Sunday, October 31, 2004

Cafe 100

Quintessentially Hilo: The lunch crowd at Cafe 100 on a Saturday afternoon. The hand-drawn menus advertising the "Halloweenie Loco Moco: two smokie sausages on a bed of rice and gravy, topped with an island fresh egg" hanging above the take-out window.

God, I used to worry myself to death as a kid, thinking, What if you end up working here? What would you do? Would you be able to do it? It had nothing to do with the stigma of working at a fast food joint. The cashiers had to yell the orders into microphones for the short-order cooks to hear: "One regular local moco, one beef stew plate and one mahi plate. Thank you!" I would never be able to yell like that in front of all the customers. Shudder just thinking about it.

It was years before I realized there was an inside dining area at the Cafe 100, not just the picnic tables out front. I never ate in there, but I peered through the tinted windows and saw there were waitresses and actual table menus. Hmmm. Just like the fancier Zippy's on Oahu.

Cafe 100 is right by Wailea Pond, where my auntie used to take me and my brother to feed the ducks. Those ducks got fed every day by little kids and they got aggressive and chased right after you. I know ducks are supposed to go "Quack! Quack!" but it sounded to me like "Honk! Honk!"

A whole loaf of white bread we'd feed to those ducks. Just cause it was neat to have them come so close.

Come to think of it, the whole time I sat at Cafe 100, reminiscing, waiting for my order to be called, I never heard a single person ask for the "Halloweenie Loco." Who would actually order that, utter the words "Halloweenie" and not cringe when everyone stared at him as the cashier shouted the order into her microphone?

Saturday, October 30, 2004


Is there any such thing as a "swing state" when every state is undecided?

It sure seems that way watching the news.

Al Gore, resplendent in a barong tagalog, made an appearance in Kalihi. What's-her-name Richardson on KITV scored a brief interview with John Kerry. And Dick Cheney will be at the convention center in no time. (God, why are they sending Dick Cheney of all people? He's like the evilist of evil white guys. Who on staff does the research for these stumps? Was John McCain really that busy and did no other moderate Republican want a free trip to Hawaii?)

I guess, according to CNN and CNBC, the election is going to be that close. That Hawaii might actually make a difference. It's enough to crack the national media up.

P.S. Incidentally, I'd like to know where Gore got the barong tagalog and the decision-making behind his wearing it. Such details are the essence of campaigning.

If I'm not a best-selling author by tomorrow I give up. Period.

I am in the part of job hunting that requires me to gather my "clips" or samples of stuff I've written.

I spent at least an hour and two dollars at the public library yesterday, hunting for archives of my articles and then trying to make legible copies. This was a pain the ass and disheartening work.

A pain because if I'd kept my own tidy folder of clips as I kept meaning to do, I wouldn't have to go to the library, find my articles and then pay $0.15 per copy. Also, if my company's web site were halfway decent, ALL of my articles would appear in the electronic archives and NONE of the words would get all jumbly and alphabet-soupy towards the end. But alas, I am not organized and neither is the company I work for.

Disheartening because most of my articles suck. This is not me being sorry for myself. It's simply the God's honest truth. Somewhere between graduating from college and landing my first *writing* job, I convinced myself that I was a pretty darn good writer, or at least had potential. Uh-uh. There's so much to be improved and I can't believe half the stuff got published. Also, I didn't write nearly as many articles as I thought I had. In fact, as I flipped through past issues, I felt like punching myself. What was I doing all that time I wasn't writing? Probably moping around the office feeling sorry for myself, hating the management, not thinking of story ideas and not writing.

I am pretty terrible, I think, when it comes to coming up with ideas. Blame the Asian upbringing. Give us an idea and we can perfect it. Ask us to invent something and we're screwed.

So this is where I am in the "looking for a new job" phase: Convinced I won't get hired and if I do, I'll really be wondering about the employer.

Friday, October 29, 2004

What next?

photo006.jpg, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

Why not? We dress ourselves. Some of us dress our dogs and cats. If we could, we'd probably dress our fish.

In that spirit, a store in New Mexico offered this: Tree crabs with shells that come in funky colors and designs. Crawling along the mesh cages were crabs with Batman-logo shells, crabs with a peace sign emblazoned on their backs, crabs in pink, purple, blue and yellow. Your crab, after all, needn't wear the same shell twice. You can design your own shell if you like.

Chris and I stood mesmerized at the cage. I thought we were both aghast at the sheer gaudiness. Then Chris said he wouldn't mind buying one of the crabs as a low-maintenance pet. (In his defense, I think he meant sans-flourescent shell).

That's around when the middle-aged mother approached us with this warning, "God those things never die."

She'd bought one a couple years ago for her daughter and it's STILL there. One evening, she heard its claws clacking down the hallway only to discover it'd climbed out of its cage to eat the dog's food.

A letter to myself: Chill out

Dear Me,

I don't like what you're doing to me. It's Halloween and you're not even letting me enjoy the candy. You're gobbling it all down in a nervous, sugar-induced craze, so preoccupied that you won't even allow me to TASTE the sweetness.

Look, I know you're stressed out right now. Man, do I ever. But it's not the end of the world. You aren't as crappy a writer as you think you are. You're still pretty young and you managed to land yourself a job that gets you published.

I know you're having second thoughts, it may not be the kind of writing you want to write, and you could be right in that there is not one single publication that would deem you cool enough to write what you want for them. Blog programs notwithstanding.

A little positive thinking couldn't hurt right now.

So put the Twizzler down. Put the Twizzler down. You know it's for the trick-or-treaters.

What I think you need to do, for the sake of the both of us is just calm down. You're not so bad. Things don't always work out right away. You don't just become a great writer overnight. You may just need a little more practice.

And if you don't mind my saying so: Perhaps the writing isn't your problem. Perhaps it's that naggy, negative voice that you're always listening to. You know, the one that's tuning me out.

So please. I live here too. Chill out.


My first Jack-o-Lantern

I think it came out pretty good considering I've never carved a pumpkin before.

His eyes are a little crooked and he's got some junk stuck between his teeth, but it all just adds character.

Thanks to Carolyn and Carly who provided the pumpkin.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Sometimes it seems I am incapable of forgiveness. I have such depth for holding a grudge, for internalizing things that seep out indirectly and then explode.

I need to work on that.

But I am also so hard on myself sometimes. So brutally, unnecessarily cruel to myself that I can't stand criticism from other people on top of it.

Just in time for Halloween

A big, fat pimple has sprouted on the side of my nose. Now all I need is the pointy black hat and broomstick and I'll fit that iconic Halloween stereotype.

I sure feel that way on the inside too.

I feel frustrated because I'm dissatisfied with my current job and not making much progress finding better options. The only ultimatium I've set for myself is: I must continue writing.

I wonder how stupid it is to keep my options so limited.

I have all these conflicting thoughts, and, as always I give in to insecurity and start asking people what they think I should do. This inevitably irritates me though, because I want to do what I want to do, not what you think I should do. Or at least so I tell myself. The truth is I don't know what I want to do, but I don't want you to tell me what to do. Until I get really frustrated and then I'll need advice. Except by then I'll be so full of rage I'll have your head on a stake at "hello" and tell you to stop running my life.

This is pretty much my cycle. Yeah. I need to do something else. Make me forget how unforgivably stubborn I can be.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


"Find out what our fashion expert did with the case of the ragged runner and the gaudy grandmother when Style Court returns right after these messages."

And this is the commercial they cut to:

"You don't let people tell you how to dress do you? You don't let them decide your career or who you're going to marry do you? Well last year, more than 2 million American women left decisions just as important up to someone else by not voting."

Cheap entertainment

Chris is a lot older than me. This makes for good stories.

When I was still a little kid, Chris and his friends were teenagers in Ocean View, slurping beer and following the Ocean View night watch around.

The Ocean View night watch was comprised of nosy Republicans who had nothing better to do than harass the area teenagers, according to Chris.

One day Chris and his friends decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. They painted “Ocean View night watch watch” onto a piece of cardboard, secured it to the side of Chris’ car and followed the Ocean View night watch around the neighborhood.


The latest series from Washington Post writer Anne Hull (who I got to meet while interning at the Poynter Institute). She spent several months interviewing openly gay teenagers in New Jersey and Oklahoma:

For Michael, the pressure keeps building. In current-events class, some of the football players say how sick gay marriage is. Michael says nothing. He hates coming to school and tells his mom he wants to drop out.

Janice is torn. She thinks about the Matthew Shepard video she rented from Blockbuster. "If there was a group of kids mean enough, this could happen to Michael," she says. "We are still living in the middle of the Bible Belt."

One afternoon in late January, as a abitter wind pushes off the lake, Michael bundles up and goes out to his truck. Using masking tape and orange paint, he decorates the hood with menacing flames. When he proudly rumbles into the school parking lot, he later recalls, someone calls him a flaming faggot. Screw it, he thinks. Rubber burning, he peels out of the parking lot, making his formal exit as a student at Charles Page High.

Read the entire series here.

Albuquerque sky

Albuquerque sky, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

today i wore my bold pink tank top and bright green jacket to work. and one of my co-workers came up to me and said, "Wow, you're dressed like a watermelon."


So the other day, Carly and I are out on break talking about the kid she gave up for adoption and how she's glad she gets to see him a lot and how cute he is, when I find the guts to ask,

"I can't imagine how women can go into labor. Does it hurt?"

Pause. Carly tips the ash on her cigarette and takes another deep drag.

"Maybe it's too personal a question," I hedge.

"No, no. It's not that. It's does hurt. But I hate saying that to women who haven't done it yet because it scares them. What I hate the most is when everybody says, 'Oh yeah, it hurts but you forget about it.' No you don't. I mean, I would do it again, but you never forget that kind of pain."

I have never smoked in my life, but kind of wish I had a cigarette at that point. And my legs have unconciously crossed themselves, tightly.

But Carly says she had a particularly bad labor experience. She had to be enduced twice, the drugs the docotrs gave her wore off early, and her son ended up weighing 9 lbs. The nurses had to cut (I didn't ask for specifics) and manually break her water.

Chris' mom, too, was fond of mentioning what a big head Chris had and how it was difficult to get him out.

But as far as I know, my mom's labors were pretty easy.

All of which prompted Chris to say,

"I wonder if there is a boob to labor ratio? You know, the bigger the boobs, the harder the labor."

Both Carly and his mom are well-endowed.

"This is going to sound crazy, but what size bra does your mom wear?"

Then he remembered that other than his "big head" his mom's labor wasn't so bad. He was out in time for her to catch Scooby Doo on the Cartoon Network.

Scratch that theory. And I would also like you to know, folks, that Chris is considering medical school.

Edit: Chris read this and said no, his mom actually did have a pretty rough labor despite getting to watch cartoons afterwards.


I am in some kind of mood today. And not a good one either. It is that time of the month. I know this because yesterday I slurped down a Jamba Juice Berry Lime Sublime (sour at first, but leaves you craving more) then wolfed down a Egg McMuffin combo at McDonalds.

Just the crappy, down-sized Egg McMuffin alone would have cost $2-something. The combo which came with orange juice and a greasy hash brown, cost $4-something. I had $6 floating around my purse so of course I got the combo.

Then, on assignment, the interviewees insisted, insisted, insisted I have a slice of apple/pear pie. The apples and pears were locally grown so I obliged. And the whole time, I kept eyeing the home made caramel apples. Someone had sprinkled nuts on them too.

But back to the mood. I was in the mood when I asked Chris to tell me his honest opinion of this blog.

"My honest opinion?" he said. "I like it I really do.

"But if you want some honest criticism...."

And here came the long pause.

Then he told me I could afford to be "edgier." Like, you know, those little ditties I used to write where I made fun of the silly/stupid stuff people do.

Note to Chris, when I'm in this kind of mood, you can can the honesty pal.

He also pointed out that I could be a tad bit oversensitive and wondered if my mother were that way too.

I should have hung up and gone for a drive. This mood makes everything worse. Most of all because I know why it's happening but seem to have little control over it.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Gorilla art because -- why not?

Chris said he happened to be watching TV when he came upon a program about a 20-something-year-old silver back gorilla who paints. With his fingers. The gorilla's owner had apparently been trying to come up with ways to fundraise to support his gorilla and hit upon the idea of selling his gorilla's paintings.

There was something touching about Chris' description of the gorilla, one of many males and not enough females. In addition to raising money, the owner also wanted to find something for his gorilla to do. To make the days go faster, so to speak.

Chris also had this to say when he saw the gorilla's finished work: "It looks remarkably like my dad's art."

Without further ado I present this link where you can view some gorilla art for yourself. There are several galleries. Unfortunately I couldn't find purchasing info. If you're curious like me, you'll want to read about Koko and Michael.

Young Coconut Juice

photo032.jpg, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

The local BaLe Vietnamese restaurant sells all these Asian-type drinks. This one had actual chunks of coconuts but didn't taste as good as the fresh coconut juice my grandpa used to give me. And it's got preservatives. Of course. Probably still healthier than a Mountain Dew.


Carolyn's father was in town for a week and he took her to dinner one night. They had Greek food and watched Bosco the amazing one-man band play. The whole time, they got stares. Carolyn with her local girl tan in her short Hawaiian print skirt and tube top. Her dad, big and haole wearing slacks and with a camera glued to his hand. Finally, when Carolyn left to use the bathroom, some ladies approached her dad.

You should be ashamed of yourself, they told him. A man your age taking advantage of the local girls like that.

They thought Carolyn was his date. Or her sugar daddy.

On one level, those ladies were simply accusing Carolyn's dad of being a dirty old man. On another level, perhaps, they were thinking back to the days when Hawaiian women would swim out to the sailing ships and trade their bodies to the haole sailors in exchange for cloth, nails, whatever. And, they probably thought looking at Carolyn's dad, they've been exploiting our women ever since.

Only Carolyn is not local. She's from California and happens to be blessed with a great tan and ehu colored highlights. She also happens to look nothing like her father, who, frankly, fits the model of the big, white American male.

You can still get away with that here. Have a haole parent and still pass off as local. Just another beautiful mixed being in Hawaii's great melting pot.

Only Carolyn is not local.

The thing that happened to her and her father that night is just another highlight.

People here want to give Carolyn kamaaina discounts. They ignore her Valley Girl accent and break into pidgen around her. When she giggles and says she doesn't understand because SHE IS NOT LOCAL, they laugh and tell her that's OK. She's back home now and can rediscover her roots.

The local boys love her for her local looks. The haole boys love her for her local looks.

Everyone, it seems, has expectations of her.

She used to hang out with this one local guy a lot, until he told her he couldn't anymore because she only hung out with haole people (her co-workers).

No one here seems to be getting Carolyn. She's not haole. She's not local. She doesn't want kamaaina discounts (what kind of person DOESN'T want the kamaaina discount?!) in fact she feels guilty about being offered the kamaaina discount. One local boy is about the same as one haole boy to Carolyn.

How much clearer do we need to make this? The girl is obviously NOT LOCAL.

"People think I'm Hawaiian but I'm not," she said. "If I were a Hawaiian, I would be the biggest disgrace to the culture, I feel like, because I know NOTHING about it."

When people treat her like a local, Carolyn feels like a fraud.

Hawaii is changing. The west side of this island perhaps faster than anywhere else in the state (except maybe Maui). We are awash in haoles who just moved here from the mainland six months ago, or just bought a house to live here six months of the year. Yet they want kamaaina discounts I bet.

In a community where there are lots of non-locals demanding to BE LOCAL, I'll take a Carolyn any day. Someone who looks local but can say with some measure of annoyance and naiveness, I AM NOT LOCAL.

New shoes

I finally found an occasion to wear my new green shoes. I slipped into them and spent the rest of the day walking in a dainty green garden.

Beach 69

69, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Nick from Composing brought his 4-month-old Shih-Tsu-Terrier-Chihuahua-mix, Bucci, to work the other night. Andrea, spellbound by the puppy cuteness bent over to play with the pup and her skirt ripped right down the back, exposing her ass to a spellbound L-Ron. And everybody else who was working late.

Laugher ensued.

Then the punchline: As Andrea rifled through the back seat of her car for that extra pair of shorts, the publisher happened to drive by. Of course the publisher happened to drive by. She was smoking too. A company no-no as specifed on page 1, 2, 3, or 4 of the 4-page "Be Afraid. We Might Fire You" company memo.


I feel like a vat, just collecting fat, lying here in bed, which has become more than bed, it's become my desk, my bookshelf, my make-up counter. It's as if I'm back to dorm life and need everything to be within an arm's reach.

Only sick people, people with colds, live like this. Except I have no Kleenex, no cold to speak of. With everything I need just a brief reach away, you'd think I'd have just that -- everything -- but there's so much I can't find. My driver's license for instance. Where the hell is it? I should report it lost. But it's Saturday, the offices are closed. I can't do a damn thing about it. Not even let the irritation poke through this tight cloud of apathy, cause if it did what good would it do?

Ugh. I hate pointless days like this that feel like a complete waste and leave me feeling ungrateful for feeling it.

Maybe I'll start a novel.


Chris told me last night: We're a couple of odd ducks swimming in our own pond.

And this conjured up a beautiful image of me as an plain old duck with a funny quack splashing along in my own big puddle until Chris came flapping around and now there's two odd ducks in a puddle that's big enough to be a lake.

Friday, October 22, 2004

When will this week END?

My mind is trying to trick the rest of me into believing I have tomorrow off, but this is not true, so knock it off, Brain.

In fact, I have not had a day off since last week Saturday. And I will not have another day off until next week Wednesday. Part of this is my own fault. Part of it is the shitty office system that has no problem exploiting non-confrontational workers.

I have been doing a good job of keeping up on the blog, even though I work so much. Mostly because Chris is in New Mexico. If Chris were here I'm sure I'd be spending more time eating his mom's food, poking his belly and trying to stay up late enough to watch The Daily Show with him. I have not seen The Daily Show in too long. No wonder I've been grumpy.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Red Sox won. And there was much rejoicing throughout the kingdom.

Maile in China flagged me down over Instant Messanger: Boston won!

I replied, I know!

Then I added, The curse is over!

And then, Actually I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm just repeating what I hear the sports guys say.

Don't jinx them! Maile practically screamed at me. Then she explained that the curse was that the Boston Red Sox hadn't won a World Series since Babe Ruth was traded to New York however many eons ago. So the curse isn't over until they win the World Series.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

First real meal with Chris

I wrote this on July 19.

During dinner last night at the Thai restaurant with Chris, I was sipping on my Thai iced tea when suddenly....THE GLASS EXPLODED IN MY HAND. Thai iced tea splattered into my curry, dripped off the table and sprayed my mint green Gap tank top and this cute pink skirt I'd bought from the Jeans Warehouse.

The waitress wasn't even that quick about bringing the napkins or ringing us up so we could get out of there. She didn't comp the meal either, but she did get me a new curry dish to go. She got me a Thai iced tea to go as well.

"Hmm," she said, picking up a piece of the shattered glass. "This is strange. We paid $5 for these glasses."

She looked at me. "How did this happen?"

"It just exploded," Chris said. Then, "Actually, I hit her over the head with it."

The waitress looked at him incredulously. "You hit her?"

"Well only after I tried to hit him first," I replied.

So she finally gets that we are kidding.

As we were waiting for her to come back with the check I told Chris if he was a real gentleman he would dump what was left of his drink onto his lap so I wasn't the only one looking stupid. I was kidding, but he actually DID it.

Then as I was sipping out of the to-go cup, the lid fell off and more Thai iced tea splashed onto my white sandals.

So we both left the restaurant looking ridiculous.

Cute: An early impression of a new co-worker

Carolyn is haole-Chinese and cute like a Disney character. She walks into a bar with her sweet Valley girl accent and guys start stumble over themselves to get to her.

“Carolyn is really nice but I think I would like her better if she weren’t such a...vortex,” Carly said.

“Yeah when we go to the bar it’s always me and Carly hanging out smoking because of course Carolyn is surrounded by all the guys,” Andrea added.

“Yeah, of course,” I agreed, as if I went out with them all the time and observed this for myself.

“She’s even taking the dorky guys too,” Andrea continued. “I was talking to this one really dorky guy. He was kind of fat and had a pot belly and was balding but he was really, really nice. He was so sweet. And then Carolyn walked over and he was like, ‘You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve seen on the island.’ And Carolyn--I don’t know why she said this--said, ‘Why don’t you tell Andrea how beautiful she is?’ And the guy was like, ‘Oh, oh yeah, you’re really cute.’ And I was like, ‘Shut up! I don’t want your pity compliments.’”

When cornered, Carolyn feigns ignorance about all this.

“It’s not like ALL the guys are hitting on me,” she said.

“Yes they are,” Andrea replied.

Carolyn giggled. She drives a white pick-up truck and has a perfectly bronzed skin and tangly brown hair with blonde streaks. Even her angry face is cute.

The first night she went out, she got hit on at Durty Jake’s. She came into work, peeked over her desk at me and said, “Andrea is so funny. The other night this bartender, I guess he was flirting with me. He gave me his phone number and Andrea hit me and said, ‘I hate you!’ She’s so funny. She said, ‘I’ve been here eight months and nobody hits on me. I hate you!’”

Carolyn looks genuinely tickled by this.

I wonder if I should throw my stapler at her.

Instead I say, “Well It’s cause you look like a local girl.”

“Really? Like, everybody keeps saying that and I don’t understand why.”

“Well, you’re mixed and you’re really, really tanned.”


Because Carolyn has the Valley girl accent it’s hard to tell whether she’s playing dumb or actually dumb.

But she is honestly a sweetie though, so I use my right hand to force my left hand to let go of the stapler.

Besides, even Carolyn isn’t perfect.

When I was talking to Brian about her affect on guys, he took a swig of his soda and shook his head. “I don’t know. She’s not all that. She doesn’t do it for me. I think it’s that Valley girl accent. And she’s got big arms.”

I stared at him. “Big arms?”
He flexed his biceps for emphasis. “You know? Arms? Her arms are bigger than mine, man. No way. Not attractive.”

“Big arms? What is this a Seinfield episode?”

Brian laughed and shrugged. “I don’t know man. She just doesn’t do it for me.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Vacation: The aftermath

1) Tell your family you are going on a mainland vacation with friends when you are actually visiting your boyfriend on the mainland.

2) Tell your employer you are spending your vacation time with family. And probably won't be leaving the state.

3) Have your father call your employer while you're on vacation because he mistakenly thinks someone may be illegally impersonating you. (Turns out another reporter just has a similar sounding name. Oops.)

4) Call your father to tell him no one is impersonating you but avoid any direct conversation with family or employer about vacation.

5) Have friend in China contact you to say that yes, even she knows what you were really doing on vacation. Even though at this point, your web of tangled lies is so thick you're not even sure what you were doing on vacation.

6) Have your rent check bounce while you are on vacation. And you don't get the message from your landlord until two days later. And oh yeah, you never mentioned to your landlord that you were on vacation at all.

7) While on vacation with boyfriend, lose debit card on mainland, call mom in Hawaii for help. But at least the card gets canceled.

8) Come back home only to find landlord has slipped a Xerox of your contract under your door, highlighting such snippets as: You aren't supposed to leave for more than five days without telling her. If your check bounces once, you have to pay in cash from then on. There is a late fee attached to late rent payments. If your rent is really late, landlord can boot you out.

9) Talk to landlord only to have her say, no, this doesn't mean she wants you to pay her in cash. And no, by the way, she's not upset with you. Why would her slipping the contract under your door and then highlighting the parts that would make your throat tighten make you think she was mad at you? Just write her the check including the late fee and all will be OK. This time.

10) While you are stressing out about all these details with patient boyfriend, who tells you to give yourself a break, you manage finally to reveal the whole clusterfuck to him and he pauses and says, "Well, then. All of this is your own fault then." Oddly enough, at last, you feel a measure of relief.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Chris & me

Seat for two, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.


I seem to be on a fairly morbid stint book-wise.

It started with Mary Roach's "Stiff" about the afterlife of corpses. Then onto "The Joy of Funerals."

I recently finished Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven," about a couple of senseless murders committed by Mormon fundamentalists. (I can't believe such people are thriving in the United States; fundamentalists, not necessarily Mormon).

Right now I'm on page 284 of Norman Mailer's 1,000-plus page novel about murderer Gary Gilmore, "The Executioner's Song." Mailer is some extraordinary writer. The whole time I've been reading it, I kept thinking, Now how the hell did he get all this detail? And still 700 more pages to go. I sort of felt the same way when I read Gay Talese's classic about The New York Times empire, "The Kingdom and the Power."

I've been blogging more since Chris moved back to New Mexico, but I'd still rather have him here.

Louise Languishes

Louise Languishes, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.


I still can't change a tire by myself but yesterday I managed to diagnose low air pressure in my front right tire, took it to the Shell Service Station and filled it to about 35 psi.

Well, I started to fill it with air. Then the station attendent came and helped. He did most of the work. We discovered that the front left tire was low as well. And he saved me the trouble of having to drag the cord around to the other side of my car.

The reason the station attendent didn't come right away was because there was another girl parked in front of me, wearing the same helpless/embarrassed expression I probably wear when someone helps me change a tire, as the attendent filled her tires.

Nothing makes a girl feel more girly than her car.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


I forget what Kelly said to make me so mad.

So mad that I made a disgusted face and said, "I'd rather hang out with William than with you!"

Second grade. We were lining up to go to lunch and everyone had to partner up and hold hands. I usually held Kelly's but today I was upset.

No one liked William because he had warts all over his hands.

But he was standing right by me and Kelly in the lunch line when I made that declaration. And he followed me around after that. Never came that close. Just lingered several feet away from me at recess.

Until one day I finally yelled at him to go away. "I don't like you!"

Andrea from third grade

There was this girl named Andrea in my second or third grade class. She has the blondest hair and pale, pale, smooth skin. Her skin was like a Cabbage Patch doll's -- just dimples where her knee caps were supposed to be.

She wore pastel and never said a word. Not even when the teachers asked her a question.

She was that that shy.

Her mom finally came in to discuss the situation with the teacher.

Apparently, Andrea was just as shy, shy quiet at home. No one could break through to her.

Well, they must have sent her to counseling. I saw her again in intermediate school and barely recognized her. She was laughing and loud.

I wonder what happened to her.

Martha's Mountain Cabin--best meal in town*

Martha's Mountain Cabin, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

Double layer enchiladas served in big bowls with lots of cheese, lettuce and tomatos. Extra chili optional.

Vanilla ice cream

*Martha's Mountain Cabin belongs to Martha, a friend of Chris' family. It's not a restaurant.

This is what happens when ambitious workers are underutilized

Well Ironman is officially over.

Only one cyclist cheated death (and boggled the average mind) when he insisted on continuing the race even after a motorcycle plowed into his bike. Ironically, the motorcycle may have belonged to someone from the IronmanLive crew.

I managed to wrangle that tidbit of info from the cops but they couldn't or wouldn't say when or where the collision happened. I gave what general info I could to Carolyn who was covering the "what went wrong with the Ironman this year if anything" angle of coverage.

Being that not much else had gone wrong, this might pretty much be it for her story.

She did not get much concrete information from Ironman officials for the better part of an hour. Restlessness was setting in. Carolyn is ambitious and doesn't want to sit on her ass.

Finally, she turned to me and said, "Do you think I should call the police and tell them, 'Look this is what the police told us and we want to know if you can verify it."

"You mean you want to call the cops and tell them this is what the cops told us and ask them to tell us what they said?"

This is what happens when ambitious workers are underutilized.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Our version of the Balloon Fiesta

It's that time again. Traffic is a mess and sidewalks are clogged with European men in Speedos.

It's Ironman.

This will be my third Ironman World Triathlon experience, but it never fails to amaze me what a big deal this is for some people.


I am sitting in Ironman Media Center waiting for my credentials, when a man with a European accent walks in and requests three local phone lines so he can communicate with his two volunteers without having to incur the cost of long-distance minutes that would inevitably result if they used their own phones.

The man says he has already been to the Ironman Race Center where they told him to call Verizon. That didn't work so they sent him here.

The girls running the Media Center look stumped. And just a tad annoyed.

Then one of them perks up. You could almost see the lightbulb going off. She knows some people at Nextel who rent out phones with local minutes. She calls. She makes the arrangements.

It will cost more than $175.

It's the man's turn to perk up. "Oh that's fine."

Note: I should also add that I am not participating in the triathlon. Oh no way. Just covering it for work.

The odds of evens

You know things are pretty shitty when after the boss offers you and a co-worker a story idea and asks, "Well who wants to take it?" he is met by momentary silence and then a simultaneous, "Oh it doesn't matter to me."

Things only get worse when boss hunches over his notebook and says, "OK then. I'm thinking of a number. Choose odds or evens."

You choose evens. The boss did too. You win the story.

Oh, someone out there, reassure me that business really isn't done this way in the real world.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Friend call

I miss my other-island friends.

Last night I called Joel, my favorite free shrink, to vent about the direction (or lack thereof) of my life, about boys and romance and career changes and finding out in New Mexico that my rent check had bounced (worked things out with the landlord).

"It's so fucking hot here," Joel said. "And my air conditioner isn't working."

He sounded grumpy.

"I'm not upset. I'm just tired."

More talking, venting on my part. Suspicious silence on his.

"Is this the part where you file your nails and roll your eyes?" I asked.

He laughed. Then sighed.

I begged him to tell me what to do with my life.

He refused. More silence. Then he cut me off mid-sentence and said, "My cirucuit fuse just broke. I have to go."

Polar Bear

Polar Bear, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

Of the hundreds of animals at the Rio Grande Zoo, the polar bears were my favorite. I mean, look at the furry guy.

"It looks just like a teddy bear!" the little girl standing next to me exclaimed.

"Yeah, isn't he cute?" her mother cooed.

At one point, the bear surfaced, flipped onto his back and did a leisurely back-paddle. Someone hand that bear a Coca-Cola and you'll have yourself a commercial, I thought.

But of all the animals at the zoo, the polar bear is the among the most dangerous.

Chris told me that several years ago, a couple of 11-year-old boys broke into the zoo at night and dared each other to jump in the polar bear pond.

Zoo keepers found parts of the boys' bodies the next day.

Chris' dad said if a lion or other big cat escapes, zoo keepers have a plan of action to re-capture it.

If a polar bear escapes, they call the SWAT team and shoot it.

Because unlike big, wild cats that are wary of humans and try to run away, polar bears will attack.

They're fierce hunters and don't let the Coke ads fool you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Who's watching who

Who's watching who, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

The fish at the Albuquerque Aquarium appeared to be a bit under the weather.

Perhaps because the aquarium scientists make their own sea water instead of trucking it in from the Gulf of Mexico like most land-locked aquariums in the United States.

Those scientists may be smart, but they don't breathe sea water -- a valuable trait, in my opinion, when it comes to making sea water for fish.

Perhaps it was because the gigantic aquarium offered up-close views of the Albuquerque Aquarium restaurant, where human beings munched on fish salads and sandwiches. You watch your brethen get chomped every day and see how you feel.

Perhaps it was because the fish shared hte humungous tank with sharks, barracudas and sting rays. Hmmm. The tank's not so humungous after all.

Or perhaps it's all in our imagination.

Chris' father couldn't account for the balance of chemicals in the man-made water, but he offered some assurance that the sharks weren't chomping the fish.

The scientists, he said, had the fish on a feeding schedule that would "suppress the predator instinct." In other words, room service eliminates the need to hunt.

Of course, he added, there's still the matter of instinct. Some days a shark is going to want to chomp a fish just because.


Acoma, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

Back from Albuquerque

• Where hundreds of hot air balloons pumped full of free porpane gathered for the International Hot Air Balloon fiesta, but the only fire during the past week took place at a Little Anita's restaurant miles away. Go figure.

• Where there's a shop selling "authentic Indian jewelry" around every corner.

• Where the freeways are painted pink and turquoise. I'm serious.

• Where they put green chile in everything. Even white chocolate.

But seriously, I had a good time. Due to a computer glitch at the local Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Chris and I ended up renting a white Chevy Suburban (a car so big, adjectives about how big it was are unnecessary) for the price of a Kia Rio.

We helped Chris' friends chase a hot air balloon (see earlier entry), still managed to see the special shapes balloons the next day, went shopping, went to the zoo (monkeys, koalas, polar bears, rhinos and they're trying to get a Panda, which would be prestigious for the zoo), visited Native American ruins, attended a wedding, went to the Natural History Museum.

I had fun, like I always manage to do when hanging out with Chris.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Slackers Unite

I was here yesterday. Big crowds always make me uncomfortable but Michael Moore made it an entertaining experience. This was less of a lecture than a rally. "Fuck Ralph Nader," he said at one point. "I'm so sick of him." Then he led the audience in a chant of "Get rid of Bush!"

There are tons of funny political bumper stickers around Alburquerque. One read, "The Asses of Evil" and featured photos of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield. Another read "Re-defeat Bush."

Hawaii has its share of local politics, but things are different here, proabably because New Mexico is one of the swing states--Gore won it by 360-something votes during the last election--so Bush, Kerry and Moore all made rally stops here.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

It was supposed to be a spectacular sight

Hundreds of hot air balloons filling the Albuquerque skyline. Not just any hot air balloons, either. The special shapes. Translated from hot air jargon, that means hot air balloons in the shape of castles, cowboys, cats, fish, frogs, ducks, you name it.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest in the world, according to everyone in Albuquerque. Thousands of people from all over come to gawk and take pictures, and for the elite few who can afford a balloon and balloon piloting lessons, participate.

But it's incredibly, ridiculously frustrating work.

Most of these balloons can comfortably fit one person in the basket, but usually squeeze in two. And to get these suckers flying takes a crew of seven or eight. That means at least two or three cars full of people. (Not counting the pilot who drove separately with the balloon stuff stuffed in his camper).

Since there are nearly 1,000 balloons launching, you have to find a good, wide open space (preferably away from houses, electrical lines and tall trees) to launch from.

This, apparantly, involves endless driving around in circles, much conferring with other balloonists (or balloons, as the balloon pilots are called here) and if you happen to be in a rented Chevy Suburban with two elementary-age children and their tired monther and grumpy grandpa, much patience. And if your pilot is possibly an ex-marine with poor communication skills you may also want to bring one of those stress balls to squeeze.

This is the time for you to dwell on the fact that you dragged your ass out of bed before the crack of dawn to see the special shapes and you have not seen a single special shape and your pilot is taking so long you might not see ANY balloon.

All this before you found a decent launching pad. And it's not even 8 a.m.

But eventually, you will find a friendly farmer willing to let you borrow his alfalfa field for a launching pad. Then the six or seven crew members (who will not get to ride in the balloon) get out of their two or three cars and start unfurling huge-ass nylon balloon while you and the two elementary-age kids find more interest in playing with the farmer's dog. And the dog is more interested in watching the farmer's horses.

But finally, in a process that involves a huge-ass fan and a fiery propane tank, (you're sketchy on the details here since you spent more time playing with the dog) the balloon sails away.

Yea! Hooray! Much cheering and waving. This lasts about 10 seconds.

Then you scramble back into your huge-ass rented Chevy Suburban wake up the tired mom who'd napped through the whole launching process, herd the kids in and immediately strain to see where exactly your balloon is.

Is the balloon going north? South? Over the river? Not over the river? This all matters because the crew's work is not done. The crew has to follow the balloon so that when the two people in the balloon basket land, the crew is there to help them out of the basket and fold up the huge-ass balloon and pack everything back into the pilot's maroon truck so he can drive back to Ohio or Nevada, or wherever in peace.

This is tricky business because while the pilot sure seemed to take his sweet ass time choosing just the right launching field, it is difficult to predict where he is going to land. He's in a balloon after all. He can go up. He can go down. The rest is up to the wind.

So chasing such an erstwhile balloon with nothing but a staticky walkie-talkie connecting you to the pilot may seem like an improbable task at best, but it is also fun.

Chasers go nuts. They make sudden U-turns, they get hysterical and shout at each other in increasingly shrill tones. They speed along sidewalks and throw caution to the wind.

"Watch out for that semi!" Grumpy Grandpa might say at one point.

"Nevermind!" Tired Mother will snap. "We have to find our balloon! Nothing is more important than finding our balloon!"

The guy in the lead car (the one with the walkie talkie) doesn't seem to know what he's doing. Then he yells back at you that the pilot told him he was aiming for a particular field.

So you haul ass to that field, climb more sidewalks and get there just as the pilot is landing.

All six crew members rush to grab the basket before it crashes into the rocky ground.

The elementary-age kids are oblivious to the near disaster, finding more joy in breaking rocks to admire the minerals within. You join in and before you know it, the balloon is repacked and the pilot is gone.

How did that happen?

You have no idea. But some of those rocks sure are pretty.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Reminds me of Chris

Reminds me of Chris, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

My brother is good.

My family is good.

I feel at peace here today.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Sans birds

Sans birds, originally uploaded by kaiwa_4.

Are you God?

Christy C. said God talked to her.

She told me this after we'd dipped Barbie's plastic hair under the running faucet and before we got around to the blow drying.

Christy was, according to my best friend at the time, a snob, a stuck up bitch and ugly. Then again, my best friend at the time regarded most girls who weren't her -- and in many cases, those who tried too much to be like her -- stuck up bitches.

I have a feeling my parents sent me to Christy's house so I'd be in the company of someone other than my best friend at the time.

Christy, who wasn't religious and never went to church, told me about God after I complained that I hated my parents for being so strict and grouchy and for always yelling at me.

Christy said she felt the same way about her parents. Only at night, when she was crying, God would talk to her. He would tell her to stop crying, that her parents weren't evil like she thought, but just strict because they loved her.

"That's not God," I told her. "I get that voice too. It's just a voice you make up in your head."

But Christy insisted it was God and we got into an argument about it (undoubtedly one of the many insignificant arguments about God, not to be confused with the great crusades and intifadas fought in His name) and I stomped home in a huff thinking Christy was a stuck-up snob, and stupid too.

It wasn't until years later, years and years later, that I became enlightened enough to wonder if that voice in her head was God, if that's all God really is, something you make up in your head.

Friday, October 01, 2004


This will be the last of this topic, I promise. But you know who I'd like to see on the Jane Paulie Show after two years and $1 million worth of therapy?

Marilyn Manson.

Now that would be a story.

This is mean. I must. Try and stop. Being mean.

It was worse.

Instead of performing themselves, Metallica handed Jane Paulie a leather jacket and let her rip a few cords on the electric guitar.

Have you seen Jane Paulie? I nominate Sheri O'Teri to play her on Saturday Night Live.

Just call it quits already

Jane Paulie is the new Oprah -- only much, much worse.

Who's idea was it to give her her own talk show? She is a Saturday Night skit waiting to happen. But like all things abhorrent I can't bring myself to look away. (OK, so there are three remote controls in this house and I don't know which one changes the channel, which one is for the DVD player and which one will fuck up the TV beyond all repair).

Tonight she is talking to Metallica, the one time heavy metal band. They're reformed now. Why else would they be talking to Jane Paulie?

There's something disconcerting about watching the men who growled out "Enter Sandman" sit with their hands folded on their lap, hair shorn, chuckling politely at lame jokes. Their guitars are propped neatly against the plush stage seats. Somehow, I doubt there will be a performance. Oh, I can only hope there won't be a performance.

A tangled path