marina.

To avoid tracking in mud into the boat, we didn’t bring our shoes. And we boarded without wallets and cell phones. That didn’t seem to be the problem the other two days when we went boating but this time it did. It was a beautiful day and it was hot. Around 85 degrees and no clouds in sight. The dock was made of steel and our feet were bare. As soon as I stepped on to the dock, my feet started to burn. It was so hot. I ran across the dock and the bridge to the pavement hoping to find relief but I only found burning hot pavement. The two girls followed, daintily running in their swimsuits. I ran along the road about 50 yards until I saw the road turn into gravel. In case you were wondering, when choosing between a burning hot road and slightly cooler gravel road it’s about fifty-fifty.

Darting between the few shady spots along the gravel road I saw grass. I told the girls to stay in the grass and I would scout ahead to see if I could find the road. I saw the road alright. But it was behind a 10-foot, barbed wire fence. I walked up to the gate. And it was padlocked. I could tell gate opened but it was weight sensitive. Now I am a pretty big guy but I could not get the sensor to trip – even with me jumping up and down. We needed a car. So here we are. About 25 minutes until we had to leave New Richman to make it to the airport on time. Stuck behind a fence we cannot open. The boat had left. We had no cell phones, wallets or shoes. Plus we were about 100 yards from our pick up location. I ran back to the girls and let them know what I had found out.

The marina was pretty well deserted but after I yelled “hello” for a few minutes a young boat mechanic came out. I told him the story about how we had problems and how the gate won’t open. He looks at me and says, “Yep, you need a car to open it.” Then he walks away. I stood there in shock. In the meantime, the girls found a couple who were leaving the marina and they told us we could get in their truck and ride with them up to the road. Thank God.

The truck was air-conditioned and the carpet felt so nice on my now blistered feet. The truck smelled of stale cigarettes and I saw a pack of Newport’s on the dash. I almost asked them for a cigarette but I thought I shouldn’t push my luck. Christian music quietly played and somehow it seemed to fit. As we approached the gate, we see Colette pulling away from the driveway and heading back onto the highway. I told the man to honk and he did. But Colette didn’t hear or see us. And she drove off. The couple did as they promised and dropped us off at the road’s end.

Cars passed us on the lonely highway. We didn’t even know what the address was of the camp even if we hitched a ride. Plus, we didn’t have anyone’s phone numbers if we found a phone. So we decided to wait and hope that Colette would come back to the marina. And about 5 minutes later, she did. We rushed back, packed our bags and drove fast to the airport. We made it on time. I hadn’t showered and I was grumpy. On the plane, I sat next to a man who I began to hate more as every minute passed. It was the little things, he snored too loud, he took all of the armrest and he leaned against me instead of his wife. And when I finally drifted to sleep, he practically yells into my ear asking the flight attendant for a tissue. After I just missed my bus because of baggage claim taking forever, I made it home. I can only hope it is a long while before I go back to Ohio, a long, long while.

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I Almost Swam With the Fishes

August 1, 2006

While swimming and jet skiing the in Ohio River, I got the idea it would be fun to have a biathlon while on the boat. It would be a simple course. Swim from the boat to the Kentucky shore, run about 300 yards to a blue tarp and swim back the 50 yards to our boat. I conviced three other people to join me in this grand plan. It started off fine. I took a commanding lead in the swim portion of the race. And I ran through the muck to reach the shore. I began sprinting along the beach (which I believe led to my downfall and almost drowning) to the cheers of my fellow board members. I reached the blue tarp and ran back to the spot. I made one big mistake in the biathlon, we didn’t adjust for current. So when I began swimming back to the boat and I began to drift further and further away from it. In the mean time, my cohorts in this suicide mission had caught up with me.

About half way between the Kentucky shore and the boat, I felt like I was going to drown, right in the copper tasting Ohio River. Right in front of my fellow board members. Hundreds of miles away from home. I instantly thought of the people who get caught in the Sound every year and drown. I had always wondered how something like that could happen. But with the boat getting further and further away I understood. But somehow I pushed through. I swam hard and fast. Pushing through the current. Pacing myself to reach the intertube rope. And I made it. I pulled myself on the boat and laid there exhausted. I learned an important lesson that day. Despite my good looks and flipper like feet, I am not Aquaman.