Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bombshell scare

Driving back from an assignment with Dave, the photographer, and we see flashing police lights up ahead.

"Aww crap," I groan, enthusiastic as usual for the possibility of more work. "I wonder what happened."

"I don't know but it looks like there are a lot of cops." Dave keeps one hand on the steering wheel, and with the other reaches towards the back seat, groping for his camera.

We get closer to the flashing lights. There's a local police car and a state police car. Some sheriffs deputies are on the way. Standing on the side of the road, next to a car with no noticable damage, looking utterly distressed, is a bleached blonde, nicely tanned, her hair and sundress blowing in the breeze. Both the officers -- men -- are looking at her with sympathetic expressions. One has his notebook open.

Dave stops groping for his camera and we both laugh.

"Oh yeah," Dave says. "She looks dangerous." Then he does his best cop impersonation: "Uh, we're going to need back-up on this one guys. Now ma'am, could we get your phone number please? For the record?"

Destination journey

Airports are amazing places. At the Honolulu International Airport, you can buy cans of macadamia nuts, Kona Coffee, even 12 packs of Dole Pineapple slices or whole pineapples. At the airport in Las Vegas, there are slot machines at every terminal so you can gamble until the last possible moment. I've seen airports that rent out DVD players for bored passengers, airports with weird laser art on the ceiling, airports that are nothing more than pavillions. It never ceases to amaze me how I'm never bored at an airport, no matter how long the layover is. I just stare and stare and stare while pretending not to.

I do worry

Visited Grampa today. He gave me a guilt trip for not calling earlier, then went on and on about how he needs a caretaker, a senior companion he can talk to, someone who can "stop me from saying these things you don't want me to say."

He'd just come in from mowing the lawn. He was wearing pants held together with safety pins and full of holes. He had on a shirt, tied at the waist, ripped under the arms, and held together with safety pins.

He told me not to worry about him because soon he will be meeting St. Joseph. And he looked pointedly at the ceiling. Meaning heaven.

"Grampa," I said. "Don't you mean you'll be meeting Buddha?"

He paused. "No-o-o. I think it's St. Joseph who waits at the gate and decides who can get in."

"And if you get in you can meet whoever you want?"


I don't think Grampa is headed for the ceiling any time soon. Despite what he says, he's pretty healthy for his age, and manages to be quite independent despite himself. Even though his kids call him pretty regularly and one of them even cooks for him at least twice a week and handles his bills, and even though he has grandkids flying in from the mainland to spend time with him, he still has the energy to worry about the oil industry.

"Hilo is so behind the times it's not even funny!"

"How is it behind the times?"

"In everything! In every other county they support...not gasoline...what you call the kind car Cousin Jim has?"


"Yeah, biodiesel. With the price of gas so expensive I don't see why the county doesn't encourage more biodiesel business. It just doesn't make sense. And every other county has assisted living for the elderly, but no more in Hilo. I need a caretaker."

Then he just looked at me with watery eyes. I wanted to hug him and shake him, promise to stay forever to take care of him and run out the door as fast as I could before he sucked me in to being his caretaker.

"Grampa, sometimes I worry about you," I said, meaning I was worried about myself, about how I would be when I was his age.

"Well, you should," he said.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Honolulu thoughts

One thing everybody says about landing in Hawaii. You notice the air. The perfume of the air. I wanted to smell it, experience that when I landed at Honolulu International Airport. Sadly, I have to admit I didn't. I smelled cigarette smoke from all the smokers lining the outdoor walkway as I made my way to the baggage claim area.

I think this wonderful perfume scent does exist, but is for the most part manufactured in soaps you can buy at the ABC Stores in Waikiki or shampoos and body lotions you can steal from the resorts.

Or maybe you think you're smelling something tropical because you're listening to Hookena being piped over the PA system, or maybe Israel Kamakawiwaoole. Israel, he just makes me think of tropical forests everytime I hear his voice.

To get to my friend Dara, who was staying with her mom at the Ihilani Resort, I had to catch the bus from downtown to Pearlridge Shopping Center. I sat up front, and I really think the front bus window being so tall and big, affords you with the best view of Oahu in motion. The Filipinos sitting outside the Kalihi Health Center. The little crack seed shops and seafood shops and lei shops, the statues of Hawaiian royalty, the people in the cars stopped next to us, cool and comfortable in their air-conditioned vessels.

I had a copy of the latest Honolulu Advertiser with me on the bus ride and the top story was about how the housing market in Hawaii exceeded $5.38 billion in October. The lead was something like, "It's definitely a seller's market."

And across from me in the bus was an older gentlemen, probably Portuguese, wearing a blue ball cap and well worn black sneakers with only a sock on his right foot. Probably not part of that $5.38 billion market.

I kept looking at his one bare ankle, thinking of the pitiful wage I'm collecting in New Mexico, the feeling of panic threatening to wash over me, thinking I'll never be able to afford living here on my own, that it was stupid of me to have left in the first place.

At Pearlridge, I threw the newspaper away in a trash can outside the Longs Drugs Store because it was extra space in my backpack. Then Dara and Greta came and picked me up, we drove to Ihilani, and spent the next day sipping drinks by a glistening pool, the ocean a stone's throw away, and slept in a suite with a television in each of the two rooms.

Dara's mom got a discount at the resort because she was attending a conference.

Ahi overload

Within hours of landing in Honolulu, I went into ahi overload. The first restaurant we went to, Irifune, was crowded on a Wednesday night. We waited an hour for a table that was handicap accessible (for my friend Dara) then I ordered the garlic ahi with a side of shrimp and vegetable tempura.

Then, the following day, I stayed with Dara at the Ihilani Resort (tourist-ville, but oh-so-relaxing) and for dinner we ordered the poki/sashimi platter and seared ahi for appetizer. For the main course, I ordered the seared ahi salad with sesame dressing. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Dara ordered a plantation iced tea and I ordered a virgin pina colada.

Once we got away from the resort (read: Pearlridge, Pearl Kai, Kaneohe, Ala Moana, The Bus, etc.) I got to sit and just silently marvel at how diverse this place is. I'd almost forgotten. And it's weird to come back after nine months of being away and realize Wow, this place really is diverse, everybody gets along without caring about ethnicity, for the most part. Of course, I know this isn't really true, or at the very least it's an over-simplified statement. There's a lot of disagreement under the surface and when people get upset, they usually invoke racial slurs.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Made it safely home. Four days in Hawaii and I can already feel the urge to write returning.

While I was gone, my mom cleaned up my room. She spared most of my belongings, including my books. When I clean up, I usually discover that I can't find something I was used to seeing shoved partially under my mattress or I remembered pushing under a pile of papers. My mom cleaned up and I got to go shopping in my own room.

Those earrings! I forgot I had them. Wow, a blank journal! (Thank goodness I didn't give in and buy a journal in Albuquerque) Look at all those books I have yet to read.

I wish I was staying here forever. Or longer than I am.