Monthly Archives: April 2010

YMWW #14: Fortitude

Friday, January 15, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

**I know this is a quick follow-up to entry #13, but when inspiration hits, you gotta go with it. . .

Though most of my waking life is spent relishing in my odyssey to Hawai’i, I’ll admit there have been times when doubt has clouded the brilliance of my decision. Today was one of those times.

This morning, I had donned one of my new Cal shirts (grey, Walking Bear logo with “UC Berkeley”) and by the time I got to work, was in full Cal Spirit mode. I was singing “Fight for California” to myself when I noticed an ugly shade of red planted in front of the Whole Foods entrance. A young woman was sitting on a bench wearing a red Stanford stanfurd sweatshirt. In front of my store!

I approached her from her left and sat on her right, turning towards her so that the front of my beautiful Berkeley shirt was inches away from her stupid Cardinal face. Point, Bears! However, my sinfully proud internal smile was suddenly humbled by a horrid realization: here sat a stanfurd alumna, waiting for Whole Foods to open because she had the money to shop there. Next to her sat me, a Berkeley alumnus waiting for it to open because that’s where I earn my minimum wage pay. She can’t see that I work there! Imagine the pretentious laughs her anecdote about me would bring at her snooty, alumni wine parties!

The doors opened and I quickly darted into the entrance she didn’t use. Maybe she didn’t see me cover my alma mater’s logo with my pseudo-Asian cook uniform. Maybe she wouldn’t recognize me with a wedge cap on my head. Maybe she didn’t even notice my shirt outside, what with her eyes busy looking down her nose.

My pride swallowed, I started work. Switch on oven fan, check. Heat up deep fryer, check. Turn on grill, check.

Somewhere between making twelve pounds of rice and realizing that I shouldn’t have heated up the deep fryer because I was supposed to change the oil today, I came to terms with this morning’s incident. I’m a cook in a grocery store, so what? I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do! Okay, I kind of hate my job, but still, I made an aimless move to another state, I pay for rent and food with my own money, and I’m exploring what life has to offer outside of the small section of California I called home for twenty-two years. How can I not be happy with myself? How can I not be proud? I went about the rest of my working day happily—and loudly—singing Cal songs (and when I had exhausted those, I started belting out musical numbers fromNewsies).

I’ll get another job shortly (I’ll definitely update you on that), and maybe I’ll move to another state some time down the line. Maybe I’ll make millions by doing what I love. Maybe not. Who knows? All that matters is that I am happy with the decision I made and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. No regrets.

I brought a smile to my own face by making up a story about the stanfurd alum I encountered this morning: She probably traveled down to Shallow Alto to major in pre-med, just like her strict Asians parents wanted. Unable to find success in a passionless career, she quit the game and married an older man for the security (she was, in fact, with an old, grey-haired gentleman). Following his dream for retirement, this geezer moved himself and his little Asian trophy wife to O’ahu. She now works at Lili’uokalani Elementary as the school nurse, coming home to fix her geriatric beau an organic, free-trade dinner.

Go Bears.

PS: If you didn’t click on the “odyssey” link at the beginning of this entry, do so now. It is a very intriguing, and related, article from the New York Times. Thank you to Ate Melanie for showing me this.

While Allison Stokke is not a Roxy model, it is more than appropriate to include her here, decked out in Cal gear.

I know what you’re think and you’re right, it’s hard to believe it took fourteen entries to finally see her on this blog!




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YMWW #13: It’s Pronounced “Twenty-Ten”

Monday, January 11, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Welcome to the first post of the new year! I hope you’re all keeping up with your resolutions. I am.

As you may recall, my primary New Year’s resolution is to get a new job. I have my job rant thoroughly memorized (low pay, no discount, inability to communicate with my coworkers, general lack of appreciation, etc.), so I’m sure I’ve written it here before, or at least complained to a number of you individually. Well, behold yet another—and the most pressing—reason: the only coworkers I’ve made friends with have left or will be leaving.

A not-so pleasant picture of An Qi (we pronounce it “Angie”) and a way-too-cool picture of Justin.

Justin was the only American working at Kikka Sushi when I arrived, and naturally, my favorite one to talk to. When we would work at the same time, all we did was check out women, talk about nerdy stuff, and complain about our job. He had been there a year by the time I started, and by December, that had been too long. He worked his last day at Kikka while I was in California for Christmas.

An Qi was the other person who worked with Justin and me in the teriyaki section. She doesn’t speak English well, but she speaks it often. And quickly. At first, I couldn’t tell if she was speaking Cantonese or English, but now I have an ear for her rapid broken English. I respect her for her willingness to learn, too; she’s always asking what words mean, writing down new ones and—to my suprise—usually spelling them correctly on the first try. I give her grammar lessons; Justin taught her bad words. Needless to say, it’s always fun talking with An Qi, hearing her complain about the other Chinese people and teasing her ceaselessly about everything because she does the same. Unfortunately, she’s being transferred to a Kikka on Maui in mid-February.

Now is the time to leave.

Last weekend, I went around picking up applications for several restaurants at other nearby shopping centers. I’ve decided I want to be a server because I like being on my feet, I like food, and I want tips. I’ve heard of servers who were able to pay for all the entertainment, clothing, food, and even rent with just tips. I’ve never been able to let paychecks build up. It sounds like a good plan.

I have my fingers crossed for Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Forest Gump is in my top three; every time I go to that restaurant, I get most of the trivia questions right. I can see myself getting pretty enthusiastic about this job. Wish me luck on the interview.

I also have applications for Old Spaghetti Factory, CPK and Macaroni Grill. They were right around the corner. Why not?

Now, I do have an application for a movie theater on file at Ward Center. Although working at a movie theater is the cliche loser path for a film school graduate, I figure such a status ain’t too far from server. Besides, I spend a ton of money at the theater already; it’d be nice to save money while seeing more films.

So, here’s to hoping the new year (okay, quite honestly, the new month) sees a change of employment. As for my other resolution, I’m keeping it right now. I plan to keep up my blog more frequently, as long as you all keep reading and responding.


To keep with the theme of “change,” I present to you a Roxy model in winter clothing instead of beach gear. As you can see, still gorgeous. Also, her name is Torah Bright. Bright, like my future.

Don’t worry, we’ll return to bikinis with the next post.

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YMWW #12: Year in Review

Thursday, December 31, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Typhoons devastated the Western Pacific Ocean. A recession crippled US economy. Michael Jackson died, as did Tiger Woods’ career. 2009 was not the best year for the world entire, but this blog is about me, and to me, 2009 rocked! Here’s a review of the events that had me saying, “Oh yeah!” in Oh-Nine:

Went Out with a Bang. 2009 was destined to be a hallmark year for no other reason than that it is my college graduation year. My four years at UC Berkeley were the greatest I’ve ever had, my senior year being the best, that last semester being the best of the best. Academically, I was on easy street with ten units (the minimum number of units one can take per semester is 13, unless you were a Senior with a good excuse. . . like I was). Four units came from a class on sound in film, as taught by an Academy award-winning sound editor (Mark Berger), another four came from an awesomely random “History of Canada” class, and the last two from my class on Firefly. Yes, that’s right, I got college credit for studying a cult sci-fi television show.

Socially, I was having the time of my life. Since my officer position in the UC Rally Committee really ended with the football season, I was more or less relieved of responsibility by 2009. My closest friends in Rally Comm had given up on it, so I had more time to see them after Winter Break. I also had more time to spend with people from my film classes, usually on film shoots. I made a bunch of film friends my senior year, and often wondered if I should have left Rally Comm earlier. Wondered, yes, regretted not doing so, no. My rule is that if you like where you are in the present, regret nothing in the past, for all those things had to happen get you where you are. Still, spending more time with film people was refreshing.

The weeks around the time of finals and graduation were a blur of bittersweet celebration. They were filled with studying and partying, saying “bye” to old friends and saying “I wish I met you sooner” to new ones, closing out one chapter of my life and hoping for the best in the new one. I was proud to be a graduate, but sad to have graduated.

Summer of Win. After graduating, I stayed in Berkeley for the summer to intern for the sci-fi independent film In-World War. It was a lot of work for no pay; by “a lot of work” I mean ten- to 14-hour consecutive days for three weeks, and by “no pay” I mean that all I received was college credit, and that didn’t balance out the money I spent on BART fares and random props. Still, it was one of the most enjoyable and educational experiences of my life. I learned more about film-making than I did in my four years at Berkeley, and made quite a few friends along the way. Also, I have legitimate film credit as a Production Assistant, Assistant Casting Director, and Second Assistant Director (spread the word, wink wink). Though the film should be finished about a year from now, my involvement with it is done. I’ll never forget my summer on the set of In-World War.

Principle photography wrapped in July, the same time Comic-Con International returned to San Diego. Being a nerd surrounded by nerds all summer, it was inevitable that I make the pilgrimage to nerd mecca. Comic-Con is the largest and most popular comic book convention in the world, which showcases upcoming events in the world of comic books, films, television shows and video games. Felicity was my inside connection, and Leslie, Jean, Tommy, and Taylor were my posse. Comic-Con was the draw, but the road trip down south, the random visit to Sea World, and the awesome nights around town were what made the whole experience memorable. I hope to do it again next year.

My summer was rounded out with a return stint as a counselor at Camp Milagros, a wonderful, week-long sleep-over camp in Sonoma Valley for children with juvenile arthritis and other related diseases. I had a lot more fun my second time around since I was familiar with the camp and therefore had the confidence to be a leader. I hope to return after next year’s Comic-Con. I’ll be sure to bring more comic books this time around (apparently they’re key in calming down 8-year-olds with ADD).

I Went West. And you know the rest. . .

So, 2009 was one hell of a year, but now it’s time to say good-bye. I hope 2010 (pronounced “twenty-ten,” don’t you forget!) will bring as much good fortune and fun as did its predecessor. I’m already starting it out right by having—for the first time in my life—a New Year’s Resolution: find a new job. I’ll let you know how that goes (my second resolution is to write in this blog weekly, or at the very least, bi-weekly).

Do any of you have a New Year’s Resolution worth mentioning?


What does this picture have to do with New Year’s? Um, she’s leaning on a ball. A ball drops in New York.

Yeah, that works.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I completely forgot about another major event in my 2009—I got laser eye surgery! Now, I have nearly 20/15 vision in both eyes, and going to the beach is no hassle at all.

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YMWW #11: Tidbits of Awesome

Monday, December 7, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

As you saw from my last note, the end of November brought me some bad luck, specifically in the realm of bicycle tires. If one looks hard enough, one might find balance in the universe around them. I looked, and saw the balance of my luck tip in the other direction with the start of December. If this trend of awesome keeps up, this month is gonna be legen—wait for it—dary!

Tuesday, December 1st

Kahala Beach

What better way to spend the first of December in Hawai’i than at a beach? During the waning hours of my work shift that Tuesday, I got a text from Juvana that read, “Brit and i are coming to meet you at kahala mall so you better be ready to hang out with us fool” (yeah, she’s gangsta like that). When my shift ended, I got a call:
“We’re going to Kahala Beach. Meet us at Wet Seal.”
“I don’t have my bathing suit.”
“So what? We’re going straight there.”
“—No, we’re going straight there.”

And we did.

Now the beach was rocky and there were no waves, but there was still great weather and beautiful views. The best aspect of that adventure, though, was that it was completely impromptu. . . and that, sir, is awesome.

Thursday, December 3rd

Part of Thomas (France), Akos (Hungary), and Yuri (Japan), making sushi.

Following the theme of impromptu activities, my roommates and I rearranged the furniture in our living room. Rearranging furniture may sound like a chore, but as Jake knows, it can be a great experience. Besides breaking the monotony of everyday living and allowing creativity to flow, moving furniture around a room is, above all else, a great bonding experience to have with roommates. It started with Mose vacuuming, asking us to move chairs out of the way. We started moving tables, too. Then the couch. Then others came home and BOOM, the whole living room was rearranged! And just in time, too, because—

and here comes Thursday awesomeness, part II

—our friends came over with the ingredients for a sushi dinner! Yuri (from Japan) and Jenny (from Germany) are in an English class with my roommate Akos (from Hungary). They’ve come over to cook before, and it always results in a United Nations-type feast. I have another roommate from France (Thomas), and one who spent half his life in China (Peter). With Mose (from Hawai’i) and me (from California) at the table, the conversations are always interesting, hilarious, and comprised of many accents. The are, in short, awesome.

Friday, December 4th

I need to find this girl. She goes to Cal, seems to have studied abroad, could possibly be from Hawai’i, and obviously has Cal spirit.

I went to the movie theaters with Thomas, Akos, and some friends. I saw 2012 (6/10) andBrothers (8/10) (OK, I confess, I movie-hopped. It’s against my cine-morals, but my friends sneaked into Planet 51, which I never want to see, while Brothers, which I really wanted to see, started as soon as we got out of the first film. I had no choice). My bike—which is pimped out with a basket adorned with a Cal sticker—was locked up outside one of the nearby Starbucks. When I returned to my bike, I found this message scrawled on a napkin left in my basket: “I go to Cal and have been out of the U.S.A. for 3 months. Seeing your sticker made me SO happy. Have a wonderful night! GO BEARS!!” This napkin is tangible proof of the camaraderie of the extended Cal family and the warmth of Cal Spirit. Though the elusiveness of the note’s author is mildly frustrating, her note is nothing short of awesome.

Saturday, December 5th

There seem to be other Mighty 4 events in other cities in the US and Canada. Check it out!

Bored and disappointed by the Bears’ tragic, season-ending loss to the Huskies, I called my friend Ingrid to see what she was up to. Of course, she was doing something random and cool: she was at UH watching a b-boy competition! I met up with her later and, for the first time, witnessed skilled breakdancers. Live! The closest I got to watching live breakdancing was seeing my middle school peers attempt the Worm at a school dance. This was much, much better. I saw three-person crews battle it out, the final eight whittled down to one dominant group. The best part, though, was that after each fantastic showdown of oneupmanship, the music ended and all members of the battling crews gave each other hugs and props. No matter how high the stakes, the bond over a shared passion outshone any possible conflicts. I’m sorry I couldn’t share any pictures, I didn’t bring my camera. But believe me, it was awesome.

Future Awesomeness

How can this month get any better? Well, for starters, my cousin Avery comes back in a couple days. I’ve absconded her friends while she’s been away, I think it’s time I share.
What else does December bring? That’s right, holidays! I will always love those.
Speaking of holidays, I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS! Yes, I’ve missed San Francisco and Berkeley a lot, and while I’m in no rush to see Livermore again, I miss all my friends and family there. I’ll be in the Bay Area between the 23rd and the 30th, so if you’re around, give me a call! I’m returning to O’ahu just in time for New Year’s.

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow, I will upload the pictures I took at Pearl Harbor today (the 68th anniversary of the attack). Look out for that photo album! (Photo album on Facebook)

It’s Roxy time!

At Macy’s with Brit and Juvana, I found a large poster of famous Roxy model Jarah Mariano (you’ve seen her before). This is one step closer to meeting Jarah in person!

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Film Review: Avatar (2009)


2009, Dir. James Cameron

Avatar (2009) has been churning about in James Cameron’s head for the past 15 years. He intended to release it right after Titanic (1997), but decided to wait for technology to catch up to his vision. At an epic 160 minutes, Avatar was well worth the wait.

The story follows a paraplegic Marine of the mid-22nd Century who jumps on (figuratively, of course) the opportunity to travel to a distant world and control an Avatar: a biological-created life form resembling a Na’vi. The Na’vi are the intelligent, peace-loving, tribal species of the Earth-like moon Pandora. By adopting this body, the Marine will not only be aiding Earth’s effort to integrate with the local population, but he’ll also get to walk again. Of course, humans didn’t travel 4.6 light years across the galaxy to make friends. No, Pandora is the source of unobtainium, a mineral worth millions on a resource-depleted Earth. Clan integration via Avatar is the humane scientists’ attempt to peacefully deal with the Na’vi, convincing them to move before the evil industrial military folk rape their land of the precious rock, destroying their village in the process.

A military man thrown into the clan of the native population his side is trying to take over? Nature and peace threatened by a money-loving industry? Gigantic military spaceships? One can pretty much guess the rest the plot from here. While Cameron directly cited Dances With Wolves (1990) as part of his inspiration, to me it was an epic, sci-fi version of Fern Gully(1992). It “sampled” from the Pocahontas story as well. Needless to say, Avatar’s storyline is about as original as a P. Diddy song. Also, the characters were formed from oft-used molds: a gun-toting hero with a heart of gold, a terse yet passionate scientist/humanitarian, a diehard military leader, an attractive chief’s daughter that shows the outsider her clan’s way of life. The list goes on. And yet, despite these worn-out clichés, I still held my breath during the narrow escapes, felt grief during the village attacks, and cheered when the good guys won. Why? Although Avatar does not work your brain too hard, it will capture your imagination. Last night, it captured mine and, frankly, still hasn’t let go.

One reason I think Avatar worked so well is that its cutting-edge animation technology supported the core parts of the film (story, plot, actors, setting, etc.), instead of the other way around (cough—Star Wars prequels!—cough). The final film is a reported 60% computer animation and 40% live action. Though I could easily deduce one from the other, they blended so well together that the hybrid nature of the film was not a distraction. However, more amazing than the grand views of Pandora—and my, were they grand!—was how easily the actors’ movement came through. Apparently, the new motion-capture technology they used maintained about 95% of the actors’ performance, and it showed. Their movements were tight and subtle, not sweeping and exaggerated like we’re used to seeing in typical animation, CG or otherwise. Specifically, the Na’vi facial expressions were what really blew me away. I could sense the characters’ thoughts and emotions in the small way their eyes changed or their mouths moved. And—I promise you this—I realized that Neytiri, the lead female Na’vi, was played by Zoe Saldana by facial recognition alone, not only in the structure of the face but its movement, as well. I had no idea Saldana involved going into this film. That, my friends, is how spectacular animation supports the film instead of taking center stage.

The other reason I believe Avatar captured my imagination is because Cameron worked hard to create a world in which I could immerse myself. Filmmakers have been creating alien worlds and alien species forever, but they often stopped when they have everything named. Cameron went a few steps further and created a culture, a society, and a language (the Na’vi language consists of about 1000 words, sentence structure, conjugated verbs, and so on). He created flora and fauna. He created an entire ecosystem with mystical understanding and scientific explanation. The kicker, though, is that he created a whole new world whose intricacies are accessible by viewing the film alone and not through “expanded universe” books and whatnot (George Lucas may have created a galaxy far, far away, but it was hundreds of Lucas-approved authors that drew up the intricacies of said galaxy, accessible through beyond-the-film merchandise). I found myself caring about these remarkably-animated characters because I believed in the world from which they came and the cause in which they fought.

In conclusion, although I had walked into Avatar apprehensive about the latest big-budget, CG spectacle film of the season, I walked out wanting to see it again, to return to the world of Pandora, to care for the Na’vi, to cheer on the protagonists and hiss at the villains. The story is familiar, as is the not-so-subtle “imperialism is bad” message, but that pales in comparison to how well it’s told and how beautifully it’s shown.

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YMWW #10: 6 Flats, 3 Tubes, 2 Bikes, 1 and a half Weeks

Wednesday, November 28, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Although this Thanksgiving’s feasts (yes, plural) did their part in throwing off my exercise schedule, it was my Bike Week from Hell that really disrupted my routine. Let’s break this down chronologically:

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

I enjoyed Sunday afternoon at Bishop Museum with some roommates—Akos from Hungary, Thomas from France—and my friend Juvana. That’s right, a museum. Wees be hella educated and shizz! I had plans afterward to meet up with my family in Hawai’i Kai for my cousin Austen’s 15th birthday (everyone wish her a belated happy birthday, she’s tagged), but because the bus is slow and unreliable, I was running late. I was going to take a bus to my place, then ride my bike to my cousin’s house, then drive my cousin’s car to Hawai’i Kai. In a rush, I arrive at my place to find. . .

FLAT TIRE NUMBER ONE. My bike. Front tire. Perfect timing.
“Fortunately,” my roommate Peter has a spare bike, so I rode that one to my cousin’s house. “Fortunately” is in quotes because Peter’s bike wasn’t in what in the best shape: no front brakes, spotty rear brakes due to a bent rear wheel, a brake cable that stuck out enough to hit with the left pedal, front gears that didn’t shift, and rear gears that shifted with huge jolts. Try riding this uphill and in the dark. Happy Birthday, Austen.

Tuesday, November 17th, and Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

After two days of riding Peter’s bike to work and back, I finally buy an inner-tube patch kit. It took me a while to find the hole, but I eventually located it, cursed at it, and patched it up. After eating way too much (again) with my family (again) for Austen’s birthday (again), my cousin Ellis drove me to a gas station so I could fill my newly-patched tire with air. He even paid the 75 cents! I went to bed with a smile on my face, but woke up to. . .

FLAT TIRE NUMBER TWO. My bike. Same tire. Lost valve stem cap.
I saw that flat tire in the early morning light and my legs screamed in agony at the thought of churning the gears of Peter’s bike up some hills for the third day in a row. The valve stem was naked and it was then that I recalled never replacing the cap after filling up the tire. Lame.

I was forced to ride Peter’s bike again.

That afternoon, I picked up an extra valve stem cap from my local bike shop. They definitely recognize me now. I then walked my bike to the nearest gas station, filled it up, and consciously put the cap on the valve stem. I rode home exclaiming out loud how I missed my own bike. I think I even improved a song about it.

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Hey, guess what that morning had in store for me. That’s right. . .

FLAT TIRE NUMBER THREE. Same bike. Same tire. I guess it wasn’t just the lack of valve cap.
Either my patch job wasn’t so perfect, or there was another hole I didn’t see. Either way, the ride that morning was miserable. On top of having to deal with Peter’s bike again, the morning was cold, wet, and windy. While literally chanting, “I think I can! I think I can!” I thought to myself, How could my luck get any worse? With the comedic cruelty of a Hollywood film, that afternoon’s bike ride home sent me. . .

FLAT TIRE NUMBER FOUR. Peter’s bike. Rear tire. During the ride.
Now it was getting ridiculous. I wasn’t frustrated, I was flabbergasted. Fortunately—and I mean it this time—I was only a block and a half away from my cousin’s house. I walked Peter’s barely-rolling heap of metal (it has been demoted from “bike”) and waited for my cousin Dean to get home. He gave me a ride and a wrench so I could replace my front tire with Peter’s. Though my bike was beginning to take on a Frankenstein-like appearance, it was up and running.

Friday, November 20th, 2009

I rode my bike to work for the first time that week. It was a good start to a good day, for every Friday is a half day. At noon, I got off work and rode to Waikiki to check out some other job prospects. Half day, job prospects, two tires and no patches. How could it get any better? I have to stop asking myself rhetorical questions about my fortune, for karma sent me. . .

FLAT TIRE NUMBER FIVE. My bike. Peter’s front tire. One humongous thorn.
On the way back from Waikiki, I saw that the front tire was a little under-inflated, so I stopped by a gas station to fill it up. With the air hose in my hand and the valve stem cap securely in my back pocket, I went to fill up the tire and noticed a small white something on the tread. I figured it was a piece of paper or maybe some stuck gum. I went to pick it off and instead unleashed a hissing stream of air. Immediately, I shoved the thorn back into the hole and rode my bike back home. The tire was flat by the time I pulled into my driveway.

Saturday, November 21st, 2009


Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

On Sunday, I patched up the hole in Peter’s front tire, which was much easier to find thanks to the width of size of the thorn. I get to work work successfully for the next three days, but only back it back home twice. I walked out of work on Wednesday to find. . .

FLAT TIRE NUMBER SIX. My bike. Peter’s front tire. Complete apathy.
I don’t bother to inspect the flat tire, much less try to ascertain what happened. I just made a few phone calls and saw a movie (The Blind Side, 6/10) to pass the time until I could get picked up by my cousin Dean. There was no work on Thursday (Thanksgiving), so I only had to take the bus on Friday.


I finally purchased a long overdue inner-tube, the kind with sealant on the inside walls that immediately fills and seals punctures. When I summarized my flat tire tales for the clerk at the bike shop, he handed me the new self-sealing inner-tube and said, “I hope this seals the deal.” I wasn’t sure if he was making a joke, but I hope he’s right.

My now fully healthy bike, surrounded by failure.

And, of course. . .

Though Roxy model Jarah Mariano is not in a bikini, I found this picture to be gloriously appropriate.

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YMWW #9: Humpday Rumblings

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

I know! Crazy, right? Another note, only two days later?! Lately, when I find myself in a deep train of though, I begin to plan out how I’d structure it in a blog entry. This is either the start of a narcissistic obsession or a new career path. Anyway, here are my thoughts from today, (kinda) structured for you reading pleasure.

Last Friday, I attempted to take the bus to Bishop Museum because I found out that the cafe inside was hiring someone for food prep. I ended up missing my stop, riding to the end of the line, and giving up to go back home. Now, it wasn’t a big deal to give up on the job pursuit because, well, I already have one. But being a cook for Kikka Sushi in Whole Foods Market just ain’t doing it for me. Here’s my day, five days a week:

-Wake up before 6 AM
-Ride a bike 25 minutes up and down hills to Kahala Mall
-Turn on all the cooking apparatuses (shouldn’t it be “apparati”?)
-Cook rice. A lot of it.
-Prepare soup broths
-Grill meat
-Assemble over thirty different types of teriyaki, curry, and Korean BBQ rice bowls until lunch break
-Enjoy the act of sitting for almost an hour (or leave by noon on Fridays)
-Return to work and talk to the only other English-speaking employee at Kikka while figuring out how to be productive until 4 PM
-Ride home, sometimes after grabbing food and drinks with a friend
-Work out
-Shower, rinse, repeat. . . the whole day over and again

I work hard each day, only to start from the very beginning the next morning. There’s no real sense of accomplishment. And since, as a Kikka Sushi cook, I work in Whole Foods and not for it, I don’t get the discount. On top of that, I am void of much human interaction. My coworkers choose not to and nearly can’t speak English, so they never attempt to talk to me. And I can’t say “Tofu Kung Pao” to them without getting blank stares of incomprehension, so I don’t try either. I work under a giant grill fan with an even bigger noise output, behind a sound-reflecting wall of glass, so I cannot hear the customers on the other side. Even if I could, the mall is too far away from the main tourists spots to attract the world travelers that I oh-so want to talk to. Furthermore, I seldom have time for hanging out or exploring during the weekday, so I am apparently just waiting for the weekends. . . and I never wanted wait-for-the-weekend type job! Hence my failed trek to Bishop Museum.

Now, despite the paragraph of hate the preceded this one, I don’t actually hate each my job. It gives me lots of time to think, an excuse to exercise, and the opportunity to see some good friends. However, when I take a longterm view of what I’m doing, I feel stagnant. My work days aren’t monotonous (it’s a long, non-repetitive to-do list), but they definitely lack progression; I have nothing to strive for. My whole life, I’ve had a long-term goal (make it to the next grade, graduate high school, graduate college); at this point in my life, I have none. I’m just making money, hoping to plan something awesome for the weekend. In lieu of this, I’ve started coming up with goals for which to strive.

My first goal is not actually a goal, but rather an alternative means to my real first goal: find a job in Waikiki. Although this would be a shorter bike ride (and thus, not much of an exercise), I would be able to interact with people all around the world. I’d ideally love to get a front desk job at a hostel, because people who stay at hostels, as opposed to hotels, usually have more interesting stories.

My real first goal: save up enough for a cheap car. I will do this through Kikka or, hopefully, some Waikiki-based job. It will definitely take a while, but it would be well worth it. The traveling and exploring I want to do during the weekends is completely dependent on the schedules of my car-driving friends and family members. I’ve been on this island nearly two months and I’ve barely left the city of Honolulu. My bike can’t take me out of this city. A moped couldn’t do it either. I’m not asking for much, just four wheels and an engine. Maybe some doors.

My second goal: look into writing—or even journalism— classes. I don’t know to what extent I’d want to jump into this, whether it be a single class at Kapiolani Community College or enrolling in a Journalism program at UH, but the more I write in this blog, the more I realize I’d love to do this for a living. (Now, I do not regret for a second majoring in Film Studies. As a general rule, if I am enjoying my current position in life, I cannot regret a single event in the past, since each one had to happen for me to be where I am. More specifically, I loved the Film Studies major, as it taught me so much about my greatest interest. Additionally, I always kept in mind that whatever I did as an undergrad did not necessarily have to dictate my future career.) I can’t for the life of me start writing a story—and by extension, a screenplay—but I can easily spit out personal opinions, descriptions, or ideas about life experiences. Maybe I can be a journalist for National Geographic and travel the world! Or maybe I can be a film reviewer for a newspaper, seeing films for a living! I figure I’m young enough to dream big, yet old enough to do something about it.

Goal three: meet a gorgeous yet surprisingly down-to-Earth and intelligent Roxy model, start a fantastically fun and uncomplicated relationship with her, then, after I make a ton of cash as a Hawaiian journalist, move to New York with her because we both have a zest for life and new experiences. She’ll continue her modeling and novel-writing career while I start a new blog called “Young Man Went East.” Hey, it could happen 😉

She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s been waiting her whole life to run into me.

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YMWW #8: HIFF Film Festival

Monday, November 9, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

I don’t know how insightful or humorous this next piece will be since it’s just a collection of film reviews. It could be awesome. It could be boring. I wouldn’t know, this stuff is never planned out. But I did get a degree in Film Studies, so it seems appropriate to dedicate at least one entry to film reviews.

At little background first: HIFF stands for Hawaii International Film Festival and they held their 29th annual festival last month. Thanks to connections established through my cousin Jill, I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer. In addition to a really cool free t-shirt, I got a free movie ticket for every four-hour shift I worked. Now, I’m not going to glorify my volunteer duties—I stood outside the theaters collecting tickets and ballots, or sat at the information booth, but mostly just waited around with the other volunteers—but I had fun volunteering and met some pretty cool people. And isn’t that what life’s all about: having fun and meeting people? And movies? Yeah, I was in my element. I worked enough shifts to see four films for free. Unfortunately, those did not include The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (info) orBarbarian Princess (info), but I feel like I’ll get another opportunity to see those in the future. Here’s what I thought of the films I saw (and probably will never be able to see again):

Dance, Subaru!

(trailer and info)
Japan 2009, Japanese w/ English subtitles
Saw on October 21st

I mentioned this film in my last entry because it stars that foxy little Japanese actress-slash-singer-slash-model Meisa Kuroki. Her picture adorns the bottom of blog #7. . . as well as my desktop background. Anyway, she was the only more-than-mediocre aspect of the film. The story was cliché, the plot was predictable, and the acting—as far as I could tell as a non-Japanese speaker—was below par. Dance, Subaru! is about a young Japanese girl who lost both her twin brother and mother to some brain disease. Both her brother and mother loved ballet, but her father *gasp!* thinks it’s a waste of time. Despite her father’s wishes for Subaru to spend her time studying, she instead works at a cabaret house where the crazy-but-lovable owner allows her to dance ballet. Nothing risqué, of course, she’s the wholesome star of the film. Subaru is discovered and befriended by an international ballet champion, invited to dance at a recital by her enemy who hopes she’ll fail, and attracts the attention of a guy who breakdances underground. All around the same time. Oh yeah, and her father learns to be proud of her. The movie then suddenly introduces an international ballet championship that she attends where her international ballet champion friend turns out to be an enemy, her enemy turns out to be her friend, and she ends up with the guy. All while beating out the competition. . . and the hereditary brain disease that killed half her family! Don’t worry, though, there is enough exposition to keep your mind off all these crazy plot turns. You can instead just focus on Meisa.

My rating: 4/10 + 1 (for Meisa Kuroki)


(trailer and info)
India 2009, Hindi w/ English subtitles
Saw on October 23rd

I had high hopes for this one. The synopsis for it in the HIFF guide made it sound like an intriguing social commentary on the shifting identity of young, hyphenated Americans (i.e. African-American, Asian-American, etc.). Roshan, a young American of Indian origin, brings his ailing grandmother to India so she can live out the rest of her life in her true home. It is Roshan’s first time in India and he isn’t used to the culture. He eventually falls in love with an Indian girl, Bittu, who is trying to break free from the stereotypical Indian social structure. . . just as he starts to embrace it. Sounds thought-provoking, yeah? Well, it ain’t. The film does a poor job developing its characters; their transitions from one state to the next are sudden and unexplained. The plot points involving Roshan’s shifting views of Indian culture seem thrown into the film’s already messy storyline, which involves a mysterious creature known as the Black Monkey that terrifies the city. The initial plot of the ailing grandmother eventually disappears into the background as, in the third act, the film beats into your head the analogy of the Black Monkey as the evil inherit in everybody. The film ends with Roshan in a monkey suit and Bittu falling in love with him for no reason at all. Oh, and is it really that necessary to make every Indian film a Bollywood musical? Way to destroy Indian stereotypes, Dehli-6! Seriously, this film shifted from drama, to musical, to pointless comedy, to action flick, to just plain bad.

My rating: 4/10 – 1 (for the monkey suit)

Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaii

(trailer and info)
United States 2009
Saw on October 25th

Of the films I was able to see at HIFF, this was the one documentary I chose to watch. One overarching goal I have with my move to Hawai’i is to learn as much as I can about the Hawaiian culture, and understanding Pidgin is one of the biggest pathways to do so. Pidgin—a mix of English and Hawaiian with influences from other immigrant languages—is more than just island ebonics, it is representative of the ethnic makeup, history, and multicultural identity of the Hawai’i. The documentary explains how it was born on sugar plantations, where immigrants who couldn’t speak each other’s language communicated through the little English they knew. Just like the people of Hawai’i, Pidgin mixed many different cultures into something uniquely Hawaiian. The film then addresses the controversial discrimination of people who speak Pidgin, whether or not it is its own language, and the dual-identities of locals who need to speak differently in different situations. It was pretty thought-provoking, delving deeper into Pidgin than I thought possible. The only downside to the film was the touch of tackiness that highlighted the low budget value of production. If the film had better equipment and more seasoned filmmakers, it could be taken more seriously. Still, if you get a chance, see it.

My rating: 7/10

Pidgin example: because I know most of you have no idea what it’s like. Here’s a story I found about the need to speak both Pidgin and standard English to get by:
Wen I wuz small kid time, I neva kno I wuz tahking li dis. Us guys wuz jus tahking li dis. Den my fada wen tell me, “Son, you must learn to speak in proper english to get anywhere in life.” Den I wen school, an da teacha, Miss Cha, wen tell me, “Robert, proper english is the key to success in life.”

Den I had dis smaht baseball coach, Mistah Wago, who wen look me in da eye one day and said, “Eh boy, If no can tro strikes, you not going pitch fo me.” I wen undastan dat. Den I wen tro one strike, and da umpia wen call um one ball.

I wen see Mistah Wago go fo da ump and say, “I don’t believe you understand the strike zone. It is defined as the area over home plate which is between the batter’s armpits and his knees when he assumes a natural stance.” I understood that, too.

From den, I wen learn you gotta no bote Pidgin an good kine english for survive in Hawaii.

Castaway on the Moon

(trailer and info)
South Korea 2009, Korean w/ English subtitles
Saw on October 25th

Simply amazing. That wasn’t my opinion of the film just as credits rolled, but all throughout.Castaway on the Moon was so perfectly put together it was hard for me to even begin to review it (indeed, everything before the review was written the day before). The story is simple yet intriguing, and allows intellectual investment on all levels. Song-geun is a man down on his luck. Buried in debt and the depression of a break-up, he tries to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge into the Han River. He fails at that, too. Adding insult to injury, he finds himself stranded on a tiny island in the middle of the river. . . in the middle of the city. Unable to escape, he must learn how to survive, and why he’d want to. About a half an hour into the film, we are introduced to the other main character, a young woman who lives in a room of a high-rise building that overlook’s the island. She literally lives in that room: interacting solely through message boards and text messages, leaving only to use the bathroom. . . when no one else is home (the Japanese call these people hikikomori). She starts observing Song-geun’s daily struggle with much interest, eventually reaching out to him with messages in a bottle. When he starts responding with messages in the sand, a bond is formed and the two castaways—one isolated by chance and the other by choice—discover the importance of human connection. OK, my description may have made it seem kind of corny, a sentiment supported by the trailer I linked, but it is so much more than that.
The characters are surprisingly easy to relate to; their development natural and believable. The writing and narration are clever and simply humorous. The cinematography, while beautiful, is also simply humorous. Example: Song-geun finds one of the messages in a bottle in the top of a tree. After an intense shot-reverse shot of his glaring eyes and the stranded bottle, we assume we’ll seem him struggle up the side of a tree trunk. Instead, the film cuts to a wide angle where Song-geun kicks the trunk and the bottle falls. Beat. Cut. Brilliance.
Castaway on the Moon takes its viewers through the whole spectrum of emotions, the most prominent being satisfaction. If I had spent money on this ticket, it would have been well worth the price.

My rating: 10/10

Reader’s Poll: What film would you give a 10-out-of-10? Please list just one, and briefly explain why.

‘Til next time!

You guys are in luck. I found the Official Roxy Photo account on Flickr 😉

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YMWW #7: Things I’ve Learned So Far

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Hello all and welcome to my long overdue blog #7. I meant to write you sooner, but I’ve just been busy (most of you did not know that I just quoted Eminem’s “Stan”). Seriously though, with full-time work and my volunteer gig at the Hawaii International Film Festival (more on that in the future), I haven’t had many opportunities to update the blog. I think I’ve literally spent more time inside Whole Foods Market than outside exploring! Don’t worry, I’ve come up with plenty of ideas, and I plan to stick to a weekly schedule. Here’s the first of the rest of my list.

Things I’ve Learned So Far

The original idea for this came about ten days ago, my first month-iversary of moving to the island. It was going to be called “One Month on the Island and. . . ” followed by a list of thing’s I’ve learned. Now, as you can see, it is going by a more mundane title. Oh well, let’s get it on!

How to Connect the Dots: I’d visited O’ahu plenty of times in the past, but haven been driven around everywhere by my family, I never learned where everything was in relation to each other. I remembered what my family’s different houses looked like, but had no idea how to place them on a map, and I didn’t know how far away they were from Waikiki or North Shore or the Dole Plantation or Pearl Harbor. Now, all those memory dots are connected. After learning the roads and the lay of the land, I not only know where all of these locations are, I know how to get there on my own. . . well, except for my aunt and uncle’s house in Waipahu. I always get lost, and in different ways.

The Deadbeats are Awesome: A week after moving to O’ahu, my cousin’s friends (now my friends) invited me to a 21st birthday party at a bar called Jazz Minds. “There’s a house band that plays at 10:30,” they said. Cool, I thought, some nice background music would be nice, especially jazz. So, I’m in the bar and I start to rethink whether or not it was a good idea to go out on a Wednesday night because, 1) I’m out $5 for the cover and still had to meet a $20 minimum to use a card; 2) I had to wake up before 6 AM the following morning; and 3) I got there a lot earlier than everyone else. As I was keeping myself busy by chewing on some free peanuts, the band walks up on stage. And, BOOM! They instantaneously fill the bar with energy! An upbeat, funky tune pours out over the crowd in the form of drums, a keyboard, a bass, and a saxophone. I immediately perk up. Right away, the frontman—a skinny, white hipster with a fedora and glasses—starts rapping! Despite my inability to understand his lyrics, I enjoyed how his words flowed and mixed with sax. I sat and watched for the next couple of hours. The Deadbeats easily convinced me that going out on a Wednesday night was a good idea. I even returned the next Wednesday and bought their CD. I’ve been listening to it endlessly since then.

Of course, it would be pointless for me to talk about music without sharing it. It’s like eating sugarless candy. Have yourself a listen at their MySpace page.

San Francisco Followed Me Here: Sorta. Beyond the fact that there’s a Fisherman’s Wharf off of Ala Moana, is see “Cable Car” tour trolleys everyday. They travel along my route to work and are everywhere in Waikiki. They don’t run along cables or tracks. They haul around Japanese tourists, equating in their minds “Cable Car” trolleys with Hawai’i instead of with San Francisco. They’re an atrocity to my homeland.

However, there are some cargo cranes that sit off the edge of Chinatown that remind me of Oakland. These, unlike those lame Not-Cable Cars, bring a smile to my face.

Direction Descriptions: Because driving on an island has the potential to be simple, the inhabitants had to balance out the difficulty of it by coming up with different directional terms. They are as follows:

ewa (EH-vuh)—means “west” because Ewa Beach lies west of Honolulu

diamondhead—means “east” because Diamondhead Crater lies east of Honolulu

makai (ma-KIGH)—means “toward the sea” and is used instead of “north” or “south”

mauka (MAU-ka)—means “toward the mountains” and is used instead of “north” or “south”

So to get to Jazz Minds from my place, I’d go ewa down Kapiolani past Atikinson. The place will be on the makai side of the street.

I don’t yet use these terms comfortably. They seemed forced and fake coming out of my mouth. Kind of like I can’t naturally say “shoots” (meaning “okay, alright” as in: “Let’s go beach.” “Shoots, let’s go.”) or “ono” (meaning “delicious”). Maybe someday.

Tourists Create a Positive Aura: Local people hate tourists. It’s true in any place that relies on tourism. They are clueless invaders disturbing our way of life. At least, that’s the general consensus. Caught somewhere between Tourist and Local, I have been granted a different perspective on these aloha-shirt-wearing locusts: they are actually wonderful. In a less attractive city or town, you are surrounded by people living their everyday lives. They’re going to or coming from work. They’re running errands. They see nothing special in their surroundings. Tourists, on the other hand, have one goal: to enjoy life in the best way they know how. They move in groups with their friends and loved ones, stop to smelll the roses—literally and figuratively—and try to get the most out of each minute in a place they see as paradise. They remind you how awesome your own city truly is. Why wouldn’t you want to be around those people? That’s why, unlike the locals here, I enjoy walking around Waikiki. I am surrounded in the good vibrations of people having the times of their lives, and that, sir, is wonderful.

The Popularity of a Beach has an Indirect Relationship with the Attractiveness of its Populace: It’s a pretty straightforward rule of thumb: the more remote and unknown a beach is, the hotter the people will be. The more popular a beach is, the more man-thongs and tanlines-due-to-fat-creases you’ll see. Of course, this is because the popular beaches attract those who aren’t used to beaches, or being seen on one, i.e. tourists. Now, this may seem contradictory to my praise of tourists in the last topic, but I only said I liked to be around them; I don’t necessarily need to see them.

There is a Cure for Island Fever: . . . and it’s called the Internet. Before I left, some people warned me of getting Island Fever: a suffocating feeling of isolationism. I took their warnings as sour grapes. I doubted I would get Island Fever; so far, I’ve been right. Obviously, Island Fever is only a mental problem, so just changing my perspective of the situation could quell it. The problem, people say, is that you don’t have the potential to travel far. I rationalized that the physical size of the land itself is pretty large. Thinking about my time in college, I rarely left the Bay Area; the size of the radius where I spent 90% of my time the past four years is smaller than the island, meaning I have plenty of area left to explore without getting sick of it. The real cause of Island Fever, I deduced, stems from the lack of communication with those one leaves behind. My dad picked up and moved to Hawai’i when he was about my age (admittedly, I’m not quite the pioneer people have made me out to be). However, he only lasted the summer. He said that after endless days of hanging out with family and going to the library, he got bored. He got “Island Fever.” Well, yeah, I’d get bored, too, if I couldn’t talk to my friends and family back in California. With the coming of the Internet, that type of social isolationism has disappeared. Not only do I have friends and family here, I’m in constant communication with those I left behind, many via this blog. Communication with the whole world is at my fingertips, so I cannot possibly feel isolated on this beautiful island. Thank you, Internet. Keep on being wonderful.

And finally. . .

Meisa Kuroki Gave Me Yellow Fever: . . . and I mean that in the chauvinistic and racially- insensitive way. She is the star of Dance, Subaru!, the Japanese film I saw at the Hawaii International Film Festival. While the movie was predictable and cliche, she kept me pretty entertained the entire time. Her mom is Okinawan, her dad is Japanese-Panamanian, and she is gorgeous. Huzzah!

Yes, she is replacing this entry’s Roxy model. I don’t expect complaints.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

First of all, let me start off by quoting my good friend Josh Cella (as written on my Wall): go west young man / haven’t you been told / Hawai’i’s full of whiskey, women, and gold

(We’ll soon find out. . . )

Now, welcome to the Photo Issue of YMWW! Following is a collection of photos I took with my Samsung Propel (an affordable slide-open smart phone great for web browsing, messaging, and—obviously—photos) as I explored my new town.  Some photos I took just to send to my friend and make her jealous, while others I took because some things in life need to be photographed.  All, however, were taken with the intention of sharing with you (This blog is constantly in the back of my mind; I now mentally narrate my life as it happens.).

And here. . . we. . . go!

Waikiki Beach

I was aiming to take the most cliche, postcard-worthy photo of Waikiki Beach. I probably should have pointed my Samsung Propel slightly more to the left, but it’s still a nice representation of my ‘hood.

Lifeguard Tower Silhouette

This photo was one of the first I took to make my friend jealous. It turned out better and more postcard-worthy than I thought. Can’t you imagine “Aloha from Waikiki!” scrawled across the upper right portion?

My Workplace

Here is an exterior shot of my workplace: Whole Foods Market at Kahala Mall. Damn, I’ve been meaning to get a picture of me in my uniform. Next time.
Sidenote: Hot women who workout love shopping at Whole Foods.
Addendum: They also love bringing their boyfriends.


I have to wake up so early for work, I am able to watch the sunrise. Here is the morning sun peaking through some trees at Kaimuki Middle School on 18th Ave (from the spot at which I’m getting ready for a little more uphill trekking).


Interesting fact: this photo was taken on the same day as the previous photo. I’ve always been up to see the sunset, but now I get to see it settle behind the Pacific Ocean at Waikiki! Those silhouettes in the distance are cruise ships.

The Ocean. . . At Last!

At the time these photos were taken, I had been on the island for about two weeks. This was the first time I actually got around to touching the ocean! I was so determined to find a job (check) and a place to live (check) that I just put off the first thing every visitor does when the arrive. I hadn’t realized how much I loved the ocean until I walked in it again.


Walking down the main drag of Waikiki around sunset, it looked as though all the Aloha-shirt-wearing tourists became freelance tabloid photographers following around Kate Gosselin. I thought I’d be ironic and take a picture of people taking pictures. Here are two of the more professional photographers who actually had decent cameras and the balls to venture out from the sidewalk.

Matching Couple

This is one of those things you can’t help but take a photo of: a matching Japanese couple. His Aloha shirt and her dress seemed to have been made from the same fabric. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say they were tourists.

Tour Boat

I have to admit, I love tourists. It’s refreshing seeing people whose only aim for that day is to have fun. They also serve as a reminder to how awesome your city is. This is an hour-long tour boat docking on the beach. I should get me that job!

Tourist Market

Here is the entrance to the tourists’ natural habitat: rows of knickknack kiosks and cheap food. I love it! I had to go in!

Coconut Bras and Grass Skirts

These have to be the second most popular Hawaiian tourist purchase behind Aloha shirts. Wouldn’t it be great if the women here wore these all the time? Oh well, I’m fine with the workout outfits is see all the time.


I have no idea.

Dole Whip

Even though I was nowhere near the Dole Plantation, I still came across my most favorite frozen treat of all time: Dole Whip! You have no idea how happy I was to find this. It is better than heaven in your mouth. It is like heaven died and went up to its own heaven. It’s heaven’s heaven in your mouth.

Now Hiring

As you may know, Zippy’s is everywhere in Hawai’i. Everywhere. It’s a Hawaiian fast food restaurant more widespread here than McDonald’s (but a little less than Starbucks). . . and they’re hiring! I would have grabbed one of those tickets if I didn’t already have a job. But hey, if you’re jobless in California, come join me and become a member of the Zippy’s team! Do it.


I saw this stencil on the wall across the room of the sports bar where I watched the last Cal game (no comment on the game). If you can’t tell, the tree leaves resemble the shapes of the Hawaiian islands. I saw it and was immediately mesmerized. It was like one of those cliche love-at-first-sight moments where our eyes met across a crowded room, but instead of it being the woman of my dreams, it was this. Whatever. Baby steps. Anyway, it gave me a great idea for a tattoo: this design, but with the shape of California as the tree trunk. Maybe I’ll try to fashion roots to resemble my family name, or the shape of the Philippines. Maybe that’s too much. More on that later.

Anyway, I thought I could get away with letting the photos speak for themselves, but I ramble on too much for that to happen. Tell me if I need to edit down these blogs at all. Brevity is key, or so I’m told. In an effort to be ironic, I will NOT end the Photo Issue of YMWW with a Roxy model.

Just kidding. Screw irony.

This may be the same model from last time.

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