Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’


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.


Starving in the Famed Parc des Princes

November 25, 2012

With minutes before kickoff, proudly wearing my Seattle Sounders scarf, I asked the scalper how much he wanted for the ticket. His associate chimed in and said “€70.” I countered at €50. The scalper glanced over at his associate again and the associate shook his head no and said “€70, President’s Box.” I took the ticket and handed over most of the Euros I had in my wallet.

I wasn’t supposed to be at the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) – Sochaux match. For months I had been planning on seeing the Olympique Lyonnais play FC Lorient in Lyon the night before. But the powers at Ligue 1 moved the game from a Saturday to a Sunday night. TV rights? Blackout? Taylor Swift concert at the Stade des Lumières? Who knows but my train to Paris was heading out in the morning with or without me.

On match day in old Paris, entire streets are closed off. People are running in all sorts of different directions. Rows and rows of Paris police donning full riot gear march up and down the cobblestone streets in perfect precision — yelling at the college-aged and families alike. And then you realize that PSG is trying to shed the ghosts of hooliganism and transform to a place that is welcoming to all (this process is certainly accelerated with the team’s purchase by some very, very wealthy Qatari’s). I handed a man in a orange vest my ticket (which I thought there was about a 50 percent chance of being counterfeit) and he pointed and said something to me in French. I nodded.

I arrived about one minute into the game, soaked and starving. I figured that since I was in a 48,000 seat stadium, in one of the largest cities in the Western world, that finding food and beer would be pretty easy, but for the life of me I could not find any concessions. The older couple next to me had packed a lunch. And they happily snacked away while blowing cigarette smoke in my face.

Paris Saint-Germain - Sochaux

The scoring opened early for the home side with a screamer in the sixth minute. Six minutes later Sochaux scored on a flukey header over the PSG goalie. But in the 25th minute PSG scored off a set piece and never looked back. The match ended 6-1. Ici c’est Paris.

On my plane from Seattle to Iceland there was a woman with her family wearing a Sounders kit. When we arrived at the Icelandair Hotel, I asked her if she knew if the Sounders beat San Jose. She shrugged and said “I hope so.”

PSG finished the 2011-2012 season in second place with 79 points — the most points a second place team has ever achieved in Ligue 1. They also set the record for highest attendance average. Their match against Sochaux would end up being one of the bright spots of a very bright season. PSG’s new ownership has promised that they will build a club that will win the UEFA Champions League — glory, no matter the cost.

On my last night in Alasce, I spent the evening in my hotel room laying on my bed. I put Becky’s netbook on my belly, plugged in the headphones, and listened as Zach Scott headed a Caskey cross into goal. The Sounders won that game and like PSG would end up just short of glory by the end of the season.

After every goal the PSG supporters call out “Ici c’est,” and the crowd responds with “Paris.” And I could not help my mind wandering to those cold, dark evenings in Seattle. When we respond to ECS’s call of “Seattle!” with a spirited response of “Sounders!”


Every Bit of French

April 21, 2012

The end is near. And I am thinking about work again. It is hard not to, as when I come back I will have a new boss (random/weird timing). But before I leave for Seattle (via Iceland), here is a comprehensive list of every French word/phrase I have said since being over here:

  • Bonjour
  • Bonsoir
  • Je m’appelle Nicholas Peyton
  • Merci
  • Merci beaucoup
  • Oui
  • Non
  • Parlez-vous anglais?
  • Je voudrais ______, s’il vous plaît.
  • Pardon
  • Uh, for the mademoiselle.
  • L’addition s’il vous plaît.
  • Ça va
  • un
  • deax
  • trois
  • Petit

Who knew you can spend 25 days in France with an understanding of French language that is surpassed by the end of the week in high school French class?


Us Versus Them

April 4, 2012

The first thing you notice about the French in Paris is how dressed up they are. The men in suit jackets and slacks or wearing a fashionable wool jacket. This is standard. Sure, men will wear jeans — they are universally ubiquitous, right? — but those worn here are dark washed, lending to an air of formality. Oh, and all of the men wear scarves. And not of the soccer variety. The women wear dark colored skirts, dark tights, and heels or knee high boots. They often wear scarves and have a form fitting coat on. They say that the Seattle uniform is a Northface jacket and a pair of jeans — for both men and women. I think I have seen only one person — not a tourist — fitting that description. Given, that Seattle by default is probably the most dressed down city in U.S., it was still a shock to see the formality in dress.

There is almost no rage toward bikers. Oh man, bikers — and not the motorcycle riders — are simply crazy here. The run lights, are inches away from cars and buses, will engage in traffic circles — often with dozens of cars around them — with the bravery of a terminal patient, and everyone rides — as you can imagine in suits and skirts (see above) — without a helmet. But that is not my point. There is no rage toward bikers and no rage toward cars. Which is amazing. Because bikers here do even more stupid shit than they do in Seattle. And drivers are even more agro here than in Seattle. Read any Seattle Times column about bikers and check out the comment section online — it’s like Middle East uprising (too soon?) in the comment section. Simply scary. And you can see this division in the streets of Seattle, through angry honks, slaps on the cars, and a little name calling. The ‘passive’ in Seattle’s passive-aggressive attitude disappears when it comes to bike vs car relations. In fact you have to really mess things up to get an angry honk leveled at you in Paris. I have honked at people in Seattle for much, much less.

There are subtle differences too. The women smell different. They wear different fragrances. So do the men. Everyone pays with bills and coins — okay, not everyone but more people in Seattle use credit cards. While the French walk at an amazing clip, they eat and drink much more slowly than we do. And the service is slower. They take their time — it would be a painfully long amount of time if this was in Seattle — getting exact change at grocery store. The pace of life is both faster and slower at the same time.

But for all of the differences, the similarities crack me up the most. There are the hardcore runners in the parks. And the impatient-runner-guy-jogging-in-place at a busy intersection. Here too there are ironic bow ties, hipster t-shirts, and ‘vintage’ dark rimmed glasses. Like in Seattle, there are iPhones. Everywhere. And people checking Facebook. And the iPhone makes that same horrifying sound in France as it does in Seattle when it is dropped onto the pavement. But when the person drops it, they swear in French, but they pick it up as fast as they can and pretend nothing happened — that must be universal.

And finally, to coffee. It is very different and the culture is very different. I am used to my quad shot, 16 ounce, Americano every morning. There is no such thing here. Well maybe at Starbucks. But everyone drinks coffee by the shot, and maybe with a little sugar and a drop of milk. With our giant cups of coffee we often have to take our coffee with us as we run to work or class. But in France you almost never see anyone holding a cup — or even traveler’s mug — of coffee. Coffee is done at cafes and bistros.

It is very strange walking by a Starbucks here in Paris. Even here — a half-world away — they were advertising their new Blonde Roast. With signs everywhere and with the same graphic design. The pastries looked the same. So did the chairs. And so did that token bistro table in every Starbucks with the chess board painted on it. But the most striking thing about the Starbucks here in Paris was the smell. It smelled like any Starbucks in Seattle. It smelled like the Madison-Swedish Hospital Starbucks I go to everyday. And it smelled like the one next door. It smelled like the secret-Starbucks on 15th. It smelled like the Starbucks at Starbucks HQ in SoDo. And the Starbucks in U-Village. And the Starbucks on the Ave. And the Starbucks on Olive. And the Starbucks on Roy. It even smelled like the original Starbucks in the Market. But simply, it smelled like home.

1. Met some people at the bar next to my hotel. Was invited to a concert at the bar on Friday.
2. Musée d’Orsay — Simply Amazing. I could and probably will write more about this.
3. A 30 minute respite in the basement of the Musée de l’Orangerie. Not too shabby of a place to do some trip planning.


The Tennis Court Fight

July 15, 2010

I walked up to the tennis court and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Two older men with graying hair yelling at a woman in her mid thirties. They were all dressed in tennis gear. They had been playing tennis for a while. It was hot, early evening, and I had arrived to play basketball.

The first man yelled at the woman because the woman’s kids (aged around 5 and 6) were hitting their tennis balls into their court. You see the kids weren’t doing it on purpose. The kids simply sucked at playing tennis. I mean they were 5 and 6. The woman replied by saying they were kids and she was teaching them how to play tennis. The second man said well, that is not how you teach them to play. The argument continued. The voices were elevated higher. The kids sat in silence at the edge of the court. The woman, completely frustrated took her kids and stormed off.

This all happened at the Madrona Playground. In a neighborhood where Seattle’s almost rich live. The Madrona Playground is a public playground. Anyone can come and play. The mom and the kids were just as entitled to be there as the two men.

Since Tuesday, I have been feeling regret. I wished I stepped in. I wish I told those men to shut the fuck up and ask them if that is how you act in front of a woman and two little children (Yes I see the irony of my profanity). I regret that these bullies pushed this mom around. She should be rewarded for taking the time to parent her kids. To teach them tennis at a young age. To have them enjoy the outdoors instead of plopping them in front of the TV. If those two men had a mother like that, I would suspect, they wouldn’t be such dicks.

Everyone arrived after the woman and the kids left and we played for basketball for an hour. When I walked by the tennis count again later, new group of people were playing, quietly and without incident.