Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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What I Have Learned This Past Year

January 3, 2017

The gate agent in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport finally had mercy on me. I had been delayed six hours out of Toronto. And I missed every flight to Seattle that night. The delay was infuriating at the time. A dent in the plane. A missing mechanic. A tow truck stuck in the snow that was supposed to get us unstuck from the tarmac. The agent pleaded for me. He begged. He tossed out flight connections around America like baseball statistics. And I don’t know what favors he cashed in but he got me as far west as Las Vegas with a voucher for a hotel and a taxi.

Despite the fact that I had been up for 24 hours and had slept less than 3 hours the night before, I didn’t care, the Sounders had finally won the cup. This year, of all years, the Sounders did it.

I was more confused than excited when Roman stepped up to take the penalty. Why was our hulking center back taking the penalty? A man known more for keeping the ball out of the net than putting it in. I asked Kapena if this was the one to win it. He nodded. Roman takes a few steps back, kicks the ball with power, and we roar.

As we waited for the train back to the city I was more shocked than emotional. There were no more challenges to face, no more dragons to be slayed, no more pages in the book to be read. Our annual ritual of painful losses had finally ended.

We took possession of our house one day shy of our four-year anniversary of our first date. Our cat Miles, having only lived in one level apartments, quickly learned how to use stairs. Escrow and signing paperwork gave way to painting, housewarmings, BBQs, gardening, and s’mores with the neighbors. Our neighborhood listserv now provides us with new sources of entertainment. In some ways Columbia City reminds me of old Capitol Hill. A neighborhood on the precipice of change and reinvention. A neighborhood slowly marching toward the future.

As we get older, the particulars of each year blend and meld with the past. Did we go to Portland that year? Or was it the year before? When was our trip to the Hood Canal? Specific details lost to the passage of time. But I have a feeling that Alex and I will remember 2016. It still feels out of place saying, “My wife.” So much so that when I went to urgent care a few days ago the intake nurse asked me who took me there, I replied, “My friend-I-mean-uh-wife.” And if you want to see all of the wedding minuate, you can check out of wedding photos: https://tonyasgari.client-gallery.com/#/NickandAlex

Canon in D filled the Great Hall as our friends and family stood in the summer sunlight that poured through the old lead windows. When I turned around on the stage, I saw my life flash before my eyes. Friends. Family. Co-workers. Work wives. So many memories flooded back. Years and years worth memories. And after we kissed for the first time as a married couple, granted by the power of our Rent-a-Reverend, we exited the stage to Star Wars Throne Room. A nod to the playfulness we wanted on our big day.

One of the last wedding presents we received this past year came from my friend Rachel. Rachel was the cool girl. She was a rebel. She had the courage to always say yes to things. Unless it happened before noon. She would dare you to do something. And if you hesitated, she would do it before you had a chance to decide. Any awkwardness she had was overshadowed with grace. And any weakness was countered with confidence.

I remember warm summer nights with Rachel in the park. She would run through the sprinklers in her barefeet. The smell of freshly cut grass hanging in the air. I remember days on Greg’s Father’s boat. When he would throttle it up. I remember the glee she took with a perfectly timed Red Shell in Mario Kart. I remember the time in college I flipped on her hazard lights in her red Honda Prelude. They wouldn’t turn off. I thought she was going to kill me.

Rachel didn’t make it to our wedding. I was so looking forward to seeing her one last time. See Rachel was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer. One so rare that only 100 women get it each year. The night of our rehearsal dinner she was in the hospital in Seattle. The next day she was back in Richland and soon after she was in hospice. She died in late August. She had just turned 34.

I met her brother in Bellevue and he gave me her wedding gift. A red picnic cooler or as I now call it, “The Rachel Fleshman Memorial Picnic Cooler.” I think she would have appreciated the dark humor. If there is one lesson I have learned from Rachel’s friendship is that you should live life as you want to. To be present. Life is too short to question the choices you have made. Too short for regret. And we should all let the wet summer grass cover our feet as we walk forward throughout the night.

My last bet in Vegas before heading back to Seattle was at the roulette table in the Luxor. I changed a $20 for chips and put it all on black. She fired the ball into the wheel and we watched the numbers blur as they spinned. The wheel began to slow. And I stood there waiting, optimistically, about what was to come next.

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What Have I Learned This Past Year

January 4, 2016

My mother called me on a lazy Saturday morning in April. I could tell by her voice that something was wrong. My father had a heart attack. He was in the hospital. He was expected to survive but he needed a triple bypass.

The drive to Spokane is a long one normally. It seemed eternal when this happened. Moments of my childhood flooded back to the present as the desert flashed by the car windows.

When you think about a year these are the moments that first come to mind. Not the countless Saturday mornings spent vacuuming or the evenings watching Netflix. It are the moments that shock, surprise, and humble you. These are moments that you remember.

It is also the moments that alter the course of your life. Like, the time I got engaged.

I proposed at Quinn’s on the day of our third anniversary of our first date. It was a moment witnessed by our closest friends. We toasted over wine I had been saving for a special occasion. I finally found that occasion. Soon after we had a caterer, a day of wedding coordinator, a DJ, a photographer, and a venue. We even have one of those silly engagement photos. We’ll get married in July. Our parents couldn’t be more excited.

We traveled from New Hampshire to Molokai. From Chicago to Salt Lake City. We ran the entire length of the Detroit airport until I realized that there was an indoor tram. We snorkeled in the vast Pacific Ocean. Rode a mule to a leper colony. Took a tour to Fenway. And we watched good friends get married in their childhood church, on a Vashon Island farm, and on top of a sun-drenched mountain ridge.

2015 was the year my car was broken into, again. It was the year we bought a portable air conditioner. It was the year that I saw one of my closest friends from high school. With his family. I hadn’t seen him in years. After my many proclamations of me visiting him, I finally flew down and we spent the morning and afternoon hiking around the Utah mountains. I had only seen Brian once or twice since his wedding in 2005. It felt like no time had passed. I felt like we were riding in his green truck again on the way to Dairy Queen.

This past year I decided to track all of the dinners I would eat in 2015. It highlights the mundane. Like, we ate 64.1% of our meals at home. And 13.2% of my meals were simply reheated leftovers. It shows that I spent 15 dinners (4.1%) out because of the Sounders. 20 dinners (5.5%) due to volunteer engagements and 7 dinners (1.9%) because of work events.

My epicurean data set also aptly highlights those outlier moments.

  • April 28: Chicken Salad. Sacred Heart Hospital, Spokane, WA.
  • June 24: Chicken Fried Steak. Paddlers Inn, Molokai, HI.
  • August 22: Cheeseburger with Pastrami. Rio Tinto Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT.
  • August 14: Meatloaf Sandwich with French Fries. Beckler River Campground, Skykomish, WA.
  • November 12: Beef Nachos. McLadden’s, Simsbury, CT.

But two meals probably best illustrate our largest accomplishment of 2015. It made a year’s worth of wedding planning seem simple.

  • December 8: Rueben Sandwich with Tim’s Potato Chips. Columbia City Ale House, Seattle, WA – The dinner we had after we saw the house in Columbia City we would put an offer on.
  • December 12: Cheeseburger with French Fries. Quinn’s Pub, Seattle, WA – And the dinner we had to celebrate after our offer was accepted.

If everything continues down this path, we will close February 5 and take possession February 9. A day shy of the anniversary of our first date and engagement.

I think I have prematurely said this before, but I feel like this chapter in my life is closing. I will think fondly of the nine years in Capitol Hill. Late night beers and shots at Smith. All of the dates on the Hill. All of the mornings spent in Victrola and Fuel Coffee before that. The cookies at Hello Robin. The walks to Elliott Bay. The grit. The grime. The dirty streets. The weirdos.

I cannot think of a better place to live in my 20s and early 30s than Capitol Hill. I cannot think of a better place to have met Alex and live with her for the past three years. If this moment is the start of the next chapter in our lives I welcome it. To all, I hope you have a happy new year.

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What I Have Learned This Past Year

January 1, 2014

Last year as a result of this annual reflection, Chris, my old college roommate, emailed me and said we should grab lunch. For whatever reason (life, time, distance), I hardly saw him after my sophomore year when I left Morrison Hall and got an apartment of my own. It had been a decade since we had last seen each other.

It is easy to summarize a year in your life when only hitting the highlights. Alex and I moved in together after dating for almost a year. I started a new job at the Pacific Science Center. And somewhere along the way, we decided to go to France in 2014 for a month. That’s the 2013 highlight reel.

And apparently, it is even easier to summarize a decade of your life. So easy in fact that I had explained the highlights of the past 10 years to Chris before our burgers had even arrived. But that is the tragedy and the beauty of everyday life. The majority of life happens between the highlights. Or perhaps said better with that old adage, “life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”

Alex and I had been talking about moving in together for months before she saw the listing on Craigslist. We were excited to get the new apartment, but part of me was sad to leave the Roxborough — even if she was old, tired, and rundown. That place had been my home for more than six years. I had a longer tenure there than any place I lived since I was a 12 years old. Because Alex and I only moved a block away, I walk by the Roxborough constantly. It’s like running into an ex-girlfriend. The good times flash before your eyes, and almost as quickly, you are reminded of the reasons why you left. And every time I walk by, I look up into my old windows and try to spy on the person who now calls my old place home.

Musings about dating have transformed into musings about Miles. Ever since moving into our new place Miles has mysteriously developed a new hatred of the sound of the shower turning on. He now charges into the bathroom with his teeth flared and starts batting and biting until he draws blood. Another adventure happened during the summer when he escaped out onto the deck almost jumped down into Capitol Hill, never to be heard from again. Fortunately, Alex whisked him up before he disappeared for good.

This past year was filled many memorable moments. Traore, Yedlin, Johnson. The bounty of an oyster CSA box. Walla Walla wine tasting. For country (I’m under that flag… somewhere). Dressing up. Cards Against Humanity. Bremerton birthday weekend. Concerts. Mora’s and their chocolate peanut butter ice cream. A Sounders tailgate on a warm Seattle summer afternoon. An amazing anniversary dinner. Silly work events. Sometimes a memorable moment is a kid at your holiday party projectile vomiting all over your refrigerator and kitchen. Let’s just say our kitchen was never cleaner afterward.

On some level, it is understood that when you leave a job, you leave your colleagues behind. But I didn’t truly understand that until Becky was no longer in my day-to-day life. I worked with her and eventually we came to share a tiny office for 4.5 years. Too many lunches, coffees, dating stories and laughs to count. She was my confidant, my friend and I find myself missing her. At my new job, I have two work wives. We have lunches, coffees, and talk about our relationships. If at the end of my tenure here, if I have a relationship with them half as strong as my friendship with Becky was, I will consider myself very fortunate.

I will remember this past year for holidays on Bainbridge. Spaghetti in Allyn. For a wedding I helped plan. For dinners at Hitchcock, Rione XIII, Green Leaf, and Kate’s. Endless soccer conversations and prognostications at Full Pull. Endless soccer conversations and prognostications at Fuel. Endless soccer conversations and prognostications at CenturyLink. A cabin on the coast. Summer walks to get our CSA box. Candy on the 4th of July. A broken desk. The State Fair. Board meetings in Pioneer Square. Wine parties and wine pouring. Bald eagle float trips and early morning breakfasts.

One summer morning Alex and I were heading to Bainbridge and were killing time at the Seattle Ferry Terminal. I was short .25 cents for a newspaper and asked Alex if she had a quarter. She shook her head. Out of nowhere a man comes up to me and hands me a quarter. On Christmas Eve I find myself in the same ferry terminal killing time. This time having the correct amount of change I acquire a Seattle Times. While reading the sports section and with the rest of my paper to my left, a woman comes up to me (without saying a word) and picks up my newspaper (much to my surprise) and starts reading it. She hands to other half to her husband.

In some ways by February of this past year I had felt that I completely reinvented my life. New job, new apartment, new work neighborhood (and with it new stores, coffee shops, and restaurants to try), new colleagues, and moving in with my lady and her cat. And those highlights were some of my favorite moments of this past year. But the majority of my laughs, unique moments, and interesting conversations happened while I was standing in line for a movie, or walking to the store, or driving across town, or over dinner before a play at the Seattle Rep or simply, while killing time in the Ferry Terminal, having my newspaper stolen. May no one projectile vomit in your kitchen and may your 2014 highlight reel be a great one. Happy New Year!

Nick

P.S., the links throughout are not ads but you can click on them!

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The Robins and the Holly Tree

March 14, 2013

About a week before Christmas the robins would devour every berry on the holly tree outside my apartment window.  This annual feeding frenzy both scared me (I was afraid I would get shit on) and delighted me (the chirping, the fighting, the chaos).  Within one day, the tree would be stripped of every bright red berry, the robins vanished, and the only evidence left behind from this annual mania was the shitstorm that covered my car.  

In January, I sold my bed (the one I bought in last July), gave away my couch (the one I always hated), and packed up everything else.  I was leaving the Roxborough, a place I called home for the last five years.  I was sad to leave the century-old building but I am super excited to move in with Alex.  And besides living out our eHarmony success story everyday, I am excited for all the modern amenities that come with a decade-old apartment.  

My move out coincided with the Roxborough being sold and taken under new management.  When I told them about me leaving, they told me of all the things they were going to upgrade/replace in my new apartment – the windows, the stove, the carpet, the light fixtures, the hot water, etc.

I met the new apartment manager (Charles) to return my keys.  And when I arrived at the Roxborough, the sound of chainsaws enveloped the afternoon air.   The 75-year-old maple was in pieces littering the parking lot and the holly tree was completely missing.  Charles said those trees were causing structural damage and that there was nothing they could do.  

A holly tree never loses its leaves during the winter.  For me that little tree always served as a reminder that even during our darkest and coldest of days, life can still flourish.  I lived in that apartment longer than any place since I was a child.  Charles helped me carry down the bookcase I was giving to Goodwill.  We loaded it in.  He shook my hand and I slammed the door closed and I drove away.    

 

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Searching for Meaning

March 7, 2012

There are three search terms that bring the most random traffic to my website/blog.

  1. Babies born in 1994
  2. Texting before/after a first date
  3. Stonington Beige

While I mention these topics in here, here and here, I don’t address about the core issues that I imagine people are searching on. So now, I will.

Babies born in 1994
I cannot believe that I wrote this piece in 2007. At the time, I got to thinking if the TV show Friends had any impact on baby names. I mean it was one of the most popular TV shows of all time. Even today, the stars of Friends are trying to escape those fictional names from a TV show that ended 8 years ago.

But I digress. You want to know about popular baby names in 1994. It’s 2012 and you, if you were born in 1994, are now 18. Here are the most popular baby names in 1994:

Men: Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Joshua, Tyler, Brandon, Jacob, Daniel, Nicholas, and Andrew. Women: Jessica, Ashley, Emily, Samantha, Sarah, Taylor, Brittany, Amanda, Elizabeth, and Megan.

Like I said in 2007, if you are named Phoebe or Chandler, you might want to rent netflix stream Friends on DVD and check it out. And you will question your parents sobriety at your birth when you discover you were named after the two most quirky TV characters of all time.

You can find more baby name information at the Social Security website.

Texting before/after a first date
Should you text before a first date? Yes. But I keep it short and sweet. I usually use it to confirm our plans. Example: Hey [Name], it’s Nick. Are still on for [Location] at [time] on [day]? Looking forward to it!

Should you text after a first date? Yes. But this is much more situational. I will break down several situations.

1. You had a good time and want to see him/her again. Wait at least a day before texting something like: Hey there [Name]. I had a great time [last night/yesterday/over coffee]! [Mention something from the date]. Let’s get together again soon!

2. You’re just not that into him/her. Text the next day and say something like: Hey [name], It was great meeting you [last night/at AA/while skydiving] but unfortunately, I didn’t feel much of a [romantic connection/spark]. Best of luck out there!

3. You had a crazy romantic connection. In this case, there are no rules. Once I received a text from someone before I even made it home from our first date. Another time I skipped texting and I called. Sometimes I have emailed. At any rate, just be cool. You had one good first date. The race is very long. And you will learn that there are no rules. If you like each other, you will have another date. And it will work out no matter how you contact them. Just don’t stand outside their window with a boom box portable iPod dock playing music. That never works.

For more information on what to say in online messages (I have used this article as a guide for me), check out this article from OkCupid. While it addresses online dating website messages, I think it is a good guide for all communications to potential dates.

Stonington Beige
I painted my entire living room this color. I have an east-facing, second floor apartment in Capitol Hill. My only direct light comes in during the morning. This color is not too dark for the room and provides a warm glow in the evening. It works perfectly with the white crown molding. I recommend it.

You can find the paint at Home Depot or online. Only one coat was needed.

Interesting search terms that have found my website/blog:

  1. asian marissa tomei
  2. when will i have my first kiss asian
  3. after first date when text snog
  4. im asian but i like a french
  5. nick peyton pi hipster
  6. who did marissa tomei punch in the face?
  7. i get picked on because im asian
  8. can i update my phone number for safeway club card
  9. why do asians love france and the french
  10. “i had fun too” text
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Drop the Mic and Exit Stage Left — My Dinner on Lummi Island

December 20, 2011

The receptionist floated on top of the three-foot-high stone hearth in black heels and bright pink tights. Her silver earrings swayed back and forth as she picked up a comically large piece of wood, bent down at her knees, and threw it into the fireplace. She stabbed at it a couple of times with the rod iron poker before she replaced the metal screen. The fire popped with new energy. She hopped down in one swift motion and didn’t break stride as she leaned the poker against the wall. This was certainly not the first time she had done this. With my mouth agape, I was in love, and I needed a drink. Something strong. Whiskey.

See The Willows Inn on Lummi Island did something amazing. It went from awesome to unbelievable. From great to world-class. It went from local to hyper-local — before it was popular to do so — and before everybody shamelessly promoted it. And you can see this transformation thanks to the Internet.

In a 2006 Bellingham Herald article, then chef Craig Miller claimed that the Inn was about 85 percent self-sufficient. They were producing local meals every night before it was popular. Before it was the next thing. Most of their dishes were sourced from the Island and from their farm just a half mile away.

So Miller leaves and here comes chef Blaine Wetzel from Copenhagen. Who ran a place that specialized in slow and hyper-local food. They change the menu to prix fixe. They add several courses. They become even more self-sufficient (Wetzel told us that he had four things on his grocery store list and one of them was kitchen gloves). The rest comes from the Island or very close to the Island. For example, the fish comes from members of Lummi Nation. The beef, from a producer on the Island. The table arrangements, white winter berries, are picked from the bushes that slope the beach. And the service? Well it rivals Canlis. Sure, they don’t have a numberless valet or coat check, but when your dining room seats less than 40 people, why should they. Frank Bruni called The Willows Inn one of the 10 restaurants in the world worth a plane ticket. For us, it was merely a long drive on a cold Sunday morning.

The Lummi Island Ferry

The island is only accessible by ferry.

Salmon smoker.

The first course (I counted a total of 18) was a small bite of smoked salmon, which is smoked all day in the above smoker. It is served in a personal cedar box and when you lift the lid, smoke erupts out revealing your first bite.

Greens

Mean chicken

I felt like Lord of the Chickens. They would all run to me when I got near the fence.

Fennel

Fennel

Garden sign

Greenhouse

Shells

A year’s worth of shells from dinner.

You can visit the farm from which all the herbs and vegetables (and chickens) are grown and that you will eat later. Seeing the farm made me think about a paragraph Mark Bittman wrote in the New York Times in March:

In 1943, 20 million households (three-fifths of the population at that point), grew more than 40 percent of the vegetables we ate.

Local was king. But local was necessity. In the latest book I am reading, Adam Gopnik’s The Table Comes First, he references that it was once considered low-class in French culinary circles to serve local, in-season, food. If you couldn’t import strawberries in winter, that restaurant wasn’t worth the schilling in your pocket. Life always seems to be on a pendulum.

Sunset

Dish

The food was amazing. My words, with my limited vocabulary would never do it justice. And the presentation for each one was unique and awesome. Local oysters on a frozen river rock bed. Herring in a sardine can. Chicken jous with homemade bread. Wicker basket filled with farm vegetables and dipping sauce served in a terracota flower pot. You get the point. Over the top? Perhaps, a bit. I tweeted from the bathroom between courses that I was having the best meal of my life.

Paul brought champagne. And three other bottles of outstanding wine. See we came to Lummi to celebrate. To celebrate another successful year at Full Pull. A very (very, very, very) nice thank you dinner for all of the work this past year. I always tell customers that I have a day job and I joke that I come down to the warehouse simply to hangout and drink wine. Sure, that happens. But I come to be a part of something amazing. Something that is just starting and becoming a great success.

When our stunningly beautiful bartender popped the cork on our bottle of champagne, every head in the place turned around and looked at us. The fire crackled. Whispers filled the room. And we raised a glass in celebration to the end of a pretty good year. Best meal of my life, maybe. But it is one that I will remember always.

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10 Years Later

September 11, 2011

I remember the morning clearly. It was dark when I left for work. I had to be there by 6:00 a.m. By the time I left for work, American Airlines Flight 11 had already been hijacked and had been crashed into Tower 1. By the time I clocked in United Airlines Flight 175 had already crashed into the South Tower.

For two hours we stocked shelves. The morning mix of top 90s played quietly over the sound system. It wasn’t until the 8:00 a.m. crew came in and told us that we were at war. I remember what I was doing when Gretchen, the blonde who worked the front counter, relayed the news — I was stocking bras.

It was crazy. No one knew anything. I heard that the Space Needle had been destroyed. That a building in California had been hit. Someone said that something had happened in Europe. Some of us watched it unfold on a small TV in the manager’s office. I stayed in the stockroom and cracked jokes with Chris. I was 19. And stupid. And didn’t know better. I joked that Cheney would have a heart attack. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know how bad it was.

My lunch break was at 10:00 a.m. I drove home in my mother’s minivan. I watched the Towers collapse, over and over again. I saw the planes fly into the tower. I saw the horror loop over and over again.

It was one of my last days of work for the summer. And we had been planning to go out later. I picked up my colleague Heidi around 8. My mother didn’t want me to leave. Then we drove out to Kennewick. We stopped at the store to buy mixers. We played cards while four talking heads on TV debated what 9/11 was going to mean. Jodi crashed. Chris and Heidi smoked pot. I left around midnight.

When I got to college it was a welcomed relief of trivial distractions. No TV, no Internet, no endless coverage of 9/11. While some students debated if Osama bin Laden was the anti-christ, most of the time it was all about college life.

And 10 years later I remember more of the silly college life antics than the aftermath of 9/11. There was the ski trip. The fight between my roommate and his girlfriend and another close friend. There was my reign as dorm president. There was Thursday nights watching Friends. There was the bad college food. There was the Homecoming Parade. And there was the time I cut Kendra’s hair off for cancer.

9/11 reminded me how fragile life can be. How one beautiful Tuesday morning you board an early morning flight to go across country and you never make it. But you can try to lead a well-purposed life. You can work to improve your community. You can help those in need.

I ended up back at the store over Christmas. And Gretchen, the blonde at the front counter, and I went on a date. We saw a movie and we made out in her car. We held hands as she drove me around. She ripped off the corner of her car’s owner manual and wrote down her phone number. She was moving to Las Vegas. She needed to leave. She needed to get out of this place. Something changed inside of her. A month later, she called me outside of Las Vegas, she was happy. She had made the right decision. She told me that she needed to leave me behind too. Years later, throughout my many, many dates, I heard this story over and over again. The need to move after 9/11. The need to reinvent yourself. After your foundation has been drastically altered maybe reinvention is required. My journey didn’t require a cross country move but I know I am not the same person as I was. I wonder how much of my journey is from 9/11 or if it would have happened anyway with my escape to college. I will never know. But sometimes there is beauty in not knowing.