Archive for December, 2008

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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 http://www.pndri.org/howtohelp/gifts/gift.html. And you can always read more about my daily trials at http://www.geocities.com/nickoroni.

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

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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.