Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twenty years & still going strong: Part 3 "The Reunion"

(Feel free to catch up on Part 1 or Part 2 by doing the clicky clicky on the links.)

Part 3 of this post has been a long time in coming. Part 2 was posted on September 4th and it's now December 18th. Quite a bit has gone on since then. Work has been exceptionally busy and I've not had near enough free time to put my experiences into a more accessible form. For those that have been wanting me to finish, you have Dani to thank for this. Hopefully she'll get to read this before she leaves for Rio.

Pre-pre Func:
Saturday morning started somewhat late. I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3AM by the time I actually slept, and 9AM seemed like torture. Nevertheless, I made it out of bed and got myself ready for what lay ahead.

Michelle, Kristelle, Joe and I stayed at the Quinault Beach Resort. That's "QBR" for those of us who like to use acronyms. I enjoyed the room and the appointments. I think I'd like to take my wife down there for a weekend getaway. What I didn't enjoy was the lack of a coffee maker. I understand the economics of the lack, I just don't like it. I wasn't there to gamble and the likelihood that I would dropped by a factor of 10 by their lack of support of my caffeine habit.

As it happened, all four of us NEEDED coffee of some sort and we met up and set out to find some. This proved more difficult that one might think. We wanted a Starbuck's. Believe it or not, the only "Starbuck's" anything was a snack area in one of the hotels that served it's coffee. That's it. I would have thought that Ocean Shores would have at least 1, maybe 2, by now. No such luck.

We found a place that served coffee eventually though. The name escapes me, but it was across the street from the IGA grocery store that used to be called Dick's. We spent a good deal of time sitting in the "guest area" and talking. Catching up and just enjoying the fact that our families were at home and we had nowhere to be until much later in the day.

With our caffeine addictions sated, we parted ways. Joe and I went out to the house he grew up in and then to The Sand Castle for food & fried bread. We also made a stop at the liquor store. The rest of the afternoon was pleasant and restful. I found out later that Michelle & Kristelle (yep, still rhymes..) went to the beach.

The details, at this point, are a little fuzzy, but we all agreed that we'd meet in Joe's room before the actual reunion for drinks. Our foray to the liquor store resulted in finding a very fine, locally distilled gin. That, some limes and tonic water formed the core of our refreshments for the evening. Yes, even the ladies participated. It would start of with "Oh, I don't like gin." Joe or I would respond with "It doesn't taste like a Christmas tree." They'd respond with "Oh, you're right" and we'd end up making another not too long after.

Joe, Kristelle, Michelle and I started at around 6pm. Dani, Amber and Chris (Amber's husband and all-around great guy) showed up soon afterward. Diane showed up at some point after that as well. We talked and laughed (sound familiar?) until we realized that the reunion had already started and we weren't there. I was nursing a decent buzz by then and we made our way to the door.

The Reunion:
Chris was gracious enough to be our designated driver. We piled into his SUV and went to the Ocean Shores Inn and arrived at around 8ish. The group of folks that organized and put on the reunion did a fantastic job. The food was good and we were spared any of the "award" ceremonies. Thanks Steve & Jen-nei for a great time.

While we arrived together, we spent most of the night mingling with classmates. Some we remembered, some we didn't. Some we recognized, some we didn't. But, in all, it was great seeing everyone again. We would fan out amongst the crowd and when we met in passing, we'd compare notes on who we saw and what they were up to.

I particularly enjoyed seeing a few people. Rob S. was absolutely as funny as he was in school. No, I wasn't moving in on his action, but it was fun to make him think I was. Rip and his wife were fantastic. I didn't realize that we knew some of the same motocross people. Steve B. was a surprise to see. He was one of the first friend I had when I moved to Hoquiam when I was 10. I was glad he could make it. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Lance & Angel too. Raylene and Becky were a joy as well.

Throughout the night, a few minor things seemed out of place, though. A few of our friend couldn't make it, and I missed them. I didn't particularly care for how a certain person was treating Michelle, and would have gladly opened up a can of whoopass should it have been necessary. Thankfully, it wasn't. The person we dubbed "The train wreck" was a constant distraction. It wasn't necessarily bad, but the behavior, attire and general attitude was a constant source of conversation.

At one point of the night, I distinctly remember being grabbed by both arms and dragged onto the dance floor by Dani & Kristelle (now that doesn't rhyme at all...). I didn't realize what was going on until I was already out there. One minute I'm talking to someone and BAM!, I'm being dragged out to the floor. I was thoroughly glad that I'd had enough alcohol to break through my blatant "white-guyness" and allow me to have fun. And before he has a chance to comment, yes, Joe did teach me everything I know around dancing. Thanks bud.

The reunion proper wound down at 10PM. We piled into Chris & Amber's SUV and headed back to the QBR to change. Our night wasn't over by a long shot.

Post Func:
As we talked to friends, the same question came up: What's happening after this is over? Our response to a person was: We're heading to the QBR and will continue the night there. It wasn't a disappointment. In all, I think there were about 40 of us that met up afterward. In fact, I think we actually took over the bar. As for people, I sat with Marni, Amy, Michelle G. & Lisa and had a nice chat. We didn't spend a whole lot of time together in school, but it was good to see them again and talk.

The highlight of the QBR part of the night was seeing Joe, Steve B. and a few others dancing with several ladies who I'd classify as older than a MILF and younger than elderly. The blackmail material was too good to pass up, but I missed the boat. The camera on phone didn't do it justice and didn't have anything better.

In all honesty, I can't recall specifics about that part of the night. The combination of the amount of drinking I'd done, the lack of sleep and time lag between August and today has taken away the details of the QBR bar experience. I do recall this, however. We all said our farewells, promised to keep in touch on Facebook and made our way upstairs. It was around 2am.

Post, Post Func:
Michelle, Dani, Joe, Kristelle and I closed out our night in Michelle & Kristelle's room. Amber & Chris went home at some point prior to us meeting up there, I think. This was probably the best part of the night, for me. It ended as it started, with us sitting around and talking. I can't forget the last of our Champagne (of Beers) as well.

It was around 3am that I finally got to sleep. I didn't sleep well, but managed to feel somewhat rested the next day. I was tired, but it was bearable. Joe, Michelle, Kristelle and I checked out, loaded our cars and met for breakfast at around 11am. You could tell that we'd had fun, though. We sat, staring at our coffee cups and not saying much. Personally, I was wishing for aspirin & water and my hat pulled down low over my eyes because it just felt better that way. Really, it did. It wasn't because the light was a blazing fireball that seared my retinas at all.

We eventually made it through breakfast and said our farewells. I got into my car and headed out, looking forward to going home to my wife and kids.

Random Thoughts:

The Facebook Effect
I started thinking about the reunion about 6 months before. I've been on Facebook for a while but had recently started spending more time trying to find folks from school. I think it was worth it. The majority of people I'd kept track of were there and we got to talk about more than the standard questions: What do you do? Are you married? Kids? Where do you live? etc. I think that really enhanced my enjoyment of the whole event. I still keep track of everyone and we get to interact there still. In fact, Dani's harassment encouragement of me to finish this came by way of Facebooks' chat feature.

Most of my high school friends didn't know this, but I had a bad attitude my entire senior year of high school. I was angry about many things that I've come to grips with over the years. After that weekend, I came to realize that I love and respect my high school friends. We may not have kept in touch, I missed them and was very eager to see them all again. I realized that I didn't want to lose touch with them and will make sure that I make every effort to see them more often.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never forget

As I sit here, I am forced to remember a day 8 years ago and all that has occurred since. I was just returning to work from a conference in Washington D.C. A close friend & co-worker called me in a panic asking if I'd heard what happened. It was just after 6AM PST. He then, while I was on the phone, described the 2nd aircraft hitting the 2nd tower.

As people slowly began to arrive at work, all of us were transfixed by the images on the news. We wondered if friend or colleagues were affected. The investment industry is a fairly small community and many vendors, colleagues and clients were based in Lower Manhattan. No real work was completed and the markets were, if memory serves, unreachable due to the telephone networks being down.

Many of us went home early as air travel was halted by order of The President. I sat at home with my wife and kids, wanting to keep track of happenings, but not wanting to expose my young children to the horror.

Looking back, the only good I can see that came out of this event was a distinct and focused effort by business and government to ensure that recovery from disasters was an up front and primary issue going forward. The so-called security measures and heavy handed legislation are not what I'd call "good." The Department of Homeland Security isn't either. Too many personal freedoms have been lost as a result of the goverment "protecting us."

Never forget those that lost their lives both on the air and on the ground, but don't let that be an excuse for giving up personal freedoms and abandoning the will to fight for what you think is right and protecting your way of life.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Twenty years & still going strong: Part 2

(You can find Part 1 here.)

Friday continued:
I left off last time lamenting the fact that I felt like I was not very nice to Amber my senior year of high school. As the commenters on that post would agree, I was probably a little too hard on myself. I was who I was at that time, which is to say that I was a self-important teenager who probably said and did things that were horrible and didn't realize it. I should clarify one point, however. My comments in Amber's yearbook seemed very out of place while I was sitting in her kitchen 20 years later. That was the major source of my feelings on the situation. I can't remember exactly what I wrote, but it just struck me as not a good thing to say.

Joe & Dani:
Joe and Daniela showed up around 40 minutes after I arrived. I think I was just finishing up my first beer of the evening. It was a good thing too. I was in for a special treat. They had brought a case of "The Champagne of Beers." For the low brow folks reading this, that's Miller beer. I believe that the pizzas that Amber had put in the over were done as well. Drinking Miller and eating pizza while on the Harbor is a truly special experience. I think I described going home in my last post as being "uncomfortable." This was 100% the opposite.

As always, Joe & Daniela's arrival increased the fun factor by 10. Between the 2 of them, they could easily turn any gathering into a party. Bar Mitzvah? Easy. Garage Sale? Puh-lease. Funeral? Definitely. I had no reason to believe that the rest of the night would be any different, and I wasn't disappointed.

Michelle & Kristelle:
If memory serves, Kristelle & Michelle (..and that rhymes the way I'm saying it in my head right now.) showed up around 30 minutes after Joe & Dani. It's almost as if they snuck in, because 1 minute we were all in the kitchen enjoying our champagne (of beers) and the next they were cruising in the door with their suitcases.

Kristelle was soo funny that I don't think it took more than 5 minutes before I was laughing so hard that I almost blew champagne (of beers) out of my nose. I'm going to skip over the actual topic. Don't ask, 'cuz I won't tell. Actually, that's not much of a stretch because I was left speechless then too.

We took the opportunity to get a few pictures before we left. I'm pretty sure Amber took this, which is why she's conspicously absent. I think I'm the only one who doesn't still wear the same size as in high school. Sheesh.

The Bar (a.k.a. Stiffy's)
It's a long-standing tradition that on the Friday before a reunion for HHS that anyone who can meets at a local bar. It was at a place called, of all things, Stiffy's. I could go on for hours on the name. I won't.

The Friday event is always very casual. My experience at our 10 year reunion was less than stellar. My daughter was 13 months old and I wasn't really sure what to expect. A classmate who I suspect had a crush on me found me and told me a long story that I won't relate. Needless to say, it wasn't fun. This time it was better. I think around 20 people were there, as well as a quite a few other people. We arrived a little later than usual and I guess that we missed quite a few other classmates that were there earlier in the evening. Steve B, I'm talking about you, pal.

The first person I ran into was Neil Meyer. Yes, Neil, you're taller. This was phrase that could have madeyou money over the course of the next 24 hours. I was also very lucky to meet Neil's lovely wife. Marty Skinner, who, I've known longer than just about anyone else, was there too. I could (and probably should) mention the rest, but this post is getting long in the tooth already, and I haven't even gotten to the reunion yet. It was all pretty much a blur of laughter & drinks. Mostly laughter, but drinks were a close second.

I should mention 2 things at this point. Firstly, it wouldn't be a reunion without a teeny little bit of drama. We had a little, but as we found out later, it was more the alcohol talking than anything else. I think all was forgiven in the the end. Secondly, what's up with the ass-grabbing? I've learned to live with my distinguished good looks over the years. But ladies (and gentlemen), keep your hands off of my ass. I think it was grabbed twice, and I honestly can't remember exactly who did it. Actually, I remember one of them but she'll remain nameless.

In any case, it was a great time. The picture to the right here pretty much sums up the whole night. Laughter & silliness. Thanks ladies. A good portion of the fun I had is due to you two. :-)

The Hotel:
As with all things, the night had to come to an end. Amber & Daniela headed back to town, while Joe, Michelle & Kristelle (yep.. still rhymes) headed to the Quinault Beach Resort, where we were staying.

The drive was uneventful, thankfully. Joe and I still drive insanely fast down that road and still pass like everyone is standing still. We checked in at around 1:15 AM. Joe, Kristelle and I went to the bar for a drink. As luck with would have it, the casino bar was dead, empty and closing up. So, instead of a drink, Joe and I picked up a fabulous sandwich and some bottled water. Actually, the sandwich's only redeeming quality was that it was solid and edible.

It was with the help of the friendly bar staff that Friday night came to a close. We all turned in for the night.

Next up will be "Part 3: The Reunion"..

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A way opens

Heck with it. I don't need to have a theme. I do, however, need to write, express and get things out there. I don't expect to see anything come of this, but after a long while, I am comfortable with just putting my thoughts down and leaving it at that. With that, I'll post more often without the pressure of making sense. :-)

Twenty years & still going strong: Part 1

I went to my 20 year reunion for high school last weekend. While I'm not at a loss for words on the subject, I am having some difficulty accurately describing how much I enjoyed seeing people I haven't seen since the last reunion, and in some cases, longer. Like the trooper that I am, I'll do my best.

I left work a little early to beat the traffic. I guess I didn't hold the monopoly on that idea, as it was bumper to bumper from Southcenter to Fort Lewis. I'm not just talking about the regular, heavy traffic, I'm talking about the "never get above 10 mph" traffic interspersed with long, single lane stops. It was grueling.

It was only bearable because I was trading text messages with Joe & Daniela the entire way down. " Yes, I'm 30 minutes ahead of you". "No, traffic still sucks down here. When will it end??" You get the idea.

As I drove into Aberdeen, I decided to make a restroom stop at the local Wal-Mart. Why? I have no idea. I guess I was a little hungry and not thinking clearly. Anyway, I went inside and it hit me. I haven't been back home, except to see my brother under what I would call "stressful circumstances", more than just a handful of times, yet it always feels like home. Not the warm, fuzzy "grandma's making cookies" type of home, but the uncomfortable sort of home that you never really want to go back to. It hit me how much I've grown since leaving The Harbor. My worldview is so altered that I just don't feel as comfortable there as I used to.

With nature no longer pestering, I decided to try and find Amber's house. I was a little nervous, to tell the truth. The last time I saw her was at our 10 year reunion. I cheated used my iPhone to give me the aproximate location, and after several trips around the block (Yes, Amber, you need to put the numbers back up), I made it there. I called my wife to let her know that I made it to town and would be meeting up with friends. My other motive was at least give the police a last known point on the off chance that I was at the wrong house and wasn't to be seen again.

As luck would have it, I had the correct house. Amber was a very gracious hostess. I showed up before everyone else, so we spent that time catching up, looking at old yearbook photos and talking about who we thought we'd see at the bar that night. I was appalled at just how big a jerk I was toward the end of high school. The things are wrote in Amber's yearbook, while meant to be in jest, sounded horrible. I felt bad, especially as I was sitting in her kitchen. (So yeah, I was an ass, Amber. Sorry. Thanks for not holding it against me. )

(More to come in Part 2...)


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dusting off the table..

After a long while, I think I'm going to start using this thing again. I still don't have a *really* good idea, but I'm feeling the creative urge. I've had enough people ask if I do this to finally give in and start writing again. We'll see how this goes.