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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