Archive for March, 2007

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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.

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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 classmates 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.

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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. Even after a masters degree, Kaitlin is smarter than me. 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.