Thursday, September 30, 2004

Pffft: The sound of deflation

"I haven't written anything really good on my blog in ages!" I exclaimed.

Chris was silent.

I nudged him. "It's true, isn't it?"

"No-o-o. That's not true."

"Yeah? Well name one good thing I wrote recently."

"Uhhh...when did you post 'Jake's Adventure'?"

"That was weeks ago! Months ago!"

Chris was looking more and more like a trapped animal. "Well, you wrote that post about me," he finally offered. "That one was pretty good."

Humor me

One of the best things about Chris is the way he humors me.

"What do you think Jake is thinking?" I'll ask.

And Chris will reply in the voice we made up for Jake, "This sucks. My dad's so mean to me. He doesn't understand me. I need a girlfriend."

"Yeah, Jake's just a teenager."

And so on and so forth.

I never had someone play along since me and my best friend Shari would write "novels" in our composition tablets (this is when they sold the flourescent green, pink, and yellow tablets). We would sit for hours on her lawn with our tablets open discussing out latest plot.

We wrote holiday stories, adventure stories, school stories. And we were always the main characters. It didn't matter if we knew nothing about the topic we were writing about (an African safari, say) because we could just make it up.

This lasted for about three years.

I remember chasing Shari down after school one day, flushed and eager with a new plot twist to the latest novel.

"I don't want to write any more," she said.

I stared.

"I don't like to," she continued. "But you should keep writing and I'll just read."

It was the end of an era. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

My name is Jubel

Don't worry. I look tough but I don't bite.

I'm a vegeterian.

Freak peek

Andrea's face is still puffy from the spider poison and our sympathy for her is second only to our morbid curiosity/disgust over the actual bite. So Andrea, in keeping with her sense of humor posted the above sign at her desk: Freak Show. Suggested donation $5.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I'll take my itchy tummy any day

My friend Andrea got bit by a brown recluse spider on Saturday.

That's right. A brown recluse SPIDER. Bit her. On the FOREHEAD.

I didn't know we had these suckers, but according to the emergency room doctors--that's right she had to go to the EMERGENCY ROOM -- and a state entomologist, we do. (Well the entomologist said it was a brown violin spider, which is pretty much the same thing).

Andrea said the emergency rooms doctors drained six ounces--SIX OUNCES--of fluid from her forehead.

This all sounded so ghastly to me, I felt compelled to do some research.

So I called a trusted source at the state Department of Agriculture who gave me the number to a state entomologist. That guy--the entomologist--used the word "flesh rotting" a lot because the brown recluse injects its victims with a poisionous venom that causes its flesh to rot. The spider then sucks it dry.

The entomologist said he only gets one or two reports a year of brown recluse spider bites. That's right. ONLY one or two a year. The poisonous spider spit is rarely fatal, but if not treated immediately it can lead to bacterial infection like gangrene, and that'll definitely kill you if you don't get it treated.

I expressed shock. I grew up here, after all, in blissful ignorance that brown recluse spiders had likely been lurking in closets and garages since the 1970s.

Not nearly as long as the black widow spiders, also poisonous, who have also lived here since the 1800s, the entomologist was quick to point out.

He said these spiders usually favor cold, dry, climates like Mauna Kea.

"What about Ocean View?"

"Oh, yeah."

I remembered how just two days ago--Saturday, the day the spider bit Andrea--I had been with Chris in Ocean View skipping around his parents' property.

I feel especially bad for Andrea because she lives in a rustic hippie hut surrounded by lush nature in all its creepy, crawly glory. She had just gotten used to the cane spiders--one named Steve who hung out behind her curtain (out of sight, out of mind) and Maria who's currently skittering around with an egg sac the size of a Hershey's kiss stuck between her front legs. And she was downright friendly with Gordito, the fat Madagascar day gecko who she caught licking the frosting off her cupcakes.

But Madagascar day geckos are pretty. And cane spiders, although hideous, are harmless.

I don't know how I'm going to sleep at night knowing there are brown recluse spiders who like to lurk in "undisturbed in cool, dark places like under shelves and in closets during the day and go hunting during the night," according to articles I googled under "brown recluse spider."

Andrea was sleeping when the spider bit her. It was probably hunting.

But I have to give Andrea credit. She has kept her sense of humor throughout this ordeal. She allowed our boss to inspect her hands and say, "Hey at least you don't have sticky strands shooting out of your wrist like Spiderman."

"Yeah I know," Andrea replied. "I didn't even get bit by a cool spider."

I can't believe she came to work.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Tongue lolling, eyes rolling

My Li Po smells of doggie shampoo.

Whenever I walk into the house, he starts barking excitedly and follows me around, pawing at my ankles like, Hey. Hey. Hey! Yeah, you! Where you going, huh? Huh, huh? Where you going?

"Li Po, I have to put my bag down waaa--ah!" Inevitably I trip over him.

We end up crouched on the carpet where we each try to push the other around. Being that he's a 10-pound Shih-Tsu/Lhasa Apso mix, I have a distinct advantage in this game. After a few pushes I have him on his back. He wiggles happily, tongue lolling, eyes rolling.

I wonder who he was in another life, if we were friends then too.

A pleasing view

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The green swirl


I've been eating fruit juice from concentrates (apple, pear) corn syrup, sugar modified corn starch, 2 percent or less of pectin, citric acid, sodium citrate dextirose, vitamin C (ascorbic) malic acid, mineral oil, color (red 40, yellows 5 & 6, blue 1 and other color added) natural and artificial flavor, carnauba wax, sulfiting agents and beeswax.

In other words, those fruit chews in the shape of sharks and fishies.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Recommend me a book

The days lately seemed uninspired and boring. I have been reading a lot. Finished "Under the Banner of Heaven" and started "The Devil Wears Prada."

My stylist recommended the latter to me. At the onset of our argument about my bangs (see earlier post) she said she got the sense that I had a good sense of style and might like reading it. She hadn't read it herself, but heard it was about a girl who worked at a fashion magazine and got to rub shoulders with all the fashion big wigs.

Getting book recommendations is always an interesting experience. I wonder if people are thinking of me and what I might like to read before they start recommending. But in most cases, it has more to do with them and their taste I think.

I am only toes deep into "The Devil Wears Prada" and I can tell you that it's not high praise for high fashion.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Itchy and irritated part ii: flea girl

I still haven't figured out what caused the itchy bites all over my belly. But Chris' mom was nice enough to let me use some of her calamine lotion. (That stuff is miraculous! It is to itches what aloe is to sunburns).

Then Chris step-dad looked at me apprehensively and said,

"I hope we don't have to spray the couch down now."

(I was sitting on the couch).

So I turned to Chris and whispered, "I am such a flea girl."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Guilty pleasure

My latest guilty pleasure is VH1's "Surreal Life."

Jordan Knight, formerly of the New Kids on the Block, has a crush on Ryan Star from Season 1 of American Idol.

"Is there any way you would find me attractive?" Jordan asks.

"Uh...I doubt it."

"What if I was 25?"

"Then maybe."

Also stuck in the circus-house is Dave Coulier (Joey from Full House), Public Enemy's Flavor Flav some chick named Brigette who apparently used to be married to Sylvester Stallone and Charo from Love Boat. Oh, and a puppy with a dozen different names.

Flavor Flav and Bridgett are stealing the spotlight.

Itchy and irritated

My tummy and chest are covered with red, angry looking bug bites. I can't figure out how I got them. Ants in bed? Fleas in my clothes? I don't get it. Chris doesn't have any bites. The only other person who has them is my co-worker Carly and she can't figure out how she got them either.

Overheard during lunch at the cheap sushi shop

Surfer boy No. 1 with dirty blonde hair: Man, I got a lot accomplished today. I woke up this morning, got my butt in front of the computer and ordered those three guns I was telling you about.

Surfer boy No. 2 with army green trucker hat: Oh yeah? How much did it cost?

Surfer boy No. 1: Oh, like about eleven-hundred.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I spent the last 50-or-so pages of Alix Straus' novel, "The Joy of Funerals" anxiously awaiting the end so I could jump into Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven."

"The Joy of Funerals" starts out with a morbid short story about a widow who fucks men she meets in the graveyard as a way to reconnect with her dead husband. The scene is shocking enough to grip my attention although I already suspect it's a gimick. The next short story is about a woman with a crack-pot father who died while playing hide-and-go-seek at the local zoo. The woman grows up having a fetish for criminals, which culminates in her fucking a man who robs her at a grocery store. All because she can't get over her father's death, supposedly.

There are six or seven more stories about death and how it makes six or seven other women do crazy, illegal, deviant things. The book ends with a long chapter about a woman named Nina. Nina is a loser who attends funerals of people she's never met just to feel some kind of connection. She ends up meeting all of the women in the previous short stories at the funerals of their loved ones and finds joy in their misery. At this point, you've pretty much figured out "The Joy of Funerals."

I'm happy to report I'm faring better with "Under the Banner of Heaven."

The title of this post is This Post

Awhile ago, the publication I work for decided to expand. To add sections. Sections like "Island Living," "Our Heritage", and "People and Places." Each writer was to be responsible for contributing to a section (in addition to their regular assignments).
This served the double function of creating MORE CONTENT WITHOUT HIRING MORE PEOPLE.

Now, less than a year into the glorious expansion, we are already running into problems. Like, who is covering the regular assignments when there are four or five sections more a week to fill? Apparently not enough of us. So in an effort to please the Head Honchos, the Mid-level-honchos have decided to consolodate the sections. After all, they reasoned, a story about a 88-year-old man who fought in World War II could easily fill the category of "Our Heritage", "Seniors," "Island Living," "People and Places" or "Name that Smell."

As one mid-level-honcho put it: "Island Living IS Our Heritage."

He made this announcement at one of our infrequent staff meetings, where most of us doodle or stare out the window or glance nervously at the second hand on the wall clock.

No one seemed moved by the announcement. A few months ago, I would have had the urge to scream, "If Island Living is Our Heritage why do we need Our Heritage?!"

But I am beginning to see now, that that would be entirely besides the point. You don't question these things, however illogical and ridiculous. You just let your eyes glaze over and wait for the next commandment.

My job is becoming a religious experience.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

"Americans are like a rich father, who wishes he knew how to give his sons the hardships that made him rich" --Robert Frost

I didn't buy "Cool Careers for Dummies." I bought Webster's Dictionary of Quotations for $10.99 (cheaper than Bartlett's) so I could learn to write clever little metaphors and double entendres.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


E.K. Fernandez just wrapped up its annual Farm Fair in Kona this past weekend. My favorite highlight? Watching the woman in the bright yellow "Walk in the Lord" T-shirt sell cotton candy to a 10-year-old boy wearing a beanie with a picture of marijuana and the words, "Just say mo" on it.

Trust me, I was tempted to buy

Oh, the irony

This post continues an unprecedented series of entries about Chris. And to think, he used to complain that I never mentioned him enough.

"I have a whole section of my website devoted to you," he whimpered. "You're listed under my list of favorite things!"

I rolled my eyes.

But this morning Chris woke up sneezing and said he had a headache. His right ear was ringing. All of which was grounds for anxiety, given that he'd been mauled by a bull in February while playing rodeo clown in Kaumana.

But he managed to heal so well that you could forget he'd been in a coma for days, comatose for weeks (especially, if like me, you didn't meet him until the only exterior remainders of the injury was a goofy busted lip and a weird eye twitch). And the next thing you know you're poking fun at his belly and making food stamp jokes at him.

I should have known better.

You see, I am pathetically prone to guilt.

And as soon as Chris-I-took-a-bull's-horn-to-the-face mentioned "headache" and "ringing ear" I imagined a hairline crack in his skull slowly widening under his skin and his mother possibly blaming me because I'd uttered the words "God damnit" in her house (don't ask).

Before dropping him off at work, we stopped and bought Excedrin, extra strength. After listening to him list off the medications and pain killers they'd had him on in the hospital I began to wonder if even Excedrin, extra strength would be strong enough. Obviously, he had a built up tolerance for drugs.

"Don't overdose," I said, wondering if it was wise to leave someone who'd been on novacane and God knows what else with a bottle of over the counter pills.

Then he called me as I was driving to an assignment in South Kohala and told me he thought he was coming down with a cold. A cold.

People who have been horned in the face and then trampled on by a bull should not be allowed to get HEADACHES because they are coming down with a cold.

But alas I think it's true because I think I may be coming down with a cold too.

God damnit!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Booklist II

Books I'd like to read:
Writing to Deadline by Donald M. Murray
China Boy by Gus Lee
Pleasures of a Tangled Life by Jan Morris
The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang
Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld, Expanded Edition by David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro

Books I've tried to read but can't:
Rising Sun by John Toland
The Fifth Book of Peace by Maxine Hong Kingston
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Anything with the words "Chicken Soup for the Soul" in its title


Here is a list of books I've read since August 2003:
Murder in Paradise by Chris Loos
All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Stranger Beside Me by Anne Rule
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Blu’s Hanging by Lois Ann Yamanaka
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Queen of Tears by Chris McKinney
Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen
Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
Powers that Be by David Halbersten
War and Peace by Tolstoy
Shoal of Time by Gavin Daws
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
The Bull Fighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean
Dinosaur Brains by Albert J. Bernstein
Heart of a Soldier: A Story of Love, Heroism and September 11th by James B. Stewart.
Follow the Story by James B. Stewart
The Belljar by Silvia Plath
The Kingdom and the Power by Gay Talese
Thy Neighbor’s Wife by Gay Talese
Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

Since January 2004
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport

After January 2004
Boy by Roald Dahl
Joe Jones by Anne Lamott
A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle
Stiff by Mary Roach

Friday, September 10, 2004

Shame on me

Someone who spent her Friday gobbling sausage sticks and Laughing Cow cheese from Costco should not tease her boyfriend about his ice cream addiction.

What happened to my furry Li Po?

Me meet Jimmy

I met "Jimmy", Chris' charge for the fist time today. Well, formal introductions weren't actually exchanged, unless you consider me waving at Jimmy from my perch in my car 10 feet away, formal.

Chris pointed me out to him and I smiled and waved and Jimmy's heretofore goofy expression took upon a look of curiously suspicious (to me anyway) concentration. Fortunately (recalling Chris' tales) there was nothing nearby to throw.

Jimmy didn't even notice me at first because he was so ga-ga happy when he saw Chris. Jimmy was still strapped into the car seat, but when he saw Chris his mouth dropped open in a wet grin and he started bouncing around.

I'll be damned, I thought. Chris wasn't kidding. The kid seemed to honestly like him.

Then Jimmy saw me and stared and stared, not in an unfriendly way, just in that openly curious way of someone with no social skills who doesn't mean harm.

Then Chris pointed me out to him and Jimmy's expression changed to something more suspiciously concentrated and decidedly unfriendly.

Jimmy reminds me of Jake, in a way. Jake likes to get everyone's full attention and when me and Chris walk side by side, Jake will muzzle his way between us.


"Are you going to talk about how big my head is again?"

"Oh honey, I'm not going to talk about your big head...But you know, there is a spot on your head, right here where the soft spot used to be. Yup. It's still there. Here feel."


But Chris' mom takes my hand and rubs it across his head. Chris has the finest hair. It feels like touching feathers. And right where his mom puts my hand is a slightly flatter portion of head.

"You know your head is a little flat like that because when you were in the birth canal---"


"The doctors went in and used the forceps to pull you out so your head was all pointy at the top. It used to worry me to death that your head was going to be pointy like that. But luckily..."

"Somebody make her stop."

"I think it's funny."

Chris peeks out from where he's buried his face in his hands to give me the look. The look that says, Do NOT encourage this.

"Mom, you know this is going to end up on the blog don't you....Karen has a nice shaped head."

"Oh yeah?"

And now both their hands are on my head.

"Oh you're right. Were you a cescerian baby?"

"No-o-o. Uh. I don't think so."

"Cause usually cescerian babies have nice, round heads like that."

"Oh. Hah."

Now Chris' mom is telling the story about how at 18 months, Chris climbed out of his crib, waddled into her room and swallowed a bunch of her pills.

"I overslept and woke up all worried. Because he was NOT the kind of baby that oversleeps. He had a schedule. So of course I ran over to see him and there he was. He'd torn open the, you know, cellophane wrapping holding the pills....And of course I rushed him right away to the hospital. But it was so funny because when we got him to the hospital it took two grown men to hold him down while they pumped his stomach."

I look at Chris. He shrugs and nods. Yup.

Later on, when we are in the car driving off, he tells me, "You really do have a nice head. You can tell your parents loved you. Some parents just leave their babies in the crib and they get a flat spot in the back of their head."

"Yeah, I know. I'm glad my parents loved me. Your mom loves you too."

He laughs. "Yeah. She certainly does. There's no doubt about that."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I draw the line at posting a picture of one

"The Praying mantis is a carnivorous insect that takes up a deceptively humble posture when it is searching for food. At rest, the mantis' front forelegs are held together in a posture resembling prayer or deep thought. These front legs are equipped with rows of sharp spikes that the mantis uses to hold its prey." -- "The Wonderful Praying Mantis"

I hate praying mantises. Their creepy red eyes. The way their mandables move when they chew. The way they rub their legs together like they're sharpening a pair of knives.

"They're harmless you know," Chris told me. "There's absolutely no way they could hurt you."

"Yeah? Well they cause me pyschological harm."

The mantis waits motionless for an appropriately sized insect (though larger mantises have been known to eat small reptiles and birds) to come within range. The mantis often patiently waits until the insect is close enough, then strikes with its forelegs, capturing the insect. However, sometime the mantis actually pursues the insect by creeping closer. It is surprising how slowly and fluidly the mantis can move. As the mantis approaches, it often sways back and forth, perhaps mimicing the foliage swaying in the breeze that it resembles. When the time is right, the mantis suddenly leans foward and its front legs snap out and grab the insect. --The Wonderful Praying Mantis

This one time, when I was a kid riding in the back seat of my dad's jeep, a praying mantis landed on the seat next to me.

"There's a grasshopper!" I screeched. "Stop the car!"

My dad scoffed at me and kept driving. "We'll get it out when we stop."

My brother, in the front seat, displayed signs of joy. "Oooh! A grasshopper!"

I shook and shivered and freaked out for the rest of the ride. When we stopped, my brother poked his head over my lap peered at the grasshopper and said, "That's not a grasshopper, that's a praying mantis!" and slammed the door shut, laughing at me from the other side.

This was my introduction to the hideous creature.

Praying mantises in North America are usually green or brown, and adult insects range in size from 2 to 6 inches. Common mantises in the United States include the Chinese Mantis and the Carolina Mantis. Mantis babies usually hatch from their frothy egg-masses in late April or May, or whenever the weather begins to warm up, depending on the region. Mantis babies are wingless, but otherwise resemble the adults (this is an important distinction in classifying insects). By August, mantises that have survived are adult, and by September or October, most of them die.--The Wonderful Praying Mantis

"Just don't think about it anymore," Chris said after I recounted the trapped-in-the-car-with-the-praying-mantis story. "Look at you, you're shaking."

"I know. I know I'm freaking out. You don't understand. I can see it in my mind. Like when I look at you, even you look like a praying mantis."

"What?! Oh, God..."

Note: If you want comfort and sympathy from your partner, do not compare him/her to an insect.

"Don't worry about it," Chris said. "You hardly ever go outside anyway."

Which is true.

It is also true that I work myself into frenzies on a regular basis.

My home: One tree=four hours of traffic

Holy crap, I had an exhausting day at work. It was just one thing after another.

My personal favorite story of the day, however, has got to be about how a crew of tree-trimmers caused a clusterfuck of a traffic jam that lasted for almost four hours. They were cutting down ONE tree and had to close ONE lane of traffic for a few hours to get the job done.

Of course, there were only a total of TWO lanes on the road, which also happened to be the ONLY road to town from the south side. Yup, infrastructure is clearly lacking.

The guy in charge of the trimming seemed flabbergasted by the public's reaction--irate motorists called the mayor's office, the county road crews, the police, even the Civil Defense Agency.

Yup. And in case you're interested, it was an African tulip tree. A non-native plant with pretty purple flowers that leave a lot of rubbish and unruly branches on the road if not pruned.

Well, I'm going to go bury myself in a book, wake up in six hours and start all over again.

Monday, September 06, 2004

I just called to, I'm not drunk

Chris, inspired by Tim Burton's film, "Big Fish" called his step-father to talk story:

"Hey dad, it's me. I'm just calling to say thanks for cooking dinner last night. Sorry we didn't come. I should have called....huh? What? Oh no. No. I'm just calling to say hi that's all. What? Huh? No, I don't feel guilty...No, I just thought I'd know...What? No! No, we're haven't been drinking anything. What? No, I'm not suicidal. I'm not dying....What? What shirt am I wearing?* Ha ha."

*Chris said his step-dad speaks in metaphors and had asked him, "What shirt are you wearing today?" meaning, I guess, "Why are you acting so weird?"

Book holder (not approved by company)

Friday, September 03, 2004


At a certain point, you get old. You wear trousers instead of jeans, you tuck your shirt in, your hair starts to thin. You forget about becoming a pilot or a artist or a movie star and you work for a bank, a real estate comany, a hotel. You don on an aloha shirt and spend your days either staring at a computer screen or schmoozing the higher-ups, sometimes both.

Such was the group of individuals gathered at the Hapuna Beach Prince Resort yesterday for the First Hawaiian Bank Economic Outlook conference.

Before the conference started, the key speaker, the bank's media person, and some businessman gathered in the room and contemplated the fauna-inspired carpet. One cluster of long, pointed leaves in particular had them especially intrigued.

"Wow that really looks know," said the media person, who had thinning white hair, spectacules and a wide, somewhat flat, face.

"I was just about to say that," laughed the key speaker, who also had white hair and glasses. His face was rounder, but so was his stomach. "How many leaves does marijuana have anyway?"

"Oh-ho-ho!" exclaimed the businessman, also white-haired, but without glasses. "Leave me out of this conversation!"

"Well I guess we wouldn't know how many leaves it has anyway," the key speaker chuckled. "I never saw it in this form anyway."

More good-humored innuendos about pot-smoking and then the audience began filtering in. The key speaker, who'd been delivering the bank's economic forecast for 15 years, looked mildly disappointed. He sighed and wandered towards his seat with an air of resignation. "This really gets old after awhile."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

(Insert witty title here)

I wish I had something interesting to write. I wish inspiration would just *SMACK* kiss me on the forehead and make me witty and entertaining, or lacking that at least give me a story to write, a scene to describe.

A gecko tale

One day I left my untouched glass of ginger ale on the counter. Chris' mom found it there the next day with a Madagascar day gecko drowned in it.

Oh the poor thing, she thought. It's so obvious he was lapping up the sweet stuff when he fell in and couldn't get out. Well I can't just leave him here.

So she carried the glass to the back yard, dug a little hole and proceeded to dump the contents of the glass into the grave. At which point, the gecko darted up her arm, probably mistaking her for God.

Oh my goodness, Chris' mom thought. You're still alive. Well you'll have to get off my arm.

But the gecko didn't want to leave. He wanted to stick close to his maker.

Chris' mom shooed him away. She immediately realized her mistake. She'd just sent a gecko, exhausted from a near-drowning and covered in sugar, to brave nature alone.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Company-approved, spill-proof container