CHS Crow | Matt and Ali — “I was like, ‘Yeah I’m gonna ride a bull'”

This time around, CHS Crow met a virus scientist with some tricks up his sleeve and an interior designer with a flower-powered business plan as the summer sun was setting in Volunteer Park. Get acquainted!


Years old: 38  Day job: Post-doc researcher at UW’s medical chemistry department, studying the Lambda virus. Curricular: Bachelors in recombinant genetics at Western Kentucky U.; doctorate at UW. Extracurriculars: Hiking, snowboarding, “small electronics projects,” “microcontroller programming.”  Has lived on Hill: 4 years Moved here from: Kentucky, with a few years in Northgate in between. Secret skill: “Amateur magician.”

2014.07 CHS Crow portrait, MattWhat’s a major challenge you’ve overcome?
I was in jail for a while. In my younger, partier, days I was a bit of a substance abuser if you will. I’ve been clean and sober since then obviously, to get my life turned around.

And it was kind of a big deal because, you know, I lost my scholarship. I almost was not allowed to go back to college for a while. It looked like it might have been a real game-changer for a little while.

And then not too long after that I met my wife, and finished school, and went to graduate school, and moved out here. And it’s been great. I love it out here.

What’s your favorite thing about summer?
Um, I look great in shorts. Haha. No — I’m a big outdoors person. I like my winter sports, but I love to go backpacking. I do lots of hiking; long trails. So definitely summer is the time for that. I spend as much time outside as I can.

Do you have any special skills or super powers?
Ummm — I’m an amateur magician

… ok, cool. How long have you been doing that?
Since I was six actually. I have a little suitcase full of magic tricks.

… do you perform anywhere?
I used to birthday parties all through high school and paid through college doing birthday parties and stuff. I don’t really do it much any more. It’s out of practice — you gotta keep up with it.

… that’s pretty good though; is there a magician who inspired you to get in to it?
In first grade I got a Fischer-Price magic kit for Christmas. And then my second grade school teacher, her father was a professional magician and she gave me all his old stuff. And part of it was this – there’s this company called Aboott’s that makes magic tricks – and it was this old, old, old catalog, with a bunch of really famous magicians from the 50’s and 60’s that had signed this catalog, because he’s kind of famous. And so that kind of got me in to really doing it.

What advice would you have for living in Capitol Hill? What to do in the neighborhood, how to make life good.
Parking is really expensive and you don’t need a car. Walk a lot. That’s the thing that that we’ve actually enjoyed about Capitol Hill. Just go everywhere. Enjoy everything it has to offer. Shop local man. I mean, shop local, for sure.

Personally we really like sitting on our stoop. But I notice a lot of people on Capitol Hill don’t — so maybe if more people sat on their stoop on Capitol Hill in the summer it would be fun, haha.

Any other messages of the people of the Hill?
If you’re gonna do karaoke at The Crescent, be good. Pick a good song, and practice, because we hear it all. Haha.


Years old: 24 Day job: Anne Sacks Tile and Stone in SLU Curricular: Bachelors in interior architecture from U. of Oregon (“Go Ducks!”) Lives in: Queen Anne Has lived in Seattle: About a year, including a three-month stint in Fremont. Originally from: La Quinta, Calif. Claim to fame: Has ridden a bull.

2014.07 CHS Crow portrait, AliWhat brought you to Seattle?
I was in a five-year program at Oregon, so all my friends graduated before me and a lot of them came up here. My boyfriend lives here, my sister goes to school here. And it just kind of fit. And I knew I never wanted to go back to Southern California.

Where do you see your career going?
My family is in the flower business, and I’d grown up with flowers and things. … So I’m hoping in the next 5 to 10 years to open my own flower–slash-design-consultation shop. That’s the long-term plan.

… is that a niche that’s been fleshed out?
There’s definitely people doing it but I don’t think it’s a huge niche yet, so I think I could kind of pave the way potentially. So we’ll see. I’m only 24, so I’m not gonna open my own business next year, but down the line I’d love to.

Do you have a favorite, exemplary, space to speak of? Or a favorite designer?
My favorite interior designer is in Portland — Jessica Helgerson. She’s awesome. Coop 15 is one of my favorite architecture firms here.

What do like about Seattle so far? Any advice for someone coming in fresh?
From Southern California my one non-piece-of-advice is: traffic is the same, if not worse, up here. Street traffic is terrible here. I would say take advantage of the fact that you’re in a beautiful city but you’re surrounded by so much nature. You have the water, you have the mountains right here. … The little neighborhoods have so much personality. And there are so many little niches in each place — and everything has it’s own uniqueness to it — that it makes the city a big-ish city feel small but connected at the same time.

Do you have any secret skills? Like a super power?
I’ve done some cool things but I don’t have any secret powers. I’ve bull ridden before. Like a real bull. I’ve only done it once, but it’s kind of cool.

… how’d you do?
Mmm, I was like fifteen, trying to impress a guy, and I was on a dude ranch trip in Wyoming. I was the only girl who signed up for the bull riding thing, so my parents were like, “What!? You’re from LA and you’re gonna ride a bull?”

And I was like, “Yeah, I’m gonna ride a bull.” It was a smaller one, because I was a fifteen-year-old girl — not that big. And it was terrifying. I got in the ring and they wrapped everything around me and there were wranglers holding it down. And then they let me go and it shot out so quickly and bucked twice and I was off by the second.

… would you do it again?
Maybe if there was an incentive; if I was trying to impress someone again.

What’s a big challenge you’ve overcome?
Being able to stand up for myself. I’m kind of a people-pleaser and not a big confrontational person, so I’ve lived a lot of my life just letting things slide by. And it got to the point recently with certain situations that I’m not; it has just kind of blown up, like: ‘Boom! This is it. And this is how I feel. And I’m not scared anymore.’ That’s kind of recently been a big theme in my life — being finally able to say things I’d never been able to say before.

Previously on CHS Crow

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One thought on “CHS Crow | Matt and Ali — “I was like, ‘Yeah I’m gonna ride a bull'”

  1. Good for you Ali. I know plenty of people twice your age who still haven’t figured out how to stand up for themselves. We’d all be a lot better if more people would grow a pair- especially in Seattle with our notoriously pervasive passive-aggressiveness. Congrats.